Friday, 1 May 2015

Please Make Mobile Blogging Easy

Everything is moving into mobile devices nowadays. Blogging, naturally, should be on such platforms as well. Yes, we do have many apps, for example, which allow us to blog while we are on the move.

However, so far, I am finding blogging using my smartphone rather challenging. Perhaps, it is due to style I write and how I normally combine words and photos, to send my message across. The other issue is about formating, where the experience on my mobile device is different from when I am using my Mac at home.

Can't blogging be made easier on all these mobile devices? Perhaps, this is already 'old school' from the perspective of the apps developers. Given that people can express themselves through many social network platforms, blogging which leverages on the more traditional 'website' approach seems to be very old concept indeed.

I am using different platforms to reach different audiences with different messages. That's why blogging to me is still an important avenue to express my views. There is no limitation in terms of access although I tend to use social media to promote the articles I wrote.

Having the ability to blog from mobile devices is important given ideas can come when you are travelling or outside you home.

Well, I am just trying to blog while my family is enjoying their dinner, just to test whether the experience has changed.

Happy blogging.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Who Is Responsible For Integrity?

I was invited to share my views around integrity at the launch of the Youth For Integrity project over the weekend. It was officiated by Datuk Paul Low, the Minister in the Prime Minister Department who are in-charge of public governance and integrity issues. Around 80 youths who were mainly students from the institutions of higher learning around Kuala Lumpur participated in the programme.

Together with me was Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, the Chief Commissioner, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Other key individuals who were invited to share their views on integrity and anti-corruption were Tunku Aziz Tunku Ibrahim, the President of Anti-Corruption Foundation and Cynthia Gabriel, the Founder of the Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism.

One thing that was agreed upon by all the panellists was that for Malaysia to move forward, it needed further strengthening of integrity and governance across the board. Somehow, we had drifted into a situation where good governance and the demonstration integrity are clearly short in the eyes of the public. 

Many commented on the role of enforcement agencies in addressing the issue of corruption. Among the questions asked were how MACC conducted its investigation and whether those who are in the higher echelons of the society are spared. Tan Sri Abu Kassim explained about the check and balance structure around MACC and I was requested to share my experience as one of the former member of its Operational Review Panel. 

The issue of the meaning of integrity and regulation was also discussed. One quote that struck me was from Tunku Aziz where he remarked "We are overly regulated but hopelessly enforced".

At the end, everyone agreed that to ensure a just and fair society to be enjoyed by all citizens, strengthening of integrity in each and every Malaysian is the foundation. However, the answer to the question of who should be responsible for integrity remained an elusive one!

All panellists agreed that integrity is the outcome of many inputs from our families, friends and the environment which we live in but to pinpoint to the exact drivers was very difficult. My view was that for a person to be able to do the right thing when nobody is watching involves the values and beliefs of the person, the values of the organisation where he or she is attached to and what the society as a whole believes as right and wrong as well.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there is nothing that we can do to influence whether a person could be seen as beautiful or not. However, we still have the opportunity to instil integrity as the core value of our society. We can start this with ourselves, our children, friends and those who are within our sphere of influence.

Judging from the questions raised by the youths, I am convinced that they treasure integrity as one of the building blocks in building this nation towards what we aspire in the future. In them lies our hope that Malaysia will be a country that provides its citizens with prosperity and opportunity that are shared fairly and justly.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Suflan as I remember him (Updated)

I was having breakfast with a junior from my secondary school when I received the message of the passing away of Suflan, a colleague who just left the organisation we both serve a number of weeks earlier.

The last time I saw him was around two weeks earlier. Myself and a number of other colleagues of mine visited him at the hospital where he was undergoing treatment for the illness he was enduring. While we all could sense his pain, Suflan was excited seeing us and we certainly had a very honest and meaningful conversation about the experiences that we went through together. He accepted his situation and was very clear of how the final leg of his journey would be.

Professionally we did not necessarily agree with each other on all issues. Sometimes, our views could be well apart. I am really pleased that at the end of the day, nothing was taken at the personal level. After all, we are fellow mortals who are on the same journey towards our destinies.

An avid musicians, Suflan brought his creative minds into an organisation which are dealing with serious issues. Sometimes he was very philosophical and would argue his viewpoints from totally unique angles. Over time, I could appreciate where he was coming from and Suflan was consistent with the foundation of his thoughts and views.

Towards the last few months of his final journey Suflan wanted to share his feelings and thoughts through his blog. I am sure you will be touched with the stories and the carefully chosen words he used.

I feel what he wrote in one of the postings indicated the clarity that he had in his mind on his final days:

"Today, when staring at my own mortality straight in the face, I realise that prayer and remembrance of God is really not for His benefit. It is for ours. It is a practice and discipline that allows you to clear a channel of energy tapping into and communicating with forces of the unseen, that in turn helps you function on a day to day basis with clarity of thought and purpose. Perhaps had I known this before, much of my life would not have been a journey through a barren desert"

It was too early to wish Suflan good bye but Allah knows what is the best for him. May Allah accords Suflan with His forgiveness and blessings and may we see each other again in Jannah.

