Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Wonder Everyone In Town Is A Broker.

Brokering is a national pastime in a country called Malaysia. Everyone does it. From down and out small time businessmen right up to big time high-ranking officers in the government. Who knows even the prime minister himself does it on the side to make a quick buck or two. For crying out loud, someone could have brokered him into that position he is currently enjoying thinking he's some kinda king with a new queen going around the country as if people really do love him. Afterall people even brokered chief justice so what's stopping anyone from brokering their own mother to run a Texas whore house for politicians?
All of a sudden, now that the parliament has been dissolved, everyone in town is a broker and you wanna be careful who you talk to these days because you won't know for sure who he is brokering for. Let's take a good look at a broker who goes about town, always on the cellphone, talking and dealing, dealing and talking for hot items like t-shirts, caps, buttons, hand-held fans, banners, buntings, flags, posters and printed materials that you see all over the place in the next couple of days.
This broker will never see a single piece of the items he is brokering because someone else is manufacturing them, printing them, and holding the stock in some place secret, and someone else will do the delivering. All this doesn't come free, or cheap. You hold the stock for two days, you charge by the hour, and that's 48 hours. If you've got the contract to deliver these items, you charge by the kilometer and you drive round about way to optimise distance and you charge accordingly. Don't worry about it, you're not dealing with a corporate organization here. There's no hard-nosed accountant to question your invoice. You're dealing with a political party with a lot of cash and there's no invoice to speak of in the first place because everything is done cash up-front. And where does this cash come from? It's from you. And me. So these people can just spend it like nobody's business because they're not accountable who they pay or how much.
Figure this. T-shirts cost about 50 sen apiece, complete with printed logo if you got it made in mainland China. By the time it got to Mydin, it's Rm7.90. And that's Mydin price, the cheapest in town. Go figure how much people pay for it so they can give the t-shirt away free. And the people really think they got it for free when it is their money that has been misused to pay for the knitting, cutting, stitching, sewing, assembling, printing, labeling, packaging, transporting, distributing. By the time it gets to you, the t-shirt has been sold four or five times over by brokers with connections to this exclusive network of low-life vermins. No wonder everyone in town is a broker.
Campaigning, Malaysian style is a dubious business. You don't raise campaign fund the way Obama had to do it. In Malaysia you won't know for sure where the campaign money come from. Maybe it comes from big corporate organizations but there's more to this than meets the eye. You don't see party banners, buntings and billboards inundating a town in the U.S. But look at what they've done to a short bridge in Paka, Dungun. The bloody bridge is camouflaged with flags that you wonder where the bridge starts or ends. Figure this, one flag = RM5.00. 4 million flags. You go figure. No wonder everyone in town is a broker.
Election time spins one of the greatest retail moments in Malaysia's economic calendar. No wonder everyone in town is a broker.


Blogger Kata Tak Nak said...

Anybody wants used posters and banners and flags? Going real cheap. Delivery, a week after elections, otherwise I sell them to Mydin.

4:12 PM  
Blogger tokasid said...

Salam Bergen:

In Malaysia it is required by law for all contesting candidates to submit their expenditures, after the election.
And it is stipulated that there is only a certain amount that can be used for the parliamentary seats and the state seats.

But experience and history had shown us the ruling parties(BN) had been using much more than it is allowed.And the fanning media published it for us to see.

I wonder whether the SPR really looked into these expenditure accounts submitted to them.
And what if its proven to me more than allowed. Never heard any party ever brought to court for this.

Brokers! There a lots of them during this time of elections.The old timers,the aspiring and the budding. There are brokers for brokers.
Brokers is a good venture considering its 'meniaga atas angin'. Yo don't need huge capital. What you need is a handphone(prepaid is acceptable,in fact prepaid is better.It will be difficult for suppliers to look for you if you decide to 'disappear' after the election) and a list of contacts.

This time around it will be sleepless nights for many.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous podgykat said...

