Discrimination in the private sector
CONTENTIOUS ARGUMENT: It’s highly presumptuous to claim the private sector’s refusal to employ Bumiputeras is because of their lack of quality
This year’s UMNO Youth General Assembly has reduced to a circus. UMNO Youth Leader Khairy Jamaluddin is behaving exactly like a circus primate, trying to pander to the gallery and entertain them with his follies. The more recent is the TNB hike, announced a few days ago by the Minister in-charge for Energy, Water and Green Technology Dato’ Dr Maximus Ongkili.
Khairy slams TNB
KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 4, 2013): As criticisms mount over Tenaga National Berhad’s decision to hike electricity rates, a Cabinet minister unexpectedly took the power giant to task for being more concerned about its shareholders than the people.
Youth and Sports Minister and Umno chief Khairy Jamaluddin, in a strongly-worded comment, said the increase in tariffs is only to”pad up” TNB’s profits.
In his policy speech at the Umno Youth assembly today, he said the hike was not in keeping with the quantum of increase in fuel prices.
Later at a press conference, he said he had raised the matter in the Cabinet.
“I am bound by the Cabinet decision but, as (Umno) Youth chief, I felt the need to raise it (displeasure over the tariff hike). I also raised it in Cabinet.
“There are two parts to the hike, one is about the rising cost of fuel. We understand that but TNB’s profits are just too high,” he said.
Khairy explained that TNB had justified the hike on the need to invest in technology and the low returns on its investment.
“But for me and the rakyat, that is not good enough,” he added.
In his speech, Khairy said TNB and other government-linked companies should not be overly-driven by financial performance alone, adding that their responsibilities to the people must “never be forgotten”.
TNB had announced that electricity rates will be up by 14.98% for Peninsular Malaysia and 16.9% for Sabah and Labuan from Jan 1.
In George Town, both DAP and Gerakan came out against the tariff hike, with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng saying the increase was untimely and unjustified.
He said the cost of doing business is set to increase with the price of goods and services expected to cost more.
“Whether it is a packet of noodles, a simple meal or just a haircut, prices will shoot up and everyone will feel the pinch,” the Penang chief minister said in a statement.
Penang Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong echoed Lim’s sentiments and urged the government to review the increase.
He said a review could avoid a chain reaction on prices of goods, adding that the public and private sectors should review salaries to help people cope better with the expected increase in the cost of living.
“It is only with a higher income that the people can cope with higher expenses,” he said.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have voiced that worries that the new electricity tariff could dent the country’s competitiveness.
SME Association Malaysia (Samenta) vice-president Well Kam said high energy bills could make the country less attractive for investors.
He urged the government to consider offering concessions to those who have reached a state-determined energy efficiency rating.
“It is important to improve energy efficiency, productivity and enhance education on energy management too,” he said.
The fact is that, it is wrong for KJ to take out on TNB for this. TNB produce electricity with production and distribution cost attached to every KW/H of power unit. The cost of production rest heavily on the cost of fuel.
77% of TNB power generation comes from hydrocarbon plants. 60% of those are gas powered plants.
Presently, these power plants only pay 65% of market price for natural gas which is the fuel for these plants to power up. If the cost for the supply of natural gas go up, then naturally tariffs would have to rise too.
Khairy Jamaluddin is a Cabinet Minister. He could use his resources to find out about these things and rationalise that it is not TNB which wanted the rise in tariff. Then again, the Minister in-charge is the one who announced it. Which means the tariff hike is with Cabinet approval.
The matter must have been brought up to Cabinet for deliberation first before an approval on the tariff hike is given.
KJ as a Minister and UMNO Youth Leader, should use his exposure and access to information to explain and make his dominions understand better. The matter could be rationalised, even to younger Malaysians. No need to add salt to injury and fuel to fire. Even for the sake of political drama, in a once a year show.
TNB is an agency under Khazanah Nasional Bhd. Like any another GLC, TNB is expected to fend for themselves and be financially independent instead of getting investment injection from Khazanah or Federal Government (via Ministry of Finance) for much needed capital ever so often. This include working capital, where TNB is expected to pay power producers and fuel suppliers promptly.
TNB also is required to do periodical maintenance and necessary capital expenditure, asset regeneration and replacement programs to ensure that power production is continuous without any glitch what so ever. This also to ensure the redundant and back up system is in the state of readiness for any emergency. It is more so important as the nation move forward towards high income economy and industry is the main economic bloodline.
Therefor it is imperative that TNB remains financially sound. Capital expenditure, asset regeneration and replacement cost a lot of fresh capital injection. TNB being profitable means that the GLC could afford to raise the much needed capital injection internally, without going back to Khazanah or MOF. Nor they expose the national power generation corporation for more borrowings.
Hence, TNB is profitable. Thanks to the previous CEO Dato’ Seri Che Khalib Mohd. Noh, TNB’s assets, commercial commitments and debts have be restructured and rationalised. TNB no longer owe so many parties as high as it was, ten years ago.
It is ashamed that KJ is seizing the moment trying to popularize himself as an UMNO Youth Leader championing the rakyat’s cause, at the expense to lambasting TNB. That behaviour is no different than a Circus Chimpanzee, throwing creampies to fellow clowns to draw laughter from the audience.
Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak hopes that Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad would reconsider his decision to resign as Petronas Adviser and continue to serve nation’s largest corporation, in the capacity and role the latter had served since 10 years ago.
Published: Tuesday December 3, 2013 MYT 8:42:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday December 3, 2013 MYT 9:16:47 PM
Najib wants Mahathir to reconsider decision to step down as Petronas adviser
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hopes Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will re-consider his decision to step down as Petronas adviser.
Najib said onj Tuesday, this was because the Government felt that the former prime minister was still able to contribute for Petronas’ development and success.
“In respecting Tun’s decision, which was made on doctor’s advice, I hope Tun can reconsider the decision.
“The government welcomes Tun to continue to serve as Petronas Adviser,” he told reporters after a meeting, which lasted for nearly an hour, with Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal at the Putra World Trade Centre.
Najib said he had received the resignation letter from Dr Mahathir in which he also thanked him (prime minister) for visiting him at the National Heart Institute when he was admitted there for chest pain.
“Upon the doctor’s advice, he has to reduce his daily routine.
“As such, Dr Mahathir had informed me of his intention to step down as Petronas Adviser,” he added.
Mahathir had confirmed his resignation as Petronas Adviser, effective Dec 1, on Monday, due to age and health factors.
He was appointed Petronas Adviser after his retirement as prime minister in 2003. – Bernama
On Monday’s official announcement, Tun Dr. Mahathir cited that he has been advised by his doctors to do less. However, it is hardly the cover story that would convince everyone.
The fact is that, Tun Dr. Mahathir has had a rocky relationship with Prime Minister Najib pertaining to Petronas every since the latter took over the stewardship of the nation.
First, it was appointment of Dato’ Omar Ong into the BoD of Petronas.
This was one of the three issues Tun Dr. Mahathir raised with Prime Minister Najib in the first one-on-one engagement after swearing in as the Sixth Prime Minister in April 2009. The Fourth Prime Minister specifically warned Prime Minister Najib against the appointment of Ong into Petronas.
Then, the relieving of Tan Sri Hassan Merican as Group President and CEO of Petronas.
