Monday 26 December 2011

Is Free Really Free?

We all like free, I suppose. Free gifts, free meals, buy one get one free and also free to express our thoughts on social networks etc. What about this saying that "there is no free lunch"? Have we ever tried to understand whether what we thought free are really free?

Accountants and lawyers would normally quote you on hourly rates. Time is their cost, as what they we told by senior accountants and lawyers before them. If that is the case, what happens when their employees freely spend their time on social networks exercising their rights of free expression on platforms which do not charge their users anything?

To make things more complicated, if a company issues free shares to its employees, it has to take a charge in its income statement. There is no such thing as free shares reckon accounting standards. Does it mean in a capitalistic economy there is always a catch somewhere for every benevolent act conducted?

Even if we receive free gifts when we make purchases at shopping centres we have to pay first before we get the gifts or discounts. Most of the time, we do not even want the so called "free gift" but the thought of having more by paying less could be too tempting to resist.

On a more serious note, expressing ourselves freely may not necessarily be a free act. If we defame somebody by comments made publicly or on social networks, we could be sue for defamation. That could be costly even if proven innocent later. At least we have to fork out the legal fee to defend ourselves. What about the friend we loss because of our comments or the perception we create on ourselves due to the remarks we made. Some people may not care about these matters. They are free to think so.

For muslims, faith is very important. Our acts and conducts reflect the faith we have in our hearts. Remarks made on social networks could be a reflection of our real beliefs although we may want to believe otherwise. If conducts and beliefs do not jive, could be confident that our faith have not been tainted. This could be a free act but the consequences could be catastrophic, in the hearafter.

So, is free really free? You are free to explore!

Sunday 25 December 2011

Common Sense

How do you decide what is right or wrong? Some people may just say use your common sense. Sensible. The question is whether is makes sense all the time.

If we have a peek as the meaning of common sense in Wikipedia, it has reference to "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts" or "the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way". Watch the key words - judgments, perceptions, knowledge. If we put all these definitions together, common sense is about making decision based on what we perceive as right based on our knowledge and experience.

Do we all have the same knowledge and experience so that our judgments would be common? It would be very risky to answer this question affirmatively. This could be one of the reasons where we have differences of views and thoughts on every issue faced by the societies we live in. Even a society could be further divided into many sub-groups with differing backgrounds and values.

Another issue regarding making common judgment is how do we make such decision? By show of hands? How many hands do we need to count to decide something even in a small city like Kuala Lumpur? I suppose this is where the representation system like election is adopted. Even in such system we have observed many instances where the so called "representatives" may depart from the sense of the people who elected the person in the first place.

What about if the "common sense" is based of values which are totally against the best interests of the society. If thieves are asked whether stealing is right or wrong, don't blame them if they agree that there is nothing wrong with stealing. If corrupt people are asked whether corruption is bad for the society and those who commit corruption should be punished severely, don't blame them if they say that there is nothing wrong with corruption. What more when these corrupt people live in a society where most people know about their evil behaviours but their hands are still being kissed by ordinary people whenever the go around.

Those who believe in revealed religion may fall back on religious teaching in deciding what is right or wrong. However, for others who have differing belief systems, religion do not make sense to them. This has resulted in the separation of religion and state matters in most developed countries. 

What is common sense? It appears that what is common may not be that sensible all the time.

Friday 23 December 2011

Substance Over Form

Whenever the results of any national exam are announced there would be many news about how many students scored straight A's. Those who had near miss by scoring single B's or C's may feel disappointed. What more when their friends or elder siblings managed to get into the elite group of people who score straight A's.

On the other hand we have been hearing disappointment regarding the competency of our graduates including their inability to think and communicate effectively, skills which are very important to employers. Is there a disconnect between scoring straight A's at the secondary level and the actual work performance?

One of the practice in modern living is to turn abstracts into something which we could comprehend. Grading which are given to students are basically an attempt to demonstrate their relative performance. The grades do not necessarily mean that top scorers are really top in terms of brain capacity and ability.