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ 

اللهم اغْفِرْ لَهُ وارْحَمهُ وعافِهِ واعفُ عنه

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Choices in Life

I was sharing about professional judgment and scepticism with accounting students at Universiti Malaya last Friday. Quite a heavy topic for those who are still learning about the accountancy profession. However, I reminded the students that judgment is what we do everyday. I quoted the example of the shirts they were wearing when attending the session. Yes, even selecting what you are going to wear involves judgment. It is something that we do everyday, as a sign that we are still alive.

Reflecting on the issue of judgement, it is normally predicated on a range of choices. Rightfully, the choices should be premised on facts, assumptions, thoughts and the values that we believe in. In deciding which of the choices we would be acting on, I suppose one will try to ensure his or her personal interests would be best served by the chosen path. 

How do we decide which option would best serve our interests? Do we take into consideration the effect to others, especially on issues where the option  would cause many people to experience the consequences of our judgement? I suppose the width of our net of consideration would be dependent on the subject, our position and more importantly what guides us in determining right and wrong, our values.

As one moves up higher in the hierarchy of the society, the consequences of one's judgment would have more significant influence over the society. Whether one is a politician, judge, public officer or spiritual leader, one cannot just think about oneself alone. Unfortunately, based on many things which we are seeing and hearing today, we might be wondering whether the better good of the society is paramount when people in the higher echelons exercise their judgments. Mere mortals like you and me are also subjected to this question in the little things that we do in the space which we could influence.

For those who believe in the Day of Judgement where all actions that they make in this world would be scrutinised and judged by the Lord of the Lords, I am sure they would appreciate that every single decision is a step towards salvation or retribution. 

One may hold the highest of position and could be feeling invisible, however, one may not escape the consequences of one's judgement or decision, what more when such decisions and actions are abusive and cause troubles to people. On the other hand, one could be humiliated and shamed now, but later, in the afterlife, such challenging experience could be the pathway for eternal happiness.

We certainly have many choices in what we do. Some may feel fulfilled if the choices we take provide us with the maximum benefits to us in terms of wealth and other material gains. Some would go beyond our self-interest and would also consider what is the greater good of the society. Off course the choices are ours and the consequences would also be ours and ours alone.

Have a great weekend : )

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Pak Engku - The Down to Earth Accountant

Just imagine when you were the new kid on block and the youngest of them all. How would you feel when you were surrounded by more senior people, may who were known for their achievements and contributions to the country? Intimidated?

That was how I felt when joining the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) council for the first time in 2000. However, to my surprise, many of them were humble and nice, notwithstanding their stature in the society. Different from many people out there who have not achieved much but behave as if the whole world owe them a lot.

One of the personalities that provided me with many insights, wisdom, guidance and support when I was involved in the accountancy profession was Raja Dato' Seri Abdul Aziz Raja Salim or more fondly known as Pak Engku. He was the only person that had the privilege of being both the Director General of Inland Revenue and later the Accountant General. I believe this record would not be broken forever. Having him on the Council was helpful indeed, especially when we had to deal with the government and public sector.

Not only Pak Engku was very approachable, he was very forthcoming in sharing his experiences, something which I treasure until today. By helping me to understand the contexts of certain events in the past, Pak Engku provided me with the right perspectives and insights which were relevant in my work at the MIA and in dealing with the society at large.

Honesty and integrity were characters which Pak Engku was associated with. Pak Engku had been very consistent in demonstrating that those values could be applied in the work that we do, irrespective of where we are in the hierarchy of the society.  I suppose people in his generation understood the meaning of nation building differently than many of us today. Many of them were involved in the setting up of many institutions which became the pillars of our society until today. Under those situation, having the best interest of the society in mind would be important than trying to promote self-interests.

We used to travel together to the ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) Council meetings where both of us were council members. Certainly he was well respected by his peers in the region and when the council were having difficulties to address certain delicate issues, views from Pak Engku would carried weight in the final decisions. Whenever we travelled, we will have coffee after dinner together with his wife, fondly known as Mak Engku. This was when we shared many stories around the profession and society, conversations which were rich in insights and wisdom. In fact, what I learnt during these coffee sessions were really helpful later in my life.

Let me share a bit about Pak Engku and Mak Engku. They were certainly a very loving couple although as with many others they tend to have different views on many things. However, their love and affection to one another were obvious. There was an incident in Bangkok when we decided to explore night shopping and agreed to meet at a particular place. They were split and I was with Mak Engku. Somehow, we did not meet the other group where Pak Engku was with. Mak Engku decided to proceed with our plan. We did not realise that Pak Engku was so worried that he went back to the hotel and waited for Mak Engku at the lobby. We only realised this when we reached the hotel and saw him waiting anxiously. Both were great singers and they would never disappoint us at karaoke sessions which were the norms during AFA Council meetings those days.

Pak Engku was called back by his Creator on 4 March 2015. Certainly it was a great loss to the country. A towering Malaysian with honest heart, somebody like him will be difficult to replaced. إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَSurely we belong to Allah and surely to Him we shall return. It was an honour to know him and be guided by his wisdom and insights. 

اللهم اغْفِرْ لَهُ وارْحَمهُ وعافِهِ واعفُ عنه