Struggle Towards Extinction

Struggle Towards Extinction

by Tan Kheng Yeang


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490767185
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 11/28/2015
Pages: 396
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

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Struggle Toward Extinction

By Tan Kheng Yeang

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2015 Tan Kheng Yeang
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4907-6718-5


The Meeting

Ensconced behind his desk, Toh Jin Tek appraised the visitor seated in front of him. He was a fat man who appeared intelligent but obstinate.

"You have a piece of land adjacent to our development project," said Jin Tek with the decisive air of one who knew what he wanted. "Our company's interested in it."

"Is that so?" said the fat man. "What do you want to do with it?"

"Develop it, of course," said Jin Tek. "We intend to extend our present housing scheme which, as you may hear, is in an advanced state of progress."

"I'm not sure that I want to sell the land," said the fat man with a frown. "It's a coconut plantation which secures quite a good income. It has been with me for many years, and I've come to like it."

"We'll pay you a high price."

"Land has shot up a lot in value."

"We're not thinking of last year's prices," said Jin Tek. "We heard you're a good businessman, and we're not trying to impose on you."

The fat man looked pleased. "I'll have to think it over."

"When can you give me a reply?" asked Jin Tek, suppressing a trace of anxiety that was trying to infiltrate his voice.

"Give me a week," said the fat man. "I'm really reluctant to part with the property." He looked wistful.

"You can't keep it a coconut plantation forever," expostulated Jin Tek. "You know there is a housing shortage in the country. We're helping people to own their own house." He spoke as though he were a public benefactor.

"There are squatters on the land," the fat man suddenly recalled. "They'll refuse to move. They have to live somewhere."

"They can't stand in the way of progress," asseverated Jin Tek. "We're prepared to negotiate with them. We'll offer them adequate compensation."

"Are you going to offer them alternative accommodation?"

"We may even have to consider that."

"Why do you want to extend your present scheme instead of building in other areas?"

"Our houses in this particular area are selling well. However, we're also looking at other places."

"I have other properties of considerable extent," said the fat man.

"You have!" exclaimed Jin Tek, vastly interested. "Why are you keeping them? This is the time for development."

"I've thought of being a developer," said the fat man regretfully, "but I have no experience."

Jin Tek thought awhile. "I have a proposition to make. You turn over your properties to our company in exchange for shares in it. We'll work out the prices of your properties and fix the value of each share. Our company is an expanding concern, and you can't fail to profit from the deal."

"I'll consider it," said the fat man indecisively. "This is an important proposition. I presume there are pros and cons. I can't rush into it. I need time to come to a decision." He rose and took his departure, walking with ponderous slowness.

Jin Tek was thirty-two years old. He was lean and athletic. He wore a blue shirt with a striped tie and gray trousers fastened by a belt. He was decisive in his manner and moved about with brisk steps. He exuded energy and tended to create in people an impression of smartness. He normally looked affable and behaved in like fashion, but he could be ruthless if it suited his interest.

His dominating characteristic was ambition. He was driven by a thirst for power and wealth, with the former in the ascendant. Even when he was still in school, he liked to secure a position of leadership by getting himself made president or secretary of various societies. He was subtly aggressive and possessed a knack for persuading people to his views. He relished the struggle for existence and found life boring without it. He loved not just the fruits of success but the process of their acquisition. He found business to be the realm most congenial to his temperament whenever he could enjoy the struggle and the resulting wealth and power.

The road to success had been fairly smooth hitherto, and accordingly, he had no cause to question the rightness of his philosophy of life. He had unbounded faith in himself and was quite convinced that whatever he did was right. Secretly, he harbored a low opinion of others. He also tended to believe that their ways, if different from his, were wrong. Thus, he was quite satisfied with life and found the world eminently meaningful.

