Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Is Your "Door 2" Value?

This posting was done 3 years ago, I think I have a bunch of new readers now. Good to rethink our "Door 2".

A fellow blogger put up the following choice: open Door 1 and get RM1,000 or try Door 2 for RM5,000. The thing is Door 2 has only a 50% chance of RM5,000. Hence opening Door 2 can give one of two outcomes: zero or RM5,000. Which door would you take?
Are you a risk taker or risk averse? Or do you make your decisions professionally and mathematically? If it’s the latter, chances are you are likely to choose Door 2 because 0.5 x RM5,000 = RM2,500 which is, of higher value than RM1,000.

Let’s go further on this hypothesis. Now, let’s say Door 1 will get you RM500,000 for sure while Door 2 provides a 50% chance to pocket RM10mil. This is where it gets interesting. For many, RM500,000 can pay off your mortgage or send a couple of kids to a foreign university. Hence when faced with the same situation, the theoretically correct and risk-positive choice may not be taken by most. The Door 2 choice has a mathematical reward of 0.5 x RM10mil = RM5mil, but many will not choose that option.

It boils down then to a person’s net worth and their tolerance of risk. If your net worth is RM1mil or less, Door 2 would not even be a choice. However, if you are worth RM50mil, you probably would take Door 2.
Hence, where is our mathematical evaluation of risk and reward? The things we study at business schools and MBAs. The stuff you learn for CFA ... all out the window.


This highlights where textbooks theory diverges from what happens in reality. We all make financial decisions based on things more than just pure mathematical models.
We are not robots. Seemingly, if we look at each and every financial decision, it is based on more than just cold-blooded numbers.

Is it any wonder then that the markets cannot be understood just via numbers and valuations alone. Things we cannot explain, we call them sentiment or momentum or over-sold or over-bought ... you get the drift.
You extrapolate the choices further and you will find investors, who usually start off with a proper well-researched decision on what stock to buy. The same person will make an illogical decision to cut-loss, or take profit too early because there were other factors that will come into the picture for them. Sadly, these “usually irrational” factors tend to play a much bigger role in determining an investor’s final decision. It will cloud and distort.

Models & Madness

A failure to properly evaluate the risk and pricing of collateralised debt obligations and other structured debt products was one of the problems that brought turmoil to the securitisation market last year.
Industry experts are now saying market participants shouldn’t rely exclusively on mathematical models but should also use the social sciences to understand behaviours — of home owners, for instance. It seems that risk management is no longer a science but an art form. Although bubble behaviour looks stupid in retrospect, many intelligent people get caught up in it.

Did the models adequately take into account the cumulative human forces of optimism, gullibility, short-term focus, genuine belief in momentum, extrapolation of so-far-profitable speculations, group psychology, and increasing fraud?
We need to allocate sophisticated numbers to these intangibles.

Values & Ethics

If we were to take this a step further, you can find risk-reward relationship in other more important areas. Intangibles such as a person’s values or ethics can even be measured. These supposedly absolutes are not really absolutes in reality.

Take corruption or insider trading. Most will say they are against both. However, no one can say with absolute certainty until they have actually been posed with a real choice. Door 1 gives you zero value, and Door 2 is doing some corruption, or acting on some insider information and being rewarded with RM10,000. How well do your values stack up? What if Door 2 is now worth RM1mil? How about RM10mil? Almost everyone has a “Door 2”, what is your “Door 2” value? Some will be a function of their net worth, what is that “x” value? 3x, 5x, 10x ?? Trouble is some also hold bargain basement sales.

Now, even graduate business schools everywhere is teaching ethics. That is quite pointless because they can't really be taught. You may learn why you need to be ethical but you cannot inculcate ethical behaviour unless it comes from introspection. The best we can hope for is regulation. Know the boundaries. A person can still score 100% in ethics class and still churn out Milkens and Boeskys.

That’s why when business, finance, politics mesh - values and ethics are, in most cases, fluid. Hence the comedic routine: “Ethics, I’m so poor I cannot afford to have ethics”.

Regulating risk taking

Hence most countries cannot rely on their people to behave in the appropriate manner all the time. That’s where regulation comes it. There must be punishment, rules and guidelines.
For these rules and laws to be effective, there must be effective regulation and enforcement as well or else the rules and punishment will be as there were none at all. Sometimes a low corruption index does not mean the people are inherently “good”. It may just mean they have heavy-handed punitive measures and very effective regulatory processes. In the same vein, a high corruption index does not mean most of the citizens are evil. It may just mean lax regulation and enforcement.

What is your “Door 2”? Does it have a value? Do you know that figure even? Which is why one shouldn’t be overzealous in proclaiming that they are righteous or have a high ethical standard - it may only mean you haven’t been offered a proper “Door 2” yet.

Is it any wonder that monks lock themselves in monasteries, probably to avoid ever having to come face to face with their “Door 2”.

photos: Jolin Tsai

Monday, May 30, 2011

Learning From Genting's Excellent Strategy

First and foremost, I am not a big fan of Genting Group, in particular, I think its corporate governance and transparency should be a lot better. The top compensation packages for certain people are too outrageous for my cup of tea. Its akin to running it like a family owned unit rather than a publicly listed concern.

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That aside, when they do something well, we should applaud and try to learn from it. It was a far fetched idea when Genting was bidding for one of the IR slots. Surely they were in stiff competition where global operators with "more experience" in transplanting a lavish IR were around.

The other thing that I counted against Genting was their tacky taste in design and fit outs. I mean, look at Genting Highlands. Even the new resort at Sentosa has some "cringe worthy" design flaws. Call it taste, class or ambiance, either you have it or you don't. You may be able to buy the most expensive design brains, but when top management has the right to overrule and make changes, you get the watered down version.

