Collections of E-mail Blasts (Latest at the bottom)

16th November 2011 – 30th November 2011

 

16th November 2011 – The quintessential small Chinese business man

 

On Monday, I had to visit my old friend Ah Tong in the sleepy hollow of Segambut. Who’s Ah Tong? I can imagine the puzzled look!

 

Ah Tong and his wife (who are both in their 60s) run a small backyard auto repaint workshop. They have been doing it for years and even managed to send two kids to university with their hard-earned income. I had to send my car for some minor paint job as I had accidently brushed against the kerb coming out from the car park at Bangsar Village last Sunday. I am a good driver, mind you, otherwise how would I had earned my Rally Driving License many years ago? But as some of you who drive Mercedes cars would know, the front bumper is quite low, and I noticed that kerbs in Kuala Lumpur have magnetic fields that attract these bumpers! It wasn’t a major damage, just some scratches. But I cannot stand blemishes on my car, no matter how small!

 

I don’t send my car to those so called professional workshops as I learned my lesson many years ago when I had to re-spray one of the door panels. It costs me RM1,500, and after 3 months there were bubbles in the paint job. I immediately sent the car to Ah Tong, and he did a great job as usual and only charged me RM300.

 

That’s Ah Tong for you. He doesn’t have a sophisticated workshop, no oven-baked facilities or what not. Just a simple shed, and he will work on your car as if his life depended on it. Every time I had to do minor touch ups, he would charge me RM50 to RM60, where else those professional workshops would have charged me at least RM300. And every time I gave him RM20 or RM30 more, he or his wife will politely refuse to accept.

 

Give it another ten years, we will most likely not see this kind of small businesses around. Let’s face it, small entrepreneurship is dying in this country, and it’s a real shame. All we see are the “wheelers and dealers” who are just interested in making “deals” without really creating any economic benefits. But then they get to drive Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis etc. And I have to admit that I am sometimes sucked into it as well. How could I not, when I keep drooling at the cars. And today I finally get to drool over an actual unit of the new V8 CLS55 (with a 6.3 litre engine!) when the Sultan of Pahang drove the car to KLGCC to play golf! Aahhh, how nice to be born into royalties, isn’t it? You don’t have to work, you can have houses in London, and drive many exotic cars!! Eh, you don’t work either? I hear someone say! Yes, but I don’t have a house in London. I don’t even own a house!!!

 

Anyway, back to Ah Tong. He will probably close shop once he and his wife could not hack it anymore. I have never seen any of the children there. Why would they, when they already have university degrees and have new jobs in the corporate world? And there goes another entrepreneur.

 

The United States was built by entrepreneurs like Ah Tong, like the late father of the late Steve Jobs, who toiled in his garage restoring old cars and then selling them for profits. Well, even Apple started in the garage, and so did Microsoft!! Of course, they are now behemoths, with Apple Inc. even being the most valuable company in the world once, beating ExxonMobil!

 

Being a so called “entrepreneur” now or “CONsultant”, I can appreciate how hard these small entrepreneurs have to work to earn a living. Suddenly all your so called friends have no time for you, and having to be “cheap” when you are so used to the “luxuries” of the corporate world. I used to tell my business partner that my old office in Bursa was bigger than some of the luxury apartments in Mont Kiara, and now I work mainly from KLGCC (for the free wi-fi!!), and yet I am not complaining. Well at least I get to wear t-shirts and jeans every day, instead of the Brioni suits that I used to wear. Anybody wants to buy second hand Brioni suits? 

 

Anyway, when I look at the Economic Transformation Program (ETP), I don’t see anything about nurturing small entrepreneurs. It’s all about some grand scheme!!! Maybe I am not reading it in its entirety. Well, there is a program the transform the small grocers around the country, but anyone can be a grocer (not trying to insult the grocer). Painting cars require skills, believe me, I have seen Ah Tong at work. Let’s face it, not everyone is smart enough to go to universities. Vocational skills are just as important. Germany transformed its workforce by providing good vocational skills training to produce some of those marvellous cars and machineries that they produced beautifully.

 

Amazing, isn’t it? A bunch of people who went to Ivy League Universities (and some even have PhDs) don’t even have a clue how economies were built!!! What did they teach these guys at universities?

 

Very soon we won’t hear stories like the son of a rubber tapper becoming the CEO of the largest property company in the country (Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin of SP Setia), or someone who started business by selling bicycles to then become the first person to bring Japanese motorcycles into the country (the late Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew of Oriental Motors), or someone who started a car import business from the savings he had from what he got paid helping his contractor father (the late Tan Sri Nasamudin of Naza Motors), and then turning it into the largest car importer in the country.

 

What we will hear are the “wheelers and dealers” who will come out with some grand scheme about creating the largest financial district (while many office blocks are empty in other parts of KL), or creating the largest theme park in Asia to rival Disney Land (which your kids will not have time to go to because they need to work hard to get into Ivy League universities, and other kids can’t afford to go to as their parents are only Indonesian migrant workers busy working on the new financial district!).

 

So are we going to be the “high income” and fully developed country by 2020? I have no idea, but looking at the way we are “transforming”, I am not so sure!

 

So whilst some of you are getting pissed off for getting another e-mail blast from me, think about the future of your children. It is not about getting into universities, it is about acquiring useful skills!

 

One of you asked me the other day. What I am trying to preach and who am I trying to convert? I am not preaching nor am I trying to convert anyone.

 

I just love writing, and I used to write for magazines and newspapers when I was a student. But work put a stop to it. And writing is good for the soul, as one of you also said. Yes, it certainly is, especially for this soul that has been sold to the devil many times in my 22 years of corporate life. Not that I did anything illegal, but the devil is good at making you do things not so “kosher” but legal, and sometimes not to do or say anything when you should. As Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” And Voltaire said, “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.”

