29 August 2010

Automobiles Timeline

Automobiles may not have been born in the 20th century, but they were not yet out of diapers when it began. Even after Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz introduced their improved fourstroke internal combustion engine, autos in both the United States and Europe were still poking along at a few miles an hour (a sizeable proportion of them still running on electricity or steam). They could boast no battery starter, roof, or windows and were priced only for the rich. Then Henry Ford fine-tuned the mass production of his Tin Lizzie and the world drove off into the age of affordable transportation—forever altering our notions of place, distance, and community

1901 ~ The telescope shock absorber developed
C. L. Horock designs the "telescope" shock absorber, using a piston and cylinder fitted inside a metal sleeve, with a one-way valve built into the piston. As air or oil moves through the valve into the cylinder, the piston moves freely in one direction but is resisted in the other direction by the air or oil. The result is a smoother ride and less lingering bounce. The telescope shock absorber is still used today.

1902 ~ Standard drum brakes are invented
Standard drum brakes are invented by Louis Renault. His brakes work by using a cam to force apart two hinged shoes. Drum brakes are improved in many ways over the years, but the basic principle remains in cars for the entire 20th century; even with the advent of disk brakes in the 1970s, drum brakes remain the standard for rear wheels.

1908 ~Model T introduced
Henry Ford begins making the Model T. First-year production is 10,660 cars.
Cadillac is awarded the Dewar Trophy by Britain’s Royal Automobile Club for a demonstration of the precision and interchangeability of the parts from which the car is assembled. Mass production thus makes more headway in the industry.

1911 ~ Electric starter introduced
Charles Kettering introduces the electric starter. Until this time engines had to be started by hand cranking. Critics believed no one could make an electric starter small enough to fit under a car’s hood yet powerful enough to start the engine. His starters first saw service in 1912 Cadillacs.
1913 ~ First moving assembly line for automobiles developed
Ford Motor Company develops the first moving assembly line for automobiles. It brings the cars to the workers rather than having workers walk around factories gathering parts and tools and performing tasks. Under the Ford assembly line process, workers perform a single task rather than master whole portions of automobile assembly. The Highland Park, Michigan, plant produces 300,000 cars in 1914. Ford’s process allows it to drop the price of its Model T continually over the next 14 years, transforming cars from unaffordable luxuries into transportation for the masses.

1914 ~ First car body made entirely of steel
Dodge introduces the first car body made entirely of steel, fabricated by the Budd Company. The Dodge touring car is made in Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

1919 ~ First single foot pedal to operate coupled four-wheel brakes
The Hispano-Suiza H6B, a French luxury car, demonstrates the first single foot pedal to operate coupled four-wheel brakes. Previously drivers had to apply a hand brake and a foot brake simultaneously.

1922 ~ First American car with four-wheel hydraulic brakes
The Duesenberg, made in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the first American car with four-wheel hydraulic brakes, replacing ones that relied on the pressure of the driver’s foot alone. Hydraulic brakes use a master cylinder in a hydraulic system to keep pressure evenly applied to each wheel of the car as the driver presses on the brake pedal.

1926 ~ First power steering system
Francis Wright Davis uses a Pierce-Arrow to introduce the first power steering system. It works by integrating the steering linkage with a hydraulics system.

1931 ~ First modern independent front suspension system
Mercedes-Benz introduces the first modern independent front suspension system, giving cars a smoother ride and better handling. By making each front wheel virtually independent of the other though attached to a single axle, independent front suspension minimizes the transfer of road shock from one wheel to the other.

1934 ~ First successful mass-produced front-wheel-drive car
The French automobile Citroën Traction Avant is the first successful mass-produced front-wheel-drive car. Citroën also pioneers the all-steel unitized body-frame structure (chassis and body are welded together). Audi in Germany and Cord in the United States offer front-wheel drive.

1935 ~ Flashing turn signals introduced
A Delaware company uses a thermal interrupter switch to create flashing turn signals. Electricity flowing through a wire expands it, completing a circuit and allowing current to reach the lightbulb. This short-circuits the wire, which then shrinks and terminates contact with the bulb but is then ready for another cycle. Transistor circuits begin taking over the task of thermal interrupters in the 1960s.

1939 ~ First air conditioning system added to automobiles
The Nash Motor Company adds the first air conditioning system to cars.

1950s ~ Cruise control is developed
Ralph Teeter, a blind man, senses by ear that cars on the Pennsylvania Turnpike travel at uneven speeds, which he believes leads to accidents. Through the 1940s he develops a cruise control mechanism that a driver can set to hold the car at a steady speed. Unpopular when generally introduced in the 1950s, cruise control is now standard on more than 70 percent of today’s automobiles.

1966 ~ Electronic fuel injection system developed
An electronic fuel injection system is developed in Britain. Fuel injection delivers carefully controlled fuel and air to the cylinders to keep a car’s engine running at its most efficient.

1970s ~ Airbags become standard
Airbags, introduced in some models in the 1970s, become standard in more cars.  Originally installed only on the driver's side, they begin to appear on the front passenger side as well.

1970s ~ Fuel prices escalate, driving demand for fuel-efficient cars
Fuel prices escalate, driving a demand for fuel-efficient cars, which increases the sale of small Japanese cars. This helps elevate the Japanese automobile industry to one of the greatest in the world.

1980s ~ Japanese popularize "just in time" delivery of auto parts
The Japanese popularize "just in time" delivery of auto parts to factory floors, thus reducing warehousing costs.  They also popularize statistical process control, a method developed but not applied in the United States until the Japanese demonstrate how it improves quality.

1985 ~ Antilock braking system (ABS) available on American cars
The Lincoln becomes the first American car to offer an antilock braking system (ABS), which is made by Teves of Germany. ABS uses computerized sensing of wheel movement and hydraulic pressure to each wheel to adjust pressure so that the wheels continue to move somewhat rather than "locking up" during emergency braking.

1992 ~  Energy Policy Act of 1992 encourages alternative-fuel vehicles
Passage of the federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 encourages alternative- fuel vehicles. These include automobiles run with mixtures of alcohols and gasoline, with natural gas, or by some combination of conventional fuel and battery power.

1997 ~ First American carmaker offers automatic stability control
Cadillac is the first American carmaker to offer automatic stability control, increasing safety in emergency handling situations.

28 August 2010

A wide palette for investors


WITH a sprawling business empire involved in power, utilities, cement, construction, real estate, information technology and leisure, this probably makes YTL group of companies one of the country’s largest family-owned conglomerates.

And here’s the sweet spot. According to its chief steward, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, the group’s parent YTL Corp Bhd expects to rake in at least RM1bil a year in dividends from these various business units and by 2015, the dividend contribution is expected to double. Much of that, as Yeoh says, can be attributed to the fact that most of its subsidiaries are “maturing into their own strength”.

“We own quality assets and businesses that are generating a lot of revenue,” he says.
YTL snapped up Britain’s Wessex Water Ltd for £544.5mil in cash from distressed firm Enron. The water treatment and sewerage firm has been generating steady earnings for the group.

That may well be an understatement. The YTL group has seen its revenue grow steadily over the years, ballooning to more than RM16bil in the latest fiscal year. The market value of its various listed units collectively come up to a whopping RM34.3bil.

“If you want to buy YTL, we have an enterprise value of RM66bil but I won’t sell … not ever,” he says. Then, another understatement.

“Certainly, we are not a small company anymore,” he says, referring to the group which has grown many fold from a pure construction firm founded by his father over five decades ago.

Although the senior Yeoh had built up the firm to become a respected outfit among its peers, it wasn’t until the younger Yeoh introduced power and utilities into it that it began to draw sustained investors’ interest.

Powering up

Citing the group’s investment in its power and utilities subsidiary as an example of how the group has developed, Yeoh says the initial investment in this area of business was RM300mil.

“Now, it is paying us hundreds of millions in dividends alone,” he says.

The group’s power and utilities subsidiary grouped under YTL Power International Bhd is its largest contributor to bottomline.

The subsidiary has key investments in the areas of power generation, electricity retail and water and sewerage services.

More recently, YTL Power completed its acquisition of Singapore’s second largest utility firm PowerSeraya Ltd for US$2.5bil, paving the way for it to stamp its mark in Singapore’s liberalised electricity market.

The investment has already paid off handsomely.

The unit also owns substantial stakes in Indonesia’s P.T. Jawa Power and Australia’s Electranet Transmission Services Pty Ltd.

