Article 51 – Competitive world of entrepreneurs

I AM in a grumpy mood right now. Somehow, as I grow a year older, my mood swings from left to right like a pendulum more frequently. I have less patience nowadays and I totally shut off when I am forced to listen to people who talk gibberish and being totally out of point.

I am grumpy because I do not understand the social and political changes that are happening right before my weary eyes. I am tired of listening to crappy comments by politicians and so-called social activists in an ongoing slanging saga. Pots calling the kettle black. And it works both ways.

I am grumpy because I have enough problems trying to understand the world economic landscape that is constantly changing at a very hectic pace. Back home, I am confused by the daily barrage of heavily-skewed misinformation from both sides. Half truths and pure lies spew in abundance. I am really confused and do not know who and what to believe.

I acknowledge that local politics and local businesses are intertwined and as a businessman, I must be wary of the winds of change that is blowing. Shall I risk everything and bet on a winning side or shall I play safe by playing both sides?

I am feeling less grumpy now since I realise that I have no businesses tied to politicians or to the state or federal government. In fact, I do not have much of any business right now. Which explains why I was grumpy in the first place.

So, can some smart tycoons out there advise me what business should I invest in?

I am game for any high-margin business that does not require political connections. I am definitely not into the water business since I might cause tremendous distress to the coffee shops and the neighbourhoods when I am forced to turn off the tap. Also a no-no is a free land scheme which I can flip for a song lest I am called a cheat cheated by another cheat. Or in short, a twit cheat.

And please do not ask me to promote concerts and cultural performances. I have poor taste in revealing costumes and poorer taste in heart-moving patriotic songs. I am not much into education or being a professional speaker either since I am not a persuasive person by nature.

The last time I barked an instruction eleven times to my deaf Maltese bitch, she rolled over and played dead. Then she wanted to play hide and seek.

So, my wise super-rich tycoon, what non-governmental high margin business can you recommend to an old grumpy entrepreneur?

I am too old and slow to react when the Chatime fad fades, so please enlighten me to a business that an old heart like mine can beat to. I love the idea of farming but worry about what the pesticides will do to my weak lungs. However the idea of having clean fresh air and wide open space to enjoy a cigar or two certainly appeals to me.

I also love the biomass story backed by Pemandu but still not sure as to when it will take off. Theoretically brilliant but practically flawed in terms of cost and logistics.

Iskandar projects are reserved for the GLCs, the rich tycoons and Singaporeans. Any leftover crumbs for small Malaysian entrepreneurs?

Nationwide, there are so many new shoplots, we are running out of entrepreneurs to fill them. Very soon, blocks of shoplots will have Bangladeshis and Burmese residing in the upper floors, with car workshops and printing presses greasing the pavements below. Reminiscent of the good old depression days of late-1980s.

Worldwide, brick and mortar retailing is suffering from an irreversible e-commerce onslaught but tycoons are building more shopping malls in Malaysia. The weak malls will drag the small retailers down into a life of poverty and debt. Heed my warning.

E-commerce looks exciting but it is a business by the young and for the young. To survive, I will need to talk fast and move fast. Even though my mind is willing, my flesh and brain refuse to comply. So I will just have to wait for my sons to graduate and relieve me of my misery of not being able to cope with the Internet pace.

Easy opportunities like the gold rush came and went in a flash. Fortunately, I was slow to react so my life savings stays intact. But what about the poor souls whose greed was preyed upon by the supreme con artistes? Just to show that there is no such thing as easy money.

So, what business opportunities are there for an old entrepreneur like me? Despite having a nice break by missing two columns for the new year, there is not much for me to mull over. There is no energy left to start a new business and investment in existing business is expensive and carries high risk. Game over?

To the young entrepreneurs, the world is your oyster. I hope you have listened ( X11) carefully and learned from the mistakes of the older generation. I am still advising you to steer clear of businesses that includes politicians and anything linked to governments.

Admittedly, the new political landscape do offer vast opportunities for easy money to the brave and the daring. But you will have to compete with the incumbents and the rich and powerful.

Whichever route you may decide to take, keep your eyes wide open at all times and may your journey of hard knocks and bruises be as smooth as possible. Before you know it, time catches up with you and you will have earned the right to gripe like an old grumpy entrepreneur. Have a great year ahead.