 

And the cleansing of the soul is a good experience. Even the “Empress Dowager” (yup, I have upgraded her status from “Queen”, as I have been told that an Empress Dowager is more powerful than a Queen, as she is the real power behind the throne) had gone to the Holy Land to cleanse her soul! Ya, right!! I hear some of you female friends saying. Hey, don’t be so bitchy la!!!

 

So please continue getting pissed off from getting my e-mail blasts. If you don’t like it, just put my mail address in your “blacklist” and they will go directly to your “Spam” directory and you can delete them when you have the time. Better still just tell me not to send any more e-mails. Well, I will tell you if I don’t like your e-mails and if I don’t like you. So tell me straight. At least I will know who my friends are.

 

Or you can just say “Casse-toi” (pronounced kass-twa) to me, just like what President Sarkozy (of France) did to someone who refused to shake his hand at an agriculture event. (I see Katie smiling in Dubai!)

 

As for my web-site or “blog” as some people like to call it, there is a new article on European Politics in the “Politics, politics, bloody politics” page.

 

Carpe diem!!

 

17th November 2011 – Airasia new tagline, Now all politicians can fly

 

Yes, folks, it looks like Tony Fernandez will have to come up with a new tagline for the airline, since politicians are now taking pot shots at him.

 

What was he expecting? Politicians have nothing better to do, what! I didn’t hear any comments from them about the rape of the seven year old girl by the four boys aged ten to thirteen, or the way the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Association (MAAU) treated the four gold medallists by sending them home after winning the medals and didn’t have the chance to stand on the podium, and proudly singing the “Negaraku”!!! (Covered in my commentaries for this week) Oh, I forgot, the MAAU is headed by a failed politician! Failed politicians are not good targets! And Shahrizat is too busy defending her cows in Gemas!!!

 

I am not a fan of Tony Fernandez or Kamarudin Meranun (his partner), though I truly admire their entrepreneurial spirit. Let’s face it, the MAS deal is more likely to benefit MAS more than Airasia. What better way to learn from your enemy by sleeping with him/her? How many secrets have been spilled in the bedrooms over the centuries? Who can forget Mata Hari, (or  Margaretha Geertruida "M'greet" Zelle), the Dutch courtesan and German spy, or Christine Keeler, of the Profumo Affairs, that embarrassed the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan. Of course in the MAS/Airasia deal, the secrets will be shared in the boardroom and not the bedroom. Unless a certain politician become the next Prime Minister, and Tony will be forced to wear the uniform of Airasia (like he did to Richard Branson)!!! Euwwwww!!!!!! A hairy chubby Indian man in red short mini-skirt!!!! That’s worse than when Richard Branson donned those famous red mini-skirt!!!  

 

In all honesty, if I am Khazanah, I would just let Tony and Kamarudin buy over MAS! Or just sell it to SIA (not that they would want to anyway!). This is one company that will need a miracle to be saved, or bring back Idris Jala but of course Idris Jala has joined forces with Optimus Prime and the Decepticons to become part of the Transformers and save Malaysia. Optimus Prime?? Decepticons?? Who? You people don’t have time to watch movies ar???

 

Remember when Lee Kuan Yew wanted to turn Changi Airport into a transport hub? Of course you don’t! He said, “I don’t care what happens to SIA, as long as every airline used Changi!”, or something to that effect. The fact is he knew that SIA was, and still is, in good hands. But Changi needed to do a lot to become a hub.

 

I honestly don’t know why people like Bung Mokhtar is an elected MP anyway? Does this guy has a brain? Oh, I forgot, you don’t need a brain to be an MP! You just need balls!!! Oh, I have a brain and balls, can I be the PM then? Oh, you don’t need balls to be a PM!! Damned, I am doomed!!!

 

How is it that anyone can say that Airasia has raped the poor? Did they go to Kinabatangan (Bung Mokhtar’s constituency) and forced the villages there to fly Airasia? Or they did not allow Bung to take one of the Airasia’s gorgeous female attendants to be his third wife? Must have been!!! Let me just whisper to Bung that some of those gorgeous girls actually are not girls (if rumours are to be believed!), but boys!!!

 

Tony, Tony, Tony!!! When are you going to learn? Politicians need to be paid off in this country!! Otherwise they will attack your entrepreneurial spirit!!! Alamak, chartered accountant, but no common sense!

 

I just don’t understand why Airasia is being treated so badly by a lot of people, including Malaysian Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB). Isn’t Airasia a customer of MAHB? So why is MAHB so hostile towards a customer, and a big one too! Though I don’t agree with Tony’s insistence of not having the aero-bridges at KLIA 2. Common la, what’s the big deal Tony? You can charge the customers, and it is not a lot from what I had gathered. Pity those old guys, women and children that sometimes have to deal with pouring rain and walk to the planes. After all, it is MAHB that will be spending the money to build the aero-bridges. Let them build them. What’s another couple of hundred millions when you are already spending RM2 billion!!! (and some well-connected Bumi contractor will get rich, and buy another Ferrari!) You can always screw them later when you refuse to use them when they have been completed!!! Since you guys love to whack each other!!! Ego!!!

 

They should just get the Empress Dowager to pull the ears of Tan Sri Bashir and Tony and tell them to be nice to each other!! Though The Empress Dowager might ask for 10% share of the aero-bridge fees that will be charged by MAHB!!! No big deal, what!!! How else is she going to pay for the RM25 million diamond ring and the Birkin bags???

 

As my old boss used to say, “Be humble!”. No need to be enemies when you need each other. Or Khazanah can pull off another deal, share swap between MAHB and Airasia!!! Now that would be something!!!

 

18th November 2011 – Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow

 

Before you start saying, “Go and get a hotel room!” and think that I am having an orgasm, please stop and read on. It has definitely got nothing to do with sex, or golf.

 

It is about Steve Jobs. I know that I did say that I will only comment on things once, as per Monsieur Rene Artois’s remark, “Listen carefully, I will zay this only wanz!”.

