Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Who the hell is H & I Niaga?

Questions looms loudly in the construction industry as most people are perplexed over the award of a RM320 million Bank Negara Resource Centre Project to a little unknown company who is currently facing problem of paying some levy owed to Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). An investigation conducted by NST on this company also found that they had not submitted audited accounts for 3 consecutive years from 2002 to 2004. The Company had also failed to submit its profit and loss accounts to Companies Commission of Malaysia.

The award surprised major construction companies which had been bidding for the large project, like Maju Holdings Bhd, Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd, PECD Bhd, Ranhill Bhd and UEM Builders Bhd.

Attempts to ascertain the company’s capabilities and track record have been hampered by a lack of current information.

H & I Niaga is owned by Amerudin Ismail (2mil shares) and Ismail Mohd Hashim (3mil shares).

H & I Niaga made headlines years back when their project involving the construction of the Royal Malaysian Navy Recruit Training Centre in Kota Tinggi Johor was reported to have been defective and the building was found to have so many cracks and leakages problem. JKR and the Ministry of Defence had investigated the shoddy works and massive rectification works were carried out respectively. Nothing was further reported on this project thereafter.

H&I Niaga was also the contractor for Cheras Velodrome Project and some projects awarded by UiTM.

Bank Negara said they had evaluated the selection process and the award was based primarily on competitive pricing. How is it that Bank Negara would select a contractor who are currently facing financial problem and could not even pay CIDB levy - that's amusing! The selection process must be tainted with cronyisma and nepotisma. How could an award fo such a large project not have taken into consideration the weak financial positions of a company when the size of the project is so mammoth? Surely, if a company had not submitted its profit and loss accounts for the last three years, something must be grossly wrong? Or, alternatively, NST investigation and report was defective and grossly wrong; I doubt.

We will have to hear some explanation from H&I Niaga and most of all, Governor Zeti of Bank Negara.

H&I Niaga Hangs Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Construction Contract Act - Another Fallacious Control mechanism

The Works Ministry is proposing to the Parliament to enact the Construction Contracts Act aimed at regulating the country's construction industry. The Act is targeted to ensure that those that have undertaken Government contracts do not put their private interests ahead of the nation (presumably). Samy Vellu, the minister, said he expects to deal with the matter speedily to enable the Bill to be tabled in Parliament soon.

The Act is expected to play a crucial role in laying down the basic principles of the construction contracts and is expected to address the all important issues of payment.

Apparently, this initiative originated from the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), mooted at a move towards zero-payment default through the statutory provisions. CIDB is expected to convene a separate forum to further discuss issues related to the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act.

The initiative is full of idealism and you can observed that it lack pragmatism.

Why is it so? Well, if the government is determine to ensure prompt and efficient payment system, they can do so without the need of statutory control. It is all about administrative control and system integration of the works ministry, relevant project-sponsors and financial authorities (EPU and Treasury).

If the government is looking into ways to control and monitor the private sectors payment system, then the Act will be fallacious and absurd. Private sector payment system is mulled with complexities as the payment system is inter-twained with the financial resource availability and viability, lender's support system and behaviors, investment and economic policies and barriers, and are equally subjected to market supply and demand situations and the forces that drives the economy.

On the contention by Samy Vellu and CIDB that this Act will ensure that those contractors undertaking government contracts do not put their private interests ahead of the nation, I just cannot see how the Act could provide such mechanism of control. It sounds like a chimera in the brain of the proposers. I wonder they understand what is a chimera!

The first absurdity of the proposal is that it is mooted by an institution which has over the decades failed to serve it's primary objective and mission. CIDB is by virtue, an institution that is supposed to built the system to promote and inculcate competency and capability of the contractors such that they will become competent and be able to compete and benchmark themselves with the international competitors.

What's the similarity between CIDB and Socso?

Both institution are being run using public and corporate contributions and their efficiency are second to none - none accountability, none transparency, none of them are responsible as when things go wrong, they always have someone to blame except themselves.

Both have history of abuses and incompetencies.

