Saturday, 19 September 2009

Where to get government grants to start-up business in Malaysia?

My friend had attended an investment conference in Kuching, Sarawak a few weeks back and picked up this interesting booklet on the government grants available in Malaysia and where to apply for them. For everybody's benefit I have scanned it and uploaded it online. Download it here.

Hope the information here would greatly help anyone with an entrepreneurial idea here in Malaysia!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

McKinsey Youth Leadership Academy Program

A few weeks back I applied for a special youth program by McKinsey & Co called the Youth Leadership Academy (YLA). Applying via e-mail, my application was shortlisted and I was invited by the McKinsey people for a one-on-one interview last Saturday at their KLCC office, which was situated on the 57th floor of the KLCC Tower 2. The meeting went quite well and I felt that my odds were quite good of getting in.

True enough,yesterday evening, fate came knocking at my door; or more like it came ringing on my phone. At the time I wondered who was interrupting me while I was doing my maths revision. I saw that it was from an unknown 012 number and when I picked up the phone I instantly recognised the voice on the other side. It was Mr. Dago, one of the McKinsey people who had interviewed me last Saturday at their office, and he congratulated me as he informed me that I had made the cut for the YLA program. I was ecstatic.

Apparently I was one of the 22 successful youth applicants (all of whom were Malaysian undergraduates, either doing their year 1 or year 2 of their course) and he mentioned that they were most impressed by my leadership experience as the IET Student Chapter Chairman on campus and of my plans to establish The Capitalist Society NGO and a Renewable Energy Society on campus.

The YLA program was created to train and mentor young and visionary Malaysian youths into successful future leaders. I was most attracted to the program because it offered a way for me to expand my social network and, more excitingly, each successful applicant would be assigned a mentor either from McKinsey or from the industry. A good mentor would be able to offer me guidance in my current endeavors and might even be able to open doors for me in the industry, hopefully bringing my vision of establishing a renewable energy venture closer to reality.

Being a part of the program now, my plans for The Capitalist Society NGO and the Renewable Energy Society will now be able to be accelerated.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Global Credit Crunch Explained

I came across thing interesting video made by the BBC on the global credit crunch, check it out. Also, they have other interesting information about the global credit crunch here.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Twenty Habits of the World's Most Valuable Businesses

1. Operate in a large or growth market.
2. Have unique, timely products.
3. Sell only leveraged products ( i.e. not selling time ).
4. Have residual income.
5. Have great systems.
6. Great customer service.
7. Powerful brands.
8. Not dependent on any one person.
9. Usually first in the market place or a market leader
10. Attracts the best and brightest people.
11. Reward based on performance not longevity/time.
12. Have high margins.
13. Have few real competitors.
14. Keep innovating, with a flow of new products and services
15. Have an investor entry and exit strategy.
16. Have a big customer database.
17. Have great marketing.
18. Anticipates customers' needs.
19. Always adds values to customers' experience.
20. Educate before they sell.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Interesting Quotes

" To turn $100 into $110 is work. To turn $100 million into $110 million is inevitable. " - Edgar Bronfman

" Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. " - Denis Diderot

" The only way I can get to sleep at night is by imagining a secret cabal of highly competent puppetmasters who are handling the important decisions while our elected politicians debate flag burning and the definition of marriage. " - Scott Adams

" History does not repeat itself. At best it ryhmes. " - Mark Twain

" Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. " - Abraham Lincoln

" God is on everyone's side ... and in the last analysis, he is on the side with plenty of money and large armies. " - Jean Anouilh

" In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery? " - St. Augustine

* For more information on the quoted persons, google them *

Friday, 11 July 2008

Birth of the Trans-Sarawakian Railway

Recently the Borneo Post newspaper reported that a railway would be constructed in Sarawak for the SCORE project. Sarawak is sorely in need of better transport infrastructure, especially with the state's aim of becoming an industrial powerhouse in the 21st century. The benefits of railway transportation include the cheap transportation of bulk goods over long distances ( ideal since Sarawak is a large state), its capability of transporting huge loads at a time, immunity from traffic jams and it's relative predictability when compared to road transport (considering that the current road infastrutcure here is not something to be desired).

