A Growing Blogger

After notwoxer gained some measure of credibility with the Ribena Reports, the calls for me to launch a serious blog returned. I suppose this is part of my growing up as a blogger. There is so much youth and kid in me that notwoxer became a lot like many large Malaysian corporations: directionless. TMG will be an issue-driven blog; issues that touch you and Malaysians and the world. notwoxer will be a personal blog, which may be de-listed subject to further deliberation. Thank you for visiting, and please comment. Good luck Malaysia.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Will the Tiger in PROTON Purr Again?

The Asia Sentinel China posts a story on PROTON. It is a damning article on PROTON, and even the decision to have a national car.

Yes, we need to sort this out soon, but now, after the initial March 31st deadline was passed, apparently no new deadline is required says Reuters, quoting Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

Should PROTON remain owned by Malaysians in full, unlike PERODUA? Should it just be sold off to cut losses?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blog Talk: IABC Silver Quills 2007 Side Program

This Friday, the Malaysian Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) will hold its Silver Quills Award ceremony, honouring the best communication efforts of Malaysia's corporates.

The event will be attended by Minister of Women, Family & Community Development Dato' Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, and will be held at Hilton Kuala Lumpur.

The side program may interest you if you are a blogger, or if you're wondering how blogging has affected how corporates relate to their public. Seats are still available, and you can get the details by clicking the IABC Malaysia logo at the top of this posting, or here. Price includes a scrumptious hi-tea.

Renowned blogger and friend Jeff Ooi will be part of a three-panel team, along with another famous blogger Ahiruddin "Rocky" Attan. Also on the panel is branding expert and award-winning author Nick Wreden. Your truly will be moderating the session.

I am told that this is a pre-cursor to more blogging-related events that are going to take place in Malaysia this year, both by IABC Malaysia and other organisations. It should serve the blogging community and its readers well.

See you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wolfowitz Walks

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and World Bank Board members came to an agreement earlier today to allow the embattled president to leave in June, in a negotiated deal that is likely to leave a sour taste in the mouth of some people.

World Bank accepts that his action in securing a hefty pay rise and promotion for his girlfriend Shaha Riza Ali were "in good faith", and that everyone involved in the same deal also acted similarly.

Ok lah... at least you won't have a man incapable of being impartial leading the bank anymore. Still, I disagree with these "negotiated" deals, much like I despise Malaysia's negotiated tenders.

Who takes over? Well, how about Anwar Ibrahim?

For a biography of Wolfowitz, click here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ijok & The Nasi & Lauk Story

Picture Source: MALAYSIAKINI
I rarely delve into politics, as I tend to get emotional about non-delivery be it for the coffee that I ordered or when politicians take us citizens more as their subjects - and thus are at their whims - rather than peers.

But Zainon Ahmad’s analysis of the Ijok by-election (It’s The Nasi & Lauk That Matter, The Sun April 30 2007: see end of post) piqued my interest. To be fair, Ijok was a minor tremor that made many Malaysians stand up and take notice of democracy and their rights as a Malaysian.

ZA asked a few questions, and I shall try to make sense of this. Pak Non, I’m not in any way against your piece ya, and I’m not saying that because I technically work for you!

So there are corruption and nepotism… but like poverty, are’nt they supposed (sic) to be normal phenomena?

Sorry sir, but if we accept those as normal, are’nt we just the sickest of the lot? Corruption spells inequality, and the last time I checked democracy is all about that.

What jot of a difference will (change and reformasi) make to their (Ijokians) lives?
Plenty. A change into a leadership that practices democracy and transparency - not that I’m assuming PKR can achieve this - will bring about a society that respects the law, one that ensures that nobody feels any lesser than another. It will be truly about capability, not cable-bility.

Did (Anwar Ibrahim) think of Ijok then?
Err… no. He was part of them. Enough said.

What has distant Mongolia and submarines got to do with (Ijokians)?
If Ijok is a part of Malaysia, plenty actually. Because if the accusations are true, then what we have is corruption and power-abuse at its worst. And whether you’re in downtown KL or in Padang Siding in Perlis, it matters.

And if people suddenly appeared and began repairing their dilapidated mosques, temples and churches, why say no?

