Friday, November 24, 2006

This Cat's Many Lives

Three more years. When Dr M made Nor Mohamed Yakcop the Special Economic Adviser to the PM on 10 May 2000, it was Kalimullah Hassan who met me at the PWTC, where the Umno general assembly was in progress, to arrange for me to talk to his "good friend". I wrote the front page story for Business Times, which I was editing then, based on that phone conversation.
"There will be a lot to do ... many critical areas concerning Bumiputera economic participation, especially in view of globalisation," (Nor Mohamed) told Business Times.
Soon after, Kalimullah was made chairman of a major bank. Kalimullah and Nor Mohamed, who used to be known as Top Cat for his prowess in currency trading (before George Soros turned his world upside down during the pound sterling crisis), would meet weekly for breakfast, together with a couple of other journalists who later went on to become senior editors with their newspapers. [note: I was never part of this breakfast club]. Years later, we spoke once more on the phone. This time he called to express a general displeasure about some stories we were publishing that touched the involvement of a member of Dollah Badawi's family in some Malaysia Airlines contract.
For business journos in the Eighties, Nor Mohamed's name was synonymous with the bilateral payments arrangement, an ingenious scheme used by Dr M to boost trade among countries in the South. But the BPA, and all these other credentials contained in the Bernama story here, are standard issue for the Junior Finance Minister's current CV.
A couple of details are missing from that CV. There is no mention of the RM9 billion losses suffered by Bank Negara in the forex market after Soros wagered against the pound and won. Nor Mohamed was largely blamed for these losses and left the central bank after the scandal came to light. Kalimullah's friend was also a player in Anwar Ibrahim's inner financial circle and his involvement, especially with financial house Abrar, has also been left out of the CV.

First three years. How did he fare? Nowhere near brilliant, according to the analysts and economists I spoke to. Since helping Azman Mokhtar with the financial re-engineering of MAS, which earned "Amokh" a place as head of Khazanah Nasional, the national airline has only flown deeper into the dark, turbulent skies. Proton is in a disarray. The stock market has remained sluggish. The economy is not vibrant. He's been accused of cultivating cronies, led by none other than Kalimullah. The average person is nervous about the capability of his "boys" in handling the merger of Sime-Guthrie-GHope, especially since their performance at the GLCs has been far from encouraging. Lately pro-Singapore, as seen in the case of Parkway and Pantai Hospital.

Second term as Second Finance Minister? His senator-ship has been extended for another three years and chances are Dollah Badawi will keep him in Finance. Top Cat may live up to his expectations; we'll have to wait and see.
Personally, I think it'd be good if he confronts his past at this point of time in order to move ahead. The RM9 billion story and the Abrar tales should be told and included in his CVs. It'll augur well for transparency and good governance.

Additional staff. Read Leslie Lopez's commentary today in Singapore Straits Times here.


  1. Anonymous4:38 pm


    How many lives has this Cat lived so far? I stopped counting. :)


  2. Anonymous5:09 pm

    Dear Rocky,
    I just received this from someone:

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    The Barisan Nasional (BN) or National Front was established in 1973 by late Tun Abdul Razak with the aim of unifying the political parties based in Malaysia with a common objective to keep governing the country and also to maintain its multi-racial image since the country is a multi-racial country. Many political
    parties were admitted so that the chances of winning the elections were made much easier and the BN were
    able to use the machineries of the respective components parties to secure a victory. Although UMNO was
    made to lead this coalition since the Prime Minister was from UMNO, the other parties also enjoyed much
    clout and representation. But this idealogy is slowly fading away due to the superiority attitude of UMNO
    of late. Will BN last, will greatly depend on the coming polls. If the BN loses, as usual, component parties
    will break and some may even join the ruling party or challege the polls on their own. But one thing is for certain, UMNO, MIC and MCA, the alliance partners or 'Big Brothers' as they are called in the BN, will always work together and sing or swim together.

