Monday, June 14, 2010

Of Ah Kow.. a Malaysian story...

Folks, I got this in my email. Since it is a good story with so much truth in it, I am sharing it here for all to read:-

The Story of Ah Kau, the Newspaper Vendor.

Ah Kau is a guy who sells newspapers every morning next to your apartment, and you are one of his daily regular customers. Before dashing off to your office every day, you will go to his small stall and buy The Star newspaper. Wearing a newly pressed shirt, a tie, and a pair of Clarks shoes, you grab a copy of The Star, pay RM1.20 and exchange smiles with Ah Kau and greet him.

"Apa macam Ah Kau ini hari? Bisnes ada baik*?" The normal greeting like you do every day. Yes, Ah Kau doesn't speak English. He speaks Chinese and knows a little bit of Malay. He speaks a little bit of Malay but with a very thick Chinese accent.

"Biasa saja... ini bisnes aa, kadang kadang baik, kadang kadang tada untung oo**...."

"Biasalah hidup. Kadang kadang ok, kadang kadang tak ok***." You give Ah Kau a pat on the back. You smile and walk away and get into your car. You start the engine and start driving to your office, a multinational semiconductor company located in a premier industrial area. You are a young and promising finance executive and the future looks bright for you.

A year goes by and things look pretty good on the track. You decide to marry your fiance and have your new wife moves in to your place. Both of you feel happy because you can save more money as the two of you will be sharing one apartment and can live as one.

Ah Kau is still selling the newspaper as usual. Sometimes in the morning your wife gets the newspaper from Ah Kau instead of you.

A year later a child comes along, and you decide to buy and move into a newly developed condominium just across the street. This place is bigger so it will be perfectly fit for the 3 of you. But since both of you are working, you decide to get a maid to take of the household and your kid.

By this time you're offered a managerial job from another multinational; the remuneration package offered is much better in terms of the pay, contractual bonus, medical benefits, ESOS scheme and a few others which make it impossible for you to decline. So you join this company happily.

You get busier. You realize that you spend less and less time with your family. When your department is busy preparing for the next audit, your working hours become more and more ridiculous. Any internal issues arising in the office means you'll be stuck in the office until 8 or 9 pm. Sometimes, during the weekend, you'll spend your time in your office, buried under paper works and documentations, instead of taking your family for a walk in the park.

One morning, on your way to get your copy of The Star, you realized that Ah Kau is no longer in his stall. So is his rundown motorbike. Instead, there's another young Chinese guy at the stall. "What happen to Ah Kau?" You ask out of curiosity.

"Oh, he is still around, but he is no longer taking care of this stall as he has opened up a new grocery shop down town. I am running this newspaper stall for him."

"Ok," you smile. You feel happy for Ah Kau. "At last he manages to improve his life."

Your normal life continues. A year passes by and at the end of your company's fiscal year, you're rewarded for your effort with a 5 months bonus pay-out by your employer. Wow. Now that is a very handsome reward. You feel your effort has been equally compensated. To celebrate, you decide that it's time to trade your 5-year old Proton Wira to the latest Honda Civic model. It won't be much a problem to you to get a loan scheme from the bank as your pay slip will provide you an easy gateway to access financial help from any bank.

One day, the hardest reality of life hits you right on the face. The company that you've been working for years announces that they're moving their business to China for cost and competitive reason and has asked you to find a job somewhere else. "What?" You scream out cold. "I got a lot of liabilities on the card! Who's gonna pay for my mortgage? My car? My credit card? My gym fees? My bills?" You yell like there's no way out.

This is the first time you feel let down by your own employer. All your hard work seem to go up on the smoke. You feel sick. You now hate your company. On the way home, you stopped by at a mamak restaurant for a cup of teh tarik while pondering about your future. Alone.

Suddenly you saw this new, shiny BMW 3 series being parked nearby. And to your surprise, it was Ah Kau. Yes, Ah Kau who used to sell newspapers nearby your old apartment. "What happened to old Ah Kau?" You whisper to your self.

Ah Kau still recognizes you, and sit next to you, and shared his story. To make it short, Ah Kau had accumulated his money from selling newspapers to open more stalls, one after another. Every new stall is run by his workers so that he focused on opening more and more stalls, which in turn give him more and more money. Over the years, he had accumulated enough cash to open up new grocery store while at the same time buying more assets to grow his wealth. And his current wealth and success is achieved without any loan or financial help from banks and other financial institutions.

There you go. That's the story. While Ah Kau is set to become financially free, you're back to where you're started before. Ground zero .