Even though the railway project will mostly be concentrated in the central region of Sarawak, where the SCORE project is situated, it was mentioned that the development of the railway would go on "beyond the year 2020". Could this mean the construction of a Trans-Sarawakian railway linking Kuching in the South to Miri in the North? The planned railway thus far is said to be 320km long, but who knows how long the actual railway could be. In an era of rising costs of fossil fuels, the possibility of a Trans-Sarawakian railway certainly seems plausible.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Ideas are a dime a dozen

Back January 2008, I attended the first National Youth Congress, held in PWTC. One story told by one of the speakers that day had a deep impact on me. It went something like this (if I remember correctly):

"I once went to India on a business trip. On this business trip, I was supposed to visit two companies, where one of them was much larger than the other. I decided to visit the smaller company first. After finishing my negotiations one of the directors of the smaller company, he asked where I was heading to after this? I told him I was to visit another company, the larger one. The director of the smaller company then gave a warning to me that the larger company was well known for stealing other people's business ideas. Even so, I still decided to visit the larger company. Upon arrival at that company, on top of the door of it's head director, there was a plaque. It read 'Ideas are nobody's property'. "

What I learned from this story is if we are so paranoid of people stealing our so-called brilliant idea that we refuse to tell others about it, then in the end, we achieve nothing. In fact, if we don't intend to act on it, it's probably better if someone did steal your idea, if only to see it become reality.

Have you ever questioned yourself when you see successful entrepreneurs out there who built their business around a simple idea? So simple you sometimes wonder to yourself "Why didn't I think of that?". Well, in all likelihood, any idea that he/she or you came up with may have also already been considered by many other people.

Often the most difficult part is not coming up with the idea itself,but its implementation. One could have a brilliant idea, but without proper implementation, even if you somehow came up with a way for permanent life or space warp technology, you'll be bound to fail. Implementation of an idea involves planning the next move, getting partners and seeking resources to turn the idea into a reality. Many factors have to be considered, many of which are beyond our control, yet if you are so paranoid as to not even let your pet dog know of your idea, then you have already failed.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The June 13 Incident

It is entirely possible that the world economic crisis and the US Sub-prime mortgage fiasco in 2008 may have been foreshadowed by what I’d like to call the June 13 incident in 2007, specifically, what happened after that day. On that day, the interest-rate spread (the difference between the interest rates of two different investments) between the main junk-bond index (a.k.a. the dross standard) and the ten-year US Treasury Bond (a.k.a. the Gold Standard) shrank to just 2.4 (2.4%) percentage points ( 7.7% (junk bond) – 5.3% (Treasury Bond) = 2.4%). What does this basically mean?

Well, junk-bonds are considered far riskier investments than treasury bonds, so logically, since we are assuming more risk, we should expect higher ROIs (return on investments). Such a low interest-rate spread between these two meant that investors were in fact overpaying for riskier investments.

After the June 13 incident, many investors around the world suddenly woke up to the reality of the financial situation after the many dream years of strong global economic growth since 2003. Since the June 13 incident, investors have demanded higher returns for riskier investments and some even retreated back to US treasury bonds even though the interest rate was dropped to 5.2% and other blue-chip corporate bonds.

Many commercial banks in the US, caught off guard by this sudden shift in investor behavior, saw their risky sub-prime mortgages bond values plummet into the abyss as investors did not want to buy them anymore, causing them to lose billions of dollars. In a desperate measure to remedy the situation, the banks were suddenly less keen to lend money to people at low interest rates as compared to before, in order to prevent their balance sheets from collapsing further. This means that it is now much harder for businesses and consumers in the US to get loans since the ‘cost’ of capital is now much higher than previously.

The interest-rate spread has been growing ever since the June 13 incident. As of April 2007, the spread was about seven percentage points (7%). Since the world’s economic engine for the past few years was largely fueled by the American consumer spending beyond their means on cheap credit; economic growth now could be presumed to be much slower as American consumers begin to spend within their means.

How exactly did we get ourselves into this mess? Well, ironically, one of the major factors is world economic growth. After the gloomy days of September 11, 2001, the world economy rebounded from 2003 onwards and entered a period of booming economic growth.

