Nov 112008
 

Sunday night is still on my mind, but in the meantime, a gentleman requested this event be publicised. Important subject, might try to stop by.

6pm – 8pm, Wednesday 12th November 2008

Venue: Lecture Hall 3, Faculty of Business & Accountancy

Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur

2008 has seen the United States experience one of the worst economic crises in two decades, disasters in its subprime market leading to housing foreclosures, and the complete disintegration of the banking and financial system. America and other European governments have stepped in to bail out companies suffering from tremendous losses, whilst the stock markets around the world have plunged to dangerous levels. The Asian markets are not spared: Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia have and will continue to experience shocks. RM33 billion has been wiped out of the Malaysian stock market in the past two weeks. The world is one global market; hence no one country is excluded from the negative impacts reverberating on foreign shores. Analysts have predicted an impending global financial crisis worse than that witnessed in the 1997 crisis, reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
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May 142008
 

Mind you, classical music is great. But the figures are stunning:

Lim Guan Eng, revealed that the cost to maintain the musicians is a whopping RM3.5 million a month.

“As much as 95 percent of the foreign musicians are paid between RM16,000 and RM28,000 a month and given two months paid leave every year. The conductor is paid RM130,000 a month while the (conductor’s) assistant is paid RM50,000 a month,” he said.

“For the past 10 years since it was established, this orchestra has ‘swallowed’ a total of RM500 million,” he added.

Ouch! That’s a lot of cash.

Instead of bemoaning how much the ‘rakyat’ thinks it owns Petronas when it doesn’t, perhaps Petronas can reconsider some of its priorities.

Again, I personally enjoy the MPO and all the fun music (if not always sitting through entire concerts), but think of the money spent compared to the number and type of people who benefit.

Petronas talked about the need for it to conserve funds to invest. Well, perhaps we need to both narrow and broaden that perception of ‘investment.’

For my money, the best guarantee for the country’s future is not the most profitable financial investment portfolio, but poverty elimination, education and so on. With a better developed rakyat, we will more naturally ease ourselves of our Petronas-dependency.

May 092008
 

Malaysiakini:

According to Zulkifli Noordin (PKR-Kulim Bandar Baru), Mahathir – who is also the ex-premier – is being paid RM180,000 per year while Abdullah’s advisers Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (women and social development affairs) and Abdul Hamid Othman (religious) received RM404,726 and RM549,675 respectively.

The figures were revealed in two separate parliamentary written replies to Zulkifli from the premier earlier this week.

Wah. Was losing Lembah Pantai a blessing in disguise? That’s a crapload of money.

Also, religion is worth about 37% more than women :P :)

But hang on, it’s not only advisors to the PM that are getting paid plenty. Hantam PM mercilessly also got RM 180k, lol!

Apr 162008
 

So many issues today, and haven’t done a “little points” style posting in a while. All about variety eh?

I have to say that Karpal Singh taking a swipe at the Kelantan royalty, while perhaps in some ways justified, is not the most strategically sound thing to do. In Singapore, I spoke a lot about the need to craft messages that are likely to garner results – not those that are nice to hear coming out of our mouths, but hurt our ultimate goals.

The reason for this is encapsulated in my obsessively linked post about how the best community to speak out against Malay supremacy is the Malays. This doesn’t mean the rest of us should be stopped from saying what we think, but I think we should think very strategically about this, and the best use of our resources is to defend and advocate across racial and religious lines, and not fall prey to the stereotype of Chinese defending Chinese, Muslims defending Muslims, etc. Yeah, it may sound like a lot to achieve, but so did March 8 :)

YB Karpal puts me in the mind of YB Nik Aziz. Both older, great men who ooze integrity, but whose public relations (Pakatan Rakyat Public Relations – PR PR? :) … sometimes leave something to be desired. Of course, KeADILan has its fair share of politicians with their foots in their mouths :) Learning process I guess.

On the subject of communications, I am appalled at the ban on Makkal Osai. I guess those hoping that BN will take steps towards reform and learn that repression is why they lost will be disappointed. If this is the beginning of greater repression, I think BN is starting a war they will ultimately lose. If they really want to, bring it on.