26 thoughts on “Article 51 – Competitive world of entrepreneurs

  1. Is being grumpy unhealthy? Most health practitioners or psychologists will say yes but to the grumpy person this may not necessarily be so. it may be relief as well. Anyway, the contents make me at my age. It is the will is there but the body is not following behind. So, what is the next best thing to do? Find a successor. This is another easier said then to do thing. So, we are back to square one 🙂


  2. R&D activities can only lead to higher income and higher margin businesses “ONLY if they are market drivened”..

    The reason is simple economics… A matter of supply and demand.. You are only highly paid if your products, your services are tailored to fill or solved the problems of the consumers and the consumers are willing to pay a premium price for your products or services..

    That’s also why, not all R&D activities will produce high margin businesses..


    1. Ultimately, it is the customers that decide if they should pay a premium price for your product or services.. and NOT the technology itself…


  3. Dear [soon to be *Tan Sri] Tan Thiam Hock,
    [*I will recommend you for Tan Sri title for your invaluable advice on how small 1Malaysian entrepreneurs can compete against giant political linked companies and also because you are the head of the Tan clan]
    Congratulations for contributing back “On Your Own” column for the Star after the case of your missing Article 50 – The article that never made it to Starbiz – 5.1.2013
    I am pleased to announce that Project Site Tracker in collaboration with FBI had tracked and recovered your previous missing article and the article is now safely deposited in a Swiss Bank vault.
    I would like to address the two concerns you raised in your 19 Jan 2013 article “Competitive world of entrepreneurs”[]
    The first is regarding how to overcome your grumpiness and the second on what high margin business to invest for old entrepreneurs that do not require political connections.
    On the first concern, I would recommend to our PM for 1Malaysia to sponsor and develop an anti- grumpiness pill to be given to all grumpy senior citizens. This can be an extension of the government transformation program to improve the ranking of the country’s happiness index and make all Malaysians the happiest people in the world.
    On the second issue, I propose you invest in my new tracking software “1Malaysia Missing Wealth Tracker [1MMW Tracker]. With 1MMW Tracker, we are able to track and recover the RM 1 trillion missing wealth lost through illicit outflow. Upon recovering the RM 1 trillion, we can pay off the RM 456 billion national debt as part of our national service to prevent the country from being bankrupt. So we are left with a balance of RM 544 billion. I propose we give each of the 12.6 million registered Malaysian voters an “any pow” of RM 100,000.00 so they can vote wisely in the forthcoming election. This means we have to deduct RM 126 billion from our recovery funds, leaving us with a net balance of RM 418 billion. In line with our mission to make 1Malaysians the happiest people in the world, I propose to give each of the 15.4 million non-registered voters an “any pow” of RM 10,000.00. This means we have to deduct RM 154 billion from our recovery funds, leaving us with a net net balance of RM 264 billion. Of this balance sum, I propose we inject RM 262 billion to my 1Malaysia Wish Foundation [1MWF] for the following purpose;
    1) Contribute RM 100 million to a true 1Malaysian political party or leader who can unite all Malaysians irrespective of color, race, and gender. With this contribution, politicians no longer fear the risk to carry RM 40 million their bags.
    2) Set-up re-education camps for racist and insensitive gender politicians so that they can turn over as new champions of moderate views.
    3) Set-up re-education camps for those leaders and moderators who do not know how to listen.
    4) Buy up the English words, “listen-listen-listen”, “looks like me, sound like me, but not me” and many more so that politicians can no longer use these words that make Malaysians angry and grumpy.
    5) Set-up memory enhancement camps so that politicians can always remember.
    6) Buy an deserted island to house those Malaysians who asked other Malaysians to leave the country.
    7) Set-up 1Malaysia Wish Prayer Halls to pray for those who spread hatred and turn their hatred to love their neighbors as themselves.
    8) Set-up 1Malaysia Wish English schools so that every Malaysian can be proficient in English.
    9) Set-up 1Malaysia Wish “Anti-Snatch Thieves Squad” to protect citizens from snatch thieves and robbers.
    10) Set-up free 1Malaysia Wish Citizens Newspaper and TVs so that every citizen can contribute his/ her view to make Malaysia a better place to live, work and play.
    11) Set-up education camps to encourage more Malaysians of the majority race to speak up for the rights of the minorities.
    12) Buy over the rich assets and resources of the country to make it more productive and efficient so that 1MW Foundation can give annual dividends to each citizen so that they no longer need to wait every 5 years for pre-election hand-outs.
    13) Pay world-class salary to recruit the best talented Malaysian residing overseas irrespective of race, gender or political affiliation to be the CEO of 1MW Foundation, if no local equivalent talent can be found.
    14) Encourage every local authority and residents committee facing dangerous hill slopes to use online monitoring applications like Project Site Tracker [] to monitor potential slope failure and alert the relevant parties to take remedial actions.
    15) Encourage every local authority and citizen to use online monitoring applications like Project Site Tracker to monitor shoddy road surfacing, potholes and broken manholes and alert the relevant parties to take remedial actions.
    Dear TTH,
    Having injected RM RM 262 billion to 1MWF, each of us is left with RM 1 billion based on 50/50 percent profit sharing. So we are now billionaires. With RM 1 b in your pocket, there is no reason for you to be grumpy any more. As for me, I will put the RM 1 b to good use by establishing the second 1MW Foundation to make Malaysia a truly developed country before the 14th General Election.
    As part of public accountability, I herewith declare that I have interests in Project Site Tracke and 1Malaysia Wish. However, I declare that I have no interest in FBI or have links to any foreign agents.
    Join contribution by;
    1Malaysia Wish/ Project Site Tracker