Assuming that the grading system is changed where all students will be awarded A's (A1 to A9), then all students would be straight A's students. Does it mean that all of them are excellent? No! 

The symbols that we create to reflect the complexity that they represent have certainly clouded our thinking. This result in the race to get our children to score as many A's as possible instead of ensuring they are really 'educated'. Education in my ind is our ability to help our children to develop their faculties especially their minds. Instead of teaching them to be parrots i.e. being able to answer all questions during exams without understanding why the answers are really such; we should nurture their brains so that they are able to wonder, probe, think and reach their own conclusions. Sounds basic but listening to the concerns about graduates who did score many A's before, we have certainly failed miserably in that part.

Sometimes the blame is not just on the students but we as a society should be open enough to accept our own shortcomings. Do we really want the future generation to be smart and able to push the frontiers of knowledge and other things or are we just satisfied that they think in similar ways that we do? Are we brave enough to answer their questions about our own behaviours and conducts or we just prefer for them to praise us for feeding them since they were small (which is our responsibility in the first place as responsible parents)? If we want then to be innovative, don't be angry when they point to us our shortcomings. Some people are ok with this, more people don't.

There are many other things that we do as a society which focus more on the form rather than the substance. Form is easy to be recognised but substance is more complex to identify and comprehend. This article by Ustaz Asri is a very interesting piece about form and substance. He observes that there is a decoupling between religion and god. Sometimes in serving God, people could even act beyond the commands of god and become god themselves.

Another common misunderstanding that I observe is the branding on people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. People like them are branded as university dropouts, giving connotations that they were not smart enough to get through tertiary education. However, if we read the story of their lives, these people were smart enough to differentiate between academic qualification and doing real stuff which eventually changed the world. Again we are caught with our own self-imposed limitation that a university degree is a symbol for 'success'. Too me, a degree is just a certificate that the person could think. Given what I am hearing, that even may not hold that much.

So, going into the new year, we should start to re-calibrate our views on substance and form so that we continue to focus on what really matters rather than symbols which may not be real. 

Monday 19 December 2011

Living With Nature

Having a break from the hectic city life is certainly refreshing, especially during this period of the year. While many of us would have chosen destinations abroad, a family get together outside the city would also serve the purpose. This is where Lembah Temir or Temir Valley comes into the picture.

Located around 90 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur and near the town of Raub in Pahang, this place is far enough to be away from your busy city rituals. While you may be reachable through mobile phones, the connectivity is rather weak (depending on your operator) which could be an excuse for not responding to any call. Surely, the kids enjoyed the cool water of the rivers surrounding the place.

Lemah Temir is a privately own property within a durian orchid. It has natural waterfalls and rapids which are great for swimming or just cooling yourselves under the weight of the falling water. It has its own mini hydro which generates 81kw electricity.

While enjoying ourselves in Lemah Temir, we were served with local fruits - rambutan, pulasan and off course durians. Having D24 and Musang King on a daily basis could be very explosive! Any food after swimming would certainly taste great, especially in that relax environment.

This place provides a great opportunity for those who have not been exposed to village life to observe trees and greenery at their natural habitat. Off course, insect repellent is advisable as you don't want yourselves to be easy targets for mosquitoes.

A night at Lemah Temir is enough to refresh my tired body. Next time, I will spend more time, perhaps with more activities to recharge my mind and body. 


Tuesday 13 December 2011

Daulat Tuanku.

Today is a historic day for Malaysia when Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'azam Shah, the Sultan of Kedah, took oath as the 14th Yang DiPertuan Agong of Malaysia. Historic in the sense that Tuanku Abdul Halim was also the 5th Yang Dipertuan Agong from 1970 to 1975. Additionally, he will reside at the new Istana Negara or the National Palace which in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia observes a constitutional monarchy system where the Yang DiPertuan Agong or King is elected among the Sultans of the nine states in Malaysia. The King is the Supreme Head of State and serves for a period of five years. 

