Saturday, 26 November 2016

Those who inspire Hong Kong

The Honourable Mrs Anson Chan is the first woman and the first Chinese to become Chief Secretary of Hong Kong both under the British Rule and Chinese Administration. When I asked her how can she handle so many things with grace, with elegance, with style and always so composed, she said. When something is worth doing. It's worth doing well. 

She said that to me in 2012 and that advice changed my life forever. Before I was just busy doing many many things, but most of it not as well as I want to. So instead of feeling good about doing more, I felt guilty, I felt burdened and most of all, I felt ashamed because sometimes I just got the thing done for the sake of getting it done. 

Anson's advice made me look critically at all my work on hand and start to pare down. just focus on what is worth doing, so I could do it to the best I could. As a result I have more fulfilment, happiness in doing that few things that matter. 

May you also take Anson words of wisdom to heart.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Free lunch?

Last year, we organised a huge dinner getogether party, at almost RMB300 per head - buffet dinner with wine in a posh club in Hong Qiao. One of my young guests, Alina asked if her friend - a university mate, could come for free. The said girl really loved the theme of the party but had little money. 

I said No. 

Sound harsh? Maybe. 

Hang on, why do you think I said No? 

Well, I said No for a number of reasons. 

First, if the girl said she has no money and yet wish to come, and in turn, asked if she could offer to help in some way, I would welcome her. 

Why so?

Because this way, she is not expecting charity. She is working her right to get a seat at the table. And for that, she has my full respect. I have nothing against people with little money, I have something strongly against full bodied adults asking for free lunch. We all know there is no free lunch, yes?

Secondly, some people do not always value receiving the thing they ask for if they get it for nothing. This is especially true for people who ask for free things from complete strangers. In this case, I am the stranger. 

Lastly, this girl's basic values on money, self accountability and respecting others are different from mine and I even dare say, different from my guests'. 

Let's stop for a moment and think. When was the last time we asked for something without expecting to give something back in turn? Maybe we asked a colleague to help on a project but didn't even offer a sincere thank you in return, let alone offer to treat coffee or a small thoughtful gift. Hmmm...makes you think hard right?

Anyway, back to Alina, after listening to my explanation, she shared these wise words, "I understand now, the most important thing is to help others with their thinking and let them know where to go, what and how to do, instead of doing everything for them". 

That's good summary indeed!

Because I believe when charity is offered wrongly; on a long run, it hurts more than help the person we set out to help in the first place. 


Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Difference between being indifferent and being different.

The difference between indifferent and being different

Helping a friend to raise funds for medical treatment for a boy who has gone deaf due to ear infection, I learnt a valuable lesson in life. 

Those who want to help, help. With enough facts, they usually have no or little questions asked. They just chip in. This included a 10 year old boy in my photography class!

Others - they just keep asking more questions - who is this boy, do you know him, can he find cheaper medical help? They keep pressing. How deep is the mud? What colour is the mud? Why did he step into the mud? (And did they help after we answered the questions - I leave you to guess!)

So- when I received this photo - I just have to laugh.....yes, we may go through the same stuff differently. And so, the questions are normal. However, Be thankful that we are blessed not to be deaf due to a ear infection, and let this difference not be our reason to stay indifferent to others.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Star Newspaper - Accountant helps Bhutanese weavers achieve financial independence

Adapted from Star Newspapers:

PETALING JAYA: Despite being a chartered accountant, Quin SQ Thong has proven that she does more than crunching the numbers.

The Malaysian, who has been based in Hong Kong since 1998, started “Ana by Karma”, a project which helps illiterate weavers in Bhutan improve their lives.

Her story began two years ago when she visited Bhutan for the second time and met Karma , a weaver whom she had previously encountered during a 2003 visit.

Quin, a woman of compassion, discovered that the weaver was struggling to make ends meet then.

So, she offered US$200 (RM822) to Karma so that she could buy a sewing machine and produce items like bags and pillow cases for sale.

Karma turned her down. Instead, Quin helped Karma to sell her scarves.

