Smack me for being cynical

Hi, good day. Please refer to the following article of Uncle Khoo for information vertification. Thank…

Posted by Jen Hong on Ahad, 12 Ogos 2018

Wife sent me this message with a general statement saying that old folks with kids all living abroad need more sympathy (or something of that nature). I mean pity the old man as he is probably feeling lonely now going through cancer. We then talked about this old lady nearby, whom kids are in US and Australia. She is bedridden and cared for by army of maids and caregivers paid for by the children living overseas. 

After a short sympathy, I started to ask who is really the one with the sad life? 

For one the article said old man still have relatives, and knowing how things work in Asian culture, news will get to his children to come back. I am sure the children know the news without FB posting asking to look for next of kin. There may be issues where they cannot make it back, who knows. 

Empathy is about putting my shoes in his. I see that he has successful kids loving overseas while we are still stuck here (depending on how you measure success). Old man probably told the kids that they should go overseas and not come back (advice taken). 

so question.. why need to be so kaypo.. people don’t need your help to forward this message.. kids are overseas, living THE life and I’m in hazy Penang with politicians from the NEW government talking about LGBT issues depressingly.  The kids are overseas, don’t have to worry about racial discrimination, don’t need to worry about passing Bahasa Malaysia, don’t have to worry about wearing proper attire to the simplest of government buildings. You worry about yourself. 

Facebook Engineer


Kisah Malaysia kekurangan Engineer. Bila baca artikel ini,saya geleng kepala. Saya juga bekas Engineer tapi berhenti…

Posted by Asraff Jeffery on Ahad, 22 Julai 2018

Tapi ada kawan-kawan Engineer yang lain lompat kerja lepas 2-3 tahun berkerja kerana tidak nampak masa depan.

Hidup seperti robot,bangun pagi,masuk kerja, buat perkara sama setiap hari dan gaji,bawah RM3k.

Hinggalah ada kawan-kawan bagitahu kerja di bahagian Customer Service lebih menguntungkan. Kerja reply email secara teknikal dan dalam masa sama sebagai penterjemah. Gaji dapat RM5k. Ada kawan yang dapat RM15k.

Percayalah,sekarang kita bukan kekurangan Engineer tapi kita kurang mereka yang sanggup jadi Engineer. Dan percayalah, isu ini Kerajaan boleh selesaikan.

  1. I do count my blessings everyday, need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. One of my blessings is to somehow being on the path to be in the job that I really love, and also with the wonderful company of colleagues. 
  2. We used to have a Russian expat as a manager and we complained a lot about how much we are getting paid, especially since “jumping ship” will mean that we get a huge increment and possibly less work. His response was “if you want money, don’t be an engineer – do sales”. Over the years, I begin to realise how much his advice make sense. If you want to be paid for your effort, work on commission. The harder you work, the more you are paid.. or you can choose to work just enough.
  3. I work with universities a lot as part of my work. When meeting students, I find that their grouses are almost the same as the FB posting. Low starting salary, no careers, other friends jumping higher in “position”, driving new cars. 
  4. Looking through the positive glass, I suppose we can say that engineers have the most possibility of career transitions, ie they can be an engineer one day and jump to customer support. Not many education or careers allow you to do that. 
  5. But I tell people most importantly to know why we become engineers (As Simon Sinek says, “Start with Why”). Be an engineer if you want to create the future. Engineering is complex and hard because creating the future is a very important job. 
  6. Remember that the “managers” were once engineers, that’s where we started. Along the way we moved on the other things that interest is, engineering allows for that. Have you heard of anyone in Business Management major managing a large technical company?

Soul Searching

New photo by Nee Shen Ho / Google Photos

It’s tragic to read that people who we think as successful will take their lives. In a way, I feel it’s a reflection of our lives on social media. We post nice things in facebook and we only see other people in their happy moments. Like social media, everyone has a dark side that is hidden beneath the surface of calm. 

I am always mindful that the lives people portray are carefully arranged to show what they want people to see. We see, what they want us to see. Before social media, we have to deal with the neighbours getting larger TV, better car.. With social media, we get to compare with more than just our neighbours. 

I believe that contribution of TIME to the community is essential to happiness. Time is an equalizer, everyone has the same, rich poor, old or young. Giving time to a cause you believe in makes you happy. 

But I also believe that hope brings happiness. I have many friends migrating to other countries for a better life, presumably a happier life. I see teenagers being sent oversees, posting pictures from far away places, because their parents can afford overseas education. 

I have no choice but to seek happiness where I am.. mostly through contributions to society. People think that I am trying to change the world, but in essence, I am trying to change myself. I hate being miserable, but this self realization is a journey. 

So I’ve been telling people, except for a few cases, it does not make sense to move to Singapore (I cannot comment on other countries) so that you can make more money due to the currency exchange. You can make a lot of money but there is a limit to how much money contribute to happiness. I guess this is a case where someone who crave money, thinks that it will solve all problems, till they have money. 

