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anakbukitgantang says


The F word

Written by Sakmongkol on 11:38 AM

PM Najib said this:-

"I believe this is a meaningful development that will boost Malaysia's image," he said.

Ah ha, so it's another country-branding exercise, an image job. Hence, the Government's involvement in the negotiations with the F1 franchise holders. But it is now no longer contented being a franchise holder- that's not making money. But at what cost? You have to spend money to get more money. You are banking on this idea that by having a team actually racing, you can draw in the tourists, television revenues, etc.

The government had to allow the Sepang people to hold special lottery draws to compensate for low earnings. In other words, this is a sure fire investment- you can always make up for under earnings by asking the government for help. And perhaps this is the reason why the government has been coaxed into coming along with this venture. It provides the safety net should this investment botches up. Or, if the government is to be spared from having to inject money in the future, some other way of compensating the exertions of Air Asia or Naza will have to be thought out. Maybe Air Asia gets to build its own airport or perhaps take over MAS eventually. Naza can also have 100% of Proton and also take over the shares in Perodua.

No one can go wrong by having big G on your side. Otherwise the Sepang franchisee will drown.

As a result of Sepang, Malaysia has become well know. It doesn't matter if the Caucasian tongue finds it a mouthful to say the name. It gets Malaysia to become a name in the world. Imagine the dividends Malaysia gets as a brand just by holding a series in the racing. Now- here comes a better deal. We'll have an actual team car racing at demonic speed, fulfilling the wet dreams of people with possible phallic disorders.

I wasn't interested to write or comment anything on the PM's announcement that Malaysia will have its own racing team. I have never been to the Sepang circuit believing it stupid of me to allow a self induced destruction of my ear drums. By the way- maybe racing enthusiasts and speed demons can enlighten me, whether it's true that those who like to drive at demonic speed do so to compensate for their under-accomplishment down there? It's like short people compensating their short stature by having a XXX ego.

This is not sponsoring or organizing a racing series like the Sepang circuit is currently doing. This is creating a team from scratch, with drivers, legions of engineers and mechanics, and building an F1 racing car. Maybe that's where Mokhzani made a mistake- if organizing races doesn't make money, that mistake could have been corrected by having a racing team itself. But since Mokhzani didn't think about it and Tony does, then he should be the main man.

It will be called the 1MF1 team. I wasn't even excited to see pictures of some people 'don't travel without cap' with the PM. Not until, I am beginning to think of the astronomical costs of having a team to race for Malaysia. The former DJ Patrick T, whose baritone voice has enthralled me since school days in his blog Niamah has written about this. Now, coming from a multiracial school, I always thought that niamah is an F word such that, I would like to say- that this formula 1 team idea is a tiu kau scam on the people of Malaysia. I remember my Chinese friends seem to be saying niamah kahai.. all the time and we Malay boys( the naughty ones) will also do that without knowing what the word means.

Rupa rupa nya, the mother of all F word is this F1 idea- of having a team to compete in the actual race. Proton can't even survive on its own- wants to go into this. Naza the AP churner wants to go into this. Air Asia is the main sponsor of this idea. The Malaysian government's form of participation is what? The injection of land as one of the main elements in this investment? Injection of liquid capital and if so how much? This is money coming out from the government. Hoi- lets F1 the development in the kampongs, the urban poor, the disenfranchised, and the dispossessed.

The sponsors of this idea must have someone functioning as a runner bringing the idea to the inner circle of the PM or to one of those government departments tasked with identifying some light at the end of troubled economy tunnel. Let's hope the lights emanating are not those from a Shinkanzen train. This is how big projects get to see the light of day- an idea is hatched, gets sold to an important link that has been cultivated for a long time to worm its way to the PM.

So I thought, I would also 'tiu' this must have a team idea. So how do we react to the news that that Lotus – an arm of Proton Berhad –had beaten off competition from the Swiss-based BMW Sauber to be named as the 13th team to compete in next year's Formula One World Championship. Did we have chop off an arm for the bid? Who bid on behalf of Malaysia? Did we engage a PR team to do our bid? Hence on the 15th of September, on the eve of the date when Malaysia came into existence, news that Malaysia gets to enter as the 13th team on the F1 circuit came. The statement named 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd as the owner of the team. The team name is Lotus F1 Team, the country of origin is Malaysia and Team Principal is Tony Fernandez.

