Thursday, June 29, 2006

Let's be Clear of some Real Grouses WE THE PEOPLE understand PROTON's CURRENT CHAIRMAN has to answer for (outside of the still continuing stuck-window saga)

  • The sale of MV Agusta seemed to conclude in a matter of days, or at most weeks, and without extensive stakeholder engagement, where even the Italian partners and management of MV Agusta expressed surprise at the conclusion of the sale! Strange when the purchase process took months of very public deliberation and stakeholder engagement.

    Sure, the propaganda around the sale of MV Agusta hints at the purchase being an isolated Dr M - Tunku M decision. However, the truth is that international newswires, including the BBC, reported an engagement and due dilligance process ~1 year prior to the finalisation of the purchase of MV Agusta. With the 3-month initial due-diligence stretching to months longer, all publicly reported, the purchase deal was done with the agreement of the Proton board and Khazanah, backed by a lengthy due diligence, audits from Big 4 firms as well as support from MV Agusta's creditors such as Citibank.

    In contrast, where was the due-diligence around the sale of MV Agusta? Hence, the manner of the sale, to an unknown entity and for a measly fraction of the purchase price (even with the debt transfer) with no discernable due diligance, is a major source of angst!

  • Many who study Proton's quarterly performace figures expressed suspicions that despite the sale of the debt of MV Agusta, Proton still chose to perform a debt provision at the quarter of the MV Agusta sale, attributing this to losses due to the MV Agusta sale. The debt provision seemed exhorbitant, making people wonder whether Proton was actually trying to hide real operational losses it had incurred following dismissal of Tunku Mahaleel and the departure of a core of his team, including the highly reputable CFO.

  • When a CEO is dismissed / allowed to lapse in his contract / encouraged to leave, one expects the replacement to do better. Else, why dismiss the earlier CEO?

    However, Proton's performance has not improved since the departure of Tunku Mahaleel, but has taken a turn for the worse, with the biggest low when Azlan unveiled the "luxury" Waja.... ??!!!??!?!!!.

    Some of the decline has been arrested since the arrival of Syed Zainal, but ironically, all the successes of Syed Zainal can also be attributed to the plans laid out during Tunku Mahaleel's time.

    E.g. the Campro Engine replacement for the Waja, the SRM or Satria Neo's (late) delivery, even the vendor quality assurance program were all plans Tunku Mahaleel laid out. In fact, resistance to the vendor quality assurance program by 'influential' vendors is supposed to have been one reason for Tunku Mahaleel being ousted from the CEO position.

    So, why did the Proton board need to remove Tunku Mahaleel, if Chairman Azlan's more direct leadership since could do no better, and in some ways, have done far worse!

  • Finally, Proton's current problems are symptomatic of a directionless leadership. There is much given to slogans and press releases of success, but if one takes away the plans of Tunku Mahaleel that they have implemented, they are struggling for direction. Otherwise, why would Proton be regressing by negotiating with Mitsubishi on building cars together (probably a Mitsubishi knock-off), when Proton has already demonstrated the capacity to build from scratch?

    The current Proton leadership has a penchant for proclaiming the NAP defines the strategy they are following, but as the NAP is non-specific, non-detailed and bereft of real-life big rules and big picture ideals of where Malaysia wants to position its automotive industry in the regional, let alone global market, Proton is basically directionless. The NAP is so poor as a guide to Proton that if anyone is willing to pay me for a few weekends, I, a non-expert, could probably come up with something better!

Maybe I'll do it anyway.... but for now, can someone convey the above to Azlan Hashim so he (and others) will at least just stop yammering on about how they have 'answered' Dr M's questions on Proton? Some real answers would be nice too...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Should Malaysians Lose Sleep Over Dr M's Recent Laments?

Assalamualaikum and Good Morning!

Thought I'd begin my blogging life by posting what I had already shared in other forums. Our ever vocal 'returning' Prime Minister, "Dr M", has been causing ripples of late. I cannot help but note the ever evolving strategem of the mainstream Malaysian media attempting to distract Malaysians from real problems (such as raised by said) facing us today. I suspect Dr M is keeping a veritable howitzer of other issues affecting us the people directly in reserve should Pak Lah's admin fail to intelligently respond to the bazooka of issues he's already shooting at them.

Interesting also that the diversion strategy of blaming Dr M for past wrongs, real or imagined, is not working!