Over the decades, CIDB had collected billions of dollar in contributions from the contractors and so far, the records showed that their only achievement is to negotiate projects in India that had benefitted a few Class A contractors. Other than this, they had conducted several seminars and workshops for the contractors but of which these contributing contractors will still required to pay to attend those seminars.

Yet today, we are hearing of another set of initiatives that presumably is mooted to provide construction system efficiency and improvement. Would this initiative work and achieve the objectives it has set out to do? I am suffering from paranoia. If the institution had failed in its original setup, could anyone feel confident that it had the capability to turnaround others?

The key words to describe it - fallacy, preposterous, farcical, glibness, frivolous, hogwash, ignoramus, imbecile, inane, inept, klutz, ludicrous, vaxatious, pedantic and most of all, they are schleps.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

New Retirement Age - Is it good news?

850,000 civil servants may have to serve an extra 3-years if the proposal is approved by the Cabinet next month.

This move was made in order to reduce the burgeoning pension bills as the government mulls over the financial implications of a pension bill that has tripled over the last decade. The pension bill had cost the government RM4.96 billion last year, a RM3.36 billion increase over the allocation in 1994. The number of pensioners are now 513,689.

Is this a good news for civil servant? Each one has to mull over it.

For me? My God, Alhamdullilah! Why? But I am not a civil servant? Oh, it doesn't matter. It was my aspiration. It was my hope. I had always been exploring into the civil service system, musing over their level of competencies, and inparticular, the recent change of hands in JKR. There was one man who, by the grace of God, was allowed to helm this giant institution after a long "waiting" and "shadow-politiking" by the oligarch. Finally, in July, the man did arrive; he is none other than, the most highly respected, but often scorned (by politicians and his past head-master) Professor Datuk Dr. Wahid bin Omar who was made the new Director-general of PWD.

Read my earlier posting (August 5, 2005).

I have been praying to the Almighty that something must happen; this new D-G is 54, and will retire in slightly more than one year time. He will not have sufficient time in this position to make the necessary changes, and have it effectively implemented, because the system will take ake him away via the compulsory retirement at 55. One year is far too short to get change effectively implemented. It will not be possible unless his term is extended. But there is no way to extend because we had a bureaucratic system.
My prayer - "May the hands of Allah and His blessings be showered on our new leader of change."

To my delight, the first thing that caught my eyes this morning is the frontpage news in NST - RETIRE AT 58! Now it is going to happen; Alhamdullilah, praise be to God!

I would like to repeat what I had already said in my earlier article:

"This man will USHER in a NEW ERA, an era of RADICAL CHANGE for the better; a change badly needed; the change that should wake up the sleeping gaint of construction industry and cause the industry to tremble. It may be a lesser range tsunami!

Many will celebrate, but some may despair, for this man will not accept mediocrity and officers with desultory character. Those flippant and insouciant, and those with purile mindset, they now have a wake-up call - this man will trumatise you!!!!

The system needs a radical change and only a visionary leader can lead this change. There is none who I believe can do better, and have such behemoth passion in his work. This man is damn honest and straight; that's the reason many had dislike him; sorry not dislike him, but dislike his courage and persistence. He has little patience for lack of competency; he loath cronyism and he doesn't know how to carry balls of the political masters. That's the reason why he can only afford to own a terrace house for the last 30 years or so. He will remain poor till he retires; tho' not poverty per se.

But I believe, he is a man satisfied and contented for what he has and what he has acieved. May God shower him with his wisdom and love, and most of all GOOD HEALTH. May the nation benefit from the service of this man's contribution and that in the next few years, we shall see a dynamic, competent and effective administration of government projects, whereby this one and only institution of construction, this JKR, will lead the nation and pave the way to achieve tangibly, the vision 2020, bringing in the structures and framework of an effective and efficient system administration, fully manned by a new breed of highly competent engineers and scientists, and setting the benchmark for all the other institutions to follow.

