Friday 26 May 2017

My Running Journey...1 Year Later...

Assalamualaikum and good day everyone, 

Yes, I know my blog has been a bit "dusty" as it has been quite long since I last posted anything here. So, now since I'm a bit unoccupied, I thought I wanted to share my thoughts about how my first year of running has panned out. 

Firstly, I'm quite happy that (and a bit surprised actually) that I have transformed from a non-runner prior to August 2016 to now a half-marathoner. That being said, I still have a long way to go and lots more to improve in terms of my running, particularly in form, speed and endurance. 

Ok, enough about me. Actually, why I wanted to write today was I wanted to share some of the things I've obtained and learned throughout my (almost) one year journey of running. So here goes....

1. Virtually Everyone Can Run 

If our health condition in general is good, each of us can actually run quite long distances. In fact, in an article published in the New York Times in 2009, there is scientific evidence that supports the notion that humans are evolved to be runners. While a lot of mammals can run faster than humans, we humans can actually run longer distances than most of them. This is made possible due to how humans keep cool. 

We keep cool by sweating, as opposed to panting. Thus, our body is more efficient at dissipating heat since heat is released through our skin instead of just our tongue like most animals. In fact, on a hot day, a human can even outrun a horse in a 42.2 kilometre marathon. However, I have to share a word of caution whereby we can't suddenly just wake up one day and decide "Hey, today I think I want to run a full marathon.", which brings me to my next point. 

2. Respect The Distance, Respect The Training

Alhamdulillah, after one year into this sport of running, I managed to run up to almost 23 kilometres at one go (a combination of running and walking actually). However, this feat did not happen overnight. As I mentioned earlier, before 2016, I was never a runner, not even for fun or leisure purposes. Yes, I do enjoy doing other sports like swimming and futsal but it was never so frequent. 

I joined my first run event in August 2016 which was the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, where I joined the 5 km event. The 5 km event was the shortest distance for people my age, but at that time I felt 5 kilometres was really a long distance since I've never done it before. I still remember my total time for the run at SCKLM was about 51 minutes in total (which was pretty slow actually) but I was really happy when I crossed the finish line. 

After that run, I joined some other runs at short distances like 5, 6 kilometres then I progressed to 10 km and later 12 km. After doing a few 10k runs throughout 2016 and 2017, I told myself that I would join the half marathon which is approximately 21.1 kilometres in distance. Although the thought was daunting, I felt that I must progress upwards to become a better runner. 

At first, I actually I wanted SCKLM 2017 (which just ended about 5 days ago when this article was written) to be my maiden or "virgin" half marathon. However, some friends said that I should join an earlier event in April 2017, just to have a feel of what a HM is. So, after much soul searching, I registered for the April event and ran my first HM there. My timing at the timing mat was about 3 hours 35 minutes, which is quite OK for a beginner at a total distance of 21.95 km. But, I actually targeted for 3:30 as this was the cutoff time for the SCKLM. 

I received lots of words of encouragement from friends and family for my first HM, and it felt so surreal as I had never done it before, and now I have. But, I must admit it didn't come easy, as I did have some issues like muscle fatigue when I hit KM 18 of the run. 

Then, came SCKLM 2017 where this was my second HM to date. I felt pretty confident and still targeting for 3:30 to better my timing from the earlier run. However, at the end of the it, I managed to only clock a time of 3:53 which was worse than my first HM outing. I felt a bit down due to the result, but now I truly understand the phrase "Respect the distance, respect the training". In order to perform well, we really have to train towards our goal. We can't just expect to join an event and hope for a good result without proper training. Insya Allah, I'll keep this in mind and improve further moving forward. 

3. Everyone Has Their Own Pace and Ability

Yes, I do admit sometimes I feel pressured when I hear of people breaking their PB (that's personal best) at each running event or that they run at a faster pace compared to mine. However, when I come back to my senses, I'll tell myself that running is not about competing with other people, but rather it's just competing with yourself and improving your own performance. 

So, just take those sneakers, wear them and go for a run, no matter how short or long the distance is, or how slow or fast your pace is. The most important thing is we keep improving OUR OWN performance. 

