Monday, 31 May 2010

Ibrahim Ali is my hero




I have another installment essay on the subsidy issue. I shall post it later. At the moment, I have to take a leave of absence from that topic. This term seems to be very popular nowadays.
I want to talk about another more urgent issue. I want to save myself from being labeled a traitor to the Malays.
Before Muay Thai fighters fight they performed the wai kru ceremony. This is some sort of salutary dance paying homage to their teachers and masters. I find myself now having to perform a political wai kru. I pay homage to the only person in Malaysia who loves his Malay race. He is kru Ibrahim Ali. Stopa to folks back in Pasir Mas.
Ibrahim Ali is the only person in Malaysia who loves the Malays. None can surpass his love for his race than Ibrahim Ali. Never mind the fact that he built a bridge with the assistance of non Malay contractors. Never mind the fact that his business associates and even backers are non Malays. He is a Malay first through and through. He is, every inch, certified, bona fide Malay. He is more UMNO than UMNO. He is more Malay than Dr Mahathir.
Amir sham Abdul Aziz has been branded as a traitor to the Malay race. He is the one responsible for coming up with the New Economic Model- the model by which the PM will manage the economy in the years to come.
Actually there is no such economic model. None has been published definitively. So we cant comment on something that has not been finalized. Even PM Najib says nothing has been finalized. PM Najib doesn't know it- but people are saying, a pattern has now emerged. lets see.
The way PM Najib does things nowadays, he is turning flip flopping into a new art form. He has become a political contortionist. Subsidy? Trial balloon. NEM. Not finalized yet. Sungai besi land? Concluded. RRI land? Concluded. Sports betting? Already settled. Kampung Bharu land? Unlocking hidden value.
Amir Sham is paying the price now. Because of the NEM he is called a traitor to the Malays. He is after all a rapacious ex banker who couldn't string an answer in Parliament. What does he know? He knows only debits and credits. He knows only digits.
Who has labeled him so? It was done by that ominous Malayness accreditation body- Perkasa which is headed by Ibrahim Ali. I am not related to Amir Sham even though we share the same surname. So before any of the Perkasa people say I am guilty by association, I must absolve myself.
The boss of Perkasa must have the attributes of Ayah Pin- the founder of the government in the sky deviationist movement. Remember that giant teapot? How else can I explain why and how bright people, even with advanced degrees, who studied overseas, are attracted to the cause championed by Ibrahim Ali? Perfectly rational people are mesmerized by shout- yourself coarse Ibrahim Ali? He must have that magnetic pull like Ayah Pin.
I also remember, not long ago, some people compared KJ to the young Dr Mahathir. Now I know those who did that were dead wrong. Even outright stupid! The person who most resemble the young Dr Mahathir  is Ibrahim Ali. Minus of course a large portion of that cerebral material. Less a diet on fish because Dr. Mahathir doesn't each fish.
Ibrahim Ali, more than anyone else in Malaysia, indeed the whole wide world is the only person who loves his race. No one else can compare his intensity. Even though his business partners are Chinese, he loves his race more than Dr Mahathir, more than PM Najib and more than the entire UMNO fraternity. In fact, Ibrahim says UMNO does not love the Malays anymore. Ibrahim Ali is the only person eminently qualified to pronounce whether you love your race or.
So, I am forced to petition PM Najib to include Ibrahim Ali as a cabinet member. It is most unbecoming, for a leader of UMNO, the Malay party to exclude the only person capable of loving his race from UMNO and cabinet. Otherwise, PM Najib will be accused of being less Malay than Ibrahim Ali. Maybe even a traitor to the Malay race despite the fact that he is the son of Tun Razak.

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Sunday, 30 May 2010

Subsidy-the Axe Man cometh!

Government, by definition, is that organization which has a monopoly on the legitimate initiation of force within a geographic area. Inherently, it must use force and the threat of force to impose its rules on others, no matter how these rules were derived.

Why would I begin this essay with the above foreboding paragraph? Simply because I think, this whole lab about subsidy rationalisation as a means to lower our perennial deficits is a veiled threat of force to impose new rules on us.

Who among us in particular? On the most vulnerable group- the poor and needy is the answer.

PM Najib has to take a serious look on this subsidy issue. What is the most important legacy of his father, the 2nd PM? Championing the cause of the poor is the likeliest answer. He was minister in charge of rural development. It wasn't a glamorous ministry, but development for the poor was close to his heart. He formed FELDA in the year Sakmongkol was born in 1956. To give land (wealth creating asset to the poor and disenfranchised.

Where is Idris Jala leading us? Cutting the 'real subsidies' going to the poor. Not exactly respecting the legacy of Tun Razak is it? But then, what does Idris "Al Dunlap' Jala knows? We shall be coming out with what he did at MAS. Coming soon. Khawp khun, Danke, Nandri , Repoman!

Does he know Tun Razak at all? Don't bother what the experts say. Ignore what Ramon Navaratnam says. Cut the government projects going to Sunway group and let's see whether he can sing Jangli Jangli Kahay still. Is cutting subsidies on the top of the priority list of cutting government deficits? Reduce by half the bloated and quality challenged civil service would be a better option.

Let's be clear who the recipients of government subsidies are. Government financial aid going to ordinary people is often really transfer payment, which is non compensatory. Meaning, the government gives them money without being compensated with anything from the recipients. Government financial aids going to businesses and industries, soft loans, etc- these are the real subsidies which should be compensatory.

The businesses and industries assisted by all sorts of subsidies ought to give us back in the form of better goods and services at a cheaper rate. IPPs get lots of subsidies, tax incentives and all that, including that kitchen sink, why aren't we getting cheaper electricity tariffs? Why do I get that I- owe -them -a -living service from the under qualified civil servant?

Now, which one is the government going to take away?

Somebody must be bonkers if they believed that selling off assets and booking them in and accordingly showing profits, is ONE brilliant move to bring MAS into the black once again. And fuel hedging? Not exactly rocket science. The executive in charge of budget airline Air Asia knows fuel hedging is one of the ways to reduce cost and therefore increase operational profitability. So doing fuel hedging is not a NOVELTY nor a big deal. If Jala who comes from Shell doesn't dabble in something he is familiar with, then maybe he should return to Sarawak to plant Bario rice.

The record at MAS by this minister- achieved by the above methods cannot be taken to impute extraordinary prowess at turning around things. We think he can do the same with our deficits by way of attacking subsidies which he fancies as the jugular? Nah- I don't think so.

So, the government has incurred deficits all the time. Is going after subsidies or more correctly, going after transfer payments (welfare, subsidies on food, diesel, sugar, and education) is the better line of attack to reduce our deficits?

What about wasteful spending?

The government has just owned up to the gravity of our deficits, we going bankrupt and all that yet at the same, we hear this shrill voice from Johor, insisting the crooked bridge must be built. What is so special about building this crooked bridge and must it be crooked? Also, didn't we hear just last week how everyone was singing praises at Malaysia being in the most competitive list? How do you reconcile this and the doomsday warning given by this Nostradamus from the land of the Hornbill?

We must be careful when we talk about subsidy? How much are pure subsidies and how much is transfer income? By treating it as one homogenous economic element, Jala is going to punish those who receive transfer incomes with those who receive subsidies. Differentiate the two. I am sure; this ability to differentiate these two wasn't taught at Shell.

Transfers which are straight income supplements need to be distinguished from subsidies. An unconditional transfer to an individual would augment his income and would be distributed over the entire range of his expenditures.

