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.




After having likened Tony Fernandes to ex-Satyam chief, Ramalinga Raju whose famous quote was …. ‘it was like riding a tiger and not knowing how to get off without being eaten!’ (see previous post), this ad appears in the papers.

It would seem that our dear ol’ Tony Fernandes prefers to ‘ride’ than ‘fly’ the tiger.

In the same vein, it is timely to remind Tony that:





It has been some time that we have focused on this character ….. the Air Asia head honcho recently grabbing headlines in Bangkok and Singapore for his racial ‘white slur’ on his airline rivals in both countries. click HERE and HERE

Contrary to what others think, I like this man. Yes I do like him ….. it’s just that I do not like what he has become!

From a budding eagle eyed officer with Warner Music, he took the big jump by taking over an ailing airline called (Air Asia) from a Malaysian listed company, DRB Hicom, for only RM1.00 and everything else is history.

Yes, he had his frustrations with the bureaucracy in Malaysia and he vented it publicly ….. but he did get noticed and was given concessions by the government.

Love him or hate him, he has done wonders to put the country on the aviation map.

That’s when all the problems began to appear.

He got too big headed for his own good. He felt obliged to meet the expectations of everyone …. to the point that his excesses were questioned in Parliament by ‘turn-coat’ MP, Wee Choo Keong.

This saga actually reminds me of the US conglomerate, the great General Electric, which is synonymous with the equally great Jack Welch …. where in this case, GE went to the extent of having its accounts fudged, vide GE Capital, to meet or beat analysts’ forecasts.

For the record, in 2009, GE was fined US$50 million by the American Securities & Exchange Commission for accounting fraud that dates back to 2002. So much for the great Jack Welch institution!

Coming back to our dear old Tony FernandeS, he may also be in the same ‘dilemma’ predicament as the ex chief of Satyam, Ramalinga Raju, who famously said that ‘it was like riding a tiger and not knowing how to get off  without being eaten’.

Well, at least Tony is fortunate that he is still supported by the government agencies like EPF, which is still a substantial shareholder in Air Asia.

What are his latest plans? God knows …. but some signs are there ….. like the referees in the English Premier League matches now do not wear the ‘Air Asia’ label on their sleeves ….. but that of ‘Tune Group’.

Furthermore, Air Asia’s share price has been, relatively speaking, up in the clouds too.

So could Tony be changing his ‘tune’ in mid air?!

If so, he’d better navigate and fly the plane well especially when the global economic weather is so unpredictable ….. lest he thinks he is too big to fail!