Because if it was sincere, it would have been done when it first needed repairing.

Is it so strange that they should thank the giver (BN, for land approvals although delayed)?
Well… duh!

I remember writing to a newspaper back in the late 1900s (I love that term!), moaning the fact that in Malaysia, traffic police action was usually limited to special operations (Ops Gelap for tinted glass , Ops Lesen for expired licences etc.).

That’s exactly what is happening with these so-called elected representatives. When an election comes, RM36 million worth of projects were directed to be approved and implemented in an unbelievable two weeks!

The often told story is that if a VVIP was to visit an area, then roads are paved, buildings are painted, amenities are upgraded. ZA said in his analysis why not?

My question is why not before the visit?

If Malaysians continue to go for the nasi and lauk strategy as ZA puts it, then one day they may find that that is all they’ll get. What was the saying again? Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

Perhaps not totally appropriate here, but the truth is Malaysians must demand that they get the rice field and not just the nasi, the hatchery and not just the kari ayam.

Ijok may yet be a victory for Malaysia’s democratic process and delivery system. The opportunity exists for the Deputy Prime Minister and Selangor Chief Minister to make good their pledges of taking care of the town.

The opportunity exists for the government to show that they are not beyond proper

It’s a long shot I know, but we all live in hope don’t we?

Good luck Malaysia.

Zainon Ahmad's article (can't seem to find the weblink):

It's the nasi and lauk that matter
by Zainon Ahmad in The Sun

BATANG BERJUNTAI (April 30, 2007): In the final analysis it all comes down to bread and butter issues or maybe just bread and butter – or nasi and lauk (supporting dishes).

The people of Ijok are simple rural folk for whom nasi and lauk are far more immediate and important than participatory democracy or constitutional guarantees.

So there are corruption and nepotism, they asked, but like poverty, aren’t they suppose to be normal phenomena everywhere. What is change and what is reformasi? What jot of a difference will they make to their lives? Yes, they remember the jailing of former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim but that was so long ago. Did he think of Ijok then? What has distant Mongolia and submarines got to do with them?

To them they are nice stories, perhaps as entertaining as the variety shows put up by the various troupes every night in Pekan Ijok or as exciting as the performances by "MGR" and MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu. But for the people of Malay-majority Ijok – Malay 52%, Indian 28% and Chinese 20% – all they want is to have rice on their tables and assurances that they will have it, and lots of it, everyday and with some lauk, of course.

If they can have better clothes, too, why not. And why not also better houses, paved streets that reach right to the front of their houses, better, wider and pothole-free roads, street lamps and traffic lights. And if people suddenly appeared and began repairing their dilapidated mosques, temples and churches, why say no. And if the government promises to approve their applications for land – which have been sitting in the land office for so long, some as long as a generation – on which to build their houses and plant their vegetables, is it so strange that they should thank the giver.

True, they have been overlooked for some time but the government made up for the years of neglect by bringing forward projects meant for them years ahead. And the government not only said sorry but Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo even promised to look after Ijok.

Against all that the government gave and promised to give as pledged by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, Najib and Khir, there was little Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim, candidate Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, president Wan Azizah Ismail and other officials of the party could do to prevent the haemorrhage of votes from its mainstay of support – the Malays. About 60% of the Malay votes went to Keadilan in 2004 and BN won only on the support of the Chinese and Indians from Batang Berjuntai, Sungai Darah and Tuan Mee.

And it was earlier thought that was how the voting pattern for this by-election was going to be, especially after it became known that MIC’s K. Parthiban was the candidate despite calls by Umno grassroots leaders that a Malay should be nominated. But once the tide was turned, it remained irreversible despite Keadilan campaigners’ continued insistence right up to polling day for Malay voters to vote the opposition party as its candidate is a Malay.

Thus, BN was able to wrest the Malay-majority polling districts of Jaya Setia, Bukit Badong, and Simpang Ijok from Keadilan while causing it to retreat somewhat in Kampung Ijok. Most of the Indian voters remained loyal to the MIC as can be seen in the Indian-majority constituency of Tuan Mee, where out of the 788 Indian voters and 219 Malay voters, Keadilan only managed to get 145 votes. So was in Indian-majority Sungai Darah – 598 Indian voters and 506 Malay voters – where Keadilan netted only 192 votes.