4. A Good Support System Is Essential 

As for me, my support system would be my wife who was the first person who coaxed me into running. She actually wanted us to join running events since January 2016, but I never really took notice until another person which is my colleague at work kept pestering me to sign up for SCKLM 2016. Since then, the rest is history and I've never looked back. 

The other support system that I have is my Whatsapp group which consists of fellow runners from my alma mater, Sekolah Menengah Sains Tengku Abdullah or SEMESTA for short. This group consists of alumni from various batches from the class of 1987 up to 2015, where we call ourselves RUNSTA. For this, I have to thank my senior, Irfan Satria Ismail who invited me into the group after I posted some updates on SCKLM 2016. I still remember his words, "Congrats and jangan serik (don't be afraid to join again)." Indeed, looks like I'm not afraid at all in joining running events, in fact this year I came back to join SCKLM in a longer distance category. Indeed, I learned so much from the super seniors, seniors and juniors in RUNSTA, where I am still learning as we speak. Thanks so much for the friendship, support and camaraderie guys and girls. 

That's why I say a good support system is essential, as this support system will help us to sustain our interest in running and hopefully learn more to become a better and stronger runner in the future. It's just like the saying "If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together". 

Our family's medal collection - 30 medals in total (29 split in half between me and my wife, and 1 belongs to our son which he won during his Sports Day, for a running event as well hehe)

Before I sign off, I would like to express my appreciation to the following important people who have been part of my running journey:

1) My wife, Noor Azizi Salleh who was the first person who sparked my interest in running and my number one supporter. 

2) My family, especially my mom Hjh Ruhana Muji and my aunt Hjh Hatipah Muji for supporting my passion, although sometimes they may not see the logic in what I'm doing haha...

3) My work colleague, Aimran Shah who was the person pestering me to join the pursuit of running, which I've never looked back since. 

4) My RUNSTA senior, Irfan Satria Ismail for his support and advice, and especially for inviting me into RUNSTA. And oh, congrats on your first Full Marathon completed at SCKLM 2017. You're officially a marathoner bro!! 

5) All my "siblings" at RUNSTA. Each and everyone of you have been great in sharing your knowledge and experience, not to mention wisdom in running where I continue to cherish and learn everyday from all of you. 

Thank you all for reading and I also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone Selamat Menyambut Ramadan Al Mubarak. May all our good deeds be accepted by Allah SWT. 

Till we meet again soon, Wassalam and keep on running...


Monday 14 November 2016

Running Tips for Beginners

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh and a very good day to readers of my blog,

Today, I want to share with you some things that I've learned from my recent stint in the 10 km category of the Putrajaya Night Marathon 2016 last Saturday, 12 November 2016 (which I think some of you had joined as well). 

This run was only my second 10 km run that I've done. I'm sure some of you have more experience than me, but hopefully this can be sort of a refresher for you guys and also something newbies like me can learn and share..

Some of the things that I've learned from the run are...

1. Flat Terrain Can Be Deceiving

Yes, PNM 2016 is mostly flat in its terrain, meaning there's not much climbing needed to be done during the run. This makes us feel that we can run fast as far as we can. However, this notion can be very deceiving as when we start to quicken our pace, our heart will start to pump more blood around our body especially towards the feet and hands because the body's activity is heightened. 

When the faster heart rate happens, we need to learn to pace ourselves and take it easy for a little bit...which takes us to the second point which is....

2. Listen To Your Heart (Or In This Case, Your Body)

No, I'm not talking about the 90s song, "Listen To Your Heart" by Roxette, but simply when we do our running, no matter for a formal event like a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, or even in our leisurely runs by ourselves, we always need to listen to our bodies. 

What I mean here is, we need to closely monitor or feel how fast our heart rate is. This is because like I mentioned earlier, a heightened level of body activity would naturally lead to a higher heart rate. While running, we can actually feel whether our body can take the higher heart rate or not. Therefore, if you start feeling heavy in your breathing, that's a sign that you need to slow down a bit, and this does not mean you don't move at all. Brisk walking is good to ensure you maintain a steady pace during the running routine and keep within your timing, especially when there is a cutoff time involved to get a finishing medal.