To succeed where others failed. In hindsight, this is the key to winning the Sentosa IR bid. Track onto what the client really wants, tap their insecurities, concerns and expectations. The thing is, most clients will NEVER tell you their real insecurities and underlying expectations - which inevitably will be what they finally base their decision making process on, but most of the times are never enunciated. Instead of just presenting what you think is a lavish, mega entertainment, modern, high-tech concept ... did anyone really address Singapore's insecurities, concerns and expectations?


How did Genting do it? They had one advantage, being close neighbours, we all understood how Singapore think and operate. Kiasu and kiasi, though often bandied around as jokes, have more truth in them than meet the eyes.

Their main concerns: must more than match the glitz of Macau, complete with being a super entertainment and shopping mecca for MICE as well. That was accomplished with Sands. You don't need two of that, hence the Sentosa IR has to be different than the one in the city.

Singapore concern is not Las Vegas, Australia or Monaco ... its Macau/HK. The Sentosa IR was an opportunity to match or take a large stride to overhaul HK, or improve on what HK offers. HK has Disneyland, so Universal Studios is a good match. The fact that Disneyland has an on/off ploy to operate in Iskandar only played into Genting's understanding of Singapore's concerns. You don't need another Disneyland, so close to HK's. It has to be different.

The other thing was Ocean Park in HK. Walla ... Ocean Park being pretty dated now would now be usurped by Sentosa's "world's largest oceanarium".


The third concern would have been the casino in Genting Highlands. You want outright cannibalism with the IRs or someone who will work harder to make the IR a success even though there is another casino a few hours away. Better to work with the "enemy" than to fight them tooth and nail.

Developer Resorts World Sentosa said it will open the "world's largest oceanarium" in the middle of next year, which is expected to lure tourists away from the venerable Ocean Park. After taking on Hong Kong Disneyland with Universal Studios Singapore, the Lion City is set to unveil a rival to Ocean Park.

Marine Life Park, an eight-hectare home to 700,000 fish inside a 30-million-liter lagoon, is on track for Sentosa's phase two expansion, which also includes a maritime museum, an aquarium and two hotels. Ocean Park covers 87 hectares but its Grand Aquarium contains only 5,000 fish of more over 400 species. The new marine park was revealed at Friday's grand opening of Universal Studios Singapore, one of the resort's anchor attractions on an island off the southern coast.


Its official opening came nine months after its soft launch and was attended by former American Idol judge and now X Factor USA judge Paula Abdul and iconic Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung Man-yuk.

"The advantage we probably have here is that the Universal Studios is in the same resort as the Marine Life Park," said Sentosa executive chairman Lim Kok Thay. "When compared with Hong Kong, we actually have two in one [attractions]."

He admits that Marine Life Park "shares a lot of similarities in concept" with its competitor in Hong Kong, adding the resort learned a lot from the Ocean Park group in particular. It is in the same HK$41 billion integrated resort with the movie theme park and a casino, which was developed by Genting Singapore.

The city-state's concentrated effort to lure tourists away from neighboring travel destinations such as Hong Kong has been paying off. Last year, it welcomed a record 12 million visitors, a year- on-year rise of around 25 percent. Since March, Universal Studios Singapore has attracted about two million visitors, of whom 75 percent are foreigners.

The 20-hectare theme park now has 21 rides and shows in seven themed zones, the newest a river boat ride. It launched the world's tallest dueling roller coasters, Battlestar Galactica, in February. Universal Studios Singapore, the second of its kind in Asia after the one in Japan, covers an area of 25 football fields - smaller than Ocean Park and the world's smallest Disneyland in Hong Kong.

Ocean Park welcomed the marine park, saying it would generate competition and attract more tourists to Asia.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fancy A RM20 Bowl Of Noodles

Yes, its that expensive cause they ladle up tons of seafood and home made goodies. Its seafood noodles. The food is pretty good, the soup base itself is "sweet and refreshingly clear". The white ballish things are not your fishballs but delectable small fresh scallops. Go and pick your noodles, soup or dry version, and then your preferred accompaniments, or just campur-campur.

You should also order a side bowl of fish stomach and fish liver. The latter has the taste and consistency of uni/foie gras (though you must stand the fishy taste), they are very good.

Some rave about the chilli belacan sauce, its OK, could have done with better toasting of belacan and more calamansi, but still decent. The other side dish that a lot of customers would order is their home made fried fish cake, very springy.

Its the place with two restaurant signs, didn't bother to ask which is the correct one. Its located at Jalan SS4c/5. If you are travelling on LDP from Damansara to Federal Highway, once you see the big Cathoclic church on the right, veer left and you will see Caltex, turn left, go about 400 meters, left again and your are there.

Testimony, bill for 2!!! Had to be good, judging from the amount of fish, fish head and other seafood they go through ... you tend to get a very swift turnover and preserves the freshness of produce. I think they are open for early lunch around 11am till 3pm, but not much goodies left after 2pm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another Day In Paradise, Another MAS

When government makes their budget allocation, when they spend the revenues they receive from taxes, duties, our natural resources - they are basically directing how our funds are properly allocated and accounted for. Just because the other person did not touch you does not mean its not "rape". Just because it did not come directly from our wallets does not mean the money does not belong to the us (the public).

Why were people angry when it comes to MAS bailout? Why do we need to bailout the water companies now? Where is the business logic? Is it similar to the US bailouts of banks and insurance firms? No, at least that was too major a situation which could have jeopardise the entire financial industry for years.

What are we jeopardising here?
When these companies gleefully pay themselves dividends in the past, now the government has to step in? Can we get back the dividends then?

IF THATS THE CASE, LET ME RUN A GLC, I WILL MAKE HUGE BETS BY INVESTING IN VARIOUS VENTURES USING FUNDS RAISED VIA BONDS AND SUCH. When they pay off, I will be a grand hero and reward myself and my cronies richly. When they fail, I can come up with 101 excuses and the government will redeem the bond at par. How to fucking lose???