 

But I just can’t help it, especially after having gone through three quarters of the book on Steve Jobs (450 pages and 150 to go) in 4 days! Believe me, I had tried very hard refraining from writing this but after reading the eulogy by his biological sister, Mona Simpson (which almost made me cry), I just had to write this. On top of that I have been losing a lot of sleep the last four days reading the book, and not getting enough sleep is bad for the unquiet mind!

 

The book is just out of this world. The only other book that touched a lot on technology that I like is “The World is Flat” written by three times Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman. If the “The World is Flat” showed why the world has changed, the book about Jobs showed that he changed the world!

 

It is probably impossible to find a single word to describe the man! Perfectionist? Visionary? Absolutist? Arrogant? Rude? Charmer? Flawed? The man is full of contradictions!

 

But after going through three quarters of the book, I begin to understand what Apple is all about. And Apple would not be what it is today if not for Steve Jobs, and of course Steve Wozniak. Steve Wozniak may have the brain to come up with the first codes for Apple, but it was Jobs that made the company into what it is today. Jobs didn’t even know how to code!!! But he was a visionary and a consummate salesman.

 

He was such a tyrant to work with. No presentation made to him did not begin with him saying, “This is shit!!!” He was a hard man to please, an impossible man to please!! He didn’t want to see anyone using Powerpoint to do a presentation. To him, that only showed that the presenter don’t really know what he was talking about. The presenter has to speak straight from the mind, just use a white board to sketch his ideas!  But the moment he like an idea, he will be on it like there’s no tomorrow. In many instances he even claimed that this was his idea in the first place anyway. What a jerk!!! That’s being kind.

 

His first GUI (Graphical User Interface) idea was actually stolen from Xerox, who had no idea how to use or market it. To those who don’t know anything about IT, Xerox started as a computer company. He justified stealing the idea by quoting Picasso, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. But when he introduced iTunes and told everyone that now people do not need to illegally download music, he said “It’s wrong to steal”. The end justify the means, very Machiavellian, if you ask me!

 

He believed that LSD (the psychedelic drug) made him see the world better. But then he believed in Zen Buddhism and was married off by a Zen Buddhist guru! He even spent months in India trying to find a guru! Contradictions??

 

He believed that the consumers do not know what they want, and he needed to show them what they want, and believe in dominating the consumer experience by making sure that everyone that uses an Apple product will also need to use other Apple products. Yet he hated Bill Gates for trying to dominate the OS (operating system) market. He said, “Bill (Gates) is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s idea”. Yet over the years he collaborated with Bill Gates on many occasion and insulted Gates right in his face at the same time! And when he was asked to return to Apple after being ousted a years earlier, he asked Microsoft to invest in Apple and got USD150 million from Microsoft!

 

But what really impressed me is that he really knew his products well, every nuts and bolts. Why wouldn’t he? He is involved in every aspect of the products, from the concept to design, manufacturing, and sales. Even the Apple stores that you see around the country and the world was designed by him, every part of it, from floor to ceiling! He is such a perfectionist that he will not allow a product to go out until he is completely happy with it. He is such a perfectionist that before he got married and had a family, his house did not even have a sofa set, because he could not find one that he liked! Even when he finally got married and had a family, the house is minimalist (to put it kindly). For many years (after marriage and having a family), dinner was served outside on the lawn because he could not find a dinner table that he liked. How many Malaysian wives will put up with that?? He drove himself to work, despite having a net worth of USD8.3 billion!!! How many CEOs will do that? Some CEOs in this country would not want to be seen in their cars without their chauffeurs! Unless they are in their Ferraris and Lamborghinis!

 

He could sit for hours explaining every aspect of his products to an audience. Whenever a new product is being introduced to the world, he will present it to the world. His presentations were eagerly anticipated by the whole world! How many CEOs can do that? In this country, probably none! That’s what I call passion!

 

After his second coming at Apple, he refused to be the CEO. In the end he reluctantly accepted the post if iCEO (the “i” being interim), that started the fascination of calling everything “i” something, though he justified it by saying the “i” is for “internet”. He refused to accept any pay, though finally requesting for a private jet (as he hated queuing at airports or anywhere for that matter), and Apple got him a Gulf Jetstream V. He didn’t even have stock options initially. How many CEOs will accept that? None!!! His rationale was simple. He didn’t come back for money but to rescue Apple.

 

Is he a good lesson on how to be a good CEO? I seriously don’t think so. He was a lousy, rude, obnoxious, foul-mouthed manager! But when he needed to rally the troops, he was truly inspiring. And that’s an understatement! He was seen as the Messiah by many! He even admitted that he was not a good CEO, and there were many CEOs in Apple during his first stint there as he preferred to concentrate on producing products, though he was the largest shareholder.

 

Am I inspired by him? Like most of the people who dealt with him, grudgingly!

 

Am I mesmerized by him? Like most people who dealt with him, yes!!

 

Will I now buy an Apple product? Absolutely not!

 

Despite his flaws, he was truly a great man! One that we will never see again in our lifetime!

 

And those six words above, “Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow”, were his final words before dying a few hours later.

 

You certainly “wowed” the world, Steve Jobs!!!

 

20th November 2011 – The Chief Transformer and his band of autobots

 

This week’s commentaries refer to the article in The Edge (the week of 14th to 20th November issue), on the Chief Transformer, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, and his band of autobots at Pemandu.

 

The commentaries also touched on a heart-warming tale of a Malay boy who only attended half of his classes (because he had to take care of his ailing mother) and still managed to get 4 A’s and 1 B for his UPSR exam.

 

Let’s face it, the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) is in our face practically every day, either in the newspapers, or the net and other medias. Everyone has something to say about it. Just as Optimus Prime and his band of autobots including  Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, Arcee, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Bumblebee have a hard time fighting Megatron and his band of Decepticons, I am quite sure the honourable YB has a hard time convincing the rest of the country, and in particular the Decepticons led by PKR (led by the “two-faced” former youth religious leader), about the success or will-be success of the ETP.

 

The job of transforming is very hard, just ask any CEO of a GLC. You are not only trying to transform the way people work, but most importantly the corporate culture. You can’t change culture without a revolution, and as I have always said and believed, culture can only be changed by a revolution, and all revolutions are “bloody”. Think of the French revolution.

