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Sakmongkol ak 47

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Beyond Lee Kuan Yew’s Visit.

A Man of Substance with The Statesman.

The problem with MM Lee Kuan Yew's visit to Malaysia is that it elicited two types of responses. One is the bashful adulation which leads many people to find greatness by association. Meetings with Mr Lee were accordingly turned into publicity spectacles probably used to supplant political prestige. Two, the visit also elicited unflattering condemnation.

Both types of responses prevent our leaders from seeing beyond Lee Kuan Yew. The ethos which Mr Lee represents was lost either in the gushing effusion of adulation or rejected outright on account of revulsion.

What Mr Lee is doing is perhaps to gauge firsthand, the thinking of a representative cross section of the people in Malaysia. Can Malaysia compete with Singapore given the political leadership, economic policies, its resolve, civil service and the social discipline that it has? He has seen people from the government of the day, the opposition, even the PM's wife. He has already sized up the potential of Malaysia and her position with Singapore. He would come back and say- No threat.

In the meantime, the groundswell of public perceptions especially among the Malay grassroots is marginalised. Maybe our leaders have not heard this. Or if they have heard, they pretend it's not true. It's like Dato Nazri Aziz saying, he doubts the poll on corruption. Of course it's dubious if it's damning you. The unmistakable voices from the grassroots are saying UMNO is no longer believable. But then, as Dato Nazri says, that is doubtful.

What are the UMNO grassroots people thinking and talking? They are saying UMNO has not done anything substantial for the Malays. LKY's visit was more of a political diversion. What it has done, was maybe to create one woman of substance who met up with Lee Kuan Yew. The sycophantic myrmidon may want to call DS Rosmah a woman of substance meeting up with LKY. Maybe that's true. But it's open for debate. We can also argue that the meeting validates the perception that it is Rosmah who's calling the shots. So are we moving from a kerajaan anak beranak to a kerajaan suami-isteri? Man oh man, what a tangled web we weaved. Anyway, what does a woman of substance mean- a dowager empress?

Mr LKY is a statesman of first class stature. One will not miss the 'rushed' attempt to associate with greatness. Surely if one can be guilty by association, one can also be enhanced by association. In this connection, Hj Hadi , Nik Aziz, Khalid Ibrahim and Adnan Yaakob whom many people who like to sock, are people with substance. Otherwise, Lee Kuan Yew wouldn't want to meet up with these people. He has even met Husam Musa which tells a lot about Husam, no? The enhancement by association doesn't stop there- the retainers in attendance because they are in the company of the great, are also people of substance.

Dr Mahathir because he isn't seen in the company with MM Lee presently, is not a man of substance. This is a logical conclusion which one can make from the way the LKY visit was treated.Had Mr Lee met up with Dr Mahathir, he would have gotten a different impression of Malaysia. But then, Dr Mahathir is no longer helming the nation. The present crop of leaders pale in comparison with TDM.

I have digressed a bit. Let's come back to what UMNO people are saying. Recently UMNO leaders in Pekan were brought for a 'remedial' course of sorts by the BTN. It was conducted over a period of 3 days culminating in a meeting with the PM. All week, the theme has been that UMNO has done much for the Malays and people should reciprocate by giving absolute loyalty to UMNO leaders. Loyalty to UMNO is essential for the success of economic policies affecting Malays.

Yesterday night I spoke to a division leader. Maybe what he says by analogy is instructive. He has been smoking for the last forty years. As a smoker he is facing an uphill battle. In many countries and in public places, designated areas for smokers are getting smaller and becoming extinct. One day, there will be no more places for smokers to release their cravings. He will end up smoking in toilets and as far away as possible from people. In other words smokers are getting ostracised. He has to put up with all sorts of inconveniences.

One day he decided it's no longer worth smoking. His smoking friends are exhorting him to continue smoking. It hasn't done him any harm. He has been ok for the last 40 years. So, no reason to stop. But something in him, insists smoking is revolting. He stops smoking out of internal conviction. No amount of exhortations and implorations could persuade him otherwise.

The lesson here: a decision borne of internal conviction is unshakeable. Even if smoking hasn't done him harm for the last 40 years.

For the last 63 years, UMNO hasn't done harm to Malays. Malays enjoyed their time with UMNO. So, no reason for change. Just like the smoking case.

But something inside many people including UMNO supporters are telling a different story. Like smoking, UMNO has become a revolting entity. It's despised and no amount of external exhortations and cajoling can convince otherwise. It's a realisation that came from inner conviction. That is unshakeable. The trust is no longer there.

I am not a smoker; therefore I can't judge the pleasure of smoking. But listening to my friend, the pleasure he derived from smoking was immense. During fasting months for example, he would rather break the fast by inhaling his favourite smoke.

It's the build-up of the small things. Irritation on others, being ostracised to corners, being given the sneering look, the adverse effects on health. All these things add up to build a case against smoking. The bad influence you set upon your children when in the car and in the house.

It's the small things too in UMNO. The haughty attitude, the ostentatious wealth accumulation, the generally dismissive attitude. But there are certain bigger issues.

In the course conducted by BTN, as a show of pride, the name of Tan Sri Syed Al Bukhari was mentioned. It was hailed as an achievement for the NEP. Hence the BTN facilitators were keen to show, that has been possible because of the NEP. They were referring of course to the list by Forbes magazine in incorporating names of the richest in Malaysia. If the list is widened to the richest 40, you have a few more Malays in the list- also because of NEP.

The purveyors of the big lie are missing the woods for the trees. Most of the attendees at the course have not got their land after 20-30 years. They countered if the government wants to uplift the Malays, after the course, give them land. The names quoted by the facilitators were not significant to the course attendees. Indeed, they viewed that as the abject failure of the UMNO government.