Mind you, they seem a little busy fighting their own wars. Najib now going around the country getting support? The main question on my mind is: What’s going to happen with the Altantuya case?? I’m most curious about what may be Abdullah’s trump card.

Though again, let’s not spend too much time speculating about a political entity proved time and again to be bereft of morals. I read with disappointment but no surprise the latest scandal involving massive abuse of taxpayer monies via Citizen Nades. Shocking.

The scandal involved the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia.

Their annual report reveals certain expenditures:
• Grants RM1.18 million
• Meals and Accommodation RM2.1 million
• Media and Advertising RM932,000
• Post and Production RM710,000
• Printing and Stationery RM710,000
• Rental of Equipment RM865,400
• Volunteers’ Allowances RM242,000
• Wages RM117,700
• Entertainment RM1.4 million
• Travelling and Transportation RM858,000

Good lord! >:(

And who’s the main culprit? You should read how the WSFFM website treats Azalina like a deity – yeah, the same woman who didn’t actually face a vote in the elections.

Interested to take a bet on how long it will take the police to launch an investigation if a report were lodge? I’d reckon less than it took for them to investigate KeADILan leaders over the Ketuanan Rakyat gathering a few nights ago.

I usually don’t care much about these sorts of things, but I confess to feeling insulted that the police insisted, in the absence of any reasonable cause I can think of that DS Wan Azizah, Azmin and Yahya Sari were forced to go down to the police station just to give a stupid statement, when they could have done so anywhere.

Any Umno leaders called for police questioning after their post election protests? Yeah, didn’t think so.

So arrogant.

Once again, if BN wants to clamp down, I think it’ll be the nail in the coffin for them. I say again, bring it on.

Apr 052007
 

I was asked by my boss to do a little research into the company that was awarded the contract to build the Taiping-Banting Highway.

Despite previous attempts, I’m no expert in doing corporate research, nor am I an industry insider. So part of the reason I’m posting this is to see whether people have got more insight they can help lend to my teeny ‘investigation.’

Basically, this project was long ago awarded to Konsortium LPB, which is owned in large part by Talam Corp and Kumpulan Europlus.

I’m not 100% clear on the relationship between Talam and Europlus, beyond the fact that they are basically owned by the same people. Their primary mover is one Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye.

Using the power invested in me by Google and craploads of patience (thanks politikus!), I gathered that Talam has an absolutely horrible reputation as a developer – badly developed properties that have self admitted chronic quality problems, unfinished projects, PN 17 listing on Bursa Malaysia, truly immense debts, and possibly having been blacklisted.

There are a number of one forums (see here) where people have really had a lot to say about Talam.

Why give such a big government project to a corporation with such a ridiculously bad reputation?

Europlus isn’t doing any better, having seen some really bad days.

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Then there’s IJM. Not sure if I got a good handle on them, but they seem slightly more like a bootstraps constructions company. An Asiaweek report says that they were unable to secure the political connections necessary to do well in Malaysia, they struck out to make a name for themselves overseas.

Which they appear to have succeeded in quiet well. Apparently however, Malaysia is where the real money is, so they’re reportedly looking to expand their local projects. Where better to start than multi-billion highway project.

The only thing so far that raised my eyebrows was that the chairman of the IJM board of directors is Dato’ Wan Abdul Rahman, ex Director General of the Works Ministry. I’ve blogged about him before – he has the same position in LITRAK, the toll concession company :P The board of directors also includes an Education Ministry ex-DG and a guy who was Sec-Gen for various Ministries.

Also, if I’m not mistaken, Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary is one of the principal (20%?) owners of IJM.

But I guess even IJM won’t touch Talam directly, deciding instead to buy a 25% stake in Europlus.

However, they appeared to wait until Europlus was truly able to secure the highway project before sealing the deal.

I don’t know what deals TS Chan had to make to ensure all went well, but with the project announced by DS’s Najib and Samy Vellu, all looks set to go, with IJM’s buyover probably solving a huge chunk of, or all, of TS Chan’s problems.

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I guess the core question is again: how can companies with such terrible track records like Talam and Europlus get a multi-billion ringgit government contract??

Anyone have specific explanations? Enlightenment to offer?