Saturday, December 11, 2021

EPF can also avoid making stupid decisions and mistakes

Do political big guns still clinch govt contracts for companies?
 Subahan may have just done that for his

KL, Dec 11: While we’re on the subject of dealing with stupidity, (Refer 5G: How the Govt can avoid making stupid decisions and stupid mistakes), we may want to add to our watchlist the RM1 billion deal to build affordable homes in Selangor which involves the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). 

Why? Because EPF is you and me and every Malaysian who has been working like a dog to get the economy going and it is our business to make sure we don’t end up with the short end of the stick. Read EPF may not get the best from Kwasa Land affordable housing deal. 

The report said there are industry insiders who suspect that the bidding process for the mega project was not more than a window dressing. Meaning to say that the winner - Gagasan Nadi Cergas - may have already been decided even before the tender was called.

“The way it was done, if at all, suggests that the other bidders stood no chance,” said a person familiar with the process, who insisted that Kwasa may have not abided by the tender process required of subsidiaries of public institutions.

These are suggestions that the EPF out to address. The onus is on the Fund to reassure investors that the tender or selection process was transparent and above board. Guarantee that our investment in this project - EPF’s first foray into building affordable homes - will bring us maximum possible returns. We sorely  need it, especially after what we have gone through during the pandemic. (Remember, 32 per cent of EPF contributors have less than RM5k in their accounts, says Tengku Zafrul). 

As I see it, the trust issue resulted in the fact that little known Gagasan Nadi Cergas has Subahan Kamal, a big gun in Selangor (and national) political scene, on its team. It’s not a crime to put politicians on a company board, of course, but it is not encouraged. Ask the Securities Commission why: Don’t appoint politicians to company boards, says Security Commission.

The EPF and its subsidiary Kwasa Land are sitting on properties that are potentially valued at billions of ringgit, money that could make us the long-suffering EPF contributors smile in our dreams, at least. They need to conduct business professionally. Keep the politicians at bay.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

5G: How the Govt can avoid making stupid decisions and stupid mistakes

Ask us (the long-suffering consumers) what we want

Bangsar, Dec 9: It’s always good to review a decision, especially one involving something as colossal as the country’s 5G rollout, to make absolutely sure that we are doing the right thing. The investment involved is huge and the impact of 5G on all of us will be phenomenal. We can’t afford stupid mistakes. 

In this context, Communications & Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa’s latest remarks in Parliament (There is merit in reconsidering model for 5G rollout: Annuar) should be taken positively. 

My only concern is that he is making the statement at a time when everything seems to be in place and we Malaysians have gotten all excited to rock and roll with the rest of the world with 5G (Telekom Malaysia, for example, has just signed up for the national 5G trials!). 

I’m especially concerned that Annuar said the review decision came “after receiving feedback from telcos and industry players”. The first thing that came to my mind is this: If it took them so long to provide their feedback to the government, imagine how long it will take them to bring this 5G thingy to our homes, schools, factories, and lives? 

On the same note, I’d like to say this to YB Annuar. If a review is what we want, then don’t listen to just the telcos and industry players (who are they, by the way?). Don’t just listen to the people at the Digital National Berhad, even though the Government was the one that mandated them to implement all 5G projects with the telcos and industry players. And if you are not listening to your experts and professional regulators who make up the MCMC, then don’t listen to your civil servants who surely don’t know any better. 

And don’t just listen to the Opposition.

Listen more, instead, to the long-suffering telco consumers. Heck, listen ONLY to them if you want to listen at all. Get our feedback. Find out what we want and why we have been so unhappy all these years with our connection, reception, and whatever internet shit we’ve been paying for.

If Annuar and his colleagues in the Cabinet really have to do this, do it right. Protect the consumers and not the tycoons and cronies. Guarantee that when we get 5G, we don’t get conned again by some corporations that are concerned only with profit margins and bonuses for themselves and fat dividends for their shareholders. Only by listening to the people and prioritising their interest will the Government avoid making stupid decisions and stupid mistakes.

P.S. And here’s the thing: At the same time Annuar is talking about the review, Singapore is said to be keen in doing their own review of its 5G rollout approach. I was told that they actually think that our single whole network approach should be the way to go. Don’t take my word for it, ask them.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

HRDF is now a Corporation

KL, 2 Dec: 
M. Saravanan 
HRDF 28 years. 
Jamil Salleh, Chairman of HRD coordinating body for a new single-window portal
Industrial Revolution 4


Friday, November 05, 2021

MACC gave Tommy Thomas 681 names to be charged in the 1MDB case but only FOUR went to court. Why?

Updated 1234pm Nov 05 // Read also EdisiSiasat and Latifah Koyak: Moneypulasi

WHEN TOMMY THOMAS was the Attorney-General, new and smelling likes roses, and the Pakatan Harapan government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in power (and witch-hunting was hot in progress), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) offered 861 681 names of individuals and entities to be charged for alleged corruption, alleged money laundering and alleged other crimes related to dethroned PM Najib Razak’s 1MDB. Tommy Thomas decided, and it would have absolutely nothing to do with selective prosecution or political pressure, if you ask him, to charge only FOUR. No action was taken against 857 677 others that had been identified and investigated by our anti-graft body. The MACC chief then was Latifah Koya, a shrilled  voice of civil conscience until landing herself that powerful job, thanks to Dr Mahathir (and her souring ties with her own party president Anwar Ibrahim). Anyone remember her making a fuss about Tommy Thomas’ call? I don’t. 

So if it wasn’t politics or a desire to kick Najib while he was down, why did the AG Tommy Thomas decide NOT to charge all 861 681 individuals and entities on MACC’s list?

In his article in The Vibes today, lawyer Rajan Navaratnam offered possible reasons for what many have already concluded as selective prosecution on the part of the Attorney-General’s Chamber.