International operations contribute more than 80% to total power and electricity turnover, Yeoh says.

Perhaps that is why he appears not too perturbed that YTL Power’s power purchase agreements (PPAs) in Malaysia will soon expire in a few years’ time.

“Most of our revenue is from overseas. I think the days of (selling power) to one client only is over, that is a Jurassic model,” Yeoh says.

In the early 90s, as part of the privatisation of the country’s power generation, YTL Power was one of the few “chosen ones” that had signed “lucrative” PPAs with the state utility firm Tenaga Nasional Bhd for it to sell the power it generated to the latter.

Another treat

Another asset that Yeoh is clearly proud of under the power and utilities segment is Britain’s Wessex Water Ltd, which YTL snapped up for £544.5mil in cash (and assumed £695mil of Wessex’s debts) from distressed firm Enron.

This water treatment and sewerage firm, one of the largest in Britain, has been generating steady earnings for the group. It registers an average year-on-year growth in revenue and net profit of 6% to 7%, Yeoh says.

He opines that there is still tremendous upside potential in the value of this investment.

“YTL is like Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway which invests in many things like media and banks and confectionery and watch them (investments) grow. But we are different in that we invest purely in infrastructure projects,” he says.

On that note, he is very excited about the potential of YTL’s information technology and e-commerce operations with the launch of the 4G Wimax network planned by year-end.

“We are going to town with it in November, once we prove that we can do it, I’m sure all the telecommunication companies here and abroad will want to partner us. They’re going to be forced to invest. The key here is connectivity for consumers.

“It’s not going to be cheap, we have to be competitive or else how can you set up a business like this?”

To date, YTL has invested RM2.5bil in the initiative. But it’s too early to talk about returns. “Investors expect us to give them returns that they are used to (getting from us),” he says but doesn’t elaborate.

Brick and mortar

Other segments of business under the YTL stable, like the cement manufacturing, property development and real estate investment, are progressing, Yeoh says.

The group is evaluating investment opportunities for its cement manufacturing segment in countries like Indonesia and China.

It already produces around 6.1 million tonnes of cement per annum, making it the second largest local cement company.

In 2007, YTL Cement Bhd was the sole supplier to the Singapore Sentosa Resort, signalling its entrance as a regional cement player.

As for its real estate investments, YTL has just completed the first stage of rationalisation of its retail and hospitality assets via Starhill REIT, which involved the disposal by the Trust of Starhill Gallery and its parcels in Lot 10 Shopping Centre to Starhill Global REIT in Singapore.

Starhill REIT is now embarking on a rebranding exercise to transform the trust into a pure-play hospitality REIT, focusing on a single class of hotel and hospitality-related assets.

The group counts Niseko Village, a prime winter and summer destination located at the southeastern foothills of Mt Niseko An’nupuri in Hokkaido, Japan and the posh St Tropez resort in France among the jewels in its property segment.

“Our profits will continue to increase because we have quality assets. As you can see, this is not a bad company,” Yeoh says, adding that the group has never stopped paying dividends since 1986.

Different strokes

The listed parent YTL Corp has long been a defensive stock pick for an obvious reason – its varied business interests. In fact, some analysts even describe the counter as “boring” which in investors’ parlay could also be taken to mean steady and stable.

Indeed, its share price performance reflects this. Year-to-date, the counter is up a meagre 1% compared to the key barometer, the FBM KLCI, which has gained 10% over the same period.

“Even at the current price of RM7.44, there is not much upside. It’s just a holding company, I’d much rather invest in its subsidiaries, namely YTL Power which forms close to 70% of the group’s bottomline.

“That’s where the real cash lies – the income is recurring and relatively risk free,” says an analyst with a foreign research house.

In a recent note to clients, AmResearch Sdn Bhd said YTL’s upcoming Wimax rollout was likely to generate losses in the first three years.

It also warned that a further appreciation of the ringgit versus pound sterling could erode Wessex Water’s contributions.

The foreign analyst, who has a “hold” call on the stock, sees growth coming only from two main areas for YTL Corp – namely property development and cement.

“The real kicker could be a major infrastructure project like the bullet train project,” he says. But that may well be a non-event given the absence of news flow at that end.

Naturally, Yeoh appears optimistic and remains confident that the project will eventually come through.

“History has taught us that if customers want a project, it will materialise.”

YTL snapped up Britain’s Wessex Water Ltd for £544.5mil in cash from distressed firm Enron. The water treatment and sewerage firm has been generating steady earnings for the group.

All wired up

In an interview with StarBizWeek, YTL Corp managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh (pic) charts the sprawling group’s strategy for all its various units going forward while he encapsulates the journey so far for the behemoth family-owned conglomerate. Below are excerpts:

SBW: What will you do with WiMAX that will be different from the rest of the pack?

Yeoh: Today, you have broadband that is very slow. The 3G network is a voice network. It is not made for broadband. 4G is huge as the capacity is very big and WiMAX is the leading technology. Don’t underestimate the 4G initiative. You will be surprised and that will thrust us into the league of countries with very high speed and capacities.

How much more do you need over the next three years for the WiMAX 4G initiative?

We are investing RM2.5bil. It is not a joke. It is a big thing. We will see (how much more we would need to invest as we go forward) but it would not be as large as the initial investment. The investment by all the other player players (vendors) will be a lot more.

Why use YTL Power for the 4G initiative?

YTL Power is a small company – it is nimble but can carry a huge project. We chose the best company to do this. We can leverage on the infrastructure and utilities. 4G is a pipe of utility, instead of supplying water or electricity, this pipe is used for IT. Whether it is good or bad it will be shown in the P&L. At the end, people will understand and they will vote with their purse.

How are investors reacting to YTL Power’s move into the telecoms sector?

The test of the pudding is in the eating.

What would be the returns on the investment?

Of course with fixed deposit the returns are low. Investors expect us to give a certain rate of return. They are used to it. It is no use talking about it publicly.

What was the thinking when you ventured into the power business?

It is part of a blue ocean strategy. Why build for others? We are engineers so we can build anything to stand and there is no mystery about engineering. People may not give us credit but we can build. It is science not an art. We built the power plant in 22 months while others took 36 months. That means I received my money faster and finally listed it under the IPC (infrastructure project company).

Why do you think the IPP model is outdated?

One-client business is a jurassic model. The whole model should move straight into competition. If you can create competition in the water and telecoms sector, the same should be in the energy sector. Singapore is even introducing competition in the gas sector. That should be the way.

Are you moving more of your business out of Malaysia?

It is a lot of investment that we have put into 4G and the Government continues to be very progressive.

What is the mix of earnings between foreign and local?

In terms of profit it is 50:50 whereas for sales, it is 85% foreign and 15% local.

The Paka and Pasir Gudang power plants concession is coming to an end. Are you seeking an extension whereby you may need to reinvest?

They may not renew it. Our revenues are from outside the country. The net profit here is not much compared to Power Seraya in Singapore.

Your cost has fully depreciated for the two?

We can definitely sell cheaper power by then.

Will you sell the assets?

As far as I am concerned it is an area that is not well understood of how it should go.

Getting ready to launch the next generation (4G)

INTERCONNECTION is key but not new. What it means essentially is that all celcos and telcos need to compete to gain access to another player’s network. It’s a universal trend and one that has been brought about by the pressures of competition.

Undoubtedly, as YTL Communications Bhd (YTL Comms) joins the league of telecommunications players, it has to deal with issues such as interconnection.

YTL Corp Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh is quick to say: “I hope the telcos will keep to their word. Once that is done, our November deadline will be kept.’’ (YTL Comms is a unit of YTL Power Bhd, in which YTL Corp has a stake.)

The group is under pressure to stick to the deadline after its July rollout was delayed. Any more delays and the market may be less forgiving.

But if they wing it and manage to carry out the nationwide roll-out, then other players may sit up and take note as that would mean competition from voice, video, mobile and broadband.

YTL is hoping to shake up the market and is presently testing the devices that will be launched with the service; network build-up is also taking place while the awareness process is going to start soon and the branding is in the works.

If it succeeds, the speed of data transmission can be over five times faster than the current 3G data speed.

“You talk about brain drain because there is no economic model to bring them. They seek better jobs outside, but with 4G, things will change.

“We will have the Ali Babas and the Googles created here. There will be a shift in the way we live, work and play,’’ says Yeoh. He cites the example of how the emergence of Bangalore as an IT hub for India has changed the way business is conducted in India, creating enormous opportunities.

