Sunday, July 31, 2005
It's amazing how one's fortunes can turn around in life. I wrote about Micahel Owen a few weeks back where I mentioned that he left Liverpool in search of tropihies, only for the trophies to come to Liverpool.
And now he wants to return to Liverpool, initially. But when Rafa Benitez was cool towards his hints, he is now eyeing Manchester United. What a traitor.
Someone once said that no player is greater than the club, and when the club is Liverpool, this statements stands out even more.
Michael Owen, you made your choice, now you have to bear the consequences. You turned your back on Liverpool when it needed you the most.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Chess has been played my millions and millions of souls throughout time immemorial. Even computers have joined in the fray, yet nor they nor us can unlock the hidden possibilities in this wonderful game. The variations ae numerous. The opportunity exciting.
Playing chess is fighting a mental battle with a worthy opponent. If you rmind is well prepared, you may win the game and your rating increases. If your opponent is well prepared and hungrier than you are, then you're in for a fight. This mental battles can be quick, it can be long. You always make your move anticipating your opponents response. You try to guess his plans. What is he up to? Is she going after my lonely pawn?
When you win, the feeling is magnificent. When you lose, it hurts. I've won, I've lost my share of games. I try to learn from my games, but progress is slow. I yearn to study but time escapes me. Life is pulling me in all directions.
My wife plays chess on this wonderful web based website, Gameknot. Look her up. Her handle is ctrl-reset. She's a fiery player, although she doesnt have the composure, yet, to win the mind battles. She's getting there, slowly.
Gameknot is a good place to play for the young and the old. The community there is well manerred. The players are professional. There's clubs, tournament, forums, mini tournaments, and most importantly, the fiends that you make over time.
Dont believe what I say, just take a peek for yourself. Membership is free, limited to 20 games and tournaments; paid memberships allows you to enter into the gruelling league and start/join mini-tournaments and clubs.
See you there....
The woman, slightly bothered, ate the cookies and watched the clock, while the young and shameless thief of biscuits was also finishing them. The woman started to get really angry at this point and thought "If I wasn't such a good and educated person, I would have given this daring man a black eye by now."
Every time she ate a biscuit, he had one too. The dialogue between their eyes continued and when only one biscuit was left, she wondered what was he going to do. Softly and with a nervous smile, the young man grabbed the last biscuit and broke it in two. He offered one
half to the woman while he ate the other half. Briskly she took the biscuit and thought, "What an insolent man! How uneducated! He didn't even thank me!" She had never met anybody so fresh and sighed relieved to hear her flight announced. She grabbed her bags and went
towards the boarding gate refusing to look back to where that insolent thief was seated.
After boarding the plane and nicely seated, she looked for her book which was nearly finished by now. While looking into her bag she was totally surprised to find her pack of biscuits nearly intact. If my biscuits are here, she thought feeling terribly, those others were his and he tried to share them with me. Too late to apologize to the young man, she realized with pain, that it was her who had been insolent, uneducated and a thief, and not him.
How many times in our lives, had we known with certainty that something happened in a certain way, only to discover later that it wasn't true? How many times has our lack of trust within us made us judge other people unfairly with our conceited ideas, often far away from reality. That is why we have to think twice before we judge others. Let's always give others the benefit of the doubt before we think badly of them.
It is good that the GUI of Fedora is similar to Windows. It makes the transition easier. The automatic updates is wonderful, comes with quite a bit of softwares. Installation was easy, configuring it took a few more steps than Windows where we had to specify the resolution (Windows detects the resolution automatically)
All and all, the new Fedora looks and feels good. You should give it a go. You can download the whole installation set (4 disks plus one boot disk) from the Fedora website at http://fedora.redhat.com/
Friday, July 29, 2005
Malaysia May Sell 30 Percent of Proton
Friday July 29, 1:29 am ET
By Joseph Edwin
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia may sell up to a 30 percent
stake in its national carmaker Proton to Germany's Volkswagen for $440
million, according to a person familiar with the talks, a move that
could give a foreign company control in a national icon facing intense
competition from other Asian automakers
Khazanah Nasional Bhd., the government's investment arm that owns 42.7
percent of Proton, is in talks with the Wolfsburg, Germany-based
automaker to sell up to 30 percent stake in the Malaysian company, the
"The deal could be worth 10 ringgit ($2.67) a share," the person said
on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the deal,
involving the national car maker. At that price, the stake will cost
Volkswagen AG some 1.65 billion Malaysian ringgit ($440 million).
