Fooling around can make for big business


A WEBSITE devoted to adultery is wooing potential investors through a public offering of its stock in Britain.

The Toronto-based company behind AshleyMadison.com said on Wednesday that it aimed to raise US$200mil (RM735mil) with a London-listing later this year.

“We’ve built the darker side of dating,” Avid Life Media chief executive Noel Biderman said in an interview posted online. “It has turned out to be an incredible business venture.”

Adultery, apparently, was big business, as AshleyMadison boasted having some 36 million libidinous members spread over 46 countries, and Biderman said he was heading for China to firm up a joint venture in that country.

Biderman’s website offered such pithy advice as “Life is short, have an affair,” and reminded its users grimly that the original people of Tasmania, who never committed adultery, were now extinct.

These guys felt that two out of three wasn’t bad. So out of wine, women and song, they stayed away from song.

But the website seemed to have a business model that was more than what 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) seemed to possess. The latter was an organisation that had started out with nothing and still had most of it.

OK, it had some debt, but what was a couple of billions, it asked reasonably.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wanted to know if Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, the man allegedly at the centre of the 1MDB storm, had any links to the organisation, saying it would summon him for questioning if there were.

There was only one problem with that. It presupposed that, once summoned, Mr Jho Low would be ready, able and willing to come forth from wherever he was now staying in the world.

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, the likeable head of the PAC, denied accusations that he had been ambivalent on the matter. “Yes and no,” he replied because he knew it was a day for hard decisions.

Or was it?

Up and down Malaysia, the debate raged and it dismayed the good people of Umno. It disliked power because it knew full the adage that “power corrupts”.

But absolute power? Now there was a pretty neat kettle of fish for you. It was something one could use.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad didn’t like that one bit, as he generally didn’t approve of political jokes: the country’s eldest statesman had seen too many get elected.

But he also didn’t like what was allegedly going on in 1MDB – everything was “alleged” in Malaysia – which was why he felt that some people should get persecuted. OK, make that “prosecuted”.

But no one seemed to know what exactly was going on there, and so, in the interim, the whole country felt persecuted.

To get around that, the Government hired consultants on whom they set great store.

But strictly speaking, a consultant was a person who borrowed the watch off your wrist to tell you the time.

So, it wasn’t immediately clear if they were useful in any way.

Even so, the good news was that the economy was going great guns, there was little unemployment and private investment was up. The bad news was that it didn’t feel like it to the ordinary citizen.

But the country had to be getting more prosperous because more and more Malaysians were getting richer and richer and it showed on the country’s ever-increasing list of billionaires.

The central bank thought it was time for some sensible advice. “True wealth lies in not comparing yourself to others but enjoying what you already have,” it counselled sagely.

It was very good advice, especially if you happened to be named Robert Kuok or T Ananda Krishnan.

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