Consider these points raised. All the kings in Malaysia are Malays. The chief secretaries and state secretaries are always Malays. The army generals, the IGPs, the DOs; almost all the Ketua Jabatan are Malays. Question. If Malays dominate these positions, how is it possible for Malays to lag behind? The simple conclusion arrived at by simple minded people: the government has not been helping the majority of the Malays. They have been enriching the elite.

Are these apprehensions supported by facts? They are: the GINI coefficient which measures the income disparities is largest within the Malay race.

How do you show the government helps the Malays?


mat t,  16 June 2009 at 09:55  

Well said dato and now you will be labeled an anti umno guy for saying the truth.In today's world saying the truth is a dying commodity.

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 10:25  

Great analysis...wonder what would LKY think of the BTN course?
Surprised that BTN seems satisfied with one success story and a lists of Bumi heading public post?Very low hanging fruits..

thanks Dato

Unknown 16 June 2009 at 10:57  

Secara mudahnya apakah dia Malaysian Malaysia yang hendak dilaksanakan oleh Lee Kuan Yew itu samalah seperti yang kita lihat di Singapura hari ini. LKY hanya dapat melaksanakan Malaysian Malaysia itu di Singapura sahaja.

Rasanya tidak teruk sangat konsep yang hendak beliau laksanakan. Mungkin masyarakat Melayu Singapura rasa macam sedikit terpinggir kerana mereka bukan merupakan golongan majoriti di sana. Apapun orang Melayu di sana hidup agak selesa juga malah ramai yang lebih kaya dari orang Melayu di Malaysia sendiri.
Kadang2 kita ini seperti takut dengan hantu yang kita reka sendiri.

backStreetGluttons 16 June 2009 at 11:09  

Right, while enriching the elite is the oft quoted politically correct phrase, in reality it is

"...helping & teaching the elite to be corrupt and then protecting them when thru their total incompetencies while in the inexpertise of being corrupt and then getting caught with their pants down , to cover up for them " until the public gives up...

eg BMF scandal, pkfz scandal etc etc

drafunt 16 June 2009 at 11:53  

As usual well written. The truth usually hurts.Just by having 1 individual in the Forbes list that is "malay" means nothing to the rest of us that still have to beg from our own Malay leaders for land, contracts, etc. Our UMNO Malay elite are too detached from the real Malays.

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 11:58  

Saw part of the interview by S'pore press with LKY. He mentioned that Pahang wanted to dredge the river at Pekan because it was getting shallow and ships had difficulty sailing inland. Singapore has the expertise and can do the job but Pahang needed the Federal govt's permission to bring in S'pore contractors. It was a good tie-up. S'pore needed sand and the river needed deepening. But TDM said no for whatever reason.

Everyone has their day. Why give the impression of leaving bitterly on the later part of your journey in life like what he is writing about LKY now.

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 12:05  

i support umno, but most of the time i had to pretend i don't support umno. reason: because umno, most of the time, wherever i go, is merely the butt of a joke.

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 12:11  

Hard Hitting analysis.

I am pro-Opposition, I wish Barisan has much lesser of people like you.


Because without more of you, Barisan's fate is sealed.

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 13:40  

The Malays dominate all the important positions in this country and as Dato' rightly mentioned that the Malays shouldn't lag behind other races. But why???
The real problem though, it started with the politicians but those occupying the power that be are incompetent in a way and at the same time most Malay businessmen are killed by those people out of jealousy but the power that be are easily identified with the other races - well I think you know why Dato'.
So get rid of those people who betray their own races but watch out as most of them are the greatest sycophants on earth and real great pretender.
It is going to be real tough job as it has to start with Mr. Politician. As the civil service is so adulterated, may be beyond repair but can we turn to Mr. UMNO. OR we go for a change?!! Tq Dato' keep writing!!!

Unknown 16 June 2009 at 15:17  

Another well written analysis/ article Dato.

UMNOs fate is sealed and just matter of time before it crumbles.

Warm wishes,

Muhammad Firdaus Christopher

P/s : Please tell Datin I've got the nutmegs she wanted :-)

Unknown 16 June 2009 at 15:20  


You remain the only person focused in pointing out the State of Denial of the UMNO leadership....

It is unfortunate that Tun Dr M has decided to remain silent on deficiencies in the current administration compared to when Abdullah Badawi was in Charge..

Although nobody likes to be told that he has made the same mistake twice, what's done is done. He should continue to help UMNO in changing its ways....

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 15:44  

Great article. Very often I really pity the Malay masses. Even though their leaders play them out through and through and these leaders keep on enriching themselves and yet the Malay peasant still support these corrupt and self-seeking leaders. I am not sure how long this blind loyalty is going to last and I hope it's not going to be for another 50 years before they finally wake up and realise that there's nothing left for them.

Greenbottle 16 June 2009 at 16:53  

Dear Sak;
You said..."For the last 63 years, UMNO hasn't done harm to Malays..."

i on the other hand think the opposite. i think umno can never enhance and realise the malay true potentials. umno's admittedly noble aim but narrow struggle for malay supremacy only create false advantages to the malays.

and this is confounded by the unique nature of malays who tend to achieve things with least resistance. in other word with the least amount of effort. i am a malay and i will say this. malay psyche is NOT the same as the mongloid races (japanese, koreans, chinese) or aryans (indians).

malays prefer to sleep out a problem rather than slog trough the solution. it's in our nature.

all the 'crutches' have failed to uplift the malays because umno doesn't have that inner core value and strength. umno does NOT emphasize on the ONLY good saving grace of the malays. their religion ISLAM.

without this inner core value and the natural tendency for the malays to be lethargic, the malays are truly screwed.

and that is why i always believe the ultimate savior for the malays is to have the PAS mentality....(or at least the progressive PAS mentality.)

i personally and sincerely hope that one day very soon UMNO will perish from the face of the earth . it is only then probably 9and hopefully) malays can raise up and wake up from this malaise. i pray that people like khalid samad, husam musa and the like one day will lead and show the way for the malays.

and btw, people should forget about people like khairy... this is the worst specimen of malays that are created by umno...

kuldeep 16 June 2009 at 19:19  

I cringe in disbelief...why are our leaders so unaware of the talents n skills within the country?Why do they look up to foreigners so much?Penang Second Bridge,Ircon are not examples of 1 Malaysia...its not example of believing in ourselves.