Tuanku Abdul Halim replaces Tuanku Mizan Zainal ABidin, the Sultan of Terengganu, who completed his term on 12 December, 2011. 

Daulat Tuanku!

Sunday 11 December 2011

One Limousine Ride in London

There are many things that you can write about London. Maybe to most Malaysians, Oxford Street would be the most familiar landmark as there is where the shopping spot is located. Rather than discussing about London landmarks, I would like to share the experience talking to a limousine driver in London.

I arrived around 5.30 in the morning at Heathrow and my limousine driver was already waiting when I exited the arrival hall. It was a right timing, just ahead of the normal morning jam that Londoners have to ensure daily.

My pick up was the first trip for my driver who drives a diesel Mercedes Benz. He is from the largest operator of limousine in London. Interestingly, the company invests significantly in technology in ensuring its services are ahead of the rest.

For example, it's IT system would allocate jobs to drivers based on their proximity to passengers taking into consideration how long they have been on the queue. This enables a fair distribution of work among the drivers. While the driver related that he has to work hard and has limited time for holidays, he seems satisfied with the income he earns. The company has also launched an iPhone apps which enable passengers to book a limo using the apps and will be picked up within 15 minutes. Payment is also made through the apps.

The Benz which I took uses eco-friendly diesel and the engine stops whenever the car stops at traffic light. This reduces fuel consumption, hence reduces carbon emission. Owners of this eco-friendly car are given incentives by the government. What struck me was how much the driver understands the need to reduce carbon emission and how this will save the world.

It was an interesting short journey and I learned a fair bit about taxi services in London. If this is the baseline expectation to ensure visitors are excited about their first encounter with front line service providers, I was certainly impressed.

By the way, my hotel was located very close to Oxford Street.

Monday 7 November 2011

Steve Jobs - in ENGLISH

At lot has been spoken and written regarding Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple that passed away recently. Known for his commitments towards what he believed as right, Steve broke all the rules, challenged status quo and guest what, he was proven right.

He was certainly an innovator. To my mind, innovation by definition is to proof the status quo is wrong and offer better alternatives for the common good of the society. Be that in scientific discovery, business models or social thinking and living. So those who are incumbents, whether in business or politics, people like Steve are not welcomed. This sort of people do not only reduce life expectancy of products or services, but politicians and political parties as well.

The fourty-two chapter book with 599 pages was written by Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute who was also the Chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. You need to have a copy of it to learn more about Steve.

Sadly, the book is only available in ENGLISH (at the moment) making it useful to ENGLISH competent people. It may later be translated to many other languages but it will take time and sometimes the context might not be the same due to the differences in culture and values.

Perhaps, in some countries, people like Steve Jobs are not welcomed. Who need more of the people who keep on changing status quo and offer something different? Not good for stability and harmony! Insecure and incompetent people with power may believe so.

Further, in some countries, a big number of policymakers are now people who could not comprehend ENGLISH well, due to the policy shift in the 70's. This was the time when changing what was established by the colonials were fancy. 

So, instead of acknowledging their deficiency, just create a policy to institutionalise the shortcoming so that everybody would be the same. By doing this, not only Steve Jobs alike will be prevented to exist, the deficiency in ENGLISH does not exist anymore because everyone share the common trait.

Even when writing about Steve, we tend to break some barriers!
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Wednesday 26 October 2011

Finallly, 787 Dreamliner Takes Off

This is a project which I have been following for quite a while. Not so much because it resulted in a brand new plane which consumes less fuel but more because of the concept of innovation behind this project. I have been excited about network-centric innovation for a long time and the Dreamliner project is one of the show cases that deserves recognition.

No doubt this project has it's fair share of challenges and did not complete on time. However, the collaborative concept, where competitors were able to collaborate, would certainly be further refined in the future and hopefully enabling more innovation which will make this world better.

