Saturday, 21 February 2009

Recession - Part 2

Last Thursday morning, my mailbox abuzz with a shocked message, but predictable. It became a hot topic among my office colleagues and counterparts across the region. Amidst slowing grow across the continents, my company showed a fairly good result. Though the year on year revenue dropped significantly across business unit, it was still profitable. I fully understand the sheer pressure of BOD to embrace the recession ahead, anyway, it is a business. And business should be profitable. Interesting point from our CEO which base in the US quoted for the next course of action;
The justification:
The math is pretty straight forward. From a productivity standpoint, you’re supposed to reduce headcount on par with declining revenue. If you believe the environment isn’t going to improve, you should take a bigger cut to get in front of the problems. You can do the calculation, as easy as I can. We have about 100,000 people in our product businesses, with revenue down roughly 20%, and an environment that may not get any better in 2009.
I’ll be asked by investors, “Where’s the job action, where are you taking out this roughly, 20,000 positions?” Well, I don’t want to do that. When I look at XXX, I don’t see a structural problem of that magnitude. There are pockets where restructuring needs to happen, and areas where actions will be taken as part of our ongoing workforce optimization process. But at a company-wide level, I don’t believe a major workforce reduction is the best thing for XXX at this time.
I think we are fundamentally sound, and when the economy picks up, I want XXX to be strong, and to take share and to outgrow the market. I said it last quarter, my goal is to keep the muscle of this organization intact. But we do have to do something…because the numbers just don’t add up and we need to have the flexibility to make the right long-term investments for XXX.
Next, the action;
We have decided to further variablize our cost structure by reducing base pay and some benefits across XXX. My base pay will be reduced by 20 percent. The base pay of Executive Council members will be reduced by 15 percent. The base pay of other executives will be reduced by 10 percent. The base pay of all other exempt employees will be reduced by 5 percent. For non-exempt employees, base pay will be reduced by two-and-a-half percent. Additional efficiencies, including changes to the US 401(k) plan and the share ownership plan, will also be implemented. Of course, the implementation of all of these actions is subject to compliance with local laws and regulations. Follow-up communications will detail the timing and the plans in your location
Yes.., this is the first impact of recession. Pay cut.. It still ok, to be honest for most employees. Adjusting life means for 5% or 10% was not so difficult, but loosing job for most people is the hardest faith to bite. We may have a contigency plan ahead should the worst came, but for most people who did not have any options in their hand, things won't be easy... No job cut yet, but I am pretty sure, if the situation does not show any sign of improvement in near future, it surely will come... God bless us...

Friday, 20 February 2009


The gloomy economy... Every inches of soil around the globe at hardest hit, but, most analyst says, the worst not at bottom yet. Manufacturing industry, where I have been in for a decade was and will always at lowest end along this recession. How it affect us..? Easy.. Recession will weakened consumer spending, triggered retailer and distribution channel to slashed orders from manufacturer. No orders means no sales and no revenue. How to operate? How to pay workers..? Cut cost is the easiest way. Which cost? Obviously labour.. Long shut down, pay cut, voluntary separation scheme (VSS), retrenchment or worst scenario, closing plant operation. Closing plant operation will have a big big impact to the whole. Supply chain will be affected and thousands of job dissapeared.. What a cruel reality of recession......

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Shoe String Traveller - Part 1

Everyone loves to travel... You know your next desirable destination, but the questions now is, budget, budget, budget.. I will tell you one by one some useful practical tips for savvy traveler or some people say, backpackers.. Ermm, backpackers in style.. :-) In part 1, I will tell you when you should travel and the secret of saving in flight ticket and on land transportation. And off course these are applicable to non-tour package, as to me, tour package is worth if you are travelling to the places like Cambodia, Vietnam, Philipine, Indonesia, some part of China or Indonesia as the public transport and accomodation qualities are less reliable.
First, basic point, travel at out of peak season. When..? Typically, out of major global festivities. Christmas, summer season, bank holidays, easter holidays - Avoid it. Anyway, majority hates to travel during Christmas which is within cold winter and during searing hot summer (Considering Europe and Western destination..) Spring is the best time. Nice weather and nice view.. Good for pictures as well..

Plan it ahead, way ahead, 6 months and above, let your boss know, let the whole world notice, block the date, apply on leave in advance and rest assured, you are in peace... :) Many benefits if you plan it ahead... way way ahead.. Obviously, you have more time to do research, make bookings and off course all at cheaper price..