The team's future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit. What's involved here? Land acquisition to build another circuit? The construction of 6 star hotels to house the moneyed crowd who will come in droves to see the batik car? Maybe the government will give permission to build an amusement park like the one that failed in Germany and maybe even licenced a casino. You know tourists can gamble while waiting for the races. How much land is needed? Will the state government be a part of this investment? Land is theirs anyway and as owner of this capital, it should be made an important partner in this venture. Let's see how the analysts from Selangor government evaluate this idea.

But wait, did we not intend sell Lotus off to some people a few years bad, saying that it was a bad idea? Now we are using the lotus brand in what capacity.

I am sure we can all benefit from this bold move, as F1 is one of the most prestigious and widely televised sporting events in the world and the technologies that go into it are among the world's most sophisticated. We are technology hungry. The technology behind MV Augusta? Not so good. This one, behind formula 1? It's the mother of all technology.

What do we want from having a team? I know people have been most enthusiastic as the tourism-generating potential can be sizeable. But this is primarily a country-branding exercise, an image job. Hence, the Government's involvement in this business proposal.

But the image has been battered not because of it doesn't have a racing team. It has been battered by more down to earth reasons affecting people- good governance, corruption political problems here and there. Those are the sources of our battered image. Yeah- but this is different. Because exposure of this magnitude and over an event known for its glitz and free spending (the maritime equivalent is the America's Cup yacht race) will lend a bit of sophistication to its international image. Take the kampong out from us. Sponsoring a race meet has only taken us out from the kampong. F1 circuit is amateurish. This, a real deal.

The icing on the cake is having our own team- that's like having a real McCoy. It's like having an astronaut actually landing on the moon. The sponsors will have to identify a magnetic figure- to attract the crowd coming in. Maybe Michelle Yeoh can slither her way onto the tracks and bring with her Gongli and others to add to the glitz. It's strictly a spectator sport. F1 had actually been losing a bit of its appeal because one driver, Michael Schumacher, and one team, Ferrari, had been dominating the championship. Mr Schumacher has retired. But no matter.

Questions are raised by some people uncomfortable about excessive use of taxpayers' funds in supporting what essentially is a private business venture headed by Tony Fernandez. What's the government's portion in meeting the costs? RM 100-150 million? Ok, perhaps that can be justified only as tourism promotion. It is big bucks but cities everywhere are spending as much, and more, to get a bigger slice of the travel market.

Which investors would risk millions on a losing proposition? Little is known of the financing details, owing to confidentiality clauses. But the Government should disclose as fully as it can the financial arrangements as the dream team will have to compete in all the circuits in the world. That's money coming out every year.

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  1. 4 comments: Responses to “ The F word ”

  2. By chapchai on September 18, 2009 at 5:41 PM

    The Malaysian government loves punching above its weight, and we all know where this will lead us!

  3. By donplaypuks® on September 19, 2009 at 7:17 PM

    Many thanks for blog rolling me!

    And, Selamat Hari Raya to you and your family.

    We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

  4. By walla on September 20, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    Whatever the financial arrangement, the announcement has been information-poor on the benefits that would accrue to the rakyat from this mega-project.

    It is like saying that because it would cost too much for Malaysia to advertise itself on Japan's air, for instance, therefore this project will bring cost-savings benefits.

    In the first place, how would any advertisement of Malaysia in an advanced country bring benefit when the global media has already identified this country as candidate for laughing stock based on the political antics we do, the social malaises we face that has let to a plethora of murders, rapes and gated living, and the investment doldrums we experience owing to impractical, costly and myopic policies? How does showing a race-car circuit, flagging a malaysian racing team, and mentioning the word 'Malaysia' raise inflow of funds to pay for the advanced money sunk and deliver profits beyond to solve those issues?