But it was the Chinese voters, whom BN was counting on earlier, who disappointed the coalition. BN noticed the mood swing early and quickly went on a huge offensive in Malay areas. There was something that Anwar said that made sense to them. Though Keadilan put up a credible fight against all that the BN was able to bring to bear on it, what is clear is that the party failed to re-ignite the kind of interest it was able to kindle in 1999.

There was no fresh approaches. It campaigned the way the BN and Umno conduct their campaigns – understandably so as most of its leaders came from there – but lacks the resources of the coalition and its main party.

And because Anwar himself was out in the battle field, his party’s failure will reflect badly on his leadership and his capability of trying to wield together the disparate opposition into a formidable force to challenge the BN whenever the general election is called – which may be sooner rather than later.

Handout Mentality in Practice


So auto sales continue slipping, not just in Malaysia but in some other markets as well.

PROTONS, no thanks to their poor quality image vis-a-vis their price, and poorly thought out body styles, are no exception.

But wait...

Of course PROTON is an exception. They should be protected no? Well at least the PEDA boys, the grouping of PROTON Edar Dealers think so.

Now they want banks and FIs to be given a minimum quota of loan approvals for PROTON cars! Very PEDAs this!

To hell with efforts by banks and the government to lower NPLs, forget good credit ratings. This is a national mission. So help us la, Mr Minister.

PEDA president Wan Ahmad Sepwan Wan Abd Rahman says, (and this is a laugh!):

"It would seem that our banks have placed Proton cars under a high risk category wherein our buyers are given a third class treatment".

Mr President sir, bank loans are approved on the basis or ability to repay, which is then based on your income versus expenses, plus your history of payment with your other dues!

Not because you're buying PROTONs. Jeez! Get real!

The banks don't owe you nothing!

Wolfowitz's End Is Near

World Bank image
Wire reports are in chorus that World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, shamed by the hefty pay rise package for his lover at the organisation, is negotiating his resignation.

That's a first for me: negotiating a resignation?

Well apparently it includes the World Bank acknowledging that Wolfowitz does not bear sole responsibility for the blatant disregard for ethical practices. Sweet.

CNN Money's report here; AP's via Yahoo! here.

The former American ambassador to Indonesia's trip to Eastern Europe has been put o hold as well.

I like how this is likely to end. A person caught with his hand in the jar resigns. Not as quick as what would have happened in Japan or Korea, but Wolfowitz is resigning.

Next question: will we ever see this happening here in Malaysia? Some people say why should it happen here? After all none of our leaders have ever been caught in uncompromising positions have they?

Even if you get caught, overseas, and then tell the court that your English is bad, get found guilty, you can still be in power.

Back to Wolfy, some quarters are saying his resignation is past due; "Throughout his career, everything he has touched has turned into a world-class calamity", says scribe John Seery of the Huffington Post.

He goes on to call him one of Bush's Bumblers. Read it here.

The Economist's e-Readiness Survey 2007


Renowned global economy mag The Economist's Business Information arm runs an annual survey of e-readiness of some 60 countries. The survey began in 2000. Quote:

A country’s “e-readiness” is a measure of its e-business environment, a collection of factors that indicate how amenable a market is to Internet-based opportunities. Increasingly, it is also about how individuals and businesses consume digital goods and services.

It a media release dated April 26th 2007, it revealed the table for 2007. Malaysia finished in 36th position, up a notch from 2006's finish. BERNAMA, in a May 9th article, spins exactly that: Malaysia Moves Up A Notch in e-Readiness Ranking.

But I'd like to raise a question as to why we are at a lowly 36 of 69 countries surveyed? It is a valid question what with the so-called National Broadband Plan launched in 2003, and the push for 3G, HSDPA, WAP, WiMAX etc etc etc.