Second, transportation.. Flight ticket, airport transfer and moving around to the planned places of interest will required almost half of the budget.. Let us look at how to get a cheap flight ticket.
The cheapest definitely by budget carrier. Hey, now you can travel to almost major Asian cities, ocenia (Australia) and London by Air Asia. I love Tony Fernandes very very much...!! Well, with only RM499 (about RM500++ nett including taxes) one way, you can travel to the UK. And what's more exciting??? Indeed...!! You have an opportunity to tour Europe at much much cheaper price with multiples cheap connections to Europe's budget carriers. To name a few likes UK household cheap airline - Ryan Air, Easy Jet, BMI and many more. Try and play in Ryan Air website from Stansted to any major Europe cities in any off peak season and your jaw might be dropped.. I did traveled from Liverpool John Lennon airport to Milan Bergamo airport (return flight) for just GBP19.99 nett only.. Don't believe it..??? Believe it...!!! In fact, flying to Dublin is free.. Folks.. it's FREE!! It is just a matter of traveling at the right time.. :)

Owh.. If you still want to travel in style.. via premium airline, you can, definitely can.., but still can save - browse to global airline ticketing website. Do not go by individual airline website.. Website like,, airgorillas ticketing are very useful. Try and error any desirable travel period to get return air ticket list, sort by cheapest to the most expensive. It will list down hundreds if not thousand of return flight with total nett cost.. I did my best deal when I traveled to the UK last year which cost me about RM2800 nett for return ticket to Manchester via Amsterdam. And it was a premium full service airline. To my liking, I love travelocity as it is more efficient and reliable. In fact there is a 24 hours cooling of period which we can change the itinerary. You cant do this via most individual airline website especially if you bought a super savvy deal or non flexi ticket which does not permit you to change the itinerary easily unless it is a full flex ticket.

Now you smile all the way as you get the cheapest flight ticket on planet. Yet.. you still have to think about airport transfer.. Definitely, with prudent planning will not cost you a bomb. Book ahead.. If you are traveling to advanced cities likes Hong Kong, European cities, Australian cities or any part of Japan, book online ahead.. Example, if you tour the Europe, get a bus/ train transfer.. Make sure your hotel will be close proximit to the central station where you will be disembarked. It's cheaper.. For instance, National Bus across UK offered a fare as low as GBP1 from Stansted airport to major UK cities likes Manchester and Birmingham if you book couples of month ahead. Avoid taking taxi as it is very expensive.

And lastly, getting around at the destination. Normally as backpackers, they are many ways. Just figure out which one is cheaper. I always consider 3 option ; first option, getting a daily or weekly unlimited pass for city bus services. But you have to know and plan properly places of interest you wish to visit. Loads of job prior to the trip, but hey, the traveling date will be 6 months ahead, and you have a luxury to browse around through internet first. At the flip side, this is the cheapest option. Second, by booking a hop on, hop off tour package. Not that expensive. A full daily tour around Milan city will cost you about 28 euro only, and you cover almost every interesting places. I will let you know in detail in part 2. Third option, by renting a car. This could be an interesting option. You have freedom, but advisable, you should rent a GPS and do some research of dos and don'ts while driving in the destination cities. Renting a small size car in the UK or Europe will only cost you about GBP/Euro15 per day excluding petrol expenses. Additional GBP/Euro 10 for GPS per day, and you are good to go. Owh, get the list of address and postcode of places of interest with you as well.. :) Normally I choose second or third option.

Nahh.., let's do some calculation for this... Example, tour destination (Liverpool, Manchester, Wales and Milan);
1. Return flight ticket (Singapore-Manchester-Singapore) Transit at Paris = RM2800 nett (by Air France
2. Train (Manchester Airport-Liverpool-Manchester Airport) - GBP13, RM71.50
3. Hop on/ off Tour at Liverpool (1 day) - GBP7, RM40
Driving to South Wales (1 day) and Manchester-Stoke on Trent(1 day)
4. Rental of Chevrolet Matiz (1000 cc), 2 days including GPS - GBP50, RM275
5. Petrol - GBP40, RM220
Milan Italy Tour (3 days, 2 night)
6. Return flight (Liverpool-Milan-Liverpool) by Ryan Air - GBP19.99, RM110
7. Return transfer by bus (Liverpool city-Liverpool airport-Liverpool city) - GBP5, RM27.5
8. Return transfer by bus (Airport-Milan-Airport) - Euro10, RM48
9. Tour at Milan hop on/off (1 day) - Euro28, RM134.40
10. Bergamo Italy hop on/ off (half day) - Euro14, RM67.20
Total Transportation cost - RM3793.60
(For 1 week travelling, places - Liverpool, Manchester, Stoke on Trent (England), South Wales (Wales), Milan, Bergamo (Italy)
Off course, if you are travelling via Air Asia to Stansted, the cost will be way cheaper, perhaps as low as typical RM1400 nett for return ticket inclusive of return transfer. Next, in part 2, I will share more on how to save in accomodations... :)