Network-centric collaboration is about recognising that there are more smart people outside your organisations. The idea behind this concept is to co-create and leveraging on talents and brainpower that would have not been tapped, had the innovation remains within the typical corporate boundaries. This approach has been applied in many other industries. Perhaps this old presentation of mine would clarify the concept further.

Let us pray and hope the first flight of the Dreamliner today would be the beginning of many more success stories which will offer us, you and me, better way of living and ensure the generation of the future would inherit a planet earth  which is livable.

Saturday 22 October 2011

What a Week!

I was attending an annual dinner when I checked my iPhone for latest news. There it was, Col. Gaddafi is dead

By now, many of us may have seen many videos and pictures surrounding the dead of someone who has been running Libya for more than 40 years. His conducts affected many lives, within Libya and abroad. Even in this part of the world, I am sure he will be remembered. When I was a little boy, I met many Malays from Southern Thailand who were given scholarships to study in Libya. I believe such handouts were accorded when Gaddafi was already in power. I wonder how these people who benefited from such gesture would feel at present?

At the same time, the movement "Occupy Wall Street" is gaining momentum. It has spread to many other capitals, symbols of capitalism. The dissatisfaction of people on the "main street" over the conduct of those calling the shots at the "Wall Streets" of the world could influence many move events to come. Given the US is going into a Presidential election next year, this movement could be turned into another vote bank. Oh, the people in the US are lucky that election dates are not as mysterious as it does in some country.

Then we have debates in Malaysia regarding the role of academicians and how far they could share their views and thoughts. I am not going into details of this. However, there was also report on state of our higher education by the World Bank. I have not seen the report myself yet but I understand there was a case study of 2 universities, one in Malaysia and another in Singapore. Both universities started from a common root but evolved with different philosophies and approaches. Where there stand in the eyes of the world is now quite obvious. Hopefully, we could also learn something from this as well.

So, there we are, in a week many events could occur, in many parts of the world and with different relevance and implications to many of us. Not everybody will understand and interpret these events in similarly way. How these events are understood would be influence by our own views, philosophies and values. What is important is how honest we are in looking at these event, to ourselves.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Giving meaning to our lives

I am not surprised many of us are sad with the passing of Steve Jobs. Why? He managed to touched our hearts in many ways through innovations inspired by him and his colleagues. Although it took me long years before buying my first Apple product which was an iPhone 3G, looks like I am not buying anything but Apple from that point onward.

The death of Steve has sparked discussions about him as a person. His commencement speech at Stamford is one of the most quoted after his death. It is all about life from his perspective, given who he was as a child and realising his future would be influenced by the cancer he suffered.

By taking death as a game changer, Steve focused on giving meaning to the balance of his life, from his own perspectives, as determined by him, not others. Ironically, that meaning comes from making a difference to others, through products and services which shape the lives of many people and industries. While some may sense some sort of arrogance in the ways Steve and Apple behaved, it is clear now that such conducts was premised on the thought of living life as he saw it then.

When the technology industry was moving strongly towards open architectures, Apple stood it cause and maintained it's own ecosystem religiously. The essence of this stand is about being able to shape the future rather than the reverse. It is interesting to note that this model has been adopted by many of Apple's competitors lately.

So, who shape the lives we live?

Many of us want others to change so that our lives will change for better as well. Does this make sense? Well, such attitude generates societies which demand a lot but do less. As a result of this, they get exploited by people who are in the position of power or influence. Instead of trying to change the way they think and behave, they expect the exploitative people with power to change, what a wishful thinking. Off course once a while, they will be given goodies and handouts, especially when big major decisions are to be made.

I suppose the meaning of our lives is determined by ourselves based on our beliefs, values and desire to decide how we will be remembered when we are no longer around. While it could be ironic that to have more meaningful lives we make meaningful differences in others, achieving such a state requires strong personalities and desire. Steve did.