3. Time Is Your Friend and Motivator

In relation to my last sentence in point number 2, time is indeed your friend during running, especially when there is cutoff time involved. This is because, time is the one thing we need to monitor to ensure that we keep ourselves well-paced within the cutoff time (particularly for runs within the length of 10 km and above). 

We can simply monitor our time using our watch (even analog watches) and take note of our start time once we hit the starting line mat, and again take note of the time as we hit the finishing line mat at the end of the run. 

If you want to monitor more than just your overall timing, and you want more info like your pace per kilometre, then make your smartphones are more runner-friendly. There's lots of apps to track your running activity in both Android and iOS like Runtastic, Strava, Nike Running App and many more. Just pick one which suits you best, install it and you're good to go. 

Trust me, using a running app is definitely a morale booster as you know exactly your overall timing and pace as well as how well you've done on a per kilometer basis. This is really great if you're out to always better yourself in terms of pace and timing.

So, there you have it guys. Some little things that I picked up so far as an amateur runner. Hope you guys benefited from this article, and do give your comments on this article if you have other tips to share as well....

All in all, RUN FUN, RUN HAPPY and FINISH STRONG. Remember, every winner was once a beginner. 


Wednesday 19 October 2016

My Running Journey

Assalamualaikum and a very good day to all my blog visitors and readers. 

As you might have known, I normally blog about things like current affairs and the economic situation right? So today, I would like to go back to basics and share a little bit about my newfound passion which is...running. 

Before I start, I want to share with all of you a little secret. All my life, I was NEVER really a sports kind of person, which means I don't really play sports that much, especially athletics sports like running. This is because when it comes to sports - except maybe swimming - I'm not a really well coordinated person. Sports was never second nature to me, unlike the performing arts like singing or acting. Like my dad always said, if you're into a certain kind of activity, you don't have to be forced or cajoled to do it, but you'll just go do it by yourself. I'm just thankful that I went to boarding school in my teenage years (that's SEMESTA - Sekolah Menengah Sains Tengku Abdullah in Raub, Pahang by the way) coz as a student, you were "forced" to go out and play every evening at about 5 - 7 PM and not just stay in the hostel. 

So, back to how I started to take interest in this running thing. It all actually started somewhere in 2015 where my wife Noor Azizi Salleh (or fondly known as GG) kept saying to me "Why not we join a running event?". I didn't really take her words that seriously at the time coz like I said, running was not second nature to me. GG also said that we should sign up for the "Melawati Run" which was scheduled for January 2016, but in the end none of us signed up. So that was that, but I give credit to my wife as the first person to actually open up my horizons into running, although I didn't really buy the idea immediately.

Then, enter my department where there was one colleague who just recently joined the company at the time. This new colleague, Aimran Shah was previously from a government linked corporation and one thing I noticed about him was his passion for jogging/running. Since he joined as my colleague in August 2015, he always took one day during our offpeak season to jog around the vicinity of our office in Bangsar. I didn't join him for any run until eventually I did join him almost one year later in May this year. Why did I eventually run with him? It's because just few days before that, I registered myself for a running event after continuous pestering from Aimran. My first running event was the Standard Chartered KL Marathon which was held on 7 August 2016. I just joined the 5 KM event coz I didn't really know how I would do in the run, and I joined this first run with GG. 

Then the day came for the run in August 2016. I felt that my first run was quite OK considering the track that I trained near my office was quite a hilly and hence a challenging terrain. For SCKLM, I clocked an approximate time of 53 minutes which is perhaps OK for a beginner I guess. Eventually, I also joined 2 other runs (which in actual fact I ran on behalf of my wife coz she couldn't attend due to her training which clashed with the run dates). On my third run event, the Physio Run I managed to improve my timing to about 39 minutes for 5 KM which I was quite happy about. 

A few months down the road, my wife has now become my biggest supporter and cheerleader as she will tag me in Facebook for any running events that will come up. My most recent event, which is the Mizuno Wave Run in Shah Alam was my first event where I ran for 10 KM. 