 

Are we prepare for that? I seriously doubt it. A lot of CEOs of GLCs want change, but at the same time not prepared to spill blood. Why? Because they are too scared of losing their jobs. And since many would not have made it on their own, why rock the boat? It is easy when you are paid lots of money and don’t have to risk losing any of your own money running companies. But try being an entrepreneur and having to put your own money in the business. You look at risks differently, and chances are you are more willing to try everything you can to build the business.

 

That is why I keep saying we need to re-build the entrepreneur spirit that is slowly missing in this country. The spirit of people like Ah Tong, my friend, the quintessential small Chinese businessman!

 

The Chief Transformer is beginning to make quotes from famous people (just like me, he he). In The Edge article, he quoted Helen Keller, “Keep your face to the sun, and you will not see shadow”. What?? You look straight at the sun, you might go blind, like Helen Keller!!! Google la other quotes from other famous people (like me!!!). I can imagine the band of autobots in Pemandu every morning standing in front of their office facing the sun, and wondering what the hell is the boss talking about!!!

 

I thought Shell trains their people better. Obviously they did not train people about making easy to understand quotes!

 

To be honest, I still don’t understand the full extent of the ETP. So being the net savvy person that I am, I went to Pemandu’s website. And on the first page there two boxes, one for GTP (Government Transformation Programme) and one for ETP. Since I am not interested in the GTP (since we all know that is an impossible task!!!), I clicked on ETP. What did I get? A blank page!!! That’s what happened when you look straight at the sun!!!

 

My other commentaries look at the heart-warming story of the boy who had to skip half of his school days in Terengganu to care for his ill mother. Yet, he still managed to score 4As and 1B in his UPSR examination.

 

How many times have we read of cases of young students having to skip school to help their families. Despite the odds, they still manage to get good results in the exams.

 

So what is the Minister of Women, Family & Community Development doing about this? Still too engrossed with the cows in Gemas?

 

I heard her family company is going to introduce a new breed of cows, that will produce beef better than Kobe beef! While cows for Kobe beef are reared in air-conditioned sheds, the cows that the company is rearing will be reared in air-conditioned high end RM6.7 million condominium in Bangsar. The beef will be called the “Merenung Beef” but they are also considering calling it the “Termenung Beef”!

 

For those who do not understand malay, I could not find the translation for “merenung”, but that’s the name of the condominium, and “termenung” is “pensive”.

 

Carpe diem!!!!

21st November 2011 – The Menerung beef

I have to apologize again to Monsieur Rene Artois and the rest of you for having to comment on a subject again.

 

I have always pride myself for always trying to be fair and when I make a mistake I will apologize. Ask anyone who has worked with me.

 

Anyway, as correctly pointed out by one of you, the condominium’s name is “Menerung” and not “Merenung”. I can’t find any translation of the word “menerung”, so it must be some kind of cattle breed.

 

At the same time, I read the article in the Star today from the Chairman of NFC (National Feedlot Corporation) and the husband of the Minister of Women, Family & Community Development, and I have to say I totally understood his explanation. Nevertheless I still don’t agree with the decision to buy the condos. It is in my opinion a “good investment decision” but not a “good business decision”. Don’t know the difference?? Hmmm, obviously you are not a CEO!

 

Basically, putting your money into something that is going to give you a return of over 12% is a damned good investment decision. But the money was given to run the feedlot, not for property investment! So that’s a bad business decision. Still don’t understand??

 

When I was a CFO of a large listed company, I even had at one time more than RM100 million lying around in the bank. I chose to put the money in FDs, giving a lousy return of 2.75% although I could have put the money in gold and earn much more. But that would be a bad business decision because we were in the managed network and call-centre business, not gold business! Comprende?

 

After reading the article, it is obvious that the issue is more a political than a business one. It also just shows that a 30 something year old (one En Rafizi, the Strategic Director for PKR) knows nuts about business, like many 30 something year olds. That’s why many are in the GLCs. Theories plenty, practical knowledge, none!!

 

Like many 30 something year olds, this En Rafizi needs to show to his political masters what a great politician he is. He obviously did not know about another 30 something year old who once thought he was going to be the youngest Prime Minister of the country by marrying the daughter of the then narcoleptic Prime Minister. Where is he now? Playing basketball with three other BN politicians! Hello, Yao Ming is 7 feet 6 inches tall.

 

See what politicians are like? And people say I am terrible for not voting. Vote for this kind of people?? You got to be kidding me! I’d rather vote for a monkey! Well, one did become a President of the United States and invaded Iraq to uphold democracy! Democracy my foot!!

 

So my advice to the good doctor (must be a PHd not a real doctor, like those in Pemandu, but don’t ever forget to address them as doctors or they will be very upset), stick to what you know best. That is agricultural science, I believe, and let the professionals run the business. And it would be better if the professionals are not your sons and daughter.

 

And to the young upstart in PKR, don’t be a man in a hurry. You might trip and fall flat on your face!!

 

Carpe diem!

 

22nd November 2011 – The winter of our discontent

Malaysia got winter meh? I hear someone saying.

 

Of course not, you dumb ass! Except at the Winter City at i-City in Shah Alam, a pathetic attempt by I-Berhad to create a so-called winter environment in a small place not even big enough for a polar bear to mate! I don’t know what the “I” is supposed to stand for. Maybe they are very fond of the late Steve Jobs or maybe it stands for “intelligent”, but there’s nothing intelligent about what they are doing. Maybe the “I” stands for “idiot”!

 

For the philistine amongst you, the above is the opening line of Richard III, the beautiful work of William Shakespeare. Who??? The English poet and playwright widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". No, he didn’t start the cosmetics company! Avon is basically a town in England, official name, Stratford-upon-Avon, which was the place where Shakespeare was born and wrote all his plays. The Avon is a river, and therefore Stratford lies next to the river Avon, like many towns in England, whenever a place is called something upon something, that first something is the town and the second something is the river. Like Kuala Lumpur upon Gombak upon Klang, since Kuala Lumpur is at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang rivers. Comprende???