What kind of entrepreneurship mentality are we cultivating here?
Gawd, a few of the owners of these companies are already worth hundreds of millions and they don't stand to lose a sen.

Is it because they cannot collect rates from users, or they are not allowed raise rates, which is why the government has to "pay"??? What kind of business model did they all set out to do from the start before committing billions? Why is it then that companies are sooo keen to own these "water companies"? How can they make hundreds of millions before and pay themselves big dividends? What went wrong?
Why is it that the government always have to bail out these losers?

Want to define what are wastage and leakages ... this is a prime example, people.


Pua: Water bonds premium price abuse of public funds

May 27, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — The federal government’s decision to buy back Selangor water bonds at a significant premium is not only an abuse of taxpayers’ monies but borders on the outrageous, Tony Pua has said.

Quoting The Edge Financial Daily, the DAP publicity chief said the RM6.5 billion rescue deal will see Putrajaya acquire the bonds for 94.49 against a mark-to-market value of only 54.54 at the end of last month, or 73.2 per cent above market value.

Pua (picture) said the bond buyback, which will be done through the Water Asset Management Company’s (PAAB) wholly-owned unit, Acqua SPV Bhd, was akin to the bailout of Malaysian Airlines System Bhd (MAS) in 2000 when the government paid 121 per cent above market value for Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli’s shares.

Putrajaya has also not been clear on how it plans to restructure Selangor’s water industry in line with the Water Services Industry Act 2006 after taking over the debts and whether water concessionaires will be required to repay the government, he said.

The Petaling Jaya MP said it was inexplicable that the government would settle outstanding bonds of privatised water companies when the companies’ shareholders should be taking responsibility for their own debt.

“In fact, when these companies were profitable, they have declared handsome dividends for their shareholders. Among the concessionaires, Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Holdings (Splash), whose parent company is Gamuda Bhd, declared dividends of RM578.6 million in 2007 while Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd (PNHB) had declared dividends amounting to RM214 million between 2006 and 2010,” he said in a statement today.

“The above certainly makes true the dictum of the BN government privatising profits and socialising losses by taking over the debt burden of these companies.”

Pua said that Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin should disclose terms of the bailout as it will affect the basic right to water of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya residents, as well as billions of ringgit in taxpayers’ monies.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Commentary On Selected Stocks

UEM Land - Rose to the top of volume charts but price was still in the negative territory. Obviously there was a push, looks to be a sustainable one but will have to take out a lot of stale bulls holding the stock when it went above RM3.00. Indications are that Singapore government agencies will be inking some mega land deals in Iskandar region.

MAA - The boy who cried wolf. So many times that many are dismissing it. Following the torrid run up recently, the stock has held up extremely well, indicating a genuine deal is likely. Submission has been made to Bank Negara for approval. Apparently should be forthcoming very soon. Pricing may not be as enticing as some silly rumours but still good. The deal is likely to be struck around 2.5x book which is close to RM2.30 range.

Century Software - Following the bonus issue, looks like wanting to have a run. Pure trade.

K Fima - Strong whispers on taking the other subsidiary private, which will boost liquidity and earnings visibility, and unlock some value. OK to buy and hold.


NOTE: The above opinion is not an invitation to buy or sell. It serves as a blogging activity of my investing thoughts and ideas, this does not represent an investment advisory service as I charge no subscription or management fees (donations are welcomed though). I may have a position in the counter already. The content on this site is provided as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content, shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial instrument. The ideas expressed are solely the opinions of the author. Any action that you take as a result of information, analysis, or commentary on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I Am Still In Malaysia

The Malaysian Insider is running a series of articles submitted by various Malaysians on the brain drain issue and emigration. I guess its only fair for me to put in my dua sen.

Did I have the opportunity to leave? That would be the first line of questioning. Yes, in fact most of my relatives are already residing in Sydney. I was working part time as a taxi driver in Sydney during my second and third year at University of NSW, which is to say I barely made it to classes especially in my third year. Thankfully, third year was the easiest, lots of essays.

I had to stay on after my degree after hearing my friends were getting RM400 a month as an accontant at Peat Marwick in KL. Gawd, it was just after the Pan-el crisis (readers younger than 40 please Google that before proceeding). Surely I was not going to go back and slog as an accountant with my Acctg Finance degree for RM400. Not when I was puling in A$90 for 9 hours as a taxi driver, tax free. (OK, its 20 years ago).

I had to enrol for my honours year just to stay on. I thought, fine, as the honours year could count as the first year for my Masters of Commerce as well. I would have to pay A$6,500 but I reckon I could make it back easily. So, no more cab driving, got myself an Asst. Accountant job at a NGO, Freedom From Hunger, hey they paid A$24,000 a year, even though the premises looked like a replica of the Sarawak longhouse (don't ask).

That stint as an accountant did wonders for me, it made me very sure that I would never ever want to be an accountant for the rest of my life. That lasted 4 months and I jumped at a Trainee Sales position at Nomura Securities Australia, gawd, I even had to take a pay cut to A$21,000. I was a natural salesperson, b.s. my way selling Japanese stocks, CBs, warrants and within 6 months I had a company car (Mitsubishi Sigma) and a 100% jump in my salary to A$42,000, and I wasn't even 24.

After two years my salary was bumped to A$65,000 with the usual 4 months bonus. Then James Capel was looking at how great the Asian markets were and was looking for someone to start a desk. At 26, I moved to James Capel as Head of Asian Markets. I asked for A$120,000 just for the fun of it, but they said yes OK. Gulp...

Now, I could have stayed there and move around every 3 years and before I was 40 I'd probably be running the Investments side for Bankers Trust or Suncorp or AMP. But it wasn't so easy. I could see that the higher rungs were limited in prospects for non whites. The culture was still very old school. There was too much rugby, beer, cricket, rugby 7s, prostitutes, etc... and you had to work the system.