Quin posted photographs of the scarves on Facebook and overnight, over 40 orders came in. In two weeks, 100 were sold. This rose to 1,000 within four months.

“When I put the money in Karma’s hands, she burst into tears,” she recounted, Karma being overwhelmed that this is the money she has earned with her own effort

That encounter sparked a social enterprise that transformed the lives of a community of Bhutanese weavers.

Their success put the entire village to work, giving rise to “Ana by Karma”.

In less than18 months after the first batch of scarves were sold, they earned 34 years worth of income for the women, who previously had none.

“Ana by Karma gave them pride and dignity,” said Quin.

(In the eastern Bhutanese language, Ana means sister.)

Quin’s love for the community did not end there.

For many years, the Kuala Lumpur-born accountant volunteered her time to teach financial literacy to children, culminating to publishing a book with Oxford University Press for children to learn wealth management.

She is doing something similar in Bhutan now, for the women to learn financial literacy.

“Our weavers are mostly illiterate. They usually lack the skills and knowledge to manage money. This include learning foreign currency concepts, something that seemed complex to learn but Quin disclosed that she has a special way to teach even 7 year olds understand forex".

“By teaching them financial literacy, whatever money they earn can be used wisely,” said Quin, who works with a UK consulting firm which offers corporate solutions.

Despite her impressive resume, Quin insisted that she was merely a “simple girl” who hoped to encourage others to help the less privileged.

Monday, 7 March 2016

She is made of gold

When we heard the news from our teacher, we all burst into tears. One of our classmate - also 7 years old, Merlin was badly hurt in a fire. 

Few months later, she came back to school, scarred for life from the tragedy. Her face melted by the fire - and after multiple plastic surgery became so very scarred and raw red, her arms' were also severely affected - scarred by fire and the operations. Inside me, I wondered with an ache what pain my little friend must have gone through and what the future holds for her. Yet each time I saw her in school, she was smiling, she was happy.  

Once she even comforted me when I was feeling low. I thought to myself - what a soul. After we left school we lost touch. Often I would think of Merlin. 

Late last year, we reconnected on Facebook. Merlin is happily married, has a great job and is still upbeat and happy as I remember her to be. She takes selfies, lots of photos when on holiday and smiles her big smile. She said that she is able to keep positive because her friends treated her normally. 

Merlin - thank you for being an inspiration. On this women's day, I am glad to share your wonderful story to all ladies. My friends, When you think your problems will eat you alive, think of 7 year old Merlin - who came out of the fire with brilliance and positivity. She must be made of gold. Because there is a chinese saying, real gold is not afraid of fiery fire. 真金不怕紅爐火

Happy women's day

In her own words "The moral of the story is to teach ppl, we hv to stay positive n it is also important that the friends or ppl to always give moral support."

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Can money buy happiness?

It's the age-old question: Can money buy happiness?

Much of the time, our energy and focus is on work and career, which primarily is about the chase for the almighty dollar. Generally, people want more for basic needs, including a roof over their heads, food, clothing and maybe a car.

And we all want more of the fun things money can buy, including vacations, entertainment and the latest high-tech toys

It can be a valuable exercise to take a step back from the daily grind to examine what money means to you and how you spend it. "I think deep down, the brain equates money not so much with happiness as with security and survival. These are nonnegotiable values, primal motivators," says Kenneth Reid, founder of

"Research shows that the greatest psychological stress occurs when one is unable to act in one's own best interest," Reid says. "But when we are able act in accordance with those primal imperatives, we feel a sense of deep satisfaction. Such acts can be as simple as clipping a coupon and saving 25 cents."

Ultimately, the goal of money managementis to provide discipline and a process for doing the things we must do that may not feel good at the time but are crucial to our future success, says Joshua Wilson, chief investment officer at WorthePoint Financial in Fort Worth, Texas. "Money shouldn't be viewed as a score card, but as a ticket to different degrees of freedom. Some people require more to get to the degree of freedom that they need."

