Dissecting the ETP Annual Report (Part 1) — Grade A+ for obfuscation!

(Also published on The Malaysian Insider)

Top marks for befuddling even highly-qualified Malaysians. PEMANDU released its annual report last month to an expected chorus of praise. An economist at a leading financial institution gushed that the ETP deserves an “A” for transformation. Our analysis however, finds that pretentious words and slick presentations, protestations of diligence and toil and selective representation of data obscure the true picture.

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Verify, verify, verify

(Also published on The Malaysian Insider)

I love this quote from one of the basic rules of journalism — “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”. It’s a warning to journalists to develop a healthy dose of scepticism and to always verify facts even though it’s from a supposedly trustworthy source. I’m not a journalist but I’ve developed my own sense of scepticism after being exposed to academics in the United States, most of whom will jump at every opportunity to dismantle the supposed “proof” or “evidence” behind any new theory. It is perhaps not surprising that we in Malaysia have not developed the same healthy dose of scepticism when presented with a piece of information since we are taught from very young not to question authority figures. But when we are bothered enough to be healthily sceptical and make the extra effort to verify certain facts and figures, the results can be quite enlightening.

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Book Review – PKFZ: A Nation’s Trust Betrayed

(Also published on The Malaysian Insider and Selangor Times)

Which is the biggest financial scandal in Malaysian history, someone recently asked me. Without hesitation, I replied, Port Klang Free Zone or PKFZ. This scandal could potentially end up costing the Malaysian taxpayer RM12.5 billion according to the PWC position review report. In real terms, the financial losses associated with PKFZ may be slightly less than the BMF scandal (RM2.5b in 1983), the Maminco scandal (RM1.6b, 1980s) and Perwaja (RM10b in accumulated losses, 1990s) but none of these scandals can challenge PKFZ in terms of financial creativity and the number of high profile politicians involved.

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