Dato...we have the skills to dredge Pahang River (and a few seas and oceans too)...we also have the engineering,the dredges and the whole shaboom.

We have done more complex engineering works locally and abroad then dredging rivers..
Btw..dredging is not the only way to solve flooding..
And as a point of interest we can use the sand in so many places locally too..

Someone,pls set up database of all the skills,expertise and capability of our people and distribute to ALL our leaders and royalty too..its becoming quite desperate.

I just pray that they will not engage some Danish guys to teach us wayang kulit.

Yap 16 June 2009 at 20:19  

Good article and reading.

I pity the malays for not being cared well by their own greedy leaders.

The wrong doings of and by umno will trickle down to the rurals and small towns.

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 21:18  

U hit the nail right into the coffin but then the denial mode is still blinking in UMNO. Not only the malays r not given land eventhough they toil the land for years, the chinese in New villages are suffering the same fate in Perak. Now who is the betrayer of the people of malaysia. Rightfully its BN, so busy filling their pockets and forgotten about the people in need. 1malaysia is still rethorical.

Anonymous,  16 June 2009 at 23:20  


Have you started on your new career as an Economic adviser to the State or something like that?We need a refocus and I am sure Dato have many ideas that can be "testbedded"..

And with your blog network you have a great resource to crunch ideas.


Donplaypuks® 16 June 2009 at 23:40  

LKY's visit here was important for Singaporeans. They want to know whether they should bring FDI's into M'sia or take it elsewhere.

LKY wants to assess whether M'sia is safe for investment or should he should shore up national defence across the Causeway in Woodlands, Keppel Harbour and Changi, should PAS become the dominant and ruling political party and Talibanism rears its ugly head.

We all should know by now that LKY is monomaniacal about Singapore, its future and nothing else. That's his raison d'etre for holding on to dear life!!

As for us, we should not be too pre-occupied with LKY or that Dr.M was snubbed. After all LKY is a senior Cabinet Minister and protocol dictates that retired PM's are way down the pecking order, if at all.

I mean, if Najib visits USA, he's not going to drop in on Clinton, Bush or Carter to kiss ass is he? And those like Dr.M who feel miffed ought to remember that we are but small fry in a global pond.

So, let's just concentrate on what we have to do to overtake the
likes of S'pore, Taiwan, Korea and HK, by invoking meritocracy, ditching corruption at all levels and giving a fair share of the economic cake to all citizens for starters.

Hermit 17 June 2009 at 11:44  

Hello, I am from Singapore and a non-Malay.

I am one Singaporean who thinks Lee Kuan Yew has passed his prime. To me, he is just trying to revive his glory days. He should just retire and not get involved in the affairs of other nations - especially criticizing his hosts.

Click here

walla 17 June 2009 at 12:17  

We should think like them. Pretend there's no resources. Imagine we are land-strapped. Get worried we are behind time.

That will remove the dullness of mind and the dimness of wit. That will sharpen our focus, raise the heartbeat and tense the muscles of both mind and body for the big battle. The one which has been silent and indolent for too long in us. Things change, times turn, and the bounty of today can become ashes tomorrow, so build, conserve, sharpen and invest constantly.

The fear we should harbor should not be the fear of one another who live in the same country, for that type of fear is a suppressive emotion that destroys goodwill, creates obstacles, diminishes worth and increases pain. If we are to fear anything, let it be the fear we may be marginalized by the rest of the world. At the rate we are going, we are ninety percent marginalized from the developed and newly emerged world.

We should be willing to let go, if but temporarily, our assumptions and sentimentality, and ask ourselves what we need to do now in order to re-craft the future for the young ones, taking all the hard lessons learned from the older ones. If what we value but let go are any good in themselves, they will return soon enough by themselves to reawaken the best in us. If not, it was never meant to be. Substitutes will be found. Which may even be worthier.

We should also be pragmatic on things like continuous quality improvement, constant focus on building our knowledge curves, zero compromise on standards, focus on doing things thoroughly and from the first time, opening the mind to new ways of doing things, cherishing fresh options and diversity in order to widen the range of bets.

We must also not rest on laurels. We have this tendency to believe that if we build a tall building, we have arrived and have achieved. Far from it, we have just trapped our own minds in our own artificial constructs of what is progress. In this example, it is what we do in the building which is critical. And if we do it badly inasmuch do it when we should be doing something else which is more relevant, we will be wasting funds, effort, direction and other opportunities inasmuch creating wrong expectations in the future.