IN the past, there have been cases where the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) – on the recommendation of several law enforcement agencies – had withdrawn charges that were preferred against several individuals such as Datuk Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, and Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, involving alleged crimes of corruption and money laundering.

The AGC in exercising its discretion was criticised by several quarters – although in some cases, the court had only granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, which means the prosecution has the power to reinstate the said charges at a future date. 


Read lawyer Rajan Navaratnam’s thought-provoking (A timely consideration for deferred prosecution agreements).

Sunday, October 24, 2021

FIVE people will end up as billionaire cronies from our 5G sellout, the rest of us will pay, pay, pay

THEY SAY Anwar Ibrahim does not have that ‘killer instinct’. I think it’s true, sometimes. The Opposition leader was one of the first to raise questions about the RM11 billion 5G conundrum back in July but there was hardly any follow through. 

Not too late, though. During the Budget 2022 debate in Parliament, Anwar can still lead a campaign to voice out against this opaque, highly-suspicious and potentially disastrous scheme. We need to press PM Ismail Sabri to go back to the drawing board and review the nation’s 5G rollout.

Our 5G story so far: 

Instead of assigning 5G spectrum to multiple private mobile network operators (such as Celcom and Maxis), Malaysia’s previous government led by Muhyiddin Yassin decided to go with a SWN (single wholesale network) approach. According to GSMA Intelligence, only three networks in this whole wide world have been rolled out, with other markets beset by slow progress and delayed or cancelled launches. Kenya, Russia and South Africa abandoned SWN projects, while those that are live today have all experienced difficulties. (Read GSMA raises concerns over Malaysia’s 5G rollout).The rest of the world, in the meantime, decided it would be smarter to auction their 5G to their existing telcos. The Thais, for example, whom we think are not as smart as us, raised US$3.2 billion  from their auction exercises recently. The Canadian spectrum auction raised a whopping US$8.9 billion.  Singapore and the US are also expected to earn billions of dollars from selling their 5G spectrums via open tenders, not SWN.

The Muhyiddin Yassin administration saw 5G as a legitimate means to build a war chest (for the next general election). That’s the talk, anyway, and of course they will says it’s crap but then again, the facts are: the people pushing hard for the idea sat/sit on high-level economic advisory committees; the SPV created to oversee the SWN is Digital Nasional Berhad, which comes directly under the Minister of Finance, who was appointed by Muhyiddin (or, some says, by the King himself); Digital Nasional Berhad’s plan is to spend RM11 billion to get 5G to Cyberjaya, Putrajaya and KL by Christmas this year (and nationwide by 2024), whereas, f we were to auction the 5G spectrum to the existing players (Celcom, Maxis, etc), the Government could be earning (instead of spending) RM12 billion! 

If more talk (or more crap?) were to be believed, this 5G scheme will benefit FIVE people, who will end up with hundreds of millions in their bank accounts to last at least 5 generations. All five are already shameless cronies: a former banker who became a media baron; his good pal who used to lord over the 4th floor operations of a former prime minister; a royal pain; a former banker who came into the government via the back door and harbours /hopes to run in the next general election; and a former Prime Minister.

They must be stopped.

P.S. Former Cabinet Minister Mohd Shafie Afdal was also one of the early ones to raise the red flag on Muhyiddin-Tengku Zafrul’s 5G grand scheme. Instead of spending RM11 billion, Shafie said the Government could easily EARN RM12 billion from the 5G spectrum. Perhaps Anwar and Shafie should set aside their differences for once and work together and stop this 5G spectre. 

Tengku Zafrul, the MOF, tables the 2022 Budget this Friday.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Ah, Iskandar Mizal Mahmood!

involving the top brass of any GLC will get noticed. And when the appointment is timed just days before the tabling of the Budget, which is the 'moment of truth' for any incumbent Minister of Finance, as in the case of the appointment of Iskandar Mizal Mahmood as managing director of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, it will raise an eyebrow or two. 

On top of that, this is MAHB. You'd remember how the Minister of Finance was compelled to come out with a public assurance that Subang Airport, one of the 39 airports operated by MAHB (and, more importantly, one of the most lucrative), would not be given to a 'friendly' property developer to run? MOF Tengku Zafrul Aziz was unhappy with the previous MAHB MD, Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, for opposing the Subang Airport deal, or so legend had it. 

Of course, I didn't buy into such talk. I believe any MAHB chief in his right mind will NOT support such sellout. Nor would any decent MOF, for that matter.

The fact is, Shukrie's contract was up. He had done an excellent job under the circumstances, that is clear. The airports trade union pointed out that under Shukri, nobody had lost their jobs despite the pandemic. The entire MAHB board and management deserve our praise.

It would seem that Iskandar Mizal has his work cut out for him. He is coming on board at the tail-end of the pandemic (we wish) and just as the economy is picking up (we hope) and borders opening up (we pray). And he's got three decades of experience in so many fields, including as a mere manager at MAHB some 20 years earlier. Aviation is key to Malaysia's economic recovery. Feet on the ground, head in the clouds and I'm quite confident Iskandar will be up to the task. 

Read also: MAHB shares wishlist for Budget 2022

Friday, October 22, 2021

Against Nur Sajat's slurs, silence is NOT an option, JAIS

'SORRY, NO COMMENT': Jais mum on Nur Sajat's allegations. I find Jais' stand  to remain silent totally inappropriate. Nur Sajat, the millionaire publicity junkie and LGBT poster boy now happily exiled in Australia, made some damning accusations against the Selangor authorities in charge of Islamic affairs: Religious officials assaulted, groped me". Playing dumb in this case is dumb. Jais needs to clear its name. Lodge a police report against Nur Sajat and use all means to take her to court. And sue New York Times, too. At the very least, Jais ought to deny the allegations.

