– CL Tang
The Malaysian Insider
October 06, 2013
Monday blues again. I dragged myself out of bed, for yet another day of traffic jams, mundane work and greasy lunches. As I arrived at my office barely on time, I noticed it is just the first week of the month. Yet another 3 weeks to go before that next paycheck.
It is an important day today – the company is due to sign a huge contract with the government. The company chairman will get to buy a new Rolls Royce, and I may get a promotion with a big pay rise. I buzzed my assistant to bring in the contract that we have spent the last month putting together.
She walked in, looking rather perplexed, and muttered,” Sorry boss, I lost my briefcase that contains the contract, including my laptop and the back-up disk”. I sank into my chair. “What?! How can you lose such an important document?” I yelled. She blinked her thick eyelashes and whimpered,” Boss, if the police can lose 44 guns and their boss is not even cross with them, why are you so harsh with me?” I did not know how to respond to that as she stormed out, lips pouting.
I proceeded to the dreaded Chairman’s office to inform him of the delay. He was sporting a brand new gold watch that must have weight several kilo’s. “Aren’t we signing the new contract today with the good Minister?” he queried, as he flicked through a car magazine. I made up an excuse about having to delay the signing due to some last minute corrections. “Ah good, good, mark it up by several million. The government just asked for more money and they got it. As good citizens, we must help them spend it”, he remarked. I nodded with relief.
The rest of the morning passed on grudgingly. Just after lunch, my Marketing guy walked in. “Boss, I think we will land a huge contract with Mr. Wong! I wined and dined him yesterday and he promised us a new deal!” he reported. Ah…finally some good news. As he produced his receipt, I can’t help but notice it is a handwritten one, simply with the words, “Entertainment Claims: Very expensive fish and very expensive wine, total RM 5000”. “Where’s the proper receipt?” I asked. The Marketing guy gave a mocked indignation, protesting, “Don’t you trust me, Boss? Even our government accepts all sorts of receipts without question…”
(Months later, after he left to join a government agency, I found out he actually brought Mr. Wong to the local McDonald’s. Both had fish burger. We never got the deal).
I looked at the clock, wishing it could somehow go faster. I know it can’t. It’s a cheap clock, costing less than RM20. Now I wished we could have gotten the expensive ones, the same ones that the government paid close to RM4000 each. Surely those expensive clocks can make the day seemed shorter, or at least give me a massage when I feel stressed. Those lucky folks at the TV station…
In what seemed like an eternity, finally, it’s time to pack and go home. As on cue, my Iphone rang. Its Contractor Lee. “Mr. Tan-ah, your house renovation, sorry, must top up another RM15,000. Material prices all increase-la. You know, government GST and all…” he shouted into the phone. “The GST has not even been implemented yet! And even so, how can it go up so much overnight?!” I objected. “Aiya, trust me-la, Mr. Tan… prices all go up already. Aiyo, even government buildings can have massive cost overrun. Haven’t you read the AG report? The government doesn’t even get any warranties, but I give you guarantee 3 months, ok?” Lee continued.
Too tired to argue, I put down the phone and made a mental note to cancel the holiday to Melbourne. The wife is not going to be happy. – 6 Oktober, 2013.