Monday, February 26, 2007

Malaysia's Court Jesters

According to Wikipedia, a jester or fool is a specific type of clown mostly associated with the Middle Ages. Jesters typically wore brightly colored clothing in a motley pattern. Their hats, sometimes called the cap ’n bells, cockscomb were especially distinctive; made of cloth, they were floppy with three points (liliripes) each of which had a jingle bell at the end.

All royal courts in those days employed entertainers and most had professional fools of various types. Entertainment included music, juggling, clowning, and the telling of riddles. The tradition of Court Jesters came to an end in Britain when Charles I was overthrown in the Civil War in 1642.

Well, the tradition of Court Jesters continues, albeit a little more subtly in the Kingdom of Malaysia. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you a highly entertaining episode of Malaysia's clumsy Court Jesters!

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak

The controversial London High Performance Sports Complex which was originally slated to cost RM490 million was stillborn after facing unanimous public opposition earlier in 2006. However, the Deputy Prime Minister breathed life into the project once again with a RM69 million “refurbishment” to turn the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) in Brickendonbury into a training centre. The refurbishment will include building accommodation for athletes and upgrading the fields and equipment all to be ready by April 2007.

However, the balloon was quickly busted by R. Nadeswaran of The Sun, for the East Herts Council, under whose jurisdiction the Brickendonbury centre falls, expect that it will be at least couple of months before a planning application is even submitted.

So, who gave the deputy prime minister the false information on the progress of the plans to turn TARRC into a high-performance sports centre which would be fully operational by April? It is not the first time either that he had pie on his face. Najib must hence prove that he is not leading an incompetent, unprofessional and shambolic Cabinet Committee on Sports Development.

Minister of Transport, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy

First, the Minister had announced that a reward of RM150 for the best picture, RM100 for second best and RM50 for third best would be given each day in the 'Shoot, send and win' contest from Feb 9 to March 10 2007 organised by the Road Safety Department.

Within days, he cancelled the contest after spend tens of thousands promoting the event. Of course there was a possibility of abuse for profit by some quarters. Of course it encourages law-breakers when motorists use their camera phone to take pictures whilst driving. Did the Minister 'shoot' before he think?

Current & Former Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad & Datuk Azmi Khalid

The former Home Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid on Aug 25, 2005 announced the Home Ministry's "Lets Change and Win" lucky draws offer to get 12 million Malaysians to change their old identity cards. The prizes include motorcycles, TV sets, holiday packages, computers, camcorders and handphones, sponsored by six consortium companies.

The current Home Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said that the lucky draws offer is silly because it was irresponsible of Malaysians to want to be given something just to change their old identity card for MyKad. Therefore he cancelled it. What's more, apparently the top prize of a Perodua Myvi car has gone missing as well!

Now, what we'd really like to know is whether Datuk Seri Radzi really thought Datuk Azmi Khalid as well as the Cabinet who approved the lucky draw as “silly” or if it was because the lucky draw prizes promised didn't really exist in the first place!

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak (yes, again!)

The Deputy Prime Minister had on February 8th stated that an agreement “in-principle” had been reached with the Arsenal football club to train the national under-16 football team, which will be the first to use the “to-be-refurbished” London TARRC sports centre.

Unfortunately for the clueless Deputy Prime Minister, a little simple journalistic investigation by the Sun and the Weekend Mail totally dented his credibility. The Arsenal Football Club stated in its official statement that they “can confirm that the club does not know about the proposed arrangement and furthermore, [they] have no involvement in any such project.”

Led by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah “I can't remember” Badawi, it appears that instead of turning in improved performances by our Cabinet Ministers, as promised after the landslide 2004 elections, we have elected for ourselves, a bunch of leaders preoccupied with tripping over themselves to keep the rakyat amused and entertained.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lion Dance in Baju Melayu

Hey, I love the baju Melayu and I certainly enjoyed putting them on especially as part of dikir barat performances. But baju Melayu for Lion Dance performance? Now, that might be taking our multi-cultural identity a little too far.

However, that is exactly what our Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage have requested the lion dance performers for the National 2007 Chinese Open House to do. Understandably, the performers rejected any such suggestions, and the organisers backed down only after a "heated discussion".

What is worrying is that there appears to be a concerted effort to play down the Chinese culture during National Chinese New Year celebrations. In an open letter to Datuk Dr Rais Yatim, the Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, DAP's Secretary-General, Lim Guan Eng who is based in Melaka claimed that the "celebration is weird as this is definitely not how Chinese New Year is celebrated in Malaysia."

There are for example, "neither Chinese characters nor Chinese cultural performances such as lion dance listed as part of the official programme," as it such characters or performances are a taboo amongst the Malaysian community.

The only performance listed in the official programme were Tarian Joget Malaysia, a parade, the singing of ‘Budi Bahasa Budaya Kita’ song and a fireworks display.
"Are Chinese cultural performances not appropriate enough to be watched by our King? The Chinese community can see no reason why lion dances cannot be performed before the King as part of the official programme when this is Chinese New Year.

If Chinese cultural performances are deemed as unfit to be part of the official programme, then the government should stop such pretence of respecting the diverse cultures and races by correcting our tourism advertisements."
If the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage's official position is to remove the Chinese characteristics from the Malaysian Chinese culture, then clearly it is not a multi-cultural Malaysian identity which the Government is pursuing. Instead, we are looking towards an assimilated rojak culture.

Cheongsam for joget anyone?

It's the Economy, Stupid...

Well that's what Bill Clinton told George Bush (Sr) when he defeated the latter in the 1992 presidential elections in the United States. It is also true that the Malaysian electorates pretty much focuses on the bread and butter issues when deciding which party they decide to vote for. Hence it is unsurprising that the Pak Lah's administration has for the past 2 weeks launched a relentless campaign in the local printed media to let Malaysians know that the economy is in a better shape than ever.

As reported by Reuters, "the mainstream media, which generally cheers the administration, went to town last week with a slew of upbeat stories ranging from a record 2006 trade volume to rocketing share prices, a stronger ringgit and rising foreign reserves."
"Good times are back," blared one headline in the best-selling Star newspaper, summing up comments by Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

"The feel good factor is clear. Retailers are enjoying better business and restaurants are packed," the minister said.

"Economy now more resilient than ever," was the headline in the New Straits Times, a daily controlled by Abdullah's ruling party.

More such stories are on the cards, said one editor, who attended a government briefing recently.
The crux of Pak Lah's feel good campaign is the booming stock market, which is apparently close to matching it's 13 years high.
"I can see the momentum is already there. What is important is that we have the momentum now and it is moving forward ... and upwards. But we need to build on it so that we can develop our economy even further."

The Prime Minister also said that after hitting a 10-year high of 1,258.63 last week, the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index might breach the 1,350 mark - the highest in Malaysia’s history. He said it was up to Malaysians to “push hard” to achieve it.
So, are the good times really back? Are Malaysians enjoying significantly better wealth and prosperity?

Before I attempt to evaluate the above, let's get a few facts out of the way. Malaysia's economy is not in the doldrums, certainly unlike the years in which we have suffered from multiple crises and recessions. Based on official statistics, there is still fairly low unemployment levels and while inflation is rising, it is still within a moderate range.

However, does it justify the rosy spin which we are seeing today? Our 'dispute' with the Government has always been on the fact that we are clearly underachieving our potentials, especially when compared against our neighbours with poorer resources, fewer people and smaller land areas.

Having written thus far, I realise that I have plenty plenty to discuss which might be too long to all dumped into a single post. Hence, I'll be breaking up this topic into several posts, with the next one focusing on the stock market, particularly on it as a reflection of Malaysia's economy.

Here's a teaser, the stock market has boomed by more than 30% in the past 6 months or so. Question: Have your income or wages increased by the same proportion?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Lunar New Year!

For all the Chinese friends and readers out there, I wish you a healthy, contented and prosperous year of the fiery boar. For all other Malaysians, I hope you are all enjoying a safe and peaceful holiday, as well as enjoying food at the various open houses.

Well, it's all out in the open now. I've disposed of all my interests of the company I founded. I've tendered my resignation as the chief executive officer. I've fully retired from the corporate world. As I've mentioned at the start of the year, 2007 will be the year I will forever remember as a major transition in my life.

Malaysiakini carried a brief interview with me on my taking the plunge into Malaysian politics with the Democratic Action Party. Today, if you've got your copy of the Sunday Star, Joceline Tan did a piece on me. Wah, for the latter article, I really a little shy man (blush!)...

Li Tsin of Malaysiakini asked for my comments comparing me to (gasp!) Khairy...
I would be flattered to be compared with the PM's son-in-law and from what I read he is one of the most powerful persons in Malaysia and I would most certainly be flattered if I was compared side by side with him.

I am just a political rookie and I've not been in politics before (laughs). I think the fact that we graduated form the same institution shouldn't be relevant because what matters is the principle that we believe in and whether we use whatever we have learnt from school, whatever training we've received for the betterment of Malaysians in general.

That should be the yardstick that I would like to be measured in, not so much where I graduated.
While Joceline finds it difficult to see me as an opposition politician demonstrating at toll booths, getting handcuffed and sent to lock-ups.
"If one has to be taken to the lock-up, it should be for a worthwhile cause. You won't find me standing in front of an FRU truck, asking to be arrested. But if the cause is that of speaking the truth and if the authorities have to use harsh measures, I will have to face the consequences."
Its a new year, and I get a new start. Kicking it off on the first day of the Lunar New Year is certainly as good a time as any. I've been extremely blessed over the past 35 years. I can only assume that for at least the next 25 years, I hope to return the favour to society. I look forward to playing my little part to help build a better Malaysia.

Thank you for all the support shown here, via emails and sms. Really appreciate them. Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ali Baba Economy

Malaysia's New Economic Policy (NEP) fails the Malays and bumiputeras it sought to assist. And it fails all Malaysians who have a rightful stake in the wealth of the country.

Finally, the Government has come up with statistics which we have known for the past 2 decades or so. An overwhelming bulk of contracts granted under the NEP scheme to bumiputera contractors are subcontracted to other parties, particularly non-bumiputeras, “Ali Baba” style.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself admitted that an astounding average of 85.37 per cent of projects secured by Bumiputera contractors goes to the other communities.
...the prime minister said this not only foiled the government's desire to empower Bumiputera contractors but also, in a wider context, undermined the more important Bumiputera agenda to ensure the country achieved progress and stability in the long term.
What does the above statistics mean?

It means that the NEP has failed to improve the plight of the bumiputeras, particularly the poor bumiputeras in picking up competitive skills to improve their well-being in the longer term.

It means that the NEP only provides short term lucrative financial benefits to politically-connected bumiputeras, particularly UMNOputras and does nothing towards enhancing the skills and performance of bumiputeras in general.

It means that the country's precious government resources are not allocated efficiently due to non-competitive tenders and biddings. It allows the politically-connected to acquire contracts from the Government at much higher prices than the Government would have had to pay under competitive conditions.

It is clear that is the case, as otherwise, other contractors would not have willingly taken on the subcontracts at substantially lower prices, leaving the main contractors with lucrative “commissions” for doing very little. At the end of the day, the tax payers funds from every community – the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians are wastefully expended on the 'Ali Babas'.

It is high time to scrap the NEP which has clearly failed so many, and benefited so few of the population it was designed to assist, both bumiputeras and Malaysians.

We need ironically, a new economic policy which will focus on helping poor bumiputeras and poor Malaysians and helping them build wealth generating capabilities. The new plan should also serve as a foundation for national unity, not one of national segregation and disintegration which the current policy personifies.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Countdown II

It certainly has been a busy week. There was work in the office, a trip to Singapore and finally a ride back to hometown in Batu Pahat. Hence, once again, it has been quiet week for blogging both here and at Education in Malaysia.

I've written earlier that a month ago, I've disposed of all my interest in the company which I founded. Last Thursday, I've handed in my resignation as the Director and Chief Executive Officer effectively ending my 10-year association with the company. To a certain extent, I've achieved my ambition of financial retirement by the age of 35, albeit after a 5-year delay. ;)

It is my wish here that the new management of the company will take the company to greater heights. And it is certainly my hope that they will never have to face some of the toughest years I faced in the information technology (IT) industry both pre- and post-listing on the Singapore Exchange.

However, not all the toughest years were necessarily caused by the economic environment (although it certainly didn't help). In various bids to grow the company and expand it's scope and operations, there has certainly been various missteps along the way which exacerbated the difficult years. But such mistakes are always easy to identify on hindsight, and the experience could only have made us stronger, having survived them.

It is therefore important for the new management to ensure that the mistakes are not repeated. With a much more stable financial footing achieved in the past year, as well as precious lessons learnt from the past, I'm optimistic that the new team will be able to take the company to new heights, heights which I could only wish I have achieved during my tenure with the company. ;) I would certainly wish them all the best.

Looking forward, there's appears to be plenty that I'll be doing. To a certain extent, a little bit of me must have been hoping that I can now visit the golf courses on a daily basis. After all, I've hardly walked on one for the past year or so. My clubs and a fairly new pair of golf shoes have been lying idle for quite a while. But it appears that such dreams will continue to take the back seat for the moment.

The Descartes Education Counselling Centre (DECC) is one of the little personal projects which I'm starting post-'retirement'. I've blogged about it here, and I've received some very good responses to date – keep them coming. (I'll get back to all who have responded right after the Chinese New Year).

But as some of you have already known, it is not the only project I'm looking forward to, which will keep me busier than ever. I have been informed that Jocelin Tan (who did an interview with me) will be publishing this development in the Star tomorrow (Sunday 18th February). So remember to get your Chinese New Year copy! ;)

I'll blog more about it in due course ;) Thanks for reading.

Crime City II

I've written on Crime City earlier with first hand anecdotes of friends and associates who became victims of crime in the past year. It is my contention that when such reports are heard first hand at such a frequent basis, instead of being just second or third hand reports, it clearly indicates that crime in this country has reached precarious levels.

Over the past month, I believe that my contention is now vindicated. Trust me, I'd much rather be totally wrong on this, for it will mean that there are and will be much fewer victims of crime in this country.

Firstly, we have Datuk Albert Mah, 82, a former Penang Chief Police Officer (CPO) passed away due to head injuries inflicted by robbers in his residence at affluent Bukit Gasing, Petaling Jaya. Albert Mah was a top cop and gave 35 years of his distinguished life to serving the Malaysian Police Force. It cannot be of any greater irony that he lost his life to crime in his own home. The same police force which he served, has clearly failed their very own loyal servant.

To quote Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Sdr Lim Kit Siang, “the clear message of Mah’s tragic and senseless killing is that no one is safe in Malaysia anymore, whether in the streets, public places or the privacy of the home. If a former top crime buster and ex-CPO could killed so senselessly in the privacy of his home, who is safe in Malaysia?”

Secondly, in data just released last month, the statistics are frightfully damning.

The Royal Police Commission report had stated that violent crime grew from 16,919 cases in 1997 to 21,859 in 2004. That's an increase of 29.2% over the 8 years.

However, as recently announced, the past 2 years alone saw violent crime soaring by an unbelievable 93.7% from 21,859 cases in 2003 to 42,343 cases in 2006. The number of women raped increased from 4 to 6.7 victims daily from 2003 to 2006. And that is only the reported cases, as we are fully aware that rape cases are significantly under-reported in this country.

In Petaling Jaya (PJ) alone where Datuk Albert Mah suffered his premature demise, the crime index increased by more than 22% over the past year alone. That is higher than the national average increase of 15.7%, or 14.3% for Selangor. The ratio of 1 policeman for every 5,500 citizens in PJ is far too high compared to recommended international standards of 1 to 250 citizens.

Obviously there are clearly many things wrong with our policing system. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had promised us a safer country to live in since he took over the Prime Ministership. The Royal Malaysian Police Force had promised us an annual improvement of 5% in the crime index. Both parties are clearly failing the rakyat, and failing miserably. Unfortunately, we do not have Batman and Co. guarding our streets at night...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Zaid Ibrahim Marginalised - Errata

Here's a quick note for readers.

I wrote earlier in my post “Zaid Ibrahim Marginalised” that his legal firm, Zaid Ibrahim & Co (ZICO) was the legal counsel to the controversial RM4.1 billion submarine deal. I've since been made to understand that the information which I had was unfounded, hence I've deleted the statement from my earlier post.

At the same time, I should rightly take the opportunity to extend my apologies to ZICO for having made the reference. As the post was about Zaid Ibrahim and his relationship with his party, UMNO, there was certainly no malice intended to the legal practice.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

'Bad Boy' Samy

I'm not a bad boy, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, the Works Minister who is under the spotlight would like to tell you.
"Many people think I'm a bad boy as if I decide on the tolls, as if I put people in trouble, that I go for blood and all that. I'm a minister of the government and I implement the decision made by the Cabinet. It's not my decision to raise the toll or to reduce it," said the agitated minister.
So, maybe Datuk Seri Samy Vellu really isn't a bad boy, for surely Will Smith did a much better job at being one. In this case, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu is just a clueless, hapless hatchet man and spokesperson for the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government. Of course, the Works Ministry title is just a convenient facade to give the impression that he actually has executive powers.

But then, he went on to "lash out at certain quarters" who said they would buy up the toll companies if they were in his position. Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said that he the toll companies were taken over, "it would cost the government nearly RM500 billion".

Now, not only is Datuk Seri Samy Vellu clueless and hapless, he probably failed his Mathematics (badly) as well. If the overall construction cost of all the 5 highways affected by the unreasonable toll hikes added up to RM4.13 billion, how is it that the Government would need to pay some RM500 billion for the highways?

Is Datuk Seri Samy Vellu and the BN Government out of their minds? Or are we that stupid?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Editorial Note

I have written these notes earlier in my other blog. This is with regards to the policies over “commenting” on this blog.

As stated before, I'd more than welcome comments on this blog, fair-minded ones from fair-minded people, which are relevant to the post or issue which I have raised. And as many can testify, I am not so presumptuous as to think that I have a monopoly over the 'right' opinions. I certainly welcome civil disagreements, and even tolerate not so civil ones in the hope that such a discourse will make all of us more enlightened. And that is one of the key reasons why I've continued to allow anonymous commenting despite having been advised otherwise by many. I don't even 'moderate' the comments, and I hope I don't have to do so in the future.

However, it has always been a policy on my blogs that the owners have absolute right to delete irrelevant comments, which are clearly not related to the posts. Is this a form of censorship? Yes of course. But is it preventing free speech? Goodness no, the parties who would like to make such irrelevant posts are free to make such posts elsewhere in their own blogs or by writing to newspapers and magazines. The blogs I've set up are certainly privately owned, and the owners gets a reasonable right to determine what gets published. The blogs are certainly not public property.

Recently, it appears that as my profile gets a little more political, there are more people out there (or is it one, who does repeat posts?) who are keen on taking internet-protected anonymous potshots at me. That in itself isn't a problem. As readers can see, I leave plenty of “hate-mails” published within the site. They do make an interesting read ;)

However, when remarks are made, whether justified or otherwise, which relates to others such as the company which I formerly owned, or my family and friends, that is detrimental to their interests, then I will have no hesitation in deleting these comments. They, the company and its employees, as well as others, should not be made to suffer in any way at all, just because I have my political opinions and that I choose to blog. It's not personal, it's not political, it's just simple ethics. Go ahead and criticise me if you like, but leave parties which are or were personally associated with me out of it.

This is an important principle which I intend to uphold on this blog and I don't see a reason why I should be apologetic about it. I'm sure that the overwhelming majority of readers out there will not have an issue with it.

Happy blogging ;)


To quote the most recent issue of our leading financial weekly, The Edge newspaper, "What's the big secret?" The Government has classified the toll and other utilites concession agreements under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), which if contravened, will require a mandatory 1-year jail sentence.

The problem is, while 4 leaders of opposition parties are facing the threat of prosecution under the OSA at this point of time, many others who have made equally 'damning' disclosures are not investigated.
Information contained in water and toll concession agreements is often readily available to investors and bondholders... While bondholders do not necessarily view the actual concession agreements, all vital information contained in these is presented to them through those other documents.

These secondary documents tell investors in precies detail what and when toll rates or water tariffs will be raised and what sort of compensation concessionaires are liable for men the government fails to raise tariffs as provided in the concession agreements.

Hence, given that the concession companies have themselves made the information within the so called confidential agreements "publicly" available to the "investment class", why shouldn't we, the taxpayers be "accorded an equal right to such transparency and accountability"?

As an example, while it's not a widely available public information, the "investment class" would have known for a while now that Litrak, the conession-holder for the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) is cash-rich despite it's borrowings and requisite loan repayments. It has been highlighted that Litrak has so much cash, it's like to return them to its shareholders soon.
Over the next 2 years, [Litrak] may have the capacity to undertake further repayments as its free cash flows increases, says AmResearch. The research house estimates that Litrak's free cash flows will increase between 16% and 18% by FY2007-2008 from 9.3% in 2006.

Litrak's earnings are expected to increase significantly in its financial year ending March 31, 2008, on the back of higher toll roates. Given the higher toll receipts, AmResearch estimates that the company's earnings will grow 64.8% to RM136.2 million in FY2008.
Such sharp estimates could not have been made without access to OSA-classified information, or AmResearch must have been irresponsibly plucking assumptions from thin air.

Of course, the fact that, thanks to our benevolent government, the shareholders of Litrak will have more guaranteed bumper years, at the expense of the rakyat.

Footnote: For more examples of such disclosure of OSA-classified information, check out the post by Sdr Lim Kit Siang.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Hi guys. Apologies for being kinda silent at both my blogs for just about more than a week now. It's not that there isn't much to blog about, there's plenty. But it has been an extremely busy week or so, not helped by a little bit of writing fatigue (too much writing over the past two weeks, besides blogging), and the little girl catching a flu which resulted in pretty much sleepless nights.

Some of the stuff I've been hinting at has been set into irreversible motion over the past month. I can now tell you that last month, I've disposed of all the shares in the company which I personally founded. The company would be exactly 10 years old come this March.

When I started the company with just RM50,000 in capital, contributed by my own 2-years' life-savings (that can't be much), a little contribution from my parents, a little from an ex-client, an ex-colleague and my brother-in-law. That was March 1997, when everything information technology was extremly rosy in Kuala Lumpur. Little did I know, that within 3 months of starting operations, the Thai baht crashed, bring about practically some 2 and a half years growth via living hand-to-mouth (or something like that! ;)).

With a little luck, I managed to secure a intermediate venture capital funding of RM1 million at the end of 1999. We continued to grow significantly by taking on larger and more complex projects as e-business and general information technology spend increased.

Then at the end of 2000, in the middle of the insane dotcom boom, lady luck smiled on us again. A new boutique investment bank was set up in Singapore with an aggressive appetite for listing small-medium enterprises. I was introduced to them by an investment advisor friend, David Fong (thank you, David) when they were in town scouting for listing candidates.

I was asked to present my company and business the next day, and within 2 weeks, they said they could take my company public in Singapore. It was a little unbelievable then, as I really didn't think we were "ready" for it.

We aren't a big company then, but that was a little window period whereby Singapore was actually encouraging small entrepreneurial firms to raise capital from the markets. Today, even though we are substantially larger now (but we are still relatively speak, a small company ;)), listing in Singapore would have been impossible as their focus now is really on larger cap listings. Hence, I'm certainly thankful that I agreed to the listing offer then.

By August 2001, we got our company listed on the Singapore Exchange. We were the first Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) company to be listed in Singapore. And at 29 years old then, I was the youngest CEO of a listed company in Singapore. The overwhelming bulk of our operations continued to be in Kuala Lumpur, hence essentially we were tapping capital in Singapore to fund our business in Malaysia.

The timing couldn't have been any "better". Within two weeks of listing, it was September 11th, and the global markets tanked. Had I not been listed before that, I might not have listed at all for the listing exercise might have been aborted.

Despite having listed the company, it was no bed of roses. We faced the economic repercussions of the September 11 tragedy, followed by the pan-Asian SARS epidemic as well as the tech bust. Of course, it wasn't helped by the fact we made 1-2 "naive" acquisitions as well as defaulting payments from clients in the early 2000s. A Berjaya Group subsidiary owed us more than RM2 million and refused to pay up despite having successfully secured a court judgement (they wound themselves up).

All the while however, as many of our peer competitors dwindled, we held up and are now one of the leading players in the business. We believe we have clearly turned the corner in 2006, having consolidated the business in 2004/5 and the future definitely "appears" bright for the company in 2007. ;)

But now, I've sold my shares in the company. Could I have obtained more from such a sale had I waited for another year or two or more as the company rides the upturn? Yes, most likely so. But life really isn't just about making more money.

There comes a time when you've got to put your foot down and say that it's "enough". I'm not a serial entrepreneur, hence I've no intention of starting another corporate business. I'm a huge admirer of Tony Fernandes, but I have no interest in working as hard as he does. (Yes, I'm a lazy git ;))

Now there's just a few more loose ends to tie up. Will keep you guys updated, so watch this space! ;)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Silencing Cyberspace: The Final Frontier?

This forum is part of a event by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) to promote and protect the freedom of expression by the Malaysian civil society, particularly on the Internet.


Date: 6 February2007 (Tuesday)
Time: 7.30 pm
Venue: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

  • Mr Yeo Yang Poh, President of the Malaysian Bar Council
  • Mr Jeff Ooi, Pioneer Malaysian Blogger
  • Ms Sonia Randhawa, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Journalism
  • Mr Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader
  • Mr Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP
As of today, we have the Printing and Publications Act 1984which provides that it is a criminal offense to possess or use a printing press without a licence granted by the Home Affairs Minister. The Minister is given "absolute discretion" in the granting and revocation of licences, which is required to be renewed on a yearly basis.

We do not require such an Act to govern us in the cyberspace. The Bill of Guarantees of the Multimedia Super Corridor project assures us, Malaysians, and the world that there will be no censorship of the Internet.

Hence it is important to protect the civil society's rights to express fair-minded views, opinions and commentaries on the Internet through arguably Malaysia's only source of freedom of expression.

Instead of making veiled threats in the news media or through our legal system, which appears to be increasingly prevalent, to silence the cyberspace, we hope that our Government will play its part to promote responsible freedom of expression on the Internet.

See you there! ;)