When the actual day for the run came, I went for the run and really underestimated the course which is quite hilly. However, my timing for the event was quite good according to friends which is about 1 hour 40 minutes. So, Alhamdulillah for that.

                           Posing at the finish line of the Mizuno Wave Run on 9 October 2016.

Oh, before I forget, there is another person who is quite an influence to me in taking up running. That person is actually my SEMESTA senior, Irfan Satria Ismail. The reason why I regard him as an influence is that based on my observation, he is more or less like me, in the way that as I remember, he perhaps just played sports for fun, and I didn't recall him as someone in the rugby, football or athletics team in school (correct me if I'm wrong bro). But I'm amazed that as normal as he may be, he has done quite a few HMs (that's half marathon ya, in case you're not sure) throughout these few years. And the great thing about it is, he loves to share his running experience with others through his Facebook and IG postings. So, I thought to myself, if he can do it, why not me? I remember one of his advice for me after the SCKLM in his comment: "Tahniah dan jangan serik.." (Congrats and keep running, don't be afraid to do it again). 

So there it is. A little snapshot of my new interest in running. Hopefully with this post, many more of you would consider running as a hobby, what more if we're moving into our mid 30s where health is our most important asset to take care of right? 

For me, one key takeaway that I can share about running long distance is's not about how fast you can go, but how long and how far you can endure and enjoy the journey. 

Thanks for reading, and do share if you find this writeup beneficial to others as well. Take care, Wassalam and have a great day ahead peeps...

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Quick verification on the posting on

Assalamualaikum and good day to all,

Yup, it's been a while since I last posted anything. It's been a very hectic past three months for me, so now I finally get to write something after so long. 

For those of you on my Facebook, recently I've shared an article I read from (a newspaper based in British Columbia, Canada) titled "We Can't Compete With the Malaysians" which can be found here. After I posted the article, a friend asked whether the statistics comparing Malaysia and Canada were true as there were a few parameters mentioned in that article which showed that Malaysia fared better than Canada according to the World Economic Forum 2015-16 Report. 

So, to ensure the credibility of the article I shared (and my own in the process), I took to Google to check the stats mentioned in the WEF report. So, below is the summary of what I found based on the parameters mentioned in the Terrace Standard article. Please note that the numbers mentioned are each country's position in the Global Competitiveness Index which measures the performance of 140 countries as identified by the WEF unless stated otherwise. 

Goods to market efficiency
Business sophistication
Capacity for innovation
Company spending on R&D
Gross national savings
24 (29.8% of total GDP)
60 (21.9% of total GDP)
General government debt
92 (57% of total GDP)
120 (86.5% of total GDP)

So yes, based on the WEF report, the figures stated in the Terrace Standard article is correct and we are better than Canada in the abovementioned areas. However, there are some other areas that we can learn from Canada in terms of how we do business and also how we can improve on other areas such as education and public healthcare. 

For those of you who would like to know more on how well Malaysia, Canada and the other 138 countries did in the Global Competitiveness Index, you can download the report at and perform your own review. 

I hope the above article has been beneficial to you. Cheers and wassalam...

Azim signing off.

Monday 25 July 2016

Apa Yang Kecoh Pasal DoJ Press Statement Ni?

Assalamualaikum wbt dan salam sejahtera,

Saya rasa ada antara kita yang dah tahu tentang kenyataan akhbar yang dibuat oleh Jabatan Kehakiman Amerika Syarikat (US Department of Justice - DoJ) tentang "civil forfeiture" atau penyitaan sivil yang akan diambil oleh pihak US. Banyak reaksi dah keluar daripada press statement ini, termasuk kemungkinan US akan campur tangan dalam urusan kerajaan Malaysia dan mengganggu kedaulatan negara. 

