Friday, August 25, 2017

What is it with the Johor Palace and KJ?

TTDI, 25 Aug 2017: The Istana Johor's disdain for Khairy Jamaluddin, our Sports and Youth Minister, is not new. When KJ was just the son-in-law of then PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, he offended someone in Sultan Ibrahim's family. To this day, I am not sure what exactly happened. But back then I was somewhat close to Tunku Yem, who was the Crown Prince, so I was sometimes privy to some of things that affected Istana Pelangi and its occupants.  
I remember one day in September 2006 KJ was in Johor, in what capacity I am now not sure, and some members from the Pasir Pelangi palace were there at the same event. One of them reported to me about how arrogant KJ had been.  
I even blogged a short one on it:

Read the actual posting h e r e

That was 11 years ago, mind you. So much time to mend bridges. Or burn a few more. In the case of Sultan Yem's family and KJ, obviously the latter. I used to think it was just between the present TMJ (Tunku Ismail) and Khairy but, well, that seems no longer the case!

Sultan says Khairy's polo team "mediocre". Full report h e r e

The Sultan of Johor is a very popular man but I'm not sure if his advisors have told him that his comments on KJ and the polo team did not endear him with too many of us. Khairy may not be any good at polo, or anywhere as good as TMJ or Sultan Yem himself, or is manipulating sports for his political advancement, etc etc but let someone else say it. 
The Sultan should be above this kind of things, if you know what I mean. 

p.s. The medal tally at the time of this posting [and polo is likely to add to Malaysia's gold]:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The day Syed Saddiq made a name for his opponent

Updated 3 Sept 2017:
With Assessment of debate between Shahril Hamdan and Syed Saddiq on Economic Agenda, Azmi Arshad has written what he says his longest post ever. Why? Because he did not want one of the debaters to get away with "lies, spin, diversions and rhetoric to deceive the audience with his political agenda".

Original posting

Playing second fiddle, a rear role for Syed Saddiq
KL, 22 Aug: Watching Asia's top debater Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (in t-shirt) in action for the first time at the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit XI on Sunday, I was assured straight away that my country would be alright in the coming years. The 25-year old youth chief from Dr Mahathir Mohamad's party, made me realise that there are, actually, young Malaysians out there with the brains and the guts and the humility to lead Malaysia to greater heights. 
I'm talking, of course, about Syed Saddiq's opponent Shahril Hamdan during the debate on Sunday by The UK and Eire Council of Malaysian Students in Kuala Lumpur.  
Shahril Hamdan, a fresh revelation
I had expected young Saddiq to demolish the little-known Shahril, an Umno Youth exco member, with his legendary oratory skills. And the topic This House believes that Pakatan Harapan has a better economic agenda than Barisan Nasional was a great chance for him to shine. 
Instead, Sharil, 31, outclassed Saddiq with clarity of thoughts, simplicity of arguments, and even a bit of wit here and there. Syed Saddiq was not at all bad but the association with all those politicians (and all that hype) was showing: I thought he drowned himself and the listeners with too much political rhetorics and election promises from start to finish.
Shahril was focused and kept to the topic. Unlike the top debater, the 31-year old did not speak to impress his audience or his opponent; he was there to debate an economic issue. By Shahril's own admission, neither he nor his party were perfect. But for me, for now, that would do perfectly. 
p.s. Question now is, where will Shahril stand in GE14?

Watch the debate here 
and Q & A here

Friday, August 18, 2017

Why MACC may want to do away with the orange pyjamas altogether

Kuala Lumpur, 18 Aug: Of Isa Samad, I've written on this blog too many times, none of them with great fondness. But when photographs of this ex-Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar, ex-Felda-FGV Chairman, ex- Umno Vice President, and soon probably ex-SPAD acting Chairman splashed the front pages of the local dailies middle this week, clad in the unmistakable orange pyjamas of SPRM (the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission), I hesitated in making a posting.  The pomp and the parade ... there's something not right about the whole thing. Lawyer N. Surendran, who is also a Member of Parliament, may have a moral point here. It is not just humiliating but premature to dress Isa in that bright orange uniform and paraded him in front of the media as if he had been charged and found guilty. When, in fact, you were just producing the suspect in court for a remand order to question him further on suspicion of corrupt practices.

