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Sakmongkol ak 47

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Capacity building, industrial production drivers of economic growth

Another mega project is in the offing. This time it’s the RM26 billion Tun Razak Exchange, the name given to the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Financial District. It’s another monstrosity so liked by the BN to show to the people, how the country develops.  This district or TRX will rival Dubai as a financial center or Zurich or Singapore.  Will it evolve into Dubai 2?
Who are the people advising the PM? Are they the eventual beneficiaries of building contracts to that project?
This is madness on the part of the government. It develops the country by way of construction of buildings, theme parks, malls etc. what do these do firstly? They soak up existing wealth not create now one. The economy develops by capacity built lah tuan, dato , tan sri, boss PM. Not on building shopping malls. Where are the talent and entrepreneurial skills that drive these centers?
This TRX is a service industry. Service industry depends and relies on the quality of talent. The construction industry does indeed contribute its share in economic growth through backward and forward linkages. It enables too the redistribution of income among actors in the construction industry.  The problem arises when over reliance on the construction industry is taken as the final solution for economic growth. It may lead to the construction bubble.
The real solid foundation for further economic growth however lies in capacity building- industrial production and enhancements of human capabilities.
This TRX with a GDV of RM26 billion is massive. Let me just share my initial concerns about this project. There is now over 6 million square feet of office space in the Klang Valley. This TRX will bring forth how much more office space?  Move everyone there Mr PM. These people who must be close to one another must have come out from caves- they haven’t heard about e mails and other powerful tools of communication.  Maybank moves there. CIMB moves there. Let’s face it- this is another project earmarked for some cronies. We know who are behind 1MDB.
In addition to the existing 6 million square feet, there are more than 5 million square feet of office space that’s coming on line. So what will TRX be? Another brick and mortar white elephant suffering the same fate like what my colleague Tony Pua said - a 28.3-hectare development that would suffer the same fate as other mega projects, such as the Bio-Valley, E-Village and Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), many of which have uncertain economic futures.
I thought Dr Mahathir was the only person obsessed with phallic symbols. Najib must have contracted the same disease.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said this TRX is going to bring in RM26 billion in gross development revenue. You can talk like that to impress villagers and simple folks, but we all can read him like an open book.  This is another of form of legalized plunder.
What vision does he carry? I said this and many people remotely related to him said all kinds of nasty things to me. No problem.
But let’s see. When he took over the premiership from Rip Van Winkle, he `stole’ 1MDB- which was supposed to the fund specifically created to receive the wang ehsan royalty for Terengganu from PETRONAS.  Then something happened to the fund when Low Theik Jho whispered sweet nothings to Mrs. PM and the fund transformed into 1MDB. Maybe Jho Low said, I know the secret of becoming slim like Paris Hilton Maam!
What did 1MDB then do? Like its patron who `stole’ from Pak Lah, 1MDB `stole’ 300 acres Sungai Besi airbase belonging to MIndef.  What will Sungei Besi airbase become? It will be developed into high end property development with a number of homes affordable by 1st time house-owners as decorative pieces. And the minister of MINDEF, who once said give him some humanity when a colleague got sacked because of gross misbehavior, played dumb and deaf. His ass got buggered and he kept quiet!
What’s happening then? Najib builds the forms but not the substance. All hardware no software. Isn’t that scary? A country cannot sustain economic growth without the software part. Will the KLIFD be powered on by 500,000 SPM class workers?
This KLIFD aka TRX has been described as the legacy of Tun Razak. Tun Razak died in 1976.  This project is aptly described as far as the dying part is concerned. This project can kill off so many people. Our local banks for example as more than 100 world class financial institutions will make their home here. After the financial crisis, I thought the philosophy was to restrict the number of banks and stop entry of foreign banks lest they bring along the scourge of currency trading. Mahathir wanted to de-rouge the economy. Today, if the rouges come under the costume of Islam, they are welcome.
The construction of more office space will kill off property players- our GLCs such as UEM, MRCB, SP Setia and also Naza TTDI who has got some massive development along Jalan Tun Razak. Even Daim will be affected as he has 1 million square feet of office space under construction and another 1 million on the drawing board.  What about Felda’s menara Wawasan? PNB’s taller than Twin Towers offices in the sky?
The country under UMNO is going to the dogs. UMNO has led the government to become an irresponsible government driven by the overwhelming desire to enrich a few.