Hopefully, a much needed (to be) revamped CIDB will strive to emulate the feat of JKR, if not, at least perish; what we called "Die a Natural Death" so as to relieve all the contractors of the burden to contribute to the cost of the disease administration, and the contributions thus far, are sufficient to pay for the cost of an expensive coffins.

Lets observe and do some measurement; let's greet the arrival of the performance measurement system - now you can measure and track, and we can now use the six-sigma!!!!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Samy Toll: Pre-emptive Strikes

Samy Toll Posted by Picasa


Samy: Be prepared for rise in toll charges

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the Government had to stop the payout as it could no longer burden itself with increasing costs. “After taking many things into consideration, the Government wants to put a stop to this practice,” he said. As such, he said, the people should be prepared for an increase in toll charges.

Samy Vellu said the Government had to pay out hundreds of millions of ringgit in compensation to the concessionaires when they asked for an increase in toll charges, as provided for in their agreements. “Based on the concessionaire agreements, a toll increase cannot be avoided when the time comes,” he added.

FIRST, he agreed to terms that was North-bound; such one-sided lucrative contracts that would create instant billionaires of which investment bankers would be willing to be bed-partners to fund these projects.

NOW, we are suffocated by the toll-haze; and the directorate is coquetting empathy.

This is the best Ventriloquism you can ever watch!!!! Let dance to the tune .....

Friday, August 5, 2005

JKR has a New DG

JKR New DG Posted by Picasa

SILENT; Unassuming & Where are all the journalist? All are hibernating, or pretend don't know?

GOOOOOOOd New! JKR has a new Director-General!!!

He is none other than the inspirational leader, Dato' Prof Ir. Dr. Wahid Bin Omar, the former deputy D-G. He was promoted, but there's no official public announcement! I happen to visit the website of JKR and to my awe, I saw a new picture as above.

We have waited for so looooong! Now it has happen! The government has finally brought in a humble, unpretentious but a visionary leader to shakeup the system - the system that manages our roads, public assets, and government development projects. This man will bring in a new era, an era of radical change for the better; a change badly needed - the change that should wake up the sleeping gaint of construction industry and cause the industry to tremble. Many will celebrate, but some may despair, for this man will not accept mediocrity and officers with desultory character. Those flippant and insouciant, and those with purile mindset, they will have a wake-up call - this man will trumatise you!!!!

The system needs a radical change and only a visionary leader can lead this change. Over the decades, we have too much political patronages and those ex-generals had a hard time making the necessary change - it's not that in the past we have weak leaders, but we have "Hand of god" at the legislative apex and middle-heaven, making directives and dictating policies and actions and these leaders seemed obedient. There was one DG who was brave but they quickly retire him the moment he touch 55.

Today, some of the higher hands had vanished while there may still be some around, but this new man is a straight and resolute person. He feared God and he will not budge for he has no fear of men. He knows his job and his competency in project management is second to none. He is a dedicated and devoted muslim - a muslim who lead by example. He is humble and he is brunt; he is often nice but he wield swords when necessary.

I can only pray to God that this new DG be blessed with longlife to serve the nation and the rakyat. I do pray that he will have sufficient time in this position to make the changes, effectively implemented, before they take him away due to compulsory retirement.

May the hands of Allah and His blessings be showered on our new leader of change


Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Johor MB: Let Us Build The Crooked Bridge

CROOKED BRIDGE Posted by Hello

Johor has made a strong pitch to the Federal Government to go ahead and build the "crooked bridge" to replace the Causeway. State officials said that any further delay in the construction of the project would seriously retard growth in Johor Baru. This message was given to PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi during a briefing yesterday.

The Johor government believed that the proposed bridge was an integral part of the re-development of the city centre, and that it was crucial that a decision on the project be made soonest possible.

"Everything hinges on whether the bridge will materialise or not," said a senior state official. "We cannot wait forever for Singapore to join hands to build a straight bridge."

Singapore has not indicated if it is in favour of a straight bridge to replace the whole Causeway, despite two rounds of talks between Abdullah and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. This uncertainty is of concern to Johor state officials, who feel the Federal Government should go ahead and build a half-bridge.

