On Your Own

The writer is an entrepreneur who hopes to share his experience and insights with readers who want to take that giant leap into business but are not sure if they should.

17/2018 – A wishlist to the Education Minister

After my last article, Jacqueline from one of my active chat groups asked that I write a wish list to our Education Minister. Instead of talking about the IIUM president’s job that he insist on keeping, I challenged the group members to focus on our primary and secondary national schools by asking them to give me their personal top three wishes for the wish list that I can compile and message to Dr Maszlee Malik via this column.

Within the next hour, my phone pinged non-stop from this highly educated group of opinionated professionals and entrepreneurs.

Faris ‘the progressive professor’ said he wrote a mini thesis on our education system way back in 2009 and was dismayed at how things were (and are). This led him to home school some of his kids with the eldest son now getting a scholarship from a Japanese university. Being a devout Muslim has not stopped him from allowing his son to seek science and technology knowledge in a different country. He also has a very talented daughter who is artistic and imaginative in drawings and graphics.

Sharman our CPA chipped in that financial literacy should be included in the secondary school syllabus so that the young should learn how to manage their finances. Mohammad our insurance veteran agrees on financial literacy and recommended that our children should also be taught communication skills and critical thinking skills.

Siti, our fleet taxi entrepreneur, wants Kemahiran Hidup (living skills) to be reinstated, critical thinking class in secondary, one foreign language (besides Malay and English) and IB ( International Baccalaureate) curriculums in secondary schools. Jacqueline, our lawyer agrees with Siti on IB CAS which focuses on community service and projects.

BC, our bank manager, feels that our teachers should be facilitators and coaches rather than the old school type of “I told you so” mentality. He is impressed with Finland’s school education system. Nathan, our bachelor entrepreneur based in Sabah, wants to see less conventional education, more sports and our children taught more problem solving and social skills.

Aaron, our roof contractor, wants more allocation for scheduled building maintenance, build more asrama for students from rural areas and build more sport halls. Dr YC Lee, ex CFO of a PLC, feels that examination results should be the initial driver for educational change, widening to a more holistic approach. He feels strongly that the examination marks and subsequent distribution curves for grades be made public.

ST Muk the “Idealist” Sabahan wants to integrate all primary schools into a single curriculum system to nurture integration amongst all races at young age. The three main languages to be taught so that the young ones have a basic grasp of Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil but Science and Maths be taught in English. No religious classes during school hours. Have a balanced gender and racial mix of teachers and set KPIs for promotions of teachers.

I then asked them what is more important for our education system now? Integration, religion or academic excellence? Integration means students from all races study in national schools from young. The emphasis of one religion in national schools will keep the non-Muslim students from joining hence the popularity of the vernacular schools which is anti-integration. Academic excellence means merit-based examination results which will polarise the poor students even further from the smart students.

At this moment, these three priorities are mutually exclusive as far as our education system is concerned. Thirty years of poor education policies caused by politics along racial lines plus the encroachment of religious phobia have resulted in a broken and divided education system. National schools are divided along racial and religious composition whilst academic standards have dropped to an all-time low. We are producing students who lack in problem solving skills, creative leaning skills and communication skills.

I stand to be corrected on these viewpoints and observations:

Examination grades have been lowered to cater to the weak students on the national bell curve. This could be probably due to the pressure on the Education Ministry to show positive year on year performance of our national education system.

The increasing Islamic curriculum and culture in national schools have driven the non-Muslim students to join the vernacular schools from young and now extended into the secondary schools as well.

Most Malay school students have a poor command of English whereas most Chinese school students from Chinese speaking families have a poor command of English and Bahasa Malaysia.

Most of the teachers in national type schools are Malays and mostly females. The Chinese teachers are mostly in Chinese vernacular schools and private schools. Most teachers have a poor command of the English language.

National type schools are slacking in teaching of Science and Maths with fewer teaching hours per week which is the opposite of vernacular schools. Some textbooks are inaccurately written with twisted facts and some exam questions are racially insensitive with regard to national unity.