Anonymous,  1 August 2012 at 09:55  


Erecting white elephants is the fastest way to being extremely rich. Our country is littered with increasing number of federal government buildings aka white elephants that are unoccupied. The obsession of mega projects seems to have rubbed off from Mamak Kutty to Najib. Guess what - the next property bubble is going to hit hard!


Anonymous,  1 August 2012 at 09:55  



‘..Will it (TRX) evolve into Dubai 2?

Without the necessary software, which these cronies COULD NOT induced locally, they COULD only 'air-castle' hardware, that are been built using cheap imported labours

So, a sure win bet!

More likely the similar downfall of the Dubai dream, accelerated by the current world economic quagmire.

BTW, Dubai was/is built using the oil money. & even that, they failed!

Petronas, be-warned to become the chosen godfather once again, just like the early Dayabumi project.

Incidentally, what has Dayabumi became, nowadays?

Anonymous,  1 August 2012 at 10:09  

Worse, whistle blowers get 'blown' away by some technicality

I hope they dont find some 'act' to put you away too Dato.

"Cakap Besar (tapi) Buat (PRU) Takut"

Mr Bojangles 1 August 2012 at 10:50  

I thought only monkeys and apes like to parrot what others are doing. Malaysia under the BN seems to want to rival what everyone else has, maybe bigger. You know, the mine-is-bigger-than-yours syndrome.

Remember PKFZ? The project that today is seeing some pretty shady characters making their way to the courts, was once touted as rivaling the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai. See where playing up to the phallic symbols of the Arabs has gotten the country into? And the Arabs, too, by the way are seeing some grand "development" projects in the desert sands go belly-up, becoming sunken, shattered visages, like Ozymandias.

If they really wanted to emulate and outdo, at least do it where it really matters. Like creating the software and human capital that will outlive any grandiose 108-storey building. But I guess there is little money to be made from that. Just look at the drooling faces surrounding Rosmah's husband at the launch. The usual bunch of parasites out to make a killing for themselves.

Ali Baba's forty thieves were angels in comparison.

bruno,  1 August 2012 at 12:59  

Dato,what people especially politicians do not understand is that building mega projects and white elephants is just a shot in the arm,and will not have long lasting effects.

Even in the US it is the small businesses by small entreprenaurs that create jobs and spur the economy.Most of the big businesses in the US have more people working for them overseas that locally.

All the mega projects by thr GOM is to enrich themselves and their cronies.How many small Malay contractors and subcontractors will benefit from the projects,getting crumbs and bits,a few ringgit here and there.

These Umnoputras cannot help not spending until the country fall flat on it back,deep in debt and going bankrupt.Then they run and hide in Zimbabwe leaving others to pay off the debt.With these stupid morons running the country to the ground,who needs speculators like George Soros as enemies.

Anonymous,  1 August 2012 at 13:29  

salam dato and a pleasant puasa month to all,

don't even look far, Mah Sing's nearest / nearby property at the Southgate is also now already suffering from the fatigue of excessive office floor space but no takers/renters/tenants.

it is even as low as RM2k a month for a comfortable size of 2k+ square feet in some blocks.

meanwhilst the country has like you said gone off-tangent;

instead of building more affordable homes; our institutions are inviting vultures and speculators to speculate and inflate our property prices and then sell it off whilst our own anak-anak Malaysia is languishing in slums to be because we can't event afford a decent home.

name me any property for income earners of whole households like us below RM3k at RM200k that we can afford in Klang Valley now?

dream on. this legal plundering is only benefiting all the big guys but it is the small guys like us whom is getting the shorter end of the stick and left to struggle.

what can excessive office space do for the middle class? we cannot turn it into homes but at the same time the landlord/owners will find it difficult to rent/sell out for a quick buck.

a case of the country's priority gone wrong; kroni didahukukan; rakyat diaibkan semata-mata duit dan much for 1Malaysia sloganeering.


Navi 1 August 2012 at 14:53  

Rip Van Winkle aptly described the BN mentality not so long ago. "1st World facilities, third World mentality", he said. Najib thinks that construction alone could drive the country towards the "mahathirist' vision 2020. Nothing, practically nothing is being done about building the human capital that is needed to drive that vision. Until steps are taken to change the mentality of the BN herd, 'this district or TRX will rival Dubai as a financial center or Zurich or Singapore' will be an orgastic dream of Najib and his band..

Anonymous,  1 August 2012 at 15:26  

As it happens, Treasurer Wayne Swan draws inspiration from the hard working man:

OneMalaysian,  1 August 2012 at 16:20  

Dear Sakmongkol

In the early days of commerce, businesses were clustered together at market places so that it was more convenient for buyers and sellers to meet and trade. Out of this trade grew banks to finance commerce. Hence, banks were clustered together in “financial districts” close to one another.

