Wednesday, May 13, 2009

3 Resignations and One Botched Kapet

(Photos and videos will come later, maybe this weekend. The fact that I transferred the videos and photos to a different laptop just goes to show how disorganised I am for the past few weeks ha ha. For once aku tak jadi control freak! Liberating)

A lot has happened since the last posting. What could have taken one year snowballed and culminated into events that took place only in 2 weeks.

Perhaps I should begin from where we left off – Kapet Yengko.

Kapet Yengko was an amalgamation of mixed results. Despite all of us (Bapak2 Itik) coming back for OBW2009, the initial euphoria to re-enact the Kapet did not materialise. I was sceptical from the very beginning. We were all too busy with other stuff and the tediousness of running a food stall was the last thing on our mind. At the last hour (when Epit was already on the way to KK on Thursday night), I called to ask him to tell the boys not to go ahead, because I didn’t want to bring the stove etc.

12 hours later the following conversation took place:

Noni : “So budak2 tu nak go ahead ke ngan Kapet ni?”
Epit : “Yeap, diorang nak jugak”
Noni : “Kau dah cakap ngan diorang semua ke tak, cakap benda tu cerewet”
Epit : “Dah… diorang nak jual ABC and dah bagi list”
Noni : “Let me guess – kau cair ngan diorang? Aku rasa kau dah agree ngan diorang to go ahead..”
Epit : “Ha ha lebih kurang laaa…. Aku tak sampai hati laa... budak2 ni dah semangat sangat..”

Ha ha as much as I thought it would have been a chore to bring everything from KL just for the boys to play around, I could understand the position Epit was in. Either we are getting very old or we really appreciate gullibility especially when it comes from a bunch of budak koleq – it’s very difficult to say no to these boys. So with that I had to pack the big wok, the stove etc to KL for the boys to play around with ha ha.

The sale was lukewarm initially. There were times that I was disheartened observing some of our own old boys. I was sitting at the back all the time together with the rest (Epit, Mpro, KNO, Pak Tuan, Idzam, Chibiok, Badut, Radin, Awie, Abon, Tungkid, Syam) and I can’t help but wonder why it was so difficult for a small minority just to part with a small cash. Sometimes the boys were grilled for the t-shirt they were selling, when the margin was so small and all was going to the hockey fund anyway. There were times when I felt like telling some of them – if you feel that giving RM20 (the margin) to the team is too onerous financially, then please don’t bother to come. We gave a lot more than that and never had any qualms.

This was one of the conversations that peeved me a bit:

Anak Itik : “Abang, beli lah ni untuk team hoki ni”
Old Boy : “Tapi aku bukan main hoki dulu”
Anak Itik : “Tak pe la bang, boleh support team hoki”
Old Boy : “Tapi aku tak support team hoki pun.. Design dah OK dah, tapi ada tulis ni (referring to “In Support of MCKK Hockey Team”) yang aku tak suka” (he then walked away..)
Anak Itik : ??????????

Luckily, they were the minorities and there were many others who helped. Thank you to the ex-hockey players who did a quick collection on the field and bought a majority of the t-shirts, I am sure the boys, when they join your rank in MCOBA Team one day, will remember you. Thank you to Cik Mie (Bro Suhaimi Sulaiman Class of 79), Moqq (Class of 96) and many others who dropped by and helped a lot.

Kapet Yengko was also one of the best team building activities we had for the boys. Because they stay with one batch from Form 1 to Form 5 and never get the chance to get to know each other, the gap between one batch to another is big. It was very difficult to bring out the sense of togetherness – even after camping each year, we still see a lot of rooms for improvement. Kapet Yengko however, brought them together and I hope the eagerness they showed throughout the weekend is a sign that they are coming together as a team.

There were a lot of examples that Kapet Yengko did more to their team spirit than it did to their coffers. There was this group of Form 2 players who went around meeting old boys and persuading them to buy – they were quite relentless and kiasu that most of the sales were coming from them ha ha. The seniors (Holland, Kwang, Muiz, Arape and others) had fun with the keropok lekor (their request to sell ABC had to be turned down, because we don’t want to go all the way to Lenggong to pick up the machine ha ha). All in all, they made a profit of RM80 from the keropok lekor – so we asked them to use the money to buy food for themselves, since it was too small to make a difference to the fund. I was touched that the boys were adamant for the money to go for the fund; they wanted to help in whatever ways they could.