Teaching of Science and Maths in English across all national schools would be difficult as there is a big shortage of English-speaking teachers and retraining of 500,000 teachers would be an impossible task.

Taking religious classes out of national type schools would be difficult as most Muslim parents want it to be part of the school curriculum. Similarly, the vernacular schools will be here to stay if the national schools continue with their current path.

Raising the academic standards would be difficult but doable if there is political will. Just be transparent with our grading standards and raise the bar on a gradual basis.

Dear Dr Maszlee, you have been handed the toughest job of all the Cabinet ministers.

We would like to offer you some practical solutions and our “Professor” Faris to your council of eminent educationist as you ponder on overhauling our education system beyond the white or black shoe saga.

Faris and Wong, our automobile expert has this vision of a Malaysian Vision school where you can incorporate national unity, academic excellence and religious studies of all faiths. Siti, Jacqueline and BC hopes that you can incorporate best practices from the Finnish education system (which you yourself admire) highlighting creative thinking and IB elements.

For national unity, set a flexible quota as per racial composition of our citizens. Bring in retrained teachers in English, Maths, Science and IB with a more balanced gender composition. Bahasa Malaysia is the main language except for teaching of Maths and Science in English.

Add in another foreign language option. Have a modified IB curriculum to suit our local standards but focus more on creative thinking and problem solving. Let the children play more sports and enjoy extra curricular activities whilst allocating some hours per week for living skills and religious classes. Curriculum should be skewed towards Science, Maths and IT/Technology.

Just convert 5% of current primary and secondary schools in all states and towns to the new concept Malaysian Vision schools. It might take you five years to convert as it requires a steep learning curve for the teachers. I assure you that there are many parents from all races (who cannot afford private schools) who would love to send their children to this Malaysian Vision school.

As for the rest of the schools, you will have to allow the parents to decide. If the parents want to send their children to national type schools and religious schools, just improve the syllabus with more hours given to Science, Maths and IT/Technolgy. In addition, please encourage more sport activities and if possible encourage more English lessons and throw in a foreign language or two.

If the parents want to send their children to vernacular schools, just improve the syllabus with more hours spent on Bahasa Malaysia, English and a foreign language or two. In addition, more sports please and less homework.

Faris feels that you might need to overhaul your Ministry team and culture. I personally feel that you should look into textbook quality and factual accuracy.

It has taken the previous government 30 years to polarise our schools and the education ministry to lower our academic standards. It will take you and the future Education Ministers another 30 years to achieve your dream of a “Cambridge” level education system that will be relevant and comparable to the world’s best.

Just remember that you will need to feed “Cambridge” level students into our local universities so that our universities can be of “Oxford” standard. My group of non-Oxbridge friends would not be able to advise you on how to improve our local universities. Anyway, you will be too preoccupied with one university under your purview so we hope you can assign your deputy to look after the interest of the other universities.

If possible, please ask your deputy to build University Malaya to become the next “Harvard” University. Like you, I have a sentimental attachment to my alma mater.

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/09/29/a-wishlist-to-the-education-minister/


16/2018 – Back to work!

Malaysia is less competitive now vis-a-vis our Asian neighbours because we have too many public holidays. Malaysians love to de-stress by taking holidays and normally need to have additional rest days to recover from a tiring holiday.

Everybody wants to have a better quality of life, a good balance between work and play. Spend more quality time with family, enjoy their hobbies and yes, deserve higher pay to cover a higher cost of living.

Great for the workers. Nightmare for the business owners.

So if Malaysia wants to be a competitive tiger again, the whole nation need to revive the “back to work” culture. Work hard and work smart.

It is the public sector and the poor performing GLC’s that has dragged down our average productivity per working person. We can add in the rent seekers who does not need to work for their money and there are so many of them residing all over the country. Thirty years of poor allocation of resources has probably caused a 30% decline in national productivity per head count.