A subsidy however refers to a specific good, the relative price of which has been lowered because of the subsidy with a view to changing the consumption/ allocation decisions in favour of the subsidised goods. Even when subsidy is hundred percent, i.e. the good is supplied free of cost, it should be distinguished from an income-transfer (of an equivalent amount) which need not be spent exclusively on the subsidised good.

I can't put it any simpler- but then I am talking to the former boss of MAS and a former exec of Shell.

Transfers may be preferred to subsidies on the ground that any given expenditure of State funds will increase welfare more if it is given as an income-transfer rather than via subsidising the price of some commodities, and transfer payments can be better targeted at a specific income groups as compared to free or subsidised goods.

But the axe man came and bundled everything as subsidies. Subsidies in the form of soft loans, financial aid to IPPS-these ought to be removed immediately. But subsidies going to the poor? Only if PM Najib has a death wish. Anyone watches Charles Bronson movies anymore?

What is the primary objective of the government in saying that in 19 years, this country will go bankrupt? The deficit is so big that it has reached almost half of our GDP? Is this an overnight phenomenon? We didn't get to the stage of huge public debt overnight. It's the result of years of negligent and undisciplined spending like nobody's business.

The thing is, this yawning gap occurred under the watch of the BN government. In that sense this huge public debt is the outcome of the economic policies of the BN government. This Idris Jala maybe a loose cannon after all. I hope PM Najib must now realize that he needs to place people schooled in politics. Sure, in Shell they teach you to be audacious and the executive is always eager to make slides and PowerPoint presentations with much fanfare so that his immediate boss or the departmental bosses notice you. You operate on a different basis.

In politics, what you do, notwithstanding the brouhaha, have political ramifications. Failure is a lonely orphan, success has got many fathers. Right now, Idris Jala may be feeling orphaned.

What proportion do subsidy payments make up in the whole deficit budget?

You see- the problem with subsidies- it's the easiest economic parameter to attack. Subsidies are received by corporations and businesses and the most vulnerable groups in society- the poor and needy. Corporations and businesses especially those who have received favorable loan terms, have strong and vociferous representation. Navaratnam can speak on behalf of big business, chief economists can speak on behalf of the banks etc.

But what about the vulnerable groups? The poor and needy? Who represent them? Maybe Walla. Maybe Sakmongkol. Maybe Wenger. Maybe Donplaypuks.

When I was young, I remember the government of the day at that time ran austerity campaigns. They didn't cut back on subsides to the poor. Of course at that time, government did not give out dirt cheap loans to selected businesses and businessmen nor spent lavishly on unnecessary things. They took the road of persuading the people to go on austerity drive. Government stopped recruiting workers. The civil service remained manageable unlike now where it has reached 1.2 million in number. Practically 1 out of 25 Malaysian is a government servant. One public servant servicing 25 people would have given us sterling service. But what we get is arrogant and officious service blind to the fact, they, the majority of civil servants live off our money.

What is the primary objective of cutting subsidies- that portion of government expenditure that goes to selected sectors and recipients? If the subsidies go to selected producers of goods and services- what they offer us should be cheaper. Recipients who receive subsidies without offering the economy anything back, will experience increase in disposable income and spend it accordingly over a broad range of expenditure.

There are 2 groups who receive subsides. Producers of goods and services- IPPs, Infrastructure contractors, businesses given almost interest free loans from the government. This is one group. The other group include the recipients of what is more correctly termed as transfer incomes.

So when Idris Jala was telling is that what the government spent last year is equivalent to RM 12,900 per head, I am not sure whether this is a quantum divided by the whole population of Malaysia or recipients of subsidies only.

Where will the cuts come from? My main objection to this subsidy rationalization is, the cuts are directed at the most vulnerable group of all- the poor and low income earners who are poorly represented in any discussions involving them. Who represented the poor on the panel discussion? CAP? The man from Khazanah? Tony Pua? Idris Jala? The Royal blood?

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Friday, 28 May 2010

Cutting subsidy- 1



 

Forgive me for this pun. I know why the government is bending over to convince us that subsidy cutting is good. It's Anwar Ibrahim. The government doesn't want to be known as worse than Anwar Ibrahim. 
Why? Subsidy is derived from the Latin word subsidium. It means coming with help FROM BEHIND. Right now the government doesn't want to have anything to do with anything coming from behind. It has done enough from behind screwing on us.
I asked for forgiveness first right?
It's nice to hear Idris Jala raising concern about the amount of subsidies our government is paying. Last year the government spent 74billion on subsidy and he quickly adds that's about RM12, 900 per every citizen in Malaysia.
Now, was that call justified? You spent RM 74 billion last year and quickly qualified that by saying, that's RM12, 900 per head.
Was that supposed to make us feel guilty and therefore malleable? Don't lab here and there.  Dont open day here and dont open day there. Open everything. 
The decision to cut subsidies may have already been made. The lab/Open Day on subsidy held at KLCC is just a public relations exercise to make us the public feel 'included' in the new inclusiveness. We are included only when it comes to sharing the burden but excluded when it comes to sharing benefits. Or in the case of the 74 billion spent last year, that portion going to deserving public was much less that the portion going to wasteful and unproductive entities.
You do what you have to do. Which areas do you want to cut? You want to potong the subsidy in the form of cash or near cash handouts to the poor and needy and the infirm? Or those government agencies and entities that took up huge loans previously? Or those public universities who soaked in money but failed to produce good results. You have got to differentiate between non performing subsidy recipients and really subsidy dependent recipients.
Cutting expenditures is better. Wasteful expenditures. Defense for example. Who are we fighting that necessitate us getting the latest and most expensive armory? We have cheap natural defense- I like the answer given by the deputy defense minister when he explained the reason why the submarines cannot submerge, is because here in Malaysia, the water is different. Man oh man.
That reduces those top military experts to the mental level of my deep-sea going fishermen friends. They have long realized the sea in Kelantan and the sea off Pahang are different and therefore the fishing nets need to be modified. Please check- our submarines- have they been modified? If yes, at what cost?
Tell you what- next time you want to buy any more submarine- like weaponry, call me please, I will recommend you some of deep-sea going fishermen who can offer subsidized advice. No need to call up a Razak Baginda or a foreign interpreter.
Let me define what subsidy is from the beginning. Its public money (ours that is) taken by the government and given to private hands. That's what it really is. But the way Idris Jala says it, once those people took the money and then that money taken becomes a problem, the problem MUST be shared once again by the public. You don't believe me? - look at the subsidy components. What portion of the 74 billion spent last year went to target groups- the poor and the needy and what portion of the subsidy went to those people who needed subsidy least? Or look at how much of the 74 billion when to debt servicing? What portion went to recipients who don't contribute to the nation at all?
So Idris Jala( whom Pak Lah mistook to be a Muslim) mustn't give the impression that this is a burden borne by the government to help out poor people. In 2009, the govt spent 84b. In 2010, it spent 74b. It has already reduced 10b.
Before making sweeping statements- please identify which areas absorbed most subsidies.
10 b went to debt servicing and 10b went to subsidize the price of fuels. Pension payments 5.12b, 3,10b went to dividend payments, 2.3b went to MARA, 2 billion went to federal roads achieving minimum standards, 1.5b went to UITM, 1.38 billion went to human capital development, KLIA got 1 billion, 906million went to makanan asrama, 541m went to UPM, 515m to USM, 497m went to MU, 382m to UTM, toll subsidies- 394m
In the next part, we shall discuss further. I think enough heart palpitations in the morning today.