The deal could come with management control of Proton, the person said.
Khazanah and Volkswagen officials weren't immediately available for comment.
It's not immediately clear how a deal may be structured, but it is
likely that Khazanah may want to retain a "golden share" in the
company. Such shares, common in state-linked companies, give the
government veto powers over key strategic decisions.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Most people try to simplify their lives. This is good because people gain clarity. This is because the human mind can only focus n very few things at a time. It cannot grasp and comprehend all variables that affect our daily lives.
But Mother Nature isnt a simplified being that we can simplify so that we can understand Her. Mother Nature is complexity in motion. Every perturbation has consequences, it has a ripple effect in time and space.
Meet Dr. Jacek Marczyk. Dr. Marczyk has over twenty years of experience in Computer Aided Engineering. During the last eight years he has published four books on stochastic and non-linear mechanics and has introduced to the market two industrial software tools for large-scale stochastic simulation: ST-ORM in 1998 and MSC Software´s MSC.Robust Design in 2003. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of large-scale
stochastic simulation, and in the late 1990s has introduced it to the automotive industry for car crash applications. He has also developed novel approaches to stochastic model validation.
Jacek is a good friend of mine. He is a man passionate about complexity. Talk to him and you will get lost in his knowledge. He is very knowledgeable person and is someone who is constantly expanding his knowledge. Jacek loves to talk about complexity and tries to see the patterns that complexity brings.
In engineering, something that I am familiar with, there are a lot of variables that can affect the final product. Engineers have long tried to use the DOE (Design of Experiments) method to simplify their model and focus on what they think are the key features. But what if their wrong? This boils down to experience.
Jacek proposes the Stochastic Method where all variables are taken into account using the Latin Hypercube method. In this manner, all possibilities are investigated and none left to chance. The Monte Carlo method investigates complexity by mixing up all the variables together and trying to see what patterns they make up. It is this pattern that governs the behavior of the final product.
It is in this way that Mother Nature also behaves. She is so complex that hitting a butterfly in Brazil causes a ripple effect that causes a monsoon in Japan.
Interested to learn more? Check out http://www.ontonix.com
Is life full of overwhelming problems? Sometimes, solitary thinking is what we need. Pondering about our problems and coming up with solutions to it is God's gift to us. Yet, most of us shriek away from our God given responsibility!
Think and may all your problems have a wonderful solution.
DUST ON MY SHOES is based on an epic travel book written by Peter Pinney, an Australian adventurer who journeyed overland from Greece, through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Assam and India, to Burma in 1949. Travelling with the bare minimum of luggage and usually penniless, he was the trailblazer for the legions of young Australians taking on the trouble-spots of the world with just a pack on their back and a guide book in their hand.
DUST ON MY SHOES follows the Parallel Journey of two young Australian travellers as they attempt to retrace Pinney's footsteps. There are four other sections in addition to the Parallel Journey. The Pinney Narrative includes over sixty animations based on Pinney's photographic archives. The Musical Journey features compositions based on Pinney's adventures in the book. The Pinney Vault looks at Pinney's life and times. And Rough Travel is a collection of stories from travellers, old and young.
MSC.Software Announces Certain Second Quarter Financial Information
Wednesday July 27, 9:00 am ET
Cash, cash equivalents and investments at June 30, 2005 stood at $109.6 million compared to $89.5 million at March 31, 2005. Gross accounts receivable were $65.6 million at June 30, 2005. Days sales outstanding (DSOs), before adjusting for the impact of the restatement, were 81 days at June 30, 2005. This compares to 102 days at March 31, 2005.
For the second quarter, and before adjusting for the impact of the restatement, total operating expenses were $51.6 million compared to $41.9 million in the second quarter of last year. Net research and development expense totaled $8.0 million compared to $6.0 million in the second quarter last year. In the second quarter, capitalized software was $3.5 million compared to $4.3 million in the second quarter last year. Sales, general and administrative expense (SG&A) totaled $42.1 million compared to $34.4 million in the second quarter last year. In the second quarter, SG&A included $8.6 million of expenses related to the special investigation, severance, stock compensation charges, office closures, audit fees and related expenses, compared to $2.9 million related to the special investigation in the second quarter last year. SG&A adjusted to exclude these expenses totaled $33.5 million in the second quarter this year compared to $31.5 million in the second quarter last year. Amortization of intangibles totaled $1.5 million in the current quarter and $1.5 million in the second quarter last year. Additionally, in the second quarter, interest and other expenses were $0.9 million compared to $1.1 million in the second quarter last year.