Today, trade is conducted differently. Since the advent of the Internet, people do not need to physically go to a bank to do much of their banking business – just go online. And commerce has changed too; they are no longer clustered in a physical “market place”.

So what is this need to have this TRX? Is it to bring us back to the pre-internet days where we go to a physical market and then carry bags of money to deposit in the bank? This Najib government is very yesterday. This TRX idea is nothing but a property play for those who would benefit from property development. It has absolutely nothing to do with developing Islamic finance. Such banks can be in PJ, Damansara, Puchong or Cheras. It doesn’t matter.

If we look at Singapore or Hong Kong, the financial centers of Asia, the banks are not necessary clustered together. Their government leaves banks to decide where they want to build and locate. Because they have progressive and forward-looking governments who uphold the rule of law and support unlimited foreign talent migration, they grew to what they are today. Their success have nothing whatsoever to do with physical buildings build in a cluster, but everything to do with good policies and brain power and financial expertise. We need to learn a few things from them. But this is like asking the elephant to fly.

CYC,  1 August 2012 at 19:13  

Dun they understand economy cannot be transformed by creating stupid name and logo. U can have all the nicest designed financial district but what for if turn out as white elephant.?

Anonymous,  1 August 2012 at 20:52  

Najib hoooraaahed the TRX project is expected to create 500,000 news jobs. Certainly skeptical. The board members and the top echelon positions of the management are strategically engineered for their cronies and their children. What is the percentage of Malaysians being employed at the top, middle and the lower segment of the management. 20 % as window dressing ? The rest of the posts are filled up by citizens of the foreign investors. Malaysian professionals only made up 30 % of its mid management ?

Why is the Donald Duck still quacking shamelessly? Must have him kicked out and roasted. The third tier of jobs again benefit the PATI or people with instant blue ICs most. Malaysians again become as side dishes of an elaborate dining experience at the Maharaja or the Mandarin Oriental.

Why is this continuous huge discrepancies happening ? If the government had integrity,accountability and serious commitment in making a 180 degree turn in doings things right, it would have ensured that the rakyat benefit the most, not the “investors” whereby all agreements have to be inked on our terms and conditions – 90 % of all jobs are reserved for Malaysians only. Or we call in new investors through open tender.

Why are developments not migrated to the rural areas for their many advantages ? Does it not imply that the citizens there are insignificant and will continue to be neglected come after the GE 13 ? Whatever projects that have been started in the kampong Might diminish with time and the loss of enthusiasm.

In fact, the professionals have no problems in packing up, going and offering their expertise when new developments are transferred to the outskirts of KL and beyond.

When you get caught up in the daily traffic congestion, squint at the Avenue K mall situated right opposite the KLCC, is it sardined packed with tenants and shoppers ? Next, take a stroll into KLCC on a weekend, you will discover, every three months or so, businesses fail and are replaced with new tenants.

Technically speaking, spruce up all the vacant business centers; provide loans and support to credible SMEs and the middle segment of the rakyat in the private sector to jumpstart fresh and innovative businesses, be it law, medicine, engineering, accountancy, trading of stocks, real estate, education, IT, tourism, IP, etc. Loan repayments will only start 3 – 6 months later. These strategies will create new businesses for the rakyat in the middle segment leading to creating many thousands of jobs directly involving fellow Malaysians.

Furthermore with their successes in businesses, they will contribute corporate social responsible to the communities providing them with tangible fishes and skills training.
Not surprisingly, foreign friends are equally baffled if there is any systematic urban planning with so many unoccupied properties in KL.

Only with Rakyat voting for a complete new government, then it will stop the astronomical easy approval of loans to the same investors repeatedly which will only lead them to accumulate an immense unprecedented wealth. The rest of us, the rakyat will just make do with dreaming on and writing in intense frustrations day in day out.

And the construction of white elephants will cease. Instead focus on making do all that is in KL to create new sustainable economies and development s for the benefits of the rakyat . Inclusive of creating highly efficient but friendly job opportunities, a fun healthy lifestyle for individuals,the families and the ageing population.

bruno,  1 August 2012 at 22:38  

Why Najib's all Malaysia this and Malaysia that all flopped and fell by the roadside.

1)Having more faith in the highly overpaid,overated clowns jumping up and down more like apes than chimpanzees.

