How can a law-abiding cybercafe operator survive in corruption-rife Malaysia?

I have received a heart-rending appeal for help as to how a law-abiding cafe operator could survive in corruption-rife Malaysia.

The cybercafe operator J is “almost at the end of the road” after being in the business for the past five years and is regretting that he had “picked the wrong country to live and grow by doing business and earn a living”.

He had ventured into the cybercafe business for the last five years after he lost his job as a IT hardware/software salesman. With 2nd class honours degree in Business information System in a UK university, he never got any better job which paid enough commensurate with his qualification.

He had paid for his entire studies right from local college to university in UK, working since in high school till university as a part-time technician in computer shops, selling self-build computers from home, etc.

While in UK, he saw cybercafes as a booming industry and dreamt of owning such a business one day.

But now, he his staring at the stark possibility of having to close down his business with debts of bank loans near to RM1 million – all because a licence is required to run such a business.

Back in 2002, when he started with 30 computers in his hometown, he took him more than a year to get a licence to operate the business. Why the one-year wait?

J explained in his email:

“because in bolehland if you don’t pay those people, they can’t sign the papers to approve anything. even though you have followed all the guidelines and rules and regulations.

“i had no choice but to pay RM2000 to get an approval after waiting for a year for a license which only cost RM280, at the same time there were also others exploiting these cybercafe license to be used as gambling outlets.

“for the past 5 years those people who misuse the license for gambling industry got more and more license with them to open multiple outlets in entire state while i struggled just to get my only one license to run a completely healthy business.

“my parents have advice me never ever get into illegal business, for this i even paid up for all the copyright license such as Microsoft, Blizzard, EA and so on. which cost more than 4-5k a month on installment plan in yearly basis. but then to get a RM280 town council business license was a nightmare.

“over the years, i expanded my business from 1 outlet to 3 outlets with more than 250 computers, but getting the license to operate such business was on going issue. from RM2000 coffee money to get a license approved the price tag when up as high as RM15000.

“even after paying i never got my license then. and it got delayed from day to day…”

J also poured his heart out about his other nightmares in the cybercafe business:

“next my nightmares started one of my outlet was raided for not having entertainment license and charged in court with computers taken away by the corrupted cops asking for cash and high end computers as settlement. and god knows if the computers are still in one piece after so long.

“till today DPP still insist that i should be be charged under the entertainment license act even after the YDP has given press statement that cybercafes do not require entertainment license but only business license where i was advice by a license issuing officer …that they (the police) can only compound for such case with maximum fine of RM2000 and have the no right to take my computers away. I’m still fighting for it but again god knows when its gonna end as the police has taken similar action against other outlet owners and they plead guilty on the charges and carry on with business. some of them did this in hurry hoping that they could get back their computers faster and run business as usual.

“later to find out, they only got back empty computer casing with all the internal components removed.

“last 3 weeks more and more such raids are taking place … police are going all out to shutdown such outlets. i was given warning as well.”

Lamenting that “its the end of the road for me”, he cried out in protest:

“bolehland is now more corrupted then ever. when the police run out of gambling outlets to collect their pocket money, we cybercafe owners are victimised…

“Bigger cafe owners …are spared, may be they have more cash to spare to pay off the police and town council to avoid raids. small outlets are victimised to show that they are doing their job.

“its very unfair with the government not taking full action. if this industry is illegal then cybercafes in the entire country should be wiped out.

“we have set our own rules and regulations to keep this industry healthy. but if the government says its illegal they should make a public announcement to shut down this industry.

“bolehand technology industry is going down the drain, comparing this industry with other countries such Singapore, Taiwan, China, Korea etc.

“YB, I’m almost at end of the road. at the age of 30 i think i picked the wrong country to live and grow by doing business and earn a living. i hope you can highlight this matter.

“i find its very hard to fight for rights in this country. any business which the bumiputera’s can’t venture into big time means illegal in bolehland.

“please advice.”

I have omitted or deleted references which identified the location of the cybercafe, the town council, state and federal authorities involved. Should the location, town council, state and federal authorities involved be fully identified?

How can you and I help J. Should J fight or succumb to the corrupt system?

In my reply to J, I suggested that he be a “public test case of how law-abiding cybercafe operators are to survive in corrupt and busines-unfriendly atmosphere (which extends to all small businesses as well) and to drive home the point that local, state and federal govts have responsibility to assist and facilitate such businesses rather than to hamper, smother and kill them off”.

Do you think J should go public and are you prepared to give every help to secure blog and public support to make it into a “cause celebre” not only for J but also the many silent victims in his shoes in all businesses in the country?

  1. #1 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 12:16 pm

    What does a cyber cafe operator do to survive in corruption rife Malaysia?

    He doesn’t! He just pack his bags and go shopping when the going gets tough – in distant shores.

    [With the greatest respect, this is no joke or laughing matter. Kit]

  2. #2 by k1980 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 12:21 pm

    It used to be the triads which went around collecting ‘protection’ money–now it is the policemen’s turn. After paying RM2,000 coffee money to get a RM280 license, and it was still not approved can only mean one thing: even more coffee(starbucks?) money is required. With municipal council heads like Kayveas’ good ‘friend’ Abd Kudus around, it is going to be even more difficult for non-bumis to make an honest living in this corrupt country

  3. #3 by negarawan on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 12:31 pm

    It is within J’s rights to take legal action against the police if he thinks he has a valid case, unless he has something to hide himself

  4. #4 by kktan9812 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 12:49 pm

    My deepest sympathy to J problem. With all the cybercafe booming around the country who knows of such problems the owners facing behind. The country is too corrupted to the core.

