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Discontinuation of The Reduction Of Fixed Deposit Placement Based On Property Purchase And MM2H Approval By Government Pension
Kindly be informed that MM2H Centre has discontinued the reduction of Fixed Deposit placement based on property purchase worth RM1 million and above in Malaysia. Also discontinued is the MM2H...
DEWAN DISPATCHES: Jean Todt’s RM1 million fee to pitch Malaysia is chicken feed Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 02:55

FORMULA 1 fans intimately know Jean Todt as the principal behind Ferrari’s numerous successes as constructors’ champion and the driving force behind Michael Schumacher’s awesome 7-time world drivers’ champion. That was at the start of the new millennium and dominance for seven years. Ferrari may be floundering in this year’s championship but this is because Todt has since retired and looks like giving up the sport altogether.

Formula 1 and a host of other business concerns have made Todt a very wealthy man, a billionaire according to some reports. Life couldn’t be more glamorous with Malaysian fiancée in Michelle Yeoh, one of Asia’s top actresses, in tow. With valuable contacts strewn around the world established during his Ferrari years of gallivanting round the globe many times over, Todt has primed himself into a sweet spot where it is possible for him to enter into various lucrative business ventures.

As an example, Todt has a stake in ICM, a Paris medical research centre specialising in brain and spinal cord research. Todt would be someone well regarded as a mover and shaker, a player with immense influence to get things done.

After Malaysia bought into the F1 franchise by hosting a race every year since 1999, Todt has turned his trips to Malaysia into more than just the business of masterminding Schumacher’s victories. He felt in love with not just a Malaysian and also Malaysia. So passionate is he about the country that he wants to particpate in Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H), which allows him to buy property and live here.

Under any circumstances, the fact that Todt has Yeoh as fiancée that meant building new family ties and the value he should bring as MM2H participant boosts tremendously the country’s image, not only as a tourist attraction but also a land filled with business opportunities for the bold and the beautiful, as the Todt-Yeoh partnership would likely be characterised.

So, in this respect, doing business with Todt is a virtual no-brainer. The man has the acumen, the pitch, the image, the charisma and more crucially, the tentacles to make his influence spread globally. And for Tourism Malaysia to succeed in hiring Todt as Malaysia’s tourism ambassador is also a no-brainer. Somehow, this winning business deal is unconscionable to Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak).

That was why Azmin kicked a big fuss against Todt’s recruitment in the Dewan Rakyat today. His chief concern: the so-called fee itself which he touted at RM1 million that covers Todt’s flights (First Class presumably) from Paris to Kuala Lumpur, his holiday expenses and his appearance fees.

Azmin provided some measure of breakdown for the RM1 million fee:
:: RM593,400 fee to cover air tickets (RM360,000), accommodation (RM60,000), tips, laundry, faxes and telephone costs and other costs (RM90,000); and,
:: RM388,000 holiday costs that went to international air tickets or two (RM240,000), domestic flights (RM16,000) and miscellaneous expenses RM60,000.
:: Todt would be required to attend a minimum two major local events and two international missions to promote Malaysia
:: Organise familiarisation tours and tap into his wide network of contacts to help promote Malaysia as a tourism destination.

"Why is the Tourism ministry willing to pay him such a large amount to promote Malaysia?” he directed his outrage to Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Abdul Taib during Question Hour. “We have tourism offices all around the world who are also marketing Malaysia. Why is there an overlapping of duties?"

Sulaiman refused to respond, deeming Azmin's question as “out of topic” and requested the Anwar Ibrahim’s No. 1 lieutenant to write to the Government first but Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen immediately defended Todt’s fee: the billionaire was serving and promoting Malaysia on a voluntary basis.

"Just because he is volunteering, you can't expect him to pay out of his own pocket. This budget is not for his pocket, it is for expenses incurred when he meets people, top people from television and media,” Ng told the media at the parliament lobby. “One million in Europe gets you nothing nowadays."

And with due respect to the Malaysian tourism offices worldwide, they are no Jean Todt, so the issue of overlapping of duties is irrelevant.

Ng outlined Todt’s value: greater visibility for Malaysia to attract high spending quality tourists, promote MM2H programme, and help the Government make influential contacts in Paris, including a top film producer, magazine publisher and aides of French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Azmi also raised the spectre of Todt and Yeoh given land in Pulau Besar, Terengganu as part of the deal but this was brushed aside by Ng as untrue.

The incredulous will ask: why is Azmin berating against the so-called exorbitant fee when it is obviously not, at least not in the long term and not at the return of investment that Todt is capable of generating. Why couldn’t Azmin instead praise Tourism Malaysia for their coup?

For someone of Todt’s stature to agree to a mere RM1 million fee is a steal for Tourism Malaysia, who in their bid to rise above the din of global competition, must shout loudly to attract the most attention and with that, sales that translate into revenue and profit. That they did with Todt. It’s an ingeniously simple plan that corresponds with the Malacca Government’s Datukship award to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan last year to boost the state’s image as an exceptional tourism attraction.

Perhaps Azmin is looking for skeletons where none exist. Perhaps it was because the deal was sealed during the tenure of the previous controversial Minister, Azalina Othman Said. Perhaps she is the real target of Azmin’s silly overtures.

Source: NST

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