Friday, September 9, 2011

Friendship Pays

I had two Toastmasters meetings on Thursday evening. The first was a joint MAS Cempaka-MAS Mawar meeting where I was the evaluator for Kathryn Wong (She did reasonably well). In fact, I was also voted Best Evaluator and it was good to know that I have not lost my touch. Still I did show a wee bit of fluster because a part of my mind was thinking about a speech I was due to present later in the evening. The second was a D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters meeting where I delivered speech # 4 Speaking under Fire from the Public Relations manual – a talk to persuade a hostile audience to at least consider the speaker’s position on a controversial issue. And so I gave a three- to-five-minute speech titled “Baby Dumping” (It was about deforestation, baby orang utans and stem cell research) and this was accompanied by a two- to three-minute Q&A period. Dennis Wee listened well and then supplied me with good feedback that I should pay attention to.

YTL’s Francis Yeoh was interviewed by Haslinda Amin on Bloomberg Television where the latter disclosed that the flamboyant Yeoh has benefitted so much from “his friend in powerful places”. Yeoh’s “friend” is of course, none other than Mahathir Mohamad. But the term “friend” is used loosely because friendship with Mahathir will inevitably incur a price, if you know what I mean!

During the course of this interview, Yeoh made a gaffe when he said that it was okay working with Malaysia’s former Prime Minister because all Mahathir did was to take 30%! It was more than a Freudian slip as Francis specifically said “He taxes 30%” and not that it was taxed by the government.

Crony capitalism thrives in Malaysia, where politics and business come together for the cause of greed to create money-making ventures that benefit the elite. As far back as 2000, it has already been highlighted that “Mahathir's main objective still seems to be to ensure that Malaysia's biggest companies are controlled by his friends” (Webpage http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_35/b3696208.htm). For those of us who have been tracking Malaysia, this country has sadly been in political, economic, and moral decline since Mahathir came to power!

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