Monday, 16 February 2009

Renting a Property - First Step

Renting a house is not as easy as ABC. Couples of things to consider.
First, you have to think who do you want to rent to. Who is your targeted tenant? Are you looking for a families, college students, single, expatriate or company.. The best tenant target would be company or expatriate as rest assured, the payment timing is sharp as normally company or expatriate via hiring company will do a standing instruction to your bank account at the pre determined date every month. So, less hassle for you to chase your tenant should there be any delay. Renting to a company and expatriate will normally expose to potential higher rental rate. Some of my friend who owned condominiums in Hartamas fetched a reasonable above market value for fully furnish units.

Related with targeted tenant, you may want to consider to rent it as basic (without any furnitures), partly furnished (with some nessecities furnitures, normally, kitchen cabinet with hud and hob as well as 1 unit airconditioner at master bedroom) or fully furnished (with completed furnitures in all bedrooms, living hall, dining hall and kitchen). Anyway, the rental may be differ base on the criteria. If you invested RM10000 for fully furnished, advisable to add another RM400 to RM500 into rental considering 2 years rental contract.

Second, how to advertise your unit. Nowadays, with speedy technological and informative environment, we could have an access to couples of free website like or the best is I experienced a very good moment using when I advertised my condo unit in JB. The unit has been rented out within less than 2 weeks from the advert date. And to my liking it was free.. :)

Third, how you choose your tenant. This is a real head ache. You do not know anyone so to speak when you first met them while viewing your property. Anyway, we could base on few tips. By appearances... When you talk to people, try to judge the way they speak, their professionalism and their appearances, whether neat and tidy. Ask their profession, ask their company contact number and business card. And how long they want to rent the property..? Who will they bring to stay with..? If you deal with an agent, let the agent bring the potential tenant together. Interview your potential tenant. Ask where they rent before and ask for previous landlord contact number. If possible, call the company they work to confirm their job designation. So you don't have to worry their capability to pay the rent. Call their previous landlord to make sure their rental payment pattern before. This is just a basic process to make sure you choose the right tenant... :). And don't forget to politely negotiate with them the rental rate. Do not fall in the trap of loose negotiation. Remember, we, as a landlord are doing business. Our property is our business and business must be profitable. Do not rush to close the deal. Don't worry, give them a fair statement by saying, you want to finalize all potential tenant first. Give a time line to finalize who you choose. At the end of selection, notify the rest of interested tenant with nice comfort word, so that you are not burning the bridge with them. Who knows they will be your tenant in your next property..

Forth, after you choosed your tenant, now it is time to get the deposit. Normally, the deposit consisted of 2 months rental deposit + first month rental. Then, request for utilities deposit as well, normally a month rental. The deposit will make you sleep in sound, in case there will be any delay in future monthly payment along the way and when the contract ends, should be any outstanding utilities amount, could be settle using the deposit.. And hey, the deposit will be good enough for you to start thinking to find another quality property.. :)

Fifth, legal side.. You may want to make it as formal agreement with adviced from appointed lawyer, and make an agreement to be stamped as well. This is good as if there is any breach of contract, you are protected by law. Get a lawyer won't cost you a bomb. It could be as low as couple of hundreds ringgit only depending on your property type and rental. Some more, make it look like a professional dealing.. :) Remember, renting a property is a serious business.. ;-)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A Vintage

I wish this could be real of mine... sleek, king of d machine ~~ the real big boy toys which are simply not for tom, dick and harry.... a real statement of over achievement, wondering if it will remain as my figment of imaginations............ zZzZzZ ;-)

Pizza ViENneSe

I am not that fancy to this Italian staple except my wife. Spare for this tho, simple.. soft dough topped with generous flow of home made bufala campana mozarella slapped with vegies and dashes of salsa makes it simply... savoury... owhh, those tomatoes when it burst, yummy

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Accident

The black 28 Jan 2009
I was on my way back to JB from KL via ELITE highway nearby NSE intersection. It was heavy rain, and I drove fairly slow.. 90km/h. Bad luck and Al Mighty's faith. At km 44, suddenly my car was skidded and bumped to right divider, turned 540 degree, banged 3 angle of my car. The front left side was the worst hitted. But thank God, my life was spared, my kids not with me.. And God giving me a lifeline to keep breathing... I was lucky there was no lorry or bus as it might hit me. The same spot, post 10 minutes after mine was wrecked, another brand new Benz was skidded and crashed. Pondering me to re-think...........