    Worse is seeing how BN buying votes through giving land titles, promises of development projects and etc. Isn’t that bribery as well. I’m trully disgusted by their way of winning votes.

    I don’t know about the other Malaysian working oversea. But as for me. Although I’m working in Australia now, I will still go back to Malaysia during the general election and vote for the DAP instead of $%^&* BN.

  5. #5 by izrafeil on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 1:05 pm

    Uncle Kit,
    I have a friend operating a small wine shop, he lamented the needs to grease officials (incidentally, they are by and large MALAYS and PROFESSED MUSLIMS) at a) hari raya time, b) renewal license time c) spot check time. All this factored into and pass-on to his clients. He says he get good co-operations from these officials but need to play their game!!

  6. #6 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 1:30 pm

    Well Kit,

    A little humor doesn’t hurt.

    My point is there is nothing anybody can do to help him. Clearly he has made the wrong choices. The wall of corruption that one faces is a wall that has taken many years in the making.

    The only way to dismantle this wall is to work to change the government.

    That having been said, I can see the resilience shown by the complainant. My advice is he should now use that resilience to help himself.

    There are many like him and from all races and all levels of society. The evil that corruption is does not pick and choose its victim.

  7. #7 by harbx on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 1:35 pm

    YB, I am in favour of having all the names of the council, etc published and made known to the public.

    If you can’t survive with a clean and healthy business – then what is the point of doing business at all if you must turn to the illegal side to get things done?

  8. #8 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 1:39 pm

    “Do you think J should go public …?”

    If ‘going public’ means going around with a bull horn and a soap box the way Anwar Ibrahim did at Speakers’ Corner when he was an undergrad, it is not going to bring the wall of corruption down.

    But if together we huff and puff we may be able to bring the house down! We do that through the electoral process. We vote for change with our feet.

  9. #9 by sotong on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 1:46 pm

    The government had misplaced its priority. The focus is on projects and programs that would benefit the party and politicians irrespective of its impact and consequences on the country and her ordinary people.

    Instead of spending billions on building ” white elephants “, space program, sport centre o/seas, defence and more…..why not spend on increasing the salary of civil servants, improve efficiency, job satisfaction & security and increase their standard of living.

  10. #10 by ahkok1982 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 2:36 pm

    All throughout his story, I can only c tt he did one single mistake which is believing in e illusion tt BodohLand is a country under e rule of law. Just ask urself, who controls e customs, police, army, judges, every single gov office?
    it doesnt matter if u followed procedures, paid all ur dues, bought licenses, abide to copyright… wat matters most in this paying coffee money.
    no license like khir toyol’s satay stall? no problem… juz pay off e police…
    no copyright license? no problem… go take a look at gov offices, they are also using unlicensed softwares…
    get raided? dont worry, their main purpose is not to catch you without a license, doing anything illegal or breaking the law. they just wan coffee money.

    I wont say tt ur main mistake is coming back to start a business in malaysia… there r many businesses which thrives in this stupid country. I would say tt ur main mistake was not knowing how to do business in this country.
    I will salute u for wanting to abide by e law but then if tt is wat u wanna do no matter wat, but then u should also b able to find a better country which professes tt they abide by e rule of law n actually stick to it. sorry to say, in this stupid country, they can say one thing today and change it tomorrow citing tt they were misquoted. or suppressing someone else’s promises to u.
    so in e end, kudos for u to b brave enough to fight on for a living but then u made a wrong business choice. e f-ed up system is not ur fault but it would b ur fault not being able to detect it before pouring ur money into business here.

  11. #11 by meejawa on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 3:00 pm

    We all know that there is no such thing as separation of powers here. The democracy that we drum everyday are based exactly on that, yet it’s what’s lacking.

    As long as we have judiciary “put under” executives, i.e. by ways of putting all the judiciary personnel as civil servants, no matter how strong the legislative is, it’s useless. From the police who harass the rakyats, to the judge who decides who’s right and wrong (with hands tied by politicians), how on this forsaken land can we expect justice no matter what we do? Anwar Ibrahim is case in point. The whole food chain is controlled by the few.

    Granted, I do agree there are people who want, and are standing up to these injustice within the 3 branches, but as long as we do not wake up and have an enough collective mass to force changes, all we can do is rant and complain.

    Kit, while I was going through past newspaper clippings earlier, I saw in NST that there’s a call from the judiciary branch to have them totally separated from executive, i.e. they should not be on government’s payroll. What happened to that? If we can have a totally independent court, then we at lease will level the playing field a bit.

  12. #12 by Libra2 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 3:12 pm

    I believe 100% all that J had written.
    If he had taken a MCA or UMNO leader to be his partner, then things would have been different. In this country, it is who you know, not what you do.
    The police can make an illegal activity legal and an legal activity illegal.
    The Malaysian police here are the largest secret society gang in the country with licence to boot. What can law abiding citizens do then?
    The unfortunate thing is, no one in MCA or a BN party will bother to help J. It is this apathy from non Malays that we have reached such a rotten stage.
    In the final analysis it was we, the citizens, who have been breeding these ugly civil service, police and politicians buy voting for BN.
    I know of many Chinese businessman who are more than happy to bribe Malay civil servants. They detest dealing with clean and honest ones.
    I accompanied one Chinese friend of mine to a Malay civil servant’s house for Hari Raya. He was a licencing officer.
    Every single Chinaman gave him ang paus right at the door step.
    When I asked my friend why he they had give him “ang pau”, he replied,
    “He is a very nice man and very helpful. He is the easiest to deal with in the municipality. He is efficient and we Chinese like him !”.
    My estimate was he could have collected a few thousand ringgit that night.
    Now who do we blame!

