Monday, 21 October 2013

Snobbish business tycoon had his day

Young Asian businessman in his suit looks
out of his car yet remains in deep thought.
Dr Chan Cheng Cheong MBBS (Oxford, UK) MA, a budding businessman emerged in the 70s to venture into Kuala Lumpur Stocks Exchange's early scenes. Trained as a medical doctor with some years of practising overseas and Singapore, he returned to Malaysia with a very ambitious mind, wanting to make it big as a successful entrepreneur, though not in the medical field. In fact he was giving up his medical practice altogether.

Chan See Shu Yen 陳氏書院 of KL, completed in 1906 had been a temple for the Chan's Clan. In its inception years, it was a school for Chinese immigrants' children too.
Dr Chan was fondly addressed as Triple C by his contemporaries and fellow course mates whilst in the university; I was told by his fellow medical practitioner Dr KK Ho of Pudu, Kuala Lumpur with a tone of scorn. Dr Chan was born in a silver spoon to a large Chinese family with Cantonese ancestry. His mother was one of the six wives his father married before the World War II. They were brought to Malaya during those difficult years when they were teenagers from their impoverished Chinese villages, some of them were as young as 15-year old.  Rice and rubber merchant, miner and large land owner, and banker Chan Wing became a successful, ambitious businessman of his class and was one of the few tycoons in town. Chan Wing built a huge, majestic mansion on a piece of hilly land to accommodate his large family at the fringe of Kuala Lumpur City; it was known to the public that he had as many as 40 or more children. Senior Chan's business empire was ruined following the invasion of Japanese force during the WWII. After the war, Chan Cheng Cheong was sent to the United Kingdom at a very tender age of 15 to begin his aristocratic British education.

It is common nowadays to see lady bosses
in chauffeur driven cars.
In his 30s handsome and suave Dr Chan married a Chinese lawyer lady, one he met while studying in Britain and they had two children of their own. However  their relationship turned sour when Dr Chan, like his father, took a mistress. They remained one family staying together though obviously Mrs Chan was not a happy woman. Dr Chan Cheng Cheong placed his family comfortable in a posh residential area of Kenny Hill in Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps he was trying to appease his wife or to reduce her acrimony. Despite his inability to read and understand the Chinese language, he told his fellow club members that he excelled in Chinese calligraphy. However he did excel in equestrian sports and air-riffle shooting events.

Rolls of textile yarn waiting to be weaved into grey cloth.
Yarn could be of nylon or cotton origin.

He had made some remarkable gain at the stock exchange where he chanced upon a poorly managed public company named Polex Industry Bhd waiting for a take-over. It was founded and headed by a Tan Sri Tan at the helm to run the textile manufacturing company. In the beginning the it was robust in the stock exchange with its shares soared to RM2.00 from the initial offering of RM1.00 when listed. By the time Dr Chan took over as managing director, the value of the shares had nose-dived to a mere RM0.25 per share.  In midst of great anguish, frustration, anger and protest of the share holders, a cash rich Dr Chan had a subtle way to disregard their presence as he held the majority interest.

Chinese and Western chauffeurs-
They paint a professional outlook in
their mannerism and service.

The company he took over employed a short and stout Indian man as his personal driver. However Dr Chan took an immediate dislike on Chandran the driver as he could not speak English and he (Dr Chan) could not understand the Malay language. The Driver could understand some instruction in English from Dr Chan; but on a few occasions he misunderstood Dr Chan's words that resulted the boss being late for appointments. On one morning the careful driver managed to avoid a seemingly head-on collision with his skilful driving experience but Dr Chan was not appreciative. He blew his top and gave poor Chandran a tongue slashing, telling him to have his eyes examined. The Indian man took his words literally and just did.  That resulted Chandran gaining a new pair of long sighted glasses at the cost of RM450! Dr Chan was adamant not to reimburse the claim but his finance manger Mr Foo told him that the driver acted on the MD's instruction so there was no doubt about the legitimacy of the payment. Hardly one week past Chandran resigned as he could not tolerate Dr Chan's overbearing attitude, shouting at him in the car to show his displeasure at petty little things. They did not understand each other and the boss wanted to show that the boss was right all the time. Perhaps Dr Chan did it on purpose to dispose a driver he disliked.

The watchdog body to oversee the operation of the Stock Exchange.
Sadly some public listed companies still blatantly
 flout the rules of the Security Commission.

A Muslim Indian man named Mat took over as the new driver to the MD. He was a good-natured man with many years of driving experience for corporate bosses. Mat took it at stride when Dr Chan's lashed out some unpleasant words with his usual self. The conceited and snobbish MD had always thought with money he could enslaved employees and subject them to his unreasonable verbal abuse. The driver remained cool and concentrated on driving, turning a deaf ear to the MD's outburst. Unlike the previous driver Chandran, Mat could speak a smattering of reasonable English.

Traffic jam in Kuala Lumpur on a normal working day.

One day on the way to the office, they were caught in a massive traffic jam and Dr Chan was never a patient man. He began to beleaguer his driver for driving into a wrong route, bellowing him with harsh, stern words of warning.  Mat retorted that this had been a regular route the office designed and planned, there must be some incidents ahead that held up traffic. Dr Chan could never allow a subordinate's retort or explanation; he told the driver to shut up while he kept on displaying his irrational idiosyncrasy. When all vehicles on the road began to move on with a faster pace, signifying the jam had been eased, Mat braked suddenly in the middle lane, and pulled up the hand brake, jolting Dr Chan forward. As the MD recovered his composure and before he could shout and curse, Mat pulled out the chain of the car keys and walked out of the car coolly. He then flung the keys into a large monsoon drain a distance away. Mat crossed the road safely, leaving the MD stranded in the stalled car in the middle of a three-lane highway whilst vehicles of all sizes scrambled madly to avoid hitting the company car, a Mercedes 240D. A few minutes later the car was hit at the back by a city bus and the MD was too shocked that he could not get out the car without assistance.  The incident caused a massive traffic jam alright. The next day both Dr Chan and Mat did not show up at the office. Mr Foo called Mat a week later to come forward to collect his one week pay. The office decided not to pursue the matter since the MD did not want to lodge a police report even he felt it was a great humiliation inflicted against him by a low levelled employee.

The worst scenario every individual and company should avoid!
Meanwhile the textile manufacturing business Dr Chan took over suffered as the price of raw materials of his product - the weaving yarn had skyrocketed. It was costing the company millions to maintain the plant to be viable. However his marketing and sales team could not reap healthy sales to achieve their recovery plan. The MD invited a Chinese press financial  reporter to his office for a brighter report of his entity but that drew little result. Eventually Dr Chan's venture into business failed miserably as he realised the cruel fact that he could not go on pumping millions into a condemned industrial project of low standing. The value of the public listed company Polex Industry Bhd plummeted amid speculation that it could not sustain its poorly managed operation with so much debts incurred and accumulated since Dr Chan's acquisition. By the time he sought the help for rescuing the company from security commission, the share of the doomed company had fallen to a mere RM0.05 per share. Dr Chan learned a lesson too well too late; it was estimated he lost about RM20 million in his luckless investment. Then again, the minority share holders could have lost much more.

Obviously this picture has been doctored. However the country could face the unenviable situation if the ruling administration keeps on ignoring the widespread practice of corruptions.  
Footnote: A true story written.
 However names mentioned were changed.

Alan CY Kok           

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