    1. Eric, the only way I can get a Tan Sri is by changing my name to Tan Sri Hock. You can call me Tan Sri then or just plain Ah Hock!

      If I have a billion, titles don’t matter much….well maybe just a little….


      1. Cheers Tan Sri Hock. You get your tan sri without having to pay upfront and also maintenance fee. Great Idea to beat the Malaysia boleh system.
        great innovators think alike.


  4. Mixing businesses with politics is OK as long as there is SOP to follow (Standard Operational Procedures)… You cannot be blamed if you have followed SOP and something goes wrong..


      1. Welll… we have the Shin Corp and Thaksin saga a few years ago… .

        Then we have the ill fated investments into the US Banking system at the height of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008…

        Recently we have global commodity trader, Olam which was under attack by a US based short-seller…

        Ohhhh.. I am sure we have our own excitement, but on a much larger-global scale than you folks who are wedded to Malaysia..


    1. Now with free downloads of movies, pirated DVD’s will be displaced soon. Even scandal DVD’s is old news since YouTube makes it easy for instant uploading….


      1. Hi Thiam Hock

        Enjoyed your serious and amusing business articles . It should be published and used as a reference article for graduates studying business management etc .

        Was planning to discuss with you on a very interesting structured investment product earlier, but this has been taken cared of by a Singaporean group with major European share holders .

        Anyway , with regards a high margin business I believe I may have something to work & the whole world too and this is a USD7-10 bln market .

        No politics,no government nor YB to kow tow !

        I have this FLU formulation which I have been using for the family for years now. Its a combination of 8 items which you can easily get in the supermarket , and the formulation works very well too .

        I had a bout of flu at about 9pm , and with this formula can enjoy a buffet lunch the next day at 12pm ! Almost 90% relief within 15 hours without any signs of fever nor sneezing etc2 .

        Margins is easily about 1,000% if marketed directly to the consumers.

        As you may already know, natural products cannot be patented and neither can the preparation /process either based on my discussions with IP experts .

        Pls email me , so that we can explore this matter further ok


    2. Warren Buffet says NOT to invest in Bankrupt European Banks…

      Lee Kuan Yew says NOT to invest in the Bonds of Bankrupt European Governments…

      I say NOT to touch any structure products, derivatives, swaps etc.etc…

      The fool and greedy person and his MoNEy will soon be parted…

      Without political integration…the European experiment shall fail and soon the Euro will be worthless, like the World War II Japanese Banana money; as the creation of money is a POLITICAL ACT..


  5. If you are confused… Just follow Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) leh…

    Sure enable you to navigate through the complex maze of political-economical jungle out there..

    Over here in Singapore, if you follow SOP and something goes wrong… you can’t be blamed for it….

    But if there is no SOP in Malaysia to follow, then take my advice for it.. my good friend..



  6. Competitive world of entrepreneurs? U mean like trying to oversell the word “Listen!” in hope that the herd embrace U? Or switching from trading in carpets to land to short stories in quick succession to catch whatever that’s hot?

    Maybe ramblings could become the in-thingy, the hotcake? Cheers!


  7. Earning the easy money??? Take the advise of a wise tycoon.. It is always much “sweeter” to build your wealth from your own sweat than to go after the “easy” money..

    Public recognitions are only given to those who earn their monies through the former… while in the latter case, you cannot display your wealth openly..

    Trust me… Ha..ha…


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