Embracing my fear

New photo by Nee Shen Ho / Google Photos

We are volunteers that only show up in force during major public holidays. In every speech and article, we are hailed for sacrificing our holiday to serve the people. For me, it’s so that I can touch my inner fear. 

Most of the people who called for our service are the needy and almost always we take the graveyard shift. Almost all our calls are to low cost flats and kampung houses. We hardly meet any middle class people or drive into manicured houses. The people that we respond to, have their own stories on what got them there. Mental illness and chronic disease at a young age coupled with cramped living condition, single parents… these people are living in a world very different from mine. 

Yet these people live day by day.. year after year..  

What drives them? what keeps the moving.. If it’s hope, I really want to know what they are hoping for because I can use some in my life. 

Did I make the wrong decision?

New photo by Nee Shen Ho / Google Photos

Seems like every year, I will lose a friend to migration. I hear friends leaving for greener pastures to another country.. Australia, United States, Singapore… 

And here I am consoling myself where I am, is not too bad after all. Decent quality of life, decent career, a job I don’t hate, volunteering community, great weather, beaches (that I hardly visit), great food.. family..

But I cannot help but wonder if I’ve made a conscious decision not to seek greener pastures because I am comfortable.. not embracing the notion of going out of the comfort zone. 

Sometimes I wonder if I am missing the boat. 

The thought will linger. 

But I believe the only reason I should leave is because of the unfair government policies of prioritizing a certain race for education and government benefits. I see that in students scoring well in form 6 but not getting a course they like. Although I now have a decent living, the impression of unfairness after my own form 6 experience still burns a deep scar in my being. 

I wonder when the regret, for fighting on to stay, will set in. Maybe when my own children have to go through my own demons, I will realise where I should be focusing my effort in the past 10 years. Maybe I’ll turn bitter… but then, maybe there’s hope. 


Like a rubber band

Image result for this too shall pass like a kidney stone meme

I have been feeling stressed and  worried at work over the past few months. The feeling of hopelessness, mainly on work issues.. the feeling that the balls I am jugging now will fall very soon.

Then people tell me, well I have to practice resilience, this is where you learn to bounce back after every setback. They keep saying, the bad time will pass.. and I found this quote very interesting.. 

The only thing I can remember from all the resilience classes is to look at things from a positive aspects and have some time out once in a while. 

In other words, you gotta roll with the punches. 


Remember the ones who walk with you

Image result for remember who help you quotes

I am very sure Einstein didn’t say this, any quote with Einstein must be true right?

I do know when it comes to people in the office, I generally categorize them into a those tho are there to build a wall and those who build bridges. 

Fortunately I can count the number of people who are in my first category with one hand. They are the ones who tell you the hoops that you have to jump through to get things done. They are the ones who say “according to the process, one have to get the approval from 5 people.. because it’s the process”. These are the people that can tell you what the process says.. and that’s that. 

Then there is the second type of people who looks at the process and say, let me talk you along for the ride. These are the people who will find ways to get the outcome, while still following the process. These are the people who make things happen

I understand that companies need people of the first type so to ensure regulatory, safety and adherence to rules. Those are all important.. but what about walking together to make sure that I am not alone?

Cold and Alone.. that’w how I feel when dealing with the first kind. 

Lucky for me, there are more of the second kind who will walk together and those are the people that I shall remember. 

Had it coming

Continue from my previous post about mistakes in an interview, I never thought I would have to deal with the next big no-no.

It didn’t dawn to me that the candidate had some weird questions but I can tell the interview was not going well.

So we have this fresh graduate who came in for the interview. She was an average candidate from her personality to her knowledge. Sort of a borderline candidate that I would hire if no one better came along. The questions that she asked during the interview was pretty mundane, until I had a review of it.

After the interviewer asked questions, normally we give a chance for the candidate to ask us any question. This girl asked mostly about the benefits, how much she is getting paid, more about flexi hours, what training will we provide..and so on. Normal questions. The part that hit me after the interview during the review was the fact that she did not ask anything else, other than “whats in it for her”.

Well I know that getting a job is so that YOU can get paid and all, but sometimes we “egoistical” interviewers would like to know if there is something else that we can interest you other than benefits and compensation.. and how many days of leave you will get.. and how much bonus you will get..

I thought they teach these kinds of things in college / university.. I’d better have a chat with my university contacts.

Anyway, I saw on TV – and this is how reliable the technique is, if you trust TV – that the only question that you should ask in an interview is… “What would be the one reason that you won’t hire me based on the interview that we just had”. This would give the change for the interviewer to present his doubt and for the interviewee to address the concerns..

Well if anyone is still wondering, my company provides as “competitive compensation and benefit against companies in the same industry and geography”.



Mistakes you make in an interview

No.. currently not looking for a job so don’t ask.

But after a few years mothballed, my team is currently hiring again. After many years, I am finally talking to people who wants to switch careers. I have always looked forward to talking to candidates during interview because it gives me perspective into the what other’s are thinking when it comes to literally their bread and butter. People switch careers for many reasons, mostly for money. What makes the session interesting is that I have to interview people who are supposed to be in the peak of the careers. These are seniors, the gurus and mentors of their companies. These are the people who have 10 years of service in their pocket and can tell you the historical progression of a particular video compression technologies that has happened in the past 20 years. These are the people who are so deep into one area of technologies that they basically can recite standard specification from memory.