Bergen, my friend it's the same overhere on our shores. My hubs used to be politically active in his hometown and on ocassion had the 'honour' of being campaign managers for some of these "dubious' over-spending politicians and in so doing had come across some of this broker-type characters that you listed out here. Tokasid has raised some legitimate points here; about SPR looking into the expenditure accounts submitted when the party's over. You can bet your bottom dollar the expenditure would be more than what was allocated each candidate. But why no action taken? Maybe the documents are tailored to look a certain way? Ooops, I'd better just stick to my pots and pans!!

And Tok Asid, just a little note of thanks for stopping by my blog and for paying me those compliments on Bergen's previous post. Bergen, 'tumpang' your blog to thank Tokasid, Ok? Got to check on that lamb shoulder roasting in my oven now ;) oh, oh, before I forget, Happy Valentine's! :)

6:58 PM  
Anonymous zara said...

The allocation for elections this year is RM200 mil.

Sigh... i failed my math.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Dhahran Sea said...

Hello Bergen, talking about brokers during election time... as you rightly said, someone's going to pay for it (law of conservation of 'matter'/'money'), and at the end of the day it comes down to you & me who are paying all sort taxes, tolls, etc. to make the war chests of those in power. And at end of the day, when all is said and done, the elected politicians will get back their "investments" by getting projects... and, alas, its you & me who are going to be BROKE!! Back to square one...

11:45 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Kata Tak Nak: You may wanna bet that someone has been awarded with the contract to collect used banners and flags @ .50sen apiece, the base cost of producing them in the first place. It's a neat network, cikgu. They've got it all figured out. Like I've said, brokering is big business in times such as the election. This is big time in brokering, of course they get to do the brokering when a wakil rakyat of a kawasan dies. But you don't make much in by-election compares to GE. But then again, if more wakil rakyat die, then maybe the volume of by-election may be as big as GE, if those elected in the GE die by the turn within 5 years. LOL.

Tokasid: Maybe people still have faith in the law but I know I've lost all the respect for the law. Why should I when chief justice and everyone down the line don't care very much about it that they can do or say anything they want knowing the law can't touch them. I believe big guns in the government know that no law in the land can ever touch them since the law is meant only for small folks.

I never thought that I'd see a day like today when big guns in the legal fraternity can use the law as a shield. I thought the tilam case during the sodomy trial was bad but this is a class act. I wonder how much lower we can go after lingam has brought the whole legal system down to this level.

Now I understand why people dare to blow up a Mongolian woman with C4. Those people know the law can't touch them and that they're gonna walk because who knows, maybe the verdict has been decided even before they blew her up into pieces. Maybe someone has dictated and written the verdict long before she was dead. It certainly looks that way to me if the direction of the trial is anything to go by.

But try speak your mind on the things you believe in to see if the law will be used against you, especially if the the things you believe in isn't in line with what they want you to believe.

Podgykat: I've always stayed on the sideline when it comes to politics. But this time I believe it's not about politics anymore. It's about power abuse. The least I can do is not to vote for people who's been so arrogant over the last few years that they thought good times would last forever, or at least until three generations. I alone can't stop them but if my vote can be counted with the rest of the citizens who've had enough of these people, then I believe things will change.

Zara: Don't worry about having failed maths at school. All you've gotta know is a simple concept like; 5 sen apiece on an item, and then multiply by thousands or millions. No need to mental calculate, just use your calculator. Brokering is simple. LOL.

Dhahran Sea: I know they're counting on the winning formula to win (again) this time. Free things, more allocations, bigger promises, more money in the pocket for everyone, more jobs, no taxes since Malaysians are generally unclear of the concept on tax, more rights for the minorities, more rights for the majority etc etc.

The truth is, no one has the list of the promises they made in the last general election to see if any of those promises were made good. I believe this is gonna be an expensive campaign for them because people want more than kain batik or kain pelikat.

But then again you and I know, if the winning formula isn't working, they can always resort to the ultimate formula; undi post and phantom voters. That'll see them through this election. I'm not worried about it because we will all die and we will all have to answer in the hereafter to the things we do.