Will our lives be more meaningful when Steve is no longer with us? 

Saturday 1 October 2011

Right Vs Popular Decisions

We make many decisions in our daily life. From deciding whether to step out from our beds early in the morning, the food that we eat for breakfast and decisions that we make at work. None of us are free from deciding things for ourselves. In all cases, deep in out hearts we also know exactly why we decide what we decided. Whether or not we share those reasons with others could be a different matter.

When we make decisions which will affect others or more people, things could be more challenging. Some people fully understand how our decisions would affect them, some don't. Sometimes, we ourselves may not be able to exactly project those implications.

If we could agree that people are inherently selfish, it could be easily assumed that people will react to the decisions we make based on their self interests. For example, if our decisions provide them with better benefits, I am sure nobody would complaint. If however, our decisions restrict their behavior or require them to make more effort, some may not support our decisions. 

The higher we are in the hierarchy of our society, the wider the impact of our decisions would be. Naturally, the response to such decisions would be stronger, especially when a larger segment of the society are unhappy. Another challenge is about balancing the immediate needs of people with a more sustainable future i.e. ensuring our children and theirs would not suffer from the consequences of the downside of what we decide today. From experience, we tend to look at a shorter time horizons and may let the future be dealt with by others. This is perfectly selfish.

The impact of any decision is also influenced by the values of the decision maker. If we as a society could not be bothered about corruption and abuse of power, we would not give much attention towards governance, rule of law and justice. I ma sure we could look at many other part in the world where compromise on values and ethics, at the societal level, eventually lead organisations or even countries towards bankruptcy, both financially and values. Without the pressure from the society towards good governance, it would be very difficult for the rule of law and justice to prevail. So, we decide the kind of environment that we live in, by deciding who should be making decisions on our behalf.

This is where leadership comes into the equation. A leader would have to decide what is in the best interest of the society and balance the needs and demands of many pockets of people with different interests and wants. A leader who is weak would normally be indecisive, as balance those needs, as his personal needs and wants, would not be easy. For every decision, many people would be unhappy. So, a weak leader tend not to decide, prolonging the problems rather than taking responsibility for his decisions.

If we could accept that not everybody would support any decision, the guiding principle for any decision would be what is in the greater good of the society at large. For example, if by sharing more opportunities, we as a society would be more competitive, then a more merit-based system should be preferred. Off course, those who are benefiting from any golf-liked system where some are given "handicap" would not like to compete more to proof their worth. A great leader would recognise this challenge and would proceed doing the right thing.

In essence, a right decision need not be necessarily popular and a popular decision need not be necessarily right.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Being a rat for a day

It took me 8:57 minutes to complete 1.45km at The Edga Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Rat Race 2011. I participated in the CEO category, saving me from running a more punishing distance in the open category. I burned 108 calories as well!

The race is a charity event to raise funding for the needy. According to the rat race website, more than RM 1.8 million fund was raised. A respectful amount indeed.

The rat race has been an opportunity for corporate Malaysia to show how much they care about the unfortunate while participating in a rather competitive event. It was not just about running but participation of the whole organisation. There we runners, cheer leaders, supporters etc. Judging from the level of competition, many companies came well prepared.

On a bigger picture, we are certainly more than just mere rats. Although the race could have portrayed us in that sense, I hope in our real lives, we compete with each other for good causes and reasons, not just to have more zeroes in our bank accounts. Yes, life is definitely more than about having more zeroes.

I did some preparation to ensure I would not make full of myself during the race. I intend to continue exercising, just to remain healthy and able to do more for myself, family, society and the world at large.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

A country going bankrupt?

Can a country goes bankrupt? Never! I suppose that would be a natural response to his question. We are used to see what happens when a person fails to pay his debts. Even companies will be liquidated if the does not settle its borrowings. The creditors could petition to the court and a liquidator will be appointed. Assets of the company will be sold and creditors will be paid off, based on certain priorities. Those unlucky creditors will have to suffer "haircut", getting paid less than what was loaned earlier.

