Monday, February 05, 2007

Khazanah clarifies

No PR consultants hired for South Johor project, says Khazanah.
I am publishing the e-mail sent to me by Khazanah Nasional Berhad's head of communications and external relations Ahmad Shahizam Shariff. The clarification is with regards to my posting Mother of All PRs on Feb 1.
Dear Rocky,
Just to follow through on our conversation yesterday, I would like to highlight that your blog comments last week which asserted that Khazanah has hired several individuals as PR consultants for our South Johor project.
As mentioned in our discussion yesterday, this statement is inaccurate and factually wrong.As with any projects this scale, you would appreciate that we would need to embark on a robust marketing and branding exercise to attract FDI and partners, and ensure the project’s overall success.
However, this is very much at an exploratory stage and no decisions or even bidding/tender has started.
Therefore, I hope you can appreciate that the commentary in your blog on this matter is wrong and misleading and we would appreciate it if you could help rectify this asap.
Please feel free to contact me directly to verify any sources of information you may have about Khazanah in the future. I will do my best to provide you with the necessary information or clarification where appropriate.
I must thank Khazanah Nasional Bhd for following this blog and for the offer to help verify my info in the future. I believe this will go a long way towards helping blogs become more responsible and resourceful.

As a responsible blogger, I must apologise for asserting that the two the two former top editors were "given the job by Khazanah", now that Khazanah has said it is inaccurate and factually wrong. Under the said posting, which carries the sub-head "Former editors to become BIG-money PR men for Khazanah projects?", I wrote:
"A former Singapore Straits Times operative is said to have been made the PR (Public Relations) consultant for the US$15 billion South Johor Economic Region. The man, who is in his early 40s and is believed to hold a Singapore PR (Permanent Resident), was given the lucrative job by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, my sources told me. The ex-Singapore ST operative set up the PR company after leaving an English daily loyal to the Prime Minister recently. His partner in the company is said to be a former editor of The Star."
Earlier today, I published a follow-up to that posting here.


  1. Hi Rocky,
    I think Khazanah deserves respect for responding directly to your blog posting. This is how a person or organisation which feels it has been misrepresented in a blog should respond in the first instance, instead of resorting to lawsuits.

    I think there is still a case of "There's no smoke without fire", but that's just my opinion

  2. Anonymous7:00 pm

    Bravo Bro Rocky,

    This is what bloging all about. Bloger United are responsible people.

    Anon fm Miri

  3. rocky,

    i agree with kittykat46. And syabbas to Khazanah, specifically Ahmad Shahizam Shariff, for coming out with a response to clarify your posting.
    The right thing to do to correct an error/mistake/naccuracy.
    Very professional.
    Good to know that ahmad shahizam/khazanah reads your blog. Looks like he/khszanah acknowledges how influential Rocky's Bru is.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Anonymous8:44 pm

    I'm liking this new environment of power that the new media is creating. I've always believed that blogs will one day move the masses. I think the day is approaching.

    The questions are:
    1) How do we get more and more people to read blogs so that they can get the hidden stories.
    2) How do we ensure that the bloggers stay uncorrupted? - it's like the failed utusan-nst merger, if a group of popular bloggers were to sell out to the govt, it will definitely tighten the govt's grip on the masses.

  6. as per the previous comments, i concur that this is a most appropriate way to respond to allegedly misleading or factually wrong posts.

    however, one might argue that it is not feasible to track all blogs and justify one's stance individually.

    the simple answer is that this is where organisations (or even individuals) publish their responses or better yet, proactively put out statements before others on their own websites/blogs.

    the excuse that this takes too much effort/time is hogwash as many top executives like Jonathan Schwartz (President & CEO, Sun Microsystems) and Kevin Lynch (Chief Software Architect, Adobe) have their own blogs [although it is possible that they have PR consultants who run it by proxy].

    moral of the story? malaysian organisations need to buck up and keep with the trend, or byte the dust.

  7. Was AS talking about the bidding/tendering process for SJER jobs or the PR job?

    P.S. Don't try using a triple alphabet initial for the Khazanah guy folks. Not nice, OK. Sorry Bru.

  8. Two points Rocky:

    You should have sought (or attempted to get) a comment from someone at Khazanah before posting the original piece. If Khazanah PR folks refuse to confirm or deny your allegation, then post that fact anyway and you would not have to aplogize later even if Khazanahh were to subsequently deny your allegation.

