Saturday, 22 June 2019

Latheefa Koya Gets Going

Freshly appointed to the role as MACC chief commissioner and Latheefa Koya is away, firing on all cylinders!

I usually hate the word Civil Forfeiture, as it has had very poor results in the US, due to very corrupt police forces, but in the case of Najib Razak, a clear money trail means that we can go about recovering the money that has been lost.

Read the rest here: Malaysia seeks $65m stolen from state fund 1MDB

Ever since I remember, good ole Latheefa has been a thorn in PKR's side, criticising the party for both poor decisions and frequently inaction.

She was never going to win a popularity contest, because Ms Congeniality she is not!

However, she is extremely competent, and I am very pleased to see the wheels in motion.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Sending A Message

It became a catchphrase, except that coming from you-know-you, it was difficult to take seriously.

In context, he was riding a motorcycle, and casually wondering what there was to be ashamed of riding a motorcycle. Most people see that as an attempt to appeal to the Mat Rempit. It may or may not be the case.

However, if one has stolen a motorcycle, there is plenty to be ashamed of.

And if one has stolen far more then that, then it's best to just hang one's head in shame and have some self-awareness, for the love of God.

Keep the mouth shut, too.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Start-Up of the Day: Hello Gold

Hello Gold markets itself as a medium for the man on the street to start saving by buying gold.

It is, indeed, accessible if you have a smart phone and you download the app and load some money in it.

I am not convinced it is a great method for saving money as gold prices can fluctuate rather erratically.

But I do personally invest in gold, and do so because of the current economic climate.

I expect gold prices to reduce in the foreseeable future and so, haven't been buying gold in any huge quantities, but I buy when the demand is low because that is when the prices are also low.

That being said, there are fees involved, such as buying and selling fees and even an administrative fee, so go into it with eyes wide open.

This company buys the gold on my behalf and stores it physically so that one day, should I wish to sell it off or have it delivered to my house (for a fee), that option is possible.

These guys have recently even ventured to Africa, where most of the gold is mined from.

I think gold might become an important asset in the foreseeable future, and so it makes the list of my start-ups of the day.

Talented Malaysians of the day: Robin Lee and Ridwan Abdullah.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Other Malaysian Start-Ups

I thought I would avoid reinventing the wheel by just pointing you to articles that other people have already written about start-ups in Malaysia.

So here goes:

The next big thing: 10 Malaysian startups to watch in 2018

Spotlighting five innovative startups in Malaysia

Friday, 15 February 2019

Start-Up of the Day: Fresh At Heart

Now if I had failed to introduce a start-up that involved food, many Malaysians would have been unable to forgive me.

I stumbled across this by accident, as I don't exactly buy my food online. I have bought many things online, but never perishables. I can't remember if I have ever even ordered pizza online.

The Fish Club consist of a bunch of guys who grew up in a little fishing village in Pontian, Johor. I always thought that it was on the east coast but it turns out that it's actually west of the PLUS (north-south) highway.

Apparently Pontian is noted for its variety of seafood which is sold at a reasonable price. This is where these guys come in. Being locals, they are able to source fresh seafood and distribute it to their customers.

If you live around Johor or Singapore, you get your orders quicker. If you are located in Kuala Lumpur or Penang, you need to let them know in advance as they send their deliveries in bulk to keep the costs down.

I discovered that they have rather sophisticated methods for freezing their fish so that it doesn't lose its flavour or texture while still retaining the freshness.

So you could buy in bulk (RM200 gives you free delivery) and stick them in the freezer, and you're good to go for the next month or two.

Their customers certainly approve because most of them return to buy again from them and give them very high approval ratings on Facebook.

Their combo deal appeals to me not only because it's cheap, but because I think they package the fish that was caught but didn't get sold immediately.

In this day and age, we cannot afford to waste food.

Perhaps this is what I find appealing about this set-up - that it is designed not to waste as much as if you were to go to a fish market and buy whatever was available.

By the end of the day, the fish starts to look rather past its best and you just wouldn't buy it. So much wastage happens in wholesale markets.

I confess that the packaging is plastic and styrofoam, that is perhaps harmful to the environment, but no different from what you would get at the supermarkets.

Certainly good value for money.

Talented Malaysians of the day: Eddie Goh and Joel Chong

Friday, 8 February 2019

Start-Up of the Day: SpeedRent

Social media has been busy the past few months with news of racial discrimination when it comes to renting a house.