 

Hey, that’s not a bad name, if we want to give it some English touch, though that’s going to cause a riot by Perkasa.

 

So why is it the “winter of our discontent” now? Do I even need to explain? Duh!!!

 

Anyway, today I just want to make a small observation about the spat between Tony Fernandez and MAHB, the airport operator. Sorry again Monsieur Rene Artois!

 

I didn’t know that the Secretary General of the Transport Ministry sits on the board of MAHB, since I am not an investor in MAHB and never read their annual reports. Good company to invest in, though I feel the price is too high for me. (Not a recommendation, Securities Commission, and therefore I am not in breach of any laws!)

 

Now, what’s wrong with that, since the government actually is the major shareholder of MAHB? But wouldn’t that be like having the Securities Commission or the Finance Ministry having board representations on Bursa Malaysia, the local stock exchange (the place I used to work in my previous life)? Sure the Ministry of Finance Incorporated owns 20% of Bursa Malaysia, but wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest when you (the MOF) are also the ultimate decision maker (other than the Empress Dowager) on the capital market?

 

MAHB is the sole airport operators in Malaysia. Airports are used by many airlines (the customers), and the MOT is the ultimate decision maker (other than the Empress Dowager, again!!!) on matters regarding airports that affect the customers!

 

Corporate governance, guy!!! Anyone have heard of the term???

 

Now whenever MAHB needs to make a decision regarding the airport, and matters that will affect the customers of the airport, does the Sec Gen abstain from voting? I seriously doubt so. He’s a government servant, for God sake, what does he know about corporate governance? He doesn’t even know about civil service governance, and you want him to know about corporate governance? You got to be kidding me?? I need to trademark that phrase “You got to be kidding me!”, just like Bart Simpson’s “Eat my shorts!!!”.

 

Even the Minister of Transport does not know his facts!! He mentioned about the government subsidising the service charge at the airport and quoted some RM180 million subsidy, but according to Mr Fernandez, the subsidy is only for KLIA and nor the LCCT. So what the F**K is the minister talking about? Duh! Eat my golf balls!!! That’s a better phrase!

 

Need I go on?

 

So that’s one of the cold chills of “our winter of discontent”.

 

To those who have not read Shakespeare, Richard III is a play that depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. Sounds familiar??? Maybe the PM and Empress Dowager should read it!

 

Ab imo pectore!

 

(hah, you were expecting the “carpe diem” again, weren’t you?)

 

23rd November 2011 – A woman called S

Nope, the above is not a new movie starring Angelina Jolie about a female agent, codename S. After watching “Salt”, I have to admit that I wasn’t too impressed with her fighting skills. Common girl, you are supposed to be a deadly agent from the CIA. Next time don’t act in an action movie unless the movie is directed by that chap from Taiwan, and Jackie Chan is choreographing.

 

Apparently there is a Malay woman whose name is S, just S, in Johor. She just got married, and had a hard-time getting the Kadi (the religious person who solemnised a Muslim marriage) to say her name. Maybe it is an English speaking Kadi, and he thought the woman was saying “Ass”! Pity the poor woman! Apparently her father had a rather long name, though not as long as mine, so he decided all his children should have shorter names. So she has siblings named Liz, Maz and Hani, and these are not short-forms! But hers must be the one that really caused a lot of awkward situations. Maybe because she is the eldest. I think the father decided to name the rest a bit longer to avoid the hassles.

 

But as Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “What's in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet”. So fret not my dear lady, I am sure the “Romeo” that you married feel the same.

 

Ok, enough about roses. I am going to share you two experiences I had this week.

 

How many times have I mentioned about customer service? Only once, as per Monsieur Rene Artois’s instruction. But maybe I should say it a thousand times, because obviously Malaysian companies still do not know what customer service is!

 

My first experience is dealing with a telco, one of my current mobile operators, the first mobile operator that I had subscribed to.

 

I have been using my HTC Touch Pro 2 for more than a year now. It is running on Windows Mobile 6.5, which is already considered obsolete. And I am quite tired of my friends asking me whether I have BB Messenger or Whatsapp on my phone. So I thought maybe it’s time I change my phone. I am pretty stubborn as some of you know, but I realised that an IT savvy person like me just cannot continue using obsolete software! After all, my expensive Fujitsu tablet/laptop is already running Windows 7!

 

So I contemplated getting an Android based system. There is no way I am going to get an iPhone. It’s a toy, not a phone!! (Sorry to the iPhone users!) And Blackberry is the most destructive equipment ever invented. I never liked it. In fact when I was still sitting in my ivory tower, I refused to use a Blackberry. I did use it for 3 months when I was an investment banker, but I still carry my other phones. (I have two other phones, ok!!!). I am sure you have seen how some people react when their Blackberrys start vibrating in meetings. Like cats being jolted from sleep! I used to have a boss who was checking his Blackberry every two minutes in meetings!!! He had no clue what was going on in the meetings, and me being me, of course always took advantage of the situations! Oopss, I better not send this e-mail to him!

 

But I am now an entrepreneur, and thus have also become a bit of a Chinaman (sorry to my Chinese friends)! Cost is everything to me now. So I decided to check with my Telco on the packages that they have, and of course they do have an attractive package. But I don’t like calling their call-centre, or any call-centre for that matter. For someone who was the CFO of the largest call-centre operator in the country, I know I am a bit fussy when it comes to talking to call-centres. I once told off one of the CSRs (customer service representatives, that’s what we call them) for calling me from a few floors below my office trying to sell an insurance policy from one of our clients. When I asked him, “Do you know who you are talking to?”, he sheepishly mentioned my name. And my response, “You know my name and you don’t know that I am sitting on the top floor of this building???”. Man, the guy must have gotten the biggest shock of his life!!! But he was very apologetic, and I was nice in the end. See, I can be very nasty, but I can also be very nice.