    Second and the more important point is this. In your conversation with the Khazanah's spokesman, you should have sought a commitment from him that the company would have a transparent and open competitive bidding process before awarding any contract, specifically this PR contract.

    Shahizam's comment about matters being at an "exploratory stage" carries a huge escape route. The company could still have discussed the issues you raised and then still claim a denial as no decision has been taken.

    You should have asked Shahizam point blank, were the two principals you named ever mentioned in the "exploratory" discussions?

    I have put in a number of "shoulds" here, but one does not have to be a lawyer or a particularly sophisticated user of the English language to note these "escape" clauses that are so loved by the PR or lawyerly types.

    From what the Khazanah's spokesman says, if the company were henceforth to employ these two characters you mentioned in your posting, his current denial would still be valid. In short you should have "pinned the bastard down" so that he could not weasel out later.

    That aside, I hope that what he said would be true. My cynicism is not unfounded. Afterall even the top honcho at Khazanah, the Prime Minister himself, had committed the government and GLCs to greater transparency and competitive bidding early on. See where that gets us today.

    M. Bakri Musa

  9. Anonymous10:00 pm

    Khazanah is being responsible for now. That Khazanah has responded to your blog shows the power of the blog. It shows one thing - don't mess around with blogs. Good job, The Rock.

  10. Anonymous10:34 pm

    Dear Rocky,
    This is Confuseus... I am not surprised that you deleted by comment because I include the names. Khazanah is the INCOMPETENT MOTHER of all the incompetent GLCs.

    Please do continue your sensational exposure without fear or favour. The Rakyat are behind you...Malaysia need you, brother.

    More to come !!!!

  11. Anon Confuseus (10:34PM). You are right, I had to delete because you named names. I won't be able to substantiate those allegations if it goes to court, you know what I mean.
    But I thank you for the comment, nonetheless.

    Bro Bakri from far away,
    Thank you for the pointers. I am well aware of the "escape" clauses. Often, a corp comm department is not aware of decisions made by the office of the ceo or, in the case of GLCs, by the higher-ups (the politicians). Shahiman committed to writing what is within his grasp and I have to appreciate that (at this point of time).
    But, yes, next time I'll call first! (that's what journalists do, how could i forget?!)

    nstman, thanks bro!

  12. Rocky,

    I agree with Osaya that Khazanah was courteous enough to respond in a professional way.

    I do not agree with Dr Bakri that you , hypothetically, should have sought their side of the story before publishing as you are not from the main-stream media and chances are, they wouldn't respond as should have been, tho' not absolute.

    However, since Khazanah's Ahmad Shahizam Shariff had offered an olive hand, you would be appropriate to seek their side of the story before you publish about them, from now on.

    Whatever it is, I think recent events have made the corporations and institutions take note of the influences of blogs.

    Evolution had begun and should be revolutionalized progressively.

  13. Anonymous11:32 pm

    agreed with Bakri Musa

    Get it in black and white first. Then talk.

  14. En Ahmad SS deserves our praise and respect for this clarification.
    If we have more people like him, there will be less rumour mongering in this country.
    Fortunately the government (Khazanah belong to the government) did not classify the PR appointment under the OSA.

  15. Anonymous12:10 am

    Khazanah is very professional to response. Obvious green light from Azman and has reflect his generation of Corporate Leaders. They understand only by being more transparent (or even trying) will reduces speculations.

    Thus, isnt "blogs" a mew form of "check & balance" that is needed to improve our societies?

    Rocky will prevail in the coming court case!

    Ps. my office have revised our daily newsprints to only "The Sun" & "The Stars", all 15 copies of it!

  16. Examplary, bro!

    Admitting one mistake is actually the embodiment of wisdom!

    Betui dak gua punya orang putih? Hantam saja la labu! Janji boleh berlagak seolah-olah macam reti cakap orang putih!

  17. Anonymous2:08 am

    untuk penarek beca yang menulis, "Examplary, bro!

    Admitting one mistake is actually the embodiment of wisdom!

    Betui dak gua punya orang putih? Hantam saja la labu! Janji boleh berlagak seolah-olah macam reti cakap orang putih!

    maaf bang, tapi ada silap...
    a) exemplary
    b) one's

    walaupun nampak enteng tapi besar bedzanya!

    ini kerana examplary tu tak ada langsung dalam Kamus dan one itu satu dan one's pula si ampunya.

    tak kan lah dengan mengiktiraf satu kesalahan dah boleh jadi Yang Arif!



    sila sedekah RM1 pada tabung Masjid.