If you walk into a government office, you will probably see an active front office operation if they offer services to the public like immigration etc.

Go behind the counter and you will see redundancy of at least 30%. One out of three yakking away or three persons doing one person’s job or people working at snail pace losing at least 30% in productivity and efficiency.

In the recent Future of Bumiputera Congress, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated the same message he did some 30 years ago, bumiputras must change their mindset, work harder or they will fall behind other races.

He added that there will be no more easy free lunches for those given free AP’s, licences and contracts. They will have to work for their money.

If I read correctly, free lunches will still be given but you have to work hard to earn easy money. His message to the bumiputra community – Back to work, do real productive work and don’t depend on easy government handouts.

Dr M also mentioned that political reality necessitates the continuation of The Malay Agenda as Malays form the largest vote bank. You can’t fault the politicians for wanting to stay in power forever.

Then you have the ludicrous politicians from the opposition harping on protecting Malay rights and religion and the danger of DAP and Christians taking over the country.

The political reality is that Malay leaders from the other side is in charge of the country and we have a DAP Finance Minister busy catching thieves and trying to balance the books. Delusional and outdated politicians harping on fake hypothesis.

In another interview, Dr M mentioned that he was not happy with the performance of his Cabinet ministers.

No free rides for current ministers of the day. After the euphoria of a successful general election, they are reminded by Dr M that they should get back to work, earn their keep and not just keep spewing out rhetorics of promises that they can’t keep. Anyway it is difficult to find politicians anywhere in the world who keep their promises.

I empathise with Dr M. As a small business owner, I have limited choices in hiring the best people for the job, simply because my staff cost to (small) revenue is not economically feasible. Dr M was given a list of inexperienced and naive candidates to join his cabinet.

Now he has a Education Minister who wants to be President of IIUM. Rather than focusing on fixing a broken education system, he wants to build IIUM to be the next “Oxford” Islamic University. Profound. Truly profound.

Most voters would like to know his plans for fixing our dysfunctional education system. Maybe Cambridge standards? Please get back to work Dr Maszlee Malik and try to focus on the job at hand.

Many voters who voted in the Pakatan Harapan government are getting impatient at the slow progress made on the promises made during the elections. To be fair, Dr M and his team have progressed on many fronts.

The rule of law is slowly but surely being reinstalled. The judiciary is moving in the right direction to being an independent institution. MAAC has been given its reinforced dentures back so that it can finally bite again. But perhaps too much to chew on since corruption was so rampant.

Discipline is being enforced across the civil service with productivity and integrity being the KPI of the day. Recalcitrant civil servants who are obedient to the last regime have been removed and replaced.

The Attorney General Chambers (AGC) has been putting forth literally its best man forward to handle the politically sensitive cases so that justice can be served without fear or favour.

And in cases where the AGC lacks talent and integrity in their staffing, experienced barristers/ex judges have been roped in to help out.

Freedom of the press is back in play and the government of the day is listening to its critics who offer constructive criticisms. Media companies controlled by opposition parties are still allowed to operate. Online social media is not curbed. The fourth estate is alive and humming.

Dr M has been brilliant in handling all the dubious major infrastructure contracts by taking a tough stance to avoid further major leakages.

Like all good neighbours, China and Singapore have consented to postpone the various projects without major compensation from us.

All in all, the Pakatan government has made tremendous progress in their first 100 days and restored our faith that the country is moving in the right direction.

The next 1000 days should be our concern now. How will Dr M solve the three big “elephant in the room” problems of education, religious extremism and his so called monstrous GLC dilemma?

Now that he has become chairman of Khazanah, will he start unraveling the role of GLC’s and indirectly reduce the involvement of government in business? Will Malaysian Airlines be sold to stop the bleeding from our national coffers or will it be kept for national pride?

To the non-bumiputera voters, be glad that the country is moving in the right direction again. Political reality dictates that problems on race and religion will take time to resolve, possibly into the next generation.

