Monday, September 4, 2017

Pakatan Harapan Will Not Work with PAS

On Tuesday, I was very much encouraged to know that Pakatan Harapan had arrived at a decision to shut the door on cooperating with PAS in GE14.
This is in spite of the prospect of three cornered fights and even putting their dream of taking over Putrajaya at risk.

In the clearest sign that the opposition coalition is breaking off ties with fellow “opposition” party PAS, PH chairperson Mahathir Mohamad (right) categorically said no such cooperation would happen with the Islamist party at both federal and state levels.
This came after Selangor Menteri Besar and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali highlighted the disquieting fact that his party intend to persist in negotiating with PAS in order to avoid three-cornered fights.
We have been told that any multi-cornered fights in the general election will benefit the incumbent, in this case BN, due to the split in opposition votes. Supposedly.
The hallucinating PKR faction is trying very hard to keep its dream of working with PAS alive. Barely.
Dream on lah because it is not going to work.
The truth of the matter is, these PKR fantasizers actually worry that Selangor – presently under PKR – may swing back to BN. Men and women of little faith.
As far as I am concerned, it was a timely decision because the protracted dilly-dallying is taking its toll on everybody in PH and nerves are getting frayed as a result.
In any case, the PH leadership has finally bitten the bullet and taken on a singular position on PAS.
I am relieved.

I wish I can be in a position where I do not need to fly with AirAsia.

I was in Vietnam from August 31-September 03, 2017.

The Thursday flight to Ho Chi Minh City was delayed by two-and-a-half hours. And to make matters worse, when we landed at Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, we stayed on the tarmac for another thirty minutes.

On the flight home, again it was delayed by an hour. Meaning I reached Kuala Lumpur at 1:00 AM this morning itself.

AirAsia, now everyone can be fashionably late! 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Merdeka 2017

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

Government figures show a 100% reduction in the crime index for every 100,000 local residents and foreigners, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (right) had declared on Monday.
The reduction is based on the National Key Results Areas KPI assessment of the police. At least that was what we were told.
And he was quick to pre-empt any skepticism that doubtful Malaysians might have – he swiftly fired a broadside at those unbelievers.
He said there would always be "individuals, groups and organizations" that would be "envious" of the Home Ministry's achievements.
Since when has Zahid decided to change career to become a stand-up comedian? He was not even funny.
On that same day too, I was in the Carl Zeiss Vision office at Kuchai Exchange within the Kuchai Lama neighborhood in KL.

This was the MidValley Toastmasters meeting that I had participated in and where I had been invited to deliver my CC #9 speech titled “Transformers”.
And I was voted Best Assignment Speaker too.

The Power of Power

When we talk of managerial power, I am reminded of the situation in Malaysia.
It is not just economic power but also political power. This involves state-owned enterprises especially.
In this country, we call them government-link companies (GLCs) or government-linked investment companies (GLICs).
Wan Saiful Wan Jan of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs writing in The Star on August 29, 2017 had defined GLCs as simply companies owned by GLICs, which in turn are used by the Government to manage government investments. 
Using data up to 2013, we know that Government involvement in the economy is massive.
At least 35 public-listed companies constituting an estimated 42% of the total market capitalization of all listed companies in 2013. Through these 35 GLCs, ultimately, the government has connections with more than 68,000 other companies.
And in case you didn’t know, the mother of all entities is MOF Inc. – where already there is a heavy concentration of economic and political power residing in the office of the Prime Minister, and by virtue of him also being the Finance Minister – he too controls MOF Inc.
We all know too well that there is a painful issue here with regard to corporate governance because power rests with one person. And you know who he is!!!
1MDB became a financial farce precisely because of this power convergence. Of course in Malaysia, you can get away with it.
Money greases many palms. Money can even move mountains. Money is also power.
“Power tends to corrupt,” said Lord Acton, the 19th-century British historian. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
This country is sadly corrupt.
My admission: I cannot lie. LOL, I love money too.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