Chinese Name: Yang Ying 楊穎
Date of Birth: February 28, 1989
Place of Birth: Shanghai, China
Background: Her father is 1/4 German
Place of residence: Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Height: 167 cm
Weight: 46 kg

If I didn't mind, I could have just stayed on and lived comfortably. But I made my way back to Malaysia because I thought if everyone felt the same way, no one would do anything for the country. I have a lot of Ipoh friends who studied in NUS and now making great careers in Singapore, not one out of the twenty or so friends came back. All of them have more more than S$400,000 in the CPF and almost paid off at least one condo (min. S$800,000), the richer ones have a few properties of course.

But I had to make a detour first to Singapore before coming back as there were still (then) zilch opportunities) for me back home. I stayed in Singapore for 3 years managing funds for a private European bank. Funny thing was, I really liked business and finance, and I really liked to write, so I applied twice to The Straits Times and Business Times Singapore. I was offered twice, once for S$7,200 p.m. and another time for S$7,800 p.m. to work there. Sigh... things would have been very different if I took that up. I did a couple of columns for Business Times instead..lol.

Did I make a difference by staying? I don't know. I wanted to find out for myself, career wise, how far I could go in my country. In my small ways, I hope to be part of the struggle to get Malaysia to a better place. Even though, I may not live to see it, even though (if) I had children, they may not even stay in Malaysia ... even so, I want to see Malaysia progress. If every one just shrug their shoulders and pack their bags, who is left to switch off the lights?

Hong Kong model Angelababy Diesel Be Stupid

Angelababy Diesel Be Stupid on Hotspot magazine

I came back because I wanted to read papers that talks about things I care about. I pick up the Sydney Morning Herald, I just head straight for the puzzles column and sports section. Food is the least of my worries, there's always good food everywhere you go. Family, heck, I could have brought my entire family over.

I do not see this as a sacrifice, just my chosen path. I do not begrudge anyone. I make my way around, I live well enough ... but please fellow Malaysians, make a difference, remember to vote, get your friends to vote, get your relatives to vote ... or else don't ever complain about the country.

Angelababy Diesel Be Stupid on Hotspot magazine

Angelababy Diesel Be Stupid on Hotspot magazine

Check Out Hakka Republic!

See you there!!!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

A Few Good Men

Koon Yew Yin is now more known for his philanthropy and awesome stock picking skills. We should not forget that the great man was also the co-founder of not just one but 3 of the top listed construction firms (IJM, Gamuda, Mudajaya) in the country. I mean one is already a fantastic achievement, but 3 is .... I am running out of superlatives.

And so... at IJM's annual dinner, in light of Krishnan Tan's exit from his CEO post, Koon made the following speech:


My purpose of reproducing my speech here is to record the CEO of IJM, Dato Krishnan Tan’s excellent performance which will be a useful lesson to many an executive who is aspiring to be a good CEO. This lesson is very essential especially in view of the significant number of poorly managed listed companies. As one of the founders of IJM, I feel obliged to record my appreciation of his excellent achievement.

In 1997 when Krishnan took over the helm as CEO, the market capitalization of the company was only Rm 441 million and basing on the current share price, its market cap is more than Rm 7 billion. Krishnan has made the company 15 times larger in 13 years. His performance as a CEO must be among the best in Malaysian corporate history.

There are about 1,200 public listed companies in Malaysia. A significant number of them are performing below the Kuala Lumpur Stocks Index. As we all know that the share price of any company moves up and down for various reasons but if a company share consistently performs poorly over long period of time, the reason is often due to bad management.

There is a classical saying ‘Good management produces good share price and bad management produces bad share price’. This simply means that if management cannot continue to enhance shareholders value by making increasing profit every year, its share price will remain depressed. But in case the share price still remain depressed in spite of showing increasing profits, management must find out why?

A CEO is the highest ranking officer in a business organization. He reports to the board of directors which is presided by the chairman. In some companies the role of the chairman and the CEO is the same person. But in larger companies, like IJM Corporation, the chairman is an independent and non executive director. As a result, all the business decisions taken at the board level are based on consensus. Any director can voice his opinion. There is a classical saying ‘I never learn anything from the people who always agree with me’. The board reports to the investors who are actually the owners of the company and the management’s main object is to enhance shareholders value by making more profit every year.

At every occasion when I praise Krishnan, he would say that it was the basic management method established by the founders that made his work so easy to perform. What he said is not completely true. He is too humble to take all the credit for himself. As far as I can remember is that we have a weekly meeting among all the heads of divisions to evaluate the work done during the week and see how we can improve our efficiency. We must always consider new idea or proposal to expand our business.

Since 1997 when Krishnan became the CEO, the speed of doing business had increased tremendously due to the use of the computer and the internet. Many businesses are going global at a faster pace than before. In fact, dependency of business on technology is making business more complex and challenging. The competing forces are growing at a much faster rate, competing choices to a customer is just a click away. It is getting ever more difficult to get and retain a customer, since switching to find a cheaper resource is just a click in a few seconds. All correspondence can be sent by email and frequently you can receive a response almost instantly.

So if you aspire to become a CEO, then start behaving like a CEO and be willing to consider new ideas and opinions. You must realize that it is so foolish to think that you already know everything.

There are other qualities that one must also develop as follows:

- Never write an insulting memo or letter to anybody including your sub-ordinate staff because it reflects on yourself. This is not the best way to promote cooperation among your team members.

- Emotional competence is an important quality to have, as it can take you to a next level that the technical competence alone cannot.

- Always listen attentively and speak only when required.

- Be honest, diligent and down-to-earth.

- Be yourself and speak your mind in a tactful and diplomatic manner.

- Before you start work every morning, sort out your priorities and think on ways to improve your work.

- Attitude is most important. Will you react positively?

Reaching the top is not difficult, especially you have a rich father or political connection, but staying on the top to enhance shareholders value continuously is.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Zeti Or Mulyani, Please!