    Malaysia boleh lah.

    p/s jangan main hentam aje... orang boleh "nampak" nawaitul kita tau?

  18. Anonymous2:13 am

    oh, terlupa pulak... bila dah taruk one's kena jadi kan nahu mistake berbilangan. (plural lah... bahasa kita tak ada ni)

    sila derma satu RM lagi pada tabung Masjid pilihan anda!


  19. thank god they didn't just sue you! what a difference from you know who....

  20. Anonymous8:18 am

    Dear Rocky,

    I do not undrestand those who say you committed or admitted a mistake - you did NEITHER! The statement of Khazanah is something like Pak Lah's denial regarding plane ("I did not buy a plane"). You will only have made a mistake IF this job (or part of it) is NOT awarded to those 2 jokers.

    Let's wait and see. Bet my last dollar that the job will go to them, at most they will try to hide behind some proxies (since you already exposed them).

    Good luck!

  21. anon said:

    oh, terlupa pulak... bila dah taruk one's kena jadi kan nahu mistake berbilangan. (plural lah... bahasa kita tak ada ni)

    thanks anon. macam tu la bagus. dapat jugak belajaq sikit-sikit.

  22. Will they clarify this?

    NST today:

    State of the economy:
    How healthy is it really?
    06 Feb 2007

    Statistics show it's stronger now and more resilient than ever.

    KUALA LUMPUR: A decade after the Asian financial crisis, the economy is at its best shape, analysts have pronounced.

    Not only has Malaysia’s economy come out of crisis mode, statistics show that it is strong enough to face future shocks. (bla, bla, bla...)

    ...but, yesterday (Feb 5, 2007), Berita Harian repoted:

    Buku teks percuma untuk pelajar miskin: PM

    SEREMBAN: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi berkata, kerajaan bersedia meluaskan Skim Pinjaman Buku Teks (SPBT) kepada semua pelajar tanpa mengira pendapatan ibu bapa tetapi ia tertakluk kepada kemampuan berbuat demikian.

    “Nak tolong, bukan kita tak mahu tolong... kalau ada kemampuan, kita akan tolong tapi kalau tak boleh, tak bolehlah,” katanya ketika diminta mengulas keputusan kerajaan membatalkan cadangan memberi pinjaman buku teks kepada semua pelajar, mulai tahun depan...

  23. Anonymous8:44 am


    Would Khazanah then be able to shed some light into the ACJ...i mean the lease agreement, who gets to operate the aircrft, how much was spent etc...

  24. Anonymous8:54 am

    In any organisation there are people whoa are still honest, ethical and with the higest integrity in handling issues of mass interests. Unfortunately, they are the first victim to be made a scapegoat and ended being the victim of situation.

    Let's hope this guy Ahmad Shahizam is still around the next time you call him for clarification. That would attest if Khazanah is for transparency or not.

    In this case, Bro Rocky, you did the right thing in current situation to highlight the issue first in your blog and gets Khazanah's reaction. That's doing and thinking "out of the box".

  25. Anonymous9:30 am

    Is this answer going to be like "I did not buy the airplane"?
    meaning that six months down the road, Khazanah would not be the one doing the hiring but a convenient vehicle linked to the Govt. or some crony would?

    M. Bakri Musa's cynicism is not unfounded. There has been too many precedents in the past. Open bidding is the only answer.

  26. Anonymous10:15 am

    A thumb-up for Khazanah Nasional Berhad's head of communications and external relations Ahmad Shahizam Shariff!

    Cool answer, unlike some big giants which resort to lawsuits! Guess he (Ahmad Shahizam Shariff) just made those big losers look really dumb... I mean, really, really, extremely dumb...

    Teach a child by whacking him, and he will grow up a resentful man. Talk nicely to him, he will grow up a wise, sensibly balanced and rational man. Just because you are big doesn't mean you have to be a bully. Likewise, being nice when you are a giant doesn't make you look sissy either! It is called "having character"! Hope those big boys learn from this Khazana PR man...