Countries are different kind of stuff all together. They are sovereign on their own, print their own money and able to extract resources within its borders and sell off to finance themselves. They could issue bond with better credit ratings than some of better companies.

Those were the thoughts of the past. I am sure we are familiar with the present days' scenes in Greece. Under pressure to implement tough austerity measures imposed by the EU, Greeks are suffering from the consequences of living beyond their means for a prolonged periods. They had more flexibilities when they were outside of the Eurozones. The had devalued their currencies many times in the past, burning the hands of many creditors. However, being a member of Eurozone, it is a bit more sticky now as the risks of its misbehavior will affect other countries in the monetary union.

Watching how Greece's civil servants having to suffer salary cuts, uncertainty in terms of retirement benefits and additional taxes to close the gap in government spending are certainly unpleasant. I am sure this scenario was not even imagined years back. How could a country goes bankrupt?

Bankruptcy is just a technical term. It could mean differently to a person, a corporation or a country. What matters is the consequences. Like people, when a country spends more than what it earns, over a prolonged period, the people will eventually have to pay for the consequences. Unfortunately, decisions for a country are driven by politicians who may not suffer as some of the consequences are only experienced much later. 

When times are good, even the most stupid decisions would be branded as the greatest. What more in many cases, popular decisions which may not necessarily smart, are preferred to tough measures which may not be popular. Politicians are in the business of winning elections and elections are held within a very short intervals. Naturally, the focus would always be on short-term glory and letting the tragic consequences to be suffered by those who inherit their positions later. 

Citizens who don't care about future consequences of their demands are equally responsible to push countries into bankruptcy. If they elect politicians who promise the moon and the sky but has integrity of none, don't blame the politicians for doing what they are "capable of" later.

So, remember. People will suffer when a country lives beyond it's means. That includes you, me, our children, their children and many more.

Friday 16 September 2011

Undilah, we are the BOSS.

A brilliant effort in voter education. Something that we really need in Malaysia at the moment.

The Double Words

We are celebrating Malaysia Day while those, especially in Kuala Lumpur, continue to organise open houses in celebrating Aidil Fitri. So, technically, we are again having a double celebration. Not really a surprise given Malaysians consist of people with diverse ethnicity and religion.

Another "double" that we may face frequently in our lives is doublespeak. According to Dictionary.Com, doublespeak is a noun which means "evasive, ambiguous language that is intended to deceive or confuse". People who are so desperate to be popular may choose this method to say something which many people want to hear but do something else later. That is my impression about double speak. 

There are many people out there who need to be popular but are so hopeless that they could not be so on their own merit. So, using doublespeak could be very tempting, particularly if they have ways and means to amplify their messages to wider audience. Innocent and ignorant people may buy this kind of trick. Some, although cautious that they are being conned, choose to play along as they may have personal stake in the popularity of the doublespeaker.

Off course, later, when people realised that they have been double-crossed, they would be very upset and beginning to have double-vision. Unfortunately, double speakers have the skill to manage such situations, more double-speaking and those upset people would be happy and start clapping and smiling again. Slowly but surely, the whole society would move towards unpleasant circumstances but being addicted to soothing words keep them in-check.

This vicious cycle will go on and on as many people, somehow, are able to endure the consequences of living in an environment where double-speakers are cherished and glorified. Some may decide to have enough of having this sort of nonsense would emigrate to different places with the hope of having less double-speaking and having more real life based on their merits and hard work. This is what we refer to as "brain-drain", another term coined to sound complicated and camouflage the simple meaning of the term, again.

Another outcome of the lost of integrity?

Monday 12 September 2011

Teddy bears anyone?

This is a very interesting findings. Adults would behave more ethically if reminded by their childhood friends, teddy bears. I am sure you will find the following interview with Sreedhari Desai, assistant professor at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School very interesting.