I hope either Zeti or Mulyani gets the position. About time an Asian gets there.

Zeti one of Bloomberg columnist’s top picks to head IMF

May 20, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Bloomberg columnist William Pesek has picked Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz as one of his four nominees to head the prestigious International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The position became vacant following the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was arrested in New York, and is presently facing sexual assault charges.

In his column yesterday, Pesek proposed that an Asian take over the role of the global institution that has traditionally been filled by Europeans and shortlisted regional candidates which he felt could bring a fresh perspective to the institution.

Pesek praised Zeti (picture) for her “street smarts” and said that she was part of the team that “bet against the IMF and won” in the aftermath of the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis when Malaysia declined aid from the IMF.

“In the late 1990s, it seemed inevitable that Malaysia would join Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea in accepting multibillion-dollar IMF bailouts and stringent conditions like raising interest rates, cutting spending and letting irresponsible companies fail,” said Pesek.

“Malaysia said no and Zeti helped it weather the turbulence. And then she watched the US, in the height of hypocrisy, do all the things it told Asian officials not to do. Zeti would bring a different perspective to the IMF, one much-needed.”

Pesek noted that Zeti is one of the most internationally respected central bankers and played a key role in turning Kuala Lumpur into a global hub of the USD 1trillion (RM3 trillion) Islamic finance industry.

The other Asian officials favoured by Pesek were Japanese economist Haruhiko Kuroda, former Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the former head of the IMF’s independent evaluation office Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The veteran financial columnist said that the idea that an European run the IMF is an “anachronistic” idea given that the West still comprises the core of a financial system that is tilting toward Asia and that it makes sense to tap someone from a region that rebounded from its own financial crisis in stunning fashion to help Europe deal with its current one.

He said that it is time for Asians to ask: “Isn’t now the time to install one of their own as IMF managing director?”

Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF on May 18, four days after his arrest.

Zeti was the first woman in Malaysia and Asia to head a central bank and scored an ‘A’ in the annual Central Banker Report Card by the New York-based Global Finance magazine, alongside Jean-Claude Trichet (European Central Bank), Glenn Stevens (Reserve Bank of Australia), Stanley Fischer (Bank of Israel), Lee Seongtae (Bank of Korea), Fai-Nan Perng (Taiwan Central Bank) and Durmus Yilmaz (Central Bank of Turkey).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Commentary On Selected Stocks

Hap Seng - The euphoria died a slow and painful death. Unfortunately normal investors only got wind of the poor placement when its all a bit late. After hitting a high of RM7.36, the promoters were all geared up to place out 124.5m shares, hopefully at RM6.10-6.20. To do that they probably had to make sure the mother share stayed above RM6.50. But there were apparently almost zilch takers above RM6.00 for the new shares.


Again, painfully, normal investors do not get wind of this information till its too late. The company could abandon the exercise or still push through, but the new shares will have to be priced a lot lower than RM6.00. Finally done at RM5.25 and even then only 43.8m out of 124.5m proposed amount.

Is there light at the end of all this? Well, yes, in that the indication was to have been 62m shares but only 43.8m was placed out in the end, an indication that the company was not willing to issue too many shares at the eventual pricing. There is a second phase whereby following the exercise, the company can prove to those who did not subscribe at higher levels that they missed a great opportunity.

In hindsight, the whole strategic exercise was very good, but the promoters were too greedy, I mean the shares were whacked all the way from below RM4.00 to RM7.36 - many institutional investors would immediately turn wary of such a jump prior to an exercise which they were being asked to pony up for new shares, when they could have bought new shares at RM4.00 or below if the promoters HAD NOT collected shares like nobody's business prior to that. Too greedy and not leaving enough on the table for others to make.


So how? It would take some time to work through the exercise, new shares floating, bonus issues and all. I guess if you have no positions, HapSeng at current levels of below RM5.30 is OK but be prepared to go through the exercise. If you have Hap seng at higher levels, I don't think its necessary to average, just go through the exercise and hopefully you should at least make back the difference on an ex-basis.

Mclean -The worst IPO in recent times, any reason, maybe because its Kenanga led? Either the promoters / owners were really naive or really smart. Its not a terribly high paid up, plus the shares DID NOT even went for any kind of goreng activity, there was like no one "taking care" of the counter. Judging from the stupid volume, everybody who got the private and public placements sold. There was no support from anyone.

Why I said naive ... the whole setup, if properly managed would have seen sustained demand and the shares could have held up well above 70 sen. Why I said they could be really smart ... they could be really smart if they anticipated sufficient buying for the first two days which would allow all shares to be out, by last Monday which was T+4, that should flush almost all traders and punters.

If they were really smart, they could keep buying all the way down from 50 sen to 41 sen but not in big lots as to push the share price up. You cannot sell all 100% of the shares (moratorium), the paid up is really pretty small and the free flot is not big at all.

Malaysian Public 2,700,000 (1)
Private Placement 8,600,000 (2)
Business Associates 4,100,000 (3)
Private Placement 11,050,000 (4)

We are talking of a free float of just below 26.5m shares swishing around. At 41 sen, thats not even RM11m in value. Which for me, is a ripe scenario for me to favour the "some very smart but severe buggers" working this counter. If you did not already lose money on this counter, for a pure trading play, I would favour a bullish bet by going long now.


The key is looking at the very assiduous accumulation in Maclean-W over the past 3 days. The mother was "allowed" to do a free fall but the warrant was well bought at every level. Its so easy to send this back to 60 sen with minimal effort. Judging from the fact that there is little baggage (old debts, stale bulls, etc.) and knowing the free float equation and assuming the business is not flawed (shouldn't be because it takes so many hurdles and due diligence and audits from the authorities to get to IPO stage) ... it may not be an exciting business but to assume that its a fake thing should be the last thing on our minds.