Unless, of course, Sajat didn't make up any of it and that the allegations are true. Are those allegations true, then?  

In 2017, I wrote about a court case involving Majilis Agama Islam Selangor and a consortium of banks led by Bank Muamalat. MAIS came down hard on this blog. It lodged a police report against me and went to all the media, including national television, to demand an apology from me while reserving their right to sue defamation. The following year, it was ordered by the High Court to pay the banks RM326.7 million but this was later reversed by the Appeals Court. This month, the Federal Court reaffirmed the decision in favour of MAIS. Read MAIS lega tuntutan hutang Bank Muamalat ditolak.   

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Pas de probleme over Timah


PAS DE PROBLEME is an informal expression that can be used to shrug off an apology or a potential problem. It is also the name of a "casual, affordable and highly drinkable" pinot noir sourced from vineyards in the Languedoc region, just minutes away from the Mediterranean Sea. Despite its name, this wine has absolutely nothing to do with PAS, Malaysia's political party that claims to be Islamic. Can't say the same about the on-going controversy over Timah, though. PAS lawmaker Idris Ahmad, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, has wasted no time to distil himself as the toast of PAS and the legions of the PAS-minded in this country. He's still at it: Minister fears provocative Timah whiskey aimed at normalising drinking among Muslims.

The probleme is PAS politicians are not the only ones proving to be holier than they really are. Amir Hafizi, the columnist with The Mole, sees it as politicians trying hard to out-stupid one another. In his latest article Storm in a Timah cup, he observes that "not a single one of these people were up in arms when there is a thing called Kacip Fatimah which I believe drags the name ‘Fatimah’ clearly into the lower trenches".

This (Kacip Fatimiah) is a herb that was often sold as a ‘sex tonic’ of sorts to women, the word ‘kacip’ implying the bestowing of a vice-like grip to the vagina or cervix or whatever it is that has muscles down there. Kacip Fatimah is the counterpart to the Tongkat Ali, with ‘tongkat’ implying the length and hardness of the man’s answer to the vagina. Ali and Fatimah hold significance for Muslims because Ali was the fourth rightly guided caliph and the cousin to Muhammad, while Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, was his wife.

I don't know what Amir's drinking but he is absolutely right!

Would any Muslim, upon seeing the word ‘Timah’ on the bottle, be instantly reminded of our relatives named Fatimah, like my grandmother? And be compelled to drink it, buoyed by thoughts of Middle-Eastern women – or young boys – serving some sort of halal fermented drinks?

PAS needs to sober up. You can only out-stupid morons and the Malay-Muslims aren't stupid. As it is, anyone working with this so-called Islamic party during the next general election won't be getting my vote. They don't deserve to be in government.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Passenger arrivals down 78% and you want to upgrade airports, for what?

Or, rather, for whom? Well, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong's response his predecessor Loke Siew Fook got me wondering. 

According to Wee, the number of passengers that arrived at Malaysian airports under MAHB had dropped to 26 million in 2020 from 109 million in 2019. But it still had to cough up RM140 million a month to maintain the 39 airports, even during the pandemic. The aviation sector is expected to recover fully only in 2025 (Airport upgrades, construction out on hold)

It's a timely response from the Minister to Anthony Loke's call to delist MAHB "so that all the nation's airports can be upgraded". He had argued that although the aviation industry is experiencing a decline due to low demand, there'll be an increase in demand post-pandemic. "Surely when this happens the needs for airports will increase; thus, we must plan for the future given that upgrading works at airports will take time." (Delist MAHB so that nation's airports can be upgraded: Loke). 

Interestingly, Loke also said that private companies are ready with initiatives to work on these airports. We know who some of these private companies are but it be nice if Wee could get from Loke the official full list so the ministry will know who to call, if you know what I mean.

So related: Why Loke's "delisting" proposal is a bad idea 

Monday, October 04, 2021

Why Loke's "delisting" proposal is a bad idea

I FIND YB Anthony Loke's suggestion to delist Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad on the pretext that "all the nation's airports can be upgraded" shallow. I might add it stinks of vested interest but I'd be careful to go there, of course. As a former Transport Minister, Loke would surely be aware that there's not much of an issue with 'upgrading' airports in the country. MAHB has been doing quite a decent job in that department for years before Loke joined the Cabinet in 2018. And then the pandemic hit us and everything slowed down. Even then, plans to upgrade KLIA are ongoing, even during Loke's tenure as Minister. MAHB has also done a good job managing several airports outside Malaysia.

The issue, as I see it, is unrelated parties wanting to take over the building and running of airports in the country. Tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary took over the airport in JB (and what happened to wanting Senai to compete with Changi?), Tony Fernandes fought to have his own airport in Labu, Negri Sembilan and, most recently, the government of Kedah wanted its own airport even thought Penang's Bayan Lepas is more than capable to serving the traffic up north. And, of course, the attempt to "upgrade" the Subang airport by a property giant, something Loke must be very familiar with.

Not all airports in the country are profitable. The MAHB operates and maintains all of them by having to keep that delicate balance between the need to make money and serve the interest of the population, including those in the rural areas. Something no private entity, which is concerned only with its bottomline, would be too excited to undertake, I'm sure. And there's the question of national security, too.

If Loke wants to pursue delisting of GLCs, start with our utilities. Tenaga Nasional, for example, has become way too profit-oriented (especially after the IPPs came into the picture), making electricity ridiculously expensive, which erodes our competitiveness and affects quality of life. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

RM2 bil to foreign consultants for 12MP report: Anwar, Tok Pa must clarify

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet - Ghandi

RIDICULOUS. That's how Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's claim - that the Government had spent RM2 billion on foreign consultants to help it draw up the 12th Malaysia Plan - sounded at first. 