Has any politician, civil servant or business leader seen and said all this? I don't think so. Yet in the final analysis you too will realize that is the bottom-line that all must know before leaving the house to go to work and coming back home at the end of the day.

walla 17 June 2009 at 12:18  

And bottom-lines are all that people like Harry Lee are concerned about. Build the best and most efficient infrastructure in the right place and at the lowest cost. Invest in right and real quality education and make it the bedrock of national strength so that quality, value and values spring forth all the time and every time the clock ticks everywhere. Create a fertile and competitive investment promotion program that will pin down strategic positioning for a future already envisioned now from all the best inputs available in the world. Show no compromise on erasing corruption and raising quality service in every corner and at all times. Fight stupidity, parochialism, chauvinism and lunacy like the plague. Do things right from the very first time they are to be done and don't take excuses for tardy work and behavior, whatever the background furnished, whenever and wherever the need is expressed. Set the standards upfront and show that they will not be waived nor the process wavered. Make doing business and building futures the easiest, breeziest and smartest moves within the country.

We don't have a holistic concern for any of that. We cannot see the big picture of things. If someone finally achieves that zen, he becomes quiet against the magnitude of the hurdles before him, or retires forlorn, or is booted out before his time is up to do anything significant to solve those problems.

It has become just constant change of just status quo's.

The things we need to do need to be done coordinated, concerted and continuous. Do nine and neglect one or do that one badly, and that one will be the thorn in the flesh of the ten altogether. Instead of becoming efficient ten, we become deficient eleven, for the eleventh gets not done when the ten failed in concert.

Yet, identifying the problems, doing the right things, and coordinating all actions are not the end of the story. The other aspect that politicians here have completely neglected is to educate a society to be more rational. And that is telling from the froth that comes up now and then which shows irrational thinking and septic reasoning that ultimately compound the problems. Not solving the root and genesis of that irrationality will lead the leaders to themselves reflect the same irrationality in order to remain popular which will make the problems more entrenched which will bring the whole country down further. Only the el-nino's and katrina's of the world have prevented us from dropping further faster. But surely we can't depend on bad luck elsewhere to shore our fortunes here.

The singaporeans are not smarter than us. Just consistently more pragmatic.

After all, half of them were malaysians.

Anonymous,  17 June 2009 at 15:23  

infrastructure...very good..roads per population,basic utilities,telecommunications..all there and more than adequate

education...good..almost free schools,many colleges n universities..

investment promotion...excellent/worldclass advisories boards(Cyber,NEAC),very active Ministerial level promo,relaxation of 27 sub sectors

corruption...MACC good start

QOS..........improving in many areas.immigration,EPF,Income Tax

its all in place..nothing new mr walla...It must be more than that.

Maybe the kickstart in the sixties was as a safe haven for the regional chinese trade?Maybe SIA took MAS international flights cos we wanted to protect our domestic?

Lots of reasons?

Anonymous,  17 June 2009 at 17:45  


Unfortunately, the half of them who are or were Malaysians also happen to be among the creme de la creme of Malaysia. These are those that can qualify for a place in most universities in the world but cannot qualify for our local university.

walla 17 June 2009 at 18:09  

Good, anon 15.23.

"its all in place..nothing new mr walla...It must be more than that."

Pls. help me know what more than that it must be.

Where did we go wrong that we now have to say it was kickstarts that had got them going up?

Until he retired, the ceo of SIA during the period it grew the fastest was a Malaysian maths prof.

We are saying we have got good starts too but only now. Why is this so? We were ahead. We were the parent. The umbilical cord was cut. The baby outgrew the parent.

I am being uncompromisingly hard here not because i think they're that great. They hype a lot too. I am being uncompromising so that we can raise, and then bury, our own ghosts of mistakes of the past and present once and for all, so that all of you will see that it is within our will and means to get up again and be outperformers.

But things have to be done real right because we were ahead and have fallen behind. All reserves of energy and vision have to be called to the fore. And the rakyat must know the truth to things so that all can put our heads together to put Malaysia back on the right course.

Help, pls. suggest what more is needed beyond what we already have started on.

ajoyly 17 June 2009 at 19:28  

Lee Kuan Yew, being a good lawyer that he is, need to make his assessment first before making his presentation. In a battle or negotiation, it is good to make a study of the situation on the ground by meeting the various leaders, influential people and ordinary citizens to get an overall picture of what is happening(strengths and weaknesses included).

Then using all this information, strategies are formed with alternatives to meet any contigency. They say the art of negotiations is also like war in that you need to outwit your opponents not with guns but diplomacy. At the same time to make the other side feel that it is a win win condition for both parties.

Anonymous,  17 June 2009 at 20:49  


first>>change mindset of measurement of progress...its not KLSE indices.It should be more on tangible measures/real wealth creation
second>>throw out KPIs(especially financial based) and replace with 3 year programmes milestones achievement indicators.No more short term rewards
third>>change mix of head honchos/top civil servants to be overweight with scientists/technologists.Keep the accountants to bean counting except the exceptional ones.Similarly with advisers to PM and other Ministers
fourth>>Devise specific resource building programs...not adhocs/kneejerks...and maintain focus regardless of regime change.If I wanna have a pigtail,its a 3 year program including investments in shampoos,conditioners,treatments and training in maintenance,styling and countering pony tail side effects.
fifth>>engage and consult the rakyat through websites/forums...have inputs,publish focus areas
sixth>>15% of investments on approved NEW NEW areas with good growth potential or deemed as critical to our future .Must be on transparent basis with detailed information available to our lawmakers.
seventh>>maintain strong opposition whether it is BN or PR..
Eighth>>Strengthen processes by FOLLOWING them.In the past,too much short circuiting have destroyed the integrity.
Lastly>>know where our real strengths are

walla..we are not far off from the right track...we got deviated and possibly,some people may have taken advantage of some lax leadership,to push us further out to sea.

