Wednesday, March 04, 2015

S&M Show Podcast


We drill down on the factors driving the share prices and outlook for furniture makers.

Song Pick: Probably the first song hit I remember when I first went to Sydney. What About Me by Moving Pictures. A song about the marginalised, those being bullied, those being ignored or fallen through the cracks of society.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

S&M Show Podcast

The New Oil Price Paradigm

Maybe the local economists, local think tanks and decision makers in government are being overly optimistic in their prediction of where oil prices will be come 2016 and 2017.

Song Pick:   One of my top 5 all time fav albums, a very acoustic 16 Lovers Lane by The Go-Betweens. All the songs were great with infectious melodies and witty lyrics. The songs were unabashedly love songs, albeit for adults, looking at the eccentricities and the wonderful dislocation of our senses temporarily by this thing called love. Melodically, they are on par with Lennon-McCartney or David Gates. Its a brilliant album, get it online, or Spotify or just buy a CD. I picked Quiet Heart but really there are about 6 or 7 songs just as good if not better from that album alone.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Well, She Is Really Good ...

Was never a fan of Lady Gaga as I thought she was gimmicky. But her duets with some old foggies on some American songbook list piqued my interest, still I was not converted. Seriously, the highlight of the Oscars, I nearly spewed my drink when she came out to sing, the white dress, long tresses,all very classic ... was waiting for something weird to happen ... but she was just amazing, salute!!! 

Julie Andrews took the stage and formally gave Gaga's performance her stamp of approval. "Dear Lady Gaga," said Andrews, in what might be the most surprisingly endearing line of the night, "thank you for that wonderful tribute. It really warmed my heart, it really did."

Yes Lady Gaga is seriously talented, and I recently caught her piano playing prowess too, amazing. The standing ovation at the end was warm, heartfelt and an acknowledgement of a great talent.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

CNY Past & Present ... Where Did Our Love Go ...

 by Mariam Mokhtar
OUTSPOKEN: My family and I are Muslims, living in multi-cultural Malaysia. Some of the female family members are tudung-clad, while the actions of others would invite the scrutiny of Jais. 
Are the tudung-clad women better Muslims? Certainly not! Our family are not as shallow as some bigots who think that the piety of a Muslim can be gauged by the length of material covering a woman’s hair, and their aurat. 
Most of my school friends were Chinese, with a sprinkling of Indians, Eurasians and children of European expatriates. During school assembly, at the Convent Bukit Nanas and later The Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, the Lord’s prayer was recited, while the crucifixes gazed down on us. 
Did we have a fear of being converted? Of course, not! Nor did our parents take us out of school, fearful that we would become Christians. No family members and other Malay friends, displayed the siege mentality currently gripping Malaysian Muslims. 
We looked forward to Chinese New Year (CNY), in fact to every festival. We enjoyed visiting our friends’ homes. In those days, we would walk or cycle - a big gaggle of schoolmates, eating, chatting and seeing how good we were at collecting ang pows.   
Then, as now, we live in a neighbourhood which is predominantly Chinese. The nearest Malay is two roads away and he is married to a Chinese lady. As children, we looked forward to CNY, and just as eager and expectant, as the next Chinese child. 
Leading up to CNY, our parents would receive boxes of Mandarin oranges and CNY hampers, complete with bottles of whisky or Cognac. Those were the days before “political correctness” took over. 
At times, a bottle of Wincarnis would find its way into the hampers and I remember the older makciks in the family saying that these drinks were good for the blood. “Heaty,” while adding that the tonic is “especially good for nursing mothers”. I wonder what Jais would make of them, today. 
Days before CNY, mother being a teacher, would be visited by her current, or former students, inviting her to their homes for CNY. 
As CNY meant a few days off school, my cousins would join my siblings and me for a sleepover and we would look forward to the fireworks at midnight. There was little point of sleeping early, only to be woken up by the loud bangs. We liked to see which of our neighbour’s houses had the longest and loudest fireworks display and which house would have the best red carpet the following day. 
Even when fireworks were prohibited, we marvelled at how these items were so easily available in the local pasar, easily purchased, just like the blue movies which can be found in the pasar malam, hidden under the counters. 
On CNY day, we would first pay our respects to our nearest neighbours. Food was plentiful and our neighbours, mindful that we were Muslims, would tell us which foods were halal, and which were not. We ate off the same plates as everyone else and used the glasses and cutlery that were laid out. 
Like all good neighbours, our family would have contributed at least one dish, like rendang and pulut, or nasi himpit (compressed rice), to the vast array of food on our host’s dining table. 
My recollections of the festivals, was that when our family celebrated Hari Raya, our neighbours would reciprocate with their signature dishes. An Indian neighbour would contribute putu mayam (string hoppers) and chicken curry. Our Chinese neighbours would cook pineapple tarts, kek lapis and fortune cookies. There were no issues about the butter being halal or any food item being of questionable origin. All of us would have been aware and respected one another’s dietary requirements. 
Some homes had lion dances and we marvelled at the acrobatic displays of the performers. After much merry-making, and consuming the obligatory kuih bakul, we would leave, sated and happy with at least a Mandarin orange and an ang pow in our hands. 
Having returned from overseas, there was a sea-change in society. Although I would still continue what I did as a child, get invited to reunion dinners on New Year’s eve, attend open houses and parties, in the days and nights following CNY, and toss the yee sang two weeks later, some close Chinese friends quietly expressed their sadness, that very few Malays, if any, were willing to share the CNY celebrations. 
Despite their claims that they would ensure the food was halal, and provide new paper plates and plastic cups, Malays still shied away. 
One friend said, “What is the point if I have to order food from a Malay restaurant, and serve it for CNY? The idea is to partake in our celebratory dishes and cakes. We would have ensured that the ingredients were halal. Apparently, that is not good enough.” 
So, what happened to the tolerance of the Malays, and how did they forget they are living in multi-cultural Malaysia? The Malay can always ignore the Perak mufti, Harussani Zakaria, who forbade Malays from visiting their friends’ homes, during the festivals. They need not listen to the rantings of Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, the wannabe Malay. 
One hopes that the Malays have not lost their ability to rationalise and can recover their Malaysian identity. Don’t be the kambing korban (sacrificial goat) of Umno Baru. 
Gong Xi Fa Cai. 
Mariam Mokhtar is “a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth"
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Worth Emulating

