Monday, July 30, 2007

Tomorrow as Today

It has been a while or I shall say been months I have not updated my blog. The time frame was like Marco Polo's silk path from the Bosphorus' air of Istanbul to the mainland China, experiencing new things and meeting new people in life. I have been experiencing the same situation since I first arrived from the UK in early June, only that mine is in the 21st century. The similar situation shapes up my perspective in life, narrowing down my dream yet to be achieved after graduation next year, and simplifying the choices that have to be chosen wisely.

Life in the university cannot be compared to the working life, it's not an apple to an apple, yet the effort to find the similarities will be just an effortless effort like one who tries to compare Mahatma Ghandi with Julius Caesar. At this point of time, I have been working as a Vacational Trainer for a month in KPMG Malaysia, or in the UK it s called as an internee. Throughout the month, my diary from Monday to Friday will be the same. The day for tomorrow will be the same as today when I close my eyes trying to get the best sleep I could have, this expectation is basis upon the working life for argument sake. This is the reality, the phase after the sweet and hard time in the university.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Mary & Kingston Trio: PRESENT

" All the time in life, appreciation to the older generations will remind us that the world is not ours.
They, the older people they tasted the salt before we were born.
They faced the hardship and trauma during the world wars.
They survived the times of Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini,
They even saw the blooming flowers before us.
They fell in love before we comprehend how to say love.
They listened to the music full of harmony with deep, meaningful lines.
Thus, whenever we the young people started to think about it.
You will understand why I always, always.
Take my hat's off to the older people.
And this what makes me to appreciate those times.
Rings the bell in my head.
How great today's people are.
Greater, greater are those older people.
Let us take a step back.
In our racing path filled by selfish, egoism, and forgetfulness.
To look with passionate eyes.
The older people around us.
Who brace the English weather to walk on the streets.
Who brace the frail illness on wheelchairs.
Who brace God for forgiveness and sin done.
Humility arose from this reflection.
Even though I was born in a paradise.
Missing those wonderful and historic moments.
That they had experienced.
As I know.
Years in the future.
I will be like one of them too " Mary Travers (born 9 November 1936 in Louisville, Kentucky) is a member of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, along Peter Yarrow and Noel "Paul" Stookey. Together, they formed one of the most successful folk-singing groups of the 1960s.

Mary & Kingston Trio: WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG

Country Roads


come from a country where..

it is summer over the years..

and it will always be for thousand years to come..

where I can eat chinese, indian, and malay food in one single shop..

where i can take photos in the jungle..

or at the seaside..

and be in the city few hours later..

and the place where the awareness of cultural differences is exotically embraced.

Thanks to John Denver (1943 - 1997) for the song, it inflicts the appreciation in me.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Walking Path

I am in my penultimate year of BA (Hons) Industrial Economics now. The path of my career planning has been charted out, and I have two options upon graduation. First, embarking the investment banking sector with power houses such as JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, or Credit Suisse. This is the reason I chose to include International Finance module as part of my modules for my final year. In a nutshell, typical issues that will be taught are foreign exchange markets, international risks, international banking, and security markets. Second, working in one of the Big Four like KPMG or PriceWaterhouse Coopers while achieving ICAW or ACCA. The former aspect is the most suitable vis-a-vis my degree title. The latter depends on my success on optional accounting modules like Corporate Finance (basically this module develops my knowledge of financial decision-making and strategic financial decisions like mergers and acquisitions), Management Accounting, and Financial Accounting which are the stepping stone for me to get exemption papers in ICAW or ACCA later. At the moment, I am focusing on my French learning and my aim is to speak good 'francais' in a year time. This ability brings a major advantage for me in the working world in the future if we talked about globalisation and the evolutionary finance. Moreover, the ability to speak a foreign language is part of the essential achievements in university education as today's world does not communicate in a single, isolated language.

I have done few research on my prospect degree. According to Nottingham University Business School 2006/07, a wide range of career options are possible upon graduation, though typically students of Industrial Economics gain final employment in areas such as management consultancy, accounting, and financial services. In addition, from the source of U.S. Department of Labour; Industrial Economists or organizational economists study the market structure of particular industries in terms of the number of competitors within those industries and examine the market decisions of competitive firms and monopolies. These economists also may be concerned with antitrust policy and its impact on market structure. Vis-a-vis prospect environment "economists have structured work schedules. They often work alone, writing reports, preparing statistical charts, and using computers, but they also may be an integral part of a research team. Most work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, which may require overtime. Their routine may be interrupted by special requests for data and by the need to attend meetings or conferences. Frequent travel may be necessary"... :)

For now, I have to seize every single day with hard work passioned by perseverance, dedication, and blessings from God. bon courage pour moi.

As Benjamin F. Fairless said "What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rich Kids and Scholarships?

