Not many may recall Ismail Zakaria.

One couldn’t even easily get his photo online until Malaysian Business Times published it recently.

Ismail Zakaria’s name then (up to the late 1990s) was so highly thought of that he was actually touted for the position of CEO of Maybank, which he eventually lost to Ahmad Don.

Ismail Zakaria (or IZ as he is known), joined Sime Bank as CEO after a short stint with RHB Bank.

But what we read about now is IZ’s acquittal from court charges of acting beyond his authority in lending up to RM175m to companies back in the late 1990s when CEO of Sime Bank, a subsidiary of Sime Darby Berhad.

Sime Bank was previously UMBC Bhd (United Malaysian Banking Corporation Bhd).

It’s amazing that such a matter would take over a decade to be dealt with ….. and even that, at the level of the Session’s Court!

But I do recall of the amazement at the way monies were expended by a bank supposedly controlled by a world renown company with fantastic governance and checks & balances – SIME DARBY BERHAD.

It is equally amazing (and galling) that in a relatively short period thereafter, we could witness the same scenario in Sime Darby’s Oil & Gas Division …… losing close to RM3.0 billion resulting from slip-shod management practices.

Actually, my point in this posting is that Malaysia’s corporate mentality still seems to be very much that if one appoints a high profile individual as CEO to a company ……. it is bound for success.

The actual track record of that person appears to be secondary.

As long as he/she has had their profile raised, CV’s polished, references ‘corroborated’ …… they appear acceptable, so to speak.

That seems to be the case for IZ then ……. and we seem to see it even to this day?

Look at the short-list for the Managing Director’s post for MAS as reported.

They were Ahmad Jauhari, Rashdan Yusof, Kamaruddin Meranun and Shazali Ramli.

Just what exactly has each and every one of them actually achieved?

Ahmad Jauhari was a member of the Sikap Power team that got the mandate to build an IPP plant in Port Dickson.

Naturally, it would be built and financed by others and resulted in the project being flipped first to MRCB and then to Malakoff.

Those who originally got the mandate would make a ‘killing’ from the flipping!

Ahmad Jauhari, then spent a time as MD of Malakoff, whose control (vide MMC)  by then had moved from the government to UMNO financier Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhari.

As for Rashdan Yusof ….. besides being with an audit firm and then the Thinking Company (Bina Fikir), Rashdan was also a director and shareholder of listed company, Megan Media Berhad, which collapsed so calamitously around the same time as Transmile Berhad.

And what about Kamaruddin Meranun?

Before he got his break, thanks to Snake Charmer, Tony Fernandez, what did Kamaruddin Meranun actually achieve?

He did spend some time with the Innosabah Securities Bhd Group, a stock broking firm in Sabah with subsidiaries involved in related activities eg. options and futures.

Innosabah collapsed under the same exposure that Sime Bank had then!

As for Shazali Ramli, well, he’s an apparently good marketing man especially known for his oily rolled back hair!!

Therefore, there seems to be a serious dearth of good quality CEOs for the Malaysian corporate community!

Or is it that the post of MD for MAS was earmarked for a pliant, financially secure individual who would do the bidding of the puppeteers behind the scene?

Just like Ismail Zakaria?

Ex-Sime Darby Berhad CEO, Zubir Mursid, who is facing his own court charges, must be quite positive with IZ’s acquittal.

Click HERE for BTimes report on IZ’s acquittal.




I was having my usual ‘teh tarik’ sessions with friends of mine recently and the topic of the cost of living would invariably pop up for conversation.

The recent announcement of the price hike in the electricity tariffs was mentioned and I did not realize that it was such an emotional subject to all!

The effect of a rise in an already significant monthly expenditure for a normal working family will naturally not be easily accepted …… more so if only one of the two spouses is working! 

This becomes even more emotional when we find out that the rise is not so much due to the government wanting to reduce ‘subsidies’ ……… BUT more so to maintain the ‘obscene profits’ of the Independent Power Producers (IPPs)!


  • The Government (via Petronas) reduces fuel subsidies to IPPs (used to generate electricity) by charging closer to market rates BUT

  • Tenaga then raises tariffs for electricity consumption on consumers i.e. Rakyat AND

  • Tenaga subsequently pays for the electricity it has to mandatorily purchase from the IPPs, at an increased rate (even if the electricity generated by the IPPs is not used) ……. such that it maintains the IPPs’ obscene profit margins under the lop-sided Power Purchase Agreement. 

This may explain why Tenaga revealed that its ‘bottom line’ i.e. profitabilty is not expected to increase significantly after the tariff hike …… it will all go to the IPPs!

This may also be the reason why the government is adamant NOT to make publicly known the details of the Power Purchase Agreement between Tenaga and the IPPs.

The excuse given by the Minister in charge of utilities, Peter Chin, that the government has no power to reveal those agreements is ……. HOG-WASH!

Tenaga Nasional Berhad, whilst a public listed company, is a Government Linked/Controlled Company with Khazanah controlling nearly 70% of its equity.

So what’s the problem?

If the highway concessionaires can do it, why can’t the IPPs?

It is obvious that the owners of the IPPs …… from the YTLs to the Malakoffs …… are earning obscene profits at the expense of the Rakyat.

The obscene profits then flow down as dividends to the major shareholders of those IPPs (read: YTL : Francis Yeoh family and Malakoff : Syed Mokhtar Albukhary family) who then make Substantial Contributions to UMNO and its ilk)

What is being done is totally contradictory to what the UMNO led Barisan Nasional government is claiming they are doing ….. i.e. cleaning up the administration, eradicating corruption and putting the interest of the people before anything else!

It is about time the concerns of the silent majority in the Rakyat be made known at the next General Elections.

The race card appears to be the least of our priorities at the moment.

It is the eradication of CRONYISM, CORRUPTION & CONVOLUTED COSTS that should be our priority.

The rot appears to be too deep for the current administration to dig themselves out of!

Click HERE for Peter Chin’s lame excuse for not revealing details of IPP.

And HERE to get some background perspective of how TNB were arm twisted then.

UPDATE (3 June 2011) : Click HERE and here it from the ‘horse’s mouth’, Ani Arope and his description of EPU as the ‘Economic Plundering Unit’.