Mr. Koon Yew Yin wrote to me recently, a tongue in cheek  kind of letter, which I thought was honest and funny. Hope to encourage more people who are similarly blessed with wealth to give thoughtfully.

The purpose of writing this is to encourage people to do charity and also to satisfy my ego.

Ego can be a very powerful push factor for achieving success. But it also can be very destructive. You must bear in mind that more than half the problems including devoices in the world are due to ego. 

Although I am one of the poorest on the selected list, I give away proportionally more in comparison to my wealth. Moreover, my way of giving scholarships to help poor students to complete their tertiary education has a multiplying effect. Up till date I have given more than 300 scholarships. 

All scholarship recipients do not need to work for me nor they require to pay back the money I spent on them. But they have to promise me that when they are financially solvent, they would have to help other poor students. Currently about 200 scholarship recipients have graduated and I expect some of them will soon begin to help me do charity. As time goes by, more and more graduates will help other poor students. 

I have been selected because of my system of helping poor students. 

I am 82 years old and I know for sure I cannot take any money with me when I die. I have written in my WILL that all my remaining assets will be for charity.   

Koon Yew Yin 

Note: You may like to post this on your website to satisfy my ego.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Perils Of Taking Placements

If you were to look at the flow of events from the time Khazanah struck the deal to sell RM1.64bn worth of TNB shares, largely to institutions, foreign and local ... and the shocking sudden tariff reduction by TNB less than 2 weeks later. The shock was not so much in reduction, I meant, a reduction was always in the works with a plummeted oil price scenario. The shock was all the more shocking because of the quantum of the tariff reduction, and also the timing which was much earlier than anticipated. Some of the analysts were looking at a tariff reduction sometime in April-June 2015.

The key is, how much of the tariff reduction by TNB was "known" by Khazanah? Did they have prior knowledge? I am not suggesting impropriety here, but the close chain of events would leave a VERY SOUR taste in the mouths of those fund managers who took up the placement. Of course, its always buyers beware, but still there is sufficient room here for some to question if there was indeed impropriety.