YTL’s foray into the telecoms sector is by no means an accident. It had begun small from cards to live feed for the Express Rail Link. Given the smorgasbord of businesses under its umbrella, it needed the technology to integrate, manage and operate. Being in the infrastructure business, ICT was integral. It used ICT extensively for all its businesses, from power plants to restaurants and homes and even has a blog to link up the community.

“It is by no coincidence that we are in the 4G business,’’ he reiterates.

So when WiMAX licences were up for grabs, they marched ahead to get one. The licence to operate and offer 4G services is held by YTL e-Solutions Bhd, a company listed on the ACE market. YTL e-Solutions was set up to incubate companies with the advent of ICT.

WiMAX technology is in the forefront of next generation technologies even though globally, the fight for 4G supremacy is between WiMAX and LTE (long term evolution).

“With WiMAX 4G, we could bring in efficiencies of triple (voice, data and video) play, and cost to the customer is lower. His analogy of 3G and 4G is like black and white TV and a colour TV. With the taste of colour TV, a person’s demands and experience changes and he would not go back to black and white TV.

“In two year’s time, no one will live without triple and quad play, just like once upon a time when we did not have mobile phones. Today we cannot live without mobile phones. The whole experience will be different and this is the change in dynamics,’’ he says.

“And don’t expect it to come at cheap prices.

“It depends on the consumer and on what they want. We will be competitive.’’ he says.

YTL Comms is investing RM2.5bil in the venture. Its partners include Cisco, Samsung, Clearwire, Intel and CGT Semiconductors. It also has tie-ups with Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Fiberail for backhaul operations.

Discovering the true value of YTL

Stories by B.K. SIDHU

IT’s an oft-told story about how YTL Group managed to stay resilient during the Asian Financial Crisis even as many large corporations became casualties of the crisis buckling under debilitating debt. That story, more often than not, is narrated by no less than the group’s chief steward Tan Sri Francis Yeoh.
It’s about how the group, by sourcing funds locally and borrowing in ringgit (as opposed to US dollar, which most businesses had done), had managed to fend off the heat of the crisis. So, while so many companies fell off the corporate sidewalk, YTL, armed with an enviable war chest of cash, went trawling to buy up assets on the cheap. Lest we forget, that’s how he scooped up UK’s major sewerage and water specialist Wessex Water over a decade ago, which today is one of its prized assets.

He also frequently enthuses over the level of service provided by the leisure and hospitality group under his stable; how guests are pampered by first class services at third world prices.

But over the years, the lingo has shifted somewhat towards blue ocean strategy and technology. Understandably, Yeoh is passionate about WiMAX 4G and how the offering will change the way consumers think, work and play. That is the group’s new playground. If executed to plan, it could just be the group’s next great feat.

“This is a new business and a very important business (telecoms),” says Yeoh, YTL Corp’s managing director.

YTL Corp Group is today largely an infrastructure player with 12 million customers with businesses spanning three continents. It has five listed companies, excluding the REITs, within its stable and for the first time in its corporate history, revenue reached a whopping RM16bil. Net profit was RM873mil for the full year ended June 30, 2010.

This is a blue chip group with a market value of some RM34bil. Combined, the group has assets worth RM45.4bil and a war chest of RM12bil cash.

Yet investors’ response to YTL Corp appears to be lukewarm at best.

“I don’t have a Buy call on YTL Corp and I think at the current price it is fairly valued. It is not as sexy a story as its power and water units. But it does have stable earnings and dividends given the layers of profit and cashflow from its units,’’ says an analyst. On Friday YTL Corp shares closed one sen lower to RM7.44.

The new frontier

The transformation is already in motion. The group prides itself for adopting the blue ocean strategy – which means going where none of their competitors have ever been. As a result, it has a lot on its plate going forward.

WiMAX, for now, appears very much on the priority list of the group’s next frontier.

“It is a very big thing, the public will gain and the nation will change when we take it to town in November. The other telcos will have no choice but to be fully immersed in 4G. 4G is coming, it is a challenge and it will be fantastic,’’ says Yeoh.

Shake the market and set new benchmarks, it definitely will. YTL is using Malaysia as the test bed for WiMAX 4G. If it gets it right, the model will be replicated elsewhere across the globe. That would make it the biggest player ever to deploy WiMAX extensively.

“Partners will come to us once we prove it’s successful. I am sure all of the Asean countries (will come) and we will also get invited to expand. Our global footprint will grow and that is the kind of growth targets (we are looking at),’’ he adds.

It is not just the voice, data, video and mobile business that the group has the potential to be involved in but the whole gamut.

The World Bank conducted a study last year on the impact of broadband on the economy and found that every 10% penetration growth in broadband creates a 1.38% corresponding GDP increase in developing countries.

“Every thing that we do from 1955 (since the group’s inception) has been based on the blue ocean strategy. This is our biggest initiative,’’ he says.

The involvement in WiMAX 4G presents a perfect picture of its involvement in the utilities sector.

Besides 4G, there are areas in the water and energy business that the group wants to expand into.

The journey

The group’s history dates back to 1955. It started as a construction company, building low-cost apartments to pioneering high-rise construction. Back then, the group needed to arrange financing for these apartments.

It was the expertise and use of technology that thrust them to the forefront of construction and YTL became the first turnkey contractor in the country. Yeoh says they were the envy of the Japanese contractors, who took three weeks to complete a floor of a building while YTL only needed seven days.

“The secret was really in the continuous pouring of concrete to hasten the process,” he says.

The KL Tower which stands tall today in the city’s skyline is a product of continuous pouring of concrete, hence its early completion. YTL had the foresight to own a cement plant that helped them manage cost.

The going was extremely good for the construction business. Then the group got another break in the early 90s following the nationwide blackout. That marked their first step into the lucrative utility sector. YTL was the first independent power producer (IPP) and managed to build a plant in a record time of 14 months. But this happened in juxtaposition, with the vociferous criticism that the IPP awards were not given out on open tender basis and the rates were unseemingly high, placing the national utility Tenaga Nasional Bhd at a great disadvantage given its high payouts to the IPP for power generation.

To fund the plant, the group opted to issue ringgit-denominated bonds, which was frowned upon by some.

“Nobody then wanted to listen to us but we believed that Asian infrastructures should be funded by their own savings rate. Asians are savers, why should we borrow from outside?’’ he says.

Over the years, the group has managed to strengthen its portfolio in the utility segment, adding more power plants such as PT Jawa and Power Seraya Ltd. Its generation capacity has grown many-fold from 1,000MW to 4,315MW. It has also gone into the power transmission business with a 33.5% stake in Australia’s ElectraNet.

An opportunity to own water assets came with Wessex Water in 2002. It was a major coup to own a British company then. From then on, there was no stopping for this group which grew and spread its wings via acquisitions.

But as Yeoh puts it: “All that is history, let’s talk about the future.’’

IPPs a ‘jurassic model’

Abundant opportunities in the water and power sectors in Australia, Britain and Asia are currently beckoning. “We want to play a bigger role where the future is brighter,’’ he says.

Regulatory frameworks are changing to open up markets for competition and allow more players to participate so that there are choices; with competition, the cost of services for end users generally come down.

“The chances of Asia going that way is better,’’ he adds.

An analyst says until and unless the group acquires more assets there is not going to be a big jump in earnings. The talk is that they are eyeing water and energy assets in Asia and given the big war chest of cash it has it should stock up sooner than later.

“They are actively looking for power and water assets in the region, it would be the regulated ones,’’ says an analyst.

Yeoh feels the era of IPP is over. He calls it a “jurassic’’ model to create a power plant to serve only one customer.

“We trade energy, we produce and sell power. We are no longer an IPP and we believe the IPP business is over. We also think there should be no more IPPs,’’ he says.

His belief is that governments should do away with monopolies and introduce competition, allow the players to compete to supply power to the grid.

“Anyone can be a power producer and supply to the grid and that will create competition and allow consumers to chose the cheapest source of power,” he says. Whether this formula is workable remains to be seen but his rationale is that if Singapore can, why not Malaysia?

“If there can be competition in the water and telecoms sector, why not introduce it for the power sector (to make players more efficient)? It is better for the public as they will have choices,’’ he says.

“We want to cut a bit more in power business. We want to be a total energy power player.”

On high speed

The mere mention of the proposed KL-Singapore high speed rail link excites him. He is not ready to give up on his proposed project although things have been pretty quiet at that end. If the project sees the light of day, he says, it would create value not just in property but also spur economic benefits at both ends – Malaysia and Singapore.

