Our cappuccino chat was planned since last week but again.. due to scarcity of available time, we only manage to meet today. A plan for a quick cappuccino lasted for hours. We both share some common interest especially in marketing. how to draw, attract and capture the attention of the public mass. we chatted and discussed and chatted and agree for a tie-up... but that cant be discussed in this article pending the Press conference.. soon.
Amongst other topics that was discussed is the topic that is close to our heart as well as many Malaysians, the Malaysian Politics. It occur to me, every time i chatted about politics, that i am a direct by-product of the government policies.. yes we all are but i really felt the benefit of a good and a bad policy.
Without being subjective on what policies worked and what doesnt, i would like to relate to the government policies that directly affected me. For a start, i was sick... almost dead and requires a Bone marrow transplant immediately. I was lucky to have Emi, my sister as a donor... though initially, After testing all my siblings for a match, my younger sister Dr Ta and Amnan, my youngest brother was supposed to be the bone marrow donor but was found incompatible a month prior to the operation. Imagine my reaction when i was told that both Dr Ta and Amnan who were supposed to be a match turn out to be incompatible and i was in London without any donor. Thank god when the hospital did another test on all my siblings, they discover Emi, my youngest sister's bone marrow was compatible. (wait for the launch of my book for full detail).
Anyway, being sick, the total cost of the Bone marrow transplant was a few hundred thousand Malaysia Ringgit.. oh god! My dad being a civil servant simply cannot afford the exorbitant cost. But being a civil servant, and a good health policy, the government paid for my bone marrow transplant (thank you god). getting the initial approval for my transplant was another story (I cant wait to launch my book... ) My transplant was made possible because of certain policy in place.
Having successfully underwent the bone marrow transplant in London (Malaysia cannot perform the bone marrow transplant during that time), i studied and pass both my GCSE (Malaysian SPM equivalent) and A'levels the same year. i pursue my degree in Buckingham University, England under MARA scholarship and graduated when i was 20 years old.. the MARA scholarship or... well a convertible loan which was converted into a scholarship when i graduated with honours and a good result, was part of the Government NEP.
After my graduation, i worked for the Commerce International Merchant Bankers Berhad in the Corporate Finance department and gained the best insight into the Corporate sector and had the best exposure from Malaysia rapid growth, again thanks to the government far-sighted Vision 2020.
I left a comfortable banker's life to i started my own business operating a Proton Edar dealership in 1997. Thanks to the government vision & enthusiasm in the national car project, i was able to learn the automotive trade. i started my second business a Proton Edar Service Centre which was my only breadwinner during the 1998 financial crisis.
Hence, the benefits i gained from the governments vision and policies. However, during the 1998 financial crisis, similar to most businessmen, i suffered major set-back. My dad sold our house in Kelantan to salvage my dealership though it was my business and not his (thank you god for blessing me with a lovely dad). During the financial crisis, from my naive observation, i noticed and observed what i deemed as the root of our country's problem.. that almost led to my death as a business man. i was only 23 years old when the financial crisis started in late 1997.
The Prime Minister during that period was Tun Dr Mahathir and his deputy Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim was also the Chancellor of the Exchequer or Finance Minister.
TDM wanted to retire (that is how i perceived when Tun took many holidays and did a lot of travelling leaving Malaysia to Dato Seri) and had allow Dato Seri to resume many of his responsibilities. Dato Seri knew if Tun retires now and he became the PM, he would have nothing left (giant Conglomerate) to control. At that point, almost all of Malaysia infrastructure the PLUS highway was under Halim Saad, What goes on the road, Proton cars (DRB-HICOM & PROTON) was under Yahaya Ahmad. Malaysia Airlines was under Tajudin Ramli, Bakun was under Ting Pek Khiing, IPP, Konsortium perkapalan, TNB were all privatised to Tun so called cronies. thus Dato Seri would be the PM but Tun will still have a major influence of Malaysia. Dato Seri knew that he had to regain some control of Malaysia infrastructure and increased the interest rate to the highest knowingly Tun's cronies were all highly geared. When these Cronies were not able to repay the gearing, their companies will be under the administration of Danaharta. Danaharta is under the Ministry of Finance inc... hence Dato Seri.
In his greed for control and power, raising interest rate for personal gain, small time business fellow like me suffers and almost died. My dealership end-up having to pay the bank all my profit from selling new proton cars and some cars that was under the 'floor-stocking' facilities had accumulated interest rate so much that all the proceed from the sales of the bungalow (that my dad sold to help me out in business) was paid for the acumulated Bank floor-stocking facility interests. During the financial crisis, hire-purchase loan for customers to buy cars were frozen. I was stuck with more than 40 cars under floor-stocking for more than 1 year. you can calculate the interest rate that had accumulated.
It did not help having people like Stanley tan, Proton Edar (formerly known as USPD) General manager (now happily retire with a few proton dealership that he had accumulated during his tenure as well as a golden handshake for serving Proton Edar) forcing us to pay for all cars allocated (that we never wanted) although the economy was so bad.
When Dato Seri was sacked, Tun took the extra responsibility as the Finance Minister, and a month later, all hire-purchase loan was re-open and interest rate was reduced and i was able to sell Proton cars again. We, the small businessmen can see who makes a better Finance Minister.
I became a vendor shortly after the recession and appreciate the opportunity that was made possible by the government's vision in the automotive.
In short, i am not aligned to any political party (this is another story for later) and i am not interested to become a politician (not yet..) but we have to be careful with the person that we elect to hold office as our lives as a business man will be effected. We should never vote for individual. we should vote for the political resolution and manifesto.
Now with Pak Lah as the PM, the same thing what Dato Seri wanted to do, was recycled again but instead of the Danaharta taking administrative control, all the privatised projects was re-corporatised under a new term called GLCs and then the government initiate PFI (private fund initiative) which is simply another word for 'privatisation. so... why re-corporatise all Tun M's privatised project to privatise them again under GLC and PFI..? Thus far, our life as a business man is very uncertain with all the commodity price increase. if the interest rate was again used for political mileage, all businesses will collapse similar to the 1998 financial crisis.
Me and Emran, spoke about many other issues but that will be a topic for another session.