MAYBE, A CROOKED BRIDGE IS A GOOD REPRESENTATION OF OUR SYSTEM. That bridge may serve as a mirror for us, to remind us always of our cultured artistic impression!!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2005

The Wisdom From CIDB

CIDB Clarion Posted by Hello

April 9, 2005, NST Business Times, page 1

CIDB Call to Builders - Go Abroad Now!

It is a necessity and the time is now - GO ABROAD,” says CIDB CEO Datuk Hamzah Hasan. According to Hamzah, going abroad is the effective way of countering job losses locally and competition posed by foreign players in the name of globalization.

It was reported that CIDB’s Construction Business Development division senior manager Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid who had just returned from India armed with a basketful of job opportunities, adequate for big and small construction players to diversify their earning base.

Ahmad Asri felt that apart from the need to build capacity, Malaysian contractors must change their mindset and strategise when going abroad. “Overseas is the way … but it is not easy.

The CIDB is at the same time concerned with the quality and ability of Malaysian companies to perform without tarnishing their image abroad. CIDB is currently looking at putting in place a process and mechanism to accredit contractors especially those involved in the overseas market.”

Ask the contractors why they are not going abroad?

The answer is simple. "Kalau tak boleh cari makan di sini, mana ada kemampuan untuk melabur seberang laut?

The first criteria of investment abroad is .....CAPITAL...MONEY... A LOT OF MONEY!!!!! To many of the local contractors, making ends meet is the current problem. Everyone will want to invest overseas, if they had the capacity and SEED CAPITAL. Those who are currently investing abroad, they are either Public Listed Companies (PLCs) or Extremely Rich Businessmen. PLCs can do it as they can seek financial fundings from banks or investment Bankers. Private Limited Companies... you need to come up with million dollars of collateral to get bank to approve any loans. And to tender a foreign project, just to pay for the Tender Bond, put tak Larat-lah!!!!

So, thank you for your kind wisdom, Mr CIDB!

For CIDB's information, almost all contractors knows (including any stupid ones) that going abroad is a right move which will expand the boundaries of business opportunities, but, can you go abroad with your underpants and singlets and tell the foreign client, "PLEASE TRUST ME, I CAN DO A GOOD JOB; I JUST HAVE NO MONEY; JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE PLUS 15% ADVANCE PAYMENT & I WILL PROVE TO YOU SAYA BOLEH DAN MALAYSIA SEMUA BOLEH?"

Why is it that the Koreans and Japanese are successful in investing abroad in the last 30 years? Firstly, it is their Government's policy and effort with strong encouragement and proactive actions from the authorities such as Works Ministry, Construction Development Board, Govt-owned Industrial Banks, etc. Their government had initiated and directed the Industrial Development Banks & Export-Import (EXIM) Banks to fund all contractors who could secure overseas Federal Government-funded projects. Those who could show a letter of award from government-sponsored project overseas, they would be given total fundings. All they do is assigned their payment certificate as collaterals to the EXIM Banks or Industrial Development Banks, and they will receive the cash flows to pay for the project expenses.

Can CIDB do the same for the local contractors, particularly, Bumiputra Contractors and would CIDB KINDLY arrange with the Govt to provide the fundings to Bumiputra Contractors? AND, PLEASE ....Is there any under-table fees?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

JKR Slope Monitoring System

The New Straits Times report, page 6, Prime News

According to the report, more than 100 hillslopes had been identified by PWD as risky for possible landslides. The hillslopes are found predominantly in Fraser's Hill, Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands (all in Pahang), Gunung Raya (Langkawi), Paya Terubung Valley (Penang), the mountain ranges in Ulu Kelang, Selangor, and several limestone hills in Ipoh.

This followed a recent survey by the department's slope engineering division following a series of landslides in recent years.

PWD deputy director-general 1 Prof Datuk Dr. Wahid Omar said today JKR Cawangan Jalan utilised the Slope Management and Risk Tracking (Smart) system developed from a comprehensive study of the landslide at the Tamparuli-Sandakan trunk road in Sabah last year.