“I always believe that if people want it, it will happen,’’ Yeoh says.

The group’s hospitality business has grown with recent acquisitions and the creation of REITs.

And don’t rule out more assets coming into this stable. The group bought The Muse Hotel in Saint Tropez in France, which has become one of Europe’s 20 most popular hotels, the Niseko Village – a ski resort in Hokkaido, Japan that has become the Aspen of the East, and Pangkor Laut Resort in Pangkor is another internationally acclaimed resort.

“We have a global footprint on hotels and we are profitable,’’ he says.

Somehow, the visible success in most of these businesses has yet to reflect on the group’s massive property project in Sentul – Sentul East and West. Toss out all the hype and brouhaha and it would seem as if the project is not moving as fast as expected.

Yeoh puts the blame on real estate valuations, which is rather modest compared to Singapore and Hong Kong. He hopes prices will eventually appreciate but that appears a tough task for the time being

“I am waiting for KL to be a very attractive capital,’’ he says.

The true value

With wings spread across several continents and several key businesses abroad, the company could well be a Malaysian multinational. But it faces its fair share of challenges – regulatory hurdles abroad plus geo-political and currency fluctuation issues. Having staunchly adopted the blue ocean strategy, Yeoh says, competition is by no means to be feared. In fact, it is very much ingrained in the group’s DNA.

As it stands now, succession planning is very much in place for the group. The next generation of Yeohs are already learning the ropes from the seniors. In fact, for this interview Yeoh’s son Joshua was present throughout to prep himself up for similar sessions in future. “That is part of the training,’’ says Yeoh.

The circle of family business, it appears, is very much intact. For YTL Group, it is on to being driven by the third generation. But there’s no doubt that till then, Yeoh still has a lot that he wants to do first.

Save Abandoned Babies, Please!

by Ong Tee Keat on Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 12:01am

“Are you sure you want to spearhead the intervention program for saving abandoned babies?” exclaimed one of my NGO partners who brainstormed with me on the subject matter two weeks ago.Prickly as the issue may be, this is nothing new to me. Time and again, initiatives that seek to provide proper hutches for abandoned babies never fail to raise eyebrows.

There are the critics who seemed to be more concerned, if not obsessed with the misguided moral dogma that baby hutches promote baby dumping, and worse, irresponsible and promiscuous relationships. They can’t be further off the mark. But they fail to address a simple fact.

The babies have been brought into our world, and our conscience is equally pricked when we read and hear of frequent and indiscriminate dumping of unwanted babies. The lives of innocent newborn cannot tragically end just like that!

After mulling over the issue for a while, I have decided to act in my capacity as the member of parliament by spearheading the ‘Life Saving Program For Abandoned Babies’. The name itself is self-explanatory.

We have formed a coalition of NGOs comprising no less than 5 NGOs to spark and push for social intervention and to carry the message to the community that “we ought to respect the sanctity and dignity of lives”.

Awareness may be an answer but we simply cannot just wait for our society to somehow be miraculously enlightened and rid itself of such social ills overnight, whilst we continue to grapple with rising statistics of newborn deaths. Whilst they may be very young, even a day old, these babies deserve equal concern and respect.

They have a right to live, and the principle of the sanctity of life should be taken seriously, and cannot be ignored just like that. More than that, once they are brought into this world, which we share as a fellow human person, they deserve the same amount of respect and dignity to enjoy the same opportunities that life presents to them.

These cannot be denied and wantonly ignored, and we risk doing it if we continue to allow the lives of newborn babies to be in the hands of their already stressed, unprepared and unwilling parents, or worse, our self-professed moral guardians.I am glad to have taken a positive step forward in favour of the dignity of life.

For a start, 8 to 10 venues within and outside my constituency, Pandan have been identified as possible locations for baby-hutches. We understand and respect the fact that some if not many may prefer to remain anonymous.

Therefore, these individuals can be assured that their identities will not be exposed as the hutches are free from hidden cameras. Our aim is not to witch-hunt the parents, but to protect the lives of their newborn babies who deserve a shot at life and the opportunities it brings.

We will announce the exact location of these hutches soon.The babies received at the hutches will be handed over to the Welfare Department officials through proper procedures. I am heartened by the warm support from my NGO friends. This intervention program is one of the social caring initiatives for children protection which ranks on top of my agenda for the people, especially those from my constituency, Pandan.

It may be true that charity begins at home but, localities outside Pandan are also given due consideration as well. We plan to spread our wings further and wider. Issues concerning the principle of the sanctity of life and respect to life are universal, and everyone is entitled to such rights, regardless of whether they are constituents of Pandan or not.

Something must be done on the issue of baby dumping and it must be done now. I would prefer to give this initiative a try rather than to engage in endless and pointless polemics shrouded with hypocrisy. I am grateful to my dedicated and expanding team of community leaders and social activists who share my conviction to save lives of abandoned babies, in the name of upholding a basic human right to live and to dignity.

I am sure that right minded Malaysians who are known to be caring and loving will support our effort as the infinite value and respect of a human life cannot be wantonly sacrified at the altar of narrow moral dogma.

This posting can also be view at this link:
Ong Tee Keat Facebook

27 August 2010

NEGARAKU Malaysia National Anthem 1957,1993,2003,2006 till now

This is the National Anthem of Malaysia called "Negaraku" (My Country). This is a compilation of various version of the anthem from 1957 up until now (2010). The basic is just the same, what different is the tempo and the arrangement which has been re-arranged for a few times, to suit the situational needs. However, in 2005/2006, the government then has decided to change the tune to the most similar to the original 1957 version.


By Ong Tee Keat @ www.ongteekeat.net
Thu, 2010-08-26 12:25

Few years ago when I first conducted the ‘City Survival’ program, an all female program, together with my NGO friend K Bala, many people either frowned upon me, or simply shrugged with a cynical grin. They thought that should be the concern of feminists. The Party insiders were questioning of its relevance and political mileage in the partisan politics; while others were wondering if we were contemplating to conduct classes of self-defense for the women.

Bala and I remained focused and adamant that this social caring program for the women should carry on, perhaps nationwide as well as be updated with more new elements of pre-empting the increasingly sophisticated crime confronting the women folk.

Knowing that Bala has been doing the necessary research on the subject matter consistently, I have no doubts that his work could help me in realizing my dream of making the ‘City Survival’ program a nationwide initiative that is both relevant and useful to the women folk in the present perspective. I personally take it as a cross-gender concern and intervention initiative in view of the escalating menace to the women. It should in no way be viewed as a mere feminist concern as both Bala and I are of the opposite gender.

It is a three-and-a- half hour long workshop session strictly for the females of 13 years old or above only. Bala, the designer and the instructor of the module, would impart tips and knowledge to the lady participants on ways and means to fend off, or at the very least, be able to escape from danger in face of moments of ordeal.

From our past experience in conducting the program in both Pandan parliamentary constituency I represent and outside Pandan, the response has been consistently good. Come this year, I made this one of the programs under the agenda of women protection in my Social Caring Agenda. This is a wide encompassing initiative embracing all races. It might begin in Pandan but is certainly not going to be a mere constituency event.

To-date, my OTK Service Centre, alongside Yayasan Bakti Nusa Malaysia, an NGO of which I am the executive advisor, have committed to bring this ‘City Survival’ program to more localities in the country with the full support of Bala and his team. The program has also been given an additional impetus when YB Senator Heng Seai Kie, the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Social Development Ministry, gave the program her full support, endorsement and facilitation.

The first session of the series is scheduled for 28/8/10 at MPAJ ( Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya)  Auditorium from 9am till 1pm. The session will be conducted in English and Bahasa Malaysia. As the host of the program, unfortunately I can only join the lady participants at the closing ceremony as I am not a female, thus having no right of entry during conduct of the session. Of course, I am fully aware that this has always been Bala’s rules as he wants to avert unnecessary embarrassment while conducting the course. To me, my main concern would always be focused on how well and how pervasive the program could ever benefit the target group.

At the end of the program, I presume, all participants would be given a chance to appraise the module contents as planned.


Tidak terhalang kejar impian pembentukan 1Malaysia sejati

by Ong Tee Keat on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:15pm

Kolum Dwimingguan dalam akhbar Sinar Harian

Politik negara kita ini telah lama dihantui oleh soal perkauman. Apa saja yang berbangkit dalam arena politik pasti boleh diperalatkan oleh orang politik untuk menepati kepentingan politik perkaumannya yang tertentu.

