26 years ago, I stepped into a higher learning institution that had very little colour. For the first couple of months, I was subjected to verbal abuse, racism, and was called everything including Paki and Nigger. After a rock that was hidden inside a snowball hit the left side of my face, all that stopped because one white boy had several teeth removed, and I stayed one step ahead of them making sure that they know how we Malaysians had civilisation when their ancestors were still running around in loincloths eating raw meat. Disputes between the whites living on my street with those from other areas soon involved me as a biased nunchaku-wielding arbitrator.
When I was seconded to this company from the holding company to ensure the participation of locals, I was looked at with contempt. The idea to even have my presence here was initially objected violently by our white partners. But having friends within the client’s organisation helped, and I was placed here. As with other operations in this industry, locals are viewed upon merely as agents to help secure contracts, and joint-venture companies such as this are just shells for money from the client passes through before dropping into their coffer, leaving only a small percentage for their local partners to enjoy. The whole operation would be run by them, manned by them, and they see no reason whatsoever to help develop local talents, except to probably as assistants to their people who are holding key posts.
I sit here as the HSE Manager. If I did not impose myself upon them, I would never have learnt anything, or be able to perform as I should be. They see me sitting here just to fulfill the license’s requirement. They share very little of what they know with me. Heck, they don’t even have lunches with me. But sitting and doing nothing is not me. I made sure that I am indispensable, and that as a Malaysian, I should be the one to help reap the benefits for my countrymen.
Four-letter words ooze out easier than one breathes out air. Fortunately, I ooze more profanities than they could towards me, sometimes adding adjectives to enhance and underscore the terms I call them (for example: “You repulsive piece of shit”). That is how I gained some respect from them – as I did more than a quarter of a century ago: always be one step ahead.
When the breakup became imminent, I immediately went into covert-operations mode. Whatever document pertaining to the company and its assets that I could secure, I secured. And when I did, I trusted no one. But whatever disinformation or actual information that I could dish out to the local staff that were hired by them, I dished them out either to throw them off the tracks, or sow discontent towards their white masters. When I caught wind that their white masters were going to lay them off, I got my CEO to announce to them that in the event of a breakup, all local staff would continue to work for the company. That helped me further in getting many things that were out of my reach, just so we do not have to start most of the things from scratch. These information are not proprietary by any means; they do not belong to them, but to this JV company – but whatever they could do to make life difficult.
Apres moi, insania!
There have been some information that have gone through the shredding machines, files deleted from the server, but I would say that I have most that we need to carry on working with without having to develop new systems to work on.
Now that the company is 100% Malaysian, not just owned, but also operated by, we would be in the position to train more locals and provide more with jobs in this industry. I won’t say that we would be totally independent of the whites, but one day we will see a fully-Malaysian crew operating in our waters at least.
And when the last white man left the office today, signaling the end of the partnership with them, I gave them a smile, and my usual witty send-off:
“Thank you! Fuck you!”