Monday, June 14, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around

I was invited for lunch over the weekend.  Along the highway I drove past this "monument" that will always remind me of what humility is all about.

Two and a half years back, we were engaged for some work at the site.  The accuracy required for the work allowed for a tolerance level of up to three metres.  The client without our knowledge, used our data for their works which required an accuracy where deviations cannot exceed fifteen milimitres.  All so that they can save some money!

One year later, we were summoned for a meeting.   The foundation of the building has encroached beyond the boundary.  Naturally we were held responsible for the mess.  I was staring at a big hole running into millions of ringgit.  I wondered what happened?  How could a simple job with such meager fee end up with such amount of liabilities.  Months of sleepless nights followed.  Whatever that was built over the years seemed to be crumbling.  I cannot see how we are going to get out of this in one piece.  We were heading for total destruction.

The owner of the building wanted a solution which were beyond all of our reach.  Even our client who was heavily connected could do nothing to appease the owner.  The client told me that if it was a temple or a mosque, a compromise would have been the order of the day.  It was no one's fault. Just pure unintentional human error.  The owner told the client to demolish the ten million ringgit structure and rebuilt it if they cannot have it their way.

The client could not comprehend how these Godly people can be so unreasonable.  He thought that they were suppose to be compassionate.  In this case, to forgive was not one of their doctrine.  The client was somewhat bitter.  He had used his connection to lobby for the approval of a project which in normal circumstances would never have been approved by the authorities.  Never ever will be approved!

I told the client to understand who the owners were.  These were real shrewd businessmen dressed up as God's children. However, not all God's child are like them.  I told the client how blessed I have been to know some real God's children and how wonderful these people were.

The client negotiated with the owner.  Both the client and us tried to use our connections to work a solution out.  It was an uphill task.  Meanwhile, the owner wrote to the biggest shareholder of the client.  The owner wanted to make sure that no stone was left unturned.  It was a sure way to  hold the client at ransom and demand for blood.  They wanted blood.  Nothing less.  All in the name of God.

Meanwhile, we received from the client letters which were crafted by their solicitors.  One look and I know what we are in for.  The client told us to reply accordingly.  There was nothing they could do.  Everything was out of their hands.  Every document was now kept under lock and key.

We co-operated with the client and helped them identify where the errors were.  During one of the meetings, something struck me.  We have always done work for the client.  Fees running into five figures were common.  Errors like this never happened.  This was just a simple job with meager fee which did not require that level of accuracy.  It then dawned upon me that the client had used our data.   They used our data for works which require a three decimal point accuracy.  Meanwhile our data had a error tolerance of three meters!

We were relieved.

We replied to the client accordingly.  On the sideline, I told the client that we would work something out so that his bosses would spare him.  We would help him out in whatever way we could.

Meanwhile, to resolve the issue, the biggest shareholder had to use his connection up to highest level.  On top of that they contributed a million ringgit of "donation" to the owner.  This "donation" term is a charade for ransom and harassment.  The owner is never shy to demand for this "donation" in the name of God.  I call this blood money.

Late last year, I found out from the newspaper that the very people who had been so unreasonable was now in the limelight.  All for the wrong reasons.  I was really surprised.  I cannot believe that these God fearing people could behave in such a manner.  In corporate, this would have amount to criminal breach of trust and corporate misdemeanor.  The guilty party would be staring at a jail term and whipping.

I am reminded.  I try my best to be good, and live up to it to the best of my ability without giving any excuses for my weaknesses.  Maybe for that I have been spared, so to speak. 

I looked at the owner and felt pity for them.  Maybe if they had been more humble; less arrogant; more compassionate and humane, they too would have been spared as well.  Maybe this is all karma.  Maybe this is God's way of teaching all of us a lesson.  This lesson is for their learning.

What goes around comes around.  As I pass the highway, this "monument" will always remind me of what humility is all about.  Heaven has a way of teaching us what we need to learn.

ps. If completed this structure can admit a congregation of at least five thousand people.  Today it remains abandoned.  The languishing concrete structure is an eyesore which can be seen from as far as Pantai Hillpark.  To start with, the owner never had enough money to built it.  They now owe the contractors millions of ringgit in unpaid work.

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