Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Malaysiakini shall have a list of wealthiest politicians

Our politicians, especially from United Malays National Organisation are wealthy in our own standards. Most from the levels of ketua bahagian, timbalan ketua bahagian, ketua pemuda, ketua wanita and above can be assumed as millionaires if not multi-millionaires. Imagine if they are ministers, deputy prime minister, prime minister or their sons, daughters or son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws etc.

They can be rich or wealthy as they like even by stealing or robbing or plundering or whatever means as they are answerable to their actions hereafter. Of course, they are honest politicians, very rare in United Malays National Organisation, mostly confined in other opposition parties.

Malaysiakini could have an estimated list of wealthiest among Malaysian politicians. We have a lot of draconian acts to protect our mega robbers during office or after retirement. Therefore, the list can be very interesting even if only based by the number of houses, lands, buildings, cars or companies they own indiscreetly.

From TimesOnline.

The world's 10 wealthiest politicians

If you have been sickened by media mentions of Lord Mandelson's £2.4 million townhouse and £1 million European Union pay-off, consider that his wealth is nothing compared to the fortunes of really wealthy politicians. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger's hundreds of millions do not make our list...

1 Suleiman Kerimov - $17.5 billion
The far-right Russian senator from Dagestan struck it rich as a stakeholder in Gazprom, Russia's gas export company, and Sberbank, Eastern Europe's largest bank. Kerimov, 42, made news in 2006 when he was seriously injured after losing control of his Ferrari on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. His passenger, Playboy covergirl Tina Kandelaki, suffered minor injuries

2 Michael Bloomberg - $11.5 billion
The 66-year-old independent mayor of New York City made his billions from sales of stockmarket-tracking systems and later the Bloomberg newswire and related services after he was fired from Salomon Brothers, the investment bank, with a $10 million severance package in 1981. He has donated more than $1.4 billion to good causes and draws $1 a year for his work as mayor

3 Serge Dassault - $9.9 billion
The French aviation mogul is a member of Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, a senator, and mayor of Corbeil-Essonnes in Paris. He inherited Groupe Dassault from his father Marcel, who was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944 for his refusal to collaborate with the Nazis. In 1998, Dassault Jr. was given a two-year suspended sentence for corruption in the Agusta scandal

4 Silvio Berlusconi - $9.4 billion
Italy's larger-than-life prime minister (pictured, above) is weathering the crunch well - reportedly purchasing a 30-room neo-classical villa on Lake Maggiore and doubling the size of his Villa San Martino outside Milan. The super-magnate, who owns much of the country's media and AC Milan football club, laid the foundations of his fortune as a property developer during the late 1960s

5 Aburizal Bakri - $9.2 billion
The chief welfare minister of Indonesia inherited control of the vast Bakrie Group from his father, a partisan of Suharto. He ran into controversy in 2006 when drilling by a Bakrie-controlled oil and gas outfit allegedly triggered a mudslide which displaced thousands. He has been branded the "national avatar of government by conflict of interest" in the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

6 Rinat Akhmetov - $7.3 billion
A member of parliament for Ukraine's opposition, Rinat Akhmetov is also his country's wealthiest tycoon, with a massive coal and steel empire. Last year he founded the Foundation for Effective Governance to support economic development in Ukraine, counting Shimon Peres, the Nobel Laureate, and Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian economist, among speakers at its launch

7 Andrei Molchanov - $4 billion
The 37-year-old construction baron is a member of Russia's upper house and the adopted son of Yury Molchanov, deputy governor of St Petersburg - himself a former university colleague of Vladimir Putin. In 2005, Molchanov Jr.'s company LSR Group controversially demolished a fine 18th century barracks in St Petersburg, after it was quietly de-listed by the city authorities

8 Gleb Fetisov - $3.9 billion
The third Russian senator on our list built his fortune trading commodities in the vast Alfa Group and remains a stakeholder in Altimo, Alfa's telcoms holding company. The latter is set for "aggressive" expansion in developing markets in Asia, such as Iran and Afghanistan. Holding a doctorate in economics from Moscow State University, Fetisov maintains a low media profile

9 Kostyantin Zhevago - $3.4 billion
A member of Ukraine's parliament and aide to prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the 34-year-old oligarch began his career as finance director of the bank Finance & Credit at 19. He has since acquired a control of the latter's holding company and plans to take the bank public by 2010. Last week, Zhevago was forced to sell 20 per cent of his mining venture Ferrexpo to clear a loan from JP Morgan

10 Saad Hariri - $3.3 billion
The son and political heir of assassinated Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri leads the Future Movement parliamentary majority in Beirut and heads Saudi Oger, the family's Riyadh-based construction, banking and telecoms empire. The graduate of Georgetown University in Washington DC lives amid ultra-tight security and is said to enjoy Cuban cigars and scuba diving

EXTRA: Three super-rich politicians who don't make the list...
Arnold Schwarzenegger - $200 million-plus
Hank Paulson - $700 million-plus
John Kerry - $230 million-plus

A Land of Billionaires

I could be a billionaire in Indonesia, of course in rupiah sense. It was fun to be in Indonesia, our last vacation was in 2006, with that bundles of cash in our pockets.

And reading this article below, I could not imagine that many zeros. I am a quintillionaire. Wondering if I want to take cash from the ATMs, do I need to have a small pick-up?