Dalam perspektif ini, ada yang menuding jari kepada wujudnya parti politik yang berteraskan kaum; ada pula yang mempersalahkan pihak yang sering kali mengungkitkan tuntutan satu-satu kaum. Malah sesetengah tokoh pendidikan berulang-kali berpolemik bahawa integrasi nasional hanya akan tercapai melalui pendidikan satu aliran sekolah, iaitu aliran sekolah kebangsaan.

Namun segala-gala ini tidak pernah memberikan kita penawar yang mujarab bagi mengubati gejala-gejala yang terus mengganggu-gugat integrasi kaum di bumi Malaysia ini. Sementara itu, kita memang tidak dapat menyangkal bahawa orang politik lah yang sebenarnya mencorakkan politik negara ini. Masyarakat Malaysia adalah sebuah masyarakat majmuk, itu tetap satu hakikat. Namun ciri-ciri perbezaan kita, baik dari segi etnik mahupun agama dan budaya, tidak sekali-kali menjadi bibit-bibit perpecahan jika ianya tidak dieksploitasikan oleh orang-orang politik tertentu yang berfikiran sempit lagi perkauman.

Dalam kerjaya politik saya sekian lama, saya dapati lazimnya orang politik cenderung membeza-bezakan permasalahan rakyat mengikut etnik, sehingga ianya mudah memperkotak-katikkan daya usaha kita untuk menyelesaikan sesuatu masalah dalam perspektif etnik yang sempit.

Sebagai contoh, kenapakah hingga kini kita masih terperangkap dalam takuk minda lama yang terus menonjolkan peratusan penguasaan ekonomi negara mengikut etnik, sedangkan jurang perbedaan ekonomi yang wujud dalam sesuatu kaum tidak diberi penekanan yang sewajarnya.

Dalam perbincangan isu ekonomi pula, tidaklah bermakna sekiranya soal seperti bilangan tokoh-tokoh korporat Bumiputera atau bukan-Bumiputera yang terangkum dalam golongan sepuluh terkaya terus diheboh-hebohkan. Ini hanya akan menyemai hasad-dengki yang mudah dieksploitasikan oleh oportunis-oportunis politik perkauman, namun ianya tidak memberikan kita satu senario yang sebenarnya.

Bagi saya, penonjolan tokoh-tokoh korporat Cina yang ramai dalam golongan sepuluh yang terulung tidak bermakna tidak wujudnya masalah kemiskinan dalam kalangan masyarakat Cina. Demikian juga, pemberian pelbagai subsidi atau bantuan Kerajaan sejak sekian lama dalam pelbagai bidang tidak menepati matlamatnya untuk membantu golongan miskin yang sejati kerana ianya turut dikecapi bersama oleh semua lapisan masyarakat tanpa pemilihan yang selektif.

Selama ini saya tetap berimpian alangkah indahnya bumi Malaysia yang kaya dengan pelbagai sumber ini dapat memanfaatkan seluruh rakyat melalui pengujudan peluang bersaing yang saksama; dan bukannya menjadi sasaran pembolotan dan penguasaan segelintir orang politik yang tamak haloba lagi berkuasa.

Dalam usaha menangani isu PKFZ, saya rasa terpanggil untuk bertindak menerusi satu penyiasatan menyeluruh ketika saya menyandang jawatan Menteri Pengangkutan. Walaupun ianya telah memusnahkan kerjaya politik saya mengikut kaca mata umum, namun saya tidak pernah menyesal malahan berkeyakinan penuh bahawa keadilan hanya akan ditegakkan melalui tindakan mengheret pesalah-pesalah ke muka pengadilan, di samping berusaha mengembalikan wang pembayar cukai yang berjumlah berbilion-bilion yang kononnya telah dilesapkan dalam pelaksanaan projek sebelum ini.

Saya terkilan apabila dianggap berniat mencari pengaruh politik untuk menyelamatkan kerjaya politik saya ketika saya memberi komen mengenai perkara tersebut baru-baru ini. Saya memang tidak berjawatan lagi dalam pentadbiran, tetapi ia tidak sekali-kali menidakkan hak saya bersuara atas perkara sebegini yang berkepentingan rakyat. Pihak yang menegur saya melalui khidmat pesanan ringkas (SMS) telefon bimbit itu mahukan saya memfokuskan kepada daya maju dan masa depan projek PKFZ dan bukannya isu penyelewengan lampau.

Bagi saya, usaha untuk menyelamatkan projek PKFZ tidak bercanggah dengan inisiatif untuk mencari kebenaran dan menegakkan keadilan melalui penyiasatan dan perundangan. Saya tidak faham kenapa pihak yang berkenaan perlu bersikap cepat melatah sebegini bila saja penyelewengan yang terkandung dalam projek ini dituding jari.

Pada masa yang sama, soal mencari pengaruh politik peribadi saya tidak timbul sama sekali. Mungkin bagi mereka yang bergantung bulat-bulat kepada kronisma politik demi rezekinya, survival politik memanglah segala-galanya. Tetapi saya tetap yakin dunia politik bukanlah satu persada yang tiada seinci ruang pun bagi kebenaran dan keadilan.

Juga saya tidak lupa sesetengah anasir dalam parti saya pernah memutarbelitkan tindakan saya terhadap PKFZ sebagai satu-satunya yang mensasarkan ahli korporat Cina. Ini sesungguhnya merupakan satu tuduhan berbaur perkauman yang lantang. Kedaulatan undang-undang negara sememangnya tidak mengenal kaum dan status sosial seseorang yang disabitkan kesalahan.

Saya mengeluh dan terkilan bukan kerana mereka berjaya menumbangkan kepemimpinan saya dalam parti MCA, tetapi atas kesanggupan mereka membela ‘pagar yang makan padi’ menggunakan alasan perkauman yang sempit.

Apa pun, tetap saya tidak sekali-kali terhalang daripada mengejar impian saya yang memperlihatkan terbentuknya “ 1Malaysia” yang sejati.

DATO’ Sri Ong Tee Keat adalah Ahli Parlimen Pandan dan mantan Menteri Pengangkutan.

Scream, you're on camera!

New programme helps fairer sex survive in the city
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 12:21:00

SHAH ALAM: Identity tags are one of those things that will always be around, but its presence is so insignificant that it often goes unnoticed.

There is now reason to pay particular attention to them as they could be 'video-taping' you. Yes, that's right. Mankind's technological advancement did not leave out the identity tags as it could now be fitted with tiny cameras.

There's more. Innocent-looking devices such as car keys, thumbdrives, smoke detectors and even pens fitted with cameras are now easily available and more often than not aimed at unsuspecting women.

To prevent them from becoming victims of these modern-day inventions, the Ong Tee Keat Service Centre, Persatuan Belia Rakan Nusa and Yayasan Bakti Nusa are jointly organising a city survival programme in the Pandan constituency to help urban women survive in the city.

Pandan MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the initiative for the programme came after discussions with Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Senator Heng Seai Kie.

"We had a brainstorming session and I am proud to say Heng herself is proactive in supporting this programme. With endorsement from her office, we came up with a comprehensive plan to conduct this programme nationwide. This is a social caring initiative focused on serving women," said Ong at his Pandan Jaya office.

He said whenever the subject of victimisation of women came up, it was usually linked to the art of self-defence but this programme explored something beyond that.

"Women need to know about such programmes which could make them more streetwise, especially when they face danger. As the programme moves to different places, we hope to rope in more non-governmental organisations. We want it known to a wider segment of society with a greater scope of outreach."

Ong said when they first got involved in this programme, some people were scornful and laughed. Undeterred, they carried on because the protection of women was of common concern.

The programmes will be held at the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) auditorium in Pandan Indah on Saturday from 9.30am. Entrance is free and open to women above 17.

For further information and registration, contact Angelyne Fong or Allan Tan at 03-9281 3445.

PEEPING CAMS: Ong (left) looking at the various 'spy cameras' provided by Balasupramania

Teaching women to cope with difficult situations

SHAH ALAM: This city survival programme for women will be conducted by Balasupramaniam Krishnan, better known as Captain Bala, a safety activist and expert in crimes against women and girls.

He said women were often targetted as they were more vulnerable.

"I have interviewed men who committed various crimes against women. You have to learn from the crooks and then pass the information to others. The city survival programme is for women to learn the skills to survive under difficult situations," he said, adding that he had trained more than 100,000 women.