AirAsia - for those who do not already know. Super investor Koon Yew Yin, who has hit another home run in Coastal Contracts, has already accumulated a sizable stake in Air Asia. Take that information whatever way you want. Just FYI.


NOTE: The above opinion is not an invitation to buy or sell. It serves as a blogging activity of my investing thoughts and ideas, this does not represent an investment advisory service as I charge no subscription or management fees (donations are welcomed though). I may have a position in the counter already. The content on this site is provided as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content, shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial instrument. The ideas expressed are solely the opinions of the author. Any action that you take as a result of information, analysis, or commentary on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Charity vs Philanthropy

Giving and receiving. Some will question the underlying motives of any giver. I would say, regardless of the motive, give first, ask questions later. A person's motivations should be best left for him/her to deal with - be it themselves or their God. For us to second guess is petty.

There is a saying that there is no real charity or philanthropy, and in many ways, there isn't. Why the idealism? Real charity stems from not expecting anything in return - e.g. fame, recognition, justification for self morality purposes, redemption, karma, being able to live with oneself, etc. Or because its the right thing to do, why is it right in our capitalistic world?

Technically, we may want to banish capitalism for socialism, then there would be "more equality and less disparity". No, I am not a socialist at all. I do not believe in socialism because it goes against the human spirit of achievement, attainment, performance and diligence. I am more of a democrat, a labour political party person, believing that the disparity in income should be a lot closer. That is, if you work as a labourer, you pay should not be that much different to someone who is an executive in an office. There are many places on earth that practices capitalism but you will find a plumber probably making more money than a bank manager - absolutely nothing wrong with that.

While we all strive to make a better living for ourselves and our family, we should always bear in mind our society and where its at. To accumulate and hoard wealth for their own ends would be fruitless and futile. Our days on earth are numbered. Ask any billionaire, they would gladly halve their fortunes to get to live healthily for another 20,30 years. But things are not like that, we all leave a legacy, and we should leave it a better place than when we arrive.


Even if you do not have wealth in the tens of millions, there are plenty of more important things you could do - making sure your kids are taught and brought up properly, making sure the lives of people around you are bettered, be the better parent, father, grandparent and friend.

Charity and philanthropy are not just money, but time and planning.

Much of the contributions to disasters such as the Asian tsunamis and Katrina in US is Charity. Charity is a gift made without any expectations beyond the immediate alteration of a need (giving to a beggar).

Philanthropy takes a more strategic approach as it addresses social challenges such as poverty and inequality, education, health, environmental degradation.

Therefore the need to advance and strengthen philanthropy for social investment and social justice is urgently needed for the following reasons:

  • Decline in volunteerism and giving
  • Reduced role of the state as a provider of social services
  • Diminishing resources for civil society
  • Growing disparities in society
  • Severe environmental degradation
  • Poor mobilizisation of indigenous philanthropy

Worldwide philanthropic models are undergoing a sea of change. Company portfolio’s now include social investments and social audits. Consumers are purchasing products from companies that practice ethics and corporate citizenship. Contemporary philanthropy is increasingly organisational in nature.
Global challenges as well as factors like education, economic success are transforming the field of philanthropy. Donors too are concerned about making the world a safer place. Philanthropy is sharing of private wealth through vertical (Corporate) and horizontal (community giving). Strategic Philanthropy is to integrate vertical and horizontal forms of philanthropic giving.

To end, when we find ourselves trying to second guess the real intentions of a philanthropist, revert the question to yourself. To the philanthropists, it would be encouraged that all go through more self introspection when it comes to altruism - its just your soul, really.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Things You Might Not Know About The Man From Pusing

From KL Lifestyle:

Mixing business with social responsibility has always been the hallmark of wellknown philanthropist, educationist and Sunway Group founder and chairman, Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, AO. This trait is based on his firm belief that the key to a meaningful life and true personal satisfaction is when an individual gives back to society what he has reaped. And in the process, leave behind a lasting contribution that will make a huge difference.

So, when this soft-spoken, self-made and remarkable tycoon launched his latest and most serious philanthropic endeavour several months ago, he set a precedent that may be a hard act to match by anyone in the future. His initiative – the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, the first of its kind in Malaysia, is modelled after the Harvard Foundation which governs one of the world’s oldest and renowned universities.


“I have always believed that the business of education is more than just ‘a business’ for successful and dedicated corporations like the Sunway Group. Education becomes meaningful when it acts as a tool to enrich and improve lives and contribute to the national agenda by raising the quality of human capital, which can then reap greater prosperity for the country,” he says of his foundation. “My dream and vision has been to share these very successes enjoyed by Sunway Group with those in need and who deserve it so that their lives may be changed forever.”

Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah’s philanthropic quest has not gone unnoticed regionally and internationally. He was voted one of Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy in 2009 and this kind of recognition is hard to come by indeed. His new foundation’s history actually dates back to more than three decades and is closely linked with the evolution of Sunway Group as a pioneer, innovator and catalyst in the field of private education in Malaysia. Sunway pioneered the now popular twinning programmes in Malaysia and also revolutionised the local education landscape via partnerships with top-ranking universities from around the globe.

The Sunway Education Trust Fund that was established in 1997 was the basis for the recently launched foundation. The Fund had in the past administered its share of proceeds from Sunway institutions for the benefit of present and future students through reinvestment into the institutions and for the disbursement of scholarships and research grants. Thousands of deserving Malaysian students in various fields have been awarded more than RM55 million in scholarships by the Fund thus far.