Sebelum kita pergi lebih jauh, mari kita sama2 fahamkan apa benda lah "civil forfeiture" ni? Menurut DoJ, makna "civil forfeiture" adalah sebuah proses undang-undang di mana pihak berkuasa undang-undang akan merampas aset-aset daripada pihak yang disyaki terlibat dalam perlakuan jenayah atau aktiviti yang menyalahi undang-undang. Tindakan penyitaan ini tidak semestinya menyebabkan pemilik harta tersebut didakwa, paling utama ialah harta-harta yang diperoleh secara haram akan disita oleh kerajaan Amerika di bawah-bawah undang-undang tertentu. 

Satu lagi, tindakan DoJ ini bukanlah terhadap 1MDB atau mana-mana rakyat Malaysia tetapi adalah terhadap filem "The Wolf of Wall Street" termasuk hak-hak kepada keuntungan, royalti dan hasil pengedaran filem tersebut yang akan diterima oleh Red Granite Pictures, Inc. (syarikat yang menerbitkan "The Wolf of Wall Street") dan/ataupun pihak-pihak yang bersekutu dengannya dan pihak lain yang diberikan hak ("affiliates and/or assigns"). Kita perlu jelas dengan perkara ini terlebih dahulu. 

Ada orang tanya, US ada hak (jurisdiction) ke untuk ambil tindakan ini? Jawapan saya kepada soalan ini ialah "YA", sebab tujuan penyitaan ini adalah untuk merampas harta-harta yang disyaki diperoleh secara haram melalui sistem perbankan US sendiri. Tindakan ini adalah tertakluk di bawah 18 US Code (USC) seksyen 981 yang menyatakan bahawa Kerajaan US berhak merampas harta sama ada tidak alih atau boleh alih (real or personal), yang diperolehi secara haram. Rujuk pautan ini untuk maklumat lanjut.

Ok, sekarang rasanya kita dah jelas yang tindakan ini adalah untuk menyita harta yang diperoleh secara haram. Soalan kita seterusnya adalah bagaimana dengan orang-orang yang terlibat? Mereka ini tak kena dakwa ke? Kalau diikutkan memang nampak seperti tiada, namun mukasurat terakhir kertas pertuduhan yang disediakan oleh DoJ menyebut perkara di bawah:

Jika dilihat pada gambar di atas, Kerajaan Amerika menyebut yang notis secukupnya akan diberi kepada semua pihak berkepentingan (interested parties) supaya dapat hadir dan memberi sebab mengapa "civil forfeiture" ini  tidak sepatutnya berlaku. 

Interested parties di sini melibatkan ramai orang seperti yang telah disebut dalam media termasuk 1MDB, Jho Low, Riza Aziz dan sebagainya termasuk 2 orang pegawai 1MDB yang tidak dinamakan dan juga "Malaysia Official No. 1". Apakah maksud Kerajaan Amerika memanggil "interested parties" ini? Apa yang saya faham ialah semua "interested parties" diberi peluang membela diri dan menyatakan sebab mengapa harta-harta yang disyaki diperoleh secara haram ini tidak patut diambil oleh pihak USA. Maksudnya, ada kemungkinan jika "interested parties" membela diri, satu kes mahkamah yang lebih panjang akan bermula dan perkara yang membimbangkan adalah maruah negara mungkin akan tercalar disebabkan isu tatakelola (governance) yang sangat kompleks dan besar ini.

Kesimpulan yang saya boleh buat di sini ialah pihak-pihak yang berkenaan perlu tampil dengan segera bagi menjawab segala tuduhan pihak Amerika, dan jika anda di pihak yang benar, cepat-cepatlah tunjukkan buktinya. Janganlah diam seribu bahasa, kerana ada pepatah Melayu mengatakan bahawa diam itu tanda kita setuju atau mengiyakan sesuatu perkara.

Doa saya ialah semoga Malaysia terus terpelihara dan aman serta terus maju tanpa gangguan anasir-anasir luar insya Allah. 

Di bawah saya senaraikan rujukan-rujukan saya dalam menulis posting ini jika anda berminat membaca secara penuh maklumat yang telah saya kongsikan:

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Raya, Traffic Jam dan Tanggungjawab Kerajaan Negeri dan Pusat

Assalamualaikum wbt dan Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri...