  27. Dear Rocky,
    Congratulation to you and Ahmad Shahizam.This would go a long way into a formation of'Civil Society'.
    There is nothing civil about corruption and nepotism.Those resorting to lawsuits when they have a mammoth media machinery at their disposal certainly look stupid.
    Your blog has a wide following now and your integrity and dogged determination ,against all odds, is much admired.
    You are a true Rocky ....btw how you got those name?kind of envious hehe

  28. anon said:

    p/s jangan main hentam aje... orang boleh "nampak" nawaitu kita tau?

    Nama pun hantam saja...

    Nawaitunya pun jelas, mcm orang putih kata, a short person who always needs a box – just to look tall!

    Apa pun, terima kasih daun keladi, anon.

    Nampak demokratik sungguh blog Rocky ni. Macam2 sembang boleh.

    Is this what people say charismatic democracy - blogging!?!

  29. Anonymous10:44 pm

    Technically, it wasn't Khazanah that's doing the hiring coz the directive came all the way from the top, from the No. 1 himself. Not wanting to undermine Ahmad Shahizam Shariff, I doubt he knew anything at all about it, unless he counts himself as one of those that walks on the corridors of power!

  30. Anonymous11:05 pm

    There is indeed no smoke without fire, hence the statement about the matter at the exploratory stage.

    Now that you have gone ahead of Khazanah, it would be awkward for those two to be appointed directly.

    Nevermind, I am willing to be appointed and then farm the project out to the two.

    Just like leasing the airplane, don't buy.

  31. Anonymous12:40 pm

    Dear Rocks,

    I think it is time that us bloggers, especially high profile bloggers who write politics and current affairs to call up subjects involved and ask for clarification, or at least have something solid, before it is published.

    I agree with Dr Bakri Musa's lucid and relevant comments. If those u seek clarification from do not respond, u put that down too. At least then there would be an attempt to substantiate on ur part that is on record.

    That aside, I think it is proof that Khazanah ppl, just like many corporate n political hacks in the country, understand and acknowledge the emergence of blogs.

    The very interactive nature of blogs leave a voice for dissent as well as agreement. That is democracy.

    So statements can be made, countered, retracted, affirmed, all in one forum. Not only does this give context to an ongoing issue, it is also a matter of public record, which will go far towards an era (my utopian fantasy) where Malaysians have a greater right to information than w currently do.

  32. Rocky,

    UK Consultant To Improve Iskandar Development Region's Masterplan

    JOHOR BAHARU, Feb 9 (Bernama) -- The federal government has appointed a consulting firm from the United Kingdom to enhance the masterplan of the Iskandar Development Region (IDR), said Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

    The Atkins Group, which had began work on it last month, would also be incorporating the marketing elements to make the region known internationally, he told reporters after attending a briefing on the IDR...

    Read this at Bernama

  33. Anonymous10:22 pm

    [Rocky's Bru: SW who wants to be known as Anon sent this earlier. I've taken the liberty to edit some bits.]

    dear Rocky,

    Being new to blogging, I am not sure if my comments on the subject reached you. Reproduced below:-

    As a “new kid on the blog” I would like to commend Rocky for highlighting the possibility of Khazanah recruiting two ex editor of questionable status to undertake such a billion ringgit task.

    Whether the story would turn out to the true or not, we, as fellow bloggers and concern citizens, should contribute whatever background information on the two ex-editors so that this administration would not repeat the same mistake made by the previous administration of recruiting people of the like of Eric Cheah, Abdullah Ang and other “failures”.

    My contribution:

    One of the editors you mentioned entered the world of journalism when he was recruited by the Singapore ST as a crime reporter. I was told that he took leave to study law in England but dropped out along the way.
    Later the Singapore ST sent him to Kuala Lumpur to be one of its correspondents in Malaysia.

    Now if we were to make a comparison, I would say that his pieces for the Singapore ST were far superior than what he did in the New ST where he has been accused of plagiarism. Maybe it was the rewriting and probing skills of the supporting editors in Singapore that made his works stood out that caught the attention of the New ST which promptly brought him in for the high post without the necessary due diligence check, I would presume.

    As for the “Star retired” editor, none of his children, born and bred here until secondary school level, are Malaysian citizens.

    Both editors have no PR or advertising experience and if they were to be given the job, I think they would undertake it by trial and error basis. So fellow bloggers keep the background info coming. We may just prevent another Eric Cheah saga and save the squandering of tax payers’ money.“


  34. This shows NST sucks. Its sad how low
    it has sunk.

  35. This shows NST sucks. It sad how low it has sunk.