    If we say the project will be good for tourism, where are the numbers? The majority of the crowd is made of locals given free seats which means for each race, we are subsidizing limited numbers of rich foreigners.. meanwhile our bumiputeras in Penan village are crying for an iron bridge and the bumiputeris in the same are violated when they have to hitch rides to schools faraway from their homes. Which remains for one to ask how many of those foreigners actually stay and spend money in the cities and towns of this country when they jet in for a few days of eardrum bursting armchair viewing? So even if the few foreigners partake of the rooms and food, they will only part with their tourist money to some hotels and perhaps a few malls. Even a participating airline. Does anyone think this type of tourist will stay at Tune hotels?

    If it is meant for tourism, the money could be better spent on actual mind-share growing projects in tourism or to intelligently spruce up our tourist attractions, re-link our inbound flights or even to create new marketing programs overseas to attract more business-cum-pleasure tourists than the backpackers. But remembering how we had bled paying for foreigners to draft an athlete training facility in the UK which could not even be approved because of their land codes, something which could have been ascertained with one phone call, would anyone be surprised this is the quality of our juvenile planning method to serve the ...rakyat, perhaps?

    So, where's the beef of benefits in this project?

    R&D for racing cars, reactivation of Lotus, backflow technologies into Proton, Naza and so on? Are we really serious about this? Where's the ten-year cashflow on this segment of technology development? How's the real state of our automotive export industry?

    Lastly, and this is directed at the cabinet. When you say it is wrong to say that governments anywhere are the same because the planning is actually what creates the difference, what has our government to show in terms of its planning prowess so far? To think out your answer, step out onto your respective balconies and wave at the concrete splendor before you, paid for with the blood of the future of the rakyat. Why don't you take advantage of e-government and virtualize your bricks and mortars? Remember, the thousand year reich only lasted a swallow's summer.

  5. By walla on September 20, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    Do your own homework now. Just name one example of the government's planning prowess. Just ONE that hasn't cost the country too much, delivered too little, mortified the rakyat too heavily, pawned their futures too deeply and cost this nation all the minute competitive advantages that its peoples have wrought with their hands and brains and accumulated in transient amounts by sacrificing generation after generation so that a few leaders high on their own hype can continue our great tradition of making foolhardy projects their own PR-saving graces in a world which has outgrown such juvenilism.

    Note that the predecessor to the previous PM had defined more sumptuously how this government really rationalizes its planning. That would explain Proton's ten percent plant utilization today, as a small example, aside for the billions squandered in schemes and dreams which only satiated the anointed ones to take shoulder-rubbing advantage to cream them. His successor had signed some embarrassing endorsements and continued the same fine tradition of planning which saw the sudden emergence of a few linked companies. Can the rakyat now assume that his successor's successor is hereto forthwith merely continuing the buddy networking by holding aloft another national endorsement of another grand scheme and dream of another kongsi terang?

    But how can it be called kongsi terang when the only thing revealed is that because it is a private project nothing should be revealed too much? In which case why the endorsement using participants which are GLCs which have already bled this nation so dry even Mr Dracula would think it a waste of his time to come here as tourist?

    Go back and cut your clothes to your cloth. Redo all your assumptions. Take those proposals and put them under the same KIV pile as the other proposals to help the rakyat and real businesses. Then do your own review of this project...of everything else. Including your own political relevance.

    Right now, the project only shows you've lost the plot, bitten off more than you can chew, monkey around again with the future of this country and grasping for straws.

    Did this country make heaps from hosting the commonwealth games, for instance?

    See what is meant? Don't blame the blogger for not knowing there is another spicy phrase used in reaction to the announcement. According to those schooled in the dialect, it goes like this: "harrm karh charn".

    I have no idea what that stands for. Do you?

    You can have the best team in the world but if they operate in a country which blows people up, decapitate animals and other festivalistic activities, then all the technical prowess the team may show will matter not. The damage is already done, the perception entrenched, the rot set in.

Che Det

Khairy Jamaluddin