Apa khabar semua? Memang dah agak lama saya tak menulis, maklum saja saya ada beberapa tugasan yang perlu diselesaikan di pejabat dalam beberapa bulan ni dan baru sekarang ada sikit masa nak menulis. 

Hari ini 7 Syawal, jadi baru dalam seminggu kita berhari raya. Pastinya ramai antara kita yang pulang ke kampung di serata negara bukan? Saya pun begitu. Hari tu, saya berhari raya di rumah mertua di Besut bersama keluarga kecil saya, jadi bagi kami di Pantai Timur ni, kalau dari Kuala Lumpur ada 2 laluan yang boleh digunakan iaitu melalui jalan persekutuan Laluan 8 bermula dari Bentong (selepas 
Tol Bentong)  sehingga Kota Bharu, atau melalui Lebuhraya Pantai Timur (LPT), yang khabarnya akan mengenakan tol di LPT 2 bermula tengah atau hujung bulan ini pada kadar 12 sen sekilometer. 

Berkenaan dengan perjalanan ini, saya sebenarnya tertarik dengan satu posting oleh bekas Setiausaha Parlimen Kementerian Sumber Asli, Dato Sazmi Miah. Dalam posting tersebut, beliau menyatakan kepada beberapa pemimpin politik daripada pihak kerajaan terutama yang berasal dari Kelantan agar cuba untuk merasai pengalaman pulang ke kampung dengan memandu sendiri kenderaan masing-masing yang saban tahun mengambil masa berjam-jam, kadangkala sehingga 20 jam meredah kesesakan, terutama pada musim perayaan seperti Hari Raya. 

Ya, memang benar. Perjalanan pergi dan balik kampung ini memang mengambil masa yang lama terutama pada musim perayaan kerana bilangan kenderaan yang sangat banyak. Tidak saya nafikan yang mereka di Pantai Barat juga merasai perkara yang sama. Namun, bagi yang di Pantai Timur terutama yang berasal dari Kelantan, kesesakan ini memang sesuatu yang memang terpaksa dilalui setiap tahun kerana tiadanya laluan lain selain daripada LPT yang berakhir di Kampung Gemuruh di sempadan antara Kuala Terengganu dengan Setiu dan kemudian terpaksa menyambung perjalanan melalui jalan dalam untuk terus ke Kelantan. Ini berbeza dengan mereka di Pantai Barat dengan adanya lebuhraya PLUS dari selatan di Skudai sehingga Bukit Kayu Hitam di utara yang jalannya 'direct' dan tidak perlu meredah pekan dan bandar kecuali bila tiba di susur yang paling hampir dengan kampung masing-masing. 

Isu utamanya di sini ialah, mengapa lebuhraya tidak dibina sehingga masuk ke negeri Kelantan? Adakah terlalu mahal sangat untuk membina lebuhraya dari Gemuruh hingga ke Kota Bharu yang jaraknya kira-kira 150 kilometer atau teruskan sambung saja sehingga Rantau Panjang, sepertimana Bukit Kayu Hitam di Kedah? 

Isu tentang lebuhraya ini telah lama dibangkitkan oleh banyak pihak sejak sekian lama. Saya pun dah cari sedikit info tentang siapakah yang sepatutnya bertanggungjawab dalam soal pembinaan lebuhraya ini. Mengikut Perlembagaan Persekutuan, di bawah Jadual 9, perancangan bandar dan desa adalah tertakluk di bawah Senarai Bersama, manakala isu-isu berkaitan tanah di bawah kuasa kerajaan negeri. Jadi, sepatutnya kedua-dua pihak iaitu Kerajaan Negeri dan Pusat cuba duduk semeja dan mencari jalan bagaimana isu ini boleh diselesaikan segera. 

Saya tidak tahu pulak adakah kerajaan negeri Kelantan pimpinan PAS memang sengaja tidak mahu berbincang dengan Kerajaan Pusat tentang masalah pembinaan lebuhraya ini. Atau jika benar, mungkin sengaja mahu dijadikan modal untuk mengutuk Kerajaan Pusat kononnya tidak kisah atau cakna tentang nasib rakyat Kelantan. Bagi Kerajaan Pusat pula, jika kerajaan negeri sudah memohon bantuan atau kelulusan, bantulah mana yang boleh dan janganlah dibiarkan saja, kononnya sebagai hukuman kerana tidak memilih anda pada pilihanraya sejak 1990.