He began his career as a civil engineer. He graduated from an Australian university, where he did fairly well but not brilliantly. Back in Malaysia, he joined a firm in Kuala Lumpur, where he found himself in the marketing department. He became interested in business. He left after a couple of years and joined a development company in Penang. At first, he was engaged firmly in engineering work, looking after the construction of buildings. In his capacity as an engineer, he was required to attend meetings of the board of directors. Here, he occasionally made suggestions that had more to do with business than engineering. The chairman of the board recognized his abilities, and it did not take very long for him to be made manager of the company. Subsequently, he was elected a member of the board and became managing director of the firm.

The company, which bore the name of Summit Enterprise Company, was only a small concern formed a couple of years prior to Jin Tek's joining it. Mainly owing to his efforts, it had now expanded and established itself as of major importance on the local scene. The buildings constructed, including detached and semi-detached houses as well as terrace houses all of one or two stories, were popular. The attraction to clients was that the firm had established a finance company from which they could obtain loans to pay for their purchases.

On that day, after the departure of his fat visitor, he resumed his interrupted work. But while he performed it mechanically, his mind was actually largely preoccupied with something else. He was contemplating his great plans for the diversification of the company into other lines of activity. There was no reason why he should be concerned only with property development. He could form or acquire subsidiary companies. Eventually, he would lead a building company that could be turned into a public company listed on the stock exchange and with varied interests throughout the country. He saw no limits to his dream. He relished the idea of being a great tycoon.

That evening, a meeting of the board of directors was to be held. Most of the meetings were humdrum affairs; however, he enjoyed them just as he found everything connected with business enthralling. He relished the exchange of ideas. He felt satisfaction when people argued with him. He even found opposition not disagreeable; it made him think harder, invigorated his mind, and aroused his emotions in a lively way. It suited him quite well to sit at a table discussing what, to him, were matters of profound importance. A conference had its humorous and dramatic moments.

He looked at the clock on the wall opposite him, rose from his chair, and went to the boardroom, which bore an appearance of solid comfort. On its walls hung some photographs and charts. The members of the board were seated around an oblong table in the middle of the room. An office assistant went round taking orders for drinks, which were duly served shortly thereafter.

The chairman, Cheah Gi Chean, was about fifty years old. He wore hearing aids, was bandy-legged, and in possession of a comical paunch. He was of a friendly nature, an easygoing disposition, and was well liked by his colleagues and staff. He was not a dynamic character, but he did business well enough.

The meeting began on a ludicrous note. The chairman had uttered hardly a dozen words in his introductory remarks when a fat man, so tremendously corpulent that he elicited notice wherever he went, on bending forward to take his drink, accidentally overturned his cup, which rolled onto his lap and then onto the ground with a clattering sound. In trying to get up, he pushed back his chair and landed on the floor with a thump. Two other members, one on either side of him, immediately dragged him up.

The proceedings recommenced after the mess was cleaned up by the office assistant. The chairman spoke of the satisfactory progress of the company for the past six months and praised everyone, from the members of the board to the staff, for this happy state of affairs. He lavished special eulogies on the managing director for his untiring efforts, great awareness, and remarkable initiative. The members of the board duly applauded despite whatever they might have individually felt in their thoughts. Jin Tek smiled with mock modesty.

Continuing, the chairman stated, "In business, a company needs to expand. If it tried to stay stationary, it would instead become retrograde. There's a lot of competition around, and to be overtaken by one's rivals is not a pleasant prospect. We've been quite successful so far, but we should consider ways of achieving greater progress. Please put forward your views."

"The company is prosperous enough," said a man with a mole on his nose. "We should maintain it as it is. We shouldn't be too ambitious. If we make a false move, we may land ourselves in bankruptcy. We should be very cautious before we undertake any new enterprise. I think it's best to leave things as they are."

"I consider progress desirable," a short man asserted with apparent conviction. "In the modern world, the watchword is progress. Things change all the time. If we look around us, we find the town is not the same as it was a decade ago. There are new streets and new buildings."

