I visited Khin Khin Employment agency at 3 pm as I am off work during the weekday afternoons and wanted to help organise her management of this business which was not my cup of tea. I have no share in this business but it has many management lessons for my veterinary practice.
"No internet connections," Khin Khin complained. "Singtel pushes us to contact the modem maker who passes the buck to Singtel!" She needed the internet to connect with the Ministry Of Manpower to submit forms for job applicant. Owing to her persistence and aggressiveness, the Singtel girl phoned back and said they would send somebody the next day.
This was a problem as she could not wait. I had a little knowledge of modem. I advised "switch off and on" for the modem or "reset". My advise was useless. Her manager put a pen into the "reset" point but there was no effect. The "red" light still remained. "It should be green if the modem is working," he said to me. So, nothing could be done.
"Check the network connections," I said.
"Done. No use." the manager said. He liked to tell me he is a computer graduate from Myanmar and he does know much more about setting up websites than me.
"Try again," I said.
He clicked the various names of wireless network source. The neighbours had security password and so there was no hope of connecting to the internet without knowing their password. But there was one called "Gateway". Clicking on it connected the computers to the internet. So work could be done. As to who "Gateway" was, we don't know. Somebody who had not inserted a security password to log on or a hacker?
A second problem came as I was advising Khin Khin's manager to keep proper records. Next year, the MOM wants all accounts to be audited. More money for the auditors and economic hardship for the employment agencies as the bureaucrats demand more compliance and dictate the amounts of fees to be charged to job applicants instead of letting the free market work.
The manager did not know how to devise an Excel formula for the balance of profit and loss in the accounts. I asked him to check the internet forum. No use. Finally I asked him to subtract the "sum of column of profit from the sum of column of expenses". The formula worked. "The loss figure is in 'brackets'" I told him as he expected a "minus" sign.
Read widely about financial statements and you will know that bracketed figures represent "minus" or loss in accountancy.
Suddenly a stocky Myanmar man in his 50s, looking like one of those cooks came with a bag of goods. "What's inside this bag?" I asked Khin Khin. "They are presents for the 'pretty girl,'" she said.
Khin Khin knows I have difficulty remembering Myanmar names and so called her the "pretty girl". She is in her mid 20s and dresses quite well whenever I met her.
I had mentioned about her in one of my previous Myanmar stories. Khin Khin and she had gone to the famous temple to thank the Gods for her getting employment successfully. She lost the job subsequently and went back to Myanmar. But she found a better one. The employer was setting up an office in the Philippines and wanted her to go there. She found another good employer working 5 days a week. She is staying with Khin Khin sharing the house with other Myanmar people. I believe she is a draughtswoman. Her conversational English is good. I believe she is hard working as well as being good looking and so the boss likes her. Good looks are unfair advantages in the office if the employee is industrious.
"This man does not charge for the courier services because she is a pretty girl," Khin Khin said to me. "Yesterday, I had free dinner as the other tenant cooked for the pretty girl."
"How come you have to pay for courier charges to send things to Yangon?" I teased her as she seems to fixate on looks and condemn those Myanmar job applicants who are not in good physical shape.
"I am old and ugly," she remarked. Actually this man is a sailor and collected the goods from the mother of the pretty girl. Unlike many Singaporean mothers, this mother wanted her to work in Singapore.
"Why?" I asked Khin Khin one day as Singapore mothers will not want their daughters to be away from Singapore if given a choice.
"So that she will not be near the man whose family quarrelled with her mother. This man is very persistent and wants to marry her. But her mum will disown her if she does that." It seems Myanmar mums are quite strong personalities. Khin Khin would take all her husband's salary when he was working in Singapore and dole him an allowance. How many Singapore husbands will do that I wonder. Probably none.
The pretty girl's mother was said to make several thousands of dollars on flipping properties in Myanmar as presently there is much asset appreciation in Yangon. "If it is so easy to make money," I said to Khin Khin. "Why don't you sell your apartment in Yangon and make money instead of struggling in Singapore? Now your office of 250 sq ft is reduced by 50% as you rent to another sub-tenant. The office now is so crammed that 5 people would fill up the room!"
This Friday was memorable in that I felt dizzy at around 8 pm as I sent the two RI interns to the Bishan subway and nearby apartment. I quickly drove home thinking I would be getting a stroke. Fortunately, it was food poisoning as I had diarrhoea with lots of gas and recovered the next day. The two RI interns had produced an excellent movie on the 15-year-old closed pyometra and uterine torsion case as they enacted the true story well. It is difficult to produce the dialogue but they did it. See:
Video Part 2: