Off to a Funeral


mas

(No matter what, Malaysia remains where my heart and soul lies at the end of the day. And nothing kicks starts the notion than flying on the national carrier whilst having hot delicious nasi lemak for company)

Somehow it was great to fly back on MAS – for a couple of things.

One, it was good to hear safety announcements in Bahasa Malaysia again. Two, they served nasi lemak for lunch which was a sure sign that we are heading back home. And one of the first things that I did once I am back home was to catch up on my sleep. I could not help it – I even doze off whilst I was having conversations. Having a weekend and then thereafter the CNY holidays was just perfect to catch up on a break.

So I thought…

I was made “aware” of a distinct relative who was admitted to hospital in a serious condition. And last weekend, the dreadful news came. The relative had passed away. Being a distinct relative, there was always an option for me to simply opt out from going for the funeral. Further, the funeral was taking place in Johore – a place that was considered “quite far away” to drive (although it was almost the same distance and time to drive up North). The one that nails the urge for not going is that the funeral was taking place on a Sunday (I was working on Monday)

But there was 3 reasons that was prompted me to attend this funeral. First, despite it being a funeral of a distinct relative but he was somehow linked with other relatives who are closer to me. And there will be questions raised in the next family gathering. I had some obligations to them. Second, my father in law who is staying up in Taiping is taking the bus (yes the bus – we did not know, otherwise we would have picked him up half way) all the way to Johore for the same funeral. If he can take the bus and travel for 8-9 hours, then what’s stopping us with cars half way through from attending the same funeral, right? And third, the deceased had the same (well, almost) age as me (and brother in laws). Somehow, that made me to decided to go for the funeral.

It was time for planning for the one day trip to South and it was similar to the trip to the East Coast but with a small difference. We going to use my car as I am going to do most of the driving. It was a good opportunity to test the new tires. And to ensure it is going to be a fast drive down South and back, we decided to leave the ladies & kids at home (we already anticipating massive traffic jam on the way back, so it is best to leave the ladies and the children at home). In the car, would be me and 2 of my brother in laws (one is the substitute driver and another is our navigator – he had been to the house once)

The plan was finalised on Saturday evening (it took some time on the phone with various parties to finalise who was going and who was staying). My brother in law would pick up his wife and his daughter and another of the brother in law in the morning and meet me at my house. He would leave his car and drop his wife & daughter at my house (my wife and my kids will be around to keep them company).

map

(The trip down South – frankly the time and distance was similar to the trip up North but somehow it was less tiring. Perhaps it was because it has been almost 15 years since I made the trip to South)

We suppose to leave from my house (since it is nearer to the South compared to our 2 houses) at 5 am. I woke up at 4 am and by 4.45 am was all ready for the trip. I had even double checked the car and parked it outside the porch so that my brother in law can park his car easily. I also set the GPS coordinates and locked in the destination. At 5 am, he was no where to be seen. He finally showed up at almost 5.30 am – it was still good as my deadline remained 6 am (assuming we have a 4 hours to drive). The three guys finally left at about 5.45 am.

The journey to Johore was rather a pleasant one and surprisingly is not tiring compared to the trip up North. I hardly fell asleep along the way despite waking up earlier than usual. My new tires, Michelin XM2 was holding well and was quiet all the way. I had checked the route before hand (thanks, Google Map) and had decided to only use the GPS once we had reached the exit of the highway. No speeding on the highway and I maintain to the left lanes whenever possible. We made 1 pit stop at Pagoh for breakfast (a sorry looking nasi lemak with un-reasonable price was waiting for us). Quick breakfast and we were back on the highway and there was still more than 100 km to go before we reach the deceased’s house. Traffic was still sparse and it remained a smooth drive. It took us less than 4 hours including pit stop.

Using GPS is a must when venturing into an unfamiliar place and it was the case here too when we reached the house without getting lost. An uncle of mine who was not using GPS, got lost 4 times in the same area before finally finding the house. Fearing that there will be a big crowd later, we parked the car on the main road, some distance from the house but where I can still see the car from the house. We noticed a large tent outside the house which affirmed that we are at the right place. No familiar faces at the tent in front of the house, so we walked into the house. The coffin was in the middle of the house, surrounded by grieving family members. We said our condolences and prayers and headed back to the tent outside the house. The smell of chemicals inside the house was overwhelming and I started to feel dizzy.

Sitting under the tent outside the house with my brother in law (my father in law joined us soon after – he was tired after an almost 9 hours of traveling by bus) and with a fresh breeze, my head started to get clearer. Not many people have arrived despite the scheduled time for the deceased body was suppose to be taken to the crematorium. It suppose to be at 10 am but soon 10.30 am and 11 am had passed and soon it was showing 11.30 am. I looked at my brother in law and he looked at me – we suppose to leave at 11.30 am if we are going to make it home early. My brother in law went and talked to one of the relatives on the “status” – apparently there were some delay and we have to wait at least another 2 hours for the final ceremony (it actually took longer than that). I don’t blame them – no one prepares for a funeral upfront.

Wait for another 2 hours?

Well, that was our cue to take a “walk” to our car and head back home. Since there was a funeral, there were no “good-byes” and “see you later”. We quietly walked to my car – good thing it was parked far away and near to the house, otherwise our “early” departure would have been very noticeable.

traffic

(When things slows down on the highway, just make sure the car has enough petrol and the bladder empty. It was good that the traffic was moving despite the heavy traffic)

We had to head back to the highway, so GPS came in handy again. But before we do that, a short pit stop for fuel and use of bathroom was necessary. As I drove out, I misjudged a junction and took the wrong road. Thankfully the GPS was quick to recompute the route and in fact came out with a route with less traffic (so we could “fly” towards the highway). Soon, we found the toll plaza but it was not the NS toll booth (we mistakenly thought it was the NS toll). It was actually the 2nd Link Expressway. There was no lane for cash but instead all need Touch N Go for access. The problem was I left my TNG card at home and my brother in law did not have one either. Cars started to pill up behind us and when I thought we had a big problem at hand, I remember I had the Tesco loyalty card in my wallet and that came with TNG feature. It even had enough credit for the toll. We were saved!!

It was not long before we reached the actual NS highway and initially the traffic flow was good. We managed to clock 110 km/h most of the route. But once reached Negri Sembilan, the traffic started to crawl. R&R was packed full with cars as well. We made our pit stop at Ayer Keroh for fuel and a very late lunch. We could not find a parking spot but at further up front, we managed to find a spot and had an excellent nasi lemak with a good portion of chicken. There was long queue at the petrol station as well. Then it was back to the crawl on the highway. We finally reached home almost at 8 pm and despite being stuck with traffic jam most of the way (no thanks to road works and a couple of broke down express buses).

Despite I drove to and fro such a distance, all in one day, surprisingly I was not feeling that tired or sleepy. And after the late evening shower, I was still feeling fresh to drive to restaurant near the house for dinner.

When On A Mission…


At the airport

(My favorite shot – taken when I am at departure gate, coming back home. It is also means mission completed successfully and I have 1 less thing to worry once I am back)

Hold on for a second whilst I l take a moment to dust off the dust from this blog.

Damn, is that been that long since we last met? My sincere apology to all those who drop by this blog to hear my usual rants. When one is in a mission, time is premium. We will only have “x” amount of hours in a day and there are times when I had gone to the bed without shower or changing clothes. To put it summarily, I love blogging very much but I love sleeping off my tiredness after a hard day at work even more. For now, I have no choice but to leave this blog to continue to collect dust but it does not mean it will be the end of my blogging – I assure you. At least for the next few months.

But before that…

I am still away on work assignment and sometimes it feels like I am in a war zone with me leading a small platoon of highly specialised soldiers on a mission deep in the enemy’s territory, eating our rations on the move and sleeping out on the dirt with our fingers firmly on the trigger of our automatic assault rifles. Ya, I can almost taste it in the air. And it was reality when I was in the middle east a few years with my morning pick up consisted of a four wheel drive and a solider with a fully loaded AK 47 for security. And homecoming after such “mission” is simply sweet – no moment is more memorable than seeing my kids and hugging them and then going off to sleep on my own bed.

And since I have not been at home so much this year (and last few months last year), I try to spent as much time as possible at home. The feeling to date has been very much rewarding. A trip to the beach is on my “must do” list and I know just the place to go – one with a view facing the sea and a good spicy nasi lemak in the morning for breakfast.

Oh did I mentioned that when I was about to go back to Malaysia the last time around, my car had problem – it refused to start bringing the bad memories when the car immobiliser had problems and I had to fork out almost RM900 for the repairs. This time it was less painful – the battery was dead and I only had to change the batteries. It was overdue anyway. Tires would be the next in the list – since I bought the car, I am still using the same tires although it has numerous hole patch works and it is getting noisier too. The superb Michelins again? You see, other than seeing my kids, the other thing that gives me the satisfaction is driving my car around. The last thing I need to have problems with the car, if you get my drift.

One new country ventured last year and I may be venturing into 2 new countries this year with an even more challenging assignments. If given the choice, I wish (should be able to) to keep the same “platoon” for the next mission. It has been a winning team for the past few missions. I thank them for being a very proactive team and one takes their work very serious and yet still have time to make good jokes at wee hours.

More missions abroad this year only means more sleepless nights and plenty of junk food and coffee. So I do expect my body and mind to take a considerable beating this year and since I am not getting any younger, I just hope that there will be some room for recovery from the madness. Perhaps it is high time for me to finally agree to my wife’s request to take her to spa with me joining her (damn, I could use a good massage to my knees and to my right feet).

On the country front, the petrol prices have been down but I have not been around long for me to enjoy them. And with GST set to start soon, I doubt things will get cheaper to buy and use – no thanks to the short sighted and dumb politicians at the control.

And speaking of politicians, if you had read the news, Anwar have been found guilty by the Federal Court today and will be spending 5 years behind bars. If you ask me, it is not necessarily be a bad thing for Pakatan. It is not the end of the story. To some who support the opposition, Anwar has been nothing more than a liability – his Kajang Move (one of the dumbest move to date) some how validated that point.

With Anwar out of the way, perhaps there will be greater improvement within PKR and thus Pakatan. It will be interesting to see how things forms up in the next general elections. At the end of the day, we just need a Government that dislikes corruption and wastage of taxpayers and do not practise double standards.

If it is related to the politicians and the ways they take the country and its people for a ride, we can talk about it all day long and one can still have plenty to talk about and this can go on and on. So let’s keep our cool and teach them a lesson they will never forget in the next general elections. The opposition have been at it in the last 2 general elections and they have been eating up the votes from the Government bit by bit.

Anyway coming back to blogging, I wish I could do better and whenever I started to type previously, funny thing happens – I dozed off and filled up the pages with invalid words. So, please bear with me for the time being. I have also been taking less photos when overseas – the Sony Xperia has a good camera but most of the time, I forget that it has one. In the meantime, please be free to roam around my previous posts. I will do up new ones when I am off the mission.

Will see you soon….

Starting The Year 2015


Wow, one can only plan but the outcome is determined by the Al-Mighty

I thought I would have time to blog when we “walked” into 2015 but unfortunately that has not been the case. I am back on overseas assignment and things have picked up. Time is shorter, expectations are higher and working hours had been getting longer. It is cold these days and it gets worse at night. We usually finish our job (or rather I should say we take a break from our job) well after midnight for past one week. So imagine how cold it gets when we are waiting for our taxis (bus service have ended by then). Sometimes we are lucky, the taxi is waiting at the taxi stand. Other times like yesterday (rather this morning), we had walked a bit far in the cold and managed to grab one.

2015 will be a challenging year for me, personally because of the expected 1-2 trips to overseas for projects (one would be to a new country). Which also means I am going to miss my kids even more. But what one can do when work calls and one does not have any other choice, right? Besides I love my job too – challenging, always testing your patience and forces me to come up with creative ideas and keep up with out of the box thinking.

As for this blog, well, I won’t say that blog posts would be more regular – just see how far apart this first blog of 2015 has been. Perhaps I would do shorter blog posts akin to “tweets”.

I don’t foresee the situation of the country will improve in 2015 – we still have dumb politicians hanging on to powers and 1MBD still waiting to blow up on taxpayers’ face (they have changed the CEO but I don’t think the young guy is going to change anything). If holiday going PM is sent off on his permanent holiday and a major sweep of the housekeeping is done on old, stone-age thinking politicians and the religious & racial radicals in this country, then perhaps the country has a chance.

In the meantime, please enjoy this from Man Bai (the song that I listen on daily basis now as it gets colder on the outside)

I will catch up with you soon and have a good weekend ahead

P.s. belated Happy New Year

Ending The Year 2014


najib golf

(Not everyone can be the PM – very, very hard at “work” overseas. Some had said that there is nothing wrong for a leader to take a break. Well, that is correct but not when the country is seeing one of the worst floods around. The big mamma still on holiday, its so seems – no one had seen her wading through the high water in downtown Kota Bahru. Image source)

Before I go further, my deepest condolences to the family and friends on those were abroad the Air Asia Flight QZ8501 – the 3rd tragedy in the year that involves a Malaysian linked airline. I don’t know why Malaysians had to face this – not once or twice but three times in the same year. MH370 is still missing and MH17 just had to be at the wrong place, wrong time and QZ8501 must have met mother of all storms. One just hope that there will be some kind of closure in 2015.

Heartfelt prayers also goes to the flood victims in the East Coast (and also in the West Coast now) that saw one of the worst flooding since 1971. Prepping is no longer a joke – with such flooding is due to be a yearly affair, we need to look at prepping in a wider scope. Management of the rivers and coastal areas would be critical aspect of prepping from the Government. Citizens on the other hand should look into making their homes to be flood-proof or have an alternative place to stay and of course with proper stockpile of food and water. Stories piling up on instances of people running out of food and water and the situation looks hopelessly lost. Nonetheless it is a grave reminder of things to come. The more we put off prepping for such instances in the coming years, the more painful it is going to be. It is a reminder to me too as I have been focusing less on prepping in 2014.

My own 3 weeks break came and went without a blink and I will be soon be traveling again on work assignment. My flight back to Malaysia was scheduled to take off at about 8 plus in the morning and knowing that I need to be in the airport at least 2 hours before boarding and it is about 1 hour plus from the apartment to the airport, I booked a taxi to fetch me from the apartment at about 4 in the morning (that taxi driver came and waited for me since 3.30 am!). With the taxi booked and all luggage packed for the trip back home by 9 pm, I contemplated of taking a short nap. The night was still early and I was sure that I could woke up at 3 am. Just when I was to jump on the bed, I had a dreadful vision – the alarm ringing but I casually switching it off and going to bed, only to wake up at 10 am in the morning. I did not want to miss my flight, so I made a big pot of coffee and watched movie on TV. Good thing I was not feeling that sleepy and hours went off fast. A good shower in the wee morning ensure I was awake as I took the luggage down to the awaiting taxi.

I must have dozed off in the taxi – there was a bump and when I opened my eyes, we were just arriving at the airport. Another long wait for the airport for the check-in and breakfast but at least I was at the airport.

wolf

(Although I was disappointed on missing some of the titles that I saw in the previous year, this should be enough to last me until the next Big Bad Wolf Book sale)

When I came back home, instead of the usual nap I often take whenever I come back from overseas, I had to go off and do some work for the house (haircut however came first before anything else). My kids were excited to see me back, so they hardly allowed me to catch up on my sleep. Then at night, we went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sales and I spent almost RM300 on books (this time around, my choice of books was less compared to the stack that my son had). It was however worth the trip – RM300 bought us almost 3 boxes of new books.

We came back late and decided against driving off to north in the morning (you see, I had promised my son to take him to the water park in Ipoh for the holidays). We decided to go after lunch which was not so bad as the traffic by then was fine and we did not have to slow down in many areas. The only “funny” thing that happened was my car door automatically unlocks itself and locks again when I press the brakes. By the time, we reached the in-laws house to stay for the holidays, it was already evening and my relatives were coming back from work. We stayed up late again, chit-chatting and watching movie. I was already feeling like zombie when I finally went to the bed (I was given a room of my own) but had a very disruptive sleep because I had to wake up a few times at night going to the bathroom (had too much to drink).

In the morning, the weather was great but I had something to do first – go and fix my car central locking. Still remember when it unlocks and locks itself when I was driving? It became worse – I found the car unlock when I went to check on it in the morning. That means if I lock up the car, a few minutes later, it will unlock itself and that is all that was needed for a car jacker to have an easy access to my car. I called the service centre and good thing was they had few cars on service schedule in the morning. The mechanic “managed” to fix it within 30 minutes – loose wiring they said. Happily I took the car out and barely 100 meters from the service centre, the problem started again. I drove back and this time, the mechanic followed me in the car. It was apparent then, that he had not fixed the problem. He took it back to check and this time, it took him almost 2 hours (including replacing the whole central locking mechanism) to get it right. Almost half day had gone by then. I went back and seeing that it was too late to go to water park, I decided on something that I have been holding back for past few days – catching up on my sleep.

rain

(I think this is Kuala Kangsar after our lunch in Chemor – we made a pit stop here because there is a famous bakery here where we wanted to buy bread. Situation was not ideal to bring the kids out for the fun day at the water park)

The next day, when we suppose to go to the water park, it started to rain cats and dogs. The situation looked gloomy. Even my son did not want to go out as the weather was very bad. My father in law however decided that we go for a lunch at one place he knows in Chemor (very near to the water park that we wanted to go). It was raining when we left the house, it was raining when we were on the highway and it was getting even worse when we drove into Chemor town. After parking the car at the back of the a small restaurant (it looked quite old as well) and struggling with the umbrella in the heavy downpour, we managed to get the 2 car load of people in front of the restaurant. We walked in and the atmosphere immediately changed. Inside was very modern and roomier. Lunch was extraordinary with my son ordering spicy crab curry and a good load of crabs to go with it. It was still raining when we left the restaurant and decided to take the old road instead of the highway and drive through the places where my grandmother used to live.

The so-called break from work at my in-laws place ended up with a bang (literally). We head back home on a working day, hoping that the highway would be free (and it was indeed) and the ride would be more pleasant. Nearing KL, things started to slow as we caught with the on-going road works with 2 of the 3 lanes closed. The traffic started to move slower and at some places, it was almost bumper to bumper. It was just after lunch time too and things was getting were warm in the car (despite the air-cond high). That coupled with the crawling traffic started to show its ugly side – I was falling asleep.

Often there was enough space in between for me to recover and stop the car but this time, there was none. Just when I thought of stopping at the next R&R, I must have dozed off as the next thing I realised is that I have bumped into the car in front. For moment, I was blur on what had happened. The driver came out and started looking at his bumper. Fearing the worst, I came out from the car, expecting to confront an angry driver but instead the man looked at me and said that there was no damaged and extended his hands. I shook his hand, said sorry and went back to my car. Rest assured, I stayed wide awake the rest of the journey but I still stopped at the next R&R for a break (and also to check if there is any other hidden damage). Imagine if I had dozed off when the traffic was fast (and me traveling at 110 km/h) and rear-ended a truck instead. I must have done some good karma to walk away from this with nothing more than a word of “sorry” and an handshake.

2014 had not been a very good year but it has not been a very bad one too. I had good times catching up with my primary school mates – some not met for almost 30 plus years recently. Blogging had taken a very back seat this year with me hardly having the time (but not ideas – thanks to travels and good old Malaysian politicians) to blog. I traveled to a new country this year, met good friends there, enjoyed the food & culture and hope to go to another in 2015. Work compounded this year compared in 2013 but that was expected – when one moves up in the organization structure, there will be more responsibilities, tasks and plans.

Happy New Year everyone and I will see you next year!

Land of Dumb & Dumber


dumb

(Never mind the movie, it seems like there are way too many of dumb people in this country. Image source: The Net)

It was rather “funny” to hear the old man to say this:-

“Malaysians are stupid. They don’t know how to manage aviation,” Dr Mahathir was quoted by news portal Malaysiakini as saying in comments over Christoph Mueller’s appointment as chief executive officer-designate of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS NewCo).

Those responsible for the losses of the ailing national carrier were now trying to make things right, he said.

(Source)

Does that mean we are smarter in all other areas? If you think we do, you still have a long way to go.

Now read this – it’s a long read but enough to make any true blue Malaysian’s blood boil with rage:-

In 2008, a boisterous young man by the name of Jho Low Taek, a Penang-born Wharton grad with a taste for Cristal champagne and Broadway blondes, approached Malaysia’s Terengganu state government with a proposal to use the state’s authority to sell RM10 billion (US$2.87 billion) in bonds to start a state-backed investment fund.

That proposal has led to what Tony Pua, a Democratic Action Party lawmaker, has called “the mother of the mother of the mother of all scandals in the history of Malaysia.”

That might be one mother too many, but Pua is not alone, with critics of what is now called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, coming from outside the opposition as well. It is certain that the proposed Terengganu Investment Authority has metastasized into a mess that can properly be called huge and has put Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s tattered reputation on the line yet again. Much of the story has been detailed in two Malaysian publications, The Edge and the online news portal Malaysiakini’s business unit, Kinibiz.

Najib, the head of the 1MDB advisory board, has faced a barrage of questions from opposition lawmakers in Parliament for weeks and an attack on his own flank from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his allies, including former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, over what can only be regarded as an astonishing level of mismanagement.

The question was why Malaysia needed another government-backed investment fund in the first place, especially one dreamed up by a young friend of the PM’s family. It has Khazanah Nasional Bhd., the 23-year-old investment holding arm that manages Malaysia’s assets and makes strategic investments, and the Employee Provident Fund, which also invests employee pension funds. Both are creatures of the Ministry of Finance.

The Terengganu Sultan, Mizan Zainal Abidin, had misgivings over the plan by Jho Low, as he calls himself, so the 27-year-old Low went to the parents of a friend he had made among Malaysia’s privileged elite in the UK. While anti-colonial rhetoric still spews at home, Malaysia’s wealthy have always known where to send their scions. Jho Low was at the exclusive 450-year-old Harrow, with his friend Riza Aziz at nearby 150-year-old Haileybury, which trained English youth for service in India. Riza’s mother is Rosmah Mansor, Najib’s second wife.

Thus the proposed Terengganu Investment Authority metamorphosed into 1Malaysia Development Bhd., also under the Ministry of Finance. Today 1MDB has accumulated debt of RM36.25 billion (US$10.4 billion) that is only covered by repeated accounting upgrading of the value of property handed to it at a knock-down price by the government to get it started – a 196-hectare former air force base near the center of Kuala Lumpur.

In recent months, the government, in an attempt to build up the fund so it can be listed, has strong-armed at least three no-bid contracts for 1MDB to build coal-fired and solar power plants. One of those power plants, in Port Dickson near Malacca, was awarded to 1MDB despite a lower bid from a joint venture of YTL International Bhd and SIPP, partly owned by the Sultan of Johor, who is said to have been enraged by the loss and is demanding privately that SIPP be given its own no-bid contract for another plant.

Although its dealings are opaque, sources in Kuala Lumpur believe it was Jho Low, previously regarded as a savvy investor despite his tender years, who drove 1MDB into disaster. Although the chairman of the Board of Directors is Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, who holds the high-ranking honorific of tan sri, he is regarded as a figurehead and many of 1MDB’s major decisions have Low’s fingerprints on them

Low, who has accompanied Rosmah on forays to New York to meet celebrities including Lionel Ritchie and Paris Hilton, landing in the pages of the New York Post, involved 1MDB in backing his failed 2011 bid to buy three prestigious London hotels – Claridge’s, the Connaught and The Berkeley, according to documents filed in the Chancery Division of the UK’s Royal Courts of Justice.

A Los Angeles law firm accused the government of Malaysia, without mentioning 1MDB, of racketeering in funding the phenomenally successful movie The Wolf of Wall Street, an Oscar-nominated picture starring Leonardo DeCaprio and co-produced by Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son. How that might have been done is unclear. The lawyers for a Los Angeles plaintiff who sued over the rights to the movie refused to elaborate, citing lawyer-client privilege. But in the case of the Claridge’s campaign, 1MDB issued guarantee letters saying the fund would stand behind the purchase. Presumably that meant Malaysia’s sovereign fund would cover any losses accrued if the sale failed.

The fund loaned RM7.2 billion to finance oil exploration for another chum out of that rarefied London ex-colonial society – Tarek Essam Ahmad Obaid, a London playboy said to be a grandson of the Saudi Sheikh Obaid, one of the kingdom’s most senior grandees. Tarek met Jho Low a few months before the deal for the loan was consummated, according to Clare Rewcastle Brown, a former BBC reporter who has followed the 1MDB affair closely. Tarek is the founder and chief executive of PetroSaudi International, Ltd. Despite its pretentious website there is little information on PetroSaudi, which was only incorporated three years before the entry of 1MDB. The money, to be loaned at 8.75 percent, has disappeared.

What 1MDB has not done is make enough money to cover its huge debt, although determining anything is difficult because no up-to-date accounts have been filed.

“I was the finance head for oil companies before I entered politics,” Rafizi Ramli, strategic director and secretary-general of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat, told Asia Sentinel. “Nobody I knew had ever come across PetroSaudi before. We tried to check what it was. It was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. While it is normal for financial investors to enter into ventures, how could a government commit such a huge sum of money with a greenhorn company with no known track record, incorporated in a haven for dodgy money, in an industry where capital risk is so huge?”

When the bid to explore for oil collapsed, the money appears to have been invested in speculative yen forex deals, insiders told Rafizi. Forex trading is not for amateurs. By early 2012, it began to appear that the money had altogether disappeared, according to Tony Pua. 1MDB was having trouble filing its financial reports, a signal that something was wrong. When 1MDB said the funds had been moved into a fund in the Cayman Islands, its managers refused to say who was managing the money.

Today, Pua said, the entire operation appears to be built on debt, although with audited financial reports delayed it is impossible to say for sure. Its managers are seeking to cover the losses through additional borrowings and money raisings, including a US$4.75 billion one engineered by Goldman Sachs, the international investment bank, that cost 1MDB 10 percent of the offering, a phenomenal amount for “commissions, fees and expenses” according to the prospectus. By comparison, Tenaga Nasional, the state-owned energy utility, paid a 2 percent fee on a US$300 million money raising. SMBC Aviation Capital, which leases jets to Malaysian Airlines, paid 0.5 percent on a US$1 billion capital raising. The fees paid to Goldman worked out at US$1.54 billion, Pua said.

The fund today is betting its future on becoming the country’s biggest power producer and a global energy player. It acquired a string of overpriced independent power producers from the Genting gambling interests and Ananda Khrishnan, the country’s richest businessman and an UMNO crony, for RM11 billion to generate cash flow, at what were astounding valuations. Indeed, within six months, the fund’s auditors wrote off RM1.2 billion of the valuation because they were so overpriced.

“Because they were desperate to borrow to cover the acquisitions, they had to pay higher interest rates,” Pua said. “And because they were desperate, they paid Goldman crazy fees to arrange the loans.”

On top of the enormous interest burden from the debt, it turns out that the cash flow from the IPPs is so small that it was barely enough to cover the interest, let alone pay back the RM15 billion principal.

With the hole from the initial failed loan to PetroSaudi, and the vast debt from the IPP purchases, 1MDB is now trying to list to raise US$10 billion from the market. But in order to write a credible prospectus for the listing, it requires strong financials. 1MDB’s financials do not come anywhere near credible enough to assure potential investors of future cash flow.

The government has stepped in to extend the contracts for the IPPs, which were supposed to end after their contract periods ended. That is still not enough. The government then tendered a contract to build the coal-fired plant in Port Dickson. Critics charge the contract was unnecessary, that Tenaga Nasional, the state-owned utility, had the experience and capital to build the plant itself. The tender turned out to be a fiasco, with the YTL-SIPP consortium coming in with a lower bid, only to be disqualified on what many critics have said was a technicality.

Since then, the government has awarded three contracts to 1MDB, the other two without the potential embarrassment of a tender process. But critics point out that 1MDB has never built anything and is mainly relying on the expertise of Tenaga Nasional. The bid for a 50 megawatt solar power plant project in Kedah in the north of the country is to be the largest solar plant in Malaysia despite the fact there is no guaranteed offtake, that prices for solar, even though they have fallen sharply, still exceed that of conventional plants, and that Malaysians are going to end up paying more for their electricity.

All of these moves are an attempt to rescue 1MDB and give it the potential to demonstrate income to investors. So on the advice of a 27-year-old neophyte and friend of the prime minister’s family, the country has created a state-backed investment fund, got itself involved in a series of businesses it knew nothing about, put the country’s sovereign backing behind a private hotel bid and a Hollywood movie, run up a vast amount of debt, and now is seeking to bail itself out via preferential contracts to build electrical plants with expertise so far it doesn’t have. The critics expect that this is going to cost Malaysia’s taxpayers and ratepayers a considerable amount of money.

(Source)

When we first heard that 1MDB had “parked” RM7 billion of our money in the Cayman Islands, that made many of us to question the reasons why a Government linked company have to invest in dubious ways. And when reports of losses started to trickle in, it seemed like our fears came true.

And now, it seemed that it has only gone downhill. So it is a wonder why major investigations have not been launched into 1MDB’s affairs and if mismanagement, scams and gross negligence  indeed exist, why we are not going after these guys and revoking their passport and bring them down to be answerable for their dubious ways of doing business and for the huge losses?

Instead we foolishly spending considerable time, money and resources to go after this joker:-

Alvin-Tan-featured

(The country’s no 1 enemy, so according to some stupid in this country. Image source: Cilisos)

Now you see why Dr M is calling Malaysians stupid?

Direction of a Nation 2


transforming-science-education_5162ed81afb47_w1500

(Here’s why we should go that extra mile to ensure science, technology and mathematics forms the bedrock of a nation instead of religion. Infographic source: http://visual.ly/transforming-science-education)

The week started on a rather sour note:-

Lebuhraya Mahameru will have its name changed to Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar. The installation of new signboards is expected to begin today.

THE decision by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to rename eight major roads has not gone down well with city folk.

In a statement by DBKL, well-known roads such as Jalan Duta, Jalan Ipoh and Lebuhraya Mahameru will be changed to reflect the names of past Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The installation of new signboards is expected to begin today.

As the news broke early yesterday morning, city folk took to social media to vent their disbelief and frustration

(Source)

Didn’t I say that in this country, we are looking at far too trivial matters when there are far more important matters that we need to be concerned off?

For start, I still do not understand what is the benefit of changing these well-known and often used road names to past Kings’ names. If it is to promote the good name and respect for the monarchy, this is not the way to do it. Besides if the reason for changing the road names is indeed due to the respect for our Kings and not because someone had an itch somewhere on his body, what had happened to change the names rather urgently? Nothing at all. Further, there will always be a good opportunity to name something “new” with the Agong’s name – new roads, new buildings, new bridges, new submarines & ships, etc. Why go ahead and fix something that is not broken?

It is obvious that it was done without any much thought to the inconvenience and waste of time and money that the ordinary citizen will incur with these “clumsy” decisions. For start, the taxpayers is going to be burdened with additional cost of changing the sign boards and road users is going to be burdened with re-remembering the new names (and updating their GPS data mapping).

It is something that others are also asking:-

To further understand the reasons, I queried him: if that is the case then why are we changing street names that have already been changed – re: Jalan Duta which formerly known as Guillemard Road? What about the historical value of these streets? Was there any meeting with heritage agencies or bodies prior? Was there a public discussion that the public missed out?

How much cost incurred to change these signages? Ismail answered that the cost is between RM3,000 and RM5,000 per signage. In total, he would not how many signages to be changed. He can’t even estimate – it is just too technical for him.

(Source)

Ok never mind this decision by the authorities for now although I am going to miss names like “Jalan Duta” and “Lebuhraya Mahameru”. It has not been the first time we have watched a “do first, think later” in motion in this country. We had bigger circus in town that dwarfed this decision.

Ah yes, I am talking about the UMNO general assembly. As usual and nothing surprising, from the past years’ general assemblies, there was plenty of talks of survival & desperate fight for the community (somehow for a few days in a year, the community becomes an endangered species), the warnings of be careful of the non-Malays (despite the non Malays are not heading the government of the day), how if not united (yes, against the non Malays, again), the community will be left out in the country, blah, blah, blah was the high note of the general assembly this time as well. Somehow over the years, we have become immune to these seditious talks when the circus comes to the town.

But interestingly 2 items stood out that perhaps need a greater scrutiny. First was of course the reversal of the decision to scrap the Sedition Act.

To further justify it, Najib even said that it will be strengthen to protect Malaysians from, well, other Malaysian:-

The decision to retain the Sedition Act 1948 has nothing to do with keeping Barisan Nasional in power, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Sunday.

Najib, who is also Barisan chairman, said there was no ulterior motive in the move to retain the Act as it could not ensure the coalition would be re-elected in the coming or future general election.

Najib added that the Sedition Act was not just about the protection of Muslims and the Malays, but extends to all races.

“We will also ensure that the enforcement of the Sedition Act will be fair and according to the law,” he said.

(Source)

And mind you, this comes from the same man who just 2 years ago announced that he is going to repeal the dreaded Sedition Act as part of his visionary road map for a very transformed Malaysia. So, hearing the man to turn around and now say that there is no ulterior motive to retain the Act and the use of the Act would be fair and according to the law, one have to wonder and ask the question “would you believe him again?” And just to see how Najib’s administration has been “fair” in applying the law in the past, you don’t have to go far back in history.

Let’s take this for example:-

I am only going to refer now, in red, to the fifth “seditious tendency” referred to in Section 3 – “to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia”.

Can we think of any?

Calling Chinese ‘pendatang‘, perhaps?

Threatening to spill the blood of the Chinese with the keris, no?

So, if you utter words that might have the tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia, you would have committed an offence under the Sedition Act, 1948.

Right?

Well, not if you are Ibrahim Ali, and not if you uttered such words that had the tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between Muslims and Christians of Malaysia but your intentions were not to cause such hostility but to defend Islam.

In other words, under the Sedition Act, 1948, the intention of Ibrahim Ali, at the time he called for the burning of the Holy Bible, is irrelevant in considering if those words would have a seditious tendency.

(Source)

And even better is this:-

Umno delegate Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said should be investigated under the Sedition Act 1948 for claiming that the “Chinese are getting rich through illegal activities”, an MCA leader said today.

Penang MCA liaison committee secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong said Zaidi should be probed and punished to ensure others do not make similar comments, The Star reported.

The Permatang Pauh Umno division chairman, told delegates at the Umno general assembly that the Chinese in Penang gained wealth and power by being involved in illicit economic activities, such as gambling, prostitution and entertainment outlets.

(Source)

One threatened to burn bibles whilst another said that another race got their wealth from illicit economic activities. Well, let’s see if Najib keeps his words this time. Will he be fair and apply the law as he had mentioned? He does not have to wait for new improved Sedition Act to be in place – the current Sedition Act should be more than enough to haul couple of trouble-makers to the court. That’s fair, right?

The next thing that stood out in the general assembly was this:-

He said some current component party leaders had dared to question Malay and Muslim issues, such as religious schools, covering of women’s aurat (modesty) and the Shariah Court. Khairul Anwar said he believed they did this to gain popularity in their own communities.

“So let them become the presidents of MCA, MIC, Gerakan and the rest, but when they want to sit in BN’s highest council, they should be voted in by the Malays of Umno. “We do not want them to be cheering for their own communities and questioning our race.”

(Source)

Should I comment further? Does that some how this nails the truth right on it’s head doesn’t it?

Although it has not happened and I don’t think Najib would be dumb enough to do so but perhaps it is just a matter of time before UMNO actually decides to hand pick the presidents of MCA, MIC, etc. And it’s funny for Khairul Anwar to say that he believed they did this to gain popularity in their own communities. Then what do you call the yearly bashing of the non Malays during the UMNO’s general assembly? Does that also qualifies “doing it to gain popularity on one’s own community”? A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Let’s face reality – a race based society can never be good for any country that wants to move forward. The yearly race bashing should stop now and for those who bend the other way should be punished – no double standards applying, of course. There’s no two ways about it, if we want this country highly developed, resilient to external threats and economically robust. Let’s us focus on what is more critical and urgent.