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Thursday, 27 May 2010

MIC and BN


A few days ago I wrote an essay rebutting Vell Paari's claim that UMNO is behind moves to oust Samy Vellu. My arguments were directed to his accusations regarding UMNO. On the issue of Samy Vellu and his position in MIC, it's not anybody else's business other than those who elected him president.
UMNO has no interest in MIC's internal affairs. The UMNO president should not succumb to invitations for him to solve MIC's problems. Those disgruntled MIC members think this is a Sentul gang fight or what? How is he expected to do that? By asking Samy Vellu to go? The UMNO president will be more diminished if he does that.
If he does that, he will be seen as condoning an extra constitutional measure to eject a properly elected president of another party. UMNO members, who conspire with MIC elements to throw out Samy that way, are also practicing undemocratic means. You eject or accept your party member through the proper means. It's not the place of UMNO members to be accomplices in this kind of politics. This is a New Malaysia supported by a New UMNO.
Mugilan and his gang should work with MIC members and force an EGM, if that is possible. MIC members themselves must take up the nightstick to accomplish that. Isn't there a provision in their party constitution allowing them to call for an EGM? That is a better avenue other than resorting to extra-constitutional way to bump off your own democratically elected party president. You are asking the UMNO president to disrespect democratic process. It's not our business to bother if you elect a goon, or a bully, a saint, a yogi as your president.
UMNO has too many of that kind among its rank to take up more problems.
The core of the present problem is the issue of Samy Vellu. It's no business of ours really if he intends to stay for another 20 years. It's his party and his presence affects Malaysian Indians. Samy has ample wisdom to assess his relevance and presence. MIC loses its relevance once it loses its credibility with Malaysian Indians. Once that happens, it's opened for UMNO as BN chief to do as it pleases with MIC. It can for example eject MIC as member of the BN. But on the issue of what it can do to Samy Vellu, it doesn't have any standing to do that. MIC members have that right.
It's better for MIC to focus on regaining its eminence and trust. It has 700,000 members and yet managed to secure or persuade only 179,000 people to vote for BN? I know, MIC members are not concentrated in any particular voting areas, but to be able to get this measly number means, in places where a BN component party stood, MIC was incapable of persuading its members residing there to vote BN.
Maybe it's a good idea to accept MIC's threat to leave BN. T Mohan may be playing poker. Lets engage him.
The principal behind the movement to oust Samy is one Mugilan who was nearly selected as candidate in Hulu Selangor. He has started a group called Gerakan Anti Samy- or GAS. We hope it's not just that – a lot of GAS. He has booked as venue, the PWTC hall to invite all those against Samy to be present. The plan is to escalate pressure on Samy to resign by showing that many Malaysian Indians are just fed up of Samy Vellu as MIC leader.
Mugilan is no longer an MIC member. The manner by which he was thrown out may be most disagreeable and reprehensible, but that is the constitutional provision of the MIC party. Good or bad, is entirely another matter and the people wishing to have them changed, because it confers excessive executive powers to the MIC president are the MIC people themselves.
Which brings us to the rights of the MIC members. The only people who can oust Samy are the MIC members. If they want to reject him, they must do so in the proper forum in accordance to their party's constitution. So what Mugilan wants to do, being no longer an MIC member, not in a proper forum, not by MIC members will amount to nothing.
All it will show, is, there is much dissension within MIC. A divided MIC will stand no chance to earn the respect of Malaysian Indians. A rejected MIC is of no value to BN. Allow them to leave and let them rejoin when its house is in order.

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The building brick of society.


The building brick of society- it's the family. The persons/leaders, who forfeit the management of family values, don't deserve our support and trust to lead us. I don't mean to sound condescending, but family values form the basis of good government actually. It's one of the bedrock of the Confucian idea to establish peace under heaven. The individual in our society always operates in the context of the family.
The family unit and the values grounded on this building brick of society actually sums our hopes and fears we have for our society and eventually, our government, our nation. It's in this context that I find Sanusi JUnid's latest posting on his blog, his seminal piece.
Seterusnya, jika kita rujuk kepada keadaan keluarga sebagai asas kepada keharmonian dalam masyarakat dan negara :

TIDAKKAH KITA MERASA BIMBANG, GUNDAH DAN GELISAH, APABILA MENDENGAR

begitu ramai yang membuang atau membunuh anak, kisah cerai berai menjadi-jadi, anggota Parlimen, sebagai penggubal undang-undang, yang sepatutnya menjadi contoh dan teladan, tersenyum lebar menerima hukuman penjara, kerana berpoligami,

tanpa mengikut undang-undang; pemimpin terus merebut jawatan tertinggi dalam parti walau pun terdedah dengan skandal seksnya,

pemimpin parti dari satu agama yang mempunyai dua orang isteri dari dua agama yang berbeza,

pemimpin yang mengharapkan kesalahannya, jika terbukti nanti, terampun dengan popularitinya,

pemimpin yang terus mempertahankan kedudukannya sebagai pemimpin walaupun disahkan mengamalkan rasuah politik,

dan akhir-akhir ini kita terbaca dalam Mingguan Warta Perdana seorang isteri Menteri menyerang seorang pelakon yang jelita. Sudah tentu keluarga yang terlibat berada dalam sengsara.

Mampukah mereka yang keluarganya dalam sengsara mengamankan negara, dan membahagiakan rakyat jelata?

Kita juga letih mendengar nasihat dari mereka yang pernah menjadi pemimpin, yang mengecewakan, tidak berhenti-henti turut memberi nasihat dalam berbagai perkara pula. Bolehkah, sebagai rakyat, kita katakan kepada mereka, dalam bahasa yang mereka mudah faham - 'please leave us alone.'


 

One UMNO leader with whom I have always been and am fascinated is Sanusi Junid. Whenever he rose to speak during UMNO general assemblies, I would be at my most attentive self. In one particular year, I sat spellbound when he characterised Malaysian politics by using the Ringgit notes as analogies. The most expensive being politics with the picture of the Malaysian parliament depicted on that note. I can't remember which Ringgit note- perhaps it was the Thousand Ringgit note.
I attended several of his talk sessions whenever I had the opportunity. As he was a leader of the MAYC, he spoke at many MAYC functions. Though never a member of any youth organisations, I would try to attend his talk sessions. I found whatever topics he spoke on to be interesting. He has this uncanny ability to weave his speech with anecdotal wisdoms.
I shall always remember his formulaic characterisation of a good leader- ABDRS- Amanah, Berani, Disiplin, Rajin Dan Setia. At other times he regaled us with the story of si Tobeng. In his latest blog, he tells us again, the story of the fishes in Ho Chih Min's home that would jump when people clap their hands.
He is the one, Anwar Ibrahim feared most in Dr Mahathir's team. Anwar would ask his people to immediately get tape recordings of what Sanusi said at his speeches. I can never forget Sanusi's story about the animals he looked after when he was the Agriculture Minister.
Saya jaga banyak binatang di dalam tugas saya sebagai menteri pertanian. Tapi yang paling saya tak tahan ialah babi- kerana binatang ini akan menyondol kita dari belakang.
I once attended a Hari Raya function at his home in Bangsar. As I took off my shoes, Sanusi told me- keep your shoes in a safe place. Ini, adik adik saya, bukan boleh percaya sangat bila tengok kasut cantik. Nanti hilang….We all let out guffaws.
I hope our UMNO leaders think about what Sanusi said. Everyone in Malaysia was stunned with incredulity at the spectacle of the windbag from the land below the wind, smiling upon being sentenced to a month's jail. The symbolism behind the cynical smile wasn't lost on many of us- the couple simply made a mockery and poked fun at Islamic law. He should be given a heavier sentence.
Leaders who made a virtue of owning up to his sexual exploits continue to lead others. Something is clearly wrong with our value system.
Leaders who don't seem to take seriously the religious sanctions against allowing spouses to retain their original different faiths. The obvious implication here is that religion has become a private thing. What religious denominations will the children follow? Can they decide what they want at a young age and then, midway, adopt different religions?
The basic political unit is the family actually. There is a serious note in Sanusi's anecdotal essay- the basic unit of society is the family. It is very difficult for us to accept that one who isn't able to manage his/her family affairs can handle the country and serve as its leaders. The husband who can't manage the wife is easily seen to be subservient.
The family and family values ran through the entire Confucian idea of establishing the ideal government. In an interview with Fareed Zakaria, Lee Kuan Yew spoke on this theme. They are represented in the Confucian maxim of XIUSHEN QIJIA ZHIGUO PINGTIANXIA. They are essentially a formulaic summary which offers counsel toward the ideal of "great peace under heaven," which is another term for judicious government. The ultimate goal in Confucian political philosophy, as stated in this aphorism, is to bring peace under heaven (pingtianxia). How does one do this?
To do so, one must first be able to keep one's own household in order (qijia), which in turn requires that one cultivate "self" (xiushen). This teaching is a political philosophy that emphasizes the role of government and stresses the ruling elite's moral obligation to strive to bring about peace under heaven. Peace under heaven in turn encapsulates such ideas as public safety, national security, and water and forest management and also, this concept of peace under heaven should be interpreted to include peaceful living and existence for all things under heaven.
But always, the basic building block is the management of the family and family values. I hope UMNO leaders read what Sanusi is saying and study them further.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The son rises? Sets?