Maybe this Pakatan government might soon organise a Future for Malaysians Congress?

It will be interesting to hear from Dr M and/or Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on their ideas of how they intend to build a future Malaysia that is inclusive for Malaysians of different race and religion.

Until then, enjoy your extended holidays since Monday is another public holiday.

Come Tuesday, please get back to work and be productive… for the nation’s sake!

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/09/15/back-to-work/

15/2018 – Be positive and stay positive

Just two nights ago, I joined my golf and drinking buddies for a Merdeka eve celebration at Mezze. To rephrase, they are just drinking buddies now since they excluded me from their earlier golf game at the newly revamped West Course of TPC KL. To soothe my bruised ego, Vincent brought Wide Churchill cigars and Jagan offered the delicious Morgon red wine from Burgundy.

Kay Tat offered his short Robustos which was politely declined by all whereas Paul brought his usual jokes and bantering skills.

I had just returned from London where I had my 18th ablation procedure of two active tumours discovered in a PET scan a month ago. After a few drinks, we were exchanging sobering news of friends and business colleagues who just discovered that they had cancer and friends who had passed away from cancer.

Jagan was amazed that despite my terminal fourth stage cancer conditions, I am always jovial and still enjoying my wines and cigars. Most cancer patients upon discovering will go into shock, depression and then become a self morphing recluse. Why me?

Self pity sets in as the patient drag his/her family into gloom and despair. The patient and family then look to the oncologist for answers and reassurance. Is there a cure? Can chemotherapy kill the cancer forever?

Hoping on hope.

Jagan, Kay Tat and Vincent wanted me to tell my story of how I faced this big C to all cancer patients and hope that from darkness, the patient will see light. Not hope. Hope is for dreamers. Hope is looking to God for a cure.

As an atheist, I am pragmatic. As a businessman, I am action oriented. As a father and husband, I am assuring and caring. As a human being, I am not afraid to die. But I want to die with a smile on my face knowing that I have lived my life to the fullest and leaving good memories for my family and friends.

This is about attitude. Positive or negative. I chose positive.

Being pragmatic, I read up and talked to many oncologists and medical doctors. There is no hope for a cure for fourth stage colorectal cancer at this moment. I will die sooner or later. I chose later.

I remembered Vincent and Kay Tat having breakfast with me at KLGCC the morning after my discovery in early January 2014.

They had urged me to fight the disease with a positive attitude. Tough battle ahead.

Many Christian friends prayed for me.

Even more friends (with good intentions) offered suggestions of miracle cures and alternative treatments, anti cancer drinks and supplements and all kinds of diets. It was kind of confusing, raising hope of a cure and feeling deflated when you realise it is unproven. I thank all of them, staying calm and collected.

Clear prognosis

It is important for cancer patients upon discovery to have a clear medical prognosis by an oncologist.

If it is early stage, what treatment is needed for a permanent cure? Surgery if possible is always the best treatment for early stage cancer followed by chemotherapy. Be decisive. Be wary of unproven alternative treatment. Do not delay as cancer spreads fast.

If it is at an advanced stage, what treatment is required to delay the inevitable?

How much time do I have? An experienced oncologists will be able to give a decent prognosis based on statistics and former case studies. In my case, primary cancer was colon so surgery was required to remove the primary source. I had the surgery within a week of discovery.

The businessman in me then took over. Kill or be killed was my motto. Just like facing a tough and ruthless competitor in the market place. Discovered that ablative radiotherapy works well with chemotherapy for my treatment.

So I would ablate all the active tumours followed by chemo treatments. And when side effects affect my quality of life, I will just do ablation procedures.

I was deciding my course of action on average once every three months after a CT/PET scan. It was just a business decision. No emotions allowed.

I learnt to keep the roller coaster emotions to myself. Away from the family, business partners, colleagues and friends. My wife, the caregiver, suffered the most and she needed reassurance from me. My children were all schooling in UK so I kept them informed as openly as I could without alarming them, so as not to affect their studies.