If you place together PNB's buying strategy in TNB for most of the month of January 2015, you can also question if PNB knew anything? Did PNB orchestrate somewhat the price support for a good placement price? I don't know and I don't want to guess. But when you put all the facts together, IT IS NOT CLEAR and TRANSPARENT enough to say every single party operated independently.

Can we try to improve on the transparency by having all declare that nobody knew what TNB's strategy was.

29 Jan 2014

Khazanah selling TNB stake worth up to US$454m
KUALA LUMPUR: State inves- tor Khazanah Nasional Bhd is selling 112 million shares worth up to US$454 million (RM1.64 billion) in Malaysia’s largest power group Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), accord- ing to a term sheet seen by Reuters yesterday.

The shares are being priced at between RM14.40 and RM14.60 per share, ac- cording to the sheet, which is equivalent to a discount of about 1.35% to 2.7% to the closing price of TNB shares yesterday.

The sale will reduce Khazanah’s stake in the country’s largest company by market value to 29.64% from 31.64%

The sale will reduce Khaz- anah’s stake in the country’s largest company by market val- ue to 29.64% from 31.64% cur- rently, according to Thomson Reuters data.

TNB on Jan 22 reported a 34.3% jump in its net profit in the first quarter ended Nov 30, 2014 to RM2.35 billion, mainly on higher charges and sales of electricity.

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd and Credit Suisse are the joint bookrunners for the sale, the sheet showed. — Reuters 


Net purchases by PNB from Jan 1 till Jan 27, 2015 in TNB: 31.39m shares ~ around RM450m value

Strangely, EPF did not do any substantive buys or sells in TNB from Jan 1 till Jan 27, 2015


12 Feb 2015

Tariff cut news wipes out RM2.6b of TNB’s market value Counter plunges 11% intraday on concerns its earnings would be affected

KUALA LUMPUR: TNB Nasional Bhd (TNB) saw its market value shrink by RM2.6 billion yesterday as investors offloaded its shares on the government’s announcement of a new, lower electricity tariff.

TNB’s counter, which opened at RM14.94 yesterday, was stable up until the moment when the Ener- gy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KeTTHA) announced that electricity tariff in Peninsula Malay- sia had been revised downward by 2.25 sen per kilo watt hour (kWh).

Shortly after the market re- sumed in the afternoon, TNB (fun- damental: 1.3; valuation: 1.8)’s stocks were dogged by negative sentiment on concerns that its earnings would be affected by the lower electricity tariff.

The counter plunged as much as RM1.64 or 11% to an intraday low of RM13.22, dragging with it the benchmark FBM KLCI, which also tumbled to as low as 1,790.8 points — down 20.18 points or 1.11% — as TNB is one of its 30 component stocks.

TNB’s counter regained later in the evening to close at RM14.40, down 46 sen or 3.1% from its clos- ing price of RM14.86 on Tuesday, giving it a market capitalisation of RM81.3 billion, down RM2.6 bil- lion from Tuesday’s RM83.9 billion.

The KLCI also eased in tandem to close at 1,798.95 points, repre- senting a drop of 12.17 points or 0.67%.

KeTTHA’s tariff cut announce- ment yesterday was rather awkward for the government as the ministry had just told local news agencies last week that there would not be an immediate electricity tariff reduc- tion, claiming that it was already a highly subsidised item, which drew much flak from the public.
In a statement yesterday, KeT- THA said the revised tariff rate will
be effective from March 1 to June 30 this year.

“After factoring in the lower fuel cost, KeTTHA wishes to inform that cost savings under the ICPT (im- balance cost pass-through) mech- anism, which can be channelled back to consumers in the form of lower tariff, amounted to RM726.99 million,” the statement read.

The ICPT is a mechanism that allows the government to pass any fuel cost increase or reduction to consumers. The previous tariff hike on Jan 1 last year — at an average 15% — was seen as generous to TNB in view of falling coal and fuel prices and an improved fuel gen- eration mix.

