Malaysia Posts

“Billion Dollar Whale ” by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope

Billion Dollar Whale is an unbelievable story about businessman turned international financier Low Taek Jho or the Asian Gatsby. He was the mastermind at the centre of the extraordinary Malaysian IMDB financial scandal. The 1MDB fund was designed to boost Malaysia’s economy through strategic investments. Instead it turned into a fantastic embezzlement story. The stories told in this book of renting airport hangars to throw extravagant parties with celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Hosting parties at presidential suites of hotels where Hollywood stars troop in and out to discuss film productions. The manner in which a country was swindled of billions of dollars is astounding. For it to happen because Low Taek Jho managed to convince people around him of his lies is truly mind boggling. This is the information age when much of the information can be verified, so to accept anything that this man said or offered as the truth is quite presposterous. Nevertheless Tom Wright and Bradley Hope interviewed many, many people for this book. It is an attempt at investigating the story.

Today the superyacht linked to this scandal has been sold for $126m which is far less than the original $250m it was bought for!

For now investigation has begun into this financial scandal. Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak has gone on trial for his role. He faces seven charges in the first of several criminal cases accusing him of pocketing $681m (£522m) from the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. ( BBC News, 3 April 2019 “Najib 1MDB trial: Malaysia ex-PM faces court in global financial scandal“) Meanwhile Jho Low remains a fugitive and has been charged in absentia in Malaysia. He is probably in China now. According to the authors this book is really an indictement of the failure of Wall Street, of global finance to self-regulate.

Asia’s Great Gatsby: New book chronicles Malaysia’s fugitive financier from CNBC.

One day this book will be transformed into a film as Michelle Yeoh has optioned for the rights. Till then read the book.

3 April 2019

Bookaroo app is launched!

Bookaroo, the Children’s Literature Festival organised by Swati Roy, Venkatesh Swamy and Jo Williams is in the tenth year of its existence. From the first edition the festival has blossomed into a travelling festival including going overseas to Malaysia as Pustaka Bookaroo.
In addition to the main weekend festivals, there is an outreach programme, Bookaroo in the City, which takes writers, illustrators, storytellers and poets to mainstream schools and special purpose institutions for children. In short, anything, anywhere, anytime to spread the joy of reading.

Earlier this year they won the International Excellence Awards at the London Book Fair 2017, the first children’s literature festival ever to get the honour. Now the festival organisers have launched the Bookaroo app that is available on Google Play. The immediate purpose is to make their programming available easily for everyone instead of sharing large spreadsheets.

Here is a short interview with the organisers about the app.

  1. Why did you decide to launch an app? The basic purpose of the app is to make the programme (session details) easily accessible without having to download heavy pdf files. Moreover, it is part of our efforts to reduce use of paper. In the future, we would like to be paperless.
  2. How often will you update it? – Just before every edition
  3. What is the kind of information you will capture from the data collected via the app? Why is it necessary for the app to seek permission to access the user’s phone camera and other databases? Why not restrict access to GPR alone? Most apps come with these permission requirements. We will look at data for internal analysis.
  4. Will the data analysis help in tweaking the Bookaroo programmes in future? – We have been constantly evolving the programme taking into account all the feedback that we receive. The app will simply be another avenue.
  5. Will it be available in different languages? –Yes it will, in the future.
  6. Would you ever slowly expand it to include interviews, maybe book excerpts to an online bookstore? The app is in beta mode just now. We will be looking into all the options, possibilities as we develop it.
  7. Will it remain a free app? – Yes – we hope so.
  8. Will it be available on the iOS platform as well?  – Yes, in October
  9. Who is the target audience? Adults  or children?   We are targeting all those who are interested in children’s literature.

30 August 2017 


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