I know that they think they're invincible. Submit to Allah's will. It's the only way to go so your blood won't go up.

12:44 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

And then there's post election - cleaning up time. Which, no one seems to do. Any brokers for that?

8:42 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Anedra: It's not a popular proposition because after the winning, or losing, people usually don't want pay anything to anybody. You can't ask for up-front payment in this deal because nobody wants to be held accountable for the mess. No way volunteers are going to do that because they too need to be paid up-front. Just like those who ferry voters to and from their houses to the polling station. They gotta have money for petrol and KFC, now that it's no longer trendy to be seen eating nasi bungkus. It's gonna be an expensive campaign but no one's complaining. There's more cash where it comes from.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Mek Na said...

banner banner...buy one free one...anyone? :P

3:18 PM  
Blogger Zabs said...

Salam Bergen,
Make sure they pay first before you deliver, otherwise they will disappear after the election.

4:00 PM  
Blogger tokasid said...


I'm with you in no faith to our law.Not that the laws are at fault though much can be done to improve it.
My no faith comes from the circus and clowns involved.From the PDRM right to the AG office and those on the bench(esp if the appointment was helped by the correctx3 and pomx4 guy).

And now they are having a gala of our time with accusation and counter accusations.Objections and counter objections.

And to put our fate in their hands...it gives me the chills.

And now there is another circus in town, The politicians. Those who didn't visit their constituency for years are making the rounds and giving new promises.And handsome handouts too. And why am I not gonna be suprise if these court jesters will be re-elected again.And after the celebration with kenduris and karaokes they will again do the Houdini act for 4 years.

I'm still sticking to this: Yang salah tetap salah walau di selindungkan.
Yang benar tetap benar walau di selindungkan.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Zawi said...

Great piece. You spoke our mind. That is the reality of the present day election.
To fund it they have to have projects like PKFZ where 2 billion seems to be the excess. Probably 500 million goes for the election fund. Don't think they are stupid enough to give all to the fund.
How many other mega projects are there for them to skim the money out? Don't you think they are preparing for the 13th GE by setting up all the corridors costing megabucks?

10:28 AM  
Blogger boxxTomoi said...

hmmmm...I'm here everyday wondering what happen to the prettiest girl in the world staying in the house right next to yours!!!

12:40 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Tokasid: But the voters never learn anything from all this. It's like everything has been programmed to go this way. The guy promises the world, and the people vote him in, and then he disappears, only to reappears in 5 years. And the same thing goes round and round. Maybe it's in the water, or maybe it's in the education system where they don't encourage you to think for yourself. They've got it all planned, haven't they?

Zawi: I believe the PKFZ is as good a case as who shot JFK. It's a mystery that won't be disclosed for as long as they're in power. Maybe one day all this is gonna come down and those involved will see the light of day. Even if they don't, there's the hereafter they've got to deal with. By then, all the Houdinis in the world won't be of any use.

Boxxtomoi: I've been a regular visitor to your blog and I gotta confess that I'm getting very interested in Muay Thai,even though I know, at my age, I won't be able to withstand the rigorous training and conditioning. I know I should take up Aikido, hehe, but for a time being, I'm not into it yet because I've been in street brawls once too many to know any better that a real fight is anything but the way it is simulated in a classroom situation.

About the prettiest girl in the world, I'm compiling the details of the birthday party her parents organized and I was with Grandma, reading the Qur'an with all the mistakes in the world, because I could see from the corner of my eyes that the maid from her house in coming in through the front gate.

Will write about it.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Bergen
Election = money. Ka-chiiiing!

11:28 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Fauziah Ismail: I believe some people can afford to work once in every five years because the income one generates from this circus is simply big.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Mat Salo said...

I'm glad I'm a Moslem (or pretend to be anyway) because if I were a Buddhist and believed in re-incarnation ... I'd like to be re-incarnated as the most successful bumi broker in Bolehland.

Great post, bro. Spot on.

P.S. Sorry to sidetrack, you happen know my buddy Harun Enduk of? Just a thought tho', thought you might.

3:04 PM  

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