Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I read with great interest the latest blog post by etheorist here. The blogger wrote about the fixation many of us have with the accumulation of wealth and went on, wistfully, to reflect on the implications of this wealth-fixation of ours. The blogger raised much food for thought (if we have time for that).

I also read, with sadness, the Obituary of Datuk Khoo Eng Choo. Datuk Khoo was the leader of PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the 1990s together with YM Raja Arshad.

I didn't know Datuk Khoo personally nor have I ever worked with him.

The anecdotal information that I have suggests that Datuk Khoo and his team built the old PWC from the foundation and legacy left by the late Jaafar Hussein who had moved on to helm the Malayan Banking group and, later, became the Bank Negara Governor.

Datuk Khoo and Raja Arshad and the team they had built PWC's reputation and sealed its dominance of the accounting profession in Malaysia. 

To acquire market leadership in any field, in any market jurisdiction, requires great skill, care, industry and foresight. By all accounts Datuk Khoo had these qualities in abundance.

As any great leader will attest, the path to success is littered with injured egos and perceived unfair treatment by team members who were found wanting. I am certain that Datuk Khoo who is said to have possessed Napoleonesque qualities has his fair share of detractors.

This should not cloud his legacy and the achievements of the team that he led at PWC in the 1990s.

I hope that those who worked beside him will not consign him and his work to ignominy. 

Where etheorist's blog post and the matter of Datuk Khoo's legacy merges in my mind is the issue of what types of goals and values that we should have and what we want our offspring and successors to embrace.

I wish to hazard a proposition that perhaps a life well lived should, ideally, leave a zero sum legacy where people will say that in our lifetime we did not leave the world worse off that when we first arrived.

I would hazard a corollary proposition that if we were to be excessively exuberant during our lifetime, that excessive exuberance led to an improvement to the world that we lived in.

For, if we left the world a worse off place than it was when we first arrived, we would have committed a crime, or, as the people of faith calls it, a sin.

So, picking up on etheorist's thread, our industriousness in wealth accumulation should lead us to acquire and enjoy a comfortable and reasonable luxurious life of happiness and when the time comes for us to depart, we should only leave behind enough for our children to receive a decent education and an adequate stipend for them to get started on their life's journey.

Anything exceeding that should be bequeathed for the betterment of the community.

Those, I believe, are reasonable goals and values for each of us.