Things changed in Petronas after Prime Minister Najib’s man Dato’ Shamsul Azhar Abbas was brought in as CEO. Policy changed. The bit which Tun Dr. Mahathir found most damning is about Bumiputera participation in one of the most successful New Seven Sisters.
Strategic posts previously were undertaken by Malay professionals are now being filled by Non Malays.
Naturally, Shamsul Azhar could not have done this without the blessing of Prime Minister Najib. Despite the displeasure of Tun Dr. Mahathir, the appointment of Ong and Shamsul caused a dent in the relationship between the Fourth and Sixth Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Najib had his chances. He was adamant of his policies in Petronas. Now, he must be ready to face the repercussion of Tun Dr. Mahathir giving up the pleasure and dedication of no longer being the Adviser to Federal Government’s single largest contributor of income.
Probably Tun Dr. Mahathir would not be so diplomatic from now on, when he speaks his mind on policies and decisions made by Prime Minister Najib’s leadership. This is something Prime Minister Najib must be ready to be reflected.
In June 2006 when Tun Dr. Mahathir decided to speak up against PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s poor and weak leadership in an event organised then by notorious socio-polical blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin at Paradise Club in Ulu Kelang, it was like a snow ball which turned into an avalanche. Less than two years later, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s mandate was reduced from BN’s all time high to all time low, within half a Parliamentary term.
Just for size, Petronas wasn’t an issue when Tun Dr. Mahathir decided to go against PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah.
FEATURED & ISSUES | NOVEMBER 12, 2013 9:00 PM
Syed Mokhtar Albukhary’s impressive list of assets includes power generation assets, ports, plantations, auto assembly and distribution assets, rice and sugar distribution and banks just to name a few. While it is difficult to gauge his wealth, in this first of a two-part series, KiniBiz shines a spotlight on the tycoon’s sprawling empire and looks at a breakdown of his assets.
At its close on Friday, MMC Corp, Syed Mokhtar Albukhary’s flagship, had a market capitalisation of about RM8.22 billion. This would indicate that Syed Mokhtar’s 51.76% equity in interest in MMC would have a market value of RM4.25 billion.
His other main holding company is DRB Hicom which closed at RM2.56 giving it a market capitalisation of RM4.95 billion. This would give his 55.92% a market value of RM2.77 billion.
Thus collectively the stakes in the two companies are worth in excess of RM7 billion.
Early this year Forbes ranked Syed Mokhtar as Malaysia’s seventh richest with a net worth of some US$3.3 billion or about RM10.5 billion.
Nevertheless getting to the bottom of his actual wealth is not a simple matter, as his assets are diversified and his shareholdings fragmented.
“There are so many assets linked to him, parcels of land in Johor, and now people are saying he’s part of Eco World Development (Sdn Bhd)…so many assets link back to him. Maybe only he knows his actual asset worth,” a source familiar with the tycoon said.
Difficult to gauge his actual wealth
This is not including the stakes, sources say belong to him, but where he doesn’t surface such as in Bina Puri Holdings where Syed Mokhtar’s private company Jentera Jati Sdn Bhd has 15.91%, in the construction company, translating to a market value of some RM19.73 million.
There are also other companies such as Megaplace Sdn Bhd a private company linked to his brother Syed Azmin Mohd Nursin @ Syed Nor which has 23.57% in Amtek Holdings Bhd, which has a market value of RM2.77 million.
While these two do not add much to his net worth (considering his shareholding in MMC and DRB amounts to RM7 billion) it does give some form of indication of how the tycoon managed to remain below the radar for so many years.
A sprawling empire
While these three companies are officially his, there are whole host of others he has been linked to over the years, including Star Publications (M) where he had 20% at the IPO, Padini Holdings Bhd, Latitude Tree Holdings, Elba Holdings, Eden Inc, Pilecon Engineering, IJM Corp and Oriental Garments to name a few.
And this list is from his biography released earlier this year.
There are others counters as well such as scrap metal trader SMPC Corp Bhd which he was said to have a huge stake of some 20% for many years.
Anyway let’s take a look at a breakdown of some of his assets.
A news report from then had it that Syed Mokhtar got his “hands on a company sitting on RM633 million in deposits, and investments – quoted and unquoted – amounting to RM2.16 billion.”
As at end June this year MMC had deposits, bank and cash balances of RM4.94 billion, while on the other side of the balance sheet it had long term debt commitments of RM21.26 billion and short term borrowings of RM2.42 billion.
(We look at his high debt level in another piece)
As for its assets, MMC has 30.9% in Gas Malaysia, a company with a market capitalisation exceeding RM5.16 billion, and 39.2% in civil engineering outfit Zelan. Zelan has not been faring well and only had a market capitalisation of RM160 million at its close of 28.5 sen last Friday.
Then there’s power generator Malakoff Corp where MMC has 51% equity interest. Malakoff posted net profits of RM468.2 million in FY12. Malakoff recently let its approvals for a floatation exercise lapse, and reports have it that the company is looking to issue debt papers, to help settle debts.
Under MMC itself there are a few assets where value can be unlocked such as his port assets, made up of Port of Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd, which is Malaysia largest container port by throughput volumes, Johor Port Bhd, and soon to be included Penang Port Sdn Bhd.
While there are rumours that he has tried to take over NCB Holdings Bhd, which wholly owns Northport (M) Bhd, which is part of Port Klang, these rumours cannot be verified.
There has been talk that he has attempted to buy Kelang Port Authority, 5.32% for starters but the port authority has been reluctant to sell.
Other assets that could be floated are Aliran Ihsan Resources which has the operations and maintenance of water treatment plants, Southern Water Corp Sdn Bhd and and Aliran Utara Sdn Bhd. But Aliran Ihsan suffered marginal losses in FY12.
There’s also MMC’s multi billion ringgit Klang Valley MRT project where, partnering Gamuda, it is the project delivery partner.
Considering all the assets, MMC for its six months ended June this year posted net profits of RM52.68 million from RM3.24 billion in revenue.
Just a few weeks ago, DRB proposed to acquire 61.6% of haulage and transportation company Konsortium Logistik for RM1.55 per share or some RM241 million.
Other assets under its belt include national automaker Proton Holdings. DRB forked out RM5.50 a share or almost RM1.3 billion for Khazanah Nasional’s 42.74% equity interest and privatised Proton Holdings for slightly over RM3 billion.
There’s also Pos Malaysia where DRB has 32.2% equity interest, it acquired for RM622.8 million from Khazanah as well.
Other than Proton and Pos Malaysia, there’s also assets such as Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd where DRB has 34%, Bank Muamalat in which DRB has 70% equity interest, wholly owned Puspakom Sdn Bhd, wholly owned Edaran Otomobil Nasional and Proton Edar Sdn Bhd, DRB Hicom Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd, 97.37% of Alam Flora Sdn Bhd and wholly owned Lotus Group International Ltd, to name a few.
However despite its impressive asset base, DRB’s financials have been wanting. For its three months ended June this year, DRB posted a mere RM10.26 million in net profits from RM3.05 billion in sales.
In a bidding war back in December 2004, Syed Mokhtar edged out the late Malaysian motor czar SM Nasimuddin SM Amin of the Naza group. Syed Mokhtar bid RM3.60 per share, 10 sen more than Nasimuddin for a controlling 15.8% held by the family of the late Yahya Ahmad, after which he strengthened his grip on the company via the injection of Bank Muamalat Bhd into the company.