The ministry also pointed out yesterday that this latest adjustment is equivalent to a 5.8% reduction to TNB’s average tariff, which is 38.53 sen per kWh.

Notably, the new revision only applies to domestic and residential
consumers who consume more than 300kWh in a month, said KeTTHA, adding that this is because tariff rate for the initial 200kWh (or so-called Lifeline Band) has been fixed at 21.8 sen per kWh since 1997, and that the subsequent 100kWh (201kWh to 300kWh) has been fixed at 33.4 sen per kWh since 2009.
For Sabah and Sarawak, the new set of tariff rates means a reduction of 1.2 sen per kWh for Sabah and the federal territory of Labuan (also from March 1 to June 30). Sarawak’s electricity tariff, however, does not fall under KeTTHA’s jurisdiction.

“This round of tariff reduction means that the federal government will have to maintain its budgetary fuel subsidy of RM260 million a year,” KeTTHA noted.
Etiqa Insurance & Takaful exec- utive vice-president and head of investment management research Chris Eng is of the view that the reduction in tariff should have a neutral impact on TNB’s core net profits.

“The lower tariff will reduce TNB’s revenue by about RM700 million to RM800 million over the next four months. However, this will be offset by RM500 million to RM600 million in cost over-recov- ery that TNB has recognised over the past few months, as well as an- other RM400 million that will be realised in the next four months,” he told The Edge Financial Daily when contacted.

Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd analyst Daniel Wong con- curred, saying that the latest ad- justment is merely passing back TNB’s cost savings to consumers.
“It is not a bad element to TNB, but the negative sentiment in the market today (yesterday) would most probably continue tomorrow (today),” he said when contacted.

Wong also said he would likely lower his target price on TNB’s stock as he had previously priced in a portion of the over-recovery effect.

Eng said KeTTHA could have made the announcement at a scheduled time to prevent the mar- ket’s knee-jerk reaction yesterday.

“TNB was well aware of the cost over-recovery that it was experienc- ing, and prudently did not include it in its core net profits. It had also advised the investment communi- ty that a tariff revision should take place at some point to utilise these profits,” Eng said.

“The government, however, should not have reduced the tar- iff but instead increased the price of regulated gas to remove the pub- lic’s subsidy mentality,” he added.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd supplies TNB with 1,000 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas at a subsidised price of RM15.2 per million British thermal unit (mmb- tu). Imported liquefied natural gas that TNB uses costs around RM46.5 per mmbtu. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

S&M Show Podcast


Dali highlights a couple of stocks that may look interesting for a CNY rally run. Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation. Please consult your dealer/remisier before acting on the information.

If You Could Read My Mind, by Gordon Lightfoot

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost that you can't see.

If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell.
Just like a paperback novel,
The kind the drugstores sell.
When you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take!

I'd walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.
Enter number two:
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me.
But for now, love, let's be real;
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feeling's gone
And I just can't get it back.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In The Long Term, The News Is Pretty Bad

Readers will know that I am not a long term guy as I always consider those who maintain longterm views (bulls or bears) will eventually be right. The article below pieces together the recent Mc Kinsey report on debt/QE relative to GDP growth and stock market cap growth. It is also pretty obvious that almost all things goes higher, as long as population growth, the rising middle class, urbanisation of emerging markets' population ... goes up. As long as that happens, any QE or releasing of liquidity will be viewed positively. The problem after 2008 has been that we opted for the easy way out, or rather the developed countries did. The liquidity swishing in the system way overwhelms the former factors. It is masking them really.

We think a property worth RM600,000 in 2007 is now worth RM1.8m. We cite rising land cost, material costs, labour cost, easy loans, blah blah ...its all a reflection of overwhelming liquidity prompted by low interest rates. but how can easing in the US by the Fed, BOJ or ECB affect us in Malaysia. The reality is that it does and very easily so... low rates promotes carry trades, and search for higher yields = emerging and developing markets' assets (currency, property and stocks).

The same house could very well go back to RM1.0m in a global soaking up of liquidity. Of course the naysayers will remind us that these central banks will be ever slow to buy back bonds (soak liquidity). If these central banks won't do it, the markets will do it for them. When will we correct, when most people are bulls. The many bull runs from 2009 till today in various markets have been "not welcomed" because not "enough investors" have jumped back in yet. Much of the liquidity is still sidelined. 