Looking forward to cuddle my long lost teddy. Did I have one when I was a kid?

Sunday 11 September 2011

Shades of Truth

Today is September 11 or 9/11. The significance of this date depends on who you are. Even if it is about the attack on the twin towers in New York. A lot has been discussed and written. While the world widely accepted that it was a calculated attack engineered by Osama bin Laden, they are also alternative views regarding the event. Similarly, there are alternative views, theories and explanations to mostly everything. 

While this world is beautiful? I suppose because we see things in shades of colours, not just black or white and something in between. Just imagine if out sight could only process primary colours, that also would change how we see the world.

The concept of "truth" is also somewhat complex and not as straight forward as what we may have thought. For example auditors have been signing off on the "truth and fairness" of financial statements for many years and yet we have issues around whether those financial statements were really so. Even today we could read different versions of truth on one single event. Just pick up a subject in a newspaper and google about it in the Net. I am sure you will find many other viewpoints and angle provided by many other writers. This worries a lot of beholders of status quo, who normally benefit prom the present 'truth' and will lose a lot if other 'truth' is accepted by the society.

During the time when a small number of people dominate what the public consumes and reads, truth was, perhaps, more absolute. However, in the day and age where people can read, hear and watch more analysis and discussions regarding certain facts, the interpretation regarding the facts becomes more diverse. At the end of the day, truth will become like beauty, always in the eyes of the beholder. This means truth will depend on our values, upbringing, beliefs etc. 

In an discussion on whether a university could shape the values of students, somebody told me that a person brought up in a family of thief will live the values, whether or not he goes to universities! Perhaps, this explains why many countries are struggling to fight corruption and abuse of power because there are so many people who believe that it is OK to be corrupted as they have been living with such family values. 

So even in "right or wrong" issues, there is no guarantee that people could agree whether a simple but disgusting behaviour is bad or otherwise. If someone benefited from their corrupt practices, it will be tough for them to categorically proclaim that corruption is bad. When can see this irony towards corruption even within ideologies. In China, which practices communism, you will be shot to death if you are a corrupt leader. In democracies, such a person may be able to buy his way up and eventually become a leader.

When I was thought about economic theory during my university days, the students were reminded about cateris paribus. A theory works only when all other things being equal. This is like taking a snapshot at things and say that "at that moment, this is what I observe". In reality,all things will never be equal. That said, the theory will be observable, in many shades.

Let's recall 9/11.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

From office boy to oil minister

I heard about this story on my way back from office today. I was so inspired by the story that I quickly did a research and ended up doing this posting. I suppose the lessons from this story should inspire us to look forward to a successful future provided there is a willingness to work hard and persevere in pursuing our dreams. 

It is about an office boy working for an oil company in Saudi Arabia. One day he felt so thirsty and went around to find water to drink. When he found what he was looking for he was abruptly stopped from drinking it by an American engineer. The water was meant only for engineers, not a lowly ranked employee like him.

That incident really woke him up and he committed himself to work hard and eventually was sponsored by his company to continue his studies. He went to study Beirut, Pennsylvania and Stamford before coming back to be an engineer in Aramco's Exploration Department. Eventually he became the company's President in 1984 and it's CEO in 1988.

This is the story of H.E. Ali Ibrahim Al-Naim who was appointed as the Minister of Petroleum and Minirel Resources of Saudi Arabia in 1995. He eventually became a very influential personality in the oil industry as such that the rumors regarding his retirement caused a record crash in the price of oil

Remember the American engineer who prohibited him to drink?  One day he went to see Ali to ask permission for time off and said, "I want to ask permission for my holiday. I hope you do not take revenge, for my rudeness and bad behavior in the past when I prevented you to drink the water" 

Ali responded "I want to thank you from bottom of my heart because you forbid me to drink. Yes, I used to hate you. But, because of you I am in this position"