Not to be forgotten is his other flagship Tradewinds Corp Bhd which was privatised and delisted in end September this year.
While the margins for Tradewinds Corp’s results are impressive, the company’s asset base is truly amazing. Among those that are more well-known include Tradewinds (M) which has Padiberas Nasional (Bernas), Central Sugars Refinery Sdn Bhd and Tradewinds Plantations among a whole host of other assets.
According to filings which accompany its financials, as at end June this year Tradewinds Corp’s total assets stood at RM3.56 billion.
Since Tradewinds Corp has been privatised it is difficult to put a price tag on the company, but nevertheless it could be worth more than the RM3.56 billion if stripped.
Bernas at its close on Friday had a market capitalisation of RM1.67 billion. It is also noteworthy that Bernas could be voluntarily withdrawn from the Bursa Malaysia as Syed Mokhtar’s companies had collectively about 83.69% control of Bernas.
Other than Syed Mokhtar, the only other shareholder with clout in Bernas is Cabinet Minister Shahidan Kassim who via his vehicle Batu Bara Resources Sdn Bhd has about 4.8% equity interest in Bernas. Other notable shareholders include Pertubuhan Peladang Kebangsaaan with 3.71% interest, and Persatuan Nelayan Kebangsaan which goes by the acronym Nekmat controlling a 3.42% stake.
Tradewinds was formerly known as Pernas International Holdings.
Back in 2002 Syed Mokhhtar’s Restu Jernih Sdn Bhd, acquired 32% of Pernas International Holdings for RM497 million or RM2.10 per share and 64 sen per warrant from an ailing Perbadanan Nasional Bhd known as PNS.
Since then he has restructured the once ailing Tradewinds and considerably transformed the company.
In 2002 the price Syed Mokhtar paid for Pernas International Holdings was more than a few hundred percent premium to its trading price, which many considered a bailout.
To put things in perspective, Pernas was set up in 1969 to promote Malay capital ownership, but the lumbering giant corporation failed in its agenda, and bled losses for the longest time.
At that time one of Syed Mokhtar’s general had said, “We don’t cherry pick,” when asked to comment about his acquisition of Pernas.
Based on these assets alone, Syed Mokhtar’s clout in corporate Malaysia is evident. The fact that he has built up his wealth over a span of 20 odd years is remarkable.
But considering his is a rags to riches story, how did he do it?
Tomorrow: Syed Mokhtar, the early years
Although it is a complete account in brief about Syed Mokhtar’s success story, the intention is obvious.
The fact is that the Al Bukhary Group acquired the various corporations, businesses and projects at premium values. On top of that, the Group realised their own internal funds and raised their own financing from the capital and financial markets on their own strength and merit.
Majority of these acquisitions are actually rescue missions, to turn around ailing business groups and projects with the initial intention to realise the national service.
Example is the Pernas International Holdings. The hotel group with powerful brands such as Hilton and Meritus in Malaysia, was initially an MBO when Pernas Chairman Tunku Tan Sri Shariman Tunku Sulaiman took over the Group and Tradewinds.
When Tunku Shahriman could no longer service the financial commitment for the MBO, Al Bukhary Group took over. The Pernas International Group was consolidated and restructured.
The interesting bit about this story is that it would be reference for all the strikes against Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and Al Bukhary Group. The Opposition and all those who wanted to see the Malay Agenda or New Economic Policy (NEP) fail, would demonise Syed Mohktar and Al Bukhary Group as an UMNO crony.
‘Cronysim’ is a dirty word depicted by Anwar Ibrahim’s camp when they tried to start a revolt within UMNO and topple Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s Presidency and Premiership. as far back as 1997. The opportunity presented itself when Neo Con Jewish hedge fund George Soros attacked Ringgit Malaysia and almost brought down the economy to its knees, when the domino effect almost tumbled the KLSE.
As a result, the Malaysian banking system almost crumbled due to the bursting of the economic bubble and over-gearing arisen from pledging of over valued shares.
At the time, the guns were trained on Malay corporate giants such as Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli, Tan Sri Halim Saad and Tan Sri Rashid Hussain. All of these successful Malay billionaires borrowed from commercial means to expand their respective business domain and did their bid for national service.
In fact, some of the feats they did were extraordinary, considering the mitigating circumstances and challenges 15-20 years ago.
The anti-NEP detractors now conveniently use and abuse the goodname Syed Mokhtar and Al Bukhary Group as the bogeyman in the UMNO tradition to maintain cronyism amongst Malay entrepreneurs.
The typical ghastly scenario they picture is that “Syed Mokhtar is given national projects, systematically taking over GLCs and awarded huge long term contracts and concessions, all on borrowings. If he cannot sustain, due to the corruption and inability to be comptetive in the open market, then the bubble will burst again. The Malaysian Government would have to mount another ‘bail out’, where as so many layers of corrupt UMNO politicians already made their money along the way”.
The fact is that they cannot substantiate this fallacy, with Syed Mokhtar and Al Bukhary Group.
Every single acquisition and take over that were carried out and transacted are at premium value. The funds and borrowings for all these corporate exercise are raised via commercial means on their own merits and financial strength. Often, more resources are needed to be injected into these corporations and projects. The immediate next step there on is to consolidate all operations and holdings. Then the restructuring and transformation begins.
In the Jose Barrock article above, it is proven that acquisitions, consolidations, restructuring and expansion of operation made the Al Bukhary Group stronger and financially sound.
Most importantly, every single business units finance and service their operations and borrowings. As a result, Al Bukhary Group could prove that all the financial standing and value of these corporations have actually been increased.
Another interesting fact is that the same decorators, be it Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng and his minions such as Tony Pua and all the personalities, NGOs and media bodies which favoured and focused to use Syed Mokhtar as the convenient target to demonise the Malaysian Government and UMNO for upholding the Bumiputera Economic Agenda, are silent about other entrepreneurs.
They never question Non Malay Club of Super Aces entrepreneurs in the likes of Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and Tan Sri Vincent Tan for all the opportunities that they have gotten and still continue to benefit from their long and strong relationship fostered with Malaysian Government and UMNO leaders.
In fact, Anwar Ibrahim then as the powerful duo-job Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has his own set of cronies.
They too, like other tens of Non Malay billionaires and multi millionaires have ‘Sprawling Empire’. They have immensely benefitted from the continuous Malaysian Government contracts and ‘strategic partnership and relationship’ as suppliers, contractors and even operators to corporations and GLCs.
Worse still, many of these Non Malay multi millionaires now even support DAP either politically or financially.
The continuous effort to bring Syed Mokhtar and Al Bukhary Group into the line of media attention is without a sinister agenda. A successful story via commercial means and bankable practices of apolitical Malay entrepreneur is the proof that the NEP works, given time, right opportunities and even through the stringent market test.
The truth is that Syed Mokhtar is an model of a Hijrah Man. He brought commercial, cultural and social transformation and was successful at that. That is something some of the minority could not live with.
Tombstone Air looks like are drawing up fresh strategies, to get themselves out of trouble. They are in an enigma of variable elements crushing and probably controlling personality Tony Fernandes crafting something as the apparent downturn and bubble burst on the low class carrier group.
Published: Wednesday November 6, 2013 MYT 6:56:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday November 6, 2013 MYT 7:02:46 PM
AirAsia’s Kamarudin made executive chairman under re-designation of key executives
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Kamarudin Meranun has been appointed non-independent executive chairman of AirAsia under the group’s move to re-designate its key executives, which came into effect on Wednesday.
