Monday, July 28, 2008

FELDA - Part Two

In the first part, An Introduction, I wrote a really summarised history of Felda. I skipped quite a fair bit of details as I do not have the liberty of time to write a better piece. Nonetheless, in this Part Two, I would tempt to recall what has been said to me by friends and acquaintances.

Someone once said that Felda's reserved has dwindled to about RM1.5 billion from RM3 billion since Yusof Noor took over chairmanship from R M Alias a few years ago. I do not have any evidence to confirm or deny this statement. However, if we were to use simplified logic (maybe flawed), there are grounds to believe that this could be true. Since Yusof Noor took over, the following has been planned, of which some has been implemented:

(1) Felda sponsored Car Rally championship

(2) Felda United, the football club was formed

(3) More than RM100 million loan has been extended to Pahang state

(4) Investment of over RM300 million in a plant located in US

(5) Construction of a hotel resort worth about RM50 million

(6) Felda University has been approved but yet to be implemented

(7) Goodies handed out to settlers during the run-up to the 12th General Election

There are many other plans being put into place with some implemented. For now, let us examine each of the above and objectively determine the logic of each of them.

(1) Car Rally Championship
What has Felda got to do with a rally championship? For all intends and purposes, I do not understand the rationale for sponsoring this event. Officially excuse used is "Felda needs to establish a brand name". Establishing a brand name, yes but not through sponsorship of a rally championship! Felda is not in the business of producing auto parts and rally championship is way off its business activities!

(2) Felda United
Creating a football club to compete in the Malaysian league is a waste of time and money! Malaysian football scene is nothing more than a farce and sponsors are probably "arm-twisted" to sponsor the whole league. With very low turnout at stadiums and low viewership on television, there is simply no desired impact for sponsors. Such waste of time and resources, typical of Najib and Yusof Noor!

If the argument is to employ settlers sons to play for the club, then it would be another "bullshit" to put it mildly. Who actually gains? My guess is as good as yours!

(3) Loan to Pahang State
This piece of disturbing news came from the grapevine. According to unconfirmed sources, Felda extended more than RM100 million to Pahang State in the form of loan/advance. I do not have the details but I was told that the decision has been rectified during Felda Board of Directors meeting.

My take? Yusof Noor's tenure as Chairman of Felda depended very much on Najib. To applease Najib, Yusof Noor had to "provide support" to the ailing Pahang State coffers. It has been said that the loan/advance assisted in extending Yusof Noor's Chairmanship.

It bugs me to see a federal agency "providing support" to a state government when it is none of their business to do so!

(4) Investment in US
I was told that Najib insisted that Felda takes over a plant in US. Location? Some "ulu" place that is accessible only by train and road. Reason? I do not know but the official one given is nothing more than a crap!

The investment cost Felda more than RM300 million (of was it US$300 million). When an acquaintance mentioned this to me, my first reaction is "Shit!" Another waste of fund. Apparently now the plant is not really generating the money it was suppose to. Surprise? Not at all. In the first place, I think Felda overpaid for the investment. Second - it was purely an exercise to siphon money from Felda.

(5) Hotel cum Resort
Another scam to siphon money! If my memory serves me right, the hotel cum resort cost more than RM50 million. Location? You guess it right - Yusof Noor's home state! Rationale? Figure it out...

(6) Felda University
Yusof Noor also wants Felda to set up a university at an estimated costs of more than RM300 million. Why? Beats the hell out of me...

(7) Run-up to the 12th General Election
Prior to the 12th GE, Najib was busy handing out goodies by the dozens to settlers in and around Pekan. He learnt his lessons well. During 1999 GE (if I am not mistaken), Najib almost lost and only won on recount. The settlers actually shied away from him and refused to vote him in. Najib only won on recount then. During the 12th GE, he was not about to make the same mistake and there was a real danger that he could lose. So he made sure goodies were handed out by the dozens to settlers, just to make sure the votes goes to him. His strategy worked extremely well and he was voted with higher majority when other BN candidates won with fewer votes!

The above would suffice for now.