CEO Pay is Rigged

Here’s a follow-up to yesterday’s post.
A Bloomberg article “Excessive CEO Pay for Dumb Luck” by Barry Ritholtz dated March 07, 2017 had claimed “CEO pay is rigged”.
One can only open one’s mouth in sheer horror when one reads that “the compensation packages of the chief executive officers of America have been rising faster than just about any rational metric upon which they are supposedly based”.
An Economic Policy Institute analysis had this to say: “CEO pay grew an astounding 943% over the past 37 years”.
EPI further observed this was a far faster growth rate than “the cost of living, the productivity of the economy, and the stock market”.
The above EPI statements already disproved the claim that CEO pay is reflective of a company’s performance.
What the article tells us is that CEO compensation isn’t the pay for performance its advocates claim. Instead, it is unmoored from any rational basis.
It is simply an inappropriate wealth transfer from shareholders to management.
You can place much of the blame on compensation consultants and the corporate boards that hire them. Boards are supposed to act on behalf of shareholders when they are considering the pay packages created by the former. But the relationships are riddled with conflicts that produced the charade we have today.
Compensation consultants created easily reached targets as a basis for so-called performance-based pay. But even that low bar has been bastardized.
It isn't merely the gluttony; rather, it’s the performance, or often the lack of it.
In the US of A, a great deal of information is being made available regarding this issue of managerial over-compensation. Thanks to one little-known aspect of the Dodd-Frank Act, this has made it easier to compare executive compensation against corporate stock returns.
I read that the results confirmed what some of us have long suspected:
The most overpaid CEOs actually destroy shareholder value.
To quote a Harvard Law School study: “The 10 companies we identified as the most overpaid firms as a group underperformed the S&P 500 index by a gaping 10.5% and actually demolished shareholder value as a group with -5.7% financial returns” (Webpage
It seems that the reality is that shareholders are paying executives big bucks for simply keeping a chair warm during a bull market. That isn’t performance-based pay; it’s dumb-luck-based pay.
Kindly read this book, “Pay Without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation” (Harvard University Press, 2004), authored by Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried.
The book's thesis is that executive compensation practices benefit corporate executives at the expense of shareholders through implicit and explicit corruption of the pay-setting process.
It argues that CEO employment contracts are bad for shareholders (not "optimal") because they are the product of managerial power.
Bebchuk and Fried argue that current executive pay practices are a sign of widespread corporate governance failures, a view that they believe to be supported by scholarly research on executive compensation.
I happen to support this belief.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Greedy Capitalists

British Prime Minister Theresa May labeled businesses who pay excessive salaries to senior executives as the "unacceptable face of capitalism".
She wrote in the Mail on Sunday that the "excesses" of some bosses was undermining confidence and "damaging the social fabric of our country".
But what the Tories are proposing is rather interesting. They are wanting to set up a public register – supposedly “the world’s first of its kind” – where companies that face shareholder revolts over salaries and bonuses are to be identified and named. Something akin to a shame list, I guess.
[Note: The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that a "revolt" would be defined as 20% of shareholder opposition].
Investment Association chief executive Chris Cummings said the register would hold the UK's "biggest businesses to account". Firms on the list would need to detail how they intend to address investors' concerns.
Stefan Stern, director of independent think tank, the High Pay Centre, told the BBC: "The symbolism of being named on a list is something that will get the attention of company boards. They won't want to be on this list, for as well as the adverse attention it brings, it could also make them potentially vulnerable to hostile investors".
Let me give you a couple of examples of executive compensation in the UK.
The Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden saw his total pay package soar by 54% to £7 million last year. The Reckitt Benckiser boss Rakesh Kapoor took a pay cut of one third in 2016 – but still pocketed £14.6 million. And Sir Martin Sorrell took the cake. The advertising giant WPP paid him £42 million last year and £210 million over the past five years.
The assertion in CEO pay is that you get paid for performance. But if you believe R Paul Herman, CEO and founder of HIP Investor, he had claimed that “the highest correlation of performance to pay was only 2 percent” (Webpage
Curbing excessive pay is an extremely important task. I reckon Herman is right when he said: “When CEO pay is excessive, it is destabilizing to the company”.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Malays Don't Need UMNO

Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hassan (right), who is also an UMNO supreme council member, had candidly told the party faithful that Malays don’t need UMNO anymore.
Damn right because the Malays have become a lot smarter.
UMNO have always been repeating the falsehood that if UMNO are defeated in a general election, Malays will lose political power and become strangers in their own land.
Mohamad was quoted by Malay daily, Sinar Harian that UMNO could not afford to cling stubbornly to the belief that Malays will support the party. He said UMNO must desist from repeating "that the Malays need us”.
In his speech at the Sembrong UMNO delegates meeting on Saturday, he debunked the myth that UMNO was Malay and Malay was UMNO – saying instead that it was UMNO that needed the Malays for their continuity and not the other way around.
The political reality is that the Malays have at least 3 other choices. PAS, PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia are all vying for the Malay vote.
UMNO are not the only one that Malays could count on to uphold and fight for their rights.
The Malays should know that the Chinese have given up on MCA a long time ago. The same with Indians and MIC. It is now Malays who must sever their umbilical cord to UMNO.
It’s time to break free from UMNO and be independent.
In the Scottish Premiership match on Saturday between Celtic and St Johnstone, the latter looked to have ended the Scottish champs’ incredible 15-month unbeaten run – when Steven MacLean made his kick count in the thirty-ninth minute.
But the Celts refused to stay down. Callum McGregor's seventy-ninth minute strike rescued a point for Celtic and kept his team’s unbeaten run going another week.
A close shave.
In the EPL game between Liverpool and Arsenal on Sunday, the former easily won 4-0.

Liverpool didn't just beat Arsenal. They thumped them. Trounced them. Torn them apart.

The four goals came from Roberto Firmino (17), Sadio Mane (39), Mohamed Salah (56) and Daniel Sturridge (77).

Liverpool were absolutely brilliant, no question. The pace, the power, the movement.

Daniel Sturridge's 100th goal

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Flag Bloopers

Malaysia is a painful embarrassment!
At the 29th SEA Games (August 19-30, 2017) in Kuala Lumpur, there were errors galore. If you don’t know already, I am referring to the flag bloopers.
It started with the commemorative booklet – which had the Indonesia flag the wrong way around. This made it appear as the Poland flag.

This received an avalanche of flak before Wisma Putra issued a formal apology to Indonesia for the "unfortunate situation".

And if you check out state broadcast station, RTM’s screenshot above, the Singapore flag is shown as Vietnam, the Thailand flag as Singapore, the Indonesia flag as Thailand, the Vietnam flag as Indonesia, the Myanmar flag as Philippines, the Philippines flag as Myanmar, the Cambodian flag as Laos, and the Laos flag as Cambodia.
Only Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Timor Leste had their flags correctly assigned to the rightful countries.
It means we got 8 out of 11 flags wrong in the medal tally broadcast on Day 5.
[The Star Online quoted RTM director-general of broadcasting, Abu Bakar Ab Rahim as admitting the mistakes during its news segments on Thursday and Friday].

Photo via fandylo on Twitter
And not forgetting, a Malay daily had mistaken Poland’s flag for Indonesia’s.

Then a Malaysian swimmer, Keith Lim Kit Sern was shown in a television broadcast tagged with a Singapore flag.

Not only that – but he was labeled KUL (presumably for Kuala Lumpur) instead of MAS for Malaysia.

TV3, another TV station had a SEA Games schedule for football with what appeared to be a wrong flag attributed to Indonesia. The semi-finals match listed as Thailand-Indonesia showed the latter with a Myanmar flag.
Then again, the match should actually be between Thailand and Myanmar – so the flag was right but the listed country was wrong.
[And if you already didn’t notice, the second semi-finals match between Malaysia and Indonesia had misspelt our neighbor as “Idonesia”].
One event riddled with so many blunders. Malaysia Tidak Boleh!