In the end, while we have to re-print the round neck t-shirt, we still have a few of the polo t-shirt to sell. No worry though, since I have identified the victims who will have to buy these t-shirts by paksarela ha ha ha (if suddenly you get a call or an email from me out of the blue, you know what it is for).

There were others who were not a part of the Mighty Ducks who came back with us. Syam and Awie came back to see the Formula 1 boys since the progress has been really slow. We had to send Tungkid (who came with Syam) to accompany Syam and checked on his temper, in case he unleashed it on the boys ha ha. We spent only one day there and as the adage goes – “di mana ada Fadhil, di situlah boleh makan free” – Epit secured a free Thai dinner for all of us that night in Bukit Chandan, courtesy of Fadhil ha ha.

But Kapet Yengko is a customary update to pacify those wanting to know what had happened, after much hype. The delay in the update was due to a series of resignations that took place and would alter the course of a few things in the next few years.

Resignation I

Right after the OBW, the debating teams participated in the UIA National Interschool Debating Championship – a tournament where we had featured prominently for the last 5 years. We either won, or went to the final, or dominated the best speaker awards. Much of my time in the first 4 months of the year was devoted to coaching the new teams – we had never coached a debating team as intensive as this one.

To cut the long story short – we crashed at octo finals for both the English & BM teams. While English could have gone all the way to the final if not for the dip in the performance that night (which I am still not sure what was the reason for the blip), the BM would have to scale a mountain to make it to the final. Not because they are not good, but 5 years in the final is way too long and any organiser, in any tournament as subjective as a debating tournament, would have wanted to see a new face in the final. I feel they are better than most of the schools participating, but we know enough that a marginal advantage over competitors never brings us anywhere. We only win when we dominate. At first glance it is not fair, but we have lived with the higher expectation in good faith and many times, the very unfair expectation is the impetus to make our boys much better than the rest.

Losing is always tiring and disappointing, especially when you have tried everything that you can. One printer later (we have to buy a new printer altogether), various trips to and fro KK and UIA, a few thousands ringgit, countless sleepless night etc. – we still lose. It is quite natural if people want to slow down, yet the junior coaches did not show any remorse or disappointment for their hard work that went down the drain (but then again, they are young and easily excitable with anything ha ha).

What was more draining (mentally and physically) is seeing the deterioration in our (coaches) relationship with the school and the teachers. I have resigned to the fact that after so many years coaching the team, what was initially an invitation from the teachers and school, most probably has become a chore to some of them. It is only human nature that when good things come easily to us, we start to take things for granted.

MCKK is blessed with crazy old boys with crazy devotion to the present boys. I don’t think we love the school that much – it is, after all, a century old building that is not well-maintained and might collapse due to negligence in 50 years! But MCKK continues to receive top 100 Malay boys year in and year out from all over the country – many of these boys come from a working class family, just like me about 20 years ago when I first stepped into MCKK. The boys continue to represent one policy that has worked for 100 years in this country – that Malays are not born stupid, nor are we lazy and if we are shown the way to realise our potential, the sky is the limit. I am forever grateful to MCKK for opening my eyes to the world – so I would be damned if I do not try to do the same thing to these great talents sent to the sleepy Kuala Kangsar town each year.

Unfortunately, more often than not, I don’t think the similar aspiration is shared by many. Lately the strain has become more and more apparent. I can understand that the teachers are torn in between the KPIs and the crazy cluster thing, yet at the same time I have taught the boys that courtesy, decency and putting the team’s interest first override any other motives. I wish the same feeling was shared by other adults around them.

With the latest development, I came to a resignation that the next few years will be a difficult period for the debating teams. As I told the boys, what goes up must come down (although we jokingly say “unless you use a very powerful Viagra!” ha ha). We have been dominant for a good part of this decade that naturally we need to go through a renewal process to reflect what we had taken for granted and the virtues we have lost. The complications with the school mean we have to be a bit more careful in our dealings with them (as if our dealings now are not careful enough) – all adds up to difficulties for the junior coaches to navigate; as they warm up to their new responsibilities.

The good news is that despite the complications, I do not see a single coach wavering – in fact they all dug in and were quite determined to stay come what may, because they cannot contemplate leaving the boys on their own. While I was quite happy generally with the fighting spirit (after all, these junior coaches are the beneficiary of Fazurin’s famous “fighting spirit speech” in Ulu Kenas in 2006), I hope they realise how many heart-breaks are waiting for them in the future. There will come a point when they will start to question the purpose and reason for the devotion in the first place.