Balasupramaniam said in fields of safety and rescue, one of the less studied subjects was adverse impact.

"People study impact but not so much on adverse impact, which is equally important. I know of a 69-year-old woman who was robbed by four men. They stripped her and dragged her to a room to rape her. However, she pleaded with them not to do so showing them her medicine. Fortunately, she was left unharmed. But the adverse impact is, the woman will involuntarily urinate whenever she spots men who look like the men who tried to rape her."

During each of the four-hour programme, Balasupramaniam shared presentations on studies of real crime as well as prevention and survival methods. He also demonstrated safety methods and displayed innocent-looking devices with cameras installed in them.

Among topics explored in the programme are how children also become victims, how parents can help children from becoming victims, how to deal with handphone threats, how not to be a victim when withdrawing money from the ATM, detecting spy cameras in changing rooms and how women can survive domestic violence.

However, these programmes are strictly for women. "There will only be two men in the programme. Me and my co-trainer. We don't allow any other men to attend because some men might pick-up tips on how to hurt women," said Balasupramaniam.

26 August 2010

20 Most Hilarious (Yet Unfortunate) Company Names On Earth

Every business, they say, needs a catchy name – but some people evidently can’t tell the differance between ‘catchy’ and ‘ridiculous’. Would you have your haircut at Assman the barber or get a quote from Mammoth Erection scaffolders? Read on for some of the most unfortunately named companies on earth…

20. Mammoth Erection scaffolders

mammoth - 3
Finding a decent scaffolder can sometimes be hard. But if you phone up Mammoth Erection scaffolding asking for some long, firm poles, don’t be surprised if they hang up on you. And don’t be surprised if your bank manager raises his eyebrows when your payment clears at the end of the month.

19. Boring Business Systems

boring -

This might be passed off as one of those lame corporate jokes, if only the company wasn’t actually so mind-numbingly generic. ‘…mission statement… blah…innovative solutions…blah…’. Only call your company ‘Boring’ if you plan on using the skull and crossbones as your logo and having fireaters and topless dancers in the office.

18. Doggy Style Designs

doggy style

Absolutely nothing to do with Snoop Doggy Dogg’s soft porn emporium of the same name (we think). This dog outfitter undoubtedly thinks they’re being very funny and clever with this one – but I doubt if the little old lady down the road will be clothing her mangy cur with them.

17. S&M Amusements


Politicians and high court judges have been enjoying the illicit amusments of S&M for decades. But they might get a shock when, expecting Miss Whiplash, they are instead given a quote for coin-operated arcade machines.

16. Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors


When you choose to use a particular company, it’s nice to know they’re good at what they do – but the name Boxwell for a funeral services goes way past reassurance, beyond a sick joke and into the realms of the horrifyingly morbid. People want to be gloriously entombed, not boxed up and put in storage.

15. The Black Cock Bar, Italy

black cock - sapo essay

You’d think an Italian bar that was bothered enough to use an English name would also be bothered enough to check what that name meant. After all, calling your bar ‘The Black Cock’ as an exercise in marketing might severely limit your target audience – unless, of course, you’re that kind of bar.

14. Curl Up & Dye

curl up and dye

Yet another hairdressers who have hit upon the life-changing discovery of the dye/die pun – what a pity it’s not really helpful in the context of getting your hair cut. ‘See Paris & Dye’: maybe as a tourist novelty… ‘Curl Up & Dye’: no thanks, I just want a haircut…

13. Bimbo Bakeries

bimbo bakeries -

Another name that would be great if only it made sense. Bimbo could base themselves entirely around a range of novelty baked products for, or by, idiots – the dipsy doghnut, airhead loaf or clueless tart perhaps. As it is they don’t produce these products and their name is just dumb.

12. Pee Pee Gas

pee pee gas
The sign for Pee Pee Gas sits gloriously alongside another for Pee Pee Creek in Piketon, Ohio, providing endless fun for schoolboys and the immature everywhere. Unsurprisingly, for a company with such obviously limited marketing power, they don’t have a website.

11. Cowboys’ Meat Market

cowboy meat market,jpg

More Brokeback Mountain then Nantucket, this organic butcher shop in Massachusetts manages to make itself sound disturbingly like either an open air wild-west brothel, or a gay bar for cowboys. Maybe we’ve just got dirty minds…

10. Pizza Orgasmica

Pizza orgasmica

We’ve all heard the horror stories about unscrupulous male employees at McDonald’s putting a little something extra in your mikshake (yes, we do mean semen) – but openly putting ‘orgasmica’ in the name of your fast food company is surely business suicide. Mayonnaise anyone…?

9. Menlove Dental Practice

Menlove Dentist
You might think twice next time you’re due a quick check-up if your dentist is called this – everyday dentists’ sayings such as ‘open wide’ and ‘it’s just a little prick’ might take on a disturbing subtext.

8. Kum & Go

Kum and Go

Does this ever stop being funny? We thought Kum & Go was what women think all men do. Nope. The two gentleman who created these highway stores cunningly combined the first letters of their surnames – evidently they were so pleased with themselves, they didn’t notice until it was too late. Woops.

7. Kidsexchange


Why, oh why, write Kids Exchange as one word? Has nobody noticed it looks more like Kid Sex Change or Kid Sex Exchange? Surely advertising this business is a quickfire way to go straight to jail. Exchange your kids for sex? Don’t think so.

6. Cock’s Restaurant, NY

Cocks - good
Hard to tell with this one – do they have cocks on the menu, cater to a clientele of cocks or are they simply trying to set up a nude male restaurant to rival to Hooters? Perhaps, they just don’t care.

5. Assman the Barber

assman barber
It’s hard to feel this name has any merit other than the fact it is the family name – surely you would have changed it by deed poll ages before starting up a barber shop…? In any case, we dread to think what kind of haircuts the delightfully named Assman specialises in. Or what it smells like in his shop.

4. Camel Towing

camel towing
For those of you not familiar with the phrase ‘camel toe’ it is the phenomenon that occurs when a woman’s most delicate area is visible through tight pants (and said to resemble a camel toe) – popularised by the film, The Weatherman. The reality of Camel Towing, a breakdown service in Atlanta, is not quite as raunchy as it first appears. More’s the pity.

3. Dirty Dick’s Crab House

dirty dick

Wrong on so many levels. We can state with a high degree of certainty that we will never be ordering any food from ‘Dirty Dick’s Crab House’ for fear their secret ingredient is male member complete with crabs. If you don’t believe us check out the cartoon of ‘Dirty Dick’ – does he look like the kind of man who might have crabs to you? Exactly

2. Kuntz Insurance Group


You’d assume that no respectable man or woman would ever purchase insurance from a bunch of Kuntz? Perhaps part of being respectable is being able to look past these things…

1. Fuk Mi Sushi Bar

If ever there was a case of lost in translation, this is it. So abominably named, it’s like something out of the Simpsons – the employees of this firm must have a hell of a laugh every day with classics like ‘ask me where the best sushi bar is and I’ll just say Fuk Mi’, or answering the phone ‘Fuk Mi, how can I help?’. Or alternatively, a little piece of them might die every time they hear these same lame jokes.

All logos are copyright of their respective companies.

Promises Kept for the Promise Me Campaign

By Pauline Wong

Sometimes charity is more than a cheque you fill out every month. Sometimes it takes more than money to truly make a difference in someone's life. Sometimes, just sometimes, believing in the power of a wish will do what money can never buy.

And believing in this premise is how Promise Me, a campaign by the Truly Loving Company (TLC) in collaboration with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, came to be. What started out as a search for a philanthropist has become a search for everyday, young Malaysian heroes who will fulfil pledges to make changes in the lives of others, especially the less fortunate.

Working with bloggers from Nuffnang as well as students from AIESEC and the ELC, Promise Me has seen many inspiring stories: Stories prove that generosity and kindness isn't dead - which is heart-warming and touching, especially since recent times have shown that money can buy just about anything except kindness.

From a simple makeover to a game of chess, from a girl's day out shopping to a football game - Promise Me is all about the little things that make a big difference.

You'll Never Walk Alone

It sounded simple when Kong Tian Leong (who blogs as Saimatkong) took up his pledge to raise money to buy a stroke survivor an ankle foot orthosis, but it took great effort to organise a charity car wash and battle through the soap and suds to help 60-year-old Kau Tan Chong buy the orthosis.

The 27-year-old helped Kau buy the special brace, which is designed to help the stroke survivor control the motion of his ankle joints and give him support for his foot.

