Some twenty years ago, an old wealthy business friend who was a war veteran and flew helicopters during rescue missions in Vietnam, went into the luxury yacht business, which he manages and owns to this day, and — the aircraft business.
As he was inclined to maintain a “Captain’s Log” during his long voyage at sea, he managed to write me daily as well and explain in depth, the feasibility of maintaining a commercial passenger plane — his then new business venture. His lengthy breakdown of the cost of maintaining (not purchasing), a commercial passenger plane proved to be a headache after a couple of years, and definitely not a worthwhile business venture, unless of course, he stresses, you never keep the plane on the ground at length, you keep it flying about constantly, and you have all seats booked and paid for — to cover the major expense of upkeep. In the end, he sold off that part of his business, and replaced it with a more lucrative business in the music industry instead.
The bottom line as my friend advised, is if you have the financial means — to have your own personalised and spanking new aircraft — you have to ensure you can cover, (without having a heart attack monthly when you see the bills add up), the hefty maintenance, hangar, and fuel cost that comes with the prestige of jetting about in your own Boeing. If you have that much excess money, then by all means, indulge and burn cash … otherwise, have a friend (you can never have enough of them) who owns a plane, preferably a fleet of them, and who can permit you to charter the plane from him, or better, hitch a ride with him.
Now seriously, who wouldn’t want a gorgeous looking new aircraft all personalised to make long-haul travel bearable where you can sleep and arrive in style — and one you can call your own? Especially with you STF boys who are easily impressed by private jet owners — that’s why you’ll buddy up to the friend who “owns the plane” and elevate him to a demigod so you can hitch a ride whenever they take off, or lucky you, get invited to take off with them, isn’t that the life, eh? No payment required just brown-nose deep enough, and take it all in, it’s all covered and paid for anyway — by some farmer in the boondocks trying to borrow US$11 for basic needs, and who has to travel about by foot or water-buffalo.
But what would you know about that? You’re bloody spoilt and used to a privileged life, so who cares, right? There’s lots of those farmers anyway, and only a handful of you guys, say, about 200 or more, who are truly privileged (you get your own kick-ass state-of-the-art bus to road travel about in style too! Whoo Hoo!) So who cares really?! Those poor fellas won’t know anyways, they’re uneducated, poor, and they come from a third world country, while you come from a super power one, after all, with your international passport. There’s no comparison.
We STF Wandervögel, are superior beings like our masters and mistress, hail Lord Rascal!
And besides, those inferior and pathetic devotees can’t think for themselves, they’re all brainwashed and fanatic do-as-you’re-told simpletons who can be manipulated easily. Let’s just tell them our leader’s being attacked by his 79 year old mother! Yeah! That will get them enraged and then they won’t focus on how much we’re spending and how we love the good life, the good food, the perks of being an STF and following our Humpty Dumpty … beg your pardon, sir, yes sir … we stand corrected, we mean, our lovely Boss boy.
See how really stupid they are and how they’ll demonstrate their stupidity by hitting out at that 79 year old useless, wretched woman. Let’s paint her out to be a witch and let’s burn her and everyone with her. Let’s twist her little scribbles on the notebooks we grabbed when we raided and destroyed her home and that of her buried and forgettable husband. Let’s tell the brainless, brainwashed simpleton devotees that she’s concocted a massive grand plan to pull down our big Boss – but first, where’s his fingers, we need to lick and salivate over them to prove our undying devotion and ingratiating gratitude for the way he and his family have treated us. More goodies please, and keep them coming, Ma’am, thank you very much.
And so … out of sight, out of mind, everyone goes luxuriating in the cosy comfort of beyond First Class. Wow! What a life indeed – we all can sooo get used to this! It’s the ultimate in public and international statement, especially when you’re into attention grabbing on a global scale.
But wait … ka-ching ka-ching, hear that? That’s not all! Throw in a massive state of the art entertainment and sports structure, and other structures, across a 3.644-hectare agriculture-designated turned commercially converted land – into an ambitious tourism venture complex. There are, after all, perks from the government if you speculate (like on oil ventures) on entertainment, sports, convention and medical tourism, or anything that supports making the country a tourist destination. So long as you can guarantee the market — and of course! What’s that again? Guarantee the market? Will that keep the ka-ching ka-ching ka-chinging? No sweat. No problemo! You can definitely guarantee the market because you’ll be pushing for a double or even triple effort to increase the serial number drive with as much publicity stunt you can muster – Guinness Book of Records, we’re all yours.
But how did this idea of owning an aircraft come about? Who put this idea across, who justified it, and who was ultimately responsible for supplying the plane?
When the young Mr Gourmand eventually married a couple of years ago to his little thin wife (they do make a contrasting pair, don’t they?), one of his major sponsor was a renown businessman, a Mr A., who approved the resale of the country’s national airline back to its previous billionaire owner, a Mr T., in September 2014.