We have to remember that the US mgmt system needs revamping,S'pore economy needs overhauling too..if we continue to believe and adopt their "failed"practises,we will get kicked in the head.

walla 17 June 2009 at 21:51  

Excellent, kuldeep!

i am going to soak in your suggestions for a while; hope others will do so too.

and act on them.

ajoyly 17 June 2009 at 21:55  

Walla said it all. As Malaysians, we should not be afraid to imitate the Singaporeans in whatever they do. They have proven that using the right tools they have became successful. And to achieve the same we do not have to invent the wheel again, it is all there for us to learn and apply.

Similarly the Malaysian government should also take advantage of Singapore's achievement by emulating its policies. As Walla said, their implementation of projects etc. were done in a dead serious and corruptless manner.

That should be the case because maintaining existence in this competitive and fast moving world is a matter of being able to adapt to changing situations and to profit from them.

Suci Dalam Debu 17 June 2009 at 22:53  

solo bear,

A senile LKY is still way better than most of the Malaysian leaders.

If you have some money for safe keeping, would you let LKY hold it for you or you prefer Najib?

Cikgu Ngah,  17 June 2009 at 23:07  

Assalamualaikum Dato'

Could you do me a favour? How could I get in touch with Tengku Razaleigh and Tun Daim? I would like to invite either one of them to my university, UUM for an upcoming Merdeka celebration programme. I think it would be very good indeed for the students of UUM to listen to either one of them.

So could you please e-mail me their contact no at my address

Thank you so much Dato'.

Anonymous,  17 June 2009 at 23:51  

If you have some money for safe keeping, would you let LKY hold it for you or you prefer Najib?

I would opt for Najib anytime..and would do so as long as we have a strong opposition as we do now.

Sir,they're listening and stepping out in the right direction.What is needed for the rakyat to get the rhythm so we can all dance to the conga beat.

S'pore is a fine country...makan chewing gum kena fine too.

walla 18 June 2009 at 09:46  

anon 23.51,

We have to be careful to compare upwards, not downwards until we reach the pavement.

Right now, we have a lecturer jailed for just calling people to wear black;

And DBKL has not been transparent at all with any breakdown on how a 0.5km road can cost rm6 million when a 1.0km highway costs rm7 million;

And people are saying the PSD practised double criteria - one heaped on the other - which would explain why the merit list is shaved down;

And the following is going around which is going to create a real ruckus:

a. Under the federal government plan:

- there will be a 31% INCREASE in water tariffs , as opposed to a 25% decrease in tariffs under the Selangor State govt. plan.

- the Federal Government (ie, us) will take on RM 6.4 billion of debt, currently owed by the water concessionaires.

- there will no longer be 20 cubic meters of free water every month.

This is designed purposely to frustrate the Selangor State government's plan in helping the rakyat especially in this poor economic environment.

b. Here's what privatised water concessionaire companies like Syabas have been up to:

- Syabas CEO Rozali Ismail's salary is a whooping RM5.1 million a year (or RM 425,000 a month). This salary is very much more than the Selangor State MB's salary (RM 40,000 per month )

- Pipe purchases by Syabas worth RM 600 million were made from an Indonesian company, also owned by Rozali Ismail.

- No open tenders for RM600 million worth of contracts (over 72% of the total awarded). as opposed to what had been agreed among the shareholders.

- RM51.2 million spent on renovations of the Syabas head office (JKAS, the water regulatory body for Selangor approved expenditures of only RM 23.2 million)

- Between 2005-2007, Syabas exceeded its budgetted contract value limit by RM 200 million.


Anonymous,  18 June 2009 at 10:26  

>>>If you have some money for safe keeping, would you let LKY hold it for you or you prefer Najib?
>>>I would opt for Najib anytime

I wouldn't even trust najib to walk my dog.

>>>S'pore is a fine country... makan chewing gum kena fine too.

Malaysia is a fine country..... pakai black dan minum kopi-O pun kena tangkap pulak.

Hermit 18 June 2009 at 10:39  

>> A senile LKY is still way better than most of the Malaysian leaders.
If you have some money for safe keeping, would you let LKY hold it for you or you prefer Najib?

Actually, if you think about it, both Malaysia and Singapore are sama-sama. You may say that your leaders are corrupt. Put money in, never get back. But in Singapore, you put money into CPF, also never get back. They increase your withdrawal age until you die. Furthermore, we lost billions of funds in investments - and Ho Ching (former CEO of Temasek and wife of Lee HL), never have to account for it.

So if UMNO leaders never have to account, and PAP cronies also don't have to account, what is the difference? Sama sama.

As a Singaporean, I want to see my leaders shut up and stop telling others how to run their country. To me, it is an embarrassment that my leaders do not respect their hosts.

Anonymous,  18 June 2009 at 11:00  

What Anon17 June 2009 20:49 mentioned r true to the dot & it supplements what Walla has said.

& yet we r still thick into the quagmire, as if we r trapped in a time-wrap!

My takes is that we r locked into a zero sum game mentality, thus been mowed out of the right track of nationhood developments, founded by the colonial British & strengthened by the resilient resort & understanding of our founding fathers.

Walla said - ‘The umbilical cord was cut. The baby outgrew the parent.’ Why, why, why?

If this 50% Malaysian can be pragmatic in a good management, thus bring benefit to their host country, why do we lose them in the first place?

Losing this 50% causes effects that plagues & ripples through the country ever since;

1)U create an inborn entitlement mentality to those, who r given the jobs because the right people is not considered

2)Sine a 2nd best is employed, he/she beholden his/her management skills by reinforcing herd management – those under my care MUST not be better than me, the alpha, in any way.

3)Because of ‘jaga nasi periuk diri’, those underlings, either become rubber-stamp workers, or look for better challenges outside. This in turn causes the prevailing inefficiencies covering all sectors of the public servants. This failure, in public service infrastructure, further drags the development of the nationhood into the mud-pool.