 

S Val Pari- has accused UMNO of masterminding the eventual downfall of his father, Samy Vellu. In the 2008 GE, MIC secured 179,422 votes. They now have 3 MPs in parliament, each  given government posts. That's a 100 per cent achievement, rarely accorded to other BN component parties.
Bad blood appears to build up since Samy Vellu lost the GE. His prestige is unassailable as long as he remains MIC's boss. When he holds no office, the mice come out to play. Even those still in diapers when he took over Manickavasagam now are emboldened enough to ask him to go. Mugilan, the jilted candidate for Hulu Selangor, has even started a group that will be pressuring Samy to go. How will it accomplish that? Maybe by holding mass demonstrations ala Hindraf. By aligning with HIndraf if they are still around.
Combining with UMNO? UMNO is beset with its own agenda and problem to be mired in MIC's fiery political vindalloo. So, we shall politely deny Val Pari's accusations.
As leader of MIC, Samy was probably miffed at not being made a senator to keep MIC on a even keel and also to retain his prestige. Others who lost were given senatorial positions- Shahrizat was made a senator, the bungling Koh Tsu Kun was given one.
Samy Vellu feels that he must not only be consulted in any issues involving MIC but also that his views must prevail. So during HUlu Selangor by election, he wanted Palani to stand but the BN knows that Palani were to stand, we would lose. The name of one MUgilan was bandied around as UMNO's preferred candidate. This got Sam incensed and he threatened to sack MUgilan then, if Mugilan accepted candidacy. Samy Velu has also threatened to leave BN.
As a measure of vindication and small victory, if Samy can't get what he wants, UMNO will not get theirs too. So in the end we settled for kamalanathan who I believe will only be serving for 2 years more.
Val Pari must come out with incontestable proof that UMNO is behind his father's descending politics. So far he has offered nothing other than conjectures and broad innuendos that permit escape in future. UMNO has no need to accelerate Samy's departure. MIC will self implode.
If Val Pari must know, UMNO grassroots are equally angry about MIC being given 3 government posts when they were able to bring in a measly 170,000 votes. MIC has more members than that. That proves that MIC has been ineffective and is no longer the undisputed voice of Malaysian Indians.
The HUlu Selangor elections showed that UMNO can sidestep MIC and go directly to Malaysian Indians to gain their trust. This is only possible as a result of MIC's own effete presence. The Indians as a whole are disillusioned with Samy's leadership. The MIC leadership must also recognize the symbolism when PM Najib was able to go into Batu Caves and took part in the Thaipusam merriment. That showed that UMNO and BN are capable of linking up direct with the average Indian who feels appreciated and counted. Samy himself treats his people as digits.
Now, if there is one reason why Samy Vellu is going downhill, it's because he has overstayed its time and MIC no longer the sole voice of the Malaysian Indian.
Val Pari has a choice actually. He can disembark at the next bus stop. Please go.

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Monday, 24 May 2010

Sime Darby Code

We have a non functioning board of directors. We also have a management committee that misleads the board.

I read in the Edge recently the thinking that asking the board to resign is NOT going to sort out Sime Darby's recent financial mess. I think otherwise. It should be made to resign so that an impartial and unfettered inquiry can be made into the losses. Its removal or resignation helps to unravel the Sime mess in the sense that it removes the need to be less thorough and less severe. The existence of a board and close proximity with board members may be a cause of restrained investigation. Better to remove any fetters that could hinder an honest thorough, rigorous and stringent investigation.

Would the young man with that formidable accounting degree be self assuring enough to ask tough questions to the Tan Sris, Dato's and the Sime Tun?

The agenda of uncovering this mess requires absolute thoroughness and ruthless forensic accounting, the two requirements that could be hampered by the existence of the same board under whose supervision, the rogue management carried out its misdeeds.

The existence of a board of directors seen to be ineffective and part of the whole mess should not fetter any impartial inquiry into the fiasco. At the very least they should stand down until investigations reveal their non complicity and ignorance. If there is no conspiracy, then it was complete ignorance. And in law, we cant plead ignorance of the law as an excuse for doing or not doing what we did.

Indeed as a redemption measure, the board should make haste in calling an independent inquiry team to look into this mess.

By his own admission, Tun Musa Hitam said:-

"Semua laporan yang sepatutnya (sampai), tidak sampai kepada pihak Lembaga Pengarah. Kalau ada pun, ia tidak memberi gambaran sebenar. Kami tidak mempunyai laluan untuk maklumat sebenar."

The second part is intriguing. If the reports were presented to the board, at what point in time did the board realise that the information given were misleading? Was it after the mess became public knowledge? Saying so, does not absolve the board.

That places the board in the same category as the ignorant public. The public can be excused but not the board- because the board is an involved and interested party. It can't be conferred the same leniency as the uninvolved public. You are liable for the behaviour of those over whom you exercise duty.

How does the board establish the veracity of the information given? That could only suggest that the board has a possible source channelling the real information to counter the misinformation given. Why was this source act so belatedly? If it does, then its actions (the source) can be conspiratorial.

Musa' statement taken as a whole also mean, that beside the board of directors, the management committee is also responsible and therefore liable for its actions. The million dollar question then is why the punished should be confined to Zubir Murshid only. The responsibility and liability should go down the entire line of decision makers involved in the business deals.

The overall strategy is to isolate the gangrenous parts lest they infect the whole body.

How extensive is the rot? If every level of Sime's management bears the fingerprints of Zubir's kind of management, then Sime Darby and Malaysia are looking at a bigger catastrophe in the making. If Zubir's style of management is characterised most of all by a cloak and dagger approach, the current Sime Darby's financial mess is just the tip of the iceberg. If the original merger between Sime Darby, Golden Hope and Guthrie was kept secret by Zubir and his collaborators , it seems likely that the current 'costs overruns' are also kept secret until the very end. Tun Musa's admission that the board is kept in the dark or was fed with false information, confirms that this is the management style of Zubir and his coterie of like minded managers.

If that is so, removing Zubir and having him replaced by a person moulded in the same management philosophy, isn't going to save Sime Darby. The person currently standing in for Zubir is one such person. Indeed Azhar and Zubir and another one Zarif( the person in charge of foreign labour) are known within Sime Darby as the 3 Abduls. They all came from the same division- Sime Tyres. And there's nothing comical about how these 3 are running Sime Darby.

