Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A Contractor's tale

Kim Seng counted himself lucky as he read the offer letter in halting English from the well known developer DarShan PLC, awarding him the field works for land clearing of 20 hectares of secondary forest in Ulu Perak. As a land clearing contractor he had waited for a long month impatiently for the result of tender he submitted. Though he anticipated that he stood a good chance to win the contract, he was still a little bit apprehensive as the competition was tightly contested. He was told by Ahmad the chief clerk, the inside man he planted in DarShan that his bidding was the second lowest, and the management reserved the right to bestow the contract to any bidder they deemed fit, viable and experienced.

The contracted job would bring Kim Seng a net profit of RM350, 000/- after deducting his total cost, he calculated silently in his mind. His facial expression could not hide his excitement as he instructed his chief of bulldozer team of his company Ah Kong to get the ball rolling; the work must be completed within one month, with a grace extension period up to ten days the most, if necessary. Ah Kong had to organize things fast to have the six units of bulldozers sent to the site within one week, so as to be sure to meet the dateline.

The process of falling the trees went on smoothly that by the third week, the site of the field work looked like a large copter landing pad in a war zone with all the trees fallen and piled high, waiting to be moved to a timber factory by logging trucks. The dry season helped in a way, it would be hard to meet the dateline if it was waterlogged all over during the raining season. Within one week, Kim Seng gathered, with all the fallen trees gone, earthworks would begin to have the ground flatten. Then it would be time to hand the cleared land site over to DarShan; “and I would have my fat check!” he yelled in exultation.

Kim Seng rushed to the work site immediately after getting a call from Ah Kong, reporting to him that the job was done. He found Ah Kong taking a cat nap under the shade of a canopy erected next to the container site office as he scrambled out of his 4 wheel drive. What he saw in the middle of the 20 hectare barren ground shocked him. With all the heavy machines, noises, fallen trees and workers gone, there presented a forlorn sight: a single 30 ft tall tropical tree stood defiantly, with its branches of leaves swaying accordingly to the hot and humid afternoon breeze’s rhythm.


‘What the heck that tree is doing there?’ Kim Seng suppressed his anger and asked, waiting to explode. ‘Don’t touch the tree!’ Ah Kong did not even budge or move his fat body, giving his curt reply. ‘Bulldoze that tree right now, will you?’ Kim Seng lost his cool. ‘No way! Don’t touch the tree!’ The order was still ignored. Kim Seng caught a glimpse of an old bulldozer at the back of the container site office and promptly jumped onto it; he started the diesel engine and made a beeline towards the last tree of the secondary forest, now the almost barren ground.

‘You don’t want to do it, I can do it! I’ve been a timber jack myself. I’ll hold your pay check!’ he shouted on top of his voice as he revved the engine to a roar, whilst speeding away. With a few violent jolts, the lone tree was fallen without a fight. No sooner Ah Kong saw his employer running hither and thither, in a maddening fit, shouting loudly, asking for mercy. A swarm of fiercest wild jungle wasps was going after him, stinging him with all their might; Kim Seng had disturbed their sanctuary – their honeycomb hive. Poor Kim Seng, with his head as big as a water melon, poker-dotted with bee stings, lay in the hospital for a week before getting his fat check. Ah Kong got his check too; he was the one who sent his boss to hospital.

A true story written by
Alan CY Kok

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