“I am mixed Chinese-Kadazan from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah…”

“I am mixed Chinese-Kadazan from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The government school I went to had a strict language policy – when you speak English, it has to be proper English, same goes if you are speaking Malay. Education is done differently there compared to government schools.

My school shaped who I am. They allowed us to express ourselves, be how we are, in what we were aligned with. There were no restrictions or values to practice as long as its legal. I noticed that some of my friends in the Peninsular only got the same exposure in university or college. So we become more outspoken and outgoing.

And so it has always been my childhood dream to become a pilot. When I saw the birds fly in the sky, I used to imagine myself up there. After STPM, I took a few gap years where I graduated as a certified commercial pilot. But life has it in such a way that when times go bad and you are only left with an STPM qualification, you better find a way out.

In 2010, the aviation industry was going through a lay off period. I realised that if I get retrenched, I can’t get a decent job. Eventually, if I don’t get retrenched now, and I am laid off at 40, how bad is that? If I have a degree, I can still be an office boy or a clerk.

At 22, I did my degree in international business and marketing. College was also the place I met my co-founder for my startup Catjira, Sheng who was a finance student. We were two eccentric guys with spare time over the weekday nights and weekend, and we came up with our own side project. That was how we started tinkering with softwares and when we saw a little form of traction, we went all out.

How CatJira is today is very different from when we first started. We have pivoted across multiple products to come to what we are now, which is social media analytics.

Think of it as Facebook 2.0, where we are able to give you more information on your Facebook page insights and turn it into an easily understandable presentation.

We can tell clients what kind of audience might have potential pockets of opportunity, with proper cross-reference age and the location of these groups of people.

In the beginning, the nature of our work took us a year and half to two with no revenue. It took us three years to gain proper traction. Three years of tightening your belt, cutting cost wherever is necessary. The seed funding helped keep us sustainable, if not we both would have gone back to the corporate field.

I have been in both corporate and startup; it’s the same to me. The only difference is, you will have an emotional tie to your own company, so your drive is higher.

That is something I won’t deny. Even in start ups, you don’t wake up everyday loving what you do. There will be days when you feel like quitting, and question whether it’s worth it. But when those days happen you just have to ask yourself why you started it and is it worth continuing.

MaGIC has been integral to our early days as a place where like-minded people and resources gather. I’d akin them to be a safe space or a nursery for early stage companies. There’s workspace, educational modules, and a team that looks after our welfare to enable us to focus on what we do. They eventually became the bridge for us to move forward into things such as growth and investments. They joined MaGIC for a cause, and that is translated into how they touch our lives.

If time and opportunity arises i would like to move my company back to Sabah. Its an environment where its conducive for software development. It’s peaceful. Mountains are an hour’s drive away; islands, 20 minutes away. It allows creative work to be more productive.”

Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering with Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems! #HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Christine Cheah
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa and Amalina Davis

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(This post was first published on July 15th 2018)

Part 2/2 “When I tell people I have many medicine to take, they don’t believe me. Let me show you.”

I had an accident in the Loke Yew roundabout seven years ago. Since then, I’ve been taking painkillers everyday. I also have an OKU card.

Then there’s also these high blood pressure pills. I am scared if I don’t take it I will be paralysed; but its all up to Allah. If its time, its your fate.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Story by Christine Cheah
Photo by Irene Yap

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(This post was first published on May 15th 2018)

Part 1/2 “When I was young, I was very handsome. So she came to mengurat (tackle) me.”

“Eh, you don’t listen to him. Its our parents who arranged our marriage. I was from Penang and he was from Kedah. We have been married for over 40 years.”

– Pak Ali’s breakfast warung in Batu 18, Hulu Langat is the kaffeeklatsch of the town and all food served are cooked and prepared by his loving wife daily.

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Story by Christine C
Photo by Irene Yap

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(This post was first published on May 14th 2018)

“I’m scared that my vote would be rejected”

“I’m scared that my vote would be rejected if I didn’t mark the voting paper correctly so last night (Monday May 7) I practiced marking on a piece of paper.

Tonight (May 8), I will be hanging around with my JKKK committee who will be teaching villagers and first time voters how to mark properly.

Its fun joining in the campaigns because I get to hangout with my friends.”

Seen in Hulu Langat on May 8, 2018

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photo and story by Irene Yap
Edited by Christine C

The above interview was conducted in Malay.

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(This post was first published on May 15th 2018)

“I think my generation are blessed with choices, whether it’s their career, political views or even who they choose to be friends with.”

We are born with choices that were different from my dad’s generation or my grandad’s generation. They came from a generation where you do what you are given, and you stick through it no matter what hardship comes your way.

Hence most people in my age group tries to find meaning in what they do, and most of the time they can’t find it. We find different things to do and end up in square one asking ourselves ‘what am i doing with my life?’.

Young Malaysians want opportunities to contribute. Alot of people are focused on education and safety. I talk to my friends of different races and especially the lower income group; they want more opportunities to grow as a whole.

They want this country to grow and be more relevant, but they don’t want to hold too much responsibility just yet. Just like how a lot of my peers are getting more involved with different political or social impact groups in the country, but starting in small doses.