    The recent UMNO General Assembly had given the BN component parties a wake-up call. The UMNOputras had
    showed their supremacy and certain actions have undermined this unity that had be forged for so long.
    For instance, the RM3 Million given to each UMNO division leader is an example. But in the Dewan Rakyat
    a few days ago, it was told that it was for rural development under Rural Development Ministry. If it is under the government, why say that UMNO division heads will be given this money to implement and co-ordinate
    the projects. If it is public funds then government officers need to be involved for accountability and
    transparency purposes. It is also learnt that these projects have been expresso, so that the UMNO leaders
    and branches could materially benefit from this allocation. The UMNO President, who is also the Prime
    Minister clearly knows that the majority of the delegates were businessmen and the real reason for gaining this division leadership was to enhance their business. The Prime Minister's offer to these delegates
    were also to buy their gab for not raising the sabotage attempts carried out by the entire UMNO Supreme
    Council against Tun Dr Mahathir from being elected as a delegate. Everyone knows this act is illegal and will land UMNO in deep trouble but by offering these goodies, the delegates had forgotten this illegal act and the party could continue to be administered since the general body had not made a single remark
    about this illegal act. See how the government of the day is using public funds to reach their objectives.

    Many fiery speeches were also allowed so that the concentration of the delegates were to focus on the
    non-malays and not to bring out the flaws outlined by Tun Dr Mahathir against Prime Minister Datuk Seri
    Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his administration. Most of the speeches and actions were sensitive in nature
    and could be charged against the Sediction Act. As usual, to distort the delegates, UMNO allowed them to voice these grievances openly.

    The UMNOputras fail to realise that the Barisan Nasional will not be able to form a government without the faithful assistance of the non-malays. The malays as usual were divided and unpredictable when a voting is called. Now the government had announced that investigation by the authorities will be carried out,
    just to show the non-malays that they are important. Why isn't any member until now not been arrested and charged since it was a live-telecast. The answer is simple, UMNOputras can say and do anything, nothing will happen. When a non-malay sends a memo to the Prime Minister, talked about misused of school funds in Muar or question the rational behind withdrawing recognisation of Ukraine medical degress, these non-malays
    were immediately reprimanded. It is time for the non-malays to take stock of the situation and not to be bought by some goodies. These goodies are public funds that should be correctly used for the benefit of the whole rakyat not just for a few.

    Component parties had always portrayed the identity of 'Bangsa Malaysia', meaning everyone of us are Malaysians and not identified as being malay, chinese, indians, ibans, kadazans or so forth or bumiputra or non-bumiputra. It was recently revealed that this is just a 'fairy tale' to please the non-malays. The malays have been enjoying special privileges through the New Economic Policy (NEP) and this community knows the benefits the race had gained and enjoyed which now they refuse to part with. It was actual meant for 20 years, but the BN government led by UMNO kept extending with cooked-up statitics so that UMNO and BN can remain in power. The malays would be a total wreck if these privileges were withdrawn since they have never learned to stand on their own two feet. The government was able to shadow these grants by using the petroleum royalities but it is predicted that it will deplete by the next 10 to 15 years. When the Bangsa Malaysia was first introduced together with the Rukun Negara, the rakyat were pleased and had tolerated this disparity since it would not be forever. But now it seems otherwise. It is not the entire malays who are seeking this privilege but the UMNOputras. This is where the problem arises, UMNO members want an edge against government contracts so that they could all be rich without really working hard for it.

    Various dealings of the present government is also worrisome. The Prime Minister has been quoted as being not in control of the situation. It seems his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin is a key-player. Some projects announced have also affected the sovereignity of the nation. Some decisions for scrapping certain projects agreed upon by the previous cabinet have become a focal of debate.

    What may come, it is all up to the rakyat to decide. If they still want to retain this irresponsible and
    crooks as their government, then nothing can be done. Actually it is all in the hands of the rakyat, Who must be in and Who must be out.

    Looking at the current scenario, UMNO is only worried about the UMNOputras and the rest of the component
    parties need to fend for themselves or beg UMNO for some benefits. This is not what BN component parties
    had expected when they joined the coalition. It was suppose to be a collective agreement between all the
    coalition partners. Although at the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council, every member has a same and equal
    say but in the government this is not extended. UMNO seems to dominate the rest and if this prolongs, this coalition will face a setback since non-UMNO members rights and privileges are secondary. Just sweet
    talks will not solve or calm the current situation any more since the internet medias report everything
    rather than the printed medias. The rakyat are more educated, well informed and are able to rationalise their situation.

    There are even talks by certain component parties deciding to merger within to have a greater say. But
    whatever their intentions, it will not affect the whole situation. As long as Barisan Nasional rules,
    UMNO will dictate and the rest will have to follow.

    Looking at the events and comments, Barisan Nasional will face a big struggle within its coalition and
    only time will tell. If the BN component parties are really caring for their members, they will break
    and team-up with the others to have a more Malaysianise party.


    posted by Mohd Kamal Abdullah

  3. Anonymous5:24 pm


    This is Boleh Land. Cover your whenever you can and continue to be at the helm as long as you can. Cling to power. As though we donot have any others to be in his place.

