Saturday, December 14, 2013

Under Budget, Ahead of Schedule

I saw one documentary on Samsung and how they got to be where they are.

Those people practised one of the most kiasu strategies in their business. The philosophy was: under budget, ahead of schedule. For every thing.

This will only work in a society that values hard work. There are hardworking people who work hard all their lives and manage only to live till they're old. No Gs, no cheese, no snowmobiles, no skis.

My grandfather - I believe his name was Fong something-something - came to Malaysia on a fucking tongkang. If I remember correctly, he was in his teens. I think he was born in the year 1900. Came here in 1917 or something like that.

He used to tell his kids that he slept on a rock as a pillow. It was by choice, by design, so he would not feel too lazy to get out of bed in the morning and start working. The idea is, if your bed is too comfortable, you'd want to stay in bed all day.

In his 90s, my grandfather lived on a plot of land with a huge chicken farm at the back. Not that huge, just around a few thousand chickens or so. He kept over 40 dogs - all mongrels - and had a small bonsai garden.

He would wake up at 6am every morning and do some farm work. My ancestors from Guangzhou planted tea and lychee, so that part is inherited a few generations, but it stopped with me. I don't plant trees. I plant ideas.

Anyway, my father inherited that thing and played fair, worked hard all his life. The worst offence in our household, when I was growing up, was not doing any work. You constantly had to be doing something useful, or his worst insult will come out: "You're useless!"

He told me to plant corn one time, and I was really pissed off that all my hard work watering those damned things and carrying a sack of chicken shit all over a quarter acre was only going to be worth RM5 per seven ears of high quality corn.

My father's sense of pricing was stuck in World War 2. This was in 1995 or so. I was 15 years old.

We were never rich and putting food on the table was the primary concern. I didn't have lots of pocket money and even though I liked comic books, the only way to enjoy them was to read reviews online (I was online in 1996) as well as Master's thesis on comics.

This is due to the fact that people in 1996 shared useful stuff on the Internet. I read academic journals and papers, slowly realising that the world is full of bullshit and spin.

To this day, my mother cuts chicken to 16 pieces to make sure they go around. We were supposed to eat more rice as it's cheaper.

When a member of another family came and decided to finish off the other dishes, my mother was horrified. Scandalised, even!

This is due to the fact she keeps leftovers in the fridge. She has three - I bought her a large one in 2008. Inside these things are all kinds of food known to man.

During the recent flood in Kuantan, the first thing my mother assured me was that they have enough food in reserve. I didn't need that reassurance. I know in those fridges are a year's worth of provisions - just in case the Japanese were to ever attack us again.

The food may be spoiled, but you won't be hungry. You may die from food poisoning, but you'll never go hungry.

Anyway, in my efforts to be under budget and ahead of schedule for my own projects, I believe this would be the first year in 33 that I would not be going back for Chinese New Year.

I don't think my father or my late grandfather would mind. I know that if I explained it to them in farming terms, they would understand.