Basically, they are coming to interview for a position that would put themselves in a position where money matters less than their personal self worth (read.. ego).

As I talk to them, some over the phone some face to face, a pattern emerges. A lot of the experience that they carry to the interview is created during the whole career life. A simple task they did 10 years ago, affected what they can offer themselves today.

#1: You are not One, but many

After reading the job description talking about an area that they have worked on for 10 years, they come to the interview as if they are the saviour of the group. They feel like we need to hire him so that he can guide the rest of the people and build up the team.. just because he has been there for 10 years. He comes to the interview thinking that we are a new team looking for a senior / staff / principle architect / guru / hero to build us up. Normally you can feel a subtle ego in the air. Normally that air will burst when we tell them that the team has been around for 15 years. This will usually result in them asking “why have he not heard about us”? Conversation gets little awkward after he finds out that the value of what he has to offer is diminishing.

I feel that sometimes it is better to go in humble and learn as much as you can in the interview. I always see the interview as a 2-way conversation, for both of us to know each other better.

#2 We may be US Company, but in a low cost geo

I have had some candidates that come over to ask for expected salary in USD.  We are based in Malaysia, it is easier for us to calculate if you say it in RM. Not like any of us are being paid in USD. Similar to #1, if you come thinking that you want a US package, well get in line. We have more senior folks who are waiting to get relocated too, why should we send you first?

Also, look at the salary as an increment from what you have. If the company offers you 20% on top of what you currently earn, that is 20% increment for you. Never go looking at the company and judge how much they can “afford” you. You may be worth a lot, but sometimes not that much

#3 Years of Service is relative

I have people coming in saying that they have been working in company x for 3 years and he feels that he needs a change because 3 years is a long time. You feel it is time for a change after 3 years in the same company. If you are asking for sympathy, you get none. Most of the time, the hiring managers have worked in a company more than 10 years. They wont’s say they are bored after 10 years.. no one is going to entertain your whines about 3 year itch.

#4 Jump for the career and money

I have a few people who jump companies multiple times because they get major increments when they jump company to company. All good only for a while, most of them do not change the type of job they do. So essentially when they jump companies, they just do the same work for more money. This will catch up ultimately when you are paid too much for the work that you do and ultimately lose out on a better opportunity because you had not caught up with your seniority. It matters that your work needs to match up with the years of experience. We do not expect you to be doing a job that a junior engineer can do when you have 10 years in your belt.


7 Months later

Had the first follow up with the child development specialist for Gabe’s autism this week. It had been more than 7 months since he was diagnosed and since then we have enrolled him into programs that were recommended by the doctor. Firstly he is regularly attending speech therapy, followed by twice a month occupational therapy. We also sent him to a Montessori nursery that has a small class. He is also signed up for early intervention every Monday. As you can see, our schedules revolve around Gabe and he is like a secondary school kid attending tuition!

But we are happy after the assessment that he has almost caught up with his age. There were a few components that the doctors tested him on. I could not remember all of them but he excelled beyond his age in visual and cognition – apparently this is one of the trait of ASD kids. But his speech and social interaction skills still lack behind by at least a year.

Of all the improvements, we can see that his speech has improved a lot since 7 months ago. When he was brought to the doctors, we can say that he was non-verbal, choosing to just point and say Eh.. Eh.. Now he can try to string a sentence and ask for things. This is an improvement that we see very clearly, although compared to his other classmates, he has a long way to go.

I am blessed with the understanding teachers in the kindy. We did not tell them that he has ASD but we told them about his quirkyness. They reassured us that they had many kinds of people coming through the nursery and Gabe would not be a problem. They are truly patient and celebrates all his small victories.

I did tell the doctor yesterday that we have very good thereapist and teachers, but doctor said that it also a lot to do with the parents that is willing to spend time with Gabe. Hearing what she said, I did reflect on the effort that we put in for him to make sure that he does not miss any of his therapy.

We are also happy when he suddenly liked to play in the sand. Ask me 6 months ago and Gabe would be like oil to water when he is near the beach. He will never evern touch sand. Out of a sudden, he followed his cousins and went to play sand with them one day. Amazing.

He still has a long way to go. As far as his intelligence go, he looks good. Doctor said they used to call people like him “high functioning autism”, but now they just call is ASD and get the treatment that they need. Earlier the better.

I do hope this is the beginning of great things to come, there is still a risk of regression so both of us as parents are edgy.

Well, since he was diagnosed, wife has quit her job mainly because of the need to fetch gabe for his therapies but also because her job has become more stressful. We also finally moved into our new place to the south of the island so that there is more space for gabe to monkey around. All said and done, the journey is far but it is he small things that keep us going. We do join in conversation with overachiever parents and we only aim to get into national school and not special ed. When you have a different goal, view of life is really different.