From Divyang Hong in Penang to this anonymous Indian/Malay-looking couple in Taman OUG, KL, people are turned down for not being of the right skin colour.

The excuse is that non-Chinese do not pay their rent on time, or even at all. There is no statistical backing for that, only anecdotes.

Upon further investigation though, it is observed that the laws in Malaysia are somewhat in favour of the tenant and it is difficult for the landlord to take action against errant tenants, whatever the colour of their skin.

This is where SpeedRent comes in.

They offer a tenancy package that includes the agreement (which can be signed online) and an insurance policy for up to RM26,000 so that landlords are protected against the bad eggs who either damage property or don't pay their rent.

They claim to battle against discriminatory limitations and seek to "prove that good conduct is not just skin deep". SpeedRent, they further claim, is a champion of equality for all, beyond physical boundaries.

Well, good for them.

Given the social situation in Malaysia, this is a start-up that is exceptionally pertinent.

Whenever I have lived abroad and tried to rent an apartment, I have always been screened for previous conduct and credit record.

This way, there is no legitimate grounds by which anyone could deny me tenancy based on race, religion, gender or even sexual orientation (not that I have ever been asked).

It is surprising that Malaysia has not adopted a similar system.

Until now, I suppose.

This start-up is one of my favourites so far.

Talented Malaysian of the day: Wong Whei Meng

Monday, 4 February 2019

Start-Up of the Day: Atap

If you have recently bought a house, you would know how houses in Malaysia are fitted with the most atrocious and hideous joinery.

The taps, sinks, door handles, and even the doors themselves look more suited to a slum instead of the few hundred thousand (or even a million) that you parted with to own the roof over your head.

It is expected that you are going to renovate the house at some point, either before you move in - or a few years after owning the property when you have got your finances back together and no credit collection person is stalking you.

The problem is you don't always know how much an interior decorator is going to cost you. You don't even know what their portfolio looks like until you either meet them or browse their website.

Atap hosts a collection of professionals on their website.

You start out by telling them what your property type is. The size that you want renovated. The location. Obviously your budget. And the type of decor or design style you would like, be it rustic, retro, contemporary or minimalist. There are at least 12 to choose from.

Give them your floor plan and your contact details, and someone gets in touch with you.

Just like that.

You also get to browse through previous projects and get ideas on what you wish your house to look like.

I confess it's a bit like looking through an Ikea catalogue, but for more sophisticated stuff and actual services.

Atap is owned by Mocento Sdn Bhd, which is based in Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Start-Up of the Day: Parkit

A while back, I was in San Antonio, Texas, when I realised how exorbitant parking could be. Fortunately, Lonely Planet suggested the use of an app that enabled a price comparison of all the parking rates in the city.

At the hotel, the significant other and I selected the top 5 cheapest places before setting off to find them.

It wasn't perfect - some of the parking lots hadn't been updated unfortunately, and some were just full, but we got ourselves a parking space for the day at very competitive pricing.

That's what Kuala Lumpur needs, I told myself.

Now ParkIt isn't quite a price comparison site, but it definitely connects people who need parking space to the people who have them.

Based on the requirements that you have entered on your listing, the website matches you with people in your location, who want to lease your car parking space for as long as you want them to. It can be for a week or a month.

You may think that your management is strict about who enters your apartment building.

However, the legal position is that under the Strata Title Act, once an owner buys a unit, the parking spot belongs to the owner as an accessory of the parcel and it is within their discretion to do whatever necessary with it, including renting it out.

Assumption: If you live in Cheras and work in Kota Damansara, meaning that you leave your house at 7AM and don't get home until 6PM, someone who works in the office block across the road from your apartment, could rent your parking space while you're gone.

I don't know if this works as a space share, but perhaps a deal could be worked out.

Now I am not a fan of cars anymore; I used to be, until I discovered how polluting they are to the environment.

But I am less keen on the thought of someone circling the parking lots of KL trying to find a place to park his or her car. I have personally experienced the stress and wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Obviously the best option is to take public transportation, but that isn't always available to everyone.

Besides, instead of parking being the sole domain and monopoly of lot owners, the average person can now monetise that available parking space.

Talented Malaysian of the day: Kyan Liew

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Malaysian Start-Ups

Back in February and March of 2008, I did a series of blogposts about bloggers who were running for election.

I wasn't the only blogger participating, but our collective efforts, from blogging to campaigning, certainly cranked up the political machinery.

That was a whole 11 years ago, and needless to say, things have changed since.