It may be nice to have Dr M answer for them, but almost all can be put to the current PM and cabinet to answer, with many of them being party to most of the decisions! Note that many of the policy 'wrongs' being slung at Dr M have not been changed, hence, the more practical question one asks is why the government of the day has not reversed or mitigated some of the decisions that they appear to be confessing to the people they believe to be wrong?!

Even when Pak Lah's admin tries to address the problems of old, they seem to have their priorities wrong!

E.g., why did the Gov. allow TNB to raise electricity prices first before getting the IPPs to change their supply contracts to TNB? Are the IPPs and their tycoon owners more important than the Malaysian people in Pak Lah's advisors' view, such that they are happy for common Malaysian folk to be burdened first before the multi-million-billionaires among us are?

Let me share a tangent (in Malay here, our National Language):

"Saudara-saudari sekelian. Soalan yang sepatutnya lebih meresahkan semua rakyat Malaysia adalah, apakah sebab Dr M berasa beliau perlu bersuara sedemikian adalah kerana beliau sudah tiada jalan-cara lain untuk berhubung dengan Pak Lah?

Mungkinkah ia bukan sebab beliau sendiri tidak pernah berusaha terlebih dahulu untuk memberi nasihat disebalik tabir, tetapi sebenarnya kerana beliau telah berulang kali dihalang atau tidak diendahkan suaranya apabila cuba memberi nasihat, bimbingan atau pendapat secara sulit.

Malah, saya percaya timbulnya krisis ini bukannya kerana Pak Lah sendiri yang enggan mendengar nasihat Dr M. Pada hemah saya, ada segolongan yang berkepentingan yang senentiasa menghalang bukan sahaja Dr M, malah penyokong-penyokongnya, dari menyampaikan nasihat, teguran serta pendapat secara langsung mahupun tidak langsung kepada Pak Lah...

Buktinya jelas - Dr M tidak melenting kerana ada sebab yang sudah diberikan kepada beliau secara sulit tentang pembatalan projek-projek yang beliau rasakan tidak munasabah - kalau ada, tentu ia sudah didedahkan dalam kemarahannya. Beliau sendiri menyatakan yang beliau tidak senang kerana TIADA JAWAPAN yang diberikan kepada soalan susulan beliau tentang tindakan kerajaan.

Contohnya, beliau telah mengetengahkan fakta yang kerajaan Singapura sudahpun bersetuju pada zaman beliau yang pembinaan jambatan 'scenic' tidak bersyarat dan bertanya kenapakah timbul isu bekalan pasir dan izin ruang udara Malaysia sebagai sebab pembatalan sekarang. Soalan ini adalah antara soalan-soalan yang belum dijawab.

Rakan-rakan sekelian. Orang Melayu hormat kepada orang tua. Dr M seakan-akan bapa kepada generasi pemimpin sekarang, apatah lagi hubung-kaitnya dengan kita masyarakat muda yang membesar dibawah penjagaan kerajaan pimpinan beliau.Oleh itu, tindakan pemimpin-pemimpin dan mereka-mereka yang menggesa Dr M untuk diam adalah satu tindakan yang kurang sopan.

Mungkin kerana itulah Pak Lah kelihatan masih agak kelu, kerana dalam kesopanan beliau, Pak Lah sedar yang untuk mendiamkan Dr M adalah tindakan yang luar-biasa kasar bahasanya.

Harapan saya adalah Pak Lah sendiri mula bersuara dan mungkin memulakan usaha mengesan dan mengenepikan anasir-anasir yang terlibat dalam pemutusan hubungan erat antara Dr M dan Pak Lah sebelum ini. Mungkin itulah langkah pertama yang wajar diambil olah Pak Lah dalam menangani cabaran ini."

Concerns on the above barriers of communication between Dr M and Pak Lah was validated by someone in Pak Lah's cabinet in the following Berita Harian report that was tapped into by Jeff Ooi among others:

Interesting also to note that Pak Lah's administration may well have more to be worried about than Dr M in the coming months. With Aziz Samsuddin, Ishak Ismail and previously Ali Al-Habshee, all UMNO Ketua Bahagians, voicing support for Dr M, the real powers to unseat the PM, the leadership of the UMNO delegates to the general assembly, have indicated that the ground, the grass-roots, are restless. The risk for the Pak Lah administration is that this may be an indication of a snowballing of dissent within the rank and file in UMNO.

Pak Lah's administration has to address the real problems and not put much hope in the spin-doctors, mainstream media yes-men and the like distracting the Malaysian people away from them. May the answers Pak Lah has promised to be forthcoming be the truth, unhindered, unfettered, unspun and convincing, even if it means his government admitting that some of their actions have been wrong...

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