This strengthens the reasons to look at the other operations of the Sime Darby group. Tun Musa appears to pre-empt any moves to look into Sime's other business operations when he stated that the problems are confined only to the E&U division. But because the overall style of management at Sime is dictated by Zubir and gang, and problems can occur, it doesn't hurt to look into Sime's other businesses.

For example, now is the right time to start looking also on how the plantations division are managed. Why do we need to? Because the public is made to believe that the losses incurred by the Energy and Utilities division can be cushioned by the healthy earnings from the plantations division. The losses can still be absorbed and Sime as a whole can still remain profitable.

That belief can only be supported IF the plantations division continue to be profitable. Its profitability depends on good management and productivity. These two things are fast depleting. As we are aware, the turnover rate of experienced managers within the plantation division is very high. Good managers are leaving the division.

As a result productivity is adversely affected. In Sime's estates a lot of palm fruits remain unharvested because of chronic labour shortage. Losses are mounting. If fruits are unharvested, that translates into millions ringgit losses per month.

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Sunday, 23 May 2010

Cracking the Sime Darby Code



Just as they thought it's safe to get into the water.
No, it isn't safe. Not until we get to the bottom of the Sime Darby fiasco. It's not going to be just because PKFZ lost RM 12 billion, makes Sime Darby's loss of over RM 1 billion-( maybe RM 2 billion) becomes all right. It can never be also, because all those people involved in the fiasco are Bumiputras- that it becomes all right. It shall not be treated that way.
Tun Musa Hitam spoke for over an hour that day to explain SD's losses. Like I have said in my previous 4 postings, they mean nothing other than fudging the issues. For god sake- why can't we be forthright for once- if Zubir Mushid the ex Sime Tyre man screwed SD, tell us how he did so. Don't ask him to relieve himself. Get him interrogated so that he can spill all the beans. If the Mat Rempit Chief, Azeez got paid RM 18 million for whatever which seemed conspiratorial, he must be brought to book. Let's not make the public delirious in trying to read in between nebulous story lines.
It's nice to hear another take from an insider this time; Mr Ashraf who blogs under Jejakpujangga has written an article that is worth reading. He has promised more. His articles would be worth delving into because he was with Guthrie Berhad Golden Hope then. He had certain insider information. Readers can read his first article here.
Just after the day Tun Musa spoke to some bloggers at the SD Convention Centre, I wrote an article saying the entire board should resign. The entire board isn't a solution to this problem. It was part of the problem. If it has been negligent in carrying out its supervisory duties, then a call to ask them to resign en bloc, including the chairman is justified. The board has not only been negligent but also hasn't been diligent. So now, for Andrew Sheng to lecture us on the perils of risk management is a bloody waste of time.
If the board hasn't been negligent and was diligent, then it could only mean that Zubir Murshipd has pulled the biggest wool over the board's eyes. Tun Musa was probably busy jetting around, the other board members were just earning usurious allowances.
What is the government waiting for? The biggest shareholder is ultimately the government. So when Tun Musa is inviting  the PM as the leader of the present administration to sack him. Then sack him.
Let's investigate further the merits of murdering merger-ing 3 profitable entities into one giant conglomerate which now couldn't even make half of the pre merger profit of Guthrie Berhad then.
The proposal to merge Sime Darby, Golden Hope and Guthrie was mooted by Sime Darby, then led by Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid. At the point of the merger, all three companies were very profitable. In its final year, Golden Hope made RM700 million and had embarked on a mission to increase its profits to RM1 billion by this year. That's half the profit the expanded Sime Darby is making now.
Whose bright idea was it? It was Zubir Murshid's idea. The chairman of Sime Darby then, Ahmad Sarji said he didn't know. He must be busy listening to P Ramlee's serenades. That means Zubir didn't tell the chairman. But what about the board? Isn't it a requirement for any company to have any big decisions made known to the board. If the board wasn't aware, then Zubir was a bloody crook then.
What is now stopping the crook Zubir to conceal the losses incurred by SD if, he is, by the track record he displays, a 'natural' when it comes to screwing the company. By the way, the merchant bankers who underwrote the merger made RM 600 million. It must also be hauled up to explain the economics behind the merger if now, we know, such a merger isn't good.
I have also asked, who shall be writing a report to the PM? Surely it would be unbelievably naive for us to ask the board to come up with the report. Such a report, if asked from the board, shall just be a padded CYA –Cover Your Ass rationale.
In the next article, let us see The Group's track record in its core business- plantation. Let's hear it for the 3 Abduls of Sime Darby- Zubir, Azhar and Zarif.

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Friday, 21 May 2010

Old and New UMNO- how the halves differ


One of the favorite topics of discussions/debates among UMNO people now, is the difference between OLD and NEW UMNO. The real UMNO people- those ordinary members, the cawangan members, - over 3 million of them debate on the essence of UMNO, the soul of UMNO, how to revive the UMNO spirit and all that.  
A larger number among them are just there hoping their fears, expectations are addressed. They are just there as waiting patients expecting remedies and cure.  They haven’t got the treatment yet, but the THOUGHT that remedies or cures are coming, is sufficiently comforting. That's UMNO for them.
Occasionally, the topic of their interest gets acknowledged with the award of their 5 minutes of fame. The topics they debate get treated by boring and drone of intellectual discussions by questionable intellectual windbags on TV. The topic which interests them gets glossed over by time-serving professors who nobody is interested to listen to.
I used the term time-serving to suggest that the professors get their professorship by serving their tenure not through publications of any serious intellectual breakthroughs, but by just surviving the passage of time.  
That's the preoccupation of the other and real half of UMNO. That’s the life of the UMNO lumpen-proletariat.
The other half of UMNO is made up of the leadership of UMNO at all levels. There’s the top consisting of the leaders who control the levers of power, aided and abetted by a whole phalanx of sycophants comprising of an invisible network of like-minded ketua bahagians, and other leaders at division levels.
This other half, insignificant in number, but extraordinary in the powers they have, looking good and pure in their APCO- like cultivated public image, has a different preoccupation.
Their preoccupation is in making hay while the sun shines.
Not for them, the discussion of nebulous ideals such as the soul, essence and spirit of UMNO. They do talk about the ALIF-BA-TA or ABC of UMNO’s weltanschauung, but only in monetized terms.  Only if discussions on UMNO’s Islam, Race and Nation state, generate profits, will they be matched by more than their cursory interest and involvement.
Otherwise, discussions of UMNO’s essence, spirit, soul or weltanschauung, are for the UMNO lumpen-proletriat.
The UMNO bourgeoisie talks about bleeding the country. It has come to a sad and sorry state.
The difference between OLD and NEW UMNO is reduced to the manner on how these halves of, the OLD and the NEW pillaged the country.
The half in the OLD UMNO has more finesse and a higher sense of guilt- to use a simpler notion. They took but never in Croesus-like proportions.
A friend once asked a late leading leader of UMNO. Are you corrupt? The man thought for a moment and answered. Yes, I took. The friend asked again, how? The UMNO leader answered- you see that kitchen in this house, when it was about to be completed, I was short of 400 bricks. I accepted a free gift of 500 bricks.