2)Having more faith in the Umno's sick corruption mentality.Thinking that money will buy him and his Umno anything and everything.

3)And all they got when buying two submarines that cannot swim,was ending up with the Mongolian sting.Causing them sleepless days and nights,having nightmares and unending miseries.

4)Throwing hundreds of illegal billions at snakes and froggies that that ended in the snakes crawling into their sore asses with the froggies jumping up and sitting on their faces.

5)Having mega project this and mega project that sprouting up everywhere.And having much fun like in a charity fair,have then auctioned off as white elephant wares.

6)And the endless list goes on and on.To make it simple if Uncle Jib had more sense than Uncle Santa,and had invested those hundreds of billions falling into the hands of the corrupted and cronies,into the thousands of small entrepreneurships,how many tens of thousands of jobs would be created.

7)With an extra tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs availaible in the economy,Jibby can be PM as long as he wants.In fact much longer than the Dr.Umnoputras got to where they are digging into a deeper hole,is because instead of using their heads,like their paid bloggers they choosed the easy way out.By using their knees and heels.

bruno,  2 August 2012 at 00:04  

Dato,a man fearing political persecution fled the country,seeking political asylum in a foriegn country.Leaving behind his compatriots bearing the brunt and wrath of the draconian ISA.

Almost five years later,he suddenly reappeared dancing and walzing his way across the crossway.With the wet in the pants SB boys,hiding in the hills,nowhere to be seen.

One man bigger and more powerful than all the Umnoputras combined together in Umno.Shocking,incredible that the most feared man in Malaysia has suddenly come home.Only in Malaysia,the land of the bolehs.

ordinary malaysian 2 August 2012 at 04:00  

Datuk, they say TRX sounds like T-Rex. And like T-Rex, it will become elek lah!

2020,  2 August 2012 at 07:14  

Ohh, this is so old school stuff and it is coming from a 'cool' twitter man.. Oh, the irony of it all. This is done on the background of a "succesful" listing of the 2nd and 3rd iPO listing in the world today (note: immediate impact will be the composite index weightage - it will have to be recalibrated but this will raise a catch-22)

And now in light of the impending Budget.. Again i ask this Q - what is Malaysia economic objective, isit agro, industry, service efc nation? Please dont say the target is Wawasan 2020 thingy during the budget... The budget is supposedly plan the action to support the economic objective and that is....

cui bono?,  2 August 2012 at 10:00  

Dato, your comment: "Move everyone there Mr PM. These people who must be close to one another must have come out from caves- they haven’t heard about e mails and other powerful tools of communication. "

For all that Idris Jala did not achieve while he was in MAS (not that he couldn't, more like UMNO hotheads putting obstacles along the way as they couldn't stand the sight of an apolitical, non-politicised management healer at work), he did what ordinary non-cave dwellers's would do as a matter of course, then, take the logical shift to efficient, cost effective, instant communication by doing exactly what cave-dwellers used to do, but at zillion times the speed: sending digitised smoke signals across the ether. Q.E.D.

So the iconic MAS building was sold, to the chagrin and discomfort of sentimental nationalists, but to loud cheers of those who practised the economics of survival. What lay inside that building that allowed work to be done thirty years that could not be done in a building ten times smaller with I.T? Idris Jala understood the problem and had the solution. Abdullah Badawi believed in him, and so I presume Najib too - who else is the captain of the Najib's 'Transformation' craft?

Now what is so anomalous about this TRX project? I see something patently manifest in developmental strategies of the government, the same easy (and often times sleazy) resort to solutions not for the commonweal, but for fattening vested interests. How do we explain the acceptance, in one instance, and non-acceptance in another, of a proven paradigm, initiated by the same man? The Idris Jala who sold the MAS building to bring in I.T. to breathe new life to MAS must be seen as irrelevant when TRX was conceived. If indeed he was never in the scheme of things when TRX was mooted it proves one thing - men can serve honorably (and receive all the toxic darts and have sleepless nights) but his masters may not feel the need to behave in like manner. Big projects are for big boys, not the humble civil servants, the struggling FELDA worker, the perspiring road-side hawker, etc, etc.

There in lies the paradox of Malaysian life, the putative nationalists get fatter by the day, grin toothy sweet smiles all the time, while the country roast in near self-destruct mode because of distrust among the races, all kinds of discrimination, unequal distribution of social benefits, rampant corruption and unfettered oppression of those who dare to challenge the status quo.

walla 2 August 2012 at 10:40  

The finance industry stands on trust, integrity and foresight.