The economies of China, India and Asia, which are more savings-oriented than the West, provided a flush of cash to world financial systems, making capital cheap and plentiful.

Now, usually, economic growth is a good thing, but not when it is coupled with easy money. Investors figured that with capital so cheap and abundant, and asset prices ever increasing, they could not lose! A good example is the sub-prime mortgage fiasco in the US, where people were loaning money to buy homes that they really couldn’t afford, but thought that they could due to ever increasing property prices in the US, which actually turned out to be a bubble. Cheap money also gave consumers the illusion that they were richer, so they borrowed more to fund their more lavish lifestyles.

Of course, such a situation cannot last very long, so after the June 13 incident, many investors around the world came to their senses. The result is that we are now potentially in the midst of another global economic crisis. The important lesson that we can gather from here is to watch for interest-rate spreads in the future, as an indicator for the value of ‘capital’ and as a possible sign of a looming economic crisis.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Free Airfares on MAS !?!

In a time where airlines around the world are struggling due to rising jet fuel costs, it is nice to know that at least some have been coping well and are even trying their best to relieve some of their customers' financial burdens. Below is an excerpt from MAS's website of a letter from MAS's CEO, Dato' Sri Idris Jala, whom I am proud to say is a fellow Sarawakian, and is famous for his turnaround of Malaysia's former ailing national airline.

4th May 2008

Dear Malaysians,

I have an important announcement from Malaysia Airlines.

Everyday, and all around us, we are all feeling the pinch of how everything is getting expensiv
e. We, at Malaysia Airlines, have decided that it is time we lowered our fares so that Malaysians can continue to travel.

We recently declared that Malaysia Airlines is transforming into a World’s Five Star Value Carrier and we promised that you will be able to enjoy 5 Star Service at a low price. Many people thought it would be impossible. Well, not anymore! Today we are ready to deliver on that promise.

LCCs op
erate by keeping their costs really low and passing some of these savings to passengers. But this means that passengers have to accept some sacrifices.

We believe there is a way for passengers to enjoy low fares and Malaysian Hospitality.

For the first time in our history, Malaysia Airlines is offering Everyday Low Fares. From the 5 th of May, we will offer zero fares on all our routes within Malaysia. Later we will offer very low fares on our regional routes within ASEAN. We have put aside up to 30 per cent of our seats for these special Everyday Low Fares.

To get these
special fares, you only need to take 3 steps:

Step 1: Go to our website at as these fares are only available via the internet.

Step 2: You must buy the ticket at least 30 days before flight departure.

Step 3: Re
member these tickets are non-refundable and the flight dates cannot be changed.

What we are now offering gives everyone a win-win situation. It helps us to meet our business objectives. And it provides our customers an excellent deal – you get to enjoy the best of both worlds – really low prices plus our 5 Star services – our food and beverages, entertainment, luggage allowances and other benefits that come with traveling on Malaysia Airlines.

I would like to personally invite you to click on

Yours sincerely,

Dato’ Sri Idris Jala
Managing Director/CEO
Malaysia Airlines

Do take note that although you don't pay for the airfare, you are still obligated to pay for the airport tax fee, but at least you still get prices that are way below the normal rate

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Superweapons of Ace Combat ( Part 1 )

Stone Henge

Featured in the PS2 game, Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies, this superweapon is essentially an array of giant rail guns which was originally designed to take out asteroids on a collision course with earth, but was later captured and used as a massively powerful and long range anti-aircraft weapon. Having a range that can almost cover an entire continent, this seemingly invincible superweapon was capable of taking out large numbers of aircraft flying above 2000 ft over a large swathe of sky. As if one of them were not overkill enough, an array of 8 of them were created making it even more powerful than otherwise. The area surrounding the weapon itself is littered with AA guns and SAM sites, and it even has an airbase for the deployment of interceptor fighter jets. It's failure was that a small group of fighters, flying below 2oooft, in almost zig-zagging and random flight paths, would have been capable of penetrating it's powerful attack volleys. It was eventually destroyed by a single Ace pilot in the game.