[ I extended my highest gratitude in advance to a junior of mine back in A Level College whose the writer of the blog for allowing me to post this article ]

Why rich people still take scholarships although can afford not to?

Firstly, my intention is not to stir a controversy or create a conflict but it is to rationalise rich parents' decision on their kids taking up scholarships.

DEFINITIONS: My analysis will centre around 'rich' people who can afford to send their kids to overseas universities and can do so without any scholarship. Their 'kids' are people who undoubtedly have the merit to qualify for such a scholarship. The 'scholarship' is also one which entails an employment bond with summons if bond is broken.

So… why? If I was rich, lets call me Tan Sri Tengku daNN, I wouldn't want my kids to enter a scholarship contract if I can afford to pay for their education. Because later on, they would have to serve a very long bond, twice the average employment period in a private sector firm, with low salary. I would rather have them work for pure private firms, rather than government linked ones. Besides, my kid is a graduate from a top university with a top degree. Which employer wouldn’t want him/her? Unemployment is out of the question in this model.

Well… Theory 1 (which I think is the coolest): When bond is broken, summons paid to sponsor is exactly the nominal amount sponsor paid for education (half a million RM). So, the sponsor breaks even, in nominal terms. Fair enough.

But does it really break even? As a finance guy, I would say 'Hell No!'. The sponsor actually loses a significant amount of money. It forgo on the time value of money (it could have used the money to invest in a project) and it loses in real terms, because of inflation, but the time value of money is of course, a greater factor. Half a million ringgit worth of scholarship could have at least yielded an extra RM 55,000, interest compounded on a yearly basis for 3 years (equivalent period for university degree) at the most basic Bank Negara interest rate of 3.5%. So, a rich person, by telling his/her child to take up a scholarship, and then breaks the bond, actually earns a cost saving on the time value of money. It’s like a loan of RM 500,000 but without any interest. And when paying the summons, since the Future Value of a ringgit is more than the Present Value of a ringgit, and the summons is paid in the future, the Present Value of the summons settlement is in fact, less than the cost of education because the money used to pay for the summons could have earned interest for 3 years. Instead of putting aside RM 500,000, you only need to put aside RM 451,000 max, discounted using Bank Negara's OPR (basic interest rate).

That is super smart, in a finance-savvy kind of way. Which is a cool analysis, especially for finance people and economists since it assumes rationality, which is a sensible assumption.

Theory 2: Getting a scholarship is a Value in our society. It earns prestige and status. By having a scholarship, it 'signals' you’re smart or whatever (caveat: not always true). Time value of money doesn’t matter. This is a typical Sociologist's view.

Theory 3: Stingy parents. Want to save money just for the sake of maximising personal wealth without wanting children to have a better career. Can't rule out this possibility.

I am a profit maximising capitalist. I believe more in theory 1. Based on this premise, there could actually be huge policy implications. Firstly, to avoid this sort of 'rent seeking', sponsors should charge interest on defaulted bonds. The cost of default would increase and there would be less default. People who can afford, will no longer take up the scholarship (given the Present Value cost of default is greater than the Present Value cost of self sponsoring) and this leaves room to more working class, middle class and kampung people, who on average won't default because they can't afford to. This will then not only reduce the income gap but also sponsors make a 'Return on Scholarship', which is good for Wawasan 2020.So, tell me what do you think? Especially if your parents can totally afford but still signed your scholarship contract.But for now, don’t suggest sponsors to hike cost of default because I might want to consider doing that. Haha! Kidding. Actually, my rich friends might kill me.In my opinion, given Theory 1 holds, it is not wrong for rich kids to receive scholarships (given they qualify on merit) since it is actually the most rational and cost-minimising strategy to take. - daNN

[ Dann is an Accounting student in London School of Economics ]

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lebanon War and BTC?

[ The introduction part in our MNEs' economic impacts paperwork for module: N1B208 International Firms. By: Mohd Sharazad Saiful Bahri, Kamran Karbassi, Omer Kigili, Izer Yakuppur, Rosdanial Rosti, Chris Masters ]

"The Kremlin has been ‘disturbed’ by the decisions made by Mikhail Saakashvili; the President of Georgia since 2003, about his campaign to join NATO and the European Union (EU). Yet, despite this cold relationship between Georgia and Russia, the centre of attention lies upon Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. It is a post-Soviet country with around 8 million people and most of the Shia Muslims, it has the biggest population. Not just that, it also has oil and gas which a consortium led by British Petroleum (BP) is extracting from the Caspian Sea and pumping through new pipelines across Georgia to Turkey and beyond. All the Caucasian economies are now picking up, recovering from the claw of communism and command economy – even corrupt Armenia’s, dependent though it mostly is on remittances. According to the finance minister, the 34.5% growth created by Azerbaijan’s second oil boom (the first was 100 years ago) was the highest in the world last year (The Economist, 2007)"