Before leaving, Ah Kau gives you a familiar quote, "Biasalah hidup. Kadang kadang ok, kadang kadang tak ok." He gives you a pat on the back and walks away.

In reality, if you're observant enough, there are a lot of Ah Kaus out there, that you will see every day and every where you go. The names are different, but inside them is every character of Ah Kau. They might be Uncle Dorai, Ah Chong, Pak Abu, Makcik Gemuk, Pak Man nasi lemak or others.

They look to be struggling on the surface, but if you look carefully and compare with you life, many of them are living with little or no liabilities. They ride an old 'kapcai' bike. They live in an old rundown house. They don't have credit card to swipe. They wear a 10-year old shirt and short. No new, shiny Toyota Harrier. In short, their living means are far below than yours. But what you don't realize is that many of them can save more money than yours, and over the years generate enough money to expand their business, or invest in properties. Their asset columns are much thicker than that of yours.


Note: Translation:
* How are you today, Business Good?
** Business is like that, sometimes you make money sometimes not.
*** Life is like that, Sometime it is OK and Sometime it is not.

[Sometimes it is spell Ah Kow and sometimes it is Ah Kau]

Have a nice day.


pakmat said...

..cheers, PI..there are many such people here in Bachok, PI..manning a food stall or something like that..seemingly struggling, yet in many ways theirs was a more stable like than those with coat and ties..nice story..cheers..

Jewelle said...

I read this story many years ago and always, it makes me feel humble. As long as we have our priorities right, it doesn't matter if others are better-dressed, live in better homes and every thing better. I always look up to such people and there are many around me too

Siti Roffini said...

Ah Kau's story is a testimony of the Malay proverb..Sikit-sikit lama-lama jadi bukit. The wisdom of our fore-fathers should not be taken for granted.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Salam, Pak Idrus!

This reminds me of a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. A young man's application to join the church clergy was rejected because he was illiterate. He was despondent and walked down the street trying to buy cigarettes and sweets but could find none. He found it odd and soon after opened a little shop right at the said street, selling tobacco, sweets and newspapers. Business boomed, he opened several other such shops, soon he had a whole chain of stores and people working under him. One day someone asked him: "You've accomplished so much and you can't even read. Goodness knows where you would be today if you could read." The man smiled and said: "I would have been in the clergy".

Funny, the little curves and lemons life throws at us sometimes. Ah Kow's story is similar to that of many industrious individuals in Malaysia. One of our Indonesian office cleaners used to clean staff's houses on the weekends for extra money. She saved up enough to buy a house and a shop back in her home country after 10 yrs. She doesn't have to pay income tax, has no overhead, has no staff salaries to pay... she could save everything she earned.

Anonymous said...

A very educational piece. Hope people takes the trouble to read. Thank Pak Idrus.

Martin Lee said...

Unfortunately many people judge by the cover to decide who is rich or poor! In simple financial term, the so-called rich men are filled with liabilities but they have the cashflow to service those liabilities in the form of loans, instalments etc.

You are "financial richer" and better off than them if you do not commit yourselves with too much liabilitities since your asset added up is exceeding your liabilities!

Pak Idrus said...

pakmat, thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this story.

True, most of those with the tie and expensive dress are only acting in a drama that are directed by the cooperate world and when that drama end which sometimes come all of a sudden, the players are left high and dry.

The Malay especially should throw the tongkat away and emulate what Ah Kow did. That is the only way toward a successful future.

Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Jewelle, thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this posting. Been Humble is the best way, it cost nothing and always brings great reward, most of the time without notice. Making one really happy.

To me what Ah Kow did is the success story of most Malaysian. That is why I am against the government giving crutches to the Malay, for it would really not do any good to the Malay. Instead it did worse. It would have been better to give them training and education. For it is knowledge that would help one at the end of the day.

Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Siti Roffini, thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this posting.

Yes our forefather have great wisdom but then the present Malay especially want it easy, thus their failure in business and commerce.

To me one need knowledge to succeed and it could only be acquired through training and experiences like Ah Kow. But what the government did to the Malay is to give them crutches which is part of the problems of the failure of the Malay in Business. To me the Malay should not be given crutches but only education. For it is knowledge that would be useful in any business.

Our forefather was wise but the present Malay did not want to emulated them, thus their failure. Have a nice day.

Meng said...

A good true life posting.

Pak Idrus said...

~Covert_Operations'78~ , Ee Lynn thanks for the visit and sharing you great stories of great achievement in life.

