Category Archives: occupation

1010 – For Starters

An anxiously-anticipated telegram in mid-1979 brought me one of the greatest joys in early adult life. Motorola (M) Sdn. Bhd., Penang, had offered me an engineer’s job @ RM1010 per month.  Wow! 

That was huge in those days, considering one other offer from a printing company coming in  at only RM800 and another from Singapore at S$850.  Without a second thought, I took the plunge into the electronics industry, though my training was in mechanical engineering.  (Money lah!!)

Competition for engineering manpower in the Bayan Lepas FTZ was intense in those years. Thus, neighbouring factories like those of Intel, Monolithic Memories, Mostek, HP, etc., embarked on a wage race to lure the nerdy ones.  Motorola responded by generously giving “market adjustments” of around 20% yearly, to everyone — on top of individual performance merits.

Those were the truly “GOOD OLE DAY$”

Wont To, Or Won’t, Cry For Thee Motorola

[..It won’t be easy, you’ll think it strange…When I try to explain how I feel..]

35 years (a/o 2019) have passed since I quit Motorola, Penang, and went south, in search of greener pastures on a Little Red Dot.  Memories – both heart-warming and heart-breaking – came flooding in, as I looked at this old photograph.

Motorola was then the world’s leading portable communications equipment maker, which made it a hotly sought-after employer. We employees used to stride in pride in our distinctive batik-style uniforms even after work, in town! 

This was my first place of work and also the place where I met my GF who is now my wife.  We had some pretty awesome workplace interactions during the 5 years’ vocational sojurn.

Alas, Motorola today is a faint shadow of its former giant self – as a result of an over-confident leadership that rested too long on its laurels.  So sad indeed.

Once Upon A Time In China

Going to China to live and work there was the last thing I had ever imagined would happen to me. Yet it did.

In the autumn of 2000, I was hired by an American company, which despatched me to its China factory to start up an R&D department. Later two more portfolios, Quality Assurance and Project Management were added.

I soon discovered that besides work, the PRC Chinese also had a boisterous appetite for play. They would organize monthly dinners which always ended with karaoke sessions, and inevitably, the “expat” managers always had to oblige, by rendering their croaking at the microphone.

The big event was the annual CNY celebration.  With 3500 employees — 90% of whom were females — I rendered one “女人是老虎” (Women Are Tigresses) in tribute to them at the 2007 dinner, followed by “Don’t Forget To Remember”. And they went gaga!

Human Rides In Penang

My much beloved and most favored means of transportation during my kiddo days was the Penang trishaw.

Back then, Penang Road was the go-to place, and the journey from Pengkalan Raja Tun Uda would cost my late mum a grand 30 sen !  By comparison, the fare on the rickety City Council buses was only 10 sen (kids traveled free).  But thrifty mum could not persuade me to opt for the economy plan.

Alas, I had a very bad habit of leaving things (mum’s shopping trophies) behind on these trishaws — maybe the rides were so enchanting that I forgot everything else.

Well, human rides were also practised in other towns.  But Penang’s are the best — the customers come first, whereas in other places customers are cast aside (oops, I mean they ride on the side).

Cobbler Cobbler Mend My Shoes

Get it done by half-past two.  Recall that nursery rhyme  ?

When was the last time you had your shoes mended by a cobbler ?  I have not done that for a long long time.

In my years of growing up, a pair of shoes would be worn till the front started to gape like a hungry crocodile, or holes started to appear in the soles.   Then off we went in search of a cobbler to patch it up, perhaps with a pair of new soles.  It would have undergone several new leases of life before it finally got discarded.

It is a very different world today, as shoes morphed from “footwear” to “fashion statements”, with especially the younger womenfolk vying to outdo Imelda Marcos.  They (I mean the shoes! ) get thrown out long before they get worn out.