In the second quarter, in the Americas, major software and services transactions were signed with Chrysler, NASA, D3 Technologies in North America and IMPSA in South America. In Europe, during the second quarter, major software and services transactions were completed with Airbus, Michelin, Man Technologies, Volvo and Renault. In Asia-Pacific, major transactions were recorded with Nissan and Kanto Auto Works in Japan; with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Samsung in Korea; FAW -- Volkswagen and TTI in the PRC; GE India Technology Center; and Petronas in Malaysia.
The company continues to work in conjunction with its independent registered accounting firm to complete the financial restatements for the periods subsequent to December 31, 2000. The company is committed to thoroughly and accurately completing the restatement as quickly as possible. While no assurances can be provided at this time, it is currently anticipated by management that the restatement will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2005.
"We had a strong second quarter that was driven by a number of competitive wins at key global accounts," commented William Weyand, CEO and Chairman, MSC Software. "Our new MSC.MasterKey agreement with Airbus, as well as two important orders in the AP region from major automotive OEM customers, exemplify our strategy of providing enterprise wide Virtual Product Development (VPD) solutions.
"The overall business climate continues to be positive, with customers from all industries across all world regions investing in VPD and simulation process improvement," added Mr. Weyand. "Focused initiatives in the electronics and biomedical industries are providing new growth opportunities alongside our traditional business with aerospace and automotive customers. In addition, consulting services continued to play a very important role in building confidence in VPD among our new customers.
"During the quarter, we completed the expansion of the board of directors and I am very pleased to have added three seasoned technology industry executives that will be great complementary assets to the board," continued Mr. Weyand. "I am also pleased to welcome three new members to the management team, John Howaniec, Frank Kovacs and Doug Campbell, who bring valuable enterprise software sales and business expertise to an already excellent team. In addition, Rick Murphy, a senior sales executive, will help accelerate our transition from a technology company to a customer and market driven company as our new VP of corporate marketing. I look forward to working with this exceptional team as we succeed as an enterprise software company."
"The management team and I are making progress on improving G & A as well as integrating and consolidating our product lines in an effort to accelerate the delivery of VPD solutions to market faster. The company's performance was solid in the quarter and we are looking forward to a strong second half of 2005," concluded Mr. Weyand.
A conference call to discuss second quarter results will be held today at 8:30 am Pacific Time. This conference call is being Webcast and can be accessed at the following URL: http://www.mscsoftware.com/ir/, or by dialing in to (800) 374-0151 in the U.S. or to (706) 679-5233 for International callers. To participate in the live conference call, use the following conference ID code: 7608062.
An archived version of the conference call will be available at http://www.mscsoftware.com/ir/. The teleconference replay will be available for 48 hours after the call at: (800) 642-1687 U.S. or (706) 645-9291 Intl. using the conference ID code: 7608062.
About MSC.Software Corporation
MSC.Software (OTC: MNSC - News) is the leading global provider of virtual product development (VPD) solutions including simulation software and services that help companies make money, save time and reduce costs associated with designing and testing manufactured products. MSC.Software works with thousands of companies in hundreds of industries to develop better products faster by utilizing information technology, software and services. MSC.Software employs more than 1400 people in 23 countries. For additional information about MSC.Software's products and services, please visit www.mscsoftware.com.
Certain matters discussed in this news release constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to a number of factors and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Other factors which could cause such results to differ materially from those described in the forward- looking statements include delays in developing, completing, or shipping new or enhanced products, the ability to assimilate acquisitions into MSC's operations, foreign currency translations, and other risks and uncertainties that are detailed in the Company's annual report on Form 10-K and other reports filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Furthermore, information provided herein, which is not historical in nature, including any information related to the anticipated completion of the restatement, are forward-looking statements pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All such forward-looking statements are based largely on management's expectations and are subject to and qualified by risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. The Company undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the Company's expectations.
Source: MSC.Software Corp.
Monday, July 25, 2005
KUALA LUMPUR (Dow Jones)--The embattled chief executive of Proton Holdings Bhd. (5304.KU) will step down from Tuesday, weeks after he publicly criticized the government's "unfair" automotive policy.