The vanguard of NEW UMNO however is almost consumed by an unconscionable persona.  I can see no better analogy between the OLD and NEW UMNO than the comedic film Ali Baba Bujang Lapuk by the legendary P Ramlee. You will remember in another film- Ramlee asked S Shamsudin what ALIF MIM-NUN-WAU means?- Shamsudin shot back the answer- SARKAS!
 I think this is an apt description of the present day UMNO- it's a circus with clowns, jesters, toothless tigers and lions and lion tamers and animal handlers.
See the filim Ali Baba Bujang Lapuk again. Ali Baba the younger brother looted the robbers Fort Knox and treasury. But he took one small box an dcarted the loot in a trishaw( old means) and later used the ‘sukat’ or measure owned by the older brother Kassim Baba. In that sense, Ali Baba’s thievery was measured and conscionable.
But Kassim Baba reflects the current UMNO leadership. He drives a lorry and looted the treasury clean. You watch the You Tubes.

Part 5


Part 7

Part 8

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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Thinking of UMNO-1



       this is probably how UMNO grassroots see the UMNO leadership

I fear I bring distressing news. UMNO is suffering a possible terminal illness. Things are not as good as they seem.
A few months ago, I was a facilitator and participant at a Pahang UMNO convention. It was held at the UITM campus in Jengka, Termerloh Pahang. At the opening address the Pahang MB said UMNO is like a car. All we need is do some fine tuning- change spark plug, change oil filter, here some bolts, there some nuts. No sooner had he completed his analogy, somebody from the back of the hall, near from where I sat, shouted back. It's not those, we need to change the whole CAR.
There is this gaping dichotomy between what the leader of UMNO feels and what the UMNO grassroots members feel. I fear, the UMNO leadership has the same estimation as the Pahang MB.
Our leadership feels UMNO has regained its balance. It hasn't because in order to regain balance, it must get back its soul. The soul of UMNO isn't motivated by crass materialism, isn't motivated by the overriding desire to enrich oneself. The UMNO soul is nourished by noble ideals, compassion for the rakyat and imbued with a sense of noblesse oblige. We grassroots UMNO member know the manner how our leaders solve problems. PM Najib has to go back to his constituency in Pekan, hand money over to the 140 UMNO branches to carry out the annual general meetings.
UMNO has lost the spirit of voluntarism. And voluntarism as Tocqueville observed in his Democracy in America, formed the basis of a living democracy. There isn't any in UMNIO nowadays.
In my previous post, I said, taking the example in Sibu, the BN which has essentially been UMNOised- sees the voting public as one undifferentiated mass which is buyable. Accordingly UMNO handles this mass the way it knows how to- buy buying them or using the forces of coercion.
The result from Sibu shows the voting population is a heterogeneous mass, consisting of various segments, each motivated by different urgings. Some want money and these can be bought. Others are concerned about issues such as good governance, quality leadership, justice, etc. others are marginalized group whose plight is seen as the outcome of politics by the [powers that be.
UMNO doesn't realize this just as the Pahang MB didn't realize that the problem is no longer confined to just doing some fine-tuning and tweaking here and there. The problem has become so acute that the whole car must be changed.
The saddest thing is now quite apparent. UMNO has lost all high grounds and have decided to do the only thing left in its armoury to try and win back the rakyat - bribe them using their own money. It therefore shows what it is good in. The only skill it seems to have, honed by years of practice, developed into an art and now concluded as the cause of the suffering faced by the rakyat. But what is sadder than even the saddest is that UMNO has to pretend the rakyat don't know all that. And it pretended right in front of them. – Obiwan Walla

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Secret open bidding?


The title is an oxymoron. But strange things can happen in the Jungle of Politics.

When he took over office last year, PM Najib came out with a slew of reformist sounding ideas. I use the term 'sounding' because, the intention still requires substantiation. One of them is raising revenues for the government through the sale of government owned land. It was supposed to be done through open tenders.
A few familiar named locations were mentioned- the RRI land in Sungai Buloh, the Army Airport land in Sungai Besi, the KTM lands, and others. These will be sold through open bids intoned the PM.
But let's take a step further. The government can plan what type of development it wants, down to the features, elements it wants to be incorporated. The image it wants to create. So instead of offering land simpliciter, it should offer packaged deals to be bidden. Don't leave it to the vagaries of rapacious businessmen. These buggers may even want to sell the land to 3rd parties upon getting approval. Especially those who have somehow managed to skirt round the declared open biddings.
That would mean a better open bidding strategy. The government draws up a complete plan, puts in details into the plan right up to the design, density, nature of development. Then the government invites bids from private companies though the open market. The government offers a complete package which bidders carry out accordingly. In that way, the government controls the flavor of the development.
We are now wondering whether things have really changed according to the Najib declarations. The Sungai Buloh land belonging to RRI will be developed by EPF. Now- if the EPF is already chosen, where is the open tender exercise?
The latest on the blocks – and the offer appears to be shrouded in mystery is the re-development of the Old Air Force airport in Sungai Besi. It is rumored that the land is offered to a consortium led by One Malaysia Development Bhd, LTAT and an investment arm of the Qatar government.
One Malaysia Development Bhd is owned by One Malaysia development Fund, the successor of the Terengganu Sovereign Wealth Fund (?). Does that mean that earnings going to the Terengganu Sovereign Fund/One Malaysia Development Fund will be applied to property development here in Kuala Lumpur? That will mean, that the fund intended to develop and prosper the recipient of the oil royalty which is Terengganu directly, will just be applied to a portfolio investment. This raises the question, who is advising the One Malaysia Development Fund. Are they the young boys running around with Taek Jho Low who is pressuring One Malaysia Development directors to follow their leads?
LTAT is the only component belonging to the government. The investment arm of the Qatar government is probably talked into coming in by that young Chinaman, Taek Jho Low who gave Datin Sri Rosmah a gala of a party in New York last year.
If this is true, it will certainly raise some very tough questions. Why should any of the government linked company ( LTAT) belongs to the Armed Forces -get involved in this deal? That would suggest the consortium needed a friendly party to government as a softener, to secure this project. If any company that is related to the government even remotely is taken into the consortium, than its bids stands as a conflict of interest.
How can the government decide fairly when one of it sown is making the bid?
So, the LTAT should withdraw itself from this consortium. That would leave One Malaysia Development Berhad whose shareholder I believe is the Terengganu government. I am asking the more intrepid readers of this blog to verify this. The Qatarian government's investment arm is obviously brokered by the Taek Jho low- the super rich kid which the Malaysian press and groveling-at-the feet- analysts readily confer extraordinary business acumen to. Yes, it's the same young man, who 'thought' of the Terengganu Sovereign Fund which later became One Malaysia Development Fund.
It is also rumored that this same consortium, instead of developing the land directly will be looking for parties with deep pockets to buy the 'project' from them.
It leaves us wondering, that despite all those declarations about reformist ideas done with much fanfare, have things really changed in this country of ours?