Kamarudin was the non-independent, non-executive director prior to the re-designation. He would take the lead in engaging with the government, aviation regulators and airport authorities in Malaysia.
He replaces Aziz Bakar who remains on the board as a non-independent non-executive director. This appointment follows the practice of appointing a Tune Air representative as chairman and is effective from Wednesday.
“Kamarudin has spent more than a decade building AirAsia into the world’s largest low-cost carrier and I look forward to the industry experience he will bring as chair of the Board,” said AirAsia Bhd CEO Aireen Omar.
Aziz Bakar was re-designated non-independent, non-executive director. He was formerly the non-independent non-executive chairman.
As for Fernandes, he was re-designated group chief executive officer and non-independent executive director. Prior to the re-designation, he was the non-independent non-executive director.
The re-designation was after the recent merging of the regional office’s group functions back into AirAsia Bhd.
“As group CEO, Fernandes will provide overall leadership to the group in driving brand value, reducing cost and driving efficiencies to improve performance of the airline and other affiliates within the AirAsia network including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and soon to be India,” said AirAsia.
Fernandes said the regional office set up in Jakarta as AirAsia Asean two years ago has achieved its objective in providing focused leadership to the group and guiding expansion within the region.
“As such, we are merging most group functions back into AirAsia Bhd to ensure alignment within the core management team and to simplify the operation,” Fernandes said.
With this change, Rozman Omar will also return to AirAsia Bhd as group chief financial officer where he will use his extensive experience in finance to develop a group-wide growth strategy that will create long-term value for shareholders. Andrew Littledale will continue as CFO of AirAsia Bhd.
Kamarudin said the changes followed months of discussions between himself and Fernandes, and are aimed at sustaining AirAsia’s growth trajectory.
Aireen remains CEO of AirAsia Bhd and will report to the chairman on regulatory and stakeholder management and to the group CEO on operational performance matters.
Riong Kali dot com report on Tony Fernandes’s strategic sucessor, to immediately swallow their pride and quickly apologise to Utusan Malaysia for AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman Rani’s faux pas and the drama that preceded that.
Now, AirAsia chief says sorry to Utusan over “racist” remark
NOVEMBER 08, 2013
Kamarudin Meranun is now the first executive chairman of AirAsia. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim,
November 8, 2013.In a volte face, AirAsia’s new executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun has apologised to Utusan Malaysia over his colleague’s remarks that the Umno-owned daily was racist in its election coverage last May.
The Malay-language newspaper quoted Kamarudin as saying that he had written to apologise for AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman Rani’s remarks. AirAsia X chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz had previously said Azran’s views are his own and Malaysians should be allowed to express their views.
“In all honesty, as a representative of AirAsia, I had written to the Utusan group editor to express our disappointment over Azran’s actions which were unexpected,” Kamarudin was quoted as saying in the Utusan report.
Calls made to AirAsia to verify Kamarudin’s comments to Utusan have not been answered.
Azran had criticised Utusan in his Twitter microblogging account for what he reportedly saw as a racial instigation in the aftermath of the May 5 general elections.
He was also reported to have criticised Malay group Perkasa for its hardline stance as an irrelevent organisation that had caused Malays to be myopic.
But Kamarudin told the newspaper that no action was taken against Azran as he should be allowed to learn from the experience.
“Azran is still Air Asia X chief executive officer and has been advised to separate his political stand from work,” said Kamarudin, who became the budget carrier’s first executive chairman two days ago.
Kamarudin and his partner Tan Sri Tony Fernandes own Tune Air Sdn Bhd, which is a major shareholder in Asia’s biggest budget carrier, AirAsia.
The AirAsia group includes operations in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and soon in India, apart from the long-haul airline AirAsia X. It recently stopped a partnership in Japan.
The Utusan report today also quoted Kamarudin as criticising government-linked-companies which had to be told to advertise in Malay dailies, adding he was embarrassed that it had come to the point where even the leadership had to appeal for advertisements to be placed in these dailies.
“It is even more embarrassing when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself has to appeal to these companies.
“We at AirAsia will continue to place advertisements in Malay dailies, especially Utusan Malaysia. Undoubtedly, we also need your support as Utusan’s role is very important,” he said.
When officially opening Utusan’s new headquarters on September 13, Najib had said newspaper companies cannot rely solely on circulation to stay in business and that advertising was needed to keep the 75-year-old newspaper afloat.
Utusan had said it would not accept advertisements from AirAsia unless Azran apologised for his remarks. But the AirAsia X chief executive has not done so. – November 8, 2013.
The fact is that, AirAsia has been taking a continuous beating. It is for the sins that they have imposed themselves especially to Malaysians these past slightly over ten years with all sorts of schemes.
First, Fernandes’s ‘Share-Swap’ scheme trying to cannibalise Malaysia Airlines in August 2011 lasted barely ten and half months, before Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak reversed the decision to status quo.
Then Prime Minister Najib allowed a direct competition to the Tombstone Group, Malindo Air to be incorporated and given operating license very quickly. Malindo Air was quick to capture a market previously nearly monopolised by Fernandes’s low class carriers.
The third element which dented Fernandes’s Group financial position is the attempt to incorporate operation via Batavia Air and AirAsia Japan (in partnerhsip with ANA) failed.
Then there is the really bad perception of the series of fines imposed against AirAsia, which include Australia. The one by Malaysia Anti Monopoly Commission was a very stiff one, by any standard for a Malaysian corporation to be fined by an authority.
As a result, for two straight quarters AirAsia’s profitability slide downwards. So is the revenue and cashflow position. That contributed AirAsia’s stockprice to slide down from RM4.00 position when the ‘Share-Swap’ scheme was finalised and inked with Khazanah in July-August 2011 to the neighbourhood of RM2.50-2.60 within the last four weeks.
That is practically losing 35-40% of the value of AirAsia.
There could be two prevailing reasons for these strategic shuffling at the BOD in AirAsia and Tombstone Air Group. The apology to Utusan Malaysia and attempt to win back the hearts and support of the nationalists and powers that be especially within UMNO leaders is very strategic.
Fernandes could be either crafting another scheme to unload a substantial amount of AirAsia and AirAsia X shares to GLCs, either Khazanah and/or EPF. Now that a substantial shareholder like Kamaruddin is taking the Executive Chairman position, the new player could also be the upcoming ASB2 unit trust scheme under PNB, which Prime Miniser Najib announced in September for the maximum of RM10 billion new investments opportunities under Bumiputera Economy Empowerment Program.
Since the past two years ago, Fernandes has been using Kamaruddin to get closer to Tun Dr. Mahathir and get his buy in and endorsement for AirAsia. This is something Fernandes could not do on his own.
The other probablity is that Fernandes and Co are cashing out in a systematic program. After all, tweleve years is a full cycle for a marketeer like Fernandes to stick around for a project even when he had a lot of his own personal stake.
The other reason is that Tombstone Group really in need of additional investments and cheap source of funds. Maintaining their market share needs continuous steady growth and the region is already saturated especially when Singaporean and Indonesian players are taking prominence.
SIA recent announced expansion program for Silk Airways, Tiger Airways and the recently launched Scoot Air. Malindo Air is set to be the largest low cost carrier in the region, which is expanding also as an intercontinental carrier.