Anyone in this orange would look like a crook 
This is not to say that the blazer Isa had on when he was arrested by the anti-graft officers was less of an eye-sore! A sober, dark suit or batik or a Baju Melayu complete with songkok would probably have done better for his PR.
Before the arrest
I fully agree with YB Rais Yatim, the seasoned politician from Jelebu, about the need for hemah or discretion on the part of the MACC in upholding the dignity of every person they deal with:

Rarely, I am also with Akhbar Satar, the Transparency Insternational-Malaysia  president. Let Justice Takes Its Course. But the first person who should listen to his advice is Akhbar himself.  One minute he says we must always bear in mind that Isa is innocent until proven guilty. The next minute, he proclaims that Isa's arrest is a signal for the government to End political appointments in GLCs. Akhbar, moronically or not, has already found Isa guilty!
Sometimes I think Akhbar is no different from some Opposition politicians who would go out of their way to discredit MACC whenever one of theirs is taken into custody for alleged corruption is expected. To them, the Commission is doing their job only if others, preferably their political rivals, are involved. It's the childishness in these politicians that we've come to expect and which is holding the MACC back. When it suits them, they hail themselves as "friends of MACC". 

No more friends after arrest of Phee Boon Poh

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Zahid tightens the noose

Puchong, 5 Aug 2017: Those quick to write off Zahid Hamidi after Mahathir Mohamad's onslaught did so at their own peril. As I see it, Zahid has not only turned the table on Mahathir but is slowly tightening the noose around the Old Man's neck. Mahathir's only salvation is IF Zahid were to suddenly lose the recording he claimed to have made of the meeting that he had with Mahathir.

Zahid: Yes, I met Mahathir, and I can prove what transpired

The deputy prime minister also says the meeting received Najib Razak's blessing.zahid-mahathir

JERLUN: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today admitted he had a meeting with Dr Mahathir Mohamad days after his appointment as the deputy prime minister in 2015, but denied the former prime minister’s claim that it was to seek support to topple Najib Razak. 
Speaking to Jerlun Umno division members today, Zahid said he kept a recording of the meeting, adding that it also had the blessing of the prime minister. 
“I want to state that it took place with the prime minister’s blessing, 10 days after I was appointed the deputy prime minister,” he said. 
“The recording is still with me. They forget easily, but I don’t.”  [Read more H E R E]

Readers will recall on July 31, in an angry response to Zahid calling him son of Iskandar Kutty, Mahathir made two claims: 1. Zahid had RM230 million in his bank account when he was Umno Youth chief some 20 years ago (when Mahathir was PM) and 2. Zahid had begged for his "sympathy" to replace Najib as PM, less than two weeks after Zahid was made Deputy Prime Minister.

Khairuddin Hassan, the Mahathir loyalist who had lodged a police report against Zahid for calling Mahathir son of Iskandar Kutty, said Zahir was bluffing. The DPM won't respond to a lackey; he will wait for Mahathir himself to call his bluff.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

If Zahid Hamidi had RM230 million in his account ...

Call him s/o Iskandar Kutty at your own peril!
 "Perhaps Zahid has forgotten his asset declaration made to me as prime minister when he was appointed as Umno Youth chief. When I asked where he obtained the RM230 million in his bank account, his answer was unclear. If he can remember, he should explain where such large amount of money came from." - Zahid had RM230 million when he was Umno Youth Chief 
TTDI, 3 Aug 2017: Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi has yet to respond to his ex-boss' allegation that he had RM230 million in his bank account some 20 years ago.

Until then, I will assume that Dr Mahathir Mohamad was telling the truth (even though Mahathir admits there is no proof that Zahid had RM230 million in his account). 

But because Mahathir Mohamad took no action against Zahid following the so-called discovery, I will also assume that the RM230 million wasn't ill-gotten money. 

Or perhaps it was not so out-of-the-ordinary for Umno politicians to have that kind of money during Mahathir's era.

Which makes me wonder ... 

If a just-appointed Umno Youth chief had that kind of money in his bank account back then, just how much did the Umno president have in his? 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017



The name Abdul Wahid Omar first appeared on my radar when I was a journalist with the Business Times, shortly before he went to Telekom Malaysia as its chief executive. Before long, he had taken over  the helm of Maybank, the country's biggest commercial bank, and just as quickly, it would seem, he accepted the call of the Dewan Negara to be Senator and a Minister in PM Najib Razak's Cabinet. Some of us assumed power would eventually get to this man's head and that he would soon eat his own words about being a one-term Cabinet Minister.  But AWO was true to his words. And before we knew it, he's completed a sterling first year as Chairman of PNB, Malaysia's biggest and most important fund management company. 
AWO's first year message as PNB Chairman:

Assalamualaikum & Selamat Sejahtera,

1. Today 1 August 2017 marks my first complete year as Group Chairman of Permodalan Berhad (PNB). Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to YAB Prime Minister & the Government for entrusting me to lead PNB. I must say Dato' Abdul Rahman Ahmad (DARA) and I have been fortunate to have received the baton from Tun Ahmad Sarji and Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah a very solid national institution of integrity in PNB. We are grateful for the support from our people in PNB from day one which enabled us to 'get cracking' immediately.