  13. #13 by dawsheng on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 3:17 pm

    Sound familiar. I am in the entertainment industry, so called. I had apllied for two licenses, one is a liquor license, which I got it approved after nine months, wihout any corruption whatsoever. During the nine months wait, I did not sell any liquor as the regulation said so, but I was being naived. Another license, which is the entertainment license for live band and DJ performances hasn’t been approved after two years, this was after many trips made to see relevent officers to clarify things, is fortunate to find out that they still have my file.

    I have been given all sorts of excuses, I have been avoided, and I seriuously consider myself stupid for being law abiding citizen. Many friends and people I met, whether or not chinese, malay or indian, the only advice i got from them is “undertable” for fast clearences. I refused and now I swallowed everything down telling myself you cannot be law abiding citizen doing business in Malaysia. I am thinking of leaving but I thought I’d say a few words before I go.

    My advice to J is learn from the experiences, indeed it is very expensive lessons, trust me I know. An I think it is very brave for you to voice out.

  14. #14 by dawsheng on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 4:05 pm

    For a while, I resented the govt for the blunders that I’m in, clearly they were at faults. But in business is either you win or you lose, fair if is because of competition, miscalculation and mistakes, weaknesses etc., but heartbroken when it is your own govt tht brought you down for not giving you licenses like how it should be given, then extorts you in between. When corruption has became a way of life, being law abiding is like a joke.

  15. #15 by devilmaster on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 4:05 pm

    Should the location, town council, state and federal authorities involved be fully identified? – LKS

    Yes! They should be identified. What’s wrong in identifying them?

  16. #16 by grace on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 4:37 pm

    I have a friend who is in the same dilema. He was dead honest-no hanky panky. But due to some other dubious dealings by other people in the same trade, he was bundledtogether with them. Every month, the police or enforce,ent officers would come to ask for coffee mony. Fed up of all these, he folded up.
    Now he is doing some online sale.

    Guess nothing that we can do! I believe this corruption is in the system.

    Mr. Lim and co. should know it better. They have been fighting it in and out of parliament but to no avail.
    To all Ijok voters, take note of our stinking system. VOTE FOR THE OPPOSITION!

  17. #17 by Richard Teo on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 5:01 pm

    Dear Frens,
    This is not only happening to cyber cafe business.Its the same for all type of business.Every govt dept is the same. they deliberately delay your application and force you to pay under table money to expedite your application.Corruption is so endemic that every civil servant is thinking about making a quick buck and if you dont pay you just dont do business.The situation is getting from bad to worse.In Seremban , a relative of mine applied for a mining sand licence on his own property. Its already four years now and the application is still pending.

  18. #18 by K S Ong on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 5:15 pm

    Sorry to say, by fighting it out you might win the battle but not the war. Simply because there are so many ways to cause trouble to a business that an honest businessman will be harassed until he decides to give up.

    A commercial vehicle owner has to have his vehicle inspected twice a year. After complaining and had his vehicle successfully re-inspected with officials from headquarters, the following year, he was back paying some Rm250 to avoid the hassle. This is just an inspection. Can you imagine a cybercafe or coffeeshop where it is open almost everyday? Even after paying money, others will turn up and try their luck.

  19. #19 by Richard Teo on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 5:21 pm

    In other countries the civil service render you every assistance when you want to start a business.Here the civil service provide every obstacles to make it very difficult for you to do business.Then they pretend to help expedite your application if you pay them. Thats how doing business in Malaysia works.Its really sickening.

  20. #20 by Godfather on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 5:37 pm

    You people are so naive. In Bolehland, it does not pay to follow the law to the letter. If you follow the law to the letter, the authorities won’t believe you anyway, and all you get is grief and hassle. If you don’t follow the law to the letter, you make bigger profits, and your business can withstand bigger levies from the corrupt officials. That’s what they want you to do. Original software that costs 10 times the imitation stuff ? Who uses original stuff in Bolehland ?

    Who makes and distributes the illegal DVDs that are now world famous ? How come illegal aliens plying the world’s oldest profession are still going strong in Bolehland ? The system is corrupt to the core, and feeds on corrupt and illegal activities. If everybody goes on the straight and narrow, where does the system get its insatiable fix for duit kopi ?

  21. #21 by kurakura on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 6:36 pm

    Even after obtaining the licence, the birbery doesnt stop.

    Still have to bribe the police or the will harass ur customers by checking ID all the time.
    In some states where there are rules to say that entertainment outlets are to be closed at certain times, they have to bribe the town council people as most cyber cafes have a large bulk of their customers after 10pm.

    As someone mentioned..this happens to all businesses……
    eg: mamak stalls that put their tables on the roads.

    One will have to be really silly to think that the Johor IDR will be a success.

  22. #22 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 6:53 pm

    “Kit, while I was going through past newspaper clippings earlier, I saw in NST that there’s a call from the judiciary branch to have them totally separated from executive, i.e. they should not be on government’s payroll.”

    The entire civil service is ‘taxpayer maintained’ and dare I say ‘taxpayer accountable’. It is not about who pays.