I continue to plan my medical trips with their entrance into universities and shifting into new accommodations without fail.

I have to stay strong for the family and they stay strong for me. Family love is therapeutic and comforting. Normal family activities keeps you going, willing you to continue living. No self pity was allowed in my family. Life goes on as normal as possible. Plan A for the future together and Plan B without me. Just be pragmatic.

So life goes on. I continue investing in new businesses. Continue to learn new trends in emerging digital businesses from young entrepreneurs. Difficult to shake off the old school mindset without reducing my ego but these are next generation consumers whom I do not understand.

Kept my mind busy to avoid thinking of death.

Spent more time searching for nice wines and nicer cigars. Refuse to ask for more strokes from golf buddies despite being weak from chemo treatments. With golf buddy crocodiles as friends, who needs enemies? Ended up paying more tuition fees. So what’s new? Life goes on.

To all the cancer patients, life have dealt you a cruel twist.

Just remember nobody owes you a living.

So stop the self pity. It is ok to tell the world you are a cancer patient. It is not AIDS for god’s sake! Deal with it. Without emotions and with pragmatism. You might suffer physically but you must stay strong emotionally and spiritually too for those who believe in God. Live and let live should be your motto and you will live longer than you think possible. A positive attitude is all you need.

As a Malaysian, this year’s Merdeka celebration is in itself a miracle. Changing the previous government to the current is like getting out of darkness into the light. Hopes are raised as despair turned into joyful expectations. As a pragmatic Malaysian, I dare not hope too much for fear of being disappointed.

Outdated politicians will continue to use race and religion to prolong their political careers. Corruption will continue albeit at a slower pace and on a smaller scale as it is difficult to eliminate systemic corruption across all levels of the administration.

As a Malaysian father, I look forward to a future where my children and grandchildren will not be subjected to racial and economic discrimination. I will be able to rest in peace knowing that political and religious bigots will not be given a place in this country.

To all Malaysians, you have found your voice, so please continue to act positive, be positive and stay positive.

This is the Merdeka attitude.

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/09/01/be-positive-and-stay-positive/

14/2018 – Non-stop action for the last 100 days

Last week my daughter bought cinema tickets for the whole family to watch Mission Impossible: Fallout at Signature Gardens. It was fast paced non-stop action with betrayals and deceit as the recurring theme from beginning to end.

Just like our GE14, what was deemed impossible became possible. It has been non-stop action for the last 100 days (May 10 to Aug 17) with fallouts everywhere. It was fast paced culling with casualties for the alleged deceitful lot amid acts of revenge from the betrayed.

We were watching a long drawn movie with no respite, no time even for a toilet break. The chaotic scenes can best be described like a Star Wars movie with its many sequels.

Star Wars : Return of the Emperor

Long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there lies a planet called Malayacandoo. Rich with minerals, oil and fertile grounds, it attracted many immigrants from neighbouring planets over a few zillion light years. From the closest neighbours came the Indonisitas who became the biggest tribe and renamed Uputras.

Then came the traders from the Chinapek planet and the labourers from the Diandian tribe. The local indigenous tribes, the Ewoks and the Dasans became the minority and they remained in the remote part of the planet.

Malayacandoo was colonised for more than 200 light years by the Engli-vaders until the Uputras, Chinapek, Diandian and the various species of Ewoks work together to drive them out. The Engli-vaders had exploited the minerals of the planet but they had left behind a competent civil administration for the planet.

The Uputras being the majority took control of the administration and the planet, and ruled for 60 zillion years.

Peace reigned in Malayacandoo as all tribes share the spoils of the land. Then the sixth emperor who is actually the insidious Darth Sidious restored the Sith and destroyed the Jedi order. Scheming, powerful and evil to the core, Darth Sidious aka Phantom Menace unleashed the Stormtroopers on all the tribes including the previous Emperor and his cohorts.