"The Caspian Sea is completely landlocked by Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC or “Baku-Ceyhan”) oil pipeline is a proposed pipeline that would span 1,056 miles from the Azerbaijan capital of Baku, through Tbilisi Georgia, ending in the Mediterranean city of Ceyhan, Turkey. British Petroleum (BP) is the lead sponsor; there are seven other participants. Construction is targeted to begin in autumn 2002; project operations are planned to commence by early 2005"

[The conclusion]

"Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is an example of an operation by MNEs in the less developed countries yet at this point of our writing they are experiencing a developing economy. This project paper explains the economic impacts that BTC brought upon the respective countries. However, on the course of achieving an agreement for the construction of the pipeline, various disputes had to be cleared out by the main MNE which is BP. The disputes and campaigns organised especially by the ‘environmentalists’ served as a fact that ‘positive’ economic impacts from the MNEs’ promises should not be taken at ‘face value’. In reality, there is always the other side of the coin which is always the negative impacts of an operation by MNEs that would not be revealed to the public. It is a fact that every MNE does not want to tarnish its reputation in convincing the public about the impacts that they may bring upon. Nonetheless, in today’s time of conflicting and escalating wars especially in Iraq and the tense attention towards Tehran (both countries are in the rich area of oil), BTC keeps on ensuring that energy consumers in the South America particularly Brazil, Europe, Japan, China, and all around the globe will experience subtle impacts in the global industry market. Energy industry leaders will receive a useful case study of how they can conduct major energy projects in the future. Energy-producing and energy-transit countries around the Caspian will have new choices about how to reach markets. Citizens in the three host countries will experience both indirect benefits (wealthier state coffers) as well as direct benefits – employment, local procurement, community development, and other social investments. All along the way, from the first conceptual discussions in the 1990s to the present day, BTC and its positive impacts have contributed to the economy and people of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. Its first delivery of 600,000 barrels of crude oil by tanker to Savona, Italy on 9th June 2006 was just the harbinger of all good things to come in the Caucasus region. As Lord Browne the Group Chief Executive of BP predicted prior to the operation, “We can have a measurable and positive impact on the biodiversity of the world”

Surprisingly, during the course of my research I found this article by Michel Chossudovsky; a professor in Ottawa who was one of the speakers in the Perdana Global Peace Forum held in Malaysia last year:


"Water for Israel.. Also involved in this project is a pipeline to bring water to Israel, pumping water from upstream resources of the Tigris and Euphrates river system in Anatolia. This has been a long-run strategic objective of Israel to the detriment of Syria and Iraq. Israel's agenda with regard to water is supported by the military cooperation agreement between Tel Aviv and Ankara..

The Strategic Re-routing of Central Asian Oil... Diverting Central Asian oil and gas to the Eastern Mediterranean (under Israeli military protection), for re-export back to Asia, serves to undermine the inter-Asian energy market, which is based on the development of direct pipeline corridors linking Central Asia and Russia to South Asia, China and the Far East.
Ultimately, this design is intended to weaken Russia's role in Central Asia and cut off China from Central Asian oil resources. It is also intended to isolate Iran.

Meanwhile, Israel has emerged as a new powerful player in the global energy market.Russia's Military Presence in the Middle EastMeanwhile, Moscow has responded to the US-Israeli-Turkish design to militarize the East Mediterranean coastline with plans to establish a Russian naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus:

"Defense Ministry sources point out that a naval base in Tartus will enable Russia to solidify its positions in the Middle East and ensure security of Syria. Moscow intends to deploy an air defense system around the base - to provide air cover for the base itself and a substantial part of Syrian territory. (S-300PMU-2 Favorit systems will not be turned over to the Syrians. They will be manned and serviced by Russian personnel.) (Kommerzant, 2 June 2006,

Tartus is strategically located within 30 km. of the Lebanese border. Moreover, Moscow and Damascus have reached an agreement on the modernization of Syria's air defenses as well as a program in support to its ground forces, the modernization of its MIG-29 fighters as well as its submarines. (Kommerzant, 2 June 2006). In the context of an escalating conflict, these developments have farreaching implications.. "

And recently, The Independent UK on 2 May 2007 reported; "Lord Browne (born in Hamburg 1948, son of an Army officer and Auschwitz survivor) the chief executive of BP resigned yesterday in the aftermath of a torrid case of sex, lies and perjury. He lost 15m GBP and the right to keep his life private. Now he may face jail"

And now I fathom the business deals done on the back, dirty street.

