Malaysia Dateline

Come Monday 1 August I will begin a new life with PNB

From Prime Minister Department, I will begin a ‘new life’ with PNB

It has been eight weeks since I completed my term as a Senator and Minister on 4 June 2016.

Many friends, relatives and acquaintances have asked what I have been up to since then and what my plans are for the future. That is until the announcement of my appointment as
Chairman of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) yesterday, 29 July 2016.

Since then, I have been receiving hundreds of well wishes, prayers and words of support & encouragement from friends & family members. Thank you all. I hope to get your continued support in my new role and I pledge to carry out my duties to the best of my ability with honesty and full integrity.

Alhamdulillah, over the past twenty eight years, I have had the privilege of working in many organisations. KPMG, Bumiputra Merchant Bankers, Kumpulan FIMA, Amanah Capital Group, UEM Group, Telekom Malaysia (including Celcom), Maybank and the Government of Malaysia.

Apart from my first two jobs at KPMG and BMB, I did not apply for the other positions. They all came by invitation.

The key lesson learnt for the young people is to focus on the task at hand, do your job well and your reputation will precede you. Even your competitor will acknowledge your achievements. A case in point is when I was the CEO of TM, I was approached by the then Chairman of Maxis (TM/Celcom’s competitor), who is now Maybank Chairman, to lead Maybank as CEO in its transformation into a regional financial services group. The rest as they say is history.

In all the previous moves, I would normally join the new organisation either on the next day or over the weekend. This time though was different. I decided to take a two-month break to reset my priorities, catch up on some ‘lost time’ with family and do some of the things I always wanted to do for a while. It has been one of the most fulfilling period in my life.

The first two weeks were largely spent on clearing up my work and preparing the office at the Economic Planning Unit for my successor. Physically & contextually. I didn’t realise we had accumulated so much documents in three years. I guess it is a reflection of the volume of work packed within the three years. Thank you to my team members at EPU, UKAS, DOSM, TERAJU, TalentCorp, EKUINAS, Yayasan Pendidikan Peneraju Bumiputera and others for your support.

The latter part of second week was when I registered as an Uber Partner. I wanted to experience personally what it is like to do ride-sharing, how easy or difficult it is to earn a living using the latest technology, and to provide input to policy makers. Something I could not do when I was still a Minister.

Since my personal car was ten years old, I could not register it for Uber. Proton was kind enough to lend me their new Perdana demo car on condition I would help to promote it. Since then I have personally bought a new Perdana 2.4 in support of the national car.

And I got my friends to pledge to top up my ride-sharing takings for charity. What was meant to be a private affair became public after one passenger, Firdaus from Axiata, posted a selfie with me on his Facebook page. That single posting (by the only passenger who recognised me) became viral in social media and was picked up by mainstream
media. I even received invitation from Harith Iskander to appear on his OHI talk show! So AWO the former Minister and Banker was more known as an Uber driver.

Anyway in total I earned RM210 from 17 trips over 11 actual driving hours spread across 3 days. I paid RM10 in toll charges, Uber took 25% or RM50 commission and I was left with RM150. Had I been more diligent and drove or remained ‘online’ continuously in blocks of four hours, I believe I would have been able to generate income of approximately RM300 per 10-hour driving day. That means approximately RM4,000 to RM6,000 net income per 25-day month. This is consistent with feedback from many Uber/Grab drivers. My only hope is for Uber/Grab to reduce their portion of the takings so that a much higher proportion will go to the drivers.

Anyway, I will leave it to the Government and SPAD to come up with the appropriate policy for ride-sharing and transformation of the taxi industry. In any case,

Alhamdulillah I managed to raise some RM20,000 in funds for Rumah Jagaan & Rawatan Orang Orang Tua Al Ikhlas,
Pulau Meranti, Selangor. Thanks to all my donor friends.

After my short ride-sharing stint, my wife and I managed to spend our third week in Madinah & Makkah. Very spiritually fulfilling indeed. The fourth and fifth week were spent celebrating Ramadhan & Aidilfitri with extended family members including those in Johor Bahru, Kota Tinggi and Pontian, Johor.

The sixth and seventh week were spent visiting friends and
attending Hari Raya Open Houses. We also took the opportunity to visit several resorts in Malaysia. Starting with Belum Rainforest Resort on the shores of Lake Temenggor, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in Ipoh and Mulu Marriott Resort, Sarawak .

Sometimes we always take things at home for granted. Indeed, these are beautiful resorts / places to visit.
At 130 million years old, Belum Rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Even older than the Amazon and Congo. The Banjaran with natural hotsprings piped into your private villa is world class. And the Gunung Mulu National Park with its network of caves and streams is simply breathtaking.

The highlight is to watch some two million bats streaming out of the Deer Cave just before dusk. These are some of many beautiful places we have in Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi, Penang, Malacca to name a few.

So please start planning for ‘Cuti-cuti Malaysia’ and take advantage of the great deals Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and
Malindo offer from time to time. I do that online all the time.

But that does not mean we should not explore places beyond Malaysia’s shores. As I write this note, my wife & I are on our last day of ‘honeymoon’ in Maldives. Yes, vacation with family including your parents and extended family is important. We do that annually.

But from time to time, it is good to rekindle that ‘magic’ with your spouse only. It has worked well for me. I’m sure it will work well for you too.

Well, what looked like a long eight weeks have passed by very quickly. Come Monday, 1 August, I will begin a ‘new life’ with PNB.

What are the mandates given to me?

Let me just outline three :-

1. Improve the corporate performance of PNB and its Group companies ;

2. Enhance Bumiputera participation in business and corporate sector; and

3. Support the Government in providing more affordable homes for Malaysians.

Thank you for all the support you have given to me in my previous roles. I look forward to your continued support in my new role as Chairman of this very important national institution PNB.

Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, Ex UBER Driver/ CEO of Maybank / Ex Minister at the Prime Minister Department