Money can have paradoxical effects, Reid says. "We've all heard stories about how sudden wealth, such as lottery winnings, can be disruptive, even devastating, to a person or a family. A phrase comes to mind from complexity theory: 'more is different.' It means that scale brings unique challenges. Too much, too soon can be as bad as too little, too late."

Behavioral economists have identified some ways money could increase levels of happiness.

Neil Krishnaswamy, a certified financial planner for Exencial Wealth Advisors in Plano, Texas, recommends the book "Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending" by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. "This book provided me with great insights, particularly in how we think about our discretionary spending," he says. "Once our essential, or nondiscretionary, expenses are met, how should we think about spending our discretionary dollars in ways that lead to real, lasting fulfillment? If we're more conscious of how our spending is connected to our values and learn from some of the recent scientific research, we might just be able to use money in a way that really does buy happiness."

Science shows that there are several ways we can spend money more effectively to increase life satisfaction.

Read the original article on U.S. News & World Report.  on Twitter.

我们 (Wo Men) help Women

Sitting beautiful in their resplendent colourful Kameez (blouse for Pakistani fashion), my audience literally made me shiver in my shalwar (pants for Pakistani wear). I was expecting wannabe women entrepreneurs, recent graduates looking to start up something and young entrepreneurs. Instead, before me is a roomful of successful Pakistani business women, multi billion enterprises in fashion, culinary, arts, etc and also the first woman to qualify as chartered accountant and first female to lead a Big 4 accounting practice. All VIPS in business. 

And so why am I shaking in my pants? because I was about to talk about the journey of Ana by Karma, a budding social enterprise that warmed hearts and inspired others to contribute their talent - not their money. Ana by Karma is sooooo small compared to their vast achievements. It should be them on the stage sharing. Not me. Shiver shiver. 

However - as I shared our stories, these distinguished ladies smile their knowing smile - yes, they have been there too. Yes. They followed their hearts. And yes, their ideas were copied by others. And oh yes, too many people came to them with too many suggestions how to run their business better. 

That afternoon, we laughed, we commiserated and we cried when I told them I cried when I saw how confident, self assured Karma and the weavers became when we empower them. When we give them hope. When we acknowledge their capabilities. 

I must have taken them back to the early days of their business start up, when things are uncertain, support from others are weak, recognition is sparse. And we all agreed. Taking action is the key to make dreams come true. 

When time came up, we hugged our good byes and promised to keep in touch to help each other. They touched my cheek and said. Keep going forward.

That afternoon. I am the one who received empowerment. Thank you LadiesFund, and OUP. Thank you  


Friday, 4 March 2016

He needs a book...

Cha Cha and The Forest of Wisdom is inspired by a 8 year old boy from Korangi Pakistan- he said to me in 2013, "Miss I want a sweet but need a book." I wonder what book I can give to him to help him build a bright future. The next day, the CEO of a prominent bank in Pakistan came up with the answer. He asked me to write a book on what I taught the children the day before - Wealth Management. He said, This way millions and millions of children can benefit.

"Write a book?" It is as incredulous as asking me to build a rocket.

Then like magic, the best of chartered accountants from Pakistan literally dropped into my email box and a few months later after many whats app, emails and some skype, Malik Mirza and I started to design and build "the rocket" to launch children into the Wealth Management space. 

Last week 26-28 Feb 2016, at the Children's Literacy Festival in Karachi organised by Oxford University Press our publisher and ITA, we launched THE book, the very book to place in the hands of the boy who inspired it all, and many many more children around the world. It is the most wonderful feeling ever.

Want to join Malik and me on this incredible journey? We have prepared teaching aids, PPTs and fun activities. Our photobook to share with you the joy of the children over the weekend. And our joy. #clfkhi2016

"When you follow your heart and do what is right, the whole universe would conspire to make it fantastic"

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Huahin Street photography

Night owl

Eat me now

Colour me healthy

Rows of devotion

Hotel from yonder years

Wow. Sharp teeth