So when? I think another massive global property run up may just do the trick. So we may be 1-2 years away at least.

There is a stunning chart that all gold investors need to see and understand that was recently released by McKinsey Global Institute - it covers the latest update on the worldwide debt situation.
(click to enlarge)
There are two main things that investors should take away here. First, the world is not deleveraging as global debt loads have grown $57 trillion over the last seven years to $199 trillion - that is a huge amount of debt. To put that into perspective, the total market capitalization of the whole S&P 500 is around $20 trillion; so every two and half years the world is taking on the equivalent of every single S&P 500 company in NEW debt!
Taking on new debt by itself isn't necessarily unsustainable if productivity and growth are increasing at a faster rate than the debt load. That is where we come to the second point - debt is growing faster than worldwide GDP.
We have never been a fan of GDP as a hard number because it is a very political number and cannot be reliably calculated, but even if we put this aside and use government estimated GDP numbers, the data above shows debt as a percentage of GDP is getting larger. According to the McKinsey calculations, global debt rose from 269% of worldwide GDP to 286% over the last seven years, which in layman's terms means that the world has increased its debt faster than its production.
This is simply not sustainable as no economy can grow its debt faster than its productivity - something has to give.

What Happens Next

With debt growing at a faster rate than GDP, eventually the money won't be there to service the debt load and default will ensue. The fear that we have wouldn't be related to a single default, but rather, it would be related to the collapse in confidence that would occur in the debt markets.
As the table above shows, the growth in debt despite all-time low interest rates means that investors are very confident in ability of the indebted to pay back their debts OR in the ability of investors to sell these debts to others (i.e. the greater fool theory). That must be the case otherwise we wouldn't be seeing growing debt levels while interest rates are falling around the world.
The scary thing is that one default can set off a domino effect across markets and cause investors to flee all types of debt - in a massively over-indebted world that would be very bad. What we would see next is interest rates rise as investors seek more return to compensate for their risk, which in turn would lead to higher debt levels and lower growth rates as debtors must now portion off a larger portion of revenues to service debts.
Also, investors tend to forget that growing government debt levels artificially raise productivity. Economist David Stockman explains it best:
The implied 2.9X global leverage ratio is daunting in itself. But now would be an excellent time to recall the lessons of Greece because the true implications are far more ominous.
Today's raging crisis in Greece was hidden from view for many years in the run-up to its first EU bailout in 2010 because the denominator of its reported leverage ratio-national income or GDP-was artificially inflated by the debt fueled boom underway in its economy.
In other words, it was caught in a feedback loop. The more it borrowed to finance government deficit spending and business investment, whether profitable or not, the more its Keynesian macro metrics-that is, GDP accounts based on spending, not real wealth-registered a falsely rising level of prosperity and capacity to carry its ballooning debt.
Investors that think they can escape a debt crisis by purchasing stocks with low debt levels may find their whole investment thesis completely obliterated. These "safe" companies will find that their revenues will also tumble as they were the second and third order beneficiaries of expanding debt spending.
The world has been spending beyond its means, as evidenced by growing debt loads as a percentage of GDP, and when that confidence in the debt ends, not only will interest rates rise but global growth will plummet as many projects will no longer be funded by belt-tightening debtors. This will only accelerate investor worries about their debt holdings - a vicious cycle.

What Does This Have To Do With Gold?

Now, we come to gold. It should be obvious now that globally we are massively over-leveraged with debts which are not sustainable as debt growth now dwarfs economic growth despite record-low interest rates. When this reality sets in with investors, we will start to see money leave debt instruments and move to assets that are unrelated or negatively correlated to debt - the ultimate one being "cash."
Investors need to remember that not all "cash" is created equal, and when it comes to over-indebted governments, their currency is only as strong as the confidence in their ability to pay back their debts without inflation. Thus investors may start moving assets into a number of "cash" type assets, but will eventually flock to the ones that have the greatest liquidity and the greatest ability to maintain purchasing power.
We may already be seeing this as the traditionally negative relationship between gold and the US Dollar has evaporated over the past few months.
We think the US Dollar is not as safe as investors believe (and certainly not as safe as gold), but this is a discussion for another day. The take-away here is that the recent strong positive correlation between gold and the US Dollar may be the result of investors starting to question the increasing global debt load.
Investors will seek assets that can perform well when there is panic or even defaults in the debt market - gold is clearly one of the few assets historically that has done very well when debts have performed poorly.