    Speaking of the doctrine of ‘separation of powers’ the Malaysian parliamentary system is more about ‘overlapping’ rather than ‘separation of powers’. It works in good old England the birthplace of the Westminster system of Parliamentary Democracy. And in England they don’t even have a written constitution. They even have a monarchy for the last one thousand years. But you don’t see members of the royalty gatecrashing private parties, imposing themselves on wives of others, assaulting some, hitting their caddies with their golf sticks or chasing after pirates.

    Be it a U.S. presidential style of government grounded as it is firmly on the doctrine of separation of powers, or a constitutional monarchy based on the Westminster style of government, they will find a way to mess things up. Why not?? It pays to get things messed up.

    I can give you the best and fastest racing car in the world there is but you’re not gonna win any race if you keep breaking the rules. How would changing the paymaster to your mechanics make the car run faster when the driver is intent upon breaking every rule in the book??

  23. #23 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 7:03 pm

    Back to the issue of corruption and how being a part of a corrupt culture has not helped the complaint to survive and prosper.

    Focusing public attention on his plight and his problems will not help but create more problems for him. It is not like the MCA would shower him with offers of contracts or the banks forgiving the massive debts he had chalked up just to maintain his business – or Bill Gates talking to him about a job with Microsoft.

    The residents of Machap had it good both ways – and to a great extent, it is due to the work of opposition parties. But we should not expect the same to happen to the complainant.

  24. #24 by oster on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 7:39 pm

    Booming cybercafe trade in the UK? Which UK are we talking about?

    In any case, while I agree bureaucratic bungling always hurts commerce, I must say as someone with a business academic background he should have taken into account the risk of delays knowing full well how things work here.

    So the lesson here is effiiciency should always be the main priority of government agencies, but businesses should also be more adept at taking into acocunt the risk associated with slugging it out with our monolithic bureaucracy.


  25. #25 by oster on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 7:41 pm

    To add to my previous comment, get an MP3 recorder in your hands and meet these officials. Try to get them into saying something incriminating like an insinuation for a bribe


  26. #26 by slashed on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 7:45 pm

    I think the a solution to most of our problems would be a free press. There is a reason why some regard the Press as the Fourth Estate (besides parliament, the judiciary and the executive in relation to power checking). IMO in countries like the UK or the US, the free press, a market led industry, is the best and most efficient way to stem corruption.

    All the time in the UK, the newspapers carry out their own investigations. They have the interest to do so, as scandals = interest = money. This is the drive that the ACA or any anti corruption agencies lack. Additionally, the investigations by newspapers itself creates a more efficient use of anti-corruption agencies’ resources since the media had already done half the work. Take the ‘cash for honors’ scandal taking the UK by storm – it was started by a newspaper, which led to Scotland Yard investigations. Now a close aid of Blair is in trouble.

    There may be fears that these investigations may be intrusive or lead to allegations that are in reality wrong; but if you are a clean politician, there is nothing to fear, and if what they say is untrue, you should not be afraid to take them to court! The last thing a market-led free press would want is a bad record! Thus free speech and press regulates itself.

    In order to beat the BN machinery, one must tackle the issues in a structured and strategic matter. Dismantling it one piece at a time. It is useless to merely highlight issues such as corruption etc. Freeing the press is the first key step and at the moment should be at the heart of all discussions.

  27. #27 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 8:57 pm

    I was told by some UMNO acquaintance that he and his band of brothers go around offering to get such cyber-cafe licences for a fee to those who want it.

    Same thing too for ‘massage parlour’ licences, pasar malam licences, etc. etc. etc.

    Then, certain licences require Fire Dept approvals(Hey, Ong Ka Ting, please open yr eyes!) besides municipal approvals. Every new licensing required creates another new layer for bribery and greasing of palms to smoothen the bumpy road to business success.

    If u add all these burdens to the costs of doing business, many hardworking, decent ordinary folks are just scraping to make ends meet.

    This is why we must chnage this bloody sick government. I think all of us must be so outraged that we really want change and let such explosive desires in us drive us to make things happen & get voters to vote for change.

    Otherwise, we might just end up having to join Raja Petra Kamaruddin and (quote) say: ‘I am mad, fucking mad’!!!

  28. #28 by raven77 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 8:59 pm

    In Malaysia…LICENCE=RED TAPE=BUREAUCRACY=CORRUPTION. Remove licence, hopefully no corruption. Dear LKS, hope next time all these ministries come to parliment wanting to impose new regulations etc to licence buisnesses….beware…for many more Js will suffer

  29. #29 by bonjourmsia on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 9:37 pm

    This is so not a new thing to most malaysian. If you ever applied for a driving license, remember the extra ‘processing fees’ you need to pay to get your license?

  30. #30 by japankiller on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 9:44 pm

    Paying that much money for the corruption why not hire a good lawyer like Karpal Singh to fight for your property?

    If you start paying them money will ask for more, never be to stupid that they will not come back to you.

  31. #31 by HCAK99 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 9:48 pm

    YES! I think they should be identified.

  32. #32 by dawsheng on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 10:20 pm

    “I wont say tt ur main mistake is coming back to start a business in malaysia…” ahkok1982 said.

    Truth hurts…

  33. #33 by dawsheng on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 10:28 pm

    “there r many businesses which thrives in this stupid country.” ahkok1982 continue.. “I would say tt ur main mistake was not knowing how to do business in this country.”

    Not all people are corrupt I guess, and at the same time many aren’t law abiding citizens. Does it mean that you have to be corrupt to be succesful in this country?

  34. #34 by bbtan on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 10:37 pm

    In this country the Chinese, and even the pork dealers, are expected to give bribes when doing business. At the same time they must be mca-protected.