    This Minister should have gone long time ago. He does not know his facts well, tries to manipulate reporter's questions and gives standard answers to avoid giving truthful answers.

    What type and calibre of ministers do we have.?

    An Enron scale probe should be done on such Ministers.

    Of course, all the blunders such as Abrar and the Forex losses will be buried in the deepest grave Mohd Nor can find.

    And of course NST and its crony media partners, including the MCA power brokered Star, will not publish it.

    This is Boleh land. Welcome to the truth!!


  4. Anonymous5:43 pm

    i demand to know why i never get these chances of being elected to the top posts of major glc??? can someone please help me to get into the club???

  5. Anonymous6:14 pm

    Hey man, don't be mad when an ordinary person like Nor Mohamed Yakcop rises to the top.

    That's because they are no better person than him to take up the post of Second Finance Minister.

    The PM was right when choosing him as the Second Finance Minister and now extended his Senatorship.

    Don't bullshit about the RM9 billion fiasco because he had to get Tun Dr.M's approval first before embarking on such as risky venture.

    I love this man although I don't get millions, not even a sen, from this trustworthy person.

    Peace brother.

  6. Anonymous6:23 pm

    i say man, rocky,

    you must be so sore sebab tak member of the breakfast club.
    you would have been a big time datuk today, man.

    see you at the media night tonight.

  7. Anonymous6:35 pm

    How low can we sink?
    Umarak, we need to converge and fix the massive leakages before the ship sinks for good.... by then, we only have ourselves to blame and of course, all the umaraks have to lose the most.

  8. Anonymous9:26 pm

    Always was under the impression that senatorship can only be renewed twice, but here we have it renewed/extended three times!
    Anybody checked the rule-book?

  9. Anonymous9:27 pm

    Always was under the impression that senatorship can only be renewed twice, but here we have it renewed/extended three times!
    Anybody checked the rule-book?

  10. Anonymous3:54 am

    Bro Rocky

    You know who appointed Nor Yacob. It was Kalimullah. That is the problems with ABB. He allowed Kalimullah and Khariy to make decision on his behalf and he will endorse them blindly. That was adn is the problems that this nation is facing and this what Tun was and is angry about.

    What does Kalimulah knows beside bleeding the economy of htis country together with Khairy. What was Kalimulah before 2003, he was almost a bankrupt if not laready.

    Kalimulah was just one of the many Singapore operatives in Malaysia (as well as in NST), who is taking every opportunities to bleed our country.

    Nor Yakob if not for Kalimulah he will not get anywhere. Kalimulagh is alo using him to make all the non-sense decision in the Minsitry of Finance to help Kalimulah's friends and cronies.

    Kalimulah please do not pretend, we know you too well. We know that you are keeping certain journalsits under your "control" - journalists like Wong Chun Wai, Leslie Lau from Singaproe Strait Times, Brendan Pereira, the famous plagiarist. I am surprise why Leslie Lopez did nto write friendly articles for Kalimulah and his friends. May be his concience is prcking him.

  11. Anonymous3:59 am


    ABB had to appoitn Nor Yakob becaue there was no body to appoint. Furhter, Nor Yakob is Kalimulah's appointee and not ABB ok!!

    So please ask yourself how can ABB run the country anymore when he allowed himself to be manipulated by Kalimulah and Kahiry.

    Kalimulah had help his friends or cronies through Nor Yakob. So please stop pretending. We all knwo the non-sense. I am also sure that the peopel in the mInistry of Finance doe know about all the non-sense taht had been going on between Nor Yakob and Kalimulah. What do you expect, both are mamaks!!

  12. Anonymous7:20 am

    Has not been blogging with you Brother Rocky for a while. Place of work not doing well. Lost some contracts. These days, you can bid lower and have track record, but some well-connected greenhorns can out-smart you.

    No choice but to let go a couple of good staff. Many of my workers these days are on contract basis. Cannot employ them on permanent basis anymore. Don't believe Bank Negara when it says economy is growing. Yes it grew but no trickle down effects.
    I think after Mahathir, the economy has lost its dynamic. It has no direction. That is what Tengku Razaleigh told me when I met him at a Raya Open House.

    Mahathir made the mistake of reviving these people. Even Kalimullah Hassan. Nor Mohamad was ok under Mahathir. His role was limited. Currency and some aspects of monetary management only. He became powerful when Daim left and Mahathir handed over Umno and GLC business files to him.

