Today, Knowledge Management today are not limited merely to : (A) 'knowing' or 'reading lots of books/scholarly articles' or (B) data mining, analysis, decision making, preventive actions, or (C) some Human Resources Management issue or (D) some ICT issue. Knowledge Management is about putting your knowledge, skills and competency into practice and most important IT WORKS! For you and your company or your business (Nik Zafri)

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Email: nikzafri@yahoo.com, nikzafri@gmail.com

Kelantanese, Alumni of Sultan Ismail College Kelantan (SICA), Diploma (Management), IT Competency Cert, Certified Written English Professional US. Has participated in many seminars/conferences (local/ international) in the capacity of trainer/lecturer and participant.

Affiliations :- Council Member of Gerson Lehrman Group NY, Institute of Quality Malaysia, Malaysian Institute of Management, Malaysian Occupational Safety and Health Professionals Association, Auditor ISO 9000 IRCAUK, Auditor OHSAS 18000 (SIRIM and STS) /EMS ISO 14000:2004 and Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS, CIDB (Now BCA) Singapore),

* Possesses 26 years of experience/hands-on in the multi-modern management & technical disciplines (systems & methodologies) such as Knowledge Management (Hi-Impact Management/ICT Solutions), Quality (TQM/ISO), Safety Health Environment, Civil & Building (Construction), Manufacturing, Motivation & Team Building, HR, Marketing/Branding, Business Process Reengineering, Economy/Stock Market, Contracts/Project Management, Finance & Banking, etc. He was employed to international bluechips involving in national/international megaprojects such as Balfour Beatty Construction/Knight Piesold & Partners UK, MMI Insurance Group Australia, Hazama Corporation (Hazamagumi) Japan (with Mitsubishi Corporation, JA Jones US, MMCE and Ho-Hup) and Sunway Construction Berhad (The Sunway Group of Companies). Among major projects undertaken : Pergau Hydro Electric Project, KLCC Petronas Twin Towers, LRT Tunnelling, KLIA, Petronas Refineries Melaka, Putrajaya Government Complex, Sistem Lingkaran Lebuhraya Kajang (SILK), Mex Highway, KLIA1, KLIA2 etc. Once serviced SMPD Management Consultants as Associate Consultant cum Lecturer for Diploma in Management, Institute of Supervisory Management UK/SMPD JV. Currently – Associate/Visiting Consultants/Facilitators, Advisors for leading consulting firms (local and international) including project management. To name a few – Noma SWO Consult, Amiosh Resources, Timur West Consultant Sdn. Bhd., TIJ Consultants Group (Malaysia and Singapore) and many others.

* Ex-Resident Weekly Columnist of Utusan Malaysia (1995-1998) and have produced more than 100 articles related to ISO-9000– Management System and Documentation Models, TQM Strategic Management, Occupational Safety and Health (now OHSAS 18000) and Environmental Management Systems ISO 14000. His write-ups/experience has assisted many students/researchers alike in module developments based on competency or academics and completion of many theses. Once commended by the then Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia for his diligence in promoting and training the civil services (government sector) based on “Total Quality Management and Quality Management System ISO-9000 in Malaysian Civil Service – Paradigm Shift Scalar for Assessment System”

Among Nik Zafri’s clients : Adabi Consumer Industries Sdn. Bhd, (MRP II, Accounts/Credit Control) The HQ of Royal Customs and Excise Malaysia (ISO 9000), Veterinary Services Dept. Negeri Sembilan (ISO 9000), The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (Aspects of Project Management – KLCC construction), Corporate HQ of RHB (Peter Drucker's MBO/KRA), NEC Semiconductor - Klang Selangor (Productivity Management), Prime Minister’s Department Malaysia (ISO 9000), State Secretarial Office Negeri Sembilan (ISO 9000), Hidrological Department KL (ISO 9000), Asahi Kluang Johor(System Audit, Management/Supervisory Development), Tunku Mahmood (2) Primary School Kluang Johor (ISO 9000), Consortium PANZANA (HSSE 3rd Party Audit), Lecturer for Information Technology Training Centre (ITTC) – Authorised Training Center (ATC) – University of Technology Malaysia (UTM) Kluang Branch Johor, Kluang General Hospital Johor (Management/Supervision Development, Office Technology/Administration, ISO 9000 & Construction Management), Kahang Timur Secondary School Johor (ISO 9000), Sultan Abdul Jalil Secondary School Kluang Johor (Islamic Motivation and Team Building), Guocera Tiles Industries Kluang Johor (EMS ISO 14000), MNE Construction (M) Sdn. Bhd. Kota Tinggi Johor (ISO 9000 – Construction), UITM Shah Alam Selangor (Knowledge Management/Knowledge Based Economy /TQM), Telesystem Electronics/Digico Cable(ODM/OEM for Astro – ISO 9000), Sungai Long Industries Sdn. Bhd. (Bina Puri Group) - ISO 9000 Construction), Secura Security Printing Sdn. Bhd,(ISO 9000 – Security Printing) ROTOL AMS Bumi Sdn. Bhd & ROTOL Architectural Services Sdn. Bhd. (ROTOL Group) – ISO 9000 –Architecture, Bond M & E (KL) Sdn. Bhd. (ISO 9000 – Construction/M & E), Skyline Telco (M) Sdn. Bhd. (Knowledge Management),Technochase Sdn. Bhd JB (ISO 9000 – Construction), Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (IKIM – ISO 9000 & Internal Audit Refresher), Shinryo/Steamline Consortium (Petronas/OGP Power Co-Generation Plant Melaka – Construction Management and Safety, Health, Environment), Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (Negotiation Skills), Association for Retired Intelligence Operatives of Malaysia (Cyber Security – Arpa/NSFUsenet, Cobit, Till, ISO/IEC ISMS 27000 for Law/Enforcement/Military), T.Yamaichi Corp. (M) Sdn. Bhd. (EMS ISO 14000) LSB Manufacturing Solutions Sdn. Bhd., (Lean Scoreboard (including a full development of System-Software-Application - MSC Malaysia & Six Sigma) PJZ Marine Services Sdn. Bhd., (Safety Management Systems and Internal Audit based on International Marine Organization Standards) UNITAR/UNTEC (Degree in Accountacy – Career Path/Roadmap) Cobrain Holdings Sdn. Bhd.(Managing Construction Safety & Health), Speaker for International Finance & Management Strategy (Closed Conference), Pembinaan Jaya Zira Sdn. Bhd. (ISO 9001:2008-Internal Audit for Construction Industry & Overview of version 2015), Straits Consulting Engineers Sdn. Bhd. (Full Integrated Management System – ISO 9000, OHSAS 1800 and EMS ISO 14000 for Civl/Structural/Geotechnical Consulting), Malaysia Management & Science University (MSU – (Managing Business in an Organization), Innoseven Sdn. Bhd. (KVMRT Line 1 MSPR8 – Awareness and Internal Audit (Construction), ISO 9001:2008 and 2015 overview for the Construction Industry), Kemakmuran Sdn. Bhd. (KVMRT Line 1 - Signages/Wayfinding - Project Quality Plan and Construction Method Statement ), Amiosh Resources - (1) Lembaga Tabung Haji - Flood ERP (2) WNA Consultants - DID/JPS -Flood Risk Assessment and Management Plan - Prelim, Conceptual Design, Interim and Final Report etc. (3) Tunnel Fire Safety - Fire Risk Assessment Report - Design Fire Scenario), Safety, Health and Environmental Management Plans leading construction/property companies/corporations in Malaysia. Timur West Consulting (1) Business Methodology and System (2) Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) ISO/IEC 27001:2013 for Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya ISMS/Audit/Risk/ITP Technical Team

* Has appeared for 10 consecutive series in “Good Morning Malaysia RTM TV1’ Corporate Talk Segment discussing on ISO 9000/14000 in various industries. For ICT, his inputs garnered from his expertise have successfully led to development of work-process e-enabling systems in the environments of intranet, portal and interactive web design especially for the construction and manufacturing. Some of the end products have won various competitions of innovativeness, quality, continual-improvements and construction industry award at national level. He has also in advisory capacity – involved in development and moderation of websites, portals and e-profiles for mainly corporate and private sectors, public figures etc. He is also one of the recipients for MOSTE Innovation for RFID use in Electronic Toll Collection in Malaysia.

Note :



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nik Zafri says :

I like the following article...very honest and very transparent analysis...

Although the article may be the thing of the past (so it seems) but I wish all bankers, investors, newly listed companies, speculators and analysts, economists etc. etc. to read the following article...

Be alert for some strong words but back up with solid facts.

We may take certain reminders so that we shouldn't be over excited of the current market performance but in fact, start working harder to continually improve them (stop sitting in the comfortable zone (not yet)

Also my reminder to all, stop playing the old record by saying that the high quantity of listing/IPOs indicates that the economy is going to be fine...it's the quality that we're talking here NOT quantity.

I think 'designation' of certain stocks by authorities should come in handy - perhaps the right time....but designating stocks should be packaged with clear regulations

Recession-struck Asia to face IPO shortage in 2009

Depressed equity prices, a spreading global recession and increasing risk-aversion among investors are likely to kill the motivation for Asia Pacific companies to be audacious enough to launch IPOs in 2009. The IPO pipeline, which had dried towards the end of 2008, will probably completely shut in the first half of 2009 and the most optimistic are now only hoping that stability will return to stock prices and that a few listings will follow in the second half of the year.

There have been several jumbo IPOs in the Asia Pacific over the past few years through to the first half of 2008. The drivers of this supply were Indian and Chinese companies taking advantage of continued economic growth and investor enthusiasm for exposure in the rising fortunes of the developing world.

This gung-ho mentality was sadly short-lived as these companies’ post-listing performances were disastrous, inflation touched new highs with the advent of recession and the financial sector collapsed under the weight of sub-prime problems.

The pain was particularly felt in the second half of 2008 and IPOs were postponed or completely culled as stock prices and indices plummeted and the probability of raising new money through issuing shares at reasonable valuations completely bit the dust.

A continuation of this surrender to the gloom in global markets is likely to ensure that companies keen on deleveraging will focus on raising equity via secondary placements or private stake sales rather than venture out with IPOs, said bankers.

The outlook for IPOs at least for the first half of 2009 is bleak,” said Simon Cox, head of syndicate at UBS Australia. “Most investors who have cash see enough opportunities in secondary markets every day and are not willing to be tempted to take risk in unknown companies by participating in an IPO unless they are priced very attractively. As a result, companies hardly have any motive to sell into this kind of environment which will kill supply in 2009.”

Signs of a prolonged slowdown in IPO activity are already evident. The Chinese IPO market, the region’s busiest for several years, had a slow start in 2009. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has still kept the domestic A-share market shut and only two tiny companies have listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange – the HK$250m (US$32.2m) IPO of mainland oil, petroleum and petrochemical trader Strong Petrochemical and the HK$63m float of China Singyes Solar Technologies.

There is one deal, though, that holds the hopes of all the companies looking to raise new equity. Chinese gold miner Real Gold Mining is braving the market with a US$150m deal and, though the defensive nature of gold could spur some demand, not many are willing to bet on the deal’s success.

Even if it is a success, bankers expect the Chinese IPO market to remain quiet in the first half and to show signs of recovery at best in the second half because of uncertainty about the direction of the global economy. “By that time (mid-year), people should be able to get a more solid view on the global economy and the mere hope of recovery could push up the stock markets and invigorate the IPO market,” said a banker.

When that happens, the infrastructure sector and companies in the retail business segment could be favoured as likely anti-recessionary candidates. “Investors remain picky and they would be only willing to put their money in India or China’s infrastructure and retail which are still considered growth sectors given possibilities demands of their huge populations will continue,” said another banker.

The Chinese government is set to invest Rmb4trn (US$584.4bn) in the country’s infrastructure sector in the next few years and is determined to maintain an 8% GDP growth by supporting domestic demand. India has similar plans to augment its infrastructure and support GDP growth.

The deals that may hit the market, however, would be modestly sized and the super jumbos are likely to be few and far between.

The only known candidate for a jumbo IPO is Agricultural Bank of China, which has plans for a US$20bn–$30bn A/H IPO in 2010. In October last year, Agricultural Bank of China received a US$19bn cash injection from the Chinese government to remove bad debts from its balance sheet and strengthen its capital base before going public. The bank transformed itself into a shareholding company in mid-January and is said to be looking at a Hong Kong and Shanghai IPO.

The Indian market is expected to remain somnolent during the first half as India gears up for its 2009 general elections. The elections are expected in May 2009. Prior to that, the Indian government is unlikely to push forward with any of its privatisations.

What little activity there is now is focused on CB buybacks with Reliance Communications and Jubilant Organosys among those quietly buying back CBs.

“In the Indian context, the market is bound to be turbulent pre-elections. It’s going to be difficult to do any deals. Post elections around June or July, hopefully, the markets will stabilise a bit and we could start seeing companies desperate to raise cash tapping the market in the fourth quarter,” said one Indian ECM banker.

And that is likely to be the trend in the rest of the region. Within South-East Asia, ECM activity will be driven primarily by recapitalisations, particularly within the FIG and real estate sectors, largely through rights issues. South-East Asian issuers tend to be family or major shareholder dominated, and rights issues backed by promoters will continue to be the prevailing trend.

“We are waiting for more rights issues out of Singapore. People are looking at issuers like CapitaLand, CapitaCommercial Trust and CapitaMall Trust to tap the market and we expect more fundraising within the REIT space. Our visibility for IPOs in SEA is minimal, so I definitely think it will be secondary fund raising and recapitalisations,” said another banker.

Although the past few months have been desolate for ECM bankers, there could be a pick-up in equity issuance towards the second half of 2009 as issuers find themselves faced with no funding alternatives.

“The IPO market is dead…The rescue rights or rescue placements in Europe will probably follow through to Asia, but Asian issuers have to swallow their pride first and take the decision to issue equity. If debt markets remain closed, they will have no choice, at some point the penny will drop,” said one Hong Kong-based Southeast Asian banker.

In Korea, the healthy IPO pipeline has imploded with first life insurers and then construction firms falling off the map. A market plunge, where the Kospi drifted below 1,000 for the first time in three years, and a subsequent liquidity squeeze has set a bleak tone for 2009 and bankers are struggling to find candidates to come to the market.

If markets were to improve, bankers think it will be the life insurers that will return first with Tongyang Life Insurance regarded as the most likely candidate. Tongyang Life came close to listing last summer but was forced to pull the deal at the last moment and has since renewed its listing filing twice with the latest deadline extended to August.

Bankers are not confident that Tongyang Life can meet that timetable but they suggested that if the deal could get done this year then other life insurers like Kumho Life and Mirae Asset Life would follow.

Also on bankers’ radars are a string of deals from Hyundai-related companies with Hyundai Motor rumoured to be considering spinning off Hyundai Card and Hyundai Capital while Hyundai Group considers a listing of Hyundai Logistics and Hyundai Home Shopping.

Bankers said that although the Hyundai deals inflated their pipeline, the execution of such deals would depend on whether the Hyundai Group was willing to use its cash piles to support the businesses and avoid a listing.

“The problem with a lot of the listing candidates is that they are backed by Korea’s industry giants and conglomerates. There is no real urgency to get these firms to the market,” one banker noted.

That argument can probably be best applied to the listing plans of Korea’s construction firms, including Posco Engineering and Construction and Lotte Engineering and Construction and Hyundai Engineering and Construction, which were all expected to list in 2008/2009 but have recently reversed those plans. Bankers blamed the cancellation of their listing plans on a strategic decision to lean more heavily on their chaebol relationships than the public markets.

And in Australia it will be difficult to see any IPOs being done in 2009, especially after the few that got done in 2008 were disastrous for investors. BrisConnections which did a huge IPO in 2008 saw its partially paid A$1 shares falling to a record low of A$0.001 post-listing. IvanHoe Mines also did one that was the year’s second largest IPO but are trading way below their issue price.

Against that background, reviving investor confidence for IPOs will be difficult.

“There could be opportunities of IPOs by diversified companies demerging to realise value in specific units or even venture capital/private equity selling off stakes but those deals in this depressed environment will have to be priced relatively cheap. . .we are not recommending our clients to go ahead and do IPOs in this environment,” said one banker.

Shankar Ramakrishnan, Fiona Lau, Denise Wee, Govinda Finn

Monday, November 09, 2009

Recently, someone asked me about Low Cost Housing and 'how low cost' would it be in terms of construction - which triggers me - that I've not been writing anything on Civil Engineering for quite sometimes.

Here's an article (I do not know who is the original author) from Civil Engineering Portal India which I think would be something worth looking into (I love reading this article for it's directly related to what I've been mentioning all long (you may find quite a number of related articles in my blog) about quality costs in construction):

Low Cost Housing is a new concept which deals with effective budgeting and following of techniques which help in reducing the cost construction through the use of locally available materials along with improved skills and technology without sacrificing the strength, performance and life of the structure.There is huge misconception that low cost housing is suitable for only sub standard works and they are constructed by utilizing cheap building materials of low quality.The fact is that Low cost housing is done by proper management of resources.Economy is also achieved by postponing finishing works or implementing them in phases.

Building Cost

The building construction cost can be divided into two parts namely:

Building material cost : 65 to 70 %
Labour cost : 65 to 70 %

Now in low cost housing, building material cost is less because we make use of the locally available materials and also the labour cost can be reduced by properly making the time schedule of our work. Cost of reduction is achieved by selection of more efficient material or by an improved design.

Areas from where cost can be reduced are:-

1) Reduce plinth area by using thinner wall concept.Ex.15 cms thick solid concrete block wall.

2) Use locally available material in an innovative form like soil cement blocks in place of burnt brick.

3) Use energy efficiency materials which consumes less energy like concrete block in place of burnt brick.

4) Use environmentally friendly materials which are substitute for conventional building components like use R.C.C. Door and window frames in place of wooden frames.

5) Preplan every component of a house and rationalize the design procedure for reducing the size of the component in the building.

6) By planning each and every component of a house the wastage of materials due to demolition of the unplanned component of the house can be avoided.

7) Each component of the house shall be checked whether if it’s necessary, if it is not necessary, then that component should not be used.

Cost reduction through adhoc methods


Normally the foundation cost comes to about 10 to 15% of the total building and usually foundation depth of 3 to 4 ft. is adopted for single or double store building and also the concrete bed of 6″(15 Cms.) is used for the foundation which could be avoided.

It is recommended to adopt a foundation depth of 2 ft.(0.6m) for normal soil like gravely soil, red soils etc., and use the uncoursed rubble masonry with the bond stones and good packing. Similarly the foundation width is rationalized to 2 ft.(0.6m).To avoid cracks formation in foundation the masonry shall be thoroughly packed with cement mortar of 1:8 boulders and bond stones at regular intervals.
It is further suggested adopt arch foundation in ordinary soil for effecting reduction in construction cost up to 40%.This kind of foundation will help in bridging the loose pockets of soil which occurs along the foundation.
In the case black cotton and other soft soils it is recommend to use under ream pile foundation which saves about 20 to 25% in cost over the conventional method of construction.


It is suggested to adopt 1 ft. height above ground level for the plinth and may be constructed with a cement mortar of 1:6. The plinth slab of 4 to 6″ which is normally adopted can be avoided and in its place brick on edge can be used for reducing the cost. By adopting this procedure the cost of plinth foundation can be reduced by about 35 to 50%.It is necessary to take precaution of providing impervious blanket like concrete slabs or stone slabs all round the building for enabling to reduce erosion of soil and thereby avoiding exposure of foundation surface and crack formation.


Wall thickness of 6 to 9″ is recommended for adoption in the construction of walls all-round the building and 41/2 ” for inside walls. It is suggested to use burnt bricks which are immersed in water for 24 hours and then shall be used for the walls

Rat – trap bond wall

It is a cavity wall construction with added advantage of thermal comfort and reduction in the quantity of bricks required for masonry work. By adopting this method of bonding of brick masonry compared to traditional English or Flemish bond masonry, it is possible to reduce in the material cost of bricks by 25% and about 10to 15% in the masonry cost. By adopting rat-trap bond method one can create aesthetically pleasing wall surface and plastering can be avoided.

Concrete block walling

In view of high energy consumption by burnt brick it is suggested to use concrete block (block hollow and solid) which consumes about only 1/3 of the energy of the burnt bricks in its production. By using concrete block masonry the wall thickness can be reduced from 20 cms to 15 Cms. Concrete block masonry saves mortar consumption, speedy construction of wall resulting in higher output of labour, plastering can be avoided thereby an overall saving of 10 to 25% can be achieved.

Soil cement block technology

It is an alternative method of construction of walls using soil cement blocks in place of burnt bricks masonry. It is an energy efficient method of construction where soil mixed with 5% and above cement and pressed in hand operated machine and cured well and then used in the masonry. This masonry doesn’t require plastering on both sides of the wall. The overall economy that could be achieved with the soil cement technology is about 15 to 20% compared to conventional method of construction.

Doors and windows

It is suggested not to use wood for doors and windows and in its place concrete or steel section frames shall be used for achieving saving in cost up to 30 to 40%.Similiarly for shutters commercially available block boards, fibre or wooden practical boards etc., shall be used for reducing the cost by about 25%.By adopting brick jelly work and precast components effective ventilation could be provided to the building and also the construction cost could be saved up to 50% over the window components.

Lintals and Chajjas

The traditional R.C.C. lintels which are costly can be replaced by brick arches for small spans and save construction cost up to 30 to 40% over the traditional method of construction. By adopting arches of different shapes a good architectural pleasing appearance can be given to the external wall surfaces of the brick masonry.


Normally 5″(12.5 cms) thick R.C.C. slabs is used for roofing of residential buildings. By adopting rationally designed insitu construction practices like filler slab and precast elements the construction cost of roofing can be reduced by about 20 to 25%.

Filler slabs

They are normal RCC slabs where bottom half (tension) concrete portions are replaced by filler materials such as bricks, tiles, cellular concrete blocks, etc.These filler materials are so placed as not to compromise structural strength, result in replacing unwanted and nonfunctional tension concrete, thus resulting in economy. These are safe, sound and provide aesthetically pleasing pattern ceilings and also need no plaster.

Jack arch roof/floor

They are easy to construct, save on cement and steel, are more appropriate in hot climates. These can be constructed using compressed earth blocks also as alternative to bricks for further economy.

Ferrocement channel/shell unit

Provide an economic solution to RCC slab by providing 30 to 40% cost reduction on floor/roof unit over RCC slabs without compromising the strength. These being precast, construction is speedy, economical due to avoidance of shuttering and facilitate quality control.

Finishing Work

The cost of finishing items like sanitary, electricity, painting etc., varies depending upon the type and quality of products used in the building and its cost reduction is left to the individual choice and liking.


The above list of suggestion for reducing construction cost is of general nature and it varies depending upon the nature of the building to be constructed, budget of the owner, geographical location where the house is to be constructed, availability of the building material, good construction management practices etc. However it is necessary that good planning and design methods shall be adopted by utilizing the services of an experienced engineer or an architect for supervising the work, thereby achieving overall cost effectiveness to the extent of 25% in actual practice.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I've heard stories about most major banking and financial Institutions are having special meetings to revise and reformulate monetary policies.

I do agree with these actions as the stock market may rise again PROVIDED the best monetary policies are introduced into the marketplace.

One thing for certain, investors are digesting rumours rather than facts, speculation rather than analysis - people just don't have the patience to wait nowadays. Many have told me that this is going to be short term but that 'short term' are dominating the market with making strange shapes. One news from the US...say unemployment rate, then it would finally affect the whole world.

One thing for certain, there are still investors taking risks waiting for 'the right time to sell' - even minimum gains is good enough but many seem to find strength in weakness (opportunity to buy/profit taking) where efforts to strengthen of holdings in equities are seen. Despite its sluggish performance, surprisingly USD may get better - lowest interest rates offerings, plans of liquidity etc.

Well, as for me, besides than unit trust, I'm also looking into GLC's bonds at the moment. Will be back soon..

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