Saturday, March 6, 2010

His Highness Means Business

Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar wants politicians and the Johor civil service to buck up and serve the people, failing which they will be booted out.
The Johor ruler stressed that this was not a “Santa Claus” government and wanted everybody in the state administration to work hard and produce results.
“They must buck up and if they cannot, then they must get out. I am fair to everyone (Opposition or ruling government).
New era in Johor: Sultan Ibrahim expecting everyone in the state administration to work hard and produce results.

“Even to the present government, I tell them to buck up and shape up,” he said, adding that he had not wanted to voice out previously out of respect for his late father.
However, now as the new Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim said he wanted to speak his mind and give suggestions.
“This is a new millennium. A new era and as a new Sultan, I expect a lot of changes in my state,” he said during an exclusive interview at Istana Pasir Pelangi here recently.
Sultan Ibrahim did not mince his words when he said several state executive councillors were not performing up to expectations.
“All these people were appointed during my late father’s time. I have a lot of respect for my father but now, I am the Sultan and I expect a lot of changes,” he said, singling out the tourism sector as one where there had been “zero effort” to promote arts and crafts in Johor.
Sultan Ibrahim pointed out that state exco members should come up with new ideas to improve tourism in the state, suggesting that a survey be carried out to see how this could be done.
Among his first decrees to bring about changes and development in Johor, is the directive that all state government agencies give detailed briefings on matters relating to the administration and finance of their respective departments.
“In short, I want to know everything and nothing must be hidden from me,” he said, reminding the agencies not to give false reports as he had informers in every nook and corner.
Sultan Ibrahim said the first briefing would be from Majlis Agama Islam Johor and he expected them to provide him with figures on their spending of zakat money, collection, those who had yet to pay and religious schools’ curriculum.
He said once he had finished with the agencies in Johor Baru, he would move on to the districts and get briefings from all levels, including district officers and the village headmen.
“I will question them and if I suspect something amiss, they will be in for a royal shelling. I want everyone to always be on their toes,” he said, adding that he had also directed some agencies to be audited.
He said he would also give ideas and views on ways to better the public delivery system during these sessions.

Wengers Comment:
Well what can I say except "Daulat Tuanku".  What HRH the Sultan of Johor is saying is very very good indeed. He makes it clear that he does not want to be told lies and wants the truth and nothing but the truth.
This shows a character of empowerment through information. HRH understands that there is no gain in telling lies. But why do people lie all the time? Well - they do so because they want to cover up their short comings. However, if we are truthful, we can alert the respective partners to certain issues and bite the bullet once, solve the problem and get on with it.
His comment on the lack of effort on promoting Johor's arts and craft should surely be a stinging rebuke to those holding the tourism portfolio. I would totally agree, from a tourist point of view, its only Johor Bahru and the golf courses that get heavily promoted. There is nothing like the sort in Negeri, where there are homestays, arts and crafts and preservation of the Minangkabau culture - both in terms of architecture and culture.
This kind of desire to know the truth and not be satisfied with surface and superficial answers flies smack in the face of certain elements of the right wing fringe element whom are completely ignorant on almost every single issue. Take for example MV Augusta - the right wing bloggers are completely ignorant on the fact that the firm was in Bankruptcy the moment Tun paid RM 300 million for its worthless equity, the fact that Gevi SpA was an SPV with links not to Pak Lah, but instead to the ex owner of MV Augusta, the fact that MV had huge loans with Deustche Bank, the fact that even the legendary Harley Davidson, could not turn around MV Augusta, and declared a near total write down of their investment.
So I do hope that those who scream blue murder and potray themselves as the only defenders of the monarchy get the message. HRH, the Sultan of Johor, is through listening to all these pretty stories. The truth is what HRH wants.
Now what surprises me the most is that the common picture given to all and sundry was that the Johor Public Service is supposed to be par excallence. Coupled with this is the heavy involvement of Johor SEDC in various business ventures. To date, I have heard good news about them - its not the most conclusive, as really I have had little in interest in the state and affairs of Johor per se. Johor reminds me of Big Dog, and I don't really like Big Dog, so I generally have not much desire to dig deeper.
I can only see two things. Number 1, the state is doing well and Tuanku wants to push them harder. Number 2, there are some things below the surface which Tuanku knows of and had been keeping silent, but now will seek swift solution of those issues. 
Either way - congrats to Johor for having a Sultan that means business. 


kgpadangbalang said...


I am still a Johorean at heart even though I have relocated to KL.

Please don't hate Johoreans just because of one running Big Dog. Yes, I am quite ashamed that I too went to the same MRSM as said person (animal?), hopefully I won't turn into someone like him in the future.