    Overnight Nor, a good friendly chap, became the kingmaker. One of the kings he made was Kallimullah, his friend from the Penang days. Kalli told foreign correspondents that it was he who introduced Nor to Abdullah.

    I hope Nor has the decency and honor to be a good man, a good economic manager and a fair person. He must fear Allah. Allah gives and Allah takes away. He should thank Mahathir for his revival. He was a pariah of the financial world when Mahathir summoned him to Buenos Aires in 1998 to discuss about Currency Control. Zam accompanied him.

    Nor is a good man. He must always remain so. There are many Bumiputra businessmen out here who are dying. Pak Lah's inability to comprehend and thus drive the economy is killing them. NPL and non-payment of debts are rising at all levels levels. Trade debtotrs are mounting and banks are foreclosing. My vendors and distributors are not paying me on time. I can't pay my suppliers on time. The economy grinds to a halt. Government contracts have all but dried up. The pretext is we now have to bid for even the smallest contracts and nobody in government departments are interested to work. They bitch about their salaries, about harga barang and they blame the BOYS for taking away their power to give out small contracts.

    Nor's Senatorship is renewed. I congratulate him and pray that he tell Pak Lah the truth. He must tell Pak Lah the real economy not the glorified RMK-9, the SJER, the modal insan and the agricultural revival. Nor knows that good newspaper reports are not necessarily good business and economic performance.

    Many of my vendors and suppliers from Klang, Dandamaran, Prai and Kulim had moved to China and Vietnam. Now I have to source some of my supplies from there. Freight, Insurance and USD vs Ringgit are making me uncompetitive. Does Pak Lah and his 4th Floor BOYS know this. Tan Sr Nor, PLEASE help. You have served Mahathir and now you are serving Pak Lah. If you are good under Mahathir, you should be equally good under Pak Lah.

    On corruption and people's poor perception of the present government is easy to understand. I came across this everyday, at thge EPU, at the CIty Hall, at MPPJ at JKR and district offices. It becomes worse when the PM brought back people like Mohd MUhammad Taib and other questionable figures who resigned or were romoved during Mahathir's era.

    I don't much care about politics and about power. But when politics and power no longer serve the majority of the people and business is suffering, something must be done.

    I don't know why the great economic and business minds like Mahathir, Ku Li, Daim and Mustaffa Mohamad are being sidelined? Why is the government so afraid of them?

    Tan Sri Nor, I plead with you, please save our economy. Wassallam.

  13. Anonymous7:39 am

    Asiseeit said:

    "AAB has learned from TDM that the position of Finance Minister is as important as the PM. So, he will keep it at all costs.

    AAB is not able to perform the job of the FM, period. He cannot get another politician to serve him as the second FM, because that FM would soon replace him as the PM."

    BUT Pak Lah must fear Allah. He can lie to us by pretending he knows economic and finance.

    BUT he cannot lie to Allah. This he should know because he in the PM-cum-the Imam. How can he leads the jamaah, the ummah, if he does not know?

    If Pak Lah is truly the man of God and is God-fearing, he must give up the Finance Minister post. He should appoint a capable person to run the Ministry.

    Allah condemns pretenders, the munafiqin. So Pak Lah should not continue to pretend. The country and us have suffered enough.

    Poverty, Pak Lah and Umno tell us, is part and parcel of kekufuran. So kekufuran is rising under Pak Lah's Hadhari Brand of Islam when more people are impoverished.

  14. Anonymous1:15 pm

    Dear Bro,
    Its interesting to note that the success or otherwise of the financial re-engineering of MAS has been, for the large part ignored.
    Azman Mokhtar since then have been made the chairman of Khazanah - one would assume this is in lieu of the effectiveness of his contribution to MAS's continuing prosperity!
    Or is there some other reason why the said genleman continues to enjoy such a healthy corporate reputation in business circles?
    Opinions from wiser minds here would be much appreciated.
    Thanks and salams

  15. Anonymous7:30 pm

    Andeande Lumut,

    Azman Moktar of the Bina Fikir? Was he ever with Bina Fikior? But Bina Fikir restructured Mas when the Government angrily kicked out Tajuddin.

    Tajuddin is gone but Bina Fikir turnound magic did not work. Mas is getting worse. It's truly a Third World Airline now.

    But Azman flourishes. Even fools flourish under Pak Lah if they are good friends of KJ, Khamal, Noori, Md Zaki and other 4th floor boys.

    I call this mengarutocracy!