Resignation II

Fresh from the defeat for the debating team, Pak Tuan and I were the only Bapak Itik available to accompany the hockey team to Sungai Petani for the North Zone inter-SBP hockey competition. We had to pick Holland & Kwang along the way – who initially wanted to hitch hike on bas lompat to reach Sungai Petani!

We were quite late so Mr Thaman and Mr Bala had to wait for us for a while. We went to get them a room at a cheap hotel in the middle Sungai Petani – it was so chokia I really had to apologise to them, since that’s the only room we can afford for them for the time being.

Pak Tuan and I had also agreed that we should give each one of them a RM100 pocket money – since they would be away from home for one whole weekend for MCKK. When I took the money out from my pocket, Mr Thaman used all his Kalari Payat skill not to accept and the pushing and shoving went on for a few minutes until he said this:

“…please don’t embarrass me, we do this for the love of college..”

I was quite stunned momentarily because no teachers, since I had been coaching MCKK teams, had ever professed their love for the school that openly. With that, I relented and left them quite literally ashamed. Ashamed for many reasons which I will not share here; but I supposed many of us can guess.

We went to see the team that night. It’s a much better team in terms of focus and discipline, than the ones we picked up in 2007. They have the mental cohesion as a team and they are a lot more disciplined than their peers. We collected all the handphones and electronic gadgets since they promised to sleep at 10 pm (which they did. They woke up the next morning much earlier too and was already on the pitch by 730 am, although their game is at 1050 am).

It dawned on me very instantly as I sat down at the hockey stadium – that for every one yard of progress we make, other schools matched that with one metre. We were in the same grouping as STAR and SERATAS – while SERATAS is a powerhouse which we acknowledge, STAR had never beaten us at hockey since 2006. I thought we could have easily defeated STAR remembering how they played in previous tournaments.

That thought changed quickly when I saw their team playing against SERATAS and practising afterwards. STAR drew 0-0 with SERATAS. It was not long before we found out that STAR too has been having the backing of its old boys. Their jerseys and equipments were better and apparently their old boys had hired an ex-Malaysian hockey player as a coach.

We played well against STAR. Though we drew 1-1 we conquered the game and there were 2-3 near misses that could have tipped the balance. We picked up a bit slow, so we ran out of time that it was too late by the time we intensified the attacks. It’s a recurring problem with our boys – the problem of confidence. When they go to the pitch (unlike my thinking back then when I used to go to the debating room that I was going to eat the opponents alive; so they were the ones who should fear me) it took a while before they can shed their fear and doubt. If we are not careful, an inferior opponent can always score first and trailing is not a mental position that our boys are good at.

Nevertheless, it was not a bad result. SERATAS was the one who were in a state of panic, because they needed to at least draw against us with a minimum of one goal, to proceed to the next game. As the cliché goes, it’s all in the mind – instead of capitalising on SERATAS’ desperation to draw; we seemed to be the one more desperate of winning. We made too many mistakes earlier on and SERATAS scored a goal from a penalty corner. We came back and the boys tried their best but it was too late. That’s the end of the campaign for SBP this year.

Pak Tuan and I quickly sent Mr Thaman and Mr Bala back to the hotel room and off we went to Kuala Kangsar, because there was no point keeping them there now that it was all over. It was a crazy thing to drive to and fro Sungai Petani and KK in a space of 3 hours right when we were tired, but I treasured that drive because I got to know them better.

Mr Bala still has a boy in school – a 14 year old – whom he brings to train with our boys every now and then. He lives just beyond the train station and I have a feeling that his life is a far cry from our comfortable life. I was very happy that he brings his son to the training, which I want to encourage more and more, because college boys must see beyond the confines of the Malay mindset surrounding them. They must open their eyes and understand there is a bigger world, with different sets of stories, out there – if they want to play a big role in that world, they must understand those stories.

Along the way, I resigned to the reality that this is going to be a long haul. When we started, we put 2010 as the year to pull back. We spent a good one year thinking of an exit strategy – so when the exit strategy was delivered to us out of nowhere, I felt a big burden was lifted off our shoulders. We have finally given the boys the coach we promised all along, since we could never be a good coach if we can only come once a week.

Yet watching Mr Thaman, Mr Bala and the boys – they need all the support they want. To clean our hands and move on, leaving them to grapple with the school, the inadequacies, the shortage of funds, is an irresponsible act.

