Shahrir slapstick antics

Johor Bahru MP YB Dato’ Shahrir Samad gave a very lame excuse to rebut Tun Dr. Mahathir’s statements in Kulai, last Thursday. This is what was reported on Sunday Star, 1 April 2007.

Dr M’s suggestion an insult, says Shahrir

JOHOR BARU: It is insulting to suggest that Johor Malays are weak and incapable of competing with others in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR), said Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad.

He was commenting on a recent statement by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who said that he was not confident that the Malays could compete with the people coming into the IDR.

Shahrir said it was not fair to say that Johoreans were weak.

While he has respect for Dr Mahathir’s views, he felt that the former premier had himself created such a situation and was now complaining about it.

“This is the result of his own strategies and policies. The present Government is just building upon what he has created.

“I don’t understand why he thinks that Johor Malays are weak and I think it is an insult to the Johor Malays,” Shahrir told a press conference after officiating Umno Youth’s sponsorship of books.

Shahrir noted that Kedahan Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary had control over much of the logistic hubs in the IDR with his ownership of the Johor Port, Senai airport and 70% of Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP).

“Maybe its true that we are weak and since he (Dr Mahathir) is Kedahan, maybe that is why he decided to give the ports to a Kedahan.

“That’s why he has always taken advantage of us, but we intend to prove him wrong,” he said.

Is this his pathetic attempt of a practical April Fool’s day slapstick joke or what?

First of all, Tun Musa suggested that Johorean Malay SME/I business owners be pitted against foreign investments and businesses with near unlimited resources that will be brought into the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).

That is really a ridiculous idea. One do not throw people who is still learning how to swim (needing training floats and all) to be thrown into the deep end of the pool. Now Tun Musa wants these people to be thrown into the open sea with possible shark infestation.

This is not about calling Johor Malay business owners as weak. This is about the readiness of these businesses to take on the challenges of much bigger competition. By many counts, the playing field is not leveled yet. Its unfair to pit novice players against professional giants. Is like getting Tanjung Kupang FC playing against Chelsea.

Shahrir is stupid enough to laud this call. Is this how Shahrir repaying back the Johorean, especially UMNO loyalists, who have been supportive of him and his political antics, all these years?

One would like to remind that this Johor Bahru MP, resigned from his seat in 1988, just to test his popularity. He for no reason, just let go off the Johor Bahru Dewan Rakyat seat and re-contested in the subsequent by-election as an independent candidate. He made the Johor Bahru public went through a rigorous election process, wasting resources, including people’s time and Government machineries, just to satisfy his ego and spite against YAB Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, then as the Prime Minister and UMNO (Baru) President.

Of course, as the independent candidate under the ‘key’ symbol, he defeated UMNO’s candidate Cikgu Masoud. So what did actually Shahrir or the Johor Bahru constituents gained out of that political stunt?

NOTHING! Eventually, he too joined UMNO (Baru). He made Johor Bahru a political circus because this is his cheeky way of expressing his eccentric ego.

That is the sort of Johor Bahru citizen this person is. So lets take a closer look on the track record of this feisty Johor Bahru MP.

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As the Chairperson for Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Shahrir was supposed to look into the ECM Libra – Avenue Capital merger controversies. However, so far he managed to steer the PAC to look at the other way, where nothing is resolved and many unanswered issues, even raised by people everywhere, remained ‘lost’. Example are the issues involving Security Commission (SC) in this case. PAC, under Shahrir, failed to summon SC to answer on some of the pertinent issues like:

1. Why and how did Avenue Capital allowed to do the “impairment of goodwill” for the amount of RM 296 million? On the other hand, ECM Libra maintain a goodwill of RM 250 million.

2. Why was ECM Libra pre-merger ‘propping up the share prices’ move and a convenient all time high price that lead to a position many in the capital market take as “over valuation”, was used for the negotiations were never investigated?

3. Why Avenue Capital being a GLC owned firm was never referred to the EPU for consideration and evaluation of the merger proposal? The speed MOF approved the merger is also a ‘new record’.

4. Why the Mandatory General Offer (MGO) was waived for the Avenue Capital minority shareholders and the strong protest of Minority Stockholders Watchdog Group Bhd. was not heeded?

5. EGM procedural issue like why the Avenue Capital EGM on 18 May 2006, there weren’t any auditors to answer some of shareholders queries about the treatment of accounts and issuance of ONLY “fair view” statement prior to the merger? Also why ECM Libra executives (people with vested interests) allowed attending the EGM?

6. Improper justification by independent advisers on the merger, namely K & N Kenanga where they had undertaken to justify the discrepancies of the merger with improper comparative valuation

So he wasn’t protecting the people’s interests after all. Some even beginning to suspect that he is playing the ‘cover up’ role in the PAC, so that the untrained MPs (in merchant banking areas and tricky corporate games) being lead to look the other way and the embarasment to PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration is avoided.

In reference to Shahrir’s statement to The Star, what is wrong giving a Kedahan like successful entrepreneur Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary the opportunity to develop an infrastructure project such as the PTP? He did very well, even managed to earn some success as a formidable competition against the developed Keppel port in Singapore. Infact, PTP in a short time did much better compare to the earlier operationalised Pasir Gudang port.

Actually, it’s not a matter of discussion at all. Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed, a Muar native, has been given the opportunity to take over the Perwaja Bhd., which include the Gurun mill, which is in Kedah. Johor Corp, under Tan Sri Mohamed Ali Hashim, was successful in developing a KPJ private hospital in Alor Star. There is nothing wrong about cross border businesses within Malaysia.

Now, lets see some of Shahrir own moves. Shahrir was said to be one of the personality behind the attempt to privatize the Majidee Camp into a development project, somewhere in mid 90s, soon after Dato’ Abdul Ghani Othman assume the Menteri Besarship of Johor. It received fierce reaction and opposition from some of the Royal household members as part of the land belong to this family and the project never got anywhere because caveats were placed on them. Till present, the Royal Malay Regiment is still occupying the camp, in prime Johor Bahru area.

Perhaps Shahrir also would care to explain about the much talked about so called timber concession proposal somewhere in the South East of Johor which involved some of the Orang Asli land.

Last June, when Wilayah Persekutuan UMNO organised the “Majlis Penerangan” on the current issues at Nikko Hotel, Shahrir was one of the speaker in the closed affair, for UMNO members. He represented the UMNO Supreme Council. When the members lashed out prickly question against issues which include escalating cost of living, Shahrir chose to keep mum and not respond. Only Dato’ Mustafa Mohamad stood up to defend the Government and party.

It seems Shahrir is not as holy as his “Holier than thou” attitude when he wants to take a swipe against the former Prime Minister. Maybe he should re-evaluate his position first, as the Johor Bahru folks elected him not