"I agree that some improvements now and then aren't objectionable," said a bald-headed man. "But we shouldn't go in for drastic changes that are unsettling. Moderation in all things is the best policy." He assumed the expression of a philosopher dedicated to the golden mean.

Silence fell on the room for a few moments before the fat man said in a slow, deliberate tone, "Mr. Chairman, let us hear your plans for expansion first before we decide what to do."

All eyes turned to the speaker as though he had uttered an oracle.

"That's a reasonable suggestion," said the short man.

The chairman looked embarrassed. "To tell the truth, I haven't got any. I was hoping that the members would advance their views."

The gentlemen present looked at one another.

Then the managing director spoke briskly and confidently.

"The company should not confine itself to property development. It should branch out into other activities. For a start, we could form or acquire a concrete products company engaged in the manufacture of pipes, bricks, and precast concrete slabs. This company would deal in its own right and augment the profits of the parent company. Furthermore, in our housing projects, we could make use of its products to our advantage. As time goes on, we could acquire other companies in similar or other kinds of work. Our company would not be located in Penang. Eventually, we'd have a conglomerate of companies straddling the country under the control of a building company."

The members, including the chairman, were struck dumb with surprise. The clock on the wall ticked away a full three minutes.

"This is absurd!" exclaimed the man with the mole. "This overweening ambition is the road to ruin." He shut his eyes in distress.

"The scheme is too big," said the bald-headed man. "Our business is property development, and we should stick to it."

"I'm not so sure," said the fat man. "The scheme may be feasible. We should consider it seriously."

"The plan is undesirable," said a man who sported a mustache. He had never liked Jin Tek and wanted to oppose him. "The company hasn't been in existence for many years, and we're not firmly on our feet yet."

"We're well established," said the chairman. "The managing director's ideas are undoubtedly ambitious, but he has always succeeded in what he thought should be done. I don't suppose we're averse to running a very big company and being tremendously rich." He laughed at his mild joke.

"The chairman is right," said the short man. "I'm all for expansion and diversification. I see no reason for timidity and lack of enterprise."

"Have we the funds to start a concrete products company?" asked the fat man.

The chairman called upon the treasurer to give a statement of the financial position.

"We have ample funds," commented the chairman in a satisfied voice.

"I wasn't thinking of setting up a new firm," said the managing director slowly. "I was considering the acquisition of an existing company. It takes a lot of time to start an enterprise. It's easier just to run a company that's already in operation. It's also not necessary to spend cash to make an acquisition. We can offer the owners shares in our company in settlement of the purchase price."

The members were struck dumb for the second time.

Then the mustached man exploded. "This is the limit! Which fool is going to give away his company for free?" He was heavily sarcastic.

"No one is giving away anything for free," said Jin Tek patiently. "The owners are merely exchanging their company for shares in another."

"But why should they do such a thing?" demanded the mustached man. "What's wrong with owning and running their own company? Isn't that better than merely owning shares in another of which they know nothing?"

"There are several causes for people wishing to take such action," said Jin Tek. "They may prefer to merge a small company with a big one. Their company may be stagnant and getting nowhere. They may be suffering losses and are only too glad to get rid of it. Anyway, such transactions are far from being uncommon."

"I've heard of such transactions," said the bald-headed man in a reflective tone. He was not averse to being associated with a bigger company if it cost him no fresh financial outlay.

"This mode of expansion is a brilliant idea," answered the short man enthusiastically. "What firm have you got in mind to acquire?" He addressed this to Jin Tek.

"I haven't a definite one in mind," said Jin Tek. "If the board authorizes me, then I'll look around for something suitable."

"There's a snag in all this," said the mustached man. "The owners aren't likely to be content with just relinquishing their firm for shares in a company in which they have no say. Won't they demand representation on the board?"

"That all depends," said Jin Tek. "Should they ask, I think there's no harm in giving them a seat or two."

Different views were advanced about this problem.

To press his advantage home, the mustached man said mischievously, "If you acquire a concern bigger than ours, the new shareholders may have even more shares than ours and may end up owning and running our company. That doesn't seem a glorious prospect."

