It took me few days to do some diggings. Its about Smidec, the government agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) which was incorporated to assist entrepreneurs.
Yes, Smidec has helped some. However, sad to say that another some were left unattended to or being sidelined just because of their political outfit or no 'kickbacks' for Smidec officials dealing with their case.
When Smidec CEO Datuk Hafsah Hashim said last week (read here...) that 21 per cent of our SMEs were severely affected by the world economic downturn during the first quarter of 2009, I agreed to the fact that more should be done to help them.
However, Smidec was a proud organisation, to say. Why? Many potential businesses were denied any kind of assistance such as bank loans or grants.
I dont know how Smidec categorised its duty. Datuk Mustapa Mohamed and Mukhriz Mahathir should look into this as so many SMEs were plagued with problems to get sufficient financial assistance from participating banks and agencies.
My findings noted that more than 60 per cent of those who managed to get Smidec aides wear Umno or Barisan Nasional political outfit. The rest, no matter how promising their business are, we denied for their 'wrong' outfit.
I spoke to some of them. The most common questions asked by Smidec officers are 'Are you Umno or what...?'. Some had to lie while others had to defend their ideology.
So, if this is how to benchmark your assistance, we will find many SMEs will have to wind up soon. Only those who support the government will survive. Please dont forget that some of the neglected SMEs employ thousands of people, most of whom are BN supporters. 'Boleh fikir ka?'
Another issue here is, Smidec only help those without 'side problems'. If you have outstanding loans, forget about it. Go back and 'tutup kedai', regardless of whether your industry is in a good position to grow.
An example (I got to mention the company's name... not as an ad, ok?), a Bumi company operating in Balakong, Cheras has came up with the only invention - the first in the world - canned drinks that gets boiled when you shake it for 20 seconds.
Hot Can Sdn Bhd spent about RM3 million for its R & D since 2005 for this innovation. Its asset is worth RM9 million. They went to Smidec to get just RM2 million to buy aluminium for its can-processing. They even got orders from Australia and other countries worth RM25 million this year.
However, Smidec refused to help them just because they still had an outstanding RM500,000 with Maybank. They tried not once but several times, only to be treated like dogs! So, shall we tell the company to 'bungkus?'
Hafsah, are you reading this?