When account holders put their money in a bank, they must be able to trust the banker will secure their savings and exercise responsibility with its reuse.

When the banker receives the money, he must be able to trust his people will show integrity by being incorruptible all the way.

Similarly, when the banker loans money to customers, he must be able to trust their business plans have not been window-dressed and they will also not renege on the terms of the loans or run away with the loans.

Both sides must also exercise foresight because financing is another exercise of weighing risks and rewards.

The account holder weighs he will get security and some returns for his deposits. The loan taker weighs he will get low interest rates and better repayment terms. The banker weighs he can get more revenue besides prestige for his bank from more fertile reinvestment of the savings funds because he has succeeded to predict which sectors will grow faster to give better returns.

Yet in the same week that Najib launched this TRX project, his party-corrupted administration had broken all three aspects of the finance industry that the project was supposed to exemplify.

First, trust. One would think an Umno-run government if it practices what it promises would have thanked and supported concerned citizens like Rafizi for exposing the improprieties going on in NPC that has cost the rakyat and nation two hundred and fifty million ringgit. Instead Umno is trying to nail Rafizi using Bafia on the one hand while appearing to be progressive with the Whistleblowers Act on the other!

Just think. If Rafizi had been working in a bank where there had been grave improprieties and he exposes those improprieties with the correct and incontestable evidence, would the Umno government be in such a hurry to try and silence him if it really cares for the integrity of the industry, what more the trust it presumes the rakyat places on its governance which in turn is no different from the trust an account holder would place on his bank?

After all, how different is Rafizi from an external auditor doing the right thing to follow a paper trail out of concern for organizational integrity, institutional principles and societal values?

So why lock up Rafizi in much the same way attempts are constantly being made to lock up Anwar in much the same way as done for ISA detainees and bloggers?

Furthermore, one would have thought Umno has learned its lesson by now - BMf, BBBM, BIM, BNM Forex, Mimos, Sime Darby come to mind.


Second, integrity. Many a times in the past, i had already said Umno would do 'in your face' bad things. Yet the George Kent MRT contract was also announced during the same week Najib launched this TRX. It remains a clear example of Umno's in-your-face thump-the-nose at the rakyat. When the coach arrives at the station and if by then Najib's face is still on the coach, try not to add graffiti to it. After all, one must safeguard public property for future generations.

Now, Najib would have known the rakyat are fully aware the company was already technically and financially disqualified. Yet the award has been rammed through right in their faces.

If they ask how would a company only known for making meters be qualified to manage outsourced technical expertise on this multi-billion ringgit project, how would he and SPAD answer?

walla 2 August 2012 at 10:40  


Remember Sime Darby's forays into oil and shipping, and Proton's forays into motorcycles and sports cars? Lotus itself has cost the rakyat two point one billion ringgit of their funds and now needs a SECOND injection of one hundred million pounds sterling to avoid becoming another Agusta.

Third, foresight. Sak has written the gist and essence of economic drivers. No point having hardware when there is no software.

Ask the Terengganu MB how students in that state are using the notebooks given.

Read back the recent letter ( exposing the real international rankings of our students.

Remember Rakan Muda? How much was blown away that was the rakyats money on that project to build centres for youths? What are those overpriced centres being used for now? Remember Toyo's staff centre that you can see next to Sunway Pyramid? How much did it cost and what is it used for now?

Fasting weakens the muscles. But not the spirit and the mind.

A good government will introspect itself and learn its lessons quickly, then do the right things without fanfare and double standards. Umno has failed us in all regards.

It continues to think the rakyat will remain stupid and accept its standard fare of launching this and that, using your money to build one white elephant after another, and then it walks away to start another, knowing there will be another new generation of blinkered rakyat who can be awed again by buildings - because all they were made to see before were just paddy fields, coconut trees and buffaloes.

Umno has never closed any loop it started. When you start something, you must be able to maintain and sustain it.

Take, for instance, the Selangor State Government's request to dialogue with Muhyiddin. Why did he say no? You can't blame the state government for being concerned what would be the tariff to be charged to the rakyat by Umno's Syabas if the new water processing plant is built. Umno is deliberately not closing the loop here for fear its intent to use water to unseat the state government would be exposed. The rakyat already know how Umno is weaponizing even water against the rakyat. One just hopes the ongoing rash of food poisoning cases in households doesn't have anything to do with the objective.

moggs 9 August 2012 at 00:01  

Cannot but think that this project called "TRX" sounds like and reads as "T-Rex". And we all know what happened next.

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