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Sibu- Money cant buy all




 

Many people have written to me asking me to write about Sibu. Everyone knows that DAP won the seat by a small margin. Some people claimed, the majority would have been bigger.
Not a small number of people thought this loss in Sibu marks the collapse of BN government. Sibu is the death knell of the BN in Sarawak. People in PKR are salivating at the prospects of winning more parliamentary seats in Sarawak and with those projected victories; they will make their way to Putrajaya. If they make it to Putrajaya then Anwar Ibrahim is saved.
The BN would have won Sibu. Let's not forget, that BN also secured a large number of those who came out to vote last Sunday. It's too simple to dismiss this loss at Sibu and read the situation beyond what is realistic. The BN lost the seat but it isn't enough to signal a widespread contagion.
Those who were in Sibu would have noticed that PBB wasn't putting their full weight there. They viewed this essentially as a SUPP affair. They were not doing their job well. PBB and SUPP have speakers who can answer the criticisms and allegations made by PKR and DAP- but they didn't. This was the main mistake. When Taib Mahmud said, BN lost because the opposition used different campaign strategy, he was wrong there. The opposition parties were more industrious. The BN machinery was lazy and uncoordinated.
The loss is attributable more to just plain laziness and not doing enough. People are quick to associate this loss to a general rejection of Taib Mahmud who is claimed to have overstayed. But ask this question- if Taib Mahmud were to be replaced by someone else, would it change the outcome? I don't think so, because the loss in Sibu was more associated with not doing more skunk work.
BN used the same old strategy- intimidation, coercion, threats and the two technologies- money and cunning.
What is the proportion of the voters that will vote for you when money is given? What is the proportion that is moved by greater ideas? What is the proportion of the population are interested in the elements of good governance- efficiency, effective government, transparency? What is the proportion that needs to have their fears as being treated as second class citizens? What is the proportion of the voters who are interested to secure a better future for their next generation- jobs, education etc.
The mistake by the BN machinery in Sibu and Saawak for that matter is to lump every voter into an undifferentiated mass which is buyable. Hence, BN's approach is one dimensional. Monetize everything.

 
 


 

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Sime Darby: Controls and Reporting.





In the 80's and 90's, Sime Darby was led by a very able CEO- I am not sure what the position was called back then. It was always associated with the name of Tengku Ahmad Yahaya. Sime has had Tan Siew Sin and the legendary Tun Ismail Ali as chairmen. The chairmen always took more than cursory interest in the running of this conglomerate. It was after all a company owned by the government doing business and earning money for the government.
I am not going into a discussion about fiduciary duty. This was touched by a former employee of Sime who wrote to Din Merican who operates a popular blog here.
I am sure the management committee at Sime Darby is provided with weekly reports and the reports are also made available to the chairman and board members. I am also sure that the same people are provided with monthly budget reports wherein details about CAPEX and OPEX are clearly stated against ESTIMATES and ACTUALS.
In other words, with such tooth combing reports and analyses, it would be impossible for anyone in the leadership hierarchy in Sime who matters to overlook glaring variations. Especially if these variations were very abnormal. Unless of course many of them were sleeping in their jobs.
If, despite these internal controls, abnormal behaviour of OPEX and CAPEX items took place, it would only suggest that committees and people pouring watch over the financial health of Sime Darby weren't doing their job properly. Either they were negligent or some fraud was taking place at all operating levels.
If (a) negligence took place and (b) fraud was committed then responsibility over unchecked irregularities must be borne by the leadership at every operating and supervisory level. It will also mean that every leadership level from top to bottom must be held accountable and be told to take the leave of absence.
It isn't just right and even handed to ask ONLY for the CEO's resignation without also asking those who supervise him and those responsible for delivering him OPEX and CAPEX results to share the responsibility.
Then what about those responsible for the shareholders?- Khazanah, PNB, or whoever. Aren't there people assigned to look after their investment portfolios? If the financial abnormalities took place over a period, persons responsible in Khazanah or PNB and other shareholders are also not doing their jobs efficiently. There must be people assigned by the shareholders at THEIR side looking after the performance of their investment portfolios. They too should be held responsible for negligently carrying out their duties.
This brings us then to the issue of reporting. Now let's look at reporting. Has anyone prepared a detail report of this matter to the PM? He hasn't been making any announcement on the matter suggesting that he has yet to receive full and honest report about the matter. Obviously the Slime Sime BOD hasn't got around to preparing a brief for the PM.
My question then is, if the Sime Board has showed callousness and lacks focus, would we be comforted that it is also they who shall furnish the report to the PM?
That these abnormalities could happen over time and yet remain unattended save for some 'doing something' gestures by the audit committees and work groups etc, revealed one crucial weakness on the part of the government when handling its GLCs. There isn't a body supervising and monitoring or coordinating the performance of the GLCs.
Now is a good time for the leadership of this country to form a specially constituted supra supervisory body looking after the performance of all GLCs in this country. It's some sort of a PMC looking after, the performance of all GLC and reporting independently to the PM or the minister assigned to look over GLCs and such bodies.

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Monday, 17 May 2010

Jaga Lah UMNO baik baik.



 

The only worthy advice Musa Hitam gave UMNO when he was defeated was "jaga lah UMNO baik baik". It could just be a loser's melancholic repartee or it could be a prescient advice.
I want to write another installment about Sime Darby. This time something about the overrated managerial talents of Sime's 3 Abduls. This has to wait though. I read that our DPM and Deputy UMNO president giving his gratuitous and unsolicited advice to PKR to disband and rejoin UMNO. If they do disband and UMNO in turn celebrates their incoming, it confirms my suspicions that UMNO has become a political Alam Flora.
Then, I saw my friend Aspan Alias wrote a response piece entitled Muhyidin should take care of UMNO instead. I say- this is a good advice. Let's take care of our own party. Let's not fondle PKR's behind. Leave that to Anwar Ibrahim.
Let's change the mindset of UMNO members. Change their docile and submissiveness and almost unquestioning acceptance of what's determined by UMNO top leadership. Let's train them to demand quality. Quality from our leadership. Let's get past characters like Bung Mokhtars and copycats of Ibrahim Alis in UMNO. Let's work towards making UMNO a Malaysian and not a Malay UMNO.
Examine the causes why UMNO members deserted our own candidates in the 2008 elections. You can't argue with the figures. We have 3.5 million members it is claimed. Yet UMNO candidates secured only 2.38 million votes from their election areas. After discounting votes from non Malay Malay voters, UMNO candidates could then be assumed to have secured only 2 million votes.
So it its better for MUhyidin to reconcile why we got 2 million votes with the stated fact that we have 3.5 million members? That means 1.5 million UMNO members did not vote UMNO candidates or didn't come out to vote.
This is more serious than salivating and carnival-ling at the orchestrated migration of PKR members. Most of these are riff-raff material that will not augment the UMNO quality. Their migration is not going to bring cheer to UMNO people.
In any case, how do you connect the exodus from PKR to UMNO's recovery? UMNO's recovery depends on its people/members, on its own re engineering, re-branding and its own internal changes. If we think, we become better as a result of some developments outside of UMNO exemplified by the mass exodus of PKR rejects and riff-raff , then UMNO is a re-active political party. It is still far from being a pro-active party.
Just in case Muhyidin forgets what it means to be pro-active, it means UMNO behaves and acts by leveraging on its own internal stimuli. It's a re-active body, if it can only mechanically respond to outside stimuli.

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Sime Darby must do these


 