But is it, really? We just witnessed a failed Prime Minister returned casually to the corridors of power as it nothing had happened, chaired the all-important National Recovery Council as if it was his birthright. That's insane and indecent but it happened, right in front of all of us. We saw an ongoing corruption case against a DAP stalwart and former Finance Minister withdrawn not too long ago and just yesterday an Umno strongman paid RM1.1 million in compounds that got money laundering charges against him dropped.

What's ridiculous is the way Tok Pa responded to Anwar's allegations h e r e. The fact that the Minister in PM's Department made no attempt at all to let us know how much exactly was the "minor cost" involved in preparing the 12MP report. And since he did not deny that foreign consultants were involved, how much (if it wasn't RM2 billion) did we taxpayers pay these consultants for their work?

Anwar, too, must start backing up his claim. Otherwise, it will be another case of crying wolf and that will be ridiculous. No, worse than ridiculous.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Women's rights: Look Rwanda for a change

KL, 27 Sept 2021: When talking about equal rights, try looking elsewhere other than the West next time. For the answers to the question may be found in 'backward' countries like Rwanda (where 61 per cent of this African country's parliamentarians are women), Cuba (53 per cent), Nicaragua (51 per cent), and Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (50 per cent). In developed Europe, none of the countries have ever reached 50 per cent. 

I read an article in The Vibes (h e r e) this morning about Iceland nearly becoming the first in Europe to have a women-majority Parliament. A miss is a good as a mile but congratulations to them, all the same. We Malaysians shouldn't talk: last year female reps in our Dewans was only 14.41 per cent. But if the likes of Zuraida Kamaruddin, the Ampang Member of Parliament, insist on talking, just know our place and the fact that we need to learn, not teach or guide others.

p..s  Btw, whatever happened to Zuraida's trip to Afghanistan to teach the Talibans about women's rigths, anyone? The latest article on Google is this 24 Aug piece by The Star: Zuraida to meet Afghan ambassador after offer to guide Taliban on women's rights 


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Azmin Ali to be DPM, according to Malaysiakini


The PM with his future deputy? Pic by Bernama

Bangsar, 24 Aug: This choker by Malaysiakini interrupted our lunch today:

Azmin poised to become DPM, according to Bersatu, Umno sources

Malaysiakini Team

Modified 1:14 pm

Gombak MP Azmin Ali is poised to become the country's next deputy prime minister, according to sources in Bersatu and Umno.

A Bersatu source, who is aligned to Azmin, told Malaysiakini there was a "strong likelihood" that the Gombak MP was going to become the deputy prime minister.

Three Umno sources, who are on the supreme council including two who are MP...

This is not the first time someone's betting on Azmin to be DPM. In April 2019, the former trusted aide of Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who later became Mahathir Mohamad's blue-eyed boy, was said to be in line for the No 2 job when Mahathir was PM7. Read the Malaysiakini report Azmin clueless about becoming DPM during Hari Raya celebration.  Well, we all know Azmin did not become DPM and that less than a year after that report, he helped mastermind the so-called Sheraton Move that swept aside Mahathir and led to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin becoming PM8. Azmin was made one of the four senior ministers under Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional government, with reports saying he even moved into the official DPM residence in Putrajaya (which was taken to strongly imply that he was the "chosen one"). In a twist of fate, though, Azmin was pipped by another senior minister, Ismail Sabri, to the DPM post. Ismail Sabri, with Azmin's support, is now PM9.  






Friday, August 20, 2021

Why Ismail Sabri may still be the shortest-lived PM in history

The 9th Prime Minister of Malaysia

Bangsar, 20 Aug: A top executive of the Parliament reminded me at lunch today that whoever the PM might be - Ismail Sabri or Anwar Ibrahim - he would have SIX MONTHS before he's got to dissolve Parliament and call for GE15. "Remember, that's the consensus," he said. 

Apparently, he was referring to the consensus alluded by Muhyiddin in a televised message just before he had to tender his resignation as PM (Malaysia PM seeks bipartisan support for vote on his leadership):

 "We have reached a consensus to consult with the leaders of parties outside (the ruling bloc) to approve the confidence motion," Muhyiddin said in a televised address.

"This will enable the current government to continue managing the pandemic until it is time for elections to be held."

The polls will be held by July 2022 depending on the state of the pandemic, he said.

Ismail Sabri is to be sworn in at Malaysia's 9th PM at 2.30pm tomorrow at Istana Negara. He will then need to seek a vote of confidence in Parliament to prove his legitimacy,

p.s. Muhyiddin was PM for 17 months, the shortest tenure for now

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Suddenly (but not surprisingly), it's 'semua BOLEH' as far as Muhyiddin the Caretaker PM is concerned

TTDI, 19 Aug: In a breathtaking U-turn, the caretaker government headed by just-ousted-PM Muhyiddin Yassin has given the OK to Malaysians and foreigners who live, hide, work or play in Phase 1 Covid-19 territories, such as Kuala Lumpur and Kelang, to dine-in and do other stuff they were barred from doing just days ago.


Dine-ins allowed for fully vaxxed in Phase 1 states from tomorrow

Some sports, night markets also get green light

Read the developing story HERE.

Ironically, the announcement came just after authorities had told us of another 225 deaths from the Covid-19 virus. Read Almost 23,000 cases today in new high

On August 8, when announcing his National Recovery Plan, the then-PM Muhyiddin had said dine-ins were allowed only in Phase 2 and 3 states. Which ruled out KL, Selangor, Kedah, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Melaka. Even for the other states, dining in restaurants and cafes must be regarded as "risky", he had contended, because "patrons are not able to wear masks while eating".