Part 3 would focus on Felda Group of Companies and the new management!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why Proton is (almost) never an option when it comes to buying cars?

Recent newspapers coverage on the high maintenance costs of Proton cars, particularly Perdana V6 is not surprising. As expected, the response from Proton is one that reflects its continuous self-denial and arrogance.

I never owned a Proton nor have I ever visited a Proton showroom. But I am now driving the 1st generation Proton Saga. Battered with rust here and there, this Proton Saga proved to be reliable and relatively trouble free. I have never brought this Proton to an authorised service outlet because their prices are simply exorbitant! To me, the China-man having his makeshift workshop under the big tree is just as good, if not better in terms of diagnostics and pricing.

I refuse to buy Proton is stemmed from the fact that too many negative stories have emerged and reported. Despite all those, Proton and their dealers have continued to be arrogant! To be precise, BODOH-SOMBONG! I used to owned a Perodua vehicle. Contrasting from Proton, Perodua is more customer oriented. Customer complains, especially under warranty, have been tended to without much fuss and sour-looking expressions. In addition, Perodua has never been arrogant - "if you do not want to buy it is okay because there are a thousand others waiting in line..." This line of arrogant statement by Proton and their dealers has become "hard-wired" into my brain cells that I simply refuse to even visit their showrooms.

Can I be accused of being unpatriotic? Certainly! They can accuse me of anything they want but my conscience is very clear. Even if I buy a non-national car, I am subsidising the national car, Proton and Perodua! So for as long as I remain as a citizen of Malaysia and whatever non-national car I buy, I am subsidising Proton and Perodua. Subsidising Perodua is not an issue. It's just subsidising Proton that bugs me because they are a bunch of arrogant people!

Proton should change their tagline or motto to "Customers owe Proton a living and Proton don't depend on Customers"!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Consumed by Anger and Disgust

Today's, 14 July 2008, trip to work was horrible to say the least. Driving through traffic jams caused by roadblocks is not fun! In the process, unnecessary jams caused by roadblocks only add anger and disgust to the government, and not to mention, costs more as fuel consumption increases during traffic jams.

I used to take public transport to work. It is convenient and economical way to travel, especially to work. Due to the constant lobbying and bickering among different political personalities, maintenance of public transportation system (particularly, KTM Komuter) has reduced to zilch! Because of poor maintenance, breakdowns of train sets are very common. I have no choice but switch back to driving! Very unpleasant but I need to earn a living and giving daily excuses of train breakdown does not reflect well on me as an employee.

I have been made to understand that the government has allocated more than RM100 million to overhaul the Komuter sets but work has been rather slow to start due to bickering among contractors linked to different politicians!!!! Instead of doing overhauling work for the betterment of the Komuter trains, these people bicker for a bigger slice of the budget.

Who suffers? The PEOPLE!

And the PM has guts to say the government is people-centric! He and his HP6 cabinet sure have the guts to lie through their stinking teeth!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Extracted Comments From M Bakri Musa Blog

The following are ad verbatim comments posted by "Iskandar" on the article by Farish A. Noor titled PAS: Don’t Fall For UMNO’s Trap! dated 4 July 2008.

NOTE: No permission has been requested to republish the comments and reference.

iskandar Says: July 7th, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Rakyat masih tertunggu-tunggu dan tertanya-tanya apa sudah jadi dengan lapuran siasatan BPR tentang pengakuan bersumpah bekas Penolong Gabenor Bank Negara, Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid berhubung dakwaan bahawa Anwar Ibrahim mengawal berpuluh akaun induk berjumlah berbilion ringgit semasa menjadi Menteri Kewangan. Jika dilihat kepada isi pengakuan bersumpah itu, ianya bukanlah mudah untuk direka-reka.

Didalam akuannya, Abdul Murad turut menyatakan nama beberapa individu yang mempunyai kaitan dengan urusan dana berkenaan. Sebagaimana yang dinyatakan didalam akuan bersumpahnya, beliau menyelesaikan masalah individu tertentu setelah mendapat arahan Anwar menggunakan dana berkenaan. Risiko pendedahan Abdul Murad adalah besar jika beliau sendiri mereka-reka dakwaan berkenaan. Dakwaan Abdul Murad mungkin boleh dianggap berasas manakala penafian individu terbabit pula tidak boleh diketepikan begitu saja. Hanya penyiasatan rapi sahaja yang dapat menentukan segala-galanya.