As for Johor, everyone know Johor's state debt rivals MV Agusta (heh heh). The state is basically kept afloat by the awesome might of the SEDC aka Johor Corp. As long as people in Malaysia and even Singapore, Brunei and India are munching on KFC and eating Pizza Hut, Johor will have money to survive.

There's also the question of Iskandar, where huge pieces of land have been sold off to foreigners in a bid to lower the state deficit, land including Danga Bay situated directly in front of HRH Sultan Ibrahim's Istana Bukit Serene. The late Sultan was never pleased with this arrangement, that's why every time there was an election the PM himself would descend to the Istana to 'negotiate' an appropriate arrangement.

I heard rumours that the current DPM was persona non grata to the late Sultan after the fiasco known as JB Waterfront City.

Also, did you not catch the news of the current MB passing out during a round of golf directly after the Sultan's announcement? Ominous signs....

Wenger J. Khairy said...

Monsieur KgPadangBalang,

There are very pleasant people in Johor, and I was perhaps wrong in my over generalization. My apologies.

Wow - Johor SEDC has a mountain of debt??? Interesting - remember i never really did a full analysis of Johors accounts. But I do know that all debt issued by the SEDC is backed by the Fed Govt right? Interestingly debt backed by the Fed Govt (as opposed to straight out Fed Govt debt) increased by abouy RM 8 billion last qtr to amount to something like RM 82 b. I guess one dig around and find out the exact story - so I ain't making any hard judgements.

Johor is in deficit??? Wow - thats news. Really that is something very strange. If only I have the time, I'd dig deeper, could you forward some link for me to look at.

To me the management of Iskandar is awful. Really I don't mince my words - RM 700 million investment into Legoland?? Is that the best these guys can think of. We don't need an IDR for Legoland. And worse still Lego Corp aint taking the risk.

Aiyoo, our country lacks really any sound management talent. Ever since Dr M, we are using the country's wealth as an ATM, and freely giving money away to foreigners while we fight each other on the shrinking pie. I think its ridiculous.

I read about the MB passing out, but while it looks coincendtal, I really have no sympathy for a guy who is playing golf. Really as MB there are more important things to do.

As Ivan Drago in Rocky IV said,"if he goes, he goes" (paraphrase)

But I have high hopes for HRH. He seems determined to shake things up, and I will support that.

kgpadangbalang said...

Now, now Wenger, just as there's a difference between Husqvarna the motorcycle company and Husqvarna the chainsaw maker, there's a difference between Johor Corp. and Johor State.

Johor Corp is as implied the 'corporatised' State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), basically it is Johor's GLC, with wide ranging business including property development, plantations, hospitals, fast food franchises and other lucrative businesses. It is led by the capable Tan Sri Ali Hashim (who incidentally looks just like Colonel Sanders of KFC).

Johor State is the state government itself, led by a former economics lecturer from UM, Dato' Ghani.

Johor Corp. as understood is very profitable, as explained, they even own the franchise for KFC in as far as India. Sure, there were disastrous deals, the spectacular fall of Amanah Saham Johor (ASJ) which was the 1st and 'successful' state investment fund among the many highlights. Johor Corp. is still a very much envied SEDC among SEDCs, the only rivals might be Sarawak's and Selangor's.

Johor state meanwhile has debts almost as big as MV Agusta's, your figure of RM80billion may not be far off the mark. Mismanagement of funds is the name of the game.

I am not an economist, it is just something good for some late night reading, so apologies if I cannot point you to a link with the figures for both Johor Corp. and Johor State.

All I can say is that there is no love lost between Tan Sri Ali and Dato' Ghani.

One day Johor may come to the federal govt. with bowl in hand expecting a bail out just like Dubai did with it's neighbour.

Not a Mamak said...

In the government's and judiciary's attempt to shore up Mamak Zombie Pangkor Pele's flimsy hold on the Menteri Besarship of Perak, they forgot that there are other states in Malaysia. Now, the UMNO stronghold of Johor might be a goner due to the stupid attempt at helping Mamak Zombie Pangkor Pele's Menteri Besarship. Yes, the absolute power granted to the Sultan by the decision favouring the Sultan of Perak's "appointment" of Mamak Zombie Pangkor Pele as Menteri Besar, is also binding on other states. The newly appointed Sultan of Johor gleefully knows this, and knows that the power invested on the Sultan that his father lost (largely due to the actions of another Mamak, Mahafiraun) has been regained, by the inadvertent decision of the "learned" judges.

The MB of Johor knows that his days are numbered, and has fallen ill. He knows that his underhand attempts to ensure that his UMNO cronies get the maximum benefit from the Iskandar project are at an end. Well, I think he should start thinking of retirement... or if he thinks he's still too young... another job.

Anonymous said...

Ghani should lecture Wenger on the Economics portion for CFA L2. PS: Love your post on analyst forum - Hilarious