Proton said it board of directors decided at a meeting Monday not to renew CEO Mahaleel Ariff's contract. The board is now searching for a new leader from within and outside the country for the MYR4.64 billion market capitalization company.
Mahaleel's departure was welcomed by some analysts as they say it could pave the way for German auto maker Volkswagen AG to take a stake in Proton.
Proton has been in talks with Volkswagen to establish a partnership where the German car maker would use the Malaysian company's production facilities to assemble Volkswagen cars for the Southeast Asian market. Proton, in turn, would benefit by tapping into Volkswagen's technological know-how to improve the quality of its own models and help it boost its flagging market share.
"The board has resolved not to renew the tenure of the present group CEO beyond his existing tenure," Proton Chairman Mohammed Azlan Hashim told reporters at a press conference.
Mahaleel, a protege of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, will be on leave from Tuesday and will "retire" from the company in September. Mahathir will remain an adviser to Proton and has been informed of the board's decision, the company said.
Azlan didn't want to be drawn into whether Mahaleel's contract was not renewed because of his criticism of the government's automotive policy, or differences with the board of directors.
"It's a question of change, Proton is an institution, it is not about individuals," he stressed.
The new CEO will have his work cut out. "Proton needs to sell more cars, it needs to increase its export market, it needs to increase brand awareness in other countries and it needs to expand its product range," the chairman said.
Proton also promoted two senior executives to joint chief operating officers. Kisai bin Rahmat, the director of operations, and Kamarulzaman bin Darus, the CEO of Proton Tanjung Malim Sdn. Bhd., which runs the company's newest plant, will help Proton continue operations while the board searches for a new CEO, the company said.
Macquarie Securities senior analyst Edward Ong said Mahaleel's departure was "highly positive" for Proton.
He said he believed Mahaleel's exit would smooth the way for Volkswagen to take a stake in the Malaysian company.
It is widely held that both Mahaleel and Mahathir were not keen on a sale of a substantial stake in the company.
"If Volkswagen takes a majority stake in Proton, we will have to review our investment view on the stock," Ong said.
He currently has a neutral call on Proton with a MYR7.90 price target. Proton closed trading Monday up 0.6% to MYR8.45.
Mahaleel earlier this month told a local newspaper that Malaysia's automotive policy of gradually removing protective tariffs was hurting the 42.7% government-owned car maker, prompting a strong rebuke from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The government protects Proton by imposing high tariffs on foreign cars and by allowing Proton to pay a smaller excise tax.
Mahaleel was appointed chief executive of the 20-year-old carmaker in April 1997, but he had been at odds with the company's board for over a year now on strategic issues. These include the prospect of Proton teaming up with a multinational manufacturer in a bid to counter stiff foreign competition.
Those differences boiled to the surface in February when Abu Hassan Kendut resigned as chairman of Proton's board after the government overruled an earlier decision by directors not to renew Mahaleel's contract.
One of Malaysia's best-known companies, Proton is the sole surviving vestige of an ambitious industrialization drive initiated by Mahathir in the early 1980s. The government poured billions of dollars into steel and cement ventures that ultimately fared poorly.
Now, Proton is under siege. A plan by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations for a regional free trade area, known as AFTA, requires Malaysia to dismantle its high auto import tariffs.
The Malaysian government is committed to removing the protection, Abdullah said earlier this month, and urged Proton to improve its quality to compete with foreign makers.
"The protection is being reduced gradually because that is the right thing to do," Abdullah said. "While we gradually reduce protection, Proton must improve quality and capability so that it can compete with other cars."
In recent years, Proton also has seen its dominant market share chipped away by rivals such as South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. and Japan's Nissan Motor Co., which have introduced locally assembled models at competitive prices. Proton's market share fell to 44% in 2004 from 48% in 2003.
-By Joseph Edwin, Dow Jones Newswires; 603 2692 5254;
If you're just interested in the sound, its here : http://www.earth.columbia.edu/news/2005/images/tsun_eq.mp3
And who said history never repeats?
Have a history teacher explain this if they can!
Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost a child while living in the White House.
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.
Now it gets really weird.
Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.
Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808 Lyndon
Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
Now hang on to your seat !
Lincoln was shot at the theater named "Ford."
Kennedy was shot in a car called "Lincoln" made by "Ford."
Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
And here's the "kicker":
A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.
Lincoln was shot in a theater and the assassin ran to a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and the assassin ran to a theater.
Creepy, huh? Send this to as many people as you can, because:
Hey, this is one history lesson people don't mind reading ! ! !
By Francois Thomazeau
29 minutes ago
PARIS (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong won an unprecedented seventh Tour de France on Sunday, closing the curtain on one of the most extraordinary cycling careers ever.
The American safely crossed the line in the peloton at the end of the 144.5-km final stage on the Champs Elysees.
The last climb in his career was to the podium, on which he stood next to second-placed Italian Ivan Basso and the rider he beat most often, Germany's Jan Ullrich.
The most successful Tour rider in history looked to the sky while the Star Spangled Banner was played for him for the seventh and last time.
Points classification winner Thor Hushovd of Norway and Denmark's King of the Mountains Michael Rasmussen brought a Nordic touch to the Texan's farewell ceremony.
Ukraine's Yaroslav Popovych, sporting the white jersey as the best under-25 rider in the Tour, gave hope to Armstrong's Discovery Channel team mates that the yellow jersey might stay with them next season.
Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov won the final stage of the race after making a break on the last lap on the Champs Elysees.
Armstrong's final Tour was arguably one of the easiest for him, even if the 33-year-old had to be content with winning only one stage, Saturday's 55.5-km individual time trial in St Etienne.
It seemed impossible in 1999, when he collected the first of his 82 yellow jerseys and the third of 23 stage wins, for anyone to win seven Tours -- in particular a rider like Armstrong who almost lost his life to testicular cancer diagnosed in 1996.
In the seven years that ended on Sunday, Armstrong helped cycling shift from a sport of traditions and folklore into a modern, professional, global one.
His final Tour was among the easiest simply because nobody really dared contest his supremacy.
Armstrong's compatriot David Zabriskie wore the yellow jersey at the beginning of the race and then German Jens Voigt took it for a day.
There were vain, sometimes embarrassing attacks from Ullrich's T-Mobile team mates, there were brave moves from Basso, the American's likeliest successor, but by and large, Armstrong spent a rather relaxing three weeks on French roads.
Whereas former Tour greats Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain mostly built their victories in time trials, Armstrong, like his close friend Eddy Merckx, dominated on all terrains.
Armstrong was the fastest against the clock -- as the last victory of his career in St Etienne confirmed -- the strongest in the mountains and he led the best team.
His attention to detail and obsession with the Tour are well known but his pure sporting skills and extraordinary strength of character are often overlooked.
Like Merckx, Hinault or Anquetil, Armstrong was not interested in being a popular rider. His only goal was to win the Tour.
Only three men seriously challenged his domination -- Italian climber Marco Pantani, Basque rider Joseba Beloki and Ullrich.
Pantani was the only rider able to outclass Armstrong in the mountains and their private battle in 2000 was one of the highlights of the American's Tour campaigns. Pantani committed suicide in February last year.
Beloki improved with every year until the 2003 race when he crashed in front of Armstrong and suffered multiple fractures. The spectacular fall destroyed the Spaniard's ambitions and he has still not made it back to the same level.
Ullrich was Armstrong's favorite opponent. When the German won the 1997 edition, everybody was convinced he would be the first rider to win six Tours.
He had class, power and no other active rider at the time -- Armstrong was having treatment for cancer -- seemed a serious contender.
Eight years later, the 32-year-old has had to be content with one Tour, one Vuelta, one Olympic gold and two world titles, plus six podium places in the Tour.
Ullrich's career has been great, not exceptional because he had the misfortune of riding in Armstrong's time.
With no chance of an encore from Armstrong, cycling fans are now looking for the next Tour winner.
Basso, who finished four minutes and 40 seconds behind Armstrong overall, is arguably the most versatile of all potential Tour winners. Ullrich cannot be ruled out if next year's Tour places more emphasis on time trials.
Spain's Alejandro Valverde, winner of the toughest Alps stage in this Tour, is also cited as one to watch.
But the winner will triumph in a race that can never be the same again, because of the man who retired on Sunday.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Wise men used to say, what is money when one is always on the sick bed? Money can bring the best doctors but they cannot heal the body. Yet, so many of us squander our health in pursuit of money, only to lose the very money that they have been after to regain their health.
