BOB, a small time businessman continously chased by the Ahlongs and creditors, offered a brave front when I bumped into him last week. He's down to his last ringgit but is as determined as ever to keep his business afloat, pay salaries and keep the creditors at bay.
In the past couple of months, Bob felt that his bad days were almost over. His business was being threatened by bad cash flow and unfulfilled promises. I suppose this is the risk one has to take when doing business, but Bob thought that he is receiving the short end of the stick.
A number of people in high places promised him contracts and new deals (at a price of course). But this has not materialised. Instead, his "investments" in high-level networking has not yielded much.
Caught in a vicious cycle, Bob reluctantly went about in trying to sell his business and cash out. He had found a possible buyer. He would have paid off all the outstanding wages to his staff, pay all his debts including the hire-purchase of his cars, and take a short break before trying out something new.
He was very confident that the sale would take place. After all, he had been verbally assured of this by the executive chairman of the politically-connected agency. You wouldn't want to doubt the words of the executive chairman of a powerful agency would you!
But as it happened, the supposedly-agreed deal was off. No reason given. All Bob received was a telephone call to say that the sale was off. Bob, who had in turn promised his creditors that settlement was at hand, was now caught again.
He had managed to buy some time about three months ago. The Ahlongs, suppliers and contractors had agreed to give him an extension. He had received a breather.
Now Bob will have to "tai chi" with his creditors again. The Ahlongs may not have the patience anymore. Bob certainly can't drag the executive chairman of the agency as his associate when fending off the Ahlongs. This time around, Bob will have to run faster and farther, in order to avoid some nasty action by the gray financiers.
But there's one question - can the executive chairman of a politically-connected agency say "yes" to a deal and then make an about-turn later? Legally, it may be within his rights.