We need to build & improve on the experiences of others – just like standing on the shoulders of giants/losers, so that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel & do a short-cut in nationhood building. This should not be lost as every one of our competitors r on full-steamed to race ahead for development & growth. We have NO time to lost!

Many a time, due to self-imposed maruah bangsa, we reject the experiences offered/shown by the red dot. We rather start from base zero, to the detriment of the nation’s wealth & people. How pragmatic is that?

At most we get a superficial & glamorous building & see it decays within a few years, due to poor maintaining care!

‘if we continue to believe and adopt their "failed" practices, we will get kicked in the head.’

Nobody of some minimum management skill will copy blindly what others r doing, even if they r successful in a different environment. Adopt & adapt should be the call of the day! But to do that, we need people of caliber.

Thus, we r once again back to square one – people of substance!


kuldeep 18 June 2009 at 16:56  

yes walla...
Lax leadership have allowed too much profiteering..Systems were always in place to ensure competitive pricing...
and knee jerks to problems have given scope for YTL IPPs and puncak Niaga water deals...subsequent ones were more competitive and better priced..

We have systems/processes...but we need a strong opposition,effective MACC..

My humble opinion..we are not too far off track to get back to shape and I really believe the current govt is serious,smarter and willing..and will iron out the kinks soon.

Anonymous,  18 June 2009 at 16:59  

"Don't mention Singapore in front of me." With a statement like that, who would dare recommend anything from the red-dot, notwithstanding any world class standard or practice?

Singapore will be very happy if Malaysia does not catch up to their standard. They have one less competitor. Are their construction industry slowing down just because we don't sell sand to them anymore ? There are lots of other countries that will willingly sell to them. The only question is price. To those who scream and yell that we are selling our sovereignty, don't kid yourself. Indonesia also stop selling granite to them but they are still constructing like crazy. It is all about economics not sentiment.

walla 18 June 2009 at 19:12  

"We have systems/processes...but we need a strong opposition, effective MACC.."

..that set me thinking, kuldeep.

Since we are comparing us with that dot, how come they don't have a strong opposition and their macc-equivalent is just a stretch of sheds...and yet they don't have that sort and spread of profiteering problems we have?

..that was the question which is making me scratch my chin now.

Let me tell you why i am concerned about our country. Twenty years ago i was at a regional industry meet. It was a technology deal-making do. Here we were from Malaysia, a pretty strong contingent. Yet the delegations from the other countries were keeping hush to themselves at some other corner. Over walked my counterpart from Singapore. He said pointblank words that i still remember to this day:

'Can't you see what is happening? Don't you know what is going on? You all need to wake up.'

Then he walked away.

The only reason he dared to say that openly and collegially to me was because he was a Malaysian before he became a permanent resident CEO in that dot.

That was twenty years ago. For effect, dua dekad.

And yet here we are - today - acting like eager beavers and speedy gonzales to announce so-and-so will be investing so-much-and-so-much here.

Let me give you the second part to that. During that time, i was also invited to tour a local plant set up by a famous multinational. It was said to be a RM2 Billion investment; not small at that time for a supposedly tech outfit.

Yet after the tour i concluded that nothing in that plant would have made it worth that much. It wasn't much of a hightech and there wasn't any real r&d or design unit to talk about. Almost all of it was assembly work with a lot of semi-finished imported parts.

So i asked myself how did it cost rm2 billion? Transfer pricing, creative accounting, hype?

walla 18 June 2009 at 19:13  

A lot of what we think are premium FDIs that had made up our manufacturing sector could have been priced high before they came in so as to win handsome incentives from us.

And in our hurry these days to get them in, we might also just be selling plant land to them at markedly low rates.

So doesn't that mean some day in the future when they have finished their cycle of profit-taking here, they will be selling the land back at such new and higher prices that just from the land resale alone they can get back almost all the capital they had sunk in for their investment here?

Assume that be so by the 80:20 rule. The conclusion you can then draw is that we are paying not just through special incentives but also from loss of land revenue for their investments here - which will additionally nowadays be mainly consist of work done by foreign workers tinkering already semifinished items.

Where's the real value-add that we can say is designed, done and delivered by us for which we can claim a premium fee for our intellectual inputs?

If it be so for manufacturing even twenty years ago, what be it today for services whose value is harder to measure and even more demanding of intellectual and brain inputs?

Let me give you another perspective. Take a board meeting about to review a business proposal. In walks the directors and so on. They are steady buddies. They view the papers, listen to the presentations, ask some pointed questions, say a few wise words for effect, crack a joke or two, give a nod here and there, and then the chairman ayes or nays the proposal. Then the board adjourns for refreshments or another round of golf. Sounds familiar?

How about we turn it around? The directors golf first, buddies and kaki's they call them. They have known one another for years, lived through salt and seafood together, worked till hair is lined white. All of them are quite intelligent. They suffer no fools. Their knowledge, wisdom, and carriage are right with the best of the west. Yet the moment they enter the meeting room, they sit down sober to a fault. And they go for each other's throat. If you walk into that room, you will be excused for thinking there's a war going on. Dripping with sarcasm, they literally rip apart the presentation. Only, and only, if that proposal stands after the maelstrom of bludgeoning will it be passed for implementation.

You see, their individual contributions are to push the decision-making process right to the brink. Since it concerns money, reputation and resources of the company, the proposal must receive the full coin of their minds and wisdom. And they know they cannot deliver that if they continue to treat something serious as something that requires them to be sensitive to the feelings of friends and foes alike.

They give everything their best shots.

And i mean best.

That first group is local. That second group is also local. That's the puzzling thing.