 

Anyway, (I know you guys like my long-winded story), I decided to go on-line instead and logged-in into my account. I sent a query to the Telco. It’s been 3 days now. Anything? Of course not!! What? You are expecting them to call me? And, oh, by the way my account is tagged as a “Premier” account! So you can imagine if your account is just tagged “Standard”! Celcom, you suck!!!! And since they are no longer my client, “YOU SUCK, BIG TIME!!!” and “Eat my golf balls!!!”.

 

Second case.

 

I decided to get one of those Zing cards, which of course is used on the highways with the smart-tag. I decided to apply on-line from my favourite local bank. Obviously I got the cards within a few days. After all, I am a “Preferred” customer and member of the “Preferred Club”. I even get to park in front of the bank, and I get to sit in nice lounges (with coffee, tea and biscuits) when I need to do any banking (which is rare since I am banking on-line most of the time).

 

So the other day, I tried to use it. “Card has no credit”, that’s the message I got. As those who use the card would know, there is always credit in the card, as its reloaded automatically when it reaches a certain amount. I thought maybe I missed a step. So the next day, I checked the card, and there is a number of a call-centre at the back. It also says that I need to register on-line. I decided this time that I will call the call-centre. And what did I get? A message from Time Telecom, “The number is no longer in service”. I know Time Telecom would not give me that message unless it is correct. After all, Time is now run by the young and energetic CEO, Afzal, my friend. By the way Time dot com is a good company to invest in (I am not breaching any law, Securities Commission!!!) So I decided to register on-line and then send a feedback on my problem with the call-centre number. They responded within a few hours, and apparently they have moved and changed number.

 

Now, why on earth did they send me a card that has an old number? The people who responded is from Touch n Go, and the company now belongs to my favourite bank! Mr Jay Razak, what is happening??? Just because the Empress Dowager is your sister in law, you should not forget customer service, which you guys are good at!

 

So, in short, Malaysian companies still has got a long way to go before they truly understand what customer service is. I have to admit my favourite bank became my favourite bank because of their  excellent customer service. They did make a mistake with the Zing card, and I am willing to forgive them. Hey, I can be nice sometimes (sometimes, ok?). But please don’t do it too often Jay!

 

And old friend said today that I am trying to be the next Raja Petra Kamaruddin. I am happy to tell all of you that I am not and will not. The only similarity that we both have is our bald heads. And in RPK’s case, it’s because of old age (you hear that, my best friend, Mr Fahizul “the Bosnian” Khairi?). In my case I shave my head every few days, as I like the feel of my clean shaven head. And I do get better aero-dynamics when I swing my golf clubs (he he he). I will never be doing a RPK act. One, I am not related to any of the sultans in the country. Two, I do not have a rich patron who is willing to give me a place to live in London, and away from the threats from the political parties. But if the Empress Dowager start sending her C4 squad to get rid of me, then I will have to find a mega-rich friend to get me a place to live in London!!

 

I am merely doing this to cleanse my soul, as I have said before. I don’t answer to anybody but God. And I want to have a good answer when He ask me how I contributed to society. A lot of people go through life without realizing the many mistakes they make, the people they hurt and what not. They live in denial! Some are just too arrogant! I know of a very high powered MD in a very high powered organization, that once declared that “He is like the Khalifah (Caliph)”, and his job is to lead the people under him like the Caliph did after the passing of the Prophet Mohamad (s.a.w). Caliph my foot!!! Eat my golf balls Tan Sri!!!

 

A few more articles have been up on the website, in the “Politics, politics, bloody politics” and “English Premier League” pages for the political fans and the football fans. The political page talks about the ex-professor running the Gerakan Party. For a party name that means “Movement”, a snail moves faster than this guy. As for football, it is about MU (as usual!!) and Senhor ou Andre Villas-Boas, the young manager of Chelsea Football Club. Looks like Mr Abramovich may be looking for a new manager soon. Don’t be “tupoy”, Mr Abramovich. “Tupoy” means stupid in Russian.

 

By the way, I have managed to download the Steve Jobs book that I soooo admire. But you need Bit Torrent (to download) and Adobe Digital Edition (to read it). No regret for paying the RM99.90 though. Hey, you got to be good sometimes. After all I already have 5,000 MP3s on my laptop downloaded illegally (he he).

 

Ab imo pectore

 

26th November 2011 – Pharus aliis lucis

What?? I can hear some people going. Fret not, my friends, today is not another lesson in Latin phrases.

 

Apparently there’s a new club in town, the Legacy Club, and the above is the motto, which apparently mean, “a beacon of light for others”. The club is based on the same concept similar to “The Good Club”, which isn’t really a club. Huh????

 

Well, The Good Club is basically a name given to a small number of people, the global elite of multi-billionaires, who are into philanthropy. These are basically people like Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, Warren Buffet, etc. Yes, basically a bunch of stinking rich people, some who had screwed many people with their business tactics, and then one day, decided that there’s nothing that they can buy anymore, so why not give to charity!! Heard of a guy called Bill Gates?? The guy who used to run a software company that bullied others into using their operating system, something called Windows!

 

So now, Malaysia is going to have their own, The Good Club, except is it called The Legacy Club, started  by one Brian Yim, the founder of MillionaireAsia. Any of you joining or have been invited to join? No!!! You mean you guys are not the multi-millionaires that I thought you are??? Hmmmmm!

 

Anyway, I couldn’t believe what was quoted in the Star today, “In a report entitled Something’s Gotta Give: The State of Philanthropy in Asia by The Economist, it is said that levels of giving are considerably lower in Asia than in the West, particularly the United States”.

 

And only last week another paper reported how easy it was for beggars (mostly foreign) to get people to give them money in KL!!! A reporter even pretended to be a bigger, and got more than RM20 in less than three hours!

 

The Star then further quoted, “that although Asian cultures have long and venerable traditions of charity, philanthropy is relatively new concept in much of the region”. Huh???