If there’s a need for the country, young people need to step up. The country won’t grow if everyone my age stays away from politics.

Everyone just needs to work as hard as possible within our means to the best of what we have.” – Raja Hamzah Abidin Raja Nong Chik

Story by Christine Cheah
Photo by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on May 29th 2018)

“Isn’t that Iron Man’s watch?”

“I once had a young female passenger who was going to watch an Iron Man movie. She saw my watch and asked – “isn’t that Iron Man’s watch”? I said yes, it’s nicknamed the Iron Man G-Shock. She then said “but uncle, aren’t you a little bit too old to love superheroes?”. I then replied – “Do you know how old has Iron Man been published(1968)? Or Superman (1938)? Your grandfather knows them… Even Stan Lee (famous creator of several super heroes) is 90+ years old!”.

I’m 43 years old and my wife thinks I’m crazy for still loving super heroes and buying, reading manga/anime. And I said what’s wrong with it, we all have hobbies. My favourite superhero is Superman, because he’s invincible. But even so his weakness is Kryptonite. Goes to show that even the strongest person have a weakness.

Back then when I was young I could only enjoy the cartoons in the TV and seeing my friends play with them. Now that I have the money, I can finally enjoy them too!”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on May 30th 2018)

“Oh the environment doesn’t matter! The world is only going to end after I die.”

I think it is very selfish for someone to say that. Don’t you care about other people? How about your children and your grandchildren?

When I tell people I’m studying environmental science and I’m a conservationist, they called me a ‘hippie’. They will start asking questions like, ‘how are you going to get a job?’ or making statements like ‘you are not going to get any money’. I always knew that whatever job I’m going to do, it is not about the money.

For me, it is all about learning. I love learning about the environment because it is something that we are so closely attached to, but people just don’t think enough about it.

I started with environmental science in my undergraduate, so I did a lot of broad environmental subjects. In my masters in Cambridge, I decided to specialize in wildlife conservation because I want to work with protecting and preserving animals.

It is not a big topic here in Malaysia, even though we have so much wildlife and natural resources to protect. Maybe it is because we are a developing country so we don’t think about all these. I feel like sometimes we just think about how to make money from it, we don’t think of how to protect it.

I don’t think its their fault though, we just don’t get enough exposure here. Instead of watching cartoons growing up, I watched National Geographic and Animal Planet. That is the reason why, not just me, but all my siblings are very passionate about the environment.

My mother always told me ‘do what makes you happy because you are going to do this for a long time. You don’t want to be doing something that you don’t really like because it makes you miserable’.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Samantha Siow
Edited by Amalina Davis

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(This post was first published on June 9th 2018)

“When I was 21, I lost a job that I loved because I fought for what I thought was right.”

“When I was 21, I lost a job that I loved because I fought for what I thought was right. I tried to look for someone to give me justice, the managers, the HR, the employee tribunal and even the CEO. I never got justice, so that’s why I decided to study law.

I was with a budget airline company as a ground operator. Since it is a budget airline, the managers wanted to show that they were making profits to the big bosses, so they would try to cut and minimize costs as much as they can.

When I was there, it was very short-handed. Computers broke down often causing problems at the check-in counters. We had to do a lot of the work manually and this took up a lot of time. We often had passengers waiting and scolding us, it was horrible!

I complained to my manager and the senior management, but nothing was done. So I was like ‘Screw it!’ and I emailed straight to the ‘big boss’. A week later, we got new computers and all the systems were fixed!

But after that, my managers got into a room and scolded me fiercely. I even cried because I was so scared. They told me that they were willing to forgive me but they had their eyes on me. That time, I really felt like it was my fault, like I made a mistake, and I was being forgiven.

One day, there was this passenger from India who wanted to travel to Singapore. But when he arrived in Singapore, they said he didn’t have a visa, so they sent him back to Malaysia. The Singaporean office emailed the Malaysian office and said our officers didn’t check if he had a valid visa.

So I looked up the passenger details and called him to ask if he could send me a copy of his printed visa on the passport. I sent the proof to the other side and explained that it wasn’t my fault and clearly they made a mistake. I did not realize that those emails were being CC-ed to the senior management team.

My regional manager called me up and said ‘Oh I see that you are very rebellious, you are an argumentative kind of person’. I told him no, that’s not true. I was just trying to state why I’m right. He didn’t seem to believe it. That was the time when they were going to renew my contract, but they didn’t. I lost my job.

I was really upset because I loved my job. I was doing very well and I actually saw a future there. I was devastated but I didn’t want to give up. I have to do something. That’s when I decided to study law.

An elder person would probably tell me, ‘You should just do your own thing, don’t bother about it’. But if you know something is not right, you should speak up. The reason why things have become like this in our country is because no one was speaking up, they were just keeping quiet, trying to play safe.

If you look at Kevin Morais, some might say that if he didn’t do anything, he will probably still be alive. But if he didn’t do it, his conscience would probably kill him.

Until now, I have no regret in doing what I did because I did the right thing.”

Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Samantha Siow
Edited by Amalina Davis

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(This post was first published on June 13th 2018)