The resale of the airline business for US$1 billion was made when the business posted “black” or positive for that same year 2014, as comparatively, a year before that, in 2013, it suffered losses after it was bought by Mr A. for US$500 million in 2012.
(And note, I will paraphrase so our grandmothers can understand better as they are intent on learning just how everything changed from “good” to … well, “evil,” in their lifetime — so, after buying the business from Mr. T. in 2012 for US$500 million, two years later, in 2014, US$1 billion was acquired back by Mr A. when he resold the business to its previous owner, Mr T. But mind you, it wasn’t a total sell out. Mr A. retained 49% of the business but released total management of it to Mr T.
Why did Mr A. sell? I did mention in my opening lines that the airline business is a major headache. That’s why he sold, he said so himself, the business cost a lot, and it was harder to make money, even though it proved profitable the year he was able to sell the business back to Mr T. The year, a special organisation celebrated a major event.).
Not bad as a return, or ROI, after a two year operation. In fact, the local newspaper reported that “Revenues in the quarter surged 47%” compared to the same quarter a year ago. So think for a minute, what major event in 2014 assisted in triggering the revenue surge for the airline business when Mr A. was at the helm?
These businessmen, Mr A. and Mr T., like most who are in the “millionaire/billionaire” bracket (and you don’t get into that category being stupid and ignorant like those who keep denying a certain “debt” exists, or that the Old Guards and the STF are not corrupt and are typical jolly good fellows hip hip hurrah) — like keeping their fingers on the pulse of whatever activities the organisation of the late Successor was engaged in and more so now (and they are definitely not alone with their fingers in the pie).
This special organisation which the late Successor headed was, after all, a colossal, acquiescent, dedicated and united one-stop-shop demographic that could easily trigger and connect its international branches in support. Everyone has seen enough demonstration of the unity en bloc of this exceptional organisation, and naturally, there has been, and continues to be, attempts in all forms to capitalise on its en bloc attribute.
In the past, it was the late Successor who exerted every effort, his might and power, to protect his exceptional organisation from commercial abuse, or worse, political ones. He immediately took to task any of his administration officers if they broke the confidence and fell for the temptation of the bribes naturally on offer to those who could influence and guarantee a sway to a particular person or party.
Unfortunately, he was only one man, but he was extremely pro-active even when alone, fearless, and alert always to potential abuse of the innocent and trusting souls under his care. Mindful always of the more impoverished of those in his safekeeping. He was a true guardian who looked out for everyone he had vowed to protect and care for after his father, the esteemed Elder, passed away, and he remained to his dying days, a genuinely loved and much appreciated leader who was wise and astute and never abusive of the poor.
That’s why the late Successor attempted to destroy the STF, he detested their formation because they distracted the other students from focusing on important studies. The STF considered themselves privileged when the late Successor never wanted them to feel or think themselves special. He wanted them to learn humility and learn to love with sincerity and equally, their fellow students, who came from all walks of life. He wanted them to discover the joy in simplicity and to care for the less fortunate with honesty and devotion. He wanted them not to be a Special Task Force for one boy and one demigod – he wanted them to be a force for good and spiritual motivator for the poor, the meek, the suffering, the unprotected.
They wanted their way.
So here we have it, short of the second death anniversary of his father, the late Successor, in 2011, the ground was broken to construct that multi-functional tourism complex, and suddenly, we’re in business.
Business as usual indeed for a selective few to manage and control, as well as to have and to hold.
Would you like to know the guestimate current value of the multi-functional tourism complex I write of, dear gentle readers?
Let’s take it one step at a time so this becomes clear to all.
First, there’s the value of the land, and if you work in the current cost per square meter around the vicinity these days, you’re going to find the value for just land alone, nothing built on it, at: US$130 per sqm (on the high side)
Multiply that by the total number of square meters in the 3.644-hectares involved, and you have US$4,737,200.
Naturally, that’s not how much the land cost when it was initially purchased, remember, it was an agricultural lot. So already, the land value has shot up and yes, there’s profit to be made.
At this point, I can hear a lot of cheering and applause, yes yes! We made money! Well, yes, we can make money if we sell the land now at its current value but, and a mega BUT at that — there are other cost involved that we must consider and include … like the cost of consultancy, the cost of feasibility studies, the cost of international design, the cost of construction, the cost of interior fitting out, the cost of equipment, the cost of landscaping, the cost of maintenance, the cost of utilities … oh and let’s not forget the cost of pocketing discreet kickbacks and the cost of paying every one off with an indiscreet fat envelope filled with dollar bills.
Next … Let the Games Begin!
…/ Part 2: Of Planes, Games, and Goons