2. The first year has been action-packed, productive and fulfilling with the following achievements, among others:-
i. Smooth leadership succession at Chairman, CEO and board levels. Recruited DARA as CEO on 1 October 2016. Effected board succession on 1 January 2017 and streamlined management structure at group level. 
ii. Announced PNB Strategic Plan 2017-2022 "STRIVE 15" on 26 November 2016 aimed at building PNB into a Distinctive World Class Investment House. Adopted a more open and engaging approach. Focus on immediate execution of the 15 initiatives under the Strategic Plan. 
iii. Announced four major value creating corporate exercises namely ;
- Sime Darby Demerger to create 3 'pure plays' of Plantations, Property and Multinational Distribution & Logistics. On track for listing by mid December 2017.
- UMW Holdings demerger and recapitalisation of UMW Oil & Gas. Demerger completed July 2017. Recapitalisation in progress.
- Acquisition of SILK Highway to enhance PNB's Prolintas toll road concession portfolio in preparation for IPO in 2019. Acquisition completed June 2017.
- Merger of SP Setia and I&P Group to create one of the largest and most profitable property development groups in Malaysia. Expected completion November 2017. 
iv. Intensified efforts towards greater Shariah compliance resulting in Jabatan Mufti Selangor issuing 'Harus' fatwa or permissible edict for ASNB products in April 2017 in line with the National Fatwa edict in 2008. Only Penang is pending review. 
v. Successfully migrated to a new IT system on 28 June 2017 to enable ''passbook-less'' transactions to be undertaken. Online transactions currently under beta / trial at will also be officially enabled from 1 September 2017.
3. Alhamdulillah, market reaction has been positive with total market capitalisation of the six PNB strategic companies increasing by RM40 billion YoY since 1 August 2016 or RM29 billion YTD in the first 7 months of 2017. This represents an increase of 28.2% YoY or 18.9% YTD, higher than the increase in KLCI of 6.5% and 7.2% respectively. 
Another positive development is that Maybank's market capitalisation has also breached the RM100 billion mark in June 2017, a major milestone in Malaysia's capital market history.

4. We are grateful to Allah SWT for His blessings. None of the progress made would have been possible without the solid support and assistance from our Board members, management and staff of PNB, ASNB and our group companies. Thank you. Special mention to the Board members and management of our strategic companies in particular Sime Darby, UMW Holdings, UMW O&G, SP Setia, I&P Group and Prolintas for driving and supporting the value creation initiatives announced thus far.

5. Whilst we have made good progress at PNB, we still have a lot to do towards achieving our aspiration. As we move down the list of our strategic companies for value enhancing activities, we will also start  engaging with our core companies (where we have at least 10% shareholding) with a view to improving their total shareholder returns (TSR). We also plan to work closely with other institutional investors for greater shareholder activism aimed at enhancing corporate governance and performance of public listed companies.

6. After one year at PNB and with the management team led by DARA fully in place, I plan to also allocate some time to support some of our strategic companies in their transformation or performance improvement. Four days ago on 28 July 2017, the Board of Sime Darby Berhad announced, among others, my appointment as the Chairman of Sime Darby Property Berhad (SDP). SDP will be a separately listed entity upon completion of the Sime Darby demerger exercise. With total land bank of 18,000 acres in prime location such as City of Elmina, Bandar Bukit Raja, Serenia City, Alya KL and Malaysian Vision Valley, SDP can be regarded as having the 'dream land bank' of many property developers. I pledge to take on this additional responsibility to the best of my ability for the benefit of SD Property, its shareholders, PNB and the 13 million unit holders.

7. I thank you for all your help, support and guidance and I look forward to your continued support to me, ARA and PNB group companies. Let us all be constructive and play our respective part for an inclusive, sustainable, equitable and prosperous Negaraku Malaysia.

Thank you and with best regards.


01.08.17 .