Hence, the Malaysian Government via GLCs like Khazanah, EPF, KWAP and PNB are potential long term private equity and commercial papers subcribers for whatever capital that Tombstone Air needs to raise, to realise their expansion plan.
Kamaruddin aka Din Meranun’s job is exactly that. He is the financial man when the two partnerships meteorically rose the low class carrier. Provide the Malay-ness of Tombstone Air Group and be the Malay face of AirAsia, as he is officially the executive in-charge of Government liaisons. An ex-MRSM and ex-ITM is the face to NEP-ise the AirAsia out of people with false British accent like Fernandes or a nut-forgetting-its-shell Malay like Azran and Aireen.
It is has been proven time and again that everything that Fernandes and Co wants to do, got to be taken with a pinch of salt. Changing the ring master doesn’t make the circus and the side shows more interesting or able to achieve new feats.
Our favourite PEMANDU girl is back into the cybersphere limelight or more aptly, in the line of fire. This time, it has been said that she is expected to attend an excursion program to expose selected young Malaysians, shortlisted by the US Department of State via the nomination from the US Embassy here in Jalan Tun Razak.
It is believed amongst those who are selected by the US Government to attend this program is DAPSY Vice Chairman for Sarawak and ADUN for Pandungan Wong Kin Wei.
They are a select few who would are expected to be attending this International Visitor Leadership Program by US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington D.C.. sometime in November. They would be exposed to several US Government agencies of the philosophy and in the methods of doing things.
Farah Intan Burhanuddin, an analyst for the NKRA with PEMANDU would be in all the discourses with the Americans and YB Wong in this program, to discuss amongst other things methods employed by the public sector to prevent corruption, encourage ethical leadership and transparency, responsibility and accountability.
She was in the cybersphere spotlight about seven weeks ago about her lifestyle and inadequate qualification and competency to be where she is. However, PEMANDU clarified against the reports. However, Bloggers demanded for more clarification in many other issues.
However, the blog report about PEMANDU officers sabotaging BN has not been addressed.
Now, Farah as an analyst with PEMANDU is attending a course organised by the US Government with a DAPSY leader and ADUN. She and her employers must be mindful of the events and activities that he is attending and committed herself to even though the department did not officially dispatch her for this program in Washington D.C.
PEMANDU leadership and officers must be mindful that they are civil servants and the department is a very strategic unit under the Prime Minister’s Department. What they do, who they meet and what they talk or even perceived to be talking about is very important to the confidence of majority of the rakyat towards the Malaysian Government.
More over, PEMANDU is a department created by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak for his ‘Transformation Plan’.
Confidence and eventually trust are very valuable political currencies for any leadership to continue of getting support and most importantly, votes from the rakyat. If people with very strategic duties and responsibilities in strategic organisation within the Federal Government and worse still in Prime Minister’s Department are not observant of sensitivities and perception even in involvements of non official arrangements, then they must be ready to be blamed when their chips are down.
Consorting with the enemy is a definite ‘No, No!”. Regardless how the explanation, justification and rationalisation that comes later.
*Updated Sunday 27 October 0200hrs
There are a lot of goodies for the betterment of the quality of life for Malaysians in the Bajet 2014 delivered by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak less than an hour ago. One important ‘Big Ticket’ item of Bajet 2014 is housing.
First all, Federal Government is committed to realize Barisan Nasional’s promises in the 13GE Manifesto (Aku Janji Pilihanraya) where 1 million homes were to be built in the span of five years. Prime Minister Najib announced that 220,000 affordable homes would be built under the various scheme and programs by agencies such as PR1MA (80,000 homes), SPNB (26,122 homes) and so forth.
All of these are targeted for the low, middle-low and middle income Malaysians. It is clear the grievances of Malaysians across the board about home ownership have been noticed and steps being taken to rectify the problem.
The second one is the attack against homes getting more and more outside the range of affordability. One of the issues that loom the continuous escalating price of homes especially in the urban and high growth areas is caused by speculators.
Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) is the tool being sharpened to reduce the speculators. For gains on properties disposed within the holding period of up to 3 years, RPGT rate is increased to 30%, whereas for disposals within the holding period up to 4 and 5 years, the rates are increased to 20% and 15%, respectively. For disposals made in the sixth and subsequent years, no RPGT is imposed on citizens, where as companies are taxed at 5%.
It is not as stiff as how we proposed it about a year ago. Never the less, RPGT would definitely curb a lot of the property punters who worked on getting rid of their prize the moment the certificate of practical completion is obtained.
Another important point announced in this budget is the Federal Government subsidy of low and middle cost range of properties developed by private developers. A special Private Affordable Ownership Housing Scheme ‘MyHome’ is introduced. A maximum subsidy of RM30,000 per unit would be given in a mechanism that would be defined later.
The quality of homes has also been increased. The entry level of housing has been defined at 800 sq. ft consisting of three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The “Rumah Mesra Rakyat” would be introduced where it would be priced between RM45,000-65,000 each.
The middle range homes would be same configuration, but a built up area of 1,000 sq. ft. and priced in the neighbourhood of RM 175,000.
Projects under this MyHome scheme would have the condition of 20% low cost and 20% medium cost homes in the development composition. Mandatory facilities include ample parking, surau, multi purpose hall and children playground.
Under the MyHome scheme, the monthly income qualification for first time buyers for the low cost home is RM3,000 where as the medium cost home is RM 6,000.
In this budget Prime Minister Najib also announced the special funding of RM 100 million under 1Malaysia Maintenance Fund for maintenance and upkeep of homes for the low income Malaysians. Those homes classified as Projek Perumahan Rakyat would get make overs and upgrade in maintenance services.
The sixth point is the Facilitation Funding. RM 4 billion has been provided for the Housing Facilitation Fund (Dana Mudah Cara) to promote public-private sector. RM 1 billion of that would be specifically for qualified entities which include private companies need to apply and the fund would be managed and dished out via the Unit Kerjasama Awam-Swasta (UKAS).
The seventh point is that Prime Minister Najib announced a special grant for private developers building homes for ownership of civil servants. Placed under PR1MA, 10% of the project development cost could be obtained from the Facilitation Fund and under the 1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Project.
The rehabilitation of abandoned housing projects would get special fund of RM82 million, to rescue 20 identified abandoned housing projects and realise 8,197 families to get their homes.
The eighth point which Prime Minister Najib announced is the inception of National Housing Council. It would look into issues which include land price mechanism and rationalisation of home prices.
It is definitely a very good budget, for the home makers, home owners, aspirant families owning their first home and even those who want to upgrade to a better quality of life.
A lot of people especially economic and political analysts are expecting Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak to announce the introduction of the GST system as an avenue for revenue to the Federal Government’s coffer in his Bajet 2014 speech on Friday. The time table of the implementation would also be announced.
It is designed to make up in the effort of reducing dependence of revenue from income tax, reduction of budget deficit and the long term solution for the Federal Government to reduce national debt.
Federal Government is taking the necessary steps to reduce across the board subsidies and work on a mechanism for a targeted subsidy, designed for the groups within the society which deserve the continuation of subsidies so that their lives are maintained at a certain level. This is amidst world wide escalation in cost of production and distribution, which has elastic effect on cost of living.
However, contradicting statements by Deputy Minister of Finance Dato’ Hj. Ahmad Maslan is really confusing many mainstream media readers.