That is why you should meet Michael Angier, the founder of SuccessNet. Michael teaches and guides us in our goal of becoming a wholesome, successful person. This website is full of articles and books which help clarify what success is and how to achieve them.
Most motivational books tell of goal setting and how important it is in the pursuit of success. Michael agrees with it. But, he goes one step further by providing you with tools to help you reach your goals. His books and articles are a delight to read and ponder upon.
Go ahead and give SuccessNet a try. I know you will not regret it.
How do you overcome a mental block?
A mental block is when your brain freezes at the precise time when you
need it the most -- during meetings with clients, internal meetings with
colleagues and bosses.....the brain just refuses to think and goes to sleep.
Which brings me to the next question. Can the brain function well
without enough sleep?
Friday, July 22, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Thursday July 21, 8:12 am ET
By Vijay Joshi, Associated Press Writer
Malaysia Unpegs Ringgit From U.S. Dollar After China Move
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia said Thursday it was unpegging the country's currency from the U.S. dollar and replacing it with a managed float, making the announcement immediately after a similar move by China.
The central bank, Bank Negara, said in a statement that the ringgit, which had been fixed at 3.8 to the dollar since 1998, will be allowed "to operate in a managed float" with immediate affect.
Its value will be determined by economic fundamentals, the bank statement said.
The statement was issued minutes after the Chinese government announced that it will no longer peg its currency to the U.S. dollar but instead let it float in a tight band against a basket of foreign currencies.
The yuan was strengthened to a rate of 8.11 to the U.S. dollar -- compared to the 8.28 it has been set at for more than a decade. The new trading regime will begin Friday.
Bank Negara Malaysia will monitor the ringgit exchange rate against a currency basket to ensure that the rate remains close to its fair value. It did not give a range for the float.
After shifting to this new system, the exchange rate "is not expected to deviate significantly from the current prevailing level," the bank said.
The bank said the current valuation of the ringgit is consistent with the country's economic fundamentals and takes into consideration "developments in our trading partner countries" -- an apparent reference to China.
Malaysian had insisted previously that it is not working with China on changes to their currency exchange rates, although it had indicated it may be prepared to take action if China moves on its yuan.
"Changes in the international and regional financial and economic environment have made it important for Malaysia to have a stable exchange rate against its major trading partners, in particular, the regional countries," it said.
Consequently, the stability of the ringgit exchange rate against the regional currencies will become increasingly important, and stability can best be achieved by maintaining the value of the ringgit against a trade-weighted index of Malaysia's major trading partners, it said.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
By Assif Shameen in Kuala Lumpur
When China's Geely Group Ltd. began marketing its compact cars in Malaysia in June, showrooms overflowed with people. They had come to check out the first China-made cars to go on sale in Southeast Asia. Until recently, kicking the tires of foreign cars was a novelty in Malaysia: High tariffs kept all but the ultra-rich from buying such vehicles. Now tariffs are falling, and Kuala Lumpur's roads are crowded with Hyundais and Toyotas.
While such choice pleases consumers, it's a source of anxiety at the two giant auto plants operated by Proton Holdings. Proton is the government-controlled company that has long had a hammerlock on the Malaysian car market. As late as 1999, 66% of the cars sold in the Southeast Asian nation were made by Proton, and this year it will still sell 36%.
Proton is at a crossroads. The government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is rolling back tariff protections as Malaysia honors its obligations under the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). Tariffs on Southeast Asian-made cars sold in Malaysia were a stiff 50% two years ago -- but are 20% today and will fall to just 5% by 2008. That puts in jeopardy 10,000 jobs at Proton, plus 90,000 in the parts and component plants that supply it.
What is Proton's future? The company's boosters argue Proton makes quality vehicles and, with AFTA in place, its market isn't just 26 million Malaysians but 500 million Southeast Asians from Hanoi to Jakarta. Skeptics insist that Proton has no future as an independent company. "Proton is an anachronism in the automobile industry and it's not going to survive over the long term," says Graeme Maxton, Asia analyst for consultancy Autopolis in Hong Kong. As a marginal producer with falling market share even in its home market, he says, Proton lacks the scale it needs to compete against bigger rivals.
As the debate goes on, foreign suitors are lining up with a notion either to buy Proton or to use its facilities to increase their production in the hot Southeast Asian market. Late last year, Proton signed a cooperation agreement with Volkswagen, which allows the German auto maker to use Proton's plants to assemble VWs for sale in Southeast Asia. In exchange, VW will provide tech assistance to Proton. But VW execs are keen to cement the deal with an equity stake, say sources at Proton.