“With the advent of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, it will be the sole vehicle through which my life-long ambition, vision and dream to give back to society will be realised,” says Cheah. Cheah has transferred all his shares held in the Sunway Education Trust Fund to the foundation to be held into perpetuity. He has locked in shares worth RM700 million from the education arm of his Sunway business into the newly launched foundation. The foundation is enriched further with the transfer of the Sunway Group’s four educational institutions, the Sunway University College, Monash University Sunway Campus, Sunway International School and the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The foundation, governed by a distinguished board of trustees, will execute Cheah’s legacy of giving. Proceeds from the institutions will be disbursed through scholarships to future generations of needy and deserving students. And Cheah has not stopped at that. He has also invited other successful and like-minded corporations and individuals to join him in making this noble cause for education a roaring success in the years to come.

Royal recognition came from the Sultan of Selangor with whom Cheah is close. The Sultan had this to say of the educationist’s latest philanthropic act: “It takes a philanthropic and mmagnanimous man like Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah to transfer the Sunway Group’s top four educational institutions into the foundation, so these assets can be held in perpetuity and they may be used to provide scholarships to future generations of deserving and needy students. “I am glad that Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, whom I installed as Foundation Chancellor of the Sunway University College in September 2006, has put the cause for education well ahead of the business of education.”

By launching the foundation, Cheah has become a new partner of the Ministry of Higher Education and the government in providing financial assistance to needy students and thereby directly contributing to the building of knowledge-based human capital for the nation.

Notable among his other philanthropic initiatives was the launch of the Safe City concept in Bandar Sunway in 2001, an initiative in which he blazed the trail in Malaysia. In his capacity as Selangor Chapter chairman of the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation, he works closely with the police to combat crime and to ensure a safer and healthier environment for residents in the township.

The initiative, complete with donations of equipment to the police department and involvement of the auxiliary police from the Sunway Group, has ramped up good neighbourliness in the residential area. The concept is also now being emulated in other developments. Aiding needy schools has been another of Cheah’s passions. In 2008, his Sunway Group sponsored a RM1 million, 12-month project to restore the dilapidated 85-year-old SRK Convent in Klang to ensure safety at the school so that the teachers and students could study with peace of mind. “Although it is a missionary school, students of all ethnic groups study there. We were not hesitant to support a school which champions multiculturalism,” he said then.

More millions have also been spent aiding the SMK Bandar Sunway, SJK(C) Chee Wen in Subang Jaya, SMJK Yuk Choy in Ipoh, SK Convent Klang and the Gunung Hijau primary school in Pusing, Perak, where Cheah hails from. Life has indeed been a meaningful journey so far for Cheah. But the visionary is looking ahead. He is always on the lookout for new philanthropic causes that will meld with his lifelong desire to give back to society.


The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation is a unique, first-of-its-kind structure in Malaysia within the field of private higher education, modeled along the lines of some of the oldest and most eminent universities in the world; such as the Harvard University in the United States. It carries on the mandate of the Sunway Education Trust which has, since its inception in March 1997, given out more than RM50 million in scholarships to deserving and needy students.

The advent of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation will see the transfer of equity ownership worth RM700 million of the not-for-profit Sunway Education Group, made up of Sunway University College, Monash University Sunway campus, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Sunway International School. Today, these education institutions account for over 16,000 students, of which 30% are from 80 different countries. Under the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, operating surpluses from the Sunway Education Group will be reinvested into the universities and schools. The Foundation will continue to disburse scholarships and research grants to worthy individuals in various fields of study.

Things You Might Not Know About A.K.

Heroes of Philanthropy

Brian Mertens, 03.05.10, 02:20 PM EST
Forbes Asia Magazine dated March 15, 2010

Malaysian Ananda Krishnan develops his country's talent behind the scenes.


''Krishnan is contributing to the nation, building a pool of talented, skilled Malaysians.''

In Ananda Krishnan's climb to success, one of the first rungs on the ladder was a philanthropic gift--a scholarship to earn his undergraduate degree at Melbourne University. Born into Malaysia's middle class as the son of a civil servant, Krishnan's chance to study abroad came courtesy of the Colombo Plan, an effort to develop human resources in South and Southeast Asia launched in Sri Lanka's capital in 1950 by 25 Asia-Pacific nations. Krishnan went on to earn an M.B.A. at Harvard in 1964 before becoming an oil trader and developing the multinational empire that has boosted his fortune to more than $7 billion, making him Southeast Asia's second-richest person.

Krishnan has, in turn, long made a point of returning the philanthropic favor. In 1985 he helped the Live Aid rock concert project that raised some $240 million around the world for African famine relief. Since that time the publicity-phobic tycoon has donated tens of millions to education, the arts, sports and humanitarian causes in Malaysia through his privately owned holding company, Usaha Tegas, and its three main listed subsidiaries: cell phone operator Maxis; satellite TV and entertainment company Astro All Asia Networks; and Tanjong, which is active in gaming, power generation and property.

Developing talent is the main focus, through university scholarships, school programs and other support. There are Internet boot camps for rural high schoolers, funds for equestrian sports and Malaysia's Olympic athletes, even stipends for local children studying Indian classical dance and music. But tagging a dollar figure on Krishnan's philanthropy is difficult; Usaha Tegas releases little information, and government figures on giving are unavailable. But by many accounts the 71-year-old, through his private and listed companies, is among Malaysia's biggest givers. "Krishnan is contributing to the nation, building a pool of talented, skilled Malaysians, including ones who will be able to manage the new kinds of companies he has established," says Josie Fernandez, the founding director of Philanthropy Asia, a research and advocacy group in Kuala Lumpur. "If you look at Astro, for example, initially he brought in a lot of foreign talent, Australians and others. Now we see they are being replaced by Malaysians."

One recent donation went to help orphaned and underprivileged girls gain vocational skills. According to Philanthropy Asia, Krishnan contributed in 2008 to the opening of the Montfort Girls Centre, a counterpart to Selangor's Montfort Boys Town, which was established in 1959 by the Brothers of St. Gabriel, a Catholic order. The $2 million complex includes a dormitory and training center where girls can learn baking, computer repair, graphic design and other vocations. Two wings were named in memory of Krishnan's mother and grandmother. (Asked for an interview, a Montfort official said through an intermediary that Krishnan had requested that the center not respond to media inquiries.) "I think Krishnan's giving has been progressive in that he's donated to a women's cause like this, which has not been a popular form of giving in Malaysia," says Fernandez. "It's for girls who are not academically inclined but who need vocational skills. It's giving opportunities to those who would never have them, not just to the gifted who would find opportunities anyway."