Enron's Scandal

[ The conclusion part in our group report for module N1B307: Financial Reporting ]

"Based on the above analysis, it is very obvious in terms of profitability measured by ROCE that BT has the largest chunk of profits that can be invested back into the company for the benefit of shareholders. In a glance, it is the most successful growth company compared as descended by Cable & Wireless, Vodafone, and Kingston. Similarly, BT is also the most efficient company in controlling its production costs followed by Cable & Wireless, Kingston and Vodafone is the most inefficient company based on the profit margin. The positive relationship between a high ROCE and a high profit margin is resembled by BT and Cable & Wireless but one may argue this when we look upon the case of Vodafone and Kingston. Obviously, these two companies share the same negative relationship of the two profitability measurements. However, when it comes to how efficient a company is in utilising its resources invested in fixed assets and working capital we may conclude Kingston. Even though BT is the most successful company it falls behind Kingston in employing its assets but still ahead Cable & Wireless and Vodafone. In a nutshell, in this period of our analysis we may say BT is the most growing company so far and the least performed company is Vodafone. Nonetheless, our analysis involves only the element of profitability and excludes short-term liquidity and long-term liquidity. Since the difficulties of the recession in the late 1980s liquidity, both short term and long term, has increased in importance. One has to bear in mind, companies which are profitable but have poor short term or long liquidity measures, will not survive the troughs of the trade cycle. In contrast, companies which are not profitable but are cash rich, do not survive in the long term either. Such companies are taken over for their cash flow or by others who believe that they can improve the profitability of the business. Financial reporting shall also be reported within the context the political, business, and economic environment in which the business operates, as figures cannot do the transparent justice to the corporate world like what Enron did. All in all, any of these four companies which do succeed and survive over the long term (which is beyond our period of analysis), is the one who has a well-rounded financial profile, and the best performer in all aspects of financial analysis"

Enron's corporate scandal in relation to Arthur Andersen should not be repeated again. It was a blindly excessive pursue of short-term shareholders' value that ignored the long-run shareholders' value. This case stressed upon the importance of transparency in corporate governance.

Nottingham University Business School

Undergraduate Programmes


Ratio Analysis in the UK Telecommunications Industry


Mohd Sharazad SAIFUL BAHRI

Bilal Qamar SANDHU




Sunday, April 22, 2007

Coffee Shop Lesson

My Portuguese friend Ruben brought me a weekly Caffe Nero magazine while I was reading 'Prague: A Novel' on a pleaseant Saturday morning. Last week, when I was surfing the Caffe Nero website I came across the compliments or complaints section. As a regular customer at the outlet in Bridlesmith Gate overlooking Ted Baker, I wrote an email expressing my views on the service by the baristas since the day one I tasted its coffee. Ruben said Justina Virdee, who is the Head of Customer Services of Caffe Nero Group Plc chose to published my comments in their magazine three weeks in a row, as the best comments so far from its customers. I believe any kinds of service to the public, it shall be delivered in a professional manner, with a smile and warm attitude that ensures the satisfaction of the public. This is something that Malaysians in the public sector should ponder and improve on, after all these people are just baristas working in a coffee shop and earning minimum wages. Nonetheless, they never fail to smile and greet me.

Dziekuje (thank you) to Ruben, Eva, Greg, and the rest of the baristas. Bordza dobra robota (very good job)


RE: [NEWSENDER] - Thanks! - Message is from an unknown sender
Mon, 16 Apr 2007 09:23:04 +0100
"Justina Virdee"
"Saiful Bahri Mohd Sharazad"

YAHOO.Shortcuts.overlaySpaceId = "97546169";
YAHOO.Shortcuts.hostSpaceId = "97546168";
Hello Sharazad

Thank you for your email.

I am delighted to hear that you enjoy your visits to our Bridlesmith store in Nottingham . It’s great to receive such positive feedback from our customers. I will be sure to pass this onto our manager and team concerned. They will be equally delighted to read of your kind comments. I certainly hope that we can continue to serve you in the manner that you have come to expect.

Many thanks for your interest in Caffe Nero

Kind regards

Justina Virdee
Head of Customer Services
Caffe Nero Group Plc

Tel: 0207 520 5169

From: Saiful Bahri Mohd Sharazad [] Sent: 15 April 2007 21:39To: complimentsSubject: [NEWSENDER] - Thanks! - Message is from an unknown sender

Dear Caffe Nero team.
I would like to express my highest satisfaction and gratitude on its outlet service at Bridlesmith Gate Nottingham. I am an international student studying in University of Nottingham and Nero's would always be my regular spot to have a cup of caramelatte while studying or meeting up with friends. I am a regular customer and most of the baristas know me by now and their hospitality and greetings and sometimes accompanying me during breaktime have made me feel at home.

I have a suggestion here on the selection of music in Nero's; how about playing italian or eastern european music which is now starting to make its impact in the music world? and the soothing feeling in Nero's can be ambienced by playing some of the wonderful orchestra or classicals i believe.

Till now, kudos to Nero's.
Caramelatte will always be my favourite, and I hope the caffe will expand internationally, hopefully mark its first existence in my country, Malaysia !

Carpe diem,
University of Nottingham