Mr Thaman has already pleaded that we consider seriously spending a small amount of money to upgrade one of the unused courts to imitate a turf – so that although we cannot play on the turf all the time, we can at least give some exposure to the boys on the court.

It’s a resignation that comes with a heavy heart – we will be around for a while to do justice to Mr Thaman’s devotion and support him where we can; but it will be a while before we can start seeing any results on the field. Other schools too are making leaps and bounds in progress, if our progress is incremental – it may not be enough.


Resignation III

Ha ha this the real resignation. On 30th April 2009, I handed in my resignation to be effective on 31 July 2009. While resignation is part and parcel of every day’s life, given my path in PETRONAS so far, many would have thought that I would never leave the organisation.

I joined PETRONAS as a manager at 25 years old. At 27, I was promoted as a Senior Manager – while I do not know for sure, I was told that no one has been appointed before or since to a SM position at 27. I have been moved to various postings and covered considerable grounds in PETRONAS, so I was in a better position to understand the organisation from various perspectives – operational, corporate, commercial, downstream and upstream. Naturally, other people in my position could have fixed their eyes on one of the VP-ship as the pinnacle of their career in PETRONAS.

But as I keep telling the boys that life is a pit stop, I too have always treated anything that I do as one of these pit stops. My career is a pit stop and eventually I will have to move on. The only complication is – I am used to a 5-figure salary for as long as I can remember and that had enabled me to do many things that we have been doing with MCKK. My decision to change career, therefore, will have an impact on the debaters, Mighty Ducks etc. – so I am not surprised that some quarters can get a bit jittery with my decision.

It is not proper to explain my decision here, nor do I owe anyone any explanation. I just want to thank everyone for the support, especially my staff (some read the blog once in a while I guess). To answer some of your queries:

1) Nope, I am not leaving because of a better offer. I am not going to Middle East. I haven’t even got a job yet ha ha
2) Nope, I am not going to write a book ha ha. A career change from that of an accountant to a writer is a bit extreme ha ha
3) Yes, I have thought about it thoroughly and I rarely back down from a decision, no matter how stupid is that decision. Most people call it egoism, my mind justifies it as being focused ha ha

Looking back, in the one week that snowballed into a resignation – I understood why I may have the guts to do it, compared with other people in a similar situation.

When it first crossed my mind, I called Jita. Jita is one of the most sceptical persons in the world and if I pride myself as being a good British product due to my cynicism, then Jita can claim to be the best British product. He fancied himself as a good devil’s advocate.

So when Jita was quite speechless and did not argue much, I took it that I would have his moral support. I spent the next 4 days with the debating boys and though they joked here and there about how life would be different for them when I am broke, you get the feeling that they trust you know what you are doing.

When I first announced to the batch that I was quitting – the response that I received was very touching. Even Hazerq who never replied to any emails sent a distressed email ala Rafidah Aziz’s “why why why” so eventually we joked around that it took my resignation for Hazerq to send an email to the batch.

The Bapak Itiks initially thought it was a joke (there was an ongoing bet that I will not quit) but it wasn’t long before Epit sent an email along the line “…errr guys, I don’t think he’s joking” ha ha.

There were then calls after calls – I felt good because these calls, from the batch, were not about finding out the reason I left, but how they could help for what will happen next.

Ezrin was the first one to get through me and I felt touched that to him, it was a privilege to have been the first to speak to me. Badut offered money ha ha (“If you need money just call” // “Ha ha I still have my salary for the next 3 months la..”) and there were many others.

I spent the next weekend with Pak Tuan in Sungai Petani – it was a hell of a good time spent with Kwang and Holland, which included a midnight show of Wolverine. We spent a few hours on the way to Sungai Petani analysing Holland’s failure as a jambu or his often botched up attempts at getting a jambu; that in the end we concluded he is just a born loser.

By the end of the weekend, after spending time with Mr Thaman and Mr Bala – I was reminded of how my life was full of blessing all along. Spending time with these people, away from the office politics and the rat race of people trying to outdo each other to reach the top – convinced me that I should count my blessing. With that realisation came a resoluteness that whatever difficulty that may come about due to my quitting my comfortable life, shall pass too.

Within a space of 2 days since I tendered, there were a few interviews lined up – mostly due to MCKK connections.

There are always people who will be there when I need them. When I fall, either the people closest to me will try to fall with me so that my landing does not feel too rough, or they will catch me if they can. Having the support system that MCKK family provides, enables me to take the path that other people may not have the guts to do.

I thought of Ben when I was drafting my letter. I am sure he would be supportive.

I thought of Shahrol and how difficult it would have been for him. He used to joke around that if I were to become a VP, he just wanted to be my bag carrier. Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom called Shahrol home first, perhaps to pave the way for me to reach the decision – otherwise it would have been very difficult to explain to him.

There have been signs all over the place; it would have been stupid for me to ignore them.

As to whether without my 5-figure salary Mighty Ducks, or the debaters etc. will have to take a back seat – ooo well I am sure we’ll find ways. We always have and help usually comes when you least expect it.

We are, after all, eternally optimistic (kan Chamat, ha ha ha)!

FOOTNOTE

Pak Tuan sat down with Mr Thaman, Cikgu Khairi and a few other teachers from SERATAS, STAR and other SBPs. The following comments from SERATAS’ teacher and coach should put things in perspective:

“Saya respek la old boys MC and STAR ni, macam mana pun tiap2 tahun mesti turun kalau ada tournament, menang ke kalah. Saya sedih dgn alumni SERATAS, saya dah bagi update semua, details perlawanan semua, tak de yang nak turun. Bila saya merungut dan bandingkan dengan old boys MC, depa kata old boys MC lain sebab stabil & ada kemampuan. Kita bukan nak mintak duit pun”.

Pak Tuan mencelah “tapi kitorang datang angkat air je Cikgu”

“Itu lah yang kita nak. Bukan kita nak mintak apa2 pun, kita nak mintak support je. Ni bila saya sebut ni, kena marah pulak sebab bandingkan dengan old boys MC”.

Once, a STAR debating teacher came to me and told me how lucky our boys are to have old boys like us.

But too much of good things are bad, because we tend to take them for granted :-)

12 comments:

  1. Dear Encik Noni Kapet

    I received the following message this morning and it's just timely to share it with you:

    "Anything that comes from the heart with good intention and clear conscience can never go wrong".

    Wishing you all the best...

    ReplyDelete
  2. etoojoohpoolooh1:28 PM

    fi-sha sinda?

    ReplyDelete
  3. and i was looking forward to 2010.. cess..

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  4. setinggan overfloor5:27 PM

    "...Other schools too are making leaps and bounds in progress, if our progress is incremental – it may not be enough..."

    incremental, quantum leaps - you are sounding like najib.

    But I'd like to think Najib is sounding like you, hehehehe

    ReplyDelete
  5. MeyChan7:20 PM

    Errr.... well. Now you can focus on becoming PM. Crazy times need crazy PM.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous2:41 AM

    Insya Allah everything will be ok. take care of your health also

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous7:32 AM

    that for every one yard of progress we make, other schools matched that with one metre.

    - 1 yard and 1 metre mana satu lagi panjang weih? (kalau tanya gadap dah tau la ape jawapan die kan)

    As to whether without my 5-figure salary Mighty Ducks, or the debaters etc. will have to take a back seat – ooo well I am sure we’ll find ways.

    - pasni closer to 6-figures kot noni? patut ler relax..

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fi-sha: Ha ha thanks, sorry that we never get around to have coffee @ KLCC. But maybe there'll be plenty of time afterwards :-)

    E70: Errr tak la, fortunately

    Baang: Thanks - hope exam was ok. Adik kau apa citer? Terlampau popular for me to manage now ha ha.

    Joe: Aku rasa exit strategy sekarang - TURF. ha ha ha

    Setinggan: Ha ha tu sebab sebenarnya behind all these ministers and big guns, are small people like us who write and do everything for them. These are normal words you speak to your execs every day, itu aku belum pakai "step change" lagi tu ha ha

    MeyChan: Ha ha way too early for that. I have a lot of fats around my waist, but not the stomach for something like that ha ha

    Anon: Yes - aku patut lari lepas ni. Dah sebulan lebih no exercise my heart is clogging up!

    Anon: Yard (ela) sure lagi pendek than metre kan? Ha ha 6-figure kepala hotak kau, tu kalau aku rompak negara je dpt 6-figure. Rompak bank pun x dpt banyak tu, tak caya tanya Gadap.

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  9. BcpUnlmtd9:26 AM

    apesal aku baca sekali macam botchap kapet jek hahahaha...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice bro. Nice.

    "Life is a pit stop" - this is rather new to me. But it is true in many ways. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete