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From a rectrenced 5 figure salary programmer to an open-source guru

This story was published in The Star paper on 9 June 09. After reading the article, I feel duly inspired but did not have time to write about this- now that I have time, I feel this articles warrants to be shared with others.


During the dotcom burst in 2001, many IT programmers and those working in the technology industry lost their jobs. For Redhuan Oon, who was earning a 5 figure salary, found himself jobless suddenly. He was unable to find another job since there was no more job opening despite having 20 years of working experience writing in Cobol (Common Business Oriented Language).


Source: The Star

Source: The Star


After doing some soul searching, he also found that he had despised his job anyway and in his own words, “I actually hated my job. It was meeting after meeting, day in and day out, and I felt straitjacketed in a coat and tie”.

So he moved his family into a rented 2 acre farm in Kuang, outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. The family and him grew to love the idyllic lifestyle of living in the country side, away from the fast paced furious world. Initially, the family was living on a shoestring budget- his kids had to sell nasi lemak in school, while Redhuan did some farming and gave tuition in Maths and English to make ends meet.


Then another adversity struck- a mudslide wiped out his pond and his dreams of making it as a commercial fish breeder.


From his farm, he was still connected to the internet via his laptop. It was then he discovered open source ERP solution called Compiere. It is useful for tracking goods, warehousing, inventory, sales tracking, etc. He has a website red1.org that offers technical and basic tutorial on Compiere.


And so aside from farming, he will be spending lots of time working for his customers to tweak and offer them business solutions. Most of us will work with the sounds of the city- car hons, air cons, rap music, around us- we are so used to it. But imagine being like Redhuan, working with the sounds of nature around- it’s not a wonder that he could accomplish so much more than he did.


I find this to be a very inspirational story- about a man who turned adversity into opportunity. Assuming that he was not retrenched, he would have spent the next 20 years (from the time he was retrenched in 2001) in a job that he had hated- but was necessary to support his wife and kids. Only when he had no choice, his mind was able to explore other horizons and go on the road that none has travelled. And today, he is much happier than he was at the corporate world.

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