Ahmad Maslan: GST may not be implemented under Budget 2014
OCTOBER 18, 2013
Biz Updates From PR Newswire
Ahmad Maslan said the government has agreed in principle to implement the tax but it has not decided when to enforce the tax and its percentage in the initial stage.– Picture by Siow Saw Feng
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Deputy Minister of Finance Datuk Ahmad Maslan hinted today that the much talked-about goods and services tax many not be implemented under Budget 2014 to be tabled in Parliament next Friday..
He said the government has agreed in principle to implement the tax but it has not decided when to enforce the tax and its percentage in the initial stage.
“When to implement it, what percentage, we don’t know yet, though we’ve stated in official statements (to implement the tax),” he told reporters after a pre-launch to collect funds to build the Integrasi Islam Malaysia madrasah. — Bernama
Then he went to say this frightening statement:
GST rate may be less than 16%: Ahmad MaslanPosted on 20 October 2013 – 08:52pm
Last updated on 20 October 2013 – 09:49pm
MELAKA (Oct 20, 2013): The tax to be levied under the goods and service tax (GST) may be less than 16%, that is, the amount under the existing sales and services tax (SST) system, says Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan.
He also did not see the new tax being a burden to the people.
“If we look at other countries that have implemented the GST, it is less than 16%,” he told reporters here today.
He had earlier officiated the High Performance Organisational Leadership Seminar at the Royal Malaysian Customs Academy at Bukit Baru, with the participation of 100 customs officers from throughout the country.
Also present was the Customs Department Deputy Director General Datuk Zainul Abidin Taib.
According to Ahmad, the government began looking at the GST in 2005 and planned for its implementation two years later, but had to postpone this due to a number of reasons, including objections from certain quarters.
He said the rate and date of implementation of the GST may be announced by Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak when he tables the Budget 2014 on Oct 25.
Two days ago, Ahmad had hinted at the possibility of the much talked-about GST not being implemented under the Budget 2014.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Finance Minister said the Customs Department had collected RM25.8 billion as of last Thursday for 2013.
He expressed confidence that RM34.4 billion would be collected by the department by year-end. –Bernama
What is Ahmad Maslan trying to do?
He is not helping to make Malaysians across the society understand better. In fact, he is creating a bout of confusion. Especially when his response to the quantum of the GST if and when it is introduced.
Compared to economists and professionals in the capital market who have contacted by media, they are providing a more ‘cushioned’ response to help ‘pad the news’. This is to make more Malaysians especially the middle income segment of society absorb the thought of having to pay consumption tax.
Alliance Bank Chief Economist Manokaran Mottain expects the GST to be introduced at the rate of 4-5%.
The fact is that Federal Government especially Treasury did not do enough to educate the Malaysian public about GST as a consumption tax to be introduced, how it relates to revenue and the complete works of the subsidy system and the projection of the nation cash position and commitments.
Some of the available materials for public consumption are far too technical for the common person on the street to comprehend, let alone support.
The Minister in-charge of PEMANDU, who was said to be a ‘people person and communicator’ when he was in Shell, did not do a good job on unlocking the confusion ball. In fact, he made it worse.
Idris Jala pushes for GST, says ‘much income’ unreported
BY BOO SU-LYN OCTOBER 21, 2013
Jala explained that a value-added tax like the GST, where a tax is paid on each step of the process, is aKUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — Malaysia needs to introduce the controversial goods and services tax (GST) – which is likely to start in 2015 if announced in Budget 2014 this Friday – because much income goes unreported, Datuk Seri Idris Jala said today.
He added that it is not sustainable for the country to depend on fewer than two million tax payers in a country of nearly 30 million people,
“Out of some 29 million in people in Malaysia, only less than two million people pay income tax,” the minister in the PM’s department wrote on his blog today.
“In fact, if we don’t widen the tax base, there is absolutely no room to cut income taxes further. For various reasons, including the fact that much income goes unreported, we need to broaden the tax base,” he said.
Jala explained that a value-added tax like the GST, where a tax is paid on each step of the process, is a “consumption tax” that taxes people with spending power.
Putrajaya is seeking to introduce the goods and services tax (GST), possibly in the upcoming Budget 2014 that will be tabled on Friday, in a bid to broaden the tax base and to narrow the fiscal deficit.
The federal government has stated that it aims to reduce the fiscal deficit from 4.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year to 4 per cent this year, and gradually to 3 per cent by 2015.
Jala stressed that the GST would be implemented only in 2015 if it were to be announced in Budget 2014, as 12 to 18 months is needed for preparation.
He also allayed fears on the impact of the GST on the lower-income group, pointing out that the tax rate for essential goods like food, public transport and education will likely be set at zero.
“Also there is currently the sales tax as well as the service tax now of 6 to 10 per cent which will be repealed once the GST is introduced. In the first few years at least, we expect that the GST will be revenue neutral for the government because gains will be offset due to the termination of the sales and service taxes,” said Jala.
The minister explained that the GST would make tax evasion harder, as complete records are necessary at each stage of the taxation process for businesses.
He gave the example of a drink manufacturer, who would have to add a tax, representing the GST, to their product sold to customers, after suppliers similarly include the GST in their sales of sugar, flavour and bottles to the manufacturer.
“But you are entitled to claim a rebate on the tax to the value that you did not add, in other words the tax your suppliers added on. To do that you have to keep proper and complete records,” said Jala, referring to the manufacturer.
“For instance, studies have shown that Malaysia has large capital outflows which can’t be reconciled in the national accounts. As much as 80 per cent of this is said to be from transfer pricing where firms transfer costs to various centres around the world to minimise the tax. Once a GST is implemented, it makes it very much more difficult to do so because complete records are kept at every stage of the value-adding process,” he added.
Jala stressed that the GST is a “broad-based tax” that taxes based on consumption.
“Because it is the more well-to-do and the wealthy who will consume more, the GST automatically taxes them most, not the lower income group,” he said.
Due to public pressure, the implementation of the GST has been postponed several times since the tax was first announced during Budget 2005.
We doubt that Ahmad Maslan even in his position as the Deputy Minister of Finance could explain all of it and rationalise why it is necessary for consumption tax to be introduced, to ensure that the burden of subsidy has not been ‘wasted’ and draining the nation’s coffer indiscriminately.
Neither are we confident that the BN elected representatives could do it too, when they meet their constituents.
Even the recent retail petrol and diesel price hike has not managed to convince the majority of Malaysians. More over, when the decision to reduce subsidy as an excuse to lessen the burden on the Federal Government does not commensurate with the across the board impression and perception about inefficiencies, wastage and worst of all, practice of abuse and corruption.
A lot of Malaysians also question efficiency of the collection and revenue system for the nation such as Inland Revenue Board and Royal Customs and Excise.
The demand of a modern Malaysian society is that they want to be informed and in the know. Many of the younger and educated ones are progressively growing to be more critical and willing to challenge the decisions that the Federal Government take and embark.
Inability to respond, engage and rationalise would simply compound to the distrust that the Federal Government under Prime Minister Najib is doing the right thing and heading the right direction.
Prime Minister Najib should the very least consider having the right spokesman if not the right assistant as deputy minister level in the most important ministry of the Malaysian Government. He simply cannot afford to make anymore perception slip-shots.