  35. #35 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 10:45 pm

    “He had paid for his entire studies right from local college to university in UK, working since in high school till university as a part-time technician in computer shops, selling self-build computers from home, etc.”

    If this is not a demonstration of ‘resilience’ I do not know what is. You may be at wit’s end but you need to know that in Malaysia the cost of doing business be it for the locals or for the foreign businessmen is fast skyrocketing. It is all about economics.

    Obviously and with the benefit of hindsight, your major blunder is in returning to Malaysia especially when she did not help you in getting your education.

    If honesty is your best quality, perhaps you should consider joining the Canadian police on horseback. There are a few Malaysians in that unit of the Canadian police. Seriously, consider migrating to Canada. It is easy to do so with your age and education. A friend with an IT background uprooted his entire family about ten years ago and moved over to Canada. He is still over there managing his own sandwich bar somewhere in Vancouver.

    You cannot continue greasing the palms of public officials without losing your sense of integrity.

    You’d do better in law and law enforcement.

  36. #36 by paulang on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 11:17 pm

    sad..sad…chinese is only valuable when there is by-election or election and the so call “valuable” will be disappear for another 10years down the road!!!.

    PLease !! dont compare tis Bolehland with other countries as there is nothing u can compare of.

    Dont talk about what is fair and unfair in Malaysia but just ask yr self a question…why chinese is not joining army, police force, politicial or even every family have more than 10 children per househole to increase our polution balance is this bolehland ???

    Well J case is not an new issues happen in chinse business communities, believe or not; to tell the truth is always difficult to hear but i m telling a fact.

    No agreed with me than ask yrself a question how much u know about malaysia politics, right and ……………

  37. #37 by toyolbuster on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 11:39 pm

    How can J be law-abiding if he had offered bribes.

  38. #38 by smeagroo on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 11:52 pm

    i once used to work for a cousin of mine and we deal directly with many govt agencies including universities and hospitals. Since I was only an employee I take orders from him. We have to practically offer bribe to secure deals if not it will go to another company who does. I questioned him on this and he said it is a normal thing to do. End of the day the costs will be passed on to the govt and the govt will use the rakyat’s money to pay for it. He told me this very important thing in this business, “we are not afraid of offering goodies but we are more afraid if there are no one asking”. Meaning to say, some who are on the take are afraid to ask and thus this would deprive us of business. I have sinced quit and started on my own. But of cos my business failed as I couldnt offer what others are doing. To deal with the govt firstly, you have to have the right connections, you have to be a bumiputera company, you have to offer bribes. To succeed, you have to stoop to their level. If one wants to be an honest trader, I doubt one can really go far especailly when you are dealing with the govt.

    And dont expect the PM to symphatize with you my friend. If he has yet to do anything since he took office, he is part of the problem and thus encouraging it.

  39. #39 by toyolbuster on Thursday, 26 April 2007 - 11:53 pm

    I am in the same predicament as J, perhaps worse, but I don’t bribe. I was stopped once at a speed trap roadblock in a small rural town with a 60km speed limit. I told the cop that he can’t charge me cos I was driving at 55kph. He said “no, we are stopping you for not wearing a seatbelt”. I said whats this that I am wearing. He said earlier I wasn’t wearing it. I took the summon cos there was no point arguing when it was obvious they were trying to “rob” me. By the way J, I used to own a bigger business concern, some BIG shots (you will know who if I mention them) came to ask me for a share in the business in exchange for “protection”. I told them to F off politely and true enough, they sent people to harrass me. I closed down the business not because I had to, cos I had a license to operate legally, but it wasn’t worth it.

  40. #40 by int on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 12:37 am

    I’ve been led to believe that the cybercafe business is actually one of the dirtiest in the country. The cybercafe software “licensing” scheme is even more corrupt than the local authorities redtape, with certain (non-bumiputra) kingpins holding monopoly rights basically acting like gangsters and abusing government enforcement agencies as their own personal enforcers. And yes, cybercafes basically have to use licensed software, or the kingpins will nail you.

    Depending on politics and how much resolve J really has… it may be worthwhile for J to blow the whistle, provided he can implicate private non-Malay entities who are using government enforcement agencies as their own enforcers; i.e. split the vested interests so there won’t just be a straight-forward cover-up.

    dawsheng: “Does it mean that you have to be corrupt to be succesful in this country?”
    No, but if you want to be in business then you have to be succesful. Just makan gaji, no problem, you can live in a bubble completely isolated from the government.

  41. #41 by kurakura on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 3:03 am

    Anyone betting on the success of Johor’s IDR?

  42. #42 by undergrad2 on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 5:48 am

    HORNBILL:”Otherwise, we might just end up having to join Raja Petra Kamaruddin and (quote) say: ‘I am mad, fucking mad’!!!”

    I am not sure which is better – to be fucking mad or to be mad fucking!

    Both ways we’re still mad I suppose. But let’s not put ourselves in straight jackets. We have a job to do and a very important one i.e. to unseat the national coalition at any cost at both state and federal.

  43. #43 by ILUVPJ on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 7:26 am

    I pity J for his naiveness of venturing into the malaysian business
    world without got himself prior protected by the various powers.

    I advise all those interested to set up their “service line’ business,such as restaurant, cafes, reflexology and the like, to pay ‘duit perkenalan’first to the local enforcement heads of the day
    and also promised monthly contribution.

    If you are not prepared to toe the rule of the day,then forget the idea of setting up your business.