Conclusion for Gold Investors

Contrary to what some analysts have been suggesting, the world has not been deleveraging since the financial crisis, and in fact has been growing its debt loads. Not only is total debt growing, it is growing at a faster pace than global growth, and it is doing so despite the strong tailwind of all-time low interest rates. Everything about this is not sustainable and at some point we will start to see defaults - which will cause panic in debt markets and interest rates to rise.
Thus wise investors will be seeking investments that do well when debt instruments do poorly, and that will lead them to gold. So while investors and fast-money traders in the gold market are focusing on frivolous short-term things like the recent US jobs report and the latest omission from the Fed minutes, they are clearly missing the forest for the trees as unsustainable global debt loads are a ticking time bomb.
This is a great opportunity for investors to accumulate physical gold and the gold ETFs (SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA:GLD), PHYS, and CEF) - though be very careful as ETFs work well in certain circumstances, but in others physical gold is much more desirable and investors should own both. For investors looking for higher leverage to the gold price, they may want to consider miners such as Goldcorp (NYSE:GG), Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), Agnico Eagle Mines (NYSE:AEM), or even some of the explorers and silver miners such as First Majestic (NYSE:AG) or Pan-American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS). We're not suggesting these companies specifically (though we did recently issue a piece detailing our top five gold picks for 2015) - only suggesting them for further investor research. Investors interested in the miners may be interested in taking a look at some of our investment thesis detailing some of the rules we're currently looking for in a gold miner.
Finally, we think the real opportunities will be in the gold explorers, as their valuations are much lower than the miners and the fact of the matter is that these gold miners will be looking to expand reserves and buying out the quality explorers, so we'd suggest investors be aggressively investing in these quality explorers. For those interested in explorers or investors interested in keeping up with the gold market on a consistent basis consider following us (clicking the "Follow" button next to my name) or join our free email list where we send out a weekly email summarizing all the important events in the gold and silver industry, including all of our latest articles and research - it's a great way to keep up with the gold and precious metals market whether you are an individual investor or economist and its completely free.
Successful investors must think multiple steps ahead of the crowd, and to do that they have to see the true value in the data. The recent McKinsey report proves that the world is increasingly leveraging itself despite record-low interest rates and this is unsustainable - it is a crisis that is obvious and growing right in front of our eyes.
Now is the time that investors should be buying assets that are uncorrelated to the debt markets - gold is the asset that has historically performed well when we have debt market panics. Investors shouldn't miss the forest for the trees here and get caught up in short-term price moves - there is a debt-crisis brewing and investors better be prepared with some gold investments.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Reality Personified

And you wonder why I call Australia home?