Thanks to the kind support of the owner of Shine N Shield (an automotive detailing shop), Raymond Tan, Kong was able to raise around RM450 from the car wash alone, and with donations from various parties, raised a total of RM758. It may not seem like much, but something so small has helped so much.

"Mr Kau is a very optimistic and cheerful man. I sense though that he really needs a lot of care and people to talk to him. I was there (at NASAM) and chatted with him for about an hour," said Kong.

In his blog, Kong details his experience:

"Last Sunday was one of the most meaningful days in my life as I raised funds to fulfill Mr Kau's wish. I must thank Raymond, the owner of car detailing shop Shine N Shield at Sunway for supporting me in this car wash campaign. He not only gave a place to host this charity car wash campaign, but also provided me with two of his own workers to help out!

Rest Easy, Thyn Tong!

Even though Kimberley Low, who blogs as Kimberleycun, was cynical from the start about this campaign, it all changed when she received an anonymous donation from a kind soul, who offered to match what she had already managed to raise on her own.

Having taken the pledge to buy a new hospital bed for mentally-challenged and bed-ridden 17-year-old Goo Thyn Tong, she was humbled and touched when donations came in from all directions to enable her to raise a grand total of RM4,900.

In her blog, she writes:

"This is truly a humbling experience for myself. I gotta' admit, you guys are not just helping Goo but are doing me a HUGE favour too. I've never felt better in my life. Even the boyfriend has noticed a difference to my personality; according to him I'm displaying much less madness since I undertook the pledge! Being surrounded by so much kindness does make you view the world in a different light."

With that amount of money, Kimberley is looking not only to buy Goo a decent hospital bed, but possibly one more bed for the Handicapped and Mentally Disabled Children's Association of Johor, where Goo is cared for.

Your Move, Mr Teoh

82-year-old Teoh Chee Cheong is an avid Chinese chess player, and for years, he has waited for a worthy opponent to play against. Having had to abandon his favourite pastime when a stroke left him less mobile than before, he wanted to relive his past glories as the neighbourhood champion - and the students from AIESEC Malaysia happily obliged.

Teoh then found himself facing off in an intense game of Chinese chess with
Datuk Sri Ong Tee Keat!

"It was an invitation I could not refuse and I was delighted to help in fulfilling Mr Teoh's wish," said Ong, who added that it was his personal wish to see more youth organisations like AIESEC Malaysia take up initiatives to help the less fortunate and under-privileged in Malaysian society.

Howard Tee Wei Heng, an AIESEC student, credited TLC's Promise Me campaign for giving AIESEC this opportunity from amongst the 35 other wishes of the less fortunate and under-privileged. "AIESEC's mission is to develop student leaders and via this campaign, we can achieve our goals whilst contributing back to society".

Go for the Goal

When a student of  the Business Development Manager of ELC International School. Approached Rajan Kaloo early during the campaign and asked for his help and ideas in fulfilling an orphan's (from Rumah Aman) wish to learn football, he rose to the occasion.

They talked at length about getting a coach, finding the space to play football, convincing their friends to participate and generally making the event as special as they possibly could. Whilst most of their dreams had to be adjusted to fit in the Rumah Aman boy's school schedule, one of the grand ideas was to secure one of Malaysia's finest football legends - Santokh Singh to come and visit the Rumah Aman boys and give them a sense of pride about Malaysian football.

It was a request which Santokh was only too happy to accept. "We sometimes forget that future football heroes are not made from football academies, rather they are born when they begin to believe that their dreams are possible".  He added that being under-privileged and less fortunate does not mean one is less likely to achieve one's dreams and he hoped that the TLC Promise Me campaign would enable the orphans to dream of larger goals in life. Following his inspiring talk, the entire orphanage with ELC students and Santokh descended to the local football field for a friendly game together.

A Beautiful Lily

When Cindy Tey, 24, the first Malaysian Dreamgirl (she was winner of online-only reality TV show, Malaysian Dreamgirls), first heard about Promise Me from a fellow Nuffnang blogger, she jumped at the chance to take up a pledge. Having blogged about fashion, beauty and all matters girly for years now, she decided to fulfill the wish of Lily Sin, who is a stroke survivor, to have a complete beauty makeover.

"I first heard about TLC Promise Me campaign from Nuffnang. A Nuffie called me up and asked if I were interested to take up a pledge. I immediately said: Yes, count me in! And since I've always loved blogging about beauty, health and fashion, I try to make sure my readers get to see more than just the surface of each posts. There are two parts to this pledge - to get a pair of multifocal glasses and a hair makeover for Lily. That obviously sounds like something teycindy.com can relate to perfectly!"

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors Grace Salon and Optimal, Cindy was able to fulfill her pledge.

"It was challenging, fun, but most of all, rewarding. At first I was worried that no one would be interested to sponsor, but when I discovered that there are so many generous people out there, the whole pledge process became fun and lively! At the end of the day, I believe everyone who took part felt the same way too."

Tey feels, above all, that there is so much good that the youth can do - no matter how small it may seem.

"There's a Chinese proverb that says 'Youth are Capital'. This is the time for us to contribute to society because we have what it takes - youth, energy, active mind, healthier body. It's sad to look back one day just to realise that you've never helped anyone."

Even if you doubt your abilities, well, Tey believes it's not about doing what people think is 'charity' per se.

"You know what? Everyone was born to be different. We are all special individuals who can help make a difference in ways we can never imagine. Just because you lose once in a while, you're not a loser. Give a hand. Helping others is inspiring and definitely brings out the best in you."

Girl's Day Out

When Vivy Yusof, 23 (best known as blogger Proudduck) found out that all Chan Chin Ming wanted was a day out shopping, she rose to the occasion enthusiastically.

Chan, who is in her 60s, is a wheel-chair bound stroke survivor. Even though she spoke only Cantonese and no English, Vivy did not let that stop her. With the help of Cathy, Chan's daughter, Vivy planned an entire day's outing for Chan which began with a nice breakfast at Pavillion KL, followed by exploring the shopping mall.

"After breakfast, we took Madam Chan around Pavilion. She has never been there after her stroke, so I think she was pretty excited. She kept pointing here and there to indicate to us where she wanted to go, so it was pretty easy taking her around."

 In her blog, Vivy wrote:

 "I was very fortunate that my pledge was super easy! Take a person out shopping, who wouldn't want that? Madam Chan was extremely easy and pleasant, so the experience was lovelyI also received many comments from my blog readers and was so happy to know other people cared too."

"At her age, she really didn't want to shop. Shopping to her just means taking a stroll and jalan-jalan (walking). Clearly our definitions of shopping differ, but hey, hers was pretty fun too!"

Not only that, there was a surprise haircut (from sponsor A Cut Above) in store for Chan, as well as a custom-made new blouse from sponsor, Mimpikita - a soft pink and embroidered number that Chan picked out herself. Although it was not part of the pledge, Vivy clearly saw that going the extra mile would make all the difference in the world, as seen by the broad smile on Chan's face.

But she didn't just take away a feel-good experience, she also learnt an important lesson: Patience and Sacrifice.

"Stroke victims require a lot of attention and Madam Chan is very fortunate to have a family who loves her and sacrifices any free time they have for her. I only wish that other stroke victims have this too, if not, we should all lend a helping hand. It surely is frustrating having hands or legs paralysed and your movement cut, and if we all realised this, we'd show more empathy to stroke victims."

"Also, I learned to be grateful. We have no idea how much things are worth until it's taken away from us."

These are but six inspiring stories from TLC's Promise Me campaign. Find out how you can help at www.tlcpromiseme.com.

Graft report lodged against assemblyman

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 14:03:00

PUTRAJAYA: Pandan MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat's special officer, Cindy Leong Siew Kam, has lodged a report against DAP's Teratai assemblyman Jenice Lee at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office here today.

The report was on the sales of fans from the last general election, which was claimed to raise funds for a Chinese school in Pandan Prima.

Accompanied by Pandan area residents' association representatives Terrence Ee, David Kow and Lim Ah Chai, Leong arrived at 9.15am to submit the document to the MACC.

"The submission of this document is to instigate an investigation on Jenice on the fans sold to the public for the purpose of donation in the last election. A picture of herself was printed on the fans, with a manifesto to build a new Chinese school there.

"It has been two years now but no school is in sight. The question now is, where has all the money gone? The handling of public funds that was raised last election should be held accountable. We want to know what happened," she said.