Semoga semangat Syawal dan Aidilfitri 1437 ini memberi harapan baru kepada kita semua agar lebih prihatin terhadap rakyat seluruhnya. Lupakanlah sengketa lama dan binalah jambatan ukhuwah untuk kepentingan bersama, insya Allah...

Tuesday 12 April 2016

1MDB PAC Report: Summary of Key Highlights

Assalamualaikum and very good day to everyone,

It's been quite a while since I last posted anything on my blog as I was swamped with my daily work. Now that I have some time to spare, I decided to write something on the recently published PAC report on 1MDB where the audit fieldwork was performed by the Auditor General Department of Malaysia. The report was 110-page long, cover to cover so I guess that was the longest document I have ever read in recent times. 

My observation on that report was it's as if I'm back in college taking the Audit or Ethics paper and if the report were to be an exam question, it would read like this: "Based on the report, please highlight the weaknesses in internal controls and governance of 1MDB and provide suggestions for improvement", and I think it's quite easy to score because the weakness in governance are plenty and very clear. My write-up today aims to summarise the key issues highlighted in the PAC report. 

1. Non-adherence to Board directives

There were a few occasions where 1MDB management had disobeyed the Board of Directors orders in various transactions such as:-

a) The Board of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA, predecessor of 1MDB) had disagreed with the plan to subscribe to an Islamic Medium Term Note (IMTN) worth RM5 billion and had resolved on 22 May 2009 that any dealings related to the IMTN be halted, including suspending the CEO's authority in the dealings of the IMTN. However, 3 days later TIA's CEO at the time, En. Shahrol Azral (now Dato) had signed the IMTN Subscription Agreement with Ambank. This is clearly a case of disobeying the Board of Directors and a governance issue since Dato Shahrol didn't have any authority to enter to any agreement with regards to the IMTN. 

b) The Board of Directors via a resolution signed by the Terengganu Menteri Besar on 27 May 2009 also had dropped Dato Shahrol as a member of TIA's Board of Directors. However, another resolution on the same date was issued to cancel the earlier resolution to drop Dato Shahrol from TIA's Board. 

2. Setting up of joint venture between 1MDB and Petrosaudi International Ltd.

Based on the report, it was shown that the decision to set up a joint venture between 1MDB and Petrosaudi International Ltd. was reached even before the Board meeting on 18 September 2009. In addition, the report also revealed that the JV company, 1MDB Petrosaudi (BVI) Ltd. was also registered on 18 September 2009, which is the same day as 1MDB's Board meeting. This is clearly a mockery of governance because 1MDB management had decided to do a JV with another company without seeking prior Board approval. 

On 28 September 2009, a JV agreement was signed between 1MDB. 1MDB Petrosaudi (BVI) Ltd. and Petrosaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd. Upon the AG's review, it was noted that Petrosaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd. was also registered on 18 September 2009. This begs the question of why do a JV with a newly-set up company. Further reading of this report also shows that Petrosaudi has other offshore-registered companies such as Petro Saudi Turkmenistan 1 Ltd. (registered in Jersey) and Petro Saudi Ltd. Inc. (registered in Panama). Why is this company having so many offshore companies? What are they trying to hide actually? 

3. Obscene gearing ratio

1MDB was set up with an initial capital of RM1 million and as at 2014, the total debt that it has accumulated is approximately RM 42 billion, which brings the debt to equity ratio to 42,000 TIMES, I repeat 42,000 TIMES. Further review of its financial statements show that the revenue for 2014 is just about RM 4.3 billion or 10% of total debt accumulated. This begs the question on why the need to take such a huge debt from various sources when the revenue to service the debts cannot be matched. Also, the history of debt settlement and repayment shows that the settlement is also made using debt through the usage of Revolving Credit or Term Notes. 