It has come to our attention that FELDA Global Ventures Holdings Bhd. (FGV) announced on 29 August 2013 to Bursa Malaysia of the resignation of former Group President and CEO Tan Sri Sabri Ahmad from the Board of Directors (BoD). The reason for resignation is stated as “Due to other commitments”.
However, it is alarming that FGV Chairman YB Tan Sri Isa Samad wrote to Sabri in a letter dated 2 September 2013 for the purpose of:
On 5 September 2013, a corporation under the FGV Group MSM Malaysia Bhd. (MSM) announced that Sabri also resigned from the BoD and also for the same reason, “Due to his other commitments”.
We have been reliably informed that till present day, none of these letters are signed by Sabri.
Hence, if Sabri did not resign as a member of the BoD from any of the said companies, how could FGV disclose to Bursa Malaysia for the announcement of ‘his resignation’ from BoD of FGV and MSM?
Did they do a false declaration to Bursa Malaysia?
If FGV and MSM did, then they should be investigated under the Sect 122B of the Securities Industry Act. It is a crime punishable by a hefty RM3 million fine and ten years jail for committing deceitful statutory declaration, such as a change in the boardroom.
Senior Fellow of Socio-economic and Environment Research Instute Lim Mah Hui is at brink of bring labelled as being defined as a racist, bigot or liar. He should explain on his statement debunking Minister in-charge of Economic Planning in Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Abdul Wahid Omar’s stance for lack of opportunity is the culprit for lesser Malays in corporate sector instead of “Poor quality of workforce”.
There are evidently clear discriminatory practices against Malay graduates, job market candidates with experience, professionals or even top management aspirants. The Mole Chief Editor Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal’s analysis on the New Sunday Times:
October 6, 2013By : Shamsul Akmar |
Discrimination in the private sector
CONTENTIOUS ARGUMENT: It’s highly presumptuous to claim the private sector’s refusal to employ Bumiputeras is because of their lack of quality
THERE are several ways for Malays/Bumiputeras to react to reports quoting economist Dr Lim Mah Hui as saying that the private sector had not been keen to employ them because they are not able and lacking in quality.
Lim, a member of the DAP-led Penang government think tank, reportedly said this when debunking Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, who had contended that the private sector had not given much opportunity to Bumiputeras.
First, Bumiputeras can get all riled up, demand Lim to apologise and if he refuses, ostracise and label him with unsavoury tags. Or they can counter what he had said by pointing out that his statement is racist, condescending, stereotypical, a generalisation, unfounded and without basis, and unfitting to have been uttered by someone with academic credentials.
A report in an English daily on Sept 18 titled “Discrimination when hiring is rife, say job seekers” could shed light on the issue and provide points to ponder as to why Lim was so quick to conclude the issue with a condescending attitude towards Bumiputeras.
The report, among others, highlighted a study conducted by Universiti Malaya senior lecturer in development studies department Lee Hwok Aun and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia research fellow Muhammed Abdul Khalid, which showed that racial discrimination, at least, is very much prevalent in the private sector.
The report stated they were only able to conduct the study in the private sector with Lee saying the results showing Chinese applicants had an upper hand, was expected.
“I wanted to step back and examine the issue empirically and credibly,” the report quoted Lee.
The study involved the distribution of resumes of fictitious Malay and Chinese candidates to real job advertisers and comparing the number of callbacks candidates of each race got.
In his analysis, Lee was quoted as saying: “The result of the experiment showed that in the private sector, race mattered. Chinese applicants are much more likely than Malay applicants to be called for an interview. Quality also matters, but much less so.”
There are a lot of other details in the report. Suffice to say Lee, in the report, pointedly said, “Quality also matters, but much less so.”
The academic, however, had a caveat: “We cannot confidently evaluate these arguments without further study. Emphatically, we must not be hasty to blame the discrimination we detect on malevolent motives and racial stereotyping, prejudice or bigotry.”
Based on the research Lee had done, it would have been highly presumptuous on the part of Lim to make such a sweeping conclusion that the refusal of the private sector to employ Bumiputeras is because of the community’s lack of quality.
Then what may have prompted Lim to say thus? Is it because he had done a study on the subject and the study is conclusive?
Lim may want to come out and prove that his remarks were not spawned from some deep-seated anti-Malay/Bumiputera sentiment but rather from his own findings that may help enlighten the lack in quality among the Bumiputeras, including the policy makers.
While he is at it, one thing seems to be conclusive, as all three — Lim, Wahid and Universiti Malaya’s Lee — agree there is a lack of Bumiputera participation in the private sector and it is not from the lack of want on the part of the community but rather the refusal of the private sector to take them.
In short, if, all this while, it is merely suspicions or conjectures when raising issues about the lack of Bumiputera participation in the private sector, especially when such opinions may have come from the Bumiputeras themselves, now that it had come from the likes of Lim, such views can be deemed as fact.
If that is a fact, the debate now is why (there is lack of Bumiputera participation) and how (to increase their participation). If Lim’s reason is the lack of quality, then the discrimination is not discrimination as merit is of essence. But the advocates of the New Economic Policy and affirmative action will argue that quality will be achieved with opportunities.
The argument put forth by Lim about quality is contentious, especially when he pointed his fingers at the civil servants, the majority being Bumiputeras, as examples of the lack in quality and incapability in producing results. Lest he forgets, the country enjoyed a double digit growth for almost a decade until the financial crisis of 1997/98.
In other words, the affirmative action was in full measure and the civil service shaped the nation’s economic policies. The majority of the civil servants then were still Bumiputeras. For that, there is no necessity for the Bumiputeras to be apologetic for the affirmative action to the likes of Lim and others.
Then again, there will be the Malay/Bumiputera apologists who will argue that they are not against the affirmative action but rather the implementation. Their arguments are ambiguous and at best apologetic, not wanting to put forth what they actually want. The easiest way out is to say that the affirmative action had benefited only the Umnoputras.
Without doubt Umno members, as other Bumiputeras, had benefitted from it. But so did the Malay/Bumiputera apologists.
In fact, if observed closely, these Malay/Bumiputera apologists are actually highly successful.
Their opinions and views are very much sought after by those anti-affirmative action non-Bumiputeras to lead in politics, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions and the media.
Or maybe, they are the ones Lim is referring to as lacking in quality. And wisdom is one quality stooges will never have.
Lim skewed analysis should be seen as nothing but sinister. Never mind the fact that the think-tank he represent is backed by Chinese Chauvinist Penang DAP State Government.
The fact is that, none of the Chinese owned banks and top PLCs hired professional Malays as their CEO. The consideration is never about relevant experience, exposure, qualification or proven track record with industry recognition as the testimony. Even if when they the choice of international head hunters.
Obviously, personalities in the likes of Dato’ Seri Wahid himself have shown their mettle to lead and proven to deliver profitability and brought added value to the shareholders.
Malay professionals have proven themselves to serve MNCs abroad and brought pride not only to the race, but Malaysia at large. This include a proof that the New Economic System (NEP) worked given the ample and right chance, which emphasized on providing quality education as a strategic tool to uplift the socio-economic standing of the down trodden, especially the Malays.
Probably Lim never heard of successful corporate names such as Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Mohd. Nor, Tan Sri Hassan Merican and Dato’ Seri Zainal Abdul Jalil.
There is even this advocate and solicitor Hardani Azmi, who is a product of the NEP via Maktab Rendah Sains Mara system, joined an international legal firm Fasken Martineau as a partner to beef up their energy core team in London.