    I learned this in the 8 months sting as a cafe owner somewhere near yb’s office . During the 8 month,they put my cook in jail for 7 days for no reason given and slapped me with Rm 1000 compound for displaying “worldcup banner’ ,just because I did not see anybody prior to the commencement of my business. I wound up my business in 2006 and left with Rm100,000 debt.
    to wound-up my business

  44. #44 by pamelaoda on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 8:15 am

    I would like to share this piece of news and let you guys to decide.

    I used to live in Jln Gurney 2 The Palladium Off Jln Tun Razak KL, corner unit and my neighbour is a stand alone bungalow (very near to us maybe 20 yards away). One day suddenly this bungalow has been turned into a bistro cum cafe cum restaurant um entertainment outlet. Terrace had been extended to about 10 yards away from our apartment with a projector hung from roof to the floor jus tin time for the world cup. The rest of the havoc, you can imagine. Despite complaint from us and other surrounding neigbours to DBKL and Sentul police, nothing has been done!

    I just cannot imagine how this foreigner (owner is middle eastern) could manage to get his license to run his biz till 4-5 am in a quiet neighbourhood..Why DBKL and the police do not action on it? I can only tink of bribery!

  45. #45 by undergrad2 on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 9:56 am


    These Middle Easterns have lots of money to launder. You see them in businesses with high turnover, low overheads and above normal profit margins. That means businesses such as nightclubs, karaokes, prostitution and illegal gambling. You don’t see them though you could feel their presence.

    Proceeds from such activities are then invested in businesses which are ‘halal’ like hotels. That way money made through illegal and non-halal ways become ‘halal’. God is then please.

  46. #46 by EggNoodles on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 11:30 am

    I know that this country is corrupt to the core and many of its citizens are rotten to the core (these ugly people are always thinking of making a fortune by whatever means they can use) but have never been able to imagine to what extent the corruption in the public sector can be.

    I had always been dreaming of running a cybercafe with a clean, innovative business 11 years from now on, the time when I’ll retire from the public service. Only after reading about J’s shocking relevation do I realize that doing business is not as easy and simple as what I had imagined before.

    Now I think it is not a good idea to think of starting any business in this country. Now what obsesses me is how to have enough money and live quietly in a Western country.

    I realize that the majority of the citizens of this country won’t vote out the ruling party so the deteriorating condition will continue for another 50 years or more. They think that the ruling party is much better than the opposition but ignore the fact that they should also think about the future of their descendants.

  47. #47 by edmondyjh on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 12:40 pm

    Well, in the bolehland..everything is possible through $$$…juz that to solve the problem, we gotta take our manners in a polite way, and node our heads…after through mutual discussion and understanding, they will sure give the license to you…

  48. #48 by dawsheng on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 1:09 pm

    “The only way to dismantle this wall is to work to change the government.” undergrad2

    I agree totally, this is the only way to help J’s and me and many others who is in the same boat. I wouldn’t advice J to migrate though, I would ask him to stay back and fight. If J left, who is going to support DAP and the opposition? BN is getting weaker so every vote counts, bring down BN and the culture of corruption so honest folks can earn a living doing business in Malaysia.

    I’d like to share a book I recently came across and good for ref and to have better understanding of man, economy & state; which is the title btw, by Murray N. Rothbard. here’s a link where you can read the full text online

    Cheer up J, with DAP and other oppositions, we can bring a better future for Malaysia.

  49. #49 by ahkok1982 on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 3:31 pm

    to dawsheng,

    I would say yes, in order to be successful in business in this country, u would hav to b corrupt too. sad but true.
    every country has a different system n culture of doing business.
    for example:
    in china or japan, u would hav to first build good relations w ur customers before business can start…. out of 10 business meetings, 9 will b at e pub w only 1 in e office.
    in US, if u ask them to go drinking before talking about business, u can say goodbye to doing business w them cuz they wont take u seriously anymore. to them, business first, PR later.
    i am saying this out of experience.
    in malaysia, u don need PR u don need good business proposal, all u need is $ to greese palms. ask any successful businessmen. if they tell u tt they hav nvr ever bribed any official or they don hav any relations w ppl in power before their success, then i will say tt u found a v lucky person. shake his hand n go buy 4D.

  50. #50 by dawsheng on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 4:34 pm

    Thanks for the enlightenment ahkok1982, you are such a inspiration.

  51. #51 by undergrad2 on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 7:08 pm

    “I wouldn’t advice J to migrate though, I would ask him to stay back and fight. If J left, who is going to support DAP and the opposition?” dawsheng

    True. But the question is what he should do for himself. He is as he says at wit’s end and is at a loss of what to do. It would be nice if he were to stay back and vote for the GE and help dismantle the wall of corruption that he finds so difficult to penetrate.

  52. #52 by undergrad2 on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 7:14 pm


    You’re astute in your observation of differences in culture and their impact on the way business is done.

  53. #53 by dawsheng on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 7:49 pm

    “True. But the question is what he should do for himself. He is as he says at wit’s end and is at a loss of what to do.” undergrad2

    That’s why he wrote to Uncle Kit and help is offered, whether he take it or not is up to J entirely. He could have done many things but of all things why write to Uncle Kit? Why didn’t he write to Ong Ka Ting or Lim Kheng Yeik?

  54. #54 by undergrad2 on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 11:19 pm

    Good question.

    May be he did – and nothing happened. I appreciate Kit wanting to sample the opinion of readers on his blog to try and see what could be done for him and those like him.