This year, I am going to do a new series on Malaysian start-ups - I will not be paid a single sen, but I think the rest of you folks need to get to know our fellow Malaysians better.

I was reading a fair bit about business opportunities in Malaysia when I came across this piece by a seed stage venture capital firm called 500 Startups.

They are currently on their second fund called Durian II and boast of having invested in 119 start-ups in South East Asia.

This what they say of this region:

Beyond spending money well, there’s something people tend to forget. Southeast Asia’s new generation of founders hail from a variety of backgrounds: existing industry experts, foreigners, and local talent coming home from experiences overseas. Binding the social fabric between them is crucial for a self-generating ecosystem.

This talent is not going far if the masses aren't recognising and supporting it. It's interesting to note how we have evolved:

Southeast Asia’s GDP is way ahead of its venture capital availability relative to India, China, and the U.S. The top 10 cities in Southeast Asia have almost double the Facebook users of the top 10 cities in the U.S. Startups here can be built more cheaply, and reach more customers faster than many developing nations. Taking a walk in any Southeast Asian city, one will see the spending power of Southeast Asia’s middle class at work. Because most startups here target this segment of consumers, investing in startups here has less to do with national data, and more to do in the story of the booming urban population of its cities.

We may have turds like Najib who give us a bad name, but it appears that the rest of us South East Asians are more educated and have a lot more disposal income than the previous generations. Some of us even come with a conscience. We may as well do useful things with those advantages.

A lot of the start-ups deal with connecting people, correcting social difficulties, and providing good quality to its users.

This won't be the only thing I am going to blog about, but I think you'd enjoy it.

Oh, and if you do know of a really good start-up that deserves a shout-out, drop me a comment.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Change In 2019

It's well into 2019 now; some things have changed and some haven't.

We have very recently had a new Agong installed, the one from Pahang replacing the one from Kelantan, who was the subject of some salacious gossip as photos abounded of his wedding but no one in authority would confirm it.

Malaysia is also trying to change the world's perception of it as being corrupt.

After having lived abroad for years on end, I have come to recognise that just about every country on this planet, no matter how well they cultivate their reputation for integrity, has some form of systemic corruption.

But it would really help, if Malaysia did not take kick-backs from defence projects, if the cops did not take 'duit kopi' from the people they pulled over for speeding, and if the people in positions of authority like judges and law enforcement did not align themselves with political parties.

Of course, it would be much easier to convince the world of our integrity if we had never had the 1MDB scandal in the first place.

On another note, Malaysia appears to be looking into some form of collaboration with Qatar for its third national car.

Most Malaysians think that this is an exercise is flogging a dead horse and really have no desire to see yet another failed project with protectionist tariffs which needlessly hike up car prices.

I blogged about it back in July last year, and my opinion of the situation hasn't changed since.

Another protectionist policy that is being reviewed is the expatriate wage threshold where the number of foreigners earning between RM3000 to RM5000 are going to be reduced, as this range is deemed to be for locals.

I am, of course, puzzled, as to why highly-paid jobs are reserved for the foreigners. Of course, there is a bit of backpedalling and some waffling too.

Meanwhile, Kulasegaran said that last year, a total of 480 Malaysian professionals returned to Malaysia last year under the Returning Expert Programme (REP), which he attributed to the change in government.

He said applications for REP - facilitates the return of Malaysian professionals from abroad to overcome the shortage of professional and technical talent - saw a 20 per cent increase in 2018.

“There are about one million Malaysians living abroad and we are working on ways to encourage them to come back home,” he added.

Factors that encouraged Malaysians to stay or work abroad, he said, were exposure, connections and a substantially better income.

“According to the World Bank, many Malaysians living abroad are highly skilled. About 150,000 Malaysians who are living in European, the United States and Canada (OECD) countries completed their higher education studies.

The downside of living in the country in which one was born, especially Malaysia, is that people take you for granted.

I have lost count of the number of disappointed Malaysians who came back from abroad only to be taken lightly by Malaysian employers. These were people who were highly respected abroad, and their skills and opinions highly sought after.

It's not just government policies that are important, but a change to the biased and discriminatory mindset of Malaysians as well.

This new government may have some plans for change, but most Malaysians are neither holding our collective breaths, nor are we putting our lives on the line. If change does come, it will not merely be for the good of the select few, but for the many.

Those who are serious about improving their country from top down will see the gravity of the situation and make those much-needed changes. If they are serious about improving.