It's all a matter of staying focused and being really serious enough to think things through from a to z, and be ready to be challenged every step of the way because that's the only way to jolt oneself out of complacency built up just by comparing one's present to one's past. One should be comparing one's present to the world's future instead.

If we are really serious to make real changes, that's two steps we are already too late in doing.

Is there anything i have left out? A couple of things. You can take them as minor if that provides comfort.

walla 18 June 2009 at 19:13  

One, there is no continuity. If there is a change of political guard within the same party, so too the corporate management in the vested companies until it reaches the stage where it is hard to figure out whether it is based on performance or just politicking. So much so you get the distinct impression that it's all about try-and-groom, or experiment with the rakyats' money. None of the candidates, incumbent or nominated, for the corporate sector goes through any real baptism of fire before they are appointed or parachuted. They certainly wouldn't have taken part in any of the second type of meetings i had illustrated above.

If there is no continuity add to constant experimenting, the final product will be constant experimenting. One generation comes up and experiment, gains some experience, disappears into the background to be followed by another generation (or group) coming up and experimenting all over again the same thing, then disappears. And so on and so forth. Until the kitty dries up. If we are already late and behind time, can we continue to just count our blessings?

Two, the passing mark for one unit of a course in one of our premier local uni's was 8. The average mark to get a grade C for one stpm subject recently was 35. In some of the private sector institutions, forty percent of their students fail their internal exams. So when our DPM says he's surprised our students learn english by sound only and our coPM says she is curious about that dot's creativity program and then someone brings up special rights, associates it with the word quota and applies it to smart and hardworking 17-year olds thrown out of loaded merit lists, i just want to roll over ...and die.

How can one be creative when the brains of one's country are diminished not just by number but also by their educated inability to pick up knowledge that is not communicated by sound?

No money? cut out the leakage and siphonage, sell a kidney, buy one personal carrier less. Whatever.

And i haven't even started on the inefficiencies in the private sector.....sigh.

I can write on and on, but i just want you to think whether there is a ring of truth in what i have written here.

Here's a problem; i am too old and tired to think out a solution. Maybe your more agile mind can help. It concerns everyone:

For as long as living memory, the crazy stretch of the highway just off Seremban is constantly jammed up between four and eleven pm on weekends. And in too many cases, there is no accident, just a car parked by the side, which is the only thing apparently amiss. When the speed limit is 110, one would expect most to hit that so there's no reason for the concatenation (like a compressing accordion) of the traffic. Yet there are no highway management in sight, as though it's all normal. It's frigging abnormal. Gallons in fuel burnt, thousands of tempers frayed, and come monday morning people are already tired from lack of sleep the night before. The question is this: "why?"

Everything is interconnected with everything else.

i'm thinking of connecting to someone now..but i'm too old to do anything anymore. ;P

walla 18 June 2009 at 20:37  

I normally don't raise other blog posts but this should be highlighted for the importance, insight and quality it provides:

Thursday, June 18, 2009 (etheorist's epolicy blogspot)

Malaysia's Problems V: Weak Currency & RM1 trillion

Malaysia has a weak currency that is wrecking havoc on the relative values in the country.

Since 1990, the ringgit has weakened by 23% against the US dollar, 17% against the pound sterling and 38% against the Singapore dollar, among others.

The period chosen is arbitrary and hence the percentages are just for illustrative purposes.

The point is that the ringgit has weakened severely among major currencies.

Of course, the momentous event was the 1997/98 crisis - which was dubbed the Asian Financial Crisis - although nobody has just suggested that it had also been a Malaysian economic disaster.

The economy has not really recovered since then.

Money Supply

I am astonished to discovered that the M3 money supply has now reached RM948 billion at the end of April 2009.

We are only a step away from having a RM1 trillion worth of M3 money supply - which could be reached before the end of 2009!

What happened?

M3 grew at an average growth rate of 8.8% in the last night years from 2000 to 2008.

Starting with an M3 of RM436 billion in 1999, we have of course more than doubled it to MR948 billion in 2008.

There has been aggressive increase in the money supply since 2002 - growing at double-digit rates on average.

The whole upward spiral started with the crash in the ringgit in 1998 and by keeping the currency at low values, the central banks and other financial institutions have been able to revalue their foreign assets at inflated ringgit values.

That increase in the ringgit value of foreign-denominated assets provided the financial institutions a justification to multiply their loans.

Between 2000 to 2005, the loans of commercial banks grew RM231 billion, from RM295 billion - which is a 78% increase.

85% of the loan increase went to the household sector: 47% for residential property, 30% for transport vehicles and 5% for credit cards and 3% for personal uses.

Which means 15% of the loan increase went to the business sector.

Between June 2006-March 2009, loans of commercial banks rose another RM157 billion or 27% in the three years.

About 47% of the new loans went to the household sector: 25% for residential housing, 10% for cars, 7% for personal use and 4% for credit cards.

About 25% went for working capital (which is good), and 6% for the purchase of shares.

But there was not much for business expansion.


We can see that the problem of the economy is a banking system that is awash with cash but no ideas.

We have to stop pretending that keeping a weak ringgit will help the economy.

A weak ringgit has devalued the wages and salaries of the common people while foreigners (especially consultants) priced their work in foreign currencies.

This must surely cause a silent satobage of the human capital of the nation - with locals bailing out into foreign outfits.

In the meantime, higher imported prices chewed up the real purchasing power of the general public - which is really a way of rationing the foreign reserves so that big glamorous imports by the government or the GLCs can be made.

There is a sickening collusion by the corporate sector - as if with the banks of all kinds - to defraud the general public by escalating inflation to inflate their paper profits so that their share prices can rise despite poor fundamentals.