 

So what is this big word “philanthropy” that we Asian don’t understand???

 

Well, the word originated from ancient Greece, “philanthropos”, which is a combination of two words, “philos”, which means loving, and “anthropos”, which means human being.

 

So basically, it means the loving for human being, or perhaps the love for humanity.

 

So why did The Economist, decided to insult Asians by saying that it is a new concept for Asians. Just typical Western condescending attitude towards Asian??? The Economist, a weekly magazine, but called itself a newspaper, founded by a Scotsman, but edited in the City of Westminster, London, England, and now partly owned by a Jewish family (the Rothschilds)! Hmmmmm!!!

 

Anyway, when I saw the article in the Star, I just had to laugh. It seems nowadays, you must not only be giving to charity, you must also show the whole world how much you are giving! Talk about vanity!!! I must admit that I am not big on charity, but I do give whenever I can. Of course I have not build a school in Africa, or tried to save the American schooling system!! Hey, if I had, would I be here sending this e-mail?? Duh!!!

 

But what really took the cake when I saw the article is a photo of a so-called potential member of the club, who once sold me an expensive condominium with no Certificate of Fitness (COF), no water connection, no phone connection, and had not paid many contractors and banks that many units were actually given to the contractors and banks, in lieu of payment!!! And he has many Porsches and a Ferrari, and his mistress lived in the penthouse!!! And now he wants to be a philanthropist!!!! Philanthropist my foot!!! Eat my golf balls!!!

 

Anyway, enough of philanthropy. There are a few congratulations in order this week, which I have somehow forgotten to say. Credit must be given when credit is due, whether deservedly or not!!

 

So to Tan Sri Tony Fernandez, the head honcho of Air Asia, and owner of Queens Park Rangers Football Club (what football club???), and the Malaysian contingents to the “C” Games, congratulations!! Tony for being named one of the most influential business people in Japan, and the “C” Games contingents for their haul of so many gold medals (I don’t follow the Games, so I don’t care!).

 

By the way, to the Minister of Sports (MOS), The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), and National Sports Council (NSC), we Malaysians (especially the TFT, “The F****** Taxpayers) still have not been given an explanation on why there were so many officials and observers sent to the “C” Games and why the four athletes who won the 4 X 400 metres gold were sent home before accepting their medals.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

New commentaries for 29th November will be appearing soon.

 

            29th November 2011 – Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough

 

A very simple quote from the friend of Mark Twain, Charles Dudley Warner.

 

What does it really mean? Not too sure, perhaps saying we should make our life simple by having as little issues as possible.

 

Sound simple, I suppose, but life is never simple in the first place, and the reason I quoted it has nothing to do with what I am to about to write. The only reason I chose it is because it has the word baggage in it.

 

Why am I fascinated with the word baggage? It’s not some kind of fetish. I can find better ones, believe me. Also nothing to do with the crap I did on the golf course yesterday either, though I wasn’t too happy seeing the Prime Minister’s car at the porch of KLGCC yesterday. But he did not interrupt my flight like his deputy once did a few weeks ago! So no complain letter from me this time Mr Robert Bird, our genial Englishman GM of KLGCC. You have to understand the PM needs to get away from the Empress Dowager once in a while, and what better way than hit a few golf balls on the course (and pretend they are the Empress Dowager’s head!)

 

I am referring to the article in the business section of The Star yesterday, where the KLIA2 baggage system upgrade that will cost MAHB RM100 million more.

 

Did it say KLIA2? Now, how do you upgrade something that hasn’t been built yet? And did it say an upgrade? RM100 million for an upgrade? Whoa!!! Someone is getting a new Ferrari soon! May I suggest the new Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 instead? Comes with a 6.5 litre engine, 700 horsepower to boot, and 0-100 kph in 2.9 seconds! I am quite sure the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission does not have a car fast enough to chase and arrest you. In any case, they are just going to use a bazooka on you. So why don’t just get a tank then? I hear a subsidiary of DRB-Hicom is selling re-conditioned tanks from Turkey to the Malaysian Army which are made up of items from the largest Turkish junkyard! Oh, that may be too expensive for you.

 

This must be one hell of a baggage handling system. If an upgrade costs RM100 million, what would the basic stuff cost? RM200 million??? I sure hope that when they implement the new system, the baggage will first come out before you come out of the plane, or maybe even before the plane lands!! That would definitely be worth a RM100 million upgrade!

 

This brought me back to many years ago when I visited KLIA as part of the KLSE’s delegation. In those days we visited the listed companies to build better rapport with them. On this particular trip they took us to the control tower and also the “sophisticated” data centre. Coming from the Exchange, where we run the Tandem Himalayas Non-Stop Fault Tolerant system, nothing is sophisticated to us. But the IT head was so proud of his system, and I didn’t want to ask stupid questions other than who supplied their system. Obviously it came from a well-connected Bumiputra owned conglomerate. But the IT head did share the cost of the system, and I almost fell off my chair. Now, you cannot expect to live in the Mines Golf Resort, next to Tun Mahathir’s house if you don’t sell your system at ridiculously high price, can you?? And that house must have cost at least RM20 million!

 

Now I may not know much about airport system, but I do know system, and I do know what they cost. When I was in charge of the implementation of the new trading system at Bursa Malaysia, the whole system eventually cost about RM130 million, and we are talking about the latest version of the system (then) from Atos-Euronext. Of course it’s damned expensive, it’s done by the bloody French! It cost me Euro1,000 per day for the work of their programmer, when a Malaysian programmer will cost me the same amount for a month’s job!!

 

I am not saying that the baggage system is too expensive, as I had already said I don’t  know much about airport system. But RM100 million is a lot of money for an upgrade. On top of that, the rumour now is that the whole construction of KLIA2 is going to double to RM4 billion from RM2 billion!! No wonder Tony Fernandez is fuming!!! And no aero-bridge!!!! Hmmm, I am sure if Tony has that kind of money, he would have bought Manchester United instead of Queens Park Rangers (who!!!!).

