Thursday, December 31, 2020

Why 2020 was not such a bad year after all


IT WAS THE WORST YEAR, ever, for many. We started 2020 with this dreadful pandemic and we carried it forward into 2021. Over 100k confirmed Covid-19 cases as the year came to close and no sign of the disease ebbing (on the contrary, it seemed to be worsening for us when the rest of the world were actually making progress). We couldn’t visit our loved ones when they fell sick, we could not even visit their graves when they died. Covid and 2020 took away loved ones, shut borders, killed  businesses, obliterated dreams. 

The Pakatan Harapan government, which promised sweeping changes upon defeating the BN in 2018, turned out to be just a big hype - no, a big lie - no, a big joke; it couldn’t even  make good its own election manifesto. The so-called backdoor government, founded in Sheraton just a while before the first MCO was enforced in March 2020, kicked out the PH government but is so weak it inspired pity instead of earning our respect. 

Thank God, 2020 was not just about the bad and the ugly. There were good ones, too. We found our own superheroes on the front lines and stories abound of Malaysians extending a helping hand to fellow Malaysians. In fact, if you ask me, 2020, the year that we failed to join the ranks of the developed nations, the year that brought so much dismay for so many, was really not that bad!

You may disagree with me, of course, but here are 10 reasons why I dare say 2020 was not such a bad year after all.

1. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lost his job - Some people cried when Dr M stepped down in the midst of the Sheraton Move but a lot of others rejoiced. Personally, I saw it as a blessing undisguised. The Old Man had lost control of his Government. 

2. We got rid of possibly the worst Finance Minister we ever had - Lim Guan Eng may know how to get the best deal when buying properties but he couldn’t manage the economy. He had one chance to prove that a non-Malay finance minister could take care of Bumiputera interests and help build their capacity, but instead he riled many of them, denied them, and quickly lost whatever trust they had in the new government. One chap told me because of Guan Eng, it will be a long while before the Malays would regain their trust in a non-Malay holding that all-important portfolio.

3. Donald Trump did not get a second term as US President - We will miss Trump in 2021, mark my words.

4. Black lives matter  - The killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis in May 2020 sparked the biggest civil protests in the US that made Malaysians look closely at our own racial issues. We now realise while our own race relations was far from perfect we where nowhere near as bad as many a developed nation in the world.

5. The Bicycle ‘revolution’  - Malaysians all over the country took up to bicycling, which was a good thing. But like all good things, it is threatening to end with bad press and strereotyping of cyclists. There’s still hope that this will be addressed in 2021 and we can make cycling a national passion.

6. Proton revival - The success of the X70, the first model after China’s Geely took over the management of the national car company, continued with the X50 in the latter months of 2020, in spite of spikes in Covid-19 cases. The queue for this latest Proton model is still growing.

7. Malaysia’s better side of humanity - I shall name names when the time comes: some Malaysians have done so much for fellow Malaysians in need during this trying year that they put the welfare department to shame. We shall acknowledge these individuals when the time comes, whether they like it or not

8. New norms (work-from-home is actually doable) - The year taught us to explore more, challenge the way we’ve been doing things.

9. Family time - The SOP compelled us to spend more time with the family. There were reports of highest rates for suicide, domestic violence, depression, etc. But most of us got to spend a lot of time at home. A strong home is the foundation of a solid community is the basic for a united nation.

10. 2020 saw the biggest number of journalists laid off as newspapers closed down and media companies downsized but we also saw the establishment of new portals. One of them is The Vibes, launched a few days after Malaysia Day on September 16, which has employed and re-hired some 50 journalists. 

P.S Also, I got to drink with Rick and Rahul on the last afternoon of the year ...while writing this piece. :] Happy New Year, dear Readers. 2021 better be a better one!

Friday, December 04, 2020

Politicians are back in power at Mara Corp

Badlishah told to go on leave after ordering audit on Mara Corp

Bangsar, Dec 4: Something is brewing in Mara Corporation, according to twentytwo13’s latest scoop Three months into office, Mara Corp’s group CEO ‘suspended’that suggests a possible change in leadership. I would have added the word “again” somewhere in that intro. This isn’t the first time Mara Corp, the of Mara, is in the news for the wrong reasons. It won’t be the last, either. It’s what some Melayus up there are good for, if you ask me.

In a nutshell, not long after Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin became Prime Minister, a new CEO was brought in to clean up and consolidate the four-year old Mara Corp. The new man, of course, wanted due diligence to be carried out. He is, after all, a banker. He brought in some good Malays to help him, including former CEOs of public listed companies. When word got out that Earnst & Young would be picked as the auditors, a special Board Meeting of Mara Corp was convened. At the meeting, a prepared statement was read out, accusing the group CEO of abuse of power, blah blah blah. Mr Group CEO denied the silly allegations, of course. He was scheduled to present his plans for 2021 at the scheduled Board Meeting on Nov 30 but the Board wanted him to go on ‘garden leave’ instead pending an investigation into the allegations. 

A politician and a former Member of Parliament is now said to be the executive director of Mara Corp, appointed by the Cabinet Minister in charge of Mara, YB Abdul Latiff Ahmad.

End of story?