Half the problem of the nation can be solved by the simple act of engineering a slow but steady strengthening of the ringgit in the next 5-7 years - as part of the strategy to bring about an improving in productivity gains and a rise in the real income and wages of the people.

kuldeep 18 June 2009 at 21:12  

nothing beats first hand experience..and twenty years is a long time.

Anyway,I am not actually benchmarking to S'pore but reviewing us from our own unique position.

Possibly,during Tun Razak's and TDM's early days a strong BN was a positive enabler.But,lately...we got ourselves,to say it kindly,into a bit of a ourselves taken for too many "non-metered" rides courtesy of some intelligent but heartless souls>>and thats why I believe a strong opposition and an effective MACC is needed to get us back to the flight path.

Lets just try to grasp some issues you raised...

Seremban Afternoon Crawl >> purely bad management..if I am running PLUS I will get this resolved in 3 days.In the old days of PLUS,lots of people will have their ears and a**e burnt...but this is GLC PLUS era>> will resolve it thru appointment of consultants,seminars etc.
Actually,in the highway concession agreement there is a Service Quality like I say,systems and processes in place.How do we the humble rakyat get this resolved?>>like I mentioned we need to establish communication voice our concerns...and if not acted upon within a stipulated gets escalated and escalated until it hits the PM full face...AND all with full transparency,audit trail>>there was a proposal to do this call centre complaints/service system for all concessions/utilities back in the mid nineties..presumably someone decided not to proceed.

which brings us nicely to that Board,golf and may I add..Hilton catered lunches..

We just need a better mix of independent Board members and we need them to be its a convenience, thank you for your services,little padding to ur pension..and don't ask too many questions please scenario.If I am relying substantially on the BOD fees I wouldn't want to upset the chief too much..right?Anyway,MAS loses billions but no one gets kicked out so why rock the airbus?
And its the same if you sit on the Board of a majority controlled entity.

The 3 white haired guys u were referring to each have substantial and almost equal shareholdings..and the heat was at their informal pre BOD meetings.

Well..the systems>>we are quite advanced on Directors training,responsibility,liabilities etc etc..AND the MSWG are pushing to appoint truly independent directors..appointed by them...from their pool of expert candidates..I hope that will be realised cos then..we will have a real mix of talents,discipline and experience.Would love to see walla in action against jala..will be one big jalawalla mas.

On FDI>>I have no specific knowledge except as a fact most will over inflate their investments within certain reporting limits.I believe the govt is aware too and CAPEX per say is not the main consideration >>its the employment opportunities,spin offs,local resources value add ,that decides the incentive package.Maybe Al-Corridors was incentivised through their KPIs to look at pure investments..thats why there was too much focus on that aspect lately.

I know Penang Second Bridge and Seremban-Gemas double Tracking ( about Rm 6b)was given as a negotiated tender to FOREIGN contractors>>don't understand the rationale and not certain if its even allowed for under our procurement systems..mmm..naughty cabbie?

I still believe we need not dismantle and start from zero base...we got a lot of strengths..but we need to organise ourselves,do bits of tweaking,get more truly "people centric" leaders...have a strong and effective opposition and we can harness the resources to achieve our goals.

Talking to some people in the govt..the "mood" is certainly moving us in that direction.

kuldeep 19 June 2009 at 12:46  

Privatisation/monopolies has been a big bug bear legacy of TDM's era...
the rationale back then was the concept of "user pay" and the private sector is more efficient and thus can give better services at lower cost as compared to the public sector.

Penang Water Board probably dispels the perception that private sector is more efficient?

Anyway..from that era of privatisation the rakyat at least have better highways,mass transit etc..but is the TOTAL COST in relation to SERVICE LEVEL justifiable?Would the govt done as well or even better without the privatisation?

I wish someone have data/analysis to really provide some conclusive answers.

Anonymous,  19 June 2009 at 13:16  

No matter how good a system you have, you need capable and honest leaders to implement them. Take a look at the leaders of all the component parties of BN and give an honest assessment whether you would trust them with your money if you want someone to invest for you?

There is too much you scratch my back I scratch your back going on for far too long. Why should the IPP and road concession contracts be classified under OSA ? What is so secretive about the terms of the contracts unless there is something to hide ? There is no transparency. Most big infrastructure projects are done under hush-hush conditions.

Yes, the red dot is not perfect and there is still room for improvement. But all government tender prices of every tenderer is publish for everyone to see. Can this happen in Malaysia ? They make sure they get the best value for their money. That's why they are tough negotiators.

Someone mentioned why there is no opposition in S'pore. The problem is that there are not that many issues that the opposition can catch hold of. Of course the PAP do make mistakes. But by and large, they are not catastrophic like the PKFZ for instance. Isn't it amazing that nothing has been done even though the auditors report is out considering it was such a large sum of the public's money involved? What about the Lingam case ? It s all but buried.

If you seriously want to improve, you have to be honest enough to face up to what is happening and not be in denial. Way back last year, the red dot was already preparing for the worst yet in Malaysia, we have predictions of the recession not affecting Malaysia and no less from the Governor of Bank Negara, the then DPM and Second Finance Minister.

How do you improve when everything is "Semuanya ok. No Problem " ?

Red Dot Resident

Anonymous,  23 June 2009 at 11:27  

little red dot is also experiencing BRAIN drain

wonder WHY ??

look beneath the shiny clean clear illusion of efficiency

if you were to judge the well-being of a country based on happiness-index

Malaysia scores very high - just look at the stress free GENUINE smiles on the common folks' faces

and you know they are doing just fine - cut your material according to your size

why import? especially if the goods are near expiry date

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