For now, Proton is not selling. "It's too early to talk about VW or any other partner taking an equity position in Proton," says Azman Mokhtar, CEO of Khazanah Holdings, Malaysia's state investment arm, which owns a controlling 43% stake.
Citigroup Smith Barney (NYSE:C - News) says 520,000 cars will be sold in Malaysia this year. That's up from 343,000 in 2000 and makes Malaysia the biggest car market in Southeast Asia. Even with high tariffs on imports, Proton hasn't been keeping up. It sold 170,000 cars in Malaysia last year -- although its factories have a capacity of 380,000. Exports were a measly 17,000. Given its protected status, Proton has always been profitable. But earnings are down, from $301 million for the year ended in March, 2003, on revenues of $2.45 billion, to $213 million for the year ended last March, on revenues of $2.23 billion.
Like so much else in modern Malaysia, Proton was the brainchild of ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. His government founded the company in 1983 as a joint venture with Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (which no longer has a stake), and Mahathir is now an adviser to the board. By all accounts, Proton has produced a serviceable stream of sedans and compacts over the years, but its Mitsubishi technology is outmoded and it has rarely upgraded its design. Even Badawi admits that the company would not be viable if protectionist barriers were suddenly dismantled. It needs "to improve its quality and capability so it can compete," he says.
Current management, however, has resisted change. The now-retired Mahathir has fought the idea of reducing tariffs for years. "Korean and Japanese carmakers were protected for 40 or 50 years," Mahathir told BusinessWeek in a recent interview. "Why should we open our own small market after just 20 years?" The company's board, after a shakeup by Khazanah last year, recently censured CEO Mahaleel Ariff, a Mahathir appointee and loyalist, for publicly criticizing the tariff reductions. Mahaleel declined to comment.
Lately the company has revved up a bit. Last month it launched a new 1.2-litre compact Savvy -- the first new model in 16 months -- and aims to roll out at least two more new models this year. In recent years, Proton has set aside tens of millions of dollars for research and development, and its execs hope that collaboration with VW will improve the quality of both its systems and its cars.
Time is of the essence. With tariffs on the decline, a dozen companies, including China's Geely, are looking to establish a beachhead in Malaysia. For Proton, the imperative is to get its managerial act together -- or watch the advantage it enjoys in its home market wither away.
Monday, July 18, 2005
And now there is talks about him wanting a return to Anfield. But the boss, Rafa doesent seem keen on it.
And I wouldnt do? Why would I want someone who deserted the team when I needed him the most?
My stand is, go for s atriker that fits the team play. We have Cisse, Baros, Morientes, and possibly Crouch....why do we need Owen? I would rather go for Figo!
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Talks between Malaysia's Proton and Volkswagen have stalled after a plan by the German auto giant to acquire a substantial stake was opposed by Proton's senior management, a report said.
The Edge financial newspaper said as a result, an ambitious technical tie-up between the two automakers had also been delayed.
Proton said last October it would assemble and sell VW cars as part of a "long-term strategic partnership" that could lead to technology sharing and the joint development of cars.
Proton officials could not be reached for comment.
The Edge said Proton's top managers were opposed to the amount of equity VW would expect to hold in Proton Holding in return for which the German automaker would offer its technical expertise and global reach.
"But as long as the technical details cannot be ironed out ... the equity details remain hanging," it quoted a source as saying.
The report said VW did not plan to take over Proton but to hold significant interest.
"It is a sensible equity stake which would justify the kind of technological transfer we expect," the source added.
But Proton's management, led by Tengku Mahaleel Ariff was opposed to VW taking a significant stake, the report said.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently said Malaysia would gradually reduce protection measures for national carmaker Proton and urged it to improve quality and become more competitive amid declining Proton sales.
The national carmarker used to sell six out of every 10 new cars in Malaysia but growing foreign competition is eating into its market share, which fell to 44 percent in 2004 from 48 percent in 2003.
Malaysia's state investment arm Khazanah Nasional has a majority 42 percent stake in Proton.
Malaysia, one of the region's top passenger car markets, cut import duties to 20 percent on ASEAN cars on January 1 under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement.
However, it would delay reducing duties to the required level of below five percent until 2008.