 

But in typical MAHB fashion, they will be holding a press conference today to provide updates on KLIA2. What more can you say, MAHB? I pity the new guy that will be coming in soon as the new CEO, Syed Feisal, currently the CEO of Pos Malaysia. The guy is such a nice guy, and I almost worked for him once. Talk about baptism by fire!!

 

Oh well, the GLC’s never cease to amaze us, don’t they? Wonder what the Chief Transformer and his band of autobots have to say about this??

 

A couple of other articles in The Star today also intrigued me. One is about the MyDistress apps that can be used on iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys, and Symbian based phones. I have to admit, that I have finally succumbed to temptations and ditch my Windows based smartphone and bought the new Samsung Galaxy S2, and I am impressed!!! Hallelujah to Google for coming up with Android! And congratulations to Google for buying Motorola (with its many useful patterns), before Apple start suing them! Stupid Apple! Now that Jobs is dead, you want to sue everyone that has the brains to compete with you!

 

Anyway, the apps can be downloaded for free from either the iTune store, Android market or mydistress .net. The apps can be easily used when you need the police to come to your rescue, as it is able to pinpoint your exact location to the police. It has worked very well on a few instances already where the police was able to either nab the robbers or scared away the intending robbers. So, if any of you guys are using the above smartphones and toy (iPhone), do download it. It’s free!!!

 

Another article that caught my eye is the arrest of a serial rapist in Kelantan, who was about to pounce on his 20th victim in her rented room. Hmmmm, maybe she used mydistress! And since this happened in Kelantan, I was wondering about the theory espoused by PAS, that said women are raped because of what they wear, thus the ruling that every woman in Kelantan has to be all covered up when working! Hmmmm, I know this happened at 11.30 pm, and I am quite sure the intended victim was in her finest lingerie, but I am also quite sure that’s not what she wears to work, where the serial rapist must have first identified her as a possible victim. So, what’s that theory again PAS???

 

That’s why religion and politics should not mix! Duh!!!

 

Have a productive 4 day week this week.

 

www.fathi-ridzuan.com

 

Ab imo pectore!

30th November 2011   Legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus

We are slaves of the law in order that we may be able to be free.

 

That’s what the above Latin phrase means.

 

It is a reflection of society today, that laws have become something for people to object to and to fight against. And I am not referring to unjust laws, but basic laws. I am not here to argue about laws that are being introduced or laws that are already there.

 

Our society is what it is today, because, one, there is no respect for the law, and, two, simple lack of discipline. Look at what’s happening around us, our schools, our sports, our roads, our SOCIETY!

 

In today’s Star, someone was beaten up for telling off a woman for throwing rubbish indiscriminately! And how many times have we heard about road rage?? Why??? Because there is no respect for the law!!

 

Our society has become anarchistic! And what’s worse, we are soooooo proud of it!!! It’s almost like, breaking the law is a badge of honour!

 

Yesterday, the opposition MPs walked out of Parliament during the tabling of the Assembly Act. Why walk out? You are supposed to oppose, not to walk out! Sure, you may lose during the vote, but that’s not the issue. You are there to oppose and say your piece, not walk out cowardly!! If I understand the Hansard correctly, when you walk out and the votes are tallied, if you are not in the Chambers, you are considered to have abstained. So the records would show that “Agree – 100 (or whatever), Disagree – 0, Abstained – 50 (or whatever). Unless somebody know better about the Hansard, I believe I am correct. To the philistine who do not know what a Hansard is, the Hansard is the transcript of what transpires in Parliament.

 

So to the opposition, “casse-toi pauvre con!!”. You guys are cowards and not fit to be the opposition!!! Why bother be the opposition, when every time you think you are going to lose, you walk out? That’s cowardice!!! No principles!!! No balls!!! Say your piece until you are black and blue, and until the ambulance is called to Parliament!! You are there to act as the voice of the citizens, not for the “arse loving” head of the opposition!

 

As for the lack of discipline in this country, ahhhhh, do I need to say more?? Just look at how the Malaysian football team capitulated to the Bahrainis, 3-2, in just 5 minutes!!! Bahrain is ranked 102 in the world!!! Ok, so Malaysia is only ranked 151 in the world. But we were 2-0 up and with 9 minutes to go, 9 minutes!!! I saw the first goal, and I was shocked. It was pure class, and will even impress the likes of people like Sir Alex Ferguson!  I didn’t realized that Malaysia has such talents! But as usual, the lack of discipline led to their downfall.

 

As I said, from sports, to schools, to the roads, and even on the golf course (where you are supposed to be from the “higher class” of society!), everywhere there’s lack of discipline! It is simply disgusting!!! We have become the “Ugly Malaysians!”.

 

I live in a service apartment where Malaysians are the minority. The other day I walked into the lift with a Japanese, and fellow dweller, and there was a supermarket shopping trolley left in the lift! And what did the Japanese say, “Typical Malaysian!!!”. I just smiled, sheepishly!! For all you know, it wasn’t a Malaysian who left the trolley there, but the reputation precede us!

 

Sometimes I just laugh when I see the antics of Malaysian, as “castigat ridendo mores” (One corrects customs by laughing at them). But I doubt people are going to change, and what’s worse, the young ones are using these ugly behaviours (of the adult) to justify their own ugly behaviours!

 

And telling people off is “ab asino lanam” or worse, getting beaten up like the guy who told off the woman for her rubbish throwing habits!

 

And, not to gloat, what did I say about MAHB? They have announced that KLIA2 will cost between RM3.6 to RM3.9 billion! It’s going to cater to 45 million customers, three times KLIA1!! How did they figure that out?? That three times more people will fly budget airlines??? Talk about planning, or maybe they don’t know what planning is all about?

 

And, Tony Fernandez, please stop being stubborn, and use the damned aero-bridges that will be built. You lambasted MAHB for not thinking of the customers, but you yourself don’t seem to care about your customers!!! Double-standards!!!

 

 

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