Wednesday, September 7, 2005

"Abdullah To Woo Top Fund Managers With Story of Malaysia's Resilient Economy"

Innovation, Branding & Leadership Woes

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will next week embark on an aggressive plan to sell Malaysia to some of the world’s most powerful fund managers. He will bring to them a story that is not well known outside Malaysia: the story of a country with built-in defences against any economic downturn. The story of a country that can depend on oil and gas and palm oil when the manufacturing and services sectors slow down. His target audience will be 40 fund managers in London and New York, representing some of the world’s top investment companies. This is the first time that he is leading a roadshow with the sole goal of selling Malaysia as a safe and productive place for investments. Accompanying him on the Malaysian Global Roadshow, to the two cities, will be corporate captains of some of the brand name Malaysian companies. They are Datuk Azman Mokhtar of Khazanah Nasional, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh of YTL Corp, Ananda Krishnan of Usaha Tegas, Tan Sri K.T. Lim of Genting Bhd, Datuk Nazir Razak of CIMB, Datuk Ahmad Zubir of Sime Darby, Datuk Tony Fernandes of AirAsia and George Ratilal of Petronas. The roadshow is initiated by Merrill Lynch and ECM Libra, an investment bank.

Pak Lah believes that he has a track record of public sector reforms, including the revamp of government-linked companies (GLCs), to support his message to fund managers. Also, with the ringgit peg removed, there is likely to be less resistance by fund managers to investing in companies here.

The roadshow is also to tell fund managers that there is much more to this country than political stability and its natural resources, two of its main selling points in the past. "Malaysia is built like a Boeing 747. If one engine shuts down, it can still carry on smoothly," Abdullah’s sales pitch.

Great mission Pak Lah and we wish you every success. I am sure you have brought along with you great entreprenuers as a back up.

But, sir, have you considered certain possible questions from your audiences? Would you consider the likely questions that may pop-up in your missions as stated below:

If the foreign investors asked you about the Malay Agenda and your son-in-law's recent statement of which he loudly proclaimed: “No need to hide. This is the Malay agenda. We want 30% equity for the bumiputras so that they will be on par with the other races.” Other races also include Mat Sallehs and all other foreign investors of which many of them are also Chinese and Indians. How would these investors who are Chinese and Indians, Punjabis, Mat Sallehs and Mamaks invest in our country if they pump in their monies and your son-in-law says he wants and is determine to get 30% from them?

Another problem that can surface is: when these investors wants to buy shares in our public listed companies, such as MAS, Telekom, Proton, Tenaga Nasional, etc, and when these companies are suffering losses and mismanagement largely due to the built-in and inherent dysfunctions system, the Malaysian government and UMNO in particular would not allow foreigners and other races who are experts and specialist in turnaround management to be appointed to helm these institutions. UMNO Youth Leader and Education Minister Datuk Hishamuddin said the proposed appointment of a foreigner to lead the nationally-owned carrier by Khazanah could be likened to allowing the country to be recolonised, albeit in a new manner. “Don’t look at it from the commercial aspect but (we) should look at the bigger agenda, that is the Malay Agenda,” Hishamuddin said. Sir, how are you going to respond?

Thirdly, Johor's Chief Minister Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman had criticised the current semi-meritocracy system and called it discriminatory and oppressive and the sole cause of an uneven playing field. If our universities and corporations are to be run by the people who are graduates from our public universities who were admitted without meritocracy and ultimately graduated without the necessary competencies and of which the system administrators manhandled by UMNO Youth would elect or direct all the appointments of executives and senior management based on race and skin colors, would you think the foreign investors are altruist who will be coming here to pour in their billion dollar investments just to help provide employments to UMNO and to give hand-outs to your son-in-laws and his acolytes?

Fourthly, do you believe that these foreign investors are morons and didn't understand our system of renting-seeking and Kautim management? Even Mat Sallehs told me that in Malaysia, everything must Kautim. Didn't you know about it? Just ask your son and son-in-law.