"Last week Jenice said she had no confidence in the central's government converting the status of the land title for a Chinese school to be built there. If I succeed, I want her to resign.

"If she had no confidence from the beginning, why proceed with raising funds? If she doesn't want to build a school there, she owes residents an explanation, not just tell them that a recreational park will be built there due to lack of confidence in the central government. Anyway, where did the money go?"

Last Monday, The Malay Mail reported Pandan Perdana and Pandan Glades residents had questioned Lee over the school building funds as part of her General Election 2008 manifesto.

Lim had said the proposed school was Lee's main selling point to voters. There was also a donation drive by her election campaign team to build the school by selling DAP fans to the voters.

He had said residents were beginning to doubt Lee's seriousness in delivering on her promise to build the school on the 5.3 acres of land in Pandan Perdana.

On the donation drive, Lim said: “It received an overwhelming response. We believe at least 10,000 fans of her image along with the promise of a school were printed and sold to donors in the constituency.

“I was also a contributor with the minimum amount of RM5. Some people gave as much as RM100 with the hope of seeing a new school after the election."

READ MORE: Pandan residents give assemblyman seven days to to explain promised school or face the music

Pandan residents gives assemblyman seven days to explain promised school or face the music

Shahrim Tamrin
Monday, August 23rd, 2010 12:24:00

PANDAN: Residents of Pandan Perdana and Pandan Glades are questioning Teratai assemblyman Jenice Lee over the funds she raised to build a Chinese primary school there as part of her General Election 2008 manifesto.

They want answers, failing which they refer the matter to the authorities.

“The proposed school was her main selling point to voters. There was also a donation drive by her election campaign team to build the school by selling DAP fans to the voters,” said Pandan Perdana Residents Association president Lim Ah Chai yesterday.

He said residents were beginning to doubt Lee to deliver on her promise to build the school on the 5.3 acres of land in Pandan Perdana.

On Lee's donation drive selling the party campaign fans to the public, he said: “It received an overwhelming response. We believe at least 10,000 fans of her image along with the promise of a school were printed and sold to donors in the constituency.

“I was even a contributor with the minimum amount of RM5. Some people gave as much as RM100 with the hope of seeing a school built right after the election.

“Till today, there’s no school. We are waiting for Jenice to deliver on her promise as we are getting disillusioned with her lip service.”

Pandan Glades RA president Terence Ee said Lee needed to explain the status of the proposed school and the fundraising accounts to her constituents. “It’s important for Jenice to clear the air and her name.”

Residents, he said, wanted to see the transparency as advocated by DAP and Pakatan Rakyat politicians in Selangor. “People around Pandan are disillusioned. We don’t want to hear any more excuses. We want action.

“We are giving her seven days to update us on the status of the funds and the progress to build the school. If there’s nothing we will lodge a police report against her and seek help of the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).”

Lee: Fundraising was for my election campaign

TERATAI assemblyman Jenice Lee has refuted allegation that the sale of fans during the 2008 General Election was to raise funds for a Chinese primary school in Pandan Perdana.

“This is a clear misunderstanding. The selling of the campaign fans was merely to request donations from the public and supporters to back my election campaign expenditure at that point of time,” she told The Malay Mail yesterday.

She said the illustration to build a school during the campaign was purely part of her election manifesto to attract voters.

“There was no donation appeal at all to build the school. This allegation is misleading and I am puzzled how it got the wrong impression,” she said, adding that some quarters that raised the issue did not represent the neighbourhood.

When asked about the proposed school, Lee said: “It’s still pending. It’s very complicated as the matter is under Federal government and I have written a couple of times to Education Ministry and requested for some flexibility to build the school.

“The ministry has yet to give the green light or cooperation. In fact, I have also sent a letter to Pandan MP Datuk Ong Tee Keat to work together in building a school by integrating several schools in the district to the proposed school in Pandan Perdana.”

Until today, she said, the Pandan MP had given her the cold shoulder over the proposal.

25 August 2010

Bukan senang merubah perangai orang politik

by Ong Tee Keat on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 4:55pm

Sejak tsunami politik pilihan raya ke-12, istilah transformasi semakin kerap disebut orang politik. Ia begitu popular kerana pengertian transformasi membawa harapan kepada masyarakat.

Namun pada hakikatnya laungan transformasi tidak akan membawa sebarang makna jika tidak disusuli pelaksanaan pelan tindakan yang berhasil.

Sebenarnya inilah senario politik semasa, yang terganggu-gugat bahkan tertewas dalam takuk minda yang sama. Mereka belum lagi bangkit dari trauma politik yang dialami. Amalan politik mereka yang sebelum ini dipertikai umum masih tebal dan terus berkekalan. Memang bukan senang hendak merubah perangai orang politik yang telah lama berakar-umbi dalam darah jiwa mereka. Umpamanya, mereka yang melobi projek kerajaan sebagai rezekinya, tidak mudah mengikis amalan itu walaupun ruang berbuat demikian semakin tersekat berikutan jatuhnya pemerintahan beberapa buah negeri.

Dalam keadaan demikian, kita jarang-jarang nampak sebarang usaha serius yang berupa transformasi di peringkat akar umbi parti. Istilah itu seolah-olah tinggal satu battle cry yang kosong tanpa pengikut. Komitmen orang politik terhadap transformasi tidak terasa.

Sesetengah orang politik atasan pula, tabiat politik untuk menjadikan diri jaguh bangsa melalui lemparan kata-kata perkauman tetap ada pasarannya. Malah banyak isu lapuk terus mereka ungkit tanpa sebarang hujah baru, semata-mata untuk kepentingan modal politik peribadi. Polemik kontroversial yang berusia dua tiga dekad subur kembali kebelakangan ini tanpa sebarang jalan keluar. Mungkin gelagat sebegini mudah mendapat tepuk sorak, namun risiko yang merugikan negara jarang-jarang mendapat perhatian.

Dalam perspektif ini, polemik kuota kaum, aliran sekolah jenis kebangsaan dan kata-kata mempersenda asal-usul sesuatu kaum tidak henti membara, sedangkan dalam menangani soal rasuah, ramai yang leka dalam takuk minda denial syndrome (sindrom penafian).

Sesiapa menyahut sentimen umum yang menuntut penyiasatan demi ketelusan, mudah dituding jari kerana persoal integriti pentadbiran. Keadaan bertambah buruk apabila pelbagai tuduhan, baik berasas mahupun tidak, khasnya yang luas disebarkan melalui laman web mengeruhkan lagi senario sebenar jika tiada sebarang penyiasatan meyakinkan.

Kita jarang sekali mengambil iktibar dari apa yang berlaku. Skandal BMF tahun 80-an dan kes PKFZ yang belum selesai setakat ini merupakan kes-kes profil tinggi yang klasik. Kita tidak boleh salahkan rakyat terpengaruh dengan pelbagai dakyah dalam kes-kes seperti ini, kiranya ia terus dibiarkan menjadi bahan gosip umum tanpa tindakan tegas.

Sesiapa dari parti pemerintah yang mencadangkan agar isu itu ditangani secara proaktif, mudah menempah padah. Pihak yang menuduh lazimnya gusar kerana pandangan seperti itu dianggap untuk mempopularkan diri dalam kalangan rakyat, dan bukannya untuk menegakkan budaya ketelusan dalam parti pemerintah.

Pada hakikatnya, parti pemerintah boleh membawa perubahan kepada dirinya bahkan seluruh jentera kerajaan secara proaktif dan bukannya atas desakan politik semasa. Iktibar boleh kita timba daripada peristiwa sejarah yang berlaku di sekeliling kita. Tiada pihak mahupun parti yang boleh menentang arus perubahan dibawa rakyat.

Dalam keadaan sebegini, tidakkah elok jika parti pemerintah proaktif membawa transformasi politik yang menguntungkan rakyat? Saya yakin, itu bukan sekadar dapat memberkati parti dan rakyat, malah memantapkan lagi daya saing negara dalam persada antarabangsa.

Malangnya segala ini bukanlah keutamaan orang politik yang berkepentingan peribadi. Bagi mereka, sebarang perubahan pasti mengandungi unsur-unsur ketidakpastian yang mungkin menjejaskan kepentingannya.

Apa pun motifnya, transformasi tidak akan berjaya kiranya tidak dilaksanakan dengan penglibatan rakyat dan parti.

* DATUK SRI ONG TEE KEAT ialah Ahli Parlimen Pandan dan mantan Menteri Pengangkutan*