imgThere was a time in my life during the early 70's and 80's when my views, thoughts and understanding of what was out there in Bolehland were formed on the following premise:
The May 13th Incident happened because the Chinese won some seats in Parliament.
They got carried away and started parading the streets, telling the Malays to "balek kampong".
Dato Harun Idris took matters into his own hands, got a few Malays together and they all went out to kill a few Chinese.
The Army and the Police did their part in putting the fear of God into the Chinese and pretty soon the Malays were back in control of all things Malaysian. Tunku was put to pasture and Tun Razak became PM.
And to many Malays Dato Harun is a hero!
Malaysia belonged to the Malays. The government was run by the Malays, the civil service was dominated by Malays, the Army and the Police too were staffed and run by the Malays. Hell, we Malays could do anything we wanted and the Chinese and Indians could do nothing about it!
Now, what Umno had to do was to make Malaysia a country for the Malays! Hence Ketuanan Melayu - or as we knew it then - Bumiputra status. That trumps everyone and everything else that matters in education, work, business fact in LIFE.
Religion...or Islam was not remotely on the horizon. At best, the politician's idea of being a good Muslim was attending Friday Prayers at Masjid Negara, marching on Prophet Mohammad's birthday and the obligatory visit to Mecca to get the Haji title to his Datoship or Tan Sri title.
I was so sure, so confident and so smug about the position of my race in Malaysia that it never occurred to me that things might change...that I might change.
So what changed?
When I went into business I found myself competing with Pernas for business.
Connections - who you know - not business acumen decided what business you can do and what business you can secure.
I started to have to pay bribes to Malay politicians to secure tenders from the government.
In doing business, as well connected as I was, bribes were the order of the day. While we worked our butts off to earn a decent living, the Malay politicians in Umno were making money by the truckloads, sitting on their arses. Everything we did they wanted a share of.
You complete your construction project according to specifications, but you still do not get payment. For whatever reason, this is being delayed. Who do you call?
If you know the Minister, you call the Minister. If you do not know the monster...err I mean the minister, you find out who in his bahagian has his ears. Is it the ketua pemuda, a relative or maybe his brother.
Whoever can get the minister on your case becomes your "friend".
Karaoke, spa and massage
With this "friend" you discuss things over tea in a five-star hotel. In the evening, you have dinner in a five-star hotel and after dinner the real entertaining starts.
Karaoke, the spa and a massage or just take him to one of the messes in town and buy him sex.
Within a few days, your contact in JKR tells you payment will be made within a week.
I am stopped by a Malay policeman for a minor traffic infringement. He wants money to selesai (settle). I never pay.
And I will get away with it because I still know how to put fear into these mata-mata, the Inspectors and even a superintendent or two.
Once, I went to the IPK Selangor commercial crime division to make a police report about my office manager taking the company's money for himself.
An ASP attended to me and started telling me how hard it would be for me to prove theft blah, blah blah. I took out my handphone and dialed his Director and handed the phone over to him to tell his boss what he was telling me.
The look on his face was priceless when he found out who was on the other end of the line. Of course they pulled in that manager that afternoon and I got my money back soon after.
Increasingly, I came to realise how corrupt the BN government was and I realised that what I was doing only made it worse. And so I left Malaysia when I had the opportunity.
Boycott the Chinese
Today, the Malays are told to boycott the Chinese shops and teach the Chinese a lesson for charging the Malays more than they would charge their own.
The Chinese are stoic in their determination to overcome whatever obstacles to succeeding in life put in their way by the Malays. They do this through the good education of their children, grit, hard work and a commitment to succeed in business and in life.
They send their children overseas for studies and when they finish their studies, they stay on in that country, get their PR and later take citizenship and bring their parents over.
The Indians take care of their own, for are not all the others against them? And they take sides with whoever promises to do what is best for the Indians - promises that are never kept, but the Indians are gluttons for punishment. When all fails - puasa sampai mati!
For the Sabahans and Sarawakians, the Semenanjung people have been and will always be outsiders. They, not the federal government, control entry into Sabah and Sarawak.
The Muslims look down on other religions while imposing Islamic jurisprudence, oblivious of the fact that others too have their own faiths and beliefs.
The Christians know that if they can only get their message across to the Malays, they will leave Islam and become Christians.
The Kelantanese will put up with PAS. They will endure everything just as long as that other Malay party, Umno, never ever rules Kelantan again.
The Malay-led Federal government will not give the Malays in Kelantan their dues from Petronas Royalties.
The Sultan of Johore sells prime Johore land to the Chinese.
Almost all the political parties in Malaysia owe their existence to race, some to religion and some to both race and religion.
And so it goes on. Day and day out.