    Having said that I’m not sure what Kit has in mind when he said:

    “Do you think J should go public … make it into a “cause celebre” not only for J but also the many silent victims in his shoes in all businesses in the country?”

    The best way to help is not by focusing public attention to his plight but to use any connections the DAP has over corporate leaders within the community to provide the much needed business to keep him afloat. Public airing of his plight may win votes for DAP but solves nothing for him. On the other hand, it may backfire and he may end up losing whatever business he still has.

  55. #55 by undergrad2 on Friday, 27 April 2007 - 11:23 pm

    Kit’s statement:

    “How can you and I help J. Should J fight or succumb to the corrupt system?

    is clearly rhetorical. One man cannot change the entire system of doing business.

  56. #56 by bbtan on Saturday, 28 April 2007 - 1:13 am

    undergrad2 said:
    “…use any connection the DAP has over corporate leaders within the community…”
    What corporate leaders within the community? Dont you know that they are all mca-protected?

  57. #57 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 28 April 2007 - 2:45 am

    True. But this is not about politics but about a business which is going under unless the operator gets help immediately. The complainant would do well not to have politicized the issue of assistance. He contributed to his own problems by doing so.

    Maybe he did approach the MCA but he could not wait and so he took his problem to the next best party to help air his plight – DAP.

    The DAP leadership may want to make political capital out of this, but if it is sincere about his welfare he should be left alone for the time being, so he could go back to knocking on MCA doors.

  58. #58 by dawsheng on Saturday, 28 April 2007 - 2:53 am

    What corporate leaders within the community? Dont you know that they are all mca-protected? bbtan said.

    So how do you think MCA can help J since corporate leaders are MCA protected? Joining MCA is probably J’s best chance now.

  59. #59 by accountability on Saturday, 28 April 2007 - 4:25 am

    as Mahathir himself said, corruption in this country has reached a point of no return…

    – simply because our system is already corrupt to the core, all the way up to the ministers who run our govt

    all no thanks to our racist policies and so-called BN component parties like MCA & MIC who betray the people for their own interests

    – not to forget the blinking fools like those in machap & batu talam who keep voting them back into power

  60. #60 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 28 April 2007 - 8:16 am

    But it was giving him returns when he was PM!?

  61. #61 by dawsheng on Saturday, 28 April 2007 - 12:33 pm

    “The DAP leadership may want to make political capital out of this, but if it is sincere about his welfare he should be left alone for the time being, so he could go back to knocking on MCA doors.” undergrad2

    So it is high time DAP change its strategies when dealing with issues concerning law abiding citizen like J, making his plight public is not a good idea after all. Maybe a committee made up of successful and experience businessman among DAP leaders should be set up to provide affirmative assistance. This way DAP also will gain supports and followers, and of course, this is the most sincere way to help us.

  62. #62 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 28 April 2007 - 7:51 pm

    Yes, dawsheng I am with you.

    Kit is a visionary leader, but with all due respect, he is also a leader who sometimes loses touch with the complexities of living in the present and the real world. It is a mistake visionary leaders make all the time.

    Mahathir was a visionary leader who towards the end could not understand why many Malays were giving up on him.

  63. #63 by livinginusa on Monday, 30 April 2007 - 12:06 am

    I sympathised with J. My business is suffering the same fate. I ran a diesel distribution business. The corruption and illegal trade of subsidized diesel is penalizing the honest business men and women. When I reported to government trade official and oil companies, they pretty much “laughed” at my face. Some hinted I was “stupid” for not taking advantage of the subsidized diesel profiteering. How could I? I believe in rules and regularations. I would like the next generation to benefit, and a fair and encouraging nation for entrepreneurs. Otherwise, our country will never progress. Sad to say, over the recent years, corruption is more rampant and open in our so called Bolehland.

    I have given up my dream in Bolehland and packing. It is very tough to be an honest citizen in this rich, beautiful, wonderful multicultural but corrupted nation.

  64. #64 by Billy on Monday, 30 April 2007 - 11:49 am

    Although I respect the rights of everyone in this blog either to stay put in this country or to migrate, most importantly, will things be better off for us in that foreign country. At least here, we can stay and fight although sometimes the situation may appear hopeless. We have people like Kit fighting the battle for us. The least we can do is to stay and back him and his party up otherwise it would be all for nothing. Many Muslims around the world thought at one time it would be heaven to migrate to western countries because of the strict Islamic laws imposed by their own governments. Not too long ago, there were boat loads of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis [read Muslims) who even by-passed Malaysia [a Muslim country] and preferred to take their chances in Australia. An unfortunate incident like 9/11 changed the attitude of some of this western countries and now the Muslim immigrants are at the receiving end of religious discriminations. Are these immigrants, legal or otherwise, asking themselves whether they have made the right choice? What happens if something similar happen to us, say a severe diplomatic fall out between Australia and Malaysia, would we then ask ourselves did we also make the right choice? I totally agree this country is all screwed up and our leaders are paralysed in arresting the many problems. But if we were to leave, it would mean one vote less which means entrenching this corrupt government further in making our lives miserable.

    Incidentally, let us not confine the corrupt problems faced only by non-Malays. I have some close Malay business friends (non-NEP beneficiaries) who were also intimidated by the little Napoleons
    at the various government offices to get their licences or other applications through. They are so pissed off that they complained that it was so hard to make a living in this country.