[If you ask me, I'm not clear if patrons in Phase 1 states are able to wear masks while eating. The CPM said the new relaxed ruling is effective at midnight tonight but I'm not sure if that means cafes and restaurants in Phase 1 states like Kuala Lumpur are now allowed to operate at midnight through to the wee hours of the morning.* (sarcasm)]

Muhyiddin resigned as PM on Aug 16 after weeks of stand-off with the Istana. 

But it looks like he is still very much the big boss. 

The sudden change in policy will be seen by some, of course, as an attempt to shore support for Muhyiddin's former deputy Ismail Sabri as the new PM.

Remember "Corruption on national television"?

Read also: Muhyiddin plays boss, says those facing criminal charges have no place in Cabinet if Ismail Sabri becomes PM 9

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

What's the worst case scenario post-Muhyiddin Yassin, you think?

Puchong, 18 Aug: I know - like, even - some of the former Ministers from Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's Cabinet.

Hishammuddin Hussein, for example, I consider an old friend, a motorcycling buddy with whom I've never ridden with. I've always liked Khairy Jamaluddin even if the feeling is not mutual: he's young and cocky but he was seen as working hard and trying to deliver the tasks given. I didn't like what Hamzah Zainuddin had become as Home Minister of the backdoor government but he had never not responded to my messages. Annuar Musa, if he had not breached the SOPs again and again, would have been my pick for Best Minister in the worst government we've ever had.

But if anyone of them were to be picked as Prime Minister to replace Muhyiddin, it would be same old, same old. Bad.

But it wouldn't be the worst case scenario.

The worst case scenario, in my mind, would be for Ismail Sabri, who was the outgoing Muhyiddin's last-minute choice to be his Deputy Prime Minister to 'buy' the support of Umno and save his own skin, is made our new PM. 

And for Azmin Ali to the new DPM. 

That would be totally unacceptable. 

And yet that's the deal the Umno 'Derhaka' (the title given affectionately by Najib Razak to the party's faction led by Ismail Sabri) is said to be making with Muhyiddin's Bersatu, it seems. 

If I were the King, I would want something better. This nation deserves better. The People have suffered enough. 

If it's Ismail Sabri -Azmin Ali, we might as well bring Muhyiddin back!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

From hero to zero: Not just about Muhyiddin but also the story of Malaysia under Muhyiddin

From hero to zero: Muhyiddin’s spectacular fall from grace

Read The Vibes' headlines this morning chronicling Muhyiddin Yassin's short-lived reign as Malaysia's eight Prime Minister:  After praise in 2015 for stance on 1MDB saga, Bersatu president languishing following 17-month PM stint

I'm not shedding a tear for Muhyiddin, though. Because the really sad news is this other hero-to-ZERO story of how the Malaysian economy has suffered due to the pandemic as well as the government's failure to handle it properly.

Hence, why picking the right PM comprising the right people in his/her Cabinet forming a new political landscape is crucial for our health as well as our wealth. 

Fitch slashes Malaysia growth to 0% for 2021

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 16): Fitch Solutions has revised Malaysia’s 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 0% from its earlier estimate of 4.9%. 

This comes as the second quarter 2021 (2Q21) GDP growth numbers were below its expectation, at 16.1% year-on-year (y-o-y) but a contraction of 2% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q). 

In a commentary today, the research unit of the Fitch Group noted that the daily Covid-19 cases in the country have not come down despite the nationwide lockdown. 

Fitch Solutions does not think Malaysia will achieve herd immunity before the end of 2021 despite the accelerating vaccine rollouts, thereby ruling out a potential economic surge at the later part of the year.

“All segments of the economy from an expenditure perspective except government consumption are likely to remain stagnant or even contract slightly from 2020 levels. 

“We note further downside risks to our forecast given the high level of political risk since the beginning of 2H21 (second half of 2021) and the risk that the outbreak could still worsen over the coming months, which could further affect the economy’s performance,” added the research outfit.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as the prime minister today, with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong consenting to the Bersatu president staying on as caretaker prime minister until his successor is appointed.

While the expenditure components of GDP posted positive growth on a y-o-y basis, as it was coming from the low base set in 2Q20, Fitch Solutions opined that private consumption had in fact contracted 11.5% q-o-q, compared to the five-year 2Q average q-o-q growth rate of 2.4% pre-pandemic.   

“This demonstrates the severe impact the third wave of infections has had on the key growth engine of the economy — private consumption accounts for around 70% of GDP,” it added. 

Fitch Solutions is taking the view that the nationwide lockdown will likely last for the remainder of the year while localised lockdowns could potentially drag on into 2022. 

This, it believes, will in turn impact private consumption and gross fixed capital formation (GFCF). It revised private consumption growth to a contraction of 2% from 3% growth previously while it forecast GFCF to grow at a mere 1.5% from 4% previously. 

Fitch Solutions also sees unemployment rising in 2H21 as it has already been increasing in the latest data available for June at 4.8% from 4.5% in May.

The gloomy view stems from the research outfit's opinion that it would be unlikely to achieve herd immunity before the year-end. 

It also sees the risk that the vaccination drive could see a slowdown after this, as what has been observed in other countries such as the US and Singapore. 

“Finally, the vaccination programme is being implemented by a mix of six vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik and CanSino Biologics, with only around 50% of doses ordered so far from Pfizer-BioNTech, raising risks around efficacy and the sustainability of any easing of lockdown measures later in the year,” it added.

Still, nine states in the country, which account for 37% of the country’s GDP, have moved into Phases 2 and 3 of the National Recovery Plan since July. There has also been relaxation in Phase 1 states where 11 economic sectors are now allowed to operate. 

Along with Fitch Solutions’ dim outlook of the country’s economic prospects, it has also reduced its net export forecast. It now forecasts exports to grow by 16.1% and imports by 18.4%. 

It reasoned that despite the Malaysian government opening up more industries, external demand will likely be more affected than previously expected given the severity of Covid-19 outbreaks happening in the region. 

Besides that, while Fitch Solutions does not rule out more spending by the government in 2H21, it does not expect it to be material given that the total government debt has already exceeded its self-imposed debt limit of 60% of GDP. 

“Even if, as we expect, the government raises the debt limit again, the contracting economy means that this limit will be calculated off a smaller base, reducing the fiscal space such a move would provide,” it said. - The Edge

Monday, August 16, 2021

If I Were The King

KL, 15 Aug: So I started this new weekly column for The Mole this morning, just before Muhyiddin Yasin sat down for his longest 30 minutes with the Yang DiPertuan Agong. Wanted to call the column Monday Blues but the editor probably misheard me and named it Monday Bru. Just as well, for I certainly didn't get the blues today ...

If I Were The King ...

MONDAY BRU  with Ahirudin Attan

August 15 2021

IF Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin sends in his resignation today, the Yang DiPertuan Agong will once again have the task of choosing a new Prime Minister from among the MPs. 

Yes, this won’t be the first time for this King. Neither will it be any less daunting.

One thing for sure, keen followers of Malaysian politics agree, Tuanku Al-Sultan Abdullah Alhaj would want to do things differently from March last year, when he made Muhyiddin the Prime Minister after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad suddenly resigned.

The whole country is wondering what the King would do. 

Well. If I were the King, I would make sure, first and foremost,  to remind everyone about the Rakyat’s mandate. 

In the historic 14th General Election of 2018, the people voted in Pakatan Harapan.  Dr Mahathir became PM with the promise of passing the baton on to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after two years or so.

That never happened. What happened, instead, was the so-called Sheraton Move where Muhyiddin, helped by Umno that had lost the GE, slipped in through the backdoor and became the eighth Prime Minister in March last year.

If I were the King, here is an opportunity to return to Pakatan Harapan the people’s mandate to govern for five years or until the 15th GE is called.

The leader of the Pakatan Harapan is Anwar Ibrahim. He is the Opposition leader and he commands the biggest single bloc in Parliament. He was the first to come to Agong’s defence when Muhyiddin and his Cabinet ministers stood in defiance against the Palace.

Together with the 15 Umno MPs who pulled out their support for Muhyiddin following the face-off with the Istana, the King can easily determine that Anwar commands the majority support of Parliament.

If I were the King, I will make sure Anwar …

1. Onboard Ku Li as Adviser or Mentor Minister in his new Government

2. Appoint a second Deputy PM from Sabah/Sarawak

3. Keep out MPs who are still facing charges in the court or who whose cases were mysteriously taken off by the Pakatan Harapan government after it came to power in 2018. 

4. Include DAP in the Cabinet (because MCA is dead and Anwar is the only Malay leader who commands genuine respect from these DAPsters) BUT prohibit them from going on a witch-hunt the way some DAP strongmen, placed by Dr Mahathir in powerful places within his Administration, had gone after their or their party’s enemies 

5. Make good your (Anwar’s) pledge to ditch politics of revenge

6. Get all existing Ministers, Deputy Ministers and GLC political appointees to resign so as to allow the Interim PM to retain the ones who have been performing and bring back the professionals to the GLCs

7. Give full support to the Undi 18 initiative. by bringing in young blood to the Cabinet or government institutions and GLCs. In this context, limit the age limit of the Cabinet to 80 (with the exception of the Mentor Minister)

… If I were the King.

But, before anyone gets unnecessarily excited, I am not the King and I will never be King. In the King, however, we put our trust. And in God, our prayers for this nation.

Read also: Shortest-serving PM: A timeline of the Muhyiddin Administration's fall

Sunday, August 15, 2021

King may consider interim government after Muhyiddin resigns tomorrow (Why none of the current Cabinet Ministers should be considered for the top post)

Now every clown thinks he can be Prime Minister 

Nazri signs SD supporting Ismail Sabri as PM, urges other Umno MPs to do likewise

KL, 15 Aug. - As I see it, there's no other way. If the Agong is really dead against making Anwar Ibrahim the Prime Minister after Muhyiddin Yasin steps down tomorrow, interim government is his only option. Promoting anyone from the current failed Cabinet to replace Muhyiddin is simply unthinkable, unacceptable.

Okay, why did I mention Anwar in the opening line of this posting? Because the mandate from the voters in 2018, when PH defeated BN in that historic general election, was to have made Anwar the PM after Mahathir Mohamad's two-year "interim" premiership. Well, that didn't happen as planned and we know why. The Sheraton Move happened and here we are in this sorry, sorry state with hundreds of people dying from Covid-19 everyday and hope flickering by the minute. 

But while he can morally claim to have the mandate, Anwar obviously doesn't have enough numbers. PN, by Muhyiddin's own reluctant admission, doesn't have the numbers (probably never had the numbers from the start). Nobody has the numbers. Ku Li's name has been bandied about only because he is "liked" by the Istana but he certainly does not have the numbers (heck, he did not even have enough within Umno to threaten Khairy Jamaluddin, let alone Zahid Hamidi, in the last party election!). 

Still, the King must choose an MP who, in his opinion, commands the majority legislative support to be the new PM. Tough, tough call. But in the King we place our trust and hope during this very trying times. 

Whatever happens in the coming few days, let's not the clowns think that just anyone can be Prime Minister of this country. And by anyone I mean especially those from the current crop of Cabinet Ministers who had stood with Muhyiddin in the past weeks in defiance against the Agong. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Wither Malaysia if Muhyiddin resigns?


"If I resign, my whole Government resigns." - PM Muhyiddin aka Mahiaddin Yasin, Friday the 13th

Kuala Lumpur, 14 Aug: Muhyiddin Yasin's script writers must have meant it to sound like a huge threat: if the PM resigns, his whole Cabinet will go with him and this nation will then be plunged into pitch darkness. Unfortunately (for Muhyiddin), most Malaysians, judging from the response we've seen in the media, see it as the light at the end of the tunnel. The answer to their prayers for better things. "Please resign ... and allow democracy to heal in Malaysia," says scientist Dr Noraishah Abd Aziz on twitter.  Muhyiddin's resignation will put an end to the unprecedented face-off between the PM and the Yang DiPertuan Agong. It would be "the noblest thing" Muhyiddin could do, says senjakala @YunusZolkefle in response to a question I posed on my latest tweet. 

With the exception of a few like Tony Pua, our learned netizens view the PM's address yesterday not suspicion but with contempt. They saw an attempt to stay in power, by hook or by crook. Within the Palace, there's a view that yesterday's address was a blatant attempt by a PM who had lost his majority to keep power by trying to bribe MPs to go against the King. 

Muhyiddin's detractors have been having a field day, thanks to his scrip t writers' gaffe. "Daylight bribery," screams TPJ, a former ADUN, on his Instagram. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says yesterday's speech was a confession that Muhyiddin's government has lost majority legislative support and is, therefore, obliged to resign. Former PM Najib Razak calls for calm, for the people to allow the King to do his thing when Muhyiddin goes to the Palace on Monday for an audience with him. 

And that's exactly what we should do. Stay calm because our prayers are about to be answered. And please, the Government won't just vanish if the Prime Minister resigns. That never happens. For the script writers to make Muhyiddin go on record to say that it would just shows how failed they all are.

Read: Muhyiddin to meet Agong on Monday - Malaysiakini///Anyone but you, Abah by Terence Fernandez

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

But, oh great deja vu, these two met!

It's best I keep my thoughts to myself, for now at least. 

KL, Aug 2: Malaysian political heavyweights Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim put aside long-running animosity and joined an opposition protest Monday against the shutdown of Parliament and demand the country's embattled premier resign.

The final day of a parliamentary session, due to take place Monday, has been canceled after the discovery of several COVID-19 cases in the legislature.

But rivals accused Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin of using COVID-19 as an excuse to dodge a no-confidence vote that could cause the collapse of his crisis-hit government. --- Read more HERE

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The King and Anwar Ibrahim, they did not meet BUT ...

Port Klang, Sat: It was clear that those supporting those in government who are desperately hanging on to power were the ones most affected by talk earlier today that Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was meeting the King. 

The reason was quite clear, too: they see Anwar as the biggest threat to Muhyiddin Yassin's throne. 

Personally, I think the YDP Agong should grant Anwar an audience to help him resolve the current crisis between the monarchy and the 'backdoor' government of Muhyiddin Yassin. Ideally, both Muhyiddin and Anwar should have an audience with the King. Muhyiddin has lost the confidence of the King and the people. Effect a peaceful transition of power.

Question is, though, does the King even want to grant Muhyiddin an audience after what has been done and said? 

p.s. Those greatly affected by talk of the Agong wanting to meet Anwar, or vice versa, should calm down, really. The Opposition leader, I was told by his confidantes, is less than keen to be dragged into what's clearly a power tussle between Bersatu and Umno, the two big components of the #failed Perikatan Nasional government. "Anwar would rather wait wait for the next general election for a fresh mandate from the people." Wise, I thought. Why should anyone want to inherit the terrible mess that Muhyiddin's PN government has created in the short time of its rule after hijacking Mahathir's equally miserable two years' in power in March 2020?

p.p.s The Agong is more likely to convene another special meeting of the Rulers' Conference before granting Muhyiddin, Anwar or anyone an audience to resolve the current crisis. Or so I was told.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Does a government that disrespects the Agong deserve the Rakyat's respect?

 The Yang DiPertuan Agong, who turns 62 tomorrow, is saddened...

Takiyuddin disrespected me: Agong -The Vibes. King disappointed Emergency Ordinances revoked without his consent - The Star. Agong dukacita, Dewan Rakyat kecoh desak PM letak jawatan - Getaran YDP Agong disappointed Emergency Ordinances revoked without consent - NST Agong turns 62 tomorrow. His gift to Malaysians - giving govt a royal bashing over so-called Emergency Ordinances revocation - Twentytwo13

The King is not just saddened, I think he's feeling betrayed. He was the one who picked Muhyiddin Yasin as Prime Minister after Dr Mahathir Mohamad had unexpectedly resigned early last year in the hope of being re-appointed again to lead a unity government. Everyone is  now saying what a mistake that was but to me the alternative - keeping Dr M as PM - would have been too much for Malaysia. After Muhyiddin became Prime Minister, he YDPA had bailed him out on at least THREE occasions.  Every time he did that, the Agong risked the wrath of the people and his brother Rulers but he bailed out the Prime Minister, anyway. 

The King deserves more from Muhyiddin. And I sure hope he doesn't decide to give the PM even more time to prove his worthiness to the Agong. Because that would be really too much for us down here.

Serba Dinamik vs KPMG: Losing the battle to win the war

Kuala Lumpur, 29 Jul: The last time I wrote about the Serba Dinamik-KPMG saga was exactly a month ago. In that posting, I quoted a notorious accountant whose identity is known only to me:

"I think it's time for corporations to fight back. For too long, they have abused their positions. Some have even held companies to ransom. Good time for the Big Four to burn."In Malaysia, a company claiming to be have been wronged by KPMG takes on one of the world's Big Four accounting firms - June 28).  

Troubled by my posting and (especially) the above quotes, a good buddy AA (not Azmin Ali, my good buddy is way smarter and better looking) dropped a note in our group chat. I promised to publish his comments on this blog but I wanted to let events on the KPMG-Serba Dinamik front unfold first.

True enough, a lot of shit has been hitting the fan since then.

So, a promise is a promise and here is what my good buddy AA has written to me:
Bro Rocky, I have been on both sides of the table (as auditor and as corporation's CFO/Director) and I can tell you that this is a dumbass response. Auditors have (to) do their work according to Auditing Standards just as judges have to rule according to the law regardless of whether it is good/bad law /standard. Serba Dinamik's chairman and CEO were very unprofessional in their press conference.
KPMG's work would have been sub-standard and shoplot like as claimed by the chairman had KPMG not verified the revenue. KPMG has grounds to sue Serba Dinamik for defamation.
Auditors are not in a position to hold any company to ransom. Nothing to gain from ensuring compliance by companies and they can be replaced (and so lose their fees). I argue with auditors but nonsense to accuse them of abusing their position. Auditors simply don't have much room for discretion with the kind of auditing and accounting standards (including stupid ones) we have today.
When AA wrote the above, Serba Dinamik was the only party taking KPMG to court [for alleged negligence and breach of duties - Serba Dinamik blames the external auditors the huge loss in its market cap, estimated at some RM5 billion at one point). The Malaysian Institute of Crorporate Governance viewed Serba Dinamik's legal action against one of the Big Four as unusual, regrettable - "a view that it believes will be shared by the regulators" - and perverse, even. Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia chairman Zarinah Anwar even hinted that the blame (for Serba Dinamik's limit-down) should be shouldered by the company's board of directors (Board should not 'side-step' issues raised by auditors). 

Today, the Malaysian Government is also a party that has started legal proceedings against KPMG and is demanding a whopping US$5.6 billion in damages.

Is the Securities Commission's AOB doing its job without fear or favour?
Are the guys at Minority Shareholders Watchdog Group  still sleeping?
Pak Pandir fund managers rule EPF?
Will Petronas drop KPMG now that the Malaysian Government is taking it to court?
Tony Pua throws KPMG under the bus, urging Putrajaya to exclude the auditing firm from any government tenders until the court matter has been resolved.

And all these before the ex-KPMG man, ex-Serba Dinamik director appeared in court for the criminal intimidation charges. Surely, there are no angels in this saga. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Zambry has gone quiet on Subang airport, all of a sudden. Is something brewing again?

Question mark also on who the MAHB Chairman really wants KLIA's lucrative but necessary aerotrain deal to go to

Puchong, Sunday: Since May, Zambry Abd Kadir has publicly said NO more than once to a proposal by WCT to take over the operations of Subang Airport from the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. Read here and here.

The Malaysian Reserve's report last week Tell us whether the Subang Airport deal is on or off - Both WCT and the Govt have been silent on the proposal, which technically is still on the table does make one wonder, though. 

We know that Zambry is under pressure from people at the top, including from within Muhyiddin's Cabinet, who are clearly supportive of the takeover by WCT, the company led by property tycoon Desmond Lim.

Is Zambry making - or has he made - a U-turn? 

Those close to him say never, he's too seasoned a politician to be bullied. But for the same reason the airport unions are having reservations. They are still waiting to have the first meeting with their Chairman over the matter.

In the meantime, does anyone know if MAHB has awarded the aerotrain project for the KLIA? Talk was that the last Board meeting had agreed to issue a Letter of Intent to Pestech International Bhd and its partner Bombardier for the design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning for contract. 

The MAHB has said the tender process for the aerotrain project has not been concluded. However, it was learnt that the original bank drafts deposited by the companies at the start of the aerotrain tender process have been returned to sender. 

Which means a decision has been made on who the project will be awarded to. Question is, why isn't Zambry making the announcement yet?

p.s Soon after the article on Subang Airport in TMR, my favourite business blogging DJ nuclearmanbursa sent out series of articles on why it doesn't make sense for the Government to allow WCT to take over lucrative Subang. The latest posting H E R E chides the Minority Shareholders Watchdog Group for going M.I.A.

Aren't  you supposed  to be the think-tank and resource centre for minority interest and corporate governance matters in Malaysia.

Please show yourself or will you only appear once the damage is done. 

Do tell us hypothetically, is it  good corporate governance from the eye of  minority  shareholders, if a third party is given a concession  to operate  the Subang Airport. Do take into account the following:

1.  From out of the blue a rival will be created  to compete  with  Malaysia Airports,. Compete for business as well as compete for investors attention  in the capital markets.

2. Overnight, Malaysia Airports,  which operates 39  airports in the country will lose 12.5 per cent of the profitable airports under its control.

Basically  there are less than 8  airports in the country  which are profitable, and Malaysia Airports uses part of this profit to manage  some 30 airports in the country which are losing  money.

3. Malaysia Airports will also lose some eight  routes that Subang Airport manages.   Some 30 airports in Malaysia  serve less than 8 routes.

4 . Considering that the Subang  Airport is and has the potential to earn non capital intensive income,  which analyst term as non aeronautical revenue.  READ; Airport International Council World says non-aeronautical revenues are the major sources of funds for airports to invest in infrastructure and service. Report states 39.9 per cent non-aeronautical revenue? What can minorities do to protect their interest?

5. Is  non aeronautical revenue, similar to RENT SEEKERS,  considering retail  concessions  make up the largest  source of non-aeronautical revenue for airports at 30.2 per cent. Car parking revenue and property revenue/rent are the second and third largest sources of non-aeronautical revenues at 20.1 per cent and 15.0 per cent respectively..

6. Let us  not go into possibilities  or probabilities  of thr  income that may or may not be realized once Subang Airport is given a face  lift . Let us only stick to the facts. 

Is it not factually, correct to state by taking Subang Airport away from Malaysia Airports,  effectively it will  lead to  Malaysia Airports  paying an EXTRA RM60 million a year to finance its debts?