While we do acknowledge that the use of debt is for acquisition of power assets and properties, the revenue generated does not commensurate with the amount of debt owing, resulting in more debts that need to be taken to service existing debts. 

4. Auditors getting sacked for asking too many questions

An auditors' key role in ensuring the true and fair view of financial statements involves asking questions. This is to ensure key information and assumptions are presented accurately and fairly to users of financial statements. During 2010 to 2014, there has been 3 auditors which had audited 1MDB's accounts namely Messrs. EY, KPMG and Deloitte. While changing auditors is not wrong per se, the fact that they changed 3 audit firms in the span of only 4 years shows that there may be big disagreements between 1MDB's Board and the auditors. 

Messrs. EY
Firstly, EY based on their 2010 Audit Plan had requested to review the due diligence report prepared by 1MDB's management to assess the fair value of assets and liabilities of the JV company at date of acquisition. EY had raised their concerns and request during 1MDB's Board meeting on 5 April 2010.

EY had requested further supporting documents to ascertain the value and ownership of assets of the JV company. This is actually a normal process in any audit. Auditors will continue requesting supporting documents and not rely solely on management representation, especially verbal ones. EY's adamant attitude in requesting further supporting documentation had agitated 1MDB's management and led to their dismissal by the Board on 15 September 2010.  

Messrs. KPMG
Messrs. KPMG was appointed as 1MDB's auditors effective from 15 September 2010, subsequent to EY's dismissal as the company's auditors. During their audit, KPMG had requested the following documents to ascertain the fair value of 1MDB Group's investment in Bridge Global Segregated Portfolio Company (SPC) through Brazen Sky Ltd. (BSL):- 

a) Verification of investment ownership of Bridge Global SPC through BSL by BSI Bank SA Geneva; 

b) Documents related to legal due diligence to verify that Bridge Global SPC has been legally incorporated, and to ascertain its legal structure for accounting purposes; 

c) Legal opinion from lawyers with regards to Bridge Global SPC's structure to ascertain BSL's ownership for accounting purposes; 

d) A Net Asset Value (NAV) Report in Bridge Global SPC as at 31 March 2013 and relevant supporting documents to show how NAV was acquired; and 

e) Bridge Global SPC's financial statements as at 31 March 2013. 

Despite the above request, 1MDB had only given verbal representation regarding the investments. KPMG obviously was not satisfied with this explanation and continued to pursue for documented evidence on the above transaction. 

1MDB's Board in its meeting on 9 December 2013 had been informed that KPMG was not satisfied with the management's explanation and proposing a meeting to decide whether the information given to the auditors thus far was sufficient as audit evidence. If the auditors decided that the info was not sufficient, KPMG will issue a qualified report. 

The increased rift between 1MDB's management and KPMG had led to the removal of KPMG as the company's auditors through a Board resolution dated 31 December 2013 to remove KPMG from office. 

The above findings show that it is indeed peculiar for a company to change audit firms (not audit partners) within such a short period of time. Also, it is indeed mysterious that a significant company like 1MDB cannot keep its accounts straight. In fact, for the 2015 results 1MDB has requested a 6-month extension up till June 2016 to present its 2015 financial statements. 

There are so many red flags highlighted in the PAC report, and while I do agree that the ex-CEO, Dato Shahrol Azral should be brought to book for his wrongdoings and gross mismanagement of 1MDB, other key players including members of the Board of Directors and Board of Advisers should also be answerable to the fiasco that has happened. As 1MDB is a company under the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Finance Minister himself should have answers as to what happened. 

Yes, the Minister's signature may not appear in any of the company's Board resolutions. But to be fair, he was the first person to be aware of the proposal for setting up a joint venture through the letter sent by Tarek Obaid, which he then forwarded to 1MDB management for further action. 

The report has been tabled. Now it's up to the relevant authorities to take action. Let's see how the next scene of this drama unfold. 

And yes, to those of you who are interested to read the full text of the PAC report you may follow the link here:

Cheers and wassalam everyone,

Disclaimer: The above write-up is the personal opinion of the author based on his understanding of the report. For a more clear and detailed picture of the report, please visit the above link provided.