Krishnan's focus on learning is significant because the Malaysian government began in 1996 to shift toward greater reliance on the private sector to fund higher education. Usaha Tegas has channeled much of its giving through three foundations, each directed toward one of Malaysia's three main ethnic groups. It began with the Malaysia Community Education Foundation, which benefits Malaysians of South Asian descent. Usaha Tegas companies gave it $8 million in the early 1990s, according to a company press release. One of its programs is Project Ilham, which helps underprivileged but high-achieving graduates of Malaysia's more than 500 Tamil Schools, the primary schools established under British rule that today educate children of half the ethnic Indian populace. The project assists these pupils to continue to excel during their later studies at non-Tamil secondary schools, where language and cultural differences have sometimes hindered their performance. Krishnan himself is of Tamil descent; his grandfather was a Sri Lankan who came to Malaysia to work as a colonial official.

In 2003 Usaha Tegas founded Harapan Nusantara, an education fund focused on Malays, using 300 million shares of Maxis, worth $26 million at the time, and endowing it with another $26 million in cash contributed by Astro, Maxis and Tanjong. Since 2004 the fund has sponsored 100 students a year to attend twinning programs at private Malaysian universities, which are curriculums run together with universities abroad. Harapan Nusantara got another $1.3 million that year to send Malay managers to attend executive programs at Harvard Business School.

For philanthropy directed toward ethnic Chinese groups, Usaha Tegas started the Yu Cai Education Foundation in 2003 with a grant of $6.6 million. That year the foundation spent $1.3 million to set up a Chinese traditional studies department at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, a private university with campuses in Petaling Jaya and elsewhere.

Of the three operating companies, only Tanjong provides figures on annual giving, which was $6.2 million for the year ended Jan. 31, 2009, including $4.1 million for education, especially undergraduate scholarships in Malaysia. Other funds went to 20 Malaysian health care groups focused on life-threatening diseases and to other groups.

Satellite broadcaster Astro has aimed its philanthropy at industry education and the arts. Since 2006 it's awarded annual scholarships ranging from $2,300 to $44,000 to Malaysian media-and-broadcasting students, coupled with offers of job placements at the company or its affiliates. A special undergraduate scholarship targets students in the performing arts and humanities. The company also sponsors short courses in screen writing, acting and directing for 48 students a year. Other Astro programs offer awards for Malaysian makers of short films, grants for theater groups and dance troupes, and funds for advancing craftsmanship in batik textiles.

Cell phone operator Maxis stands out for technology training. The company sent 18 high-achieving candidates from 2005 to 2009 for full-ride scholarships covering postgraduate studies at Harvard, Oxford and other universities abroad. Its undergraduate scholarships were offered to 38 Malaysians to study at home or abroad last year. Candidates studying abroad, who received up to $44,000 a year, were required to join Maxis after graduation. Maxis has invested more than $14 million in the program since 2005.

A series of Maxis programs addresses Malaysia's digital divide by promoting it and communications technology skills among youngsters upcountry through activities such as the Maxis Cyberkids Camp. The five-day program shows 13- and 14-year-olds and their teachers how to better use computers and the Internet, and then to spread their skills to classmates after they get back to school. This and other programs have reached more than 8,200 schoolchildren and teachers from more than 1,300 schools across the nation since 2002, according to Maxis. "Krishnan's foundations cut across ethnic and religious lines, which is very important for Malaysia," says Fernandez, noting that most givers focus on a single group. "He's more pluralistic in his approach."

Saturday, May 14, 2011


The only reasonable retort some silly club has been throwing back at Manchester United has been 19. Well, Spinelesspool, you have to think of a better retort now. You do not know how it feels when Manchester United was winning almost everything for the past 20 years .. and all the Bilepool supporters can think of to reply was 19.


You were changing managers like you a polygamist changing wives. You tried everything, at one stage a few years back judging by the type of player you took on, I thought you were going to change your club's name to Liverpool-Herzagovinia.

We long for some real competition from our old enemies. C'mon Rectalpool, do improve and give us a bit of a fight, its pretty boring at the top.


Best 2-in-1 Coffee Packages

This is a long weekend, tons of cars going back to kampungs. Promised to buy the best 2-in-1 Kopi mix bag sachets from Ipoh for my partner and a good friend. You know, people from Ipoh probably never drink Old Town packages, even though its the most popular. It is very popular, here's why, a few of my friends working in Beijing and Shanghai, have to lug tens of packages of these 3-in-1 Old Town packages owing to incessant demand by the China friends.

That said, I was discussing the good 3-in-1 and good 2-in-one packages. I think genuine coffee drinkers would stay away from the 3-in-1 as the milk part is questionable. So, more often than not the best Kopi-O mixture seems to be made by Aik Cheong, which I usually buy as well if I cannot get my supply from Ipoh.

Now that I am at my hometown, will have to stock up a few of my favourite. Surprisingly, I have made the rounds in most supermarts in KL and still cannot locate them. The brand is called First Class Aroma. Its aromatic, thick and has a bit more body than the usual run of the mill. Though they also have the 3-in-1, stick to the Kopi-O version. Try it if you can get it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Look At What The Sea Dragged In

Creatures Found at Seaside After Tsunami
As everyone knows, the tsunami in Southeast Asia was devastating both in the loss of life and economically to the region. However now that the clean up is underway in the region, deep sea creatures that live too deep to be studied are being found scattered throughout the wreckage. These creatures were washed up on shore when the waves hit.