Deprived and appalled by the dastardly acts of Darth Sidious, the fourth Emperor joined the resistance and in an historic bloodless battle on AD 090518, the Resistance aka Hopecoalition with tribal power assumed control of the planet.

The fourth Emperor is now the seventh Emperor. No scriptwriter could have written a better finale ending for Star Wars : The Return of the Emperor.

Star Wars : Return of the Jedi

The opening scene of the sequel saw the seventh Emperor took control of the multi level senate in his maiden speech. Some petrified Administrators fled their postings to find refuge in the wasteland. As there were too many administrators that went rogue, the new Emperor set up the Jedi Council of Eminent Persons, recalling Master Yoda from the wasteland to head the Council.

There was much uncertainty and mistrust in the air, nobody trust nobody. Who among the Administrators have been seduced by the dark force of Corruptor? Will Master Yoda be seduced by the dark side of the Force? How will he keep his deprived apprentices happy?

The Emperor has his hands full dealing with the Hope Coalition who has been objecting to his many archaic plans which is 20 light years old. His battery operated lightsaber seems outdated next to a drone flying light saber that could swish on AI technology. His clone successor called AI is always by his side constantly reminding him of the time constraint in fulfilling all the pre agreed conditions and manifestos. Milestones of fulfilment in 100 days and in two years.

To make matters worse, Rizi Skywalker and Princess Leia Izaah from the Hope Coalition is fighting with Min Solo, the Emperor’s favourite apprentice. It is a convoluted plot that only Hollywoodoo scriptwriters can create. Exciting finale at the end of this movie when the real Darth Vader finally appears.

Star Wars : Sequels of the Sequels

Now that peace and rule of law has been restored to the galaxy, the Jedi Council reigns supreme once again. However, underneath the calm, the Dark side of the Force is again threatening the balance of the Universe. Holyywoodoo moghuls are deciding on the sequels to be produced. Reputable crystal ball reading scriptwriters are highly sought after.

Some of the sequels in the pipeline of this successful franchise could be:

  • Star Wars: The Fall of the Hope Coalition
  • Star Wars: The Demise or Resurrection of the Uputras
  • Star Wars: Abdication of the Emperor aka Darth Vader
  • Star Wars: The Eighth Emperor aka The Last Jedi aka U-Sith Lord
  • Star Wars: The New Millennium Falcon (hyper speed jump from ship to ship)

Whatever happens to these war lords, the planet Malayacandoo will continue to thrive as the tribal force now can keep the dark side of the force in check thus ensuring the balance of the forces in the galaxy.

Life will be boring for us, the audiences if the Star War franchise is discontinued. Aren’t we glad that we, the audience can now write our own scripts?

Where the good always triumph over the evil.

Take out your popcorn. For sure more sequels will be squeezed out from this successful franchise. For more information, you can google wookieepedia.com

May the force be with you. Always.

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/08/18/nonstop-action-for-the-last-100-days/

13/2018 – It’s a case of old habits die hard


This is the last time I will be away on a six-week stretch. It all started when I had to attend my Harvard Business School (HBS) AMP 182 annual class reunion in Lisbon, Portugal on June 20. As I had to attend two graduation convocations in London on July 11 and July 26, I decided to stay back in Europe and travel.

It was a big mistake. After two weeks, I miss the daily political announcements, my friends and our multicultural Malaysian food. I could find reasonably good Chinese and Indian food in London and New York but it was difficult to find authentic Malay curries and sambal.

So upon my return to Malaysia last week, I readily agree to join my local HBS-SMDP 2004 buddies for a Sunday breakfast outing at Warung Bunian in Kajang. My buddies claimed that Warung Bunian serves a unique egg wrapped nasi lemak with authentic sambal of onions and anchovies. Six of us agreed to meet up at the warung at 8am.

Ah Lai joined me for the drive to Sungai Merab Kajang and after half an hour past many highways, we turned into a side road which lead us to a small kampung with a smattering of wooden/cement houses over a spacious area. There were many cars parked on the grass at the side of narrow sandy roads.