In the various states, in state assemblies, in parliament, in churches, in mosques, in temples...across all the divide that we have in this beloved country of ours...many many Malaysians work towards taking care of their own race, their own religion, their own political inclinations, their own wants and passions....never that of our national interest, never that of our national needs, never concerning themselves with national aspirations, never considering what all this would mean to the future of the generations that come after us.
What will our children inherit from our time in this world?
Maybe our present circumstances leave us with not much time to do anything else but eke out a living....and a tenuous one at that!
Maybe we believe that the state of our nation is past recovery, beyond hope of saving and all we can do is to try and take what we can for ourselves and damn others and the future.
Maybe all we can think of doing is how to get ourselves and our family out of the mess that Malaysia has somehow sunk into - and the only way is to leave a sinking ship.
Who would want to be stupid or brave enough to work with those battling to save it? And there are many who are battling to save the sinking ship, but for the wrong reasons. They know if the gravy boat sinks, the goose that lays the golden eggs sinks with it. So they are battling to save their own skin, not ours.
Day in and day out we are tearing down what binds us all together. There is animosity where there should be understanding, hate where there should be love, contempt for the religion, culture and way of life of others when there should be acceptance and the understanding that in diversity, unity should prevail.
It is madness, because each day we move closer to the precipice, nearer to the tipping point that will result in chaos and destruction, Armageddon and death of everything that we hold dear and the values we revere. And when that happens everyone loses...even those who think that these are the circumstances that will allow them to hold on to political power.
We accentuate the division and eliminate the ties that bind us all together.
It is not enough that we adults are already at each others throat...we are teaching our kids to do the same thing!
Will sanity and common sense prevail? Or are we too far down the road of hate, fear and loathing that racial prejudice and religious extremism drive so many others before us to destroy what has taken so many years to build, and even kill those that dare to be different from them?
If you stop to think of the situation that our country is in today, and look around you at the mess that we are now in - the corruption, the racial hate and religious fervor that cause division and prosecution of those who are not Muslim, the general malaise that allows for the rich to walk over the poor, the powerful taking advantage of the weak...all these indicate that Malaysia is a nation in crisis. A people at war with each other.
And we wonder why our country is going to the dogs.
This is what many, many Malaysians have been reduced to....being racists, religious fanatics unable to accept or tolerate any other religion.
Let me tell you how I live my life.
Seeing people without lenses
Religion, race, color, language, gender, age, young or old,...I do not see anybody through these prisms. I treat people the same way they treat me and if it is the first time that we meet, then I will behave in a manner that I expect him to behave towards me.
Then if we do get to know each other, I will start to see that person for what he or she is and adjust myself to react and respond to the person that he or she really is. 
If I am stopped for a traffic infringement, I will get fined. No ifs, no buts, no pleading for mercy.
When I came back to Australia over six years ago, my PR had already expired because I had stayed away too long. I went to the Australian Embassy in KL and a Chinese lady attended to me. To cut a long story short, she told me that she could not renew my PR. Whether she was being a racist or because it was the law is not for me to say. Anyway, I bought a one-way ticket to Adelaide to join my son and my wife and hoped that things could be worked out with the Australian immigration authorities.
I went to the immigration department and I was told to apply for PR again. Three weeks after I had submitted a new application, I received a call from the department to tell me that the authorities had agreed to give me back my PR. No dramas!
In all the time that my wife and kids had been living in KL, I had been trying to get PR status for them. Even a letter from Pak Lah's office (he was foreign minister then) did not help.
Why? Because I refused to pay the authorities any bloody ringgit. And so my wife and children never ever got their PR.
And you wonder why I call Australia home?
These are the rantings of someone who knows what the non-Malays have gone through, are going through and will be going through for as long as they stay in Malaysia.
Will things change? You ask yourself if they will, l and I know your answer will be an emphatic "NO" because you and I know that the stranglehold Umno has on Malaysia is terminal. Terminal for Umno and terminal for the non-Malays. The Malays are already ***ked! So this nation of ours is going nowhere pretty fast!
Maybe, over time, the Malays will find out who they really are and what they want for themselves. The time for that to happen will not be in my lifetime. In the end, whatever happens, what matters, is how you take care of yourself and those you love.
Think and do what you think is right. To each his own. I am living that life now. No regrets. No sorrow in leaving a country I once loved.

p/s While I acknowledge and laud the writer's candour and forthrightness in his views, and do understand why he would want to move to Australia .... I would like to add that the enormity of resoluteness and sacrifice of those who are toiling, fighting against the system to work for a better Malaysia must be forever at the back of our minds. It is easy to give up and think for your family, that is a personal right. Hence all the more so we must salute, say thank you and do our bit to those who are wrongly persecuted.