All of these men have proven to earn their mark, when they were given equal opportunities.
Petronas is one of the ‘new seven sisters’ which is profitable and provided more than 15% of the Federal Government revenue annually, had been professionally managed by a team of Malay management since its inception in 1974. The growth and profitability is the proof that given the opportunity, Malay professionals not only could manage but plan for better future results.
Probably caveman-economist like Lim would like to argue that managing a state-owned petroleum company is no brainer. Then again, a comparison against corporations like Pertamina would be a good yardstick.
This is something seriously lacking, from Chinese owned business entities, be it individually owned entreprise, SME/Is or PLCs. The discriminatory practices are found across the board. This is something which a study of 3,200 applications to 800 jobs (four applications to each jobs) were made by fictitious Malay and Chinese applicants, jointly conducted by two innovative economic researchers Dr. Lee Hwok Aun and Dr. Muhammed Abdul Khalid.
Despite the assurances, a study conducted by University Malaya senior lecturer in development studies department Lee Hwok Aun and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia research fellow Muhammed Abdul Khalid showed that racial discrimination, at least, is very much prevalent in the private sector.
Stating that they were only able to conduct the study in the private sector, Lee said that the results that showed that Chinese applicants had an upper hand, was expected.
Lee said that the experiment was done as there were many opinions made from anecdotal evidence, personal experience or hearsay.
“I wanted to step back and examine the issue empirically and credibly,” he said.
The study involved the distribution of resumes of fictitious Malay and Chinese candidates to real job advertisers and comparing the number of callbacks candidates of each race gets.
“We ensured that the Malay and Chinese applicants in our pool were similarly qualified. We controlled for quality, in the way that experiments isolate the effect of the determinant in focus by controlling for – in other words, taking away – the effects of other determinants, “ Lee said.
When questioned on why only two races were chosen for the experiment, Lee said that the predominant images of labour market discrimination that form in our minds pit Chinese-owned private sector businesses against Malay graduates and a Malay dominated public sector against the non-Malay workforce.
He added that they faced practical difficulties as the duo considered including other groups such as preparing larger number of resumes, which in turn will require more manpower to process.
The result of the experiment showed that in private sectors, race mattered.
“Chinese applicants are much more likely than Malay applicants to be called for interview. Quality also matters, but much less so,” Lee said.
He added that some skills such as proficiency in Chinese dialects increased the chances of Malay applicants but not by much.
“This research just examines discrimination in selection for interview, not the job offer stage, let alone employment and promotion, which impact further on our economy and society.
“Investigating discrimination at those levels is controversial and difficult, if not impossible, since it will involve research assistants posing in person as job candidates,” he said.
Lee said that although the experiment did not answer the burning question of why such discrimination occurs, it was a starting point.
“Perhaps some employers expect Malay applicants to not socially fit into the company and hence do not bother calling them for interview, or perhaps they feel a need and justification for private sector to counterweight the pro-Malay policies in the public sector.
“We cannot confidently evaluate these arguments without further study. Emphatically, we must not be hasty to blame the discrimination we detect on malevolent motives and racial stereotyping, prejudice or bigotry,” he said.
Lee added that this was an issue we need to dwell on seriously as a nation.
Discriminatory unwritten policies and practices restricted Malay graduates to be given the opportunity, even when they have the necessary qualifications. When they are in, more discriminatory practices inhibits them from progressing.
This include not allowing them to be exposed to ‘prized projects’.
Another clear example is academic. If the argument that Malay graduates earn lesser quality qualification from public universities and colleges compared to the Non Malays. consider the fact on the opportunity available for qualified Malay academicians in private universities and colleges.
The fact that there are over 480 private universities and colleges in the nation as compared to 20 odd public universities.
However, there is only one prominent university college which employed a Malay academician as the Vice Chancellor, despite that there are thousands of professors and professionals with relevant academic experience amongst the Malays available.
As such, the fate of the Malays having their tertiary education via private colleges are numbered even from the angle of the discriminatory practice of allowing the Malays to lead.
Unless Lim could come with empirical evidence to support his claim that “The Malays are poor quality workforce”, then it is almost certain that he is a racist, bigot and liar or any combination between the three.
As part of their statutory duty, FELDA Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) made an announcement to Bursa Malaysia that recently retired President of the Group and CEO Tan Sri Sabri Ahmad resigned from FGV BoD dated 29 August 2013.
As far as we know, Tan Sri Sabri at the time was incapacitated and hospitalised for a very major ailment in Kuala Lumpur.
He was not allowed visitors and definitely no work ever made its way to his hospital bed. Which include any papers that he is supposed to sign, to finalise if ever he actually wants to leave FGV BoD by his own device.
Sabri was Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s personal pick three and a half years ago to carry his ‘Transformation Plan’ for the FELDA community, via their business arm FELDA Global Ventures and FELDA Holdings Bhd. Sabri was supposed to merge the two under FGVH and listed it.
Sabri started the ball rolling and made the necessary work to merge, restructure and organise the plan for IPO. On 7 October 2011, Prime Minister Najib announced in his Bajet 2012 speech that the exercise would happen and by April 2012, FGVH would be listed as a plc.
He successfully did the first one, Malaysian Sugar Malaysia (MSM). MSM was listed in mid 2011 and cash was realised for FGV, on top increasing value to the shareholders.
Part of the listing exercise of FGV was supposed to realise the full potential and ‘unlocking of values’, designed for the benefits of the 112,635 FELDA settlers. It did happen when Prime Minister Najib announced the ‘Durian Runtuh’ of RM15,000 in agggregate to all FELDA settler families for the hardwork and sacrifice all these years.
The market was bullish. The IPO of FGV in June 2012 was second most globally successful IPO for the whole year, after Facebook. FGV realised RM4.5 billion in cash, from the IPO exercise. Sabri carved out a large portion of the gains realised from the IPO, for the purpose of continuous development of FELDA community.
In January, FGV Chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad announced the designated CEO Emir Mavani to replace Sabri. Then the final ouster of Sabri as CEO came on 15 July.
It is no mystery why there are personalities who wanted Sabri out the way from FGV BoD. FGV is sitting on a huge pile of cash and any successor to the wealth planned and created from Sabri’s hard work could easily do spending spree.
Proposals like the acquisition of New Britain Plantations off Papua New Guinea, almost double what Kulim Bhd paid for a similar acquisition two years earlier. Now, the more recent one is the Pontian Plantations which was acquired for RM1.204b and paid in cash.
What is interesting about the Pontian Plantations acquisition is that the speed that the deal was was made and concluded since the year before, one of its own shareholders TSH Resources failed.
They had to push Sabri out of the way very quickly for obvious reasons. Had Sabri is still around, he would have not allowed nor condone the acquisition of Pontian Plantations to be exercised without proper good governance and necessary due diligence.
After all, Sabri is an experienced planter and very well respected in the industry. He could smell a rat or fish, in any proposition.
As far as we know, Sabri did not sign any documents that he agreed to resign from FGV BoD. In fact, Prime Minister Najib also wanted Sabri to remain in the FGV BoD after he retired as Group President and CEO. Sabri would only leave when Prime Minister Najib tells him to. So if Sabri did not sign anything or even verbally agreed to resign from FGV BoD, how could FGV make such an announcement to Bursa Malaysia?
Is this not an attempt to commit corporate fraud by deception?