Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Iraqi shoe-thrower captures Mideast rage at Bush- Reuters

By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent - Analysis

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The hurling of shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush on his farewell visit to Iraq strikes many in the Middle East as a fittingly furious comment on what they see as his calamitous legacy in the region.

Arab and Iranian TV stations have gleefully replayed the clip, sometimes in slow motion, of an Iraqi reporter calling Bush a "dog" and throwing his shoes at him -- the Middle East's tastiest insults -- at a Baghdad news conference on Sunday.

The affront was a twisted echo of the triumphal moment for Bush when joyous Iraqis used their footwear to beat a statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by U.S. invading troops in 2003.
"It indicates how much antagonism he's been able to create in the whole region," former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told Reuters, adding that the incident was regrettable.
Bush had harmed America's reputation and the friendship many had felt for it. "Despite past mistakes in its policies, there was always a redeeming factor. In this particular case, there doesn't seem to have ever been a redeeming factor," Maher said.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, who works for independent al-Baghdadiya television, has shot to local stardom for his attack on Bush and his cry: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog."
He has also won instant fame abroad -- a poem on an Islamist website praises him as "a hero with a lion's heart" -- although the Iraqi government slated his "barbaric and ignominious act."
Zaidi's crude public display of disdain for an incumbent U.S. president hit a chord with many in the Middle East.

"The Iraqi journalist is a true and free Baghdadi," said a Saudi private sector employee who gave his name as Abu Faisal. "He was brave and did us proud. Bush destroyed (Iraq) so surely he deserved to be beaten with a shoe."
Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi university lecturer in social politics, said the incident summed up Bush's impact on the Middle East, which "will haunt this region for a long time."
Dakhil, who said Bush had committed war crimes in Iraq after launching a war based on "lies" that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, nevertheless fretted about the shoe-throwing.
"While understandable, it wasn't the most sophisticated and constructive way to express one's anger at Bush, especially coming from an educated Arab journalist. It reinforces the stereotype ideas in the Western world about Arabs."

Some Palestinians, whose hopes of independent statehood have withered in the eight-year Bush era, relished the moment.
"A shoe company in Hebron claimed the attack on Bush and they will give the attacker shoes all his life," runs one joke being exchanged on mobile telephones in the Gaza Strip.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

How to become very rich in Malaysia- The Star

Connections and the ability to flip assets can get you going places

If you have ever wondered how to get rich in Malaysia – fabulously rich and very quickly at that – here’s a model that you might want to look at very closely. Not easy to do but if you do have a couple of projects in the bag, it will set you up for several lifetimes.

First you need connections – strong ones, the higher the better and if it goes right up to the top all the better. You need this because you need to convince the powers that be that your projects are good.But you might ask if your projects are so good, why do you need connections? Why don’t you just go out and execute? Good questions, those. Here’s the answer - you need the state to give you something to do the deal that will help the nation.

Still can’t figure it out? See, it’s like this. You want to help the country, right? The country needs say a port. But you can’t build a port just like that. You need land to build a port. You tell the state or federal government you need land – cheap land, preferably free to build the port.
Or to take another example, you want to help the country by building a power plant. But look, you need land too and not only that you need the power to be sold. So you want an agreement – an iron-clad one to sell the power to Tenaga Nasional and to pass through all costs.

You see, that’s your reward as an entrepreneur – you get someone else to build the power plant, they guarantee the performance of the plant and someone else guarantees to buy your power and pay for all your costs. Nice deal? You bet. Billionaires have been made that way.
Or you may want to start an air hub. If you are persuasive enough, you can even convince the government to compulsorily acquire the land and sell it to you cheap. Once you have cheap land, lucrative contracts and concession agreements, the sky’s the limit.

Let’s take it a step further. If you want to realise the value of all of these things that you have and still keep control of them, it’s nice to have a listed company into which you can inject them. Inject one asset for shares and you gain control of the company.And then inject others over the years for cash, taking the money out of the company. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?Do it right and get a flow of assets to inject in (you can do anything with discounted cash flow valuations – just change the discount rate, and presto, the value changes!), and you get a tidy flow of profits and cash into your personal accounts over the years. I mean a really tidy flow.
Just how much can you make this way, you ask? Why don’t you take a guess first? Did you say RM500mil? Guess again. RM1bil? How about five times that and you may be getting into the right order of magnitude.

One Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary actually made some RM4.5bil that way - actually more because he still controls the listed company. (MMC’s latest RM1.7bil deal irks investors7) We are not saying he is the only one, which makes your chances of joining the ranks better – if you are connected to high places that is.But then again, if things change – and that’s still a big ‘if’ – you might not find it so easy anymore.

P. Gunasegaram is managing editor of The Star. He thinks it is high time we changed the way we did business

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

High Time for Samy to leave...

After the disastrous General Election results in March, reform in the leadership of Barisan National component parties seems to be moving in the right direction with the changing of old guards taken place.Slowly but surely most of the leaders have to give way due to unpopular support from the grassroot members.UMNO President Abdullah Badawi have to step down to pave the way for his Deputy Najib to take over by March next year.

MCA, the second largest component party of the ruling front have just elected Ong Tee Kiat and Chua Soi lek as their new President and Deputy President respectively in the just concluded MCA election last weekend.This is possible as both Ong Ka Ting and Chan Kong Choy refuse to defend their present post.Another component party,Gerakan also see Koh Tsu Khoon returned unopposed as their new President after their veteren leader Lim Keng Yaik retired.

Among the old guards of Dr M era who are still around are MIC president Samy Vellu and UMNO Wanita Chief Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz.Interestingly Datuk Shahrizat, have qualified to contest for the Wanita President post after gaining enough nominations to challenge the incumbent Rafidah even though she have announce her intention not to contest for the President post.

However only MIC President, Samy Vellu have stubbornly refuse to step down even though he was humiliated after losing his Sg Siput Parliament seat.He had yet to see the reality of Malaysian politics.Now he is still keen to fight for his political survival as reported by Athi Veeranggan from Malaysiankini...part of the report are as follows...

Politics is the art of the possible and impossible possibilities becoming impossibilities and vice-versa. MIC president S Samy Vellu stands out among those who have mastered the art.Just two years ago, he backed G Palanivel to challenge and successfully oust incumbent S Subramaniam for the deputy president's post.Prior to that, Subramaniam had been stripped of his government post by the party supremo when he was dropped as MIC candidate for the Segamat parliamentary seat in the 2004 general election

Now, Samy Vellu is said to be planning a reconciliation with his old nemesis Subramaniam to oust Palanivel, with whom the MIC leader no longer sees eye-to-eye.Palanivel was widely regarded as Samy Vellu's successor as party president.Insiders stressed however, that Samy Vellu only wanted Palanivel as an interim deputy to eventually make way for another stalwart, S Sothinathan.The Samy Vellu-Palanivel partnership can be described as rocky at best, and things boiled over just before the March general election, in which many MIC leaders, including the party president and Palanivel, were booted out by voters across the country.Just before MIC's humiliating performance on March 8, Palanivel is believed to have told Barisan Nasional chairman and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that "he was ready to take over MIC" from beleaguered Samy Vellu, who had lost his commanding influence among Malaysian Indians.