In Zimbabwe, you need to have ZW$100 million to take a bus....wow everyone is a millionaire by sheer values of the notes!

Robb WJ Ellis of the blog The bearded man commented on what can be bought with the new 10 billion bill. Either three eggs, according to Reuters, or a carton of ten boxes of matches according to an email from a friend. He went on to calculate the price of each match:

The cost of a carton (10 boxes) of matches was ZW$ 210 billion.Therefore each box was ZW$ 21 billion.Each box, on the label, states that one can get, on average, 45 matchsticks per box.Therefore each match costs 466.66 dollars.Normally about 5 don’t work, so each successful light probably costs in excess of half a billion dollars.

The zeros get out of hand in Zimbabwe
Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

Published: December 22, 2008, 23:36
The pale blue bank note that says 1,000,000 Zimbabwean dollars really means 10,000,000,000,000,000,000. Yes, that is 10 quintillion, taking into account the 13 zeros Zimbabwe's central bank has lopped off in the last couple of years to make the country's currency somewhat more manageable.
Every time the zeros get out of hand, Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank scythes away 00000s. The largest note, Z$100,000,000,000, released in July and useless within weeks, looked so bizarre with all the zeros squeezed in that it became an instant collector's item.

Regardless, inflation is soaring so fast in Zimbabwe that it is hard to figure out what a Z$1 million note is actually worth on a given day.
Somewhere between July's Z$100 billion note and the more recent zero-reduced Z$1 million note it is easy to get mixed up. Even more confusing are the wildly different exchange rates that depend on how you pay for purchases.
Zimbabweans chuckle when they see a foreigner bumbling with their currency. They launch into long, looping explanations that leave you lassoed by the zeros, and more confused than when you started. It is difficult to resist just holding up the Z$1,000,000 note and asking a reliable local, "What's this worth?"
But they can get confused themselves. To my surprise, when I tried it recently, my math-savvy friend no longer had the calculation in his head. So he pulled up his cell phone calculator and tapped away.
"Ech! My cell phone can't cope with all these zeros," he grumbled, while I stared at the bustling crowd on Robert Mugabe Street, wondering where they could be going, in an economy where nothing works.
Finally he had an answer: "That's worth about 50 cents (Dh1.8), a bit less than 50 cents."
So I used the blue notes for tips. Fifty cents might not sound like much, but in early November, Z$1,000,000 was more than a week's pay for a police inspector.
After tipping car guards, parking men and waiters for several days, I checked the value again. It turned out my friend had been mistaken; the note had been worth about $4, not 50 cents.
Zimbabwe's hyperinflation rate, the highest ever known, is officially more than 230 million per cent, but some economists place it in the quadrillions. It seems just a matter of time before Zimbabweans will be grappling with octillions, nonillions, decillions, duodecillions and more.
Just trying to explain the complications in the money system is, well, complicated.
Imagine this: You go from the crowded, dusty streets of the capital, Harare, into a dimly lit black market money changer's shop that masquerades as a video outlet. Ask the dealer the rate for a US dollar and he says "27." Twenty-seven "what" is not clear.
Ask him the rate for a South African rand (worth about 10 cents US), and he still says, "27." But this time the decimal point is in a different place. You walk out with a handful of pale blue notes and little idea of what they are worth. If all that is complicated, try this scenario: You are in a supermarket, and for the first time in months there is food there (though it is too expensive for most Zimbabweans). You calculate the cost of about 2 pounds of meat: If you have a Zimbabwean bank account and pay with a debit card, it will cost about $10.

If you exchange American cash for enough Zimbabwean notes to buy the same meat, you will be out $1,000 because of a huge difference in the official exchange rate, which applies to electronic payments, and the rate on the black market. It would seem easy enough to just pay by debit card, but nothing is easy here. In many supermarkets, bank debit cards do not work, either because there is no power or the electronic transfer systems in banks are overloaded.
For the masses squashed together like upright sardines in queues outside banks, buying staples such as maize meal and cooking oil is a struggle. They stand in line for hours to withdraw the maximum weekly limit of $Z100 million, about $10 on the black market these days, but not even enough for a loaf of bread. The withdrawal limit was just lifted to Z$10 billion a week to enable people to buy food for Christmas. The government also released a new Z$10 billion note.

'Burning' cash
Many people use their Z$100 million for bus fare to town. It is a bizarre situation: People come to town to stand in line to get money that barely covers the cost of coming to town. Crowds of 500 or more jostle outside banks in the heat. Soldiers prowl, beating people with batons when fights break out.
Other Zimbabweans use their phones at work to track down hard-to-come-by necessities and do quick deals.
That is not the only complicated trick. Ben, 28, a used-car salesman, explains the art of "burning" money. He has the air of a magician making a rabbit appear in a hat, only this time it is conjuring $1,000 out of $100 in US currency in a day.
"It's very easy and simple," said Ben, who gave only his first name for fear of prosecution for profiteering.
In a nutshell, by shuffling money between the exchange rates - one for cash and the other for bank transfers - one can multiply a sum of US dollars by tenfold or more. Zimbabweans who are sent foreign funds by relatives abroad are generally in the best position to employ the strategy.
At one point the government banned bank transfers to try to eliminate "burning," but in December they re-introduced them with stricter limits.
Ben made several long, patient explanations before I got the gist of "burning," carefully writing down each convoluted twist.
But as soon as I got the trick, it seemed to vanish, like looking at a mirage.
It is confusing.