"The identified areas are being monitored and remedial measures are being taken," Wahid said. "The affected slopes are a result of improper development around the areas which affected the stability of the soil."

The Government, he added, had approved a RM7 million budget to carry out a year-long study to collect data and formulate the National Slope Masterplan, which is expected to be ready by the year's end.

The study involves other agencies such as the Malaysian Centre for Remote Sensing, the departments of Geology, Drainage and Irrigation, Meteorology and Environment and the Public Works Institute.

"The study constitutes aerial photography and photogrammetry (used in topographical map preparation), geology, drainage, site history and engineering," he said during a one-day seminar on "Landslide Monitoring and Disaster Early Warning Systems".

The study, Dr. Wahid added, was in addition to the RM160 million budget allocated to the PWD to install the hillslope early warning system, which will monitor earth movements on hillslopes along federal roads and highways. The Government, he said, had taken a serious view of the threats and consequences of landslides.

Among the incidents that hogged newspaper headlines were the mudslides at Km303 of the North-South Expressway at Gua Tempurung near Gopeng, Perak, on Oct 12 last year, the Bukit Lanjan rockfall at the North Klang Valley Expressway on Nov 24, 2002 and the landslide in Taman Hillview, Ampang, Selangor on Nov 20, 2002.

Cheers to JKR for their dedication in performing their services to the public. If only all the other departments such as, State authorities and other public service authorities are doing what JKR were doing, we would not have the Bukit Cahaya fiasco.

Yesterday, in the NST, it was reported that there was zero monitoring of the development around Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam agricultural park by the Shah Alam City Council. That explains why seven developers were prepared to go-ahead with land clearing work even without approval from the local authority. That also explains why two developers did not follow a pre-approved schedule.

The Federal and State Ministers should take the blame if it was true that there is absolutely no monitoring of the development projects, particularly, on the environmental factors. How could the Mentri Besar of Selangor puts the entire blame on the statutory bodies when they are the Leaders who are fully responsible for all the actions and rules.

Pak Lah certainly needs more leaders in the like of Datuk Dr. Wahid, who is the key driver of knowledge management and competency building within JKR. He resembles the evangelist of "CHANGE MANAGEMENT", a leader who have no fear of politicians and one who will not give favor to curry politicians. But, I am afraid, our national system do not encourage people of this category to exist, and will not allow such talent to lead the change in the civil service system. These capable and maverick leaders will be punished and stepped-on to such low morals, because the politicians hate them and despise them. Politicians only wanted "YES-MEN" and "BODEK-MEN". So, with power in their hand, they will only select kleptocratic leaders and cronyist servants, who will offer to curry-flavor from them and will do what had or will be told, not what is right to do.

The Prime Minister talks loud and all too often of the need for a clean and efficient system, a good delivery system and a people-oriented administration. So far, after more than one year in power, we only hear what he says he will do, but nothing had been done or seen done. The corrupt officers and poiliticians are still holding powers (extremely powerful, infact more powerful than in Mahathir's era), the inefficient and incompetent civil servants continues to bully those who can perform, (one of such person who had to suffer is Datuk Dr Wahid), the delivery system is only "CAKAP SAHAJA", and all the ministries such as Works ministry, utilities (water & electricity) and various others are sweeping the rubbish back to their working places.

How long more would we be able to see change? Is it that our system is "CAKAP SELALU TAK SERUPA BIKIN?"

Pak Lah KEEPS REMINDING himself and his officers that the honeymoon is over, and he knows it is; but what can he do? He had a mulfunction system and incompetent officers, but he had no power to remove them or change them. He can only keep telling them, but, that won't produce the goals and objectives he had set out to do as promised. Maybe, the only solution is to consider appointing someone like Datuk Dr. Wahid to higher positions to lead the change.

If the PM is desirous of change, then he needs to put in place the "change masters"! There are a few change masters in the civil services, but they are strapped and silenced by the system administrators. Would PM knows about it? Or, is he sleeping with his enemies, the corruptors?????