Take a closer look at the chart:
(first number is 2007 rank, followed by 2006's)
(e-readiness scores, out of 10, in same order)

Economist Intelligence Unit e-readiness rankings, 2007 (out of 69 countries)

1 1 Denmark 8.88 9.00
2 2 USA 8.85 8.88
2 4 Sweden 8.85 8.74
4 10 Hong Kong 8.72 8.36
5 3 Switzerland 8.61 8.81
6 13 Singapore 8.60 8.24
7 5 UK 8.59 8.64
8 6 Netherlands 8.50 8.60
9 8 Australia 8.46 8.50
10 7 Finland 8.43 8.55

16 18 South Korea 8.08 7.90
17 23 Taiwan 8.05 7.51
18 21 Japan 8.01 7.77

24 n.a. Malta** 7.56 n.a.

28 27 Estonia 6.84 6.71
29 28 Slovenia 6.66 6.43

36 37 Malaysia 5.97 5.60
37 39 Latvia 5.88 5.30

49 47 Thailand 4.91 4.63

54 56 Philippines 4.66 4.41
56 57 China 4.43 4.02

67 62 Indonesia 3.39 3.39
68 68 Azerbaijan 3.26 2.92
69 65 Iran 3.08 3.15

2nd, 46th & 54th ranks tied
** New to the annual rankings in 2007.
Source: Economist Intelligence Unit.

At rank 16, South Korea is the highest of any Asian nation excluding Hong Kong and Singapore at 4 and 6 respectively. Hong Kong was 10 last year, while our southern neighbours moved into the top 10 from 13 in 2006.

Above us is Malta, which is included for the first time and Estonia. Among south-eastern Asia, Malaysia expectedly out-ranked Thailand (49), the Phillipines (54) and Indonesia (67).

While Malaysia scored perceptibly better vis-a-vis 2006, the improvement in rank was quite disappointing. There were revised methodology in the latest survey. Excerpts:

* a sharpened focus on the policy environment and e-government, as well as education and innovation

Contrast Malaysia's fortunes against its nearest and not-so-near Asian neighbours. Hong Kong gained 6 steps, Singapore removed 3 steps. Here's why:
Hong Kong (4th), Singapore (6th), South Korea (16th), Taiwan (17th) and Japan (18th) have experienced a boost in 2007 in both scores and ranks. This is due in no small part to their governments' vision and commitment in pushing digital development, and to continued progress in adoption of broadband and other advanced infrastructure

If you ask this blogger, those reasons sound exactly like what Malaysia is advocating. Don't we have a government that is pro-IT? Isn't Lim Keng Yaik's ministry all gung-ho about making broadband available in every nook and corner of Malaysia?

So I'm somewhat perplexed. Granted, making it to the top 10 of this list is not the goal, but when this blogger's dad keeps complaining of his Streamyx's downtime, and the difficulty in getting a line connected months after applying, you do wonder what went wrong. I'm no techie, but I do like to have fast and efficient yet affordable connectivity.

There are 6 categories, which has some 100 qualitative and quantitative criterias, that the study is concerned with:

1. Connectivity and technology infrastructure (20%), which includes the number of broadband connections, mobile phones, Internet users, personal computers, wireless hotspots and secure Internet servers available in relation to the total population. Affordability is also a factor.

2. Business environment (15%). Malaysia should have done well here as it rates issues such as the strength of the economy, political stability, tax issues, competition policy, the labor market, and the country's policy in embracing trade and investment.

3. Social and cultural environment (15%). In this criteria, education level, internet literacy, degree of entrepreneurship, technical ability of the workforce; and the degree of innovation among the population.

4. Legal environment (10%) and rates effectiveness of the traditional legal framework; laws that govern the internet, level of censorship and the ease of registering a new business.

5. Government policy and vision (15%. This scrutinises a government's spending on technology vis-a-vis the GDP, strategies in digital development and e-government and online procurement.

6. Consumer and business adoption (25%). This covers consumer spending on technology per person, the level of e-business development and online commerce, and the availability of online public services for citizens and businesses.

I'm not sure of how Malaysia fared in these criterias, but if you read them and you juxtapose that against what we hear from the responsible Ministry, we should be right up there. Not 36.

Jeff Ooi I'm sure will have choice words. Click here for context.

I am sure you will have plenty to say about internet access in Malaysia. Go on. Be a TMG.

The Phillipines are also grousing. Read a scribe's rant here.