We hear some things aired in public to justify the losses. But not much is revealed. There seems to be another facet in the art of elegant silence. It is the art of saying a lot of things but revealing nothing. A lot of thunder emitting, but very little rain to cheer the barren corporate land scorched by Sime Darby.
The whole team of people assembled alongside with Musa Hitam the other night at the Sime Convention Centre should be fired and sacked. Each should be given the two swords to commit Hara Kiri. Begin with Musa Hitam first.
The public isn't going to be mollified and satisfied with an assurance that something is being carried out; that there's work in progress etc and a work committee consisting of individuals with impeccable credentials are inside the work group to ensure even handedness and complete transparency and uprightness.
That means nothing other than another form of CYA ruse. We were even told that Musa Hitam made a trip to Qatar to discover himself what's going on. He didn't find anything amiss so it seems because nothing happened following his visit other that some meekly audible of something being said by external auditors. In any case, Musa's overseas excursions often amount to nothing other than giving this former DPM a holiday.
It is no use too to report what Andrew Sheng said, looking stoical and detached, that risk management is not a perfect game. We all know that, the Class F contractor understands risks better than Andrew Sheng. Have Andrew Sheng replaced if all he can offer, is some wishy washy talk about risk management and all that. We don't want that, we can read things said about managing risks. We wanted to have things put right- not some artful justification of Sime's losses attributable to deficient understanding of risk management. It seems only Zubir Murshid in Sime Darby who doesn't understand risk management. All the rest do, because they were not asked to go on a leave of absence.
I call on the government to have the entire board of directors go on a leave of absence. I publish here a comment by a commentator who goes by the name Askar Tua, here as to why, the entire band of negligent brothers must go.
Musibah dan kerugian yg melanda Sime Darby ini amat memalu dan mendukacitakn.Memalukan kerana ianya berpunca daripada keputusan dasar yg amat tidak bijak kerana mengambongkan tiga syarikat yg tersendirinya cukup berdaya maju dan telah banyak membuat untung,menjadikan syarikat itu terlalu besar sehingga sukar diurus dan dikawal dengan berkesan oleh CEO yg tidak cukup berkaliber dan berpengalaman.Dan tidak pula dipantau secara efektif oleh Pengerusi dan ahli-ahli BODnya.Mendukacitakan kerana kerugian itu melibatkan wang rakyat dan mungkin ianya akan menjejaskan pendapatan pemegang-pemegang saham PNB tahun ini.

Oleh kerana Pengerusi dan seluroh ahli BOD ada peranan dan tanggungjawab didalam penyeliaan dan pemantauan terhadap perjalanan dan pentadbiran syarikat itu,mereka juga sepatutnya,dengan sukarela meletak jawatan.Jika mereka tidak bertindak demikian sudah tentunya mereka itu akan dikira sebagai orang yg tidak bermaruah,tidak ada harga diri,integriti dan tidak berperinsip.Mereka akan hilang kredebiliti dan status sebagai gentlemen.

It is a gross failure on the part of Sime Chairman and the BOD to provide effective supervision.
There was a pathetic CYA ruse to suggest that Zubir tolerated the massive losses in the Energy and Utilities Division to protect the previous head of the division. Are we hearing right in this? A Corporate Samaritan? A successor going all out to protect the good name of a predecessor? That's not the rule of CYA is it? So is Zubir asked to go for a leave of absence for not playing the game of CYA? He isn't one of us after all these years. After all the champagne and caviar on the jet stream, he wasn't converted into a thieving bastard like us.
Usually a successor will want to obliterate any legacies of the previous man. I find this argument very imbecilic as many of Sime Darby employees would volunteer to say that Zubir Murshid is one heartless bastard and an MF to boot! To impute a sense of a caring soul in Zubir Murshid is very deceiving. You mean to tell us, losing over RM 1 billion is ok because, we care for one miserable soul?
There was also a very infantile argument suggesting that one reason why Sime got into this trouble is because the board of directors is made up of old people. That to overcome this weakness in order to propel Sime forward is to inject young new blood into its BOD and by extension, the management team. Zubir is said to be 52 years old, while the rest of the board, including Musa are ageing fossils. What kind of argument is this and if it comes from those wizened analysts out there, which universities taught you this line?
What the board requires is not young or old members- what it needs are people of integrity and commitment to doing good business.
The very first step which Sime must take is to demand the resignation of the entire board of directors and call in the financial Ghostbusters to dissect every minutiae of transactions carried out by the 4 business units.

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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Sime’s worms are coming out of the woodwork



 As the worms come out of the woodwork (they must surely come out), the Sime Board of directors and those people responsible for the financial debacle at Sime- even though they came from one segment of the conglomerate, must have wished they had learnt something from Saiful BUkhari. Yes folks, that Saiful Bukhari who is the star witness and victim in the ongoing court battle of Anwar Ibrahim.
What can they learn from this 'jambu' guy? They could have learnt a few pointers from Saiful in the art and science (?) of CYA- Cover Your Ass. This is probably what the main preoccupation of many people  is in the Sime Group nowadays. Put it all on the head of Zubir- the private jet travelling CEO who out-travels the PM on a private luxury jet.
By why should Zubir be the only fall guy? What about the work committee formed in 2008 or 2009 that went out to work and is probably negligent or is spineless to raise the alarm and do something. I know why; it's not your bloody money. It's the fucking public money.
It is highly preposterous and ludicrous to even harbour the thought, that one person like Zubir can oversee the running of the 4 money guzzling projects and override the board of directors at the same time. What does the board do when the CEO comes asking to commit more funds? Listen to Musa Hitam's long winding and nebulous speeches?
Zubir- he must be a Hercules. I find it distasteful, after any debacle, to announce to the public at large, that "we have had a work committee comprising of people of public standing to investigate" Investigate what? Titles don't mean anything if it's even suggested that, the presence of public luminaries even of exalted status, is assuring. We have lost a lot of money.
Here we have a GLC whose core competency is oil palm/plantations. It got ambitious and wanted to do many things. The plantation business especially oil palm is an industry that even a blind person can do. The price of the product guarantees profit unless you really botch it up or you are an imbecile. Look at any plantation group or companies dealing with palm oil- they are making money. The money is  so good for example that Pahang government does not allow private entrepreneurs to open up new plantations. It's reserved for GLCs. So if any Pahang GLC can prosper and make reasonable profits on plantations, Sime's achievements in this industry are nothing to shout about. And you know that if it's reserved for a GLC and you further know the quality of the management at GLCs, then you know, it's a no brainer enterprise.
But the people in Sime don't believe in their fallibility. They made tons of money in plantations. They must be invincible. Managers extraordinaire. Zubir travels in Sime's Jet stream probably believing him to be the Malaysian Jack Welsh. Buoyed by the plantation success, they thought they could go out into other non-core competency areas.
The revelation that Sime Group had appointed a working group way back in 2008 or 2009(now we aren't sure when the group was formed) suggests that the people at Sime are already adopting the CYA strategies. The Board on the other hand is engaging in a badminton game- feverishly returning volleys preventing the shuttlecock from landing in their side of the court. Well, this year, Malaysia lost disappointingly. Musa Hitam, the chairman of Sime, appointed there by his long time protégé, Pak Lah, is an accomplished tai-chi master. Jangan tai chi sana sini lah Tun Musa- resign sahaja.
Where did the Sime Losses come from? They came from the Bakun Dam Project( 450 million), the Maersk Oil Qatar(MoQ) project (159 milion), the building of tankers for the MOQ project( 155Million). The projects were namely, the Bulhanine and Maydan Mahzam project with Qatar Petroleum (QP Project); the Maersk Oil Qatar project (MOQ Project); a project concerning the construction of vessels for use in the MOQ Project (marine project) and the Bakun hydroelectric dam project. The QP Project, awarded in April 2006 and due for completion in August 2008, encountered delays and cost overruns resulting in losses exceeding RM500 million which has already been accounted for. The division was currently in negotiations with the client on the QP Project on claims for the cost overruns, the statement added.
The cost overruns were discovered by a board work group formed in October 2009 to "assess the corporate governance and performance" of Sime Darby's energy and utilities division.
If these made the losses, why aren't the CEO of Sime's utilities and energy divisions being hailed up and strung by their balls?
The taskforce members consist of Datuk Seri Panglima Andrew Sheng, who is also a member of the National Economic Advisory Council, Tan Sri Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin and Datin Paduka Zaitoon Othman.
Does the presence of these names lessen the sting of this financial debacle? This work group should be hauled up to answer as to why, after their assessment, if losses were already detected , no actions were taken? We are no longer going to be impressed with big names sitting on their pretty asses producing nothing but a lot of hot air in the form of palliatives and other sugar coated noises.
Off with their heads!.

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