    So guys before you migrate, let us remind ourselves that we are still Malaysians no matter what demeaning terms those UMNO morons used on us, and Malaysia is our home – period. The just concluded Ijok by-election was a good indicator of how multiracialism transcended politics and it even at times came to a physical boil with Indians vs Indians and Malays vs Malays. Unlike past elections, the political divide is now becoming blur which is good.

  65. #65 by tonton macoute on Tuesday, 1 May 2007 - 11:52 pm

    I have a malay friend who had his premises illegally taken over by this Pakistani who operates a roti boom and naan outlet opposite the 711 in Ampang Jaya. He went and reported the matter to MPAJ. Although he was asked to put his complaint in writing by one Dr. Lady who is the Department Head in MPAJ, after writing in nothing has been done and his reminder letters were ignored. More than a year has passed and no action. This Dr. Lady in MPAJ even refused to see him.

  66. #66 by jack76 on Wednesday, 2 May 2007 - 7:32 am

    I share the sentiment of J, as im also a cc owner. My area recently was raided by the municipal ppl and we were slap with a 25k fine on all the cc operator here because we do not have any license to operate. Its not that we do not want to get the license(which cost around 20k + kopi), ive submitted all my required document and follow every single rule they have but yet they were pending my license for the past 9months.

    Each time i go and check on the license with their dept head, he will say they are still waitin approval from the police n etc. I find it ridiculous that govt only allow business owner like us to wait for their ‘never-ending’ process of license then only let us start our business, dont they understand we need to pay our monthly rental & license fee as well? Finally a week ago, they approved my license after i settle the summon (which they gave me a receipt of 2k instead of 25k, but i had to pay another 3k for them kopi) and now they are asking another 5k fee for the signature of the people involve in issueing the license. I know its wrong for me to bribe, but ive already invested so much money on it and do not wish to see everything gone.

    This is not the only problem, the local head of police is also another one as he is threatening me to issue me saman every week & bring my customer back to balai if i do not pay him monthly allowance & a brand new laptop. I really agree with J, if the govt doesnt support the cc please come out with an announcement for it. Really sad to see all this people who is suppose to protect us but they are now the actual gangster in real life.

  67. #67 by pamelaoda on Wednesday, 2 May 2007 - 9:17 am

    Jack, i have to repeat myself again, someone posted in malaysia-today accusing the chinese is the one who bought the corruption culture to ketuanan tanah melayu, so now the malay has learnt from it and further improve it la!

  68. #68 by paulang on Wednesday, 2 May 2007 - 12:14 pm

    Who said this is Tanah Malayu did u study REAL history or not

    go and ask LKS about this dont be acted like a FOOL

  69. #69 by philiphs on Friday, 4 May 2007 - 12:26 am

    I share the sentiment of J, as i WAS a cc owner. not only that, i had the same encounter with the traffic police. Added on top of that , i also have problem getting the citizenship for my kid. Malaysia Boleh …. yes to Malay , but Chinese come with extra word TAK in between.

  70. #70 by tort on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 - 12:40 pm

    I share the sentiment of J, as im also a cc owner. Those other cc owner doing the gambling already confirm law will agaist them. But how about the reall cc owner??? They trustly want to earn money and had a better life for supporting thier family. Will this cases stop them doing this kind and change other field . Staring the new life? What my opinion is —> The real , clean , no illegel…business can’t do. Why not i do other business which is no good better? Since want to be nice and clean business can’t do. Better risk my life doing other which my professinal is not allow doing business….really disappointed with our government nowaday…

    Those cc owner doing illegal , just ‘gantung’ thier license and take them to jail only…Those not illegal should not involve with cases..due to they really want do business only…Hope govenment really consider about it..Thanks.

  71. #71 by krampus on Sunday, 11 May 2008 - 9:18 am

    well, me and my buddies are planning to start this business and we are bumi company. because my friend is a malay. we been checking at those fees is not that hard. we are living in penang. but the only problem is applying for 24hrs operation system. that will be a big problem to us. we are just 23yrs old. but we been working in CC for almost a year.
    we know the law. and solution, make sure you use blocker for surfing sites. you know what i mean,
    so u be safe.

  72. #72 by JKWW on Monday, 6 October 2008 - 12:49 pm

    Hi all,
    I have seen all the posts here and I am now very scared of setting up a business in Bolehland.
    Actually I am not local and I am planning to start a small scale garment production(10~15 workers) in Johor. What I intend to do is to find a simple shophouse space to kick off. But I heard I need to apply for premise/business license. Does that mean I can’t operate until the license is approved?
    If I were to give kopi money for the license,how much kopi money is enough?
    I heard can get temporary license, is it safe?
    Can someone enlighten…Thanks.

  73. #73 by lightflyer on Thursday, 16 October 2008 - 3:58 pm

    i get alot of study from the internet of guide how to develop a healthy Cyber Cafe Outlet .

    1) there are age restricted game to certain citizen. those rules are comply to the international level, which i believe all the country is following these rules footstep.

    2) there are also Phishing & block web content programme to avoid porn or hack website.

    3) etc…..

    i believe all those info above able to help the goverment to guide the industry ….but why is not been comply ?

    my questions :

    1: i wonder why malaysia cant learn from all these knownledge ?
    2: isi’nt the goverment sector do not have internet access to get the require info ?
    3: if this is the BolehLand , why there is no progress to help the citizen to live better ? izit bcoz u drive a Porche and no money to pay for maintainanse ?

    read thru the whole comment i do not find a reason that why malaysian cannot be a honest & respectful business people. only having mumbling questions of “why is not working for the people who stand on Malaysian ground”

You must be logged in to post a comment.