Consternation fell on the members.

"That isn't what we would like," said the man with the mole. "I don't suppose the chairman wants to retire."

The chairman looked irritated. "I'm sure that's not what the managing director proposes."

"I don't intend to acquire a company bigger than ours," said Jin Tek, casting a slightly withering glance at the mustached man. "We'll look for one relatively much smaller, maybe belonging to just one person. Instead of its owners controlling our company, we'll appoint our people to sit on its board of directors and control it. It's also not necessary for us to purchase the company in its entirety. Depending on its capital and the sale price, we may acquire only part of it. As long as we own more than 50 percent of its stock, it becomes our subsidiary. We can get a company that's not of consequence and by reorganizing it turn it into a valuable asset."

"That sounds like a grand proposition!" enthused the short man. "I'm all for it."

"The execution of such a measure betokens exceptional talent," chimed in the fat man.

"Or exceptional stupidity on the part of the vendor," said the mustached man petulantly. "I don't believe the scheme will materialize."

"It certainly sounds too good to be true," added the man with the mole. "I really don't take to ventures that aren't likely to prove meritorious. Instead of getting more prosperous, we'll just lose

everything we have."

"You seem very pessimistic," said the chairman. "As I recall, you raised objections and made dire predictions when we formed the financial company."

The man with the mole looked abashed. "That was a comparatively small enterprise. I don't remember being opposed to it."

"I propose that we empower the managing director to look around for a suitable concrete products company, embark on the requisite negotiations, and report to the board on the outcome of his efforts," said the chairman.

He asked each member in turn whether they agreed to the proposal and all gave their assent, even the mustached man, although he did so reluctantly.

The meeting then passed on to consider other matters that need not be chronicled. It concluded with a note of thanks to the chair, whatever for was not explicitly stated.


Excerpted from Struggle Toward Extinction by Tan Kheng Yeang. Copyright © 2015 Tan Kheng Yeang. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgment, ix,
Chapter 1: The Meeting, 1,
Chapter 2: At Home, 11,
Chapter 3: The Hotel, 21,
Chapter 4: The Work Site, 31,
Chapter 5: Jin Tek's Parents, 39,
Chapter 6: The Party, 47,
Chapter 7: Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods, 57,
Chapter 8: Office Again: A Stormy Meeting, 67,
Chapter 9: Violence, 77,
Chapter 10: Ban Siew to Singapore, 85,
Chapter 11: The Hotel Again, 95,
Chapter 12: Jin Eng and Politics, 105,
Chapter 13: The Squatters' Riot, 117,
Chapter 14: Boo Hong's House, 127,
Chapter 15: The Trick, 137,
Chapter 16: Bee Jion's Marriage, 147,
Chapter 17: The Honeymoon, 157,
Chapter 18: Bank Robbery, 169,
Chapter 19: The Rival Company, 179,
Chapter 20: Jin Eng's Escapade, 189,
Chapter 21: To Kuala Lumpur: Chye Hoon's Affair, 199,
Chapter 22: Teo Chew Opera: Tua Pek Kong's Birthday, 211,
Chapter 23: Business Expansion, 221,
Chapter 24: Around the Island, 231,
Chapter 25: The School, 243,
Chapter 26: Chye Hoon's Affair, 251,
Chapter 27: Public Company, 261,
Chapter 28: Ban Siew's Decision, 271,
Chapter 29: Cheah Huat Hock's Restaurant, 281,
Chapter 30: To London, 291,
Chapter 31: Agony of Jin Tek, 301,
Chapter 32: Taipei, 309,
Chapter 33: Bee Jion at the Supermarket, 319,
Chapter 34: Rivalry, 327,
Chapter 35: Politics, 335,
Chapter 36: Lily, 343,
Chapter 37: The Kidnappers, 351,
Chapter 38: The Kidnapping, 359,
About the Author, 385,

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