Begitu juga, disebabkan kedudukan Abdul Murad di Bank Negara Malaysia sebelum ini begitu penting dan beratnya dakwaan yang dibuatnya itu, BPR tidak boleh menunggu masa yang terlalu lama untuk menjalankan siasatan. Tambahan pula, maklumat yang diberikannya itu adalah dalam bentuk akuan bersumpah. Sebagaimana dijelaskan oleh Ketua Pengarah BPR pada masa itu, Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin, hampir setiap perenggan dalam akuan bersumpah itu adalah maklumat mengenai rasuah. Dalam sesuatu akuan bersumpah, setiap dakwaan perlu dibuat dengan rasa penuh tanggungjawab. Oleh itu, pengakuannya itu perlu ditangani segera.
Berhubung dakwaan Abdul Murad itu, BPR sudah pun membuat laporan polis dan dengan ini, siasatan dianggap sudah bermula. Abdul Murad pastinya orang pertama yang akan mempertahankan pengakuannya. Pengakuannya akan lebih jelas jika beliau dapat mengemukakan bukti, umpamanya segala dokumen berhubung urusan dengan bank terbabit. Mereka yang disabitkan dengan tuduhan itu juga seharusnya memberi kerjasama untuk memudahkan tugas BPR.

Satu perkara yang agak jelas Abdul Murad dan Anwar mempunyai hubungan yang rapat, sekurang-kurangnya ketika Anwar menjadi Menteri Kewangan yang sering berurusan dengan Bank Negara di mana Abdul Murad bertugas. Abdul Murad sudah pun menyatakan beliau diperalatkan. Apa pun, rakyat seharusnya menunggu keputusan siasatan tanpa perlu membuat andaian sendiri.

Yang menjadi persoalan sekarang mengapa kes ini sepi membisu. Mengapa tiada kedengaran susulan cerita mengenainya. Adakah kes ini sudah ditutup atau masih lagi didalam siasatan polis dan BPR? Rakyat ingin mengetahui tentang hasil siasatan kes tersebut. Anwar Ibrahim memang bijak dalam mencari kesalahan orang lain tetapi pada masa yang sama beliau sendiri yang melakukannya. Adakah Anwar Ibrahim terlalu suci dan bersih dan tiada cacat dan cela. Adakah satu lagi Suruhanjaya perlu ditubuhkan untuk menyiasat kes Anwar Ibrahim ini? Rakyat mahu jawapannya.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Federal Land Development Authority - An Introduction

Federal Land Development Authority or Felda as it is popularly known now was (officially) the brainchild of Malaysia's 2nd. Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak. Throughout the years, many people have been involved in developing Felda until it achieved great success. There were failures along the way but overall it was a huge success. Millions have benefited from Felda and their schemes either directly or indirectly.

The early days of Felda was difficult. Fundings were from the Government as well as through borrowings from World Bank and Japan, to name a few. The pioneers of Felda presevered and by 1989, Felda succeeded in redeeming ALL their loans and became selfsustaining. Since then ALL Felda expenses were funded through internally generated funds. The last non-politician chairman of Felda was R M Alias, a very strict no-nonsense disciplinarian. Under his stewardship, Felda managed to build a reserve of approximately RM3 billion. (RM3 billion then was equivalent to approximately US$1.2 billion). Despite such successes, Felda's employees (including top brass) remained very down to earth and publicity shy bunch of people.

Some of the keys to Felda's success was their ability to avoid shout for accolades, praises and wastages. Official vehicles were used until they were no longer economical to maintain. This culture were in sharp contrast to those practised by other government agencies.

The current chairman, Yusof Noor, is a politician and with his entry marked the decline of Felda's stature as a well-organised, well-managed and well-run government agency. This has been further aggravated when the PM assigned his deputy, Najib, as the minister-in-charged.

To Be Continued...