We could see that the restaurant was packed to the brim with 20 to 30 people lining up to place their orders with a single cashier. Luckily for us, Sukri and Ah Foo were already lining up and Ghib had booked an uncleared table, chatting with a family that was about to leave. Despite the big crowd, the atmosphere was serene and everybody was waiting patiently.

Faris was the last to arrive even though his house is the nearest. Total strangers would just chat with our group. Sincere and gentle, kampung folks are the nicest and most genuine people that I have ever met. Sukri, who is from Kelantan, proudly claims that Kelantanese kampung folks are gentle and courteous all the time.

After facing some racist reactions in Long Island, New York, I was so happy to be home. Despite being the only Chinaman amongst the sea of Malays, the three of us felt comfortable chatting with total strangers and our Muslim brothers. Not forgetting the sambal ikan bilis was the best I have tasted for a long while, second only to my late mum’s home-made sambal belacan.

For more than two hours, there was no discussion about the current hot political topics on education, UEC, racial privileges, new corruption case, religion or Azmin vs Rafizi.

Ghib was advising us on how to handle more than one wife, Ah Lai was again lamenting on late payments from developers, Faris on his goat milk and skin care halal application, Ah Foo commenting on post GST car sales, Sukri and I on kampung family stories. Somehow the relaxed kampung environment shielded us from the political storm brewing nearby in Putrajaya.

Sometimes, I just wonder if all the perceived problems of the nation are manufactured and promoted by selfish politicians to prolong their hold on power.

Or are we all guilty of being racist by nature, stereotyping each race taught by our parents from young? Maybe not my generation but definitely over the last 30 years, the economic and education policies have polarised the various race even further rather than uniting the people.

The corrupt politicians unashamedly used race and religion to gather power and economic wealth whilst the poor remain downtrodden and fed scraps from spillover meals of greed. Hence the noble intention of gathering wealth through the state owned institutions for distribution to the poor was never achieved in totality.

The main reason was the involvement of politicians in the management of state-owned companies which strayed from state security interests of public utilities, infrastructure development into commercial businesses in every industry.

The expansion of the government’s involvement in commercial businesses created opportunity galore for mismanagement and corruption among its caretaker managers and politically-appointed directors.

I thought that our new government has this one golden opportunity to reverse the wrongs but I guess old habits die hard.

It had started its first 100 days with great promise as corrupt political appointees and civil servants were removed promptly. Irrespective of race and religion, the most senior and capable judges and lawyers were appointed to top posts in the judiciary and the Attorney General’s Chamber.

The new Malaysia got everyone excited.

But recent developments of the government inserting political appointees to the boards of GLICs and GLCs shows a reversal of the promised manifesto of non-political interference in state institutions.

One ought to remember that during the GE14 campaigns, Mat Sabu did a hilarious anecdote of 1MDB chairman reporting to the Finance Minister who reports to the Prime Minister who finally approved all the transactions.

The national car project was never a success so why raise another Titanic when the future is in electric cars? F1 was a major loss-making concern since its inception and our state financial standings can ill afford to suffer further losses.

In businesses, we have our profitable projects and those that had failed miserably. Similarly in nation building, political leaders leave behind legacies of great success and generally are forgiven for some failed projects. Let not your old habits feed your ego that will lead to a poor decision.

Of major concern is the current exercise of removing alleged corrupt political and technocrat leaders.

I am no fan of Wahid Omar and Azman Mokhtar but senior industry players who know the gentlemen find them as capable, hardworking and righteous technocrats. Paying them market wages is preferable to them amassing illegal gains on the side. Collateral damage from failure of the previous boss.

Perhaps Wahid and Azman might retire to their respective kampungs where they will find peace and tranquillity away from the maddening crowd.

Meanwhile I am planning to visit Warung Bunian again in search of the ultimate sambal. Old habits do die hard.

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/08/04/its-a-case-of-old-habits-die-hard/

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