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Question of the week

July 4, 2008

Driving down the highway exit with an associate yesterday, we approached the toll gates. As usual I headed for the lane with the electronic gantry. My friend said, “No, that way…” pointing to the manned booths. So I said, “That’s okay, I have a toll card given by the company.” “Oh,” he said, “In that case you should drive through, reverse and drive through again a few times.” Haha, funny guy.

He was joking of course. He does after all own a large business but it was our way of acknowledging a business reality – that people cannot resist taking advantage of expense accounts. If you travel on company expense and eat at a restaurant, what do you do? Order what you normally eat or go for the most expensive item? Be honest now.

If I was an employee who feels overworked and underpaid, I guess I would feel totally justified to try and take something to balance out my “loss”. And the irony is, being self employed, I actually do feel overworked and underpaid! except that taking from myself is no fun. So my question of the week is, what’s really causing these oppressed feelings to grab whatever you can and why is it more widespread here than in western countries?

Before people think I’m glorifying the ang mohs, I should qualify something. The ang mohs are no angels. I should know, I was in their workforce for a few years and know that they don’t pad their mileage claims by $20 or $30 like we do. They take millions in one go and then disappear. But as far as corporate expense accounts go, I can confidently say we take the cake. Where do you suppose that’s coming from? If our companies like to keep their employees overworked and underpaid, why is there more of it here than in other countries? If its just the greedy employee, same question, is greed really more prevalent here than elsewhere? What’s causing us to be so “different”? Could it be something in the water?

My aunt has a theory. She thinks when our ancestors fled the mainland war and came here, they were starving so people would rush to get whatever they could get their hands on to survive. If you don’t grab you die. Those values were passed on generation to generation. Hmmm could that be why I stil see BMW-driving people filch sales and pepper sachets from McDonalds … and why Burger King has stopped serving free-flowing soda in the country.

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