I am hoping such stories would help others to do better in life. There are many stories that would help to motivate others to move forward and be successful in their endeavor, If only they read these stories.

In Kuantan where I grew up, I saw a few Chinese to like Ah kow who save bit by bit and eventually have enough money to start their own business which let them to be millionaire later. One such case, a young Chinese sure name Lim start just by selling vegetable on the roadside which later on was able to buy Rubber Estate near the present town of Kuantan. He is no longer with us by his decedent are now doing very well indeed, just because their forefather was smart. Another example of a success story is Lim Goh Tong of Genting Highland. He has no formal education but he succeed in whatever he did and now left a Business Empire that spans the world.

Thanks again for adding to the stories of smart folks who with their ingenuity make them successful.

Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Anonymous[3:18PM], thanks for the visit and the good words on this posting.

Like you I do hope others read it and be inspired by it. Hoping that eventually they would be as successful as well.

Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Martin Lee, thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this posting.

Your are right there, never judged a book by its cover. Agreed with you that looks at time does not tell the truth and that those simple looking folks actually have a better quality of life than those that show off their 'wealth'. But as you pointed out capitalism has it poor side, so it is only the wise that would be successful and live without too much liabilities, thus could enjoy life with happiness.

Thanks again for adding some useful information to the success story of Ah Kow. Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Meng, thanks for the visit and the good words on this posting.

Yes it is a true life story and Malaysian should emulated it and be as successful.

Have a nice day.

Al-Manar said...

You see from those comments your story is not altogether unfamiliar. It is a common lesson in life. But people read and go on with their lives. Young children should, to my mind, be the target group for this kind of lesson in life - before they start theirs

Pak Idrus said...

Al-Manar, Pak Hassan thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this posting.

Yes it is a common story from rags to richness which are all true stories. The only way folks can get rich and be successful in life is to emulate Ah Kow culture of success.

The words of wisdom from our forefather ' sedikit sedikit menjadi buki' should be the culture of the Malay but unfortunately the Malay just want to take it easy and happy with just been a wage earner. I hope things would change for the better now that most Malay are educated.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

hi or rather yoo !

,,,eeerrrmm, story reminds me of an not so old pirate on an island somewhere hehehe.
,,,its not about being a malay/chinese/indian/iban but being smart about life & living plus planning for the future-lah cos. eventually one will end up there. No drift wood will end up up-river kind of yaa !. The reality of life & living is a present thingy plus the final destination, the past will never come back, so just forget most of it except for the learning experience. BUT the trouble with most people is that they only talk about the past and trying to still live with it !...and blame the world instead too eeerrmmm !! Hahaha.
...the simple trick in economics is to spare a ringgit for every one you earn-lah. As time goes by, one can spare a couple of millions, trust me on that hihihi.
,,,BUT stay healthy always, its worth more than all the millions in property or in the bank. Its priceless so be healthy & happy about it too.

Rahman Hariri said...

Very true Pak Idrus. I have always wondered if I could still live the lifestyle I had more than twenty years ago when I was starting my life - the rumah kampung (in Dungun) with a -pardon me - jamban curah, 15-year old car with no aircondition etc etc. I wonder.

May be I would have much more hairs than I currently have! ;-)

Pak Idrus said...

Anonymous eh! I know the trade mark, it is that pirate of Cotton Island in the China Sea right. Well Yoo hoo to you to and hope that your are having a good time in that timeless island of yours. I do envy you. Hope to be there one of these day.

Thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this posting. True it crosses the racial line but it is indeed a good story to tell. It philosophy is great and if followed would give one the advantage to be more successful. In fact the wise words of our forefather 'sedikit sedikit menjadi buki' is as relevant as ever. If only the Malay go for it and acquire knowledge and be as successful as the other race, instead relying on the tongkat all the time. It is the tongkat that made the Malay more dependent all the time. I hope they wake up early to the reality of the world today before been swallowed by the reality of the market itself.

Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Rahman Hariri, thanks for the visit and sharing your thought on the subject of this posting. This story is true and if only one care to emulate it one would be as successful.

For the Malay it is time they throw the tongkat away and not be dependent on the government all the time and instead be on their own like you did now. One can never be rich in every sense of that word if one is a wage earner. It is only been your own boss that one could be rich and with that would proper further and be able to contribute to the family and society as well.

True after having the taste of the good life surely we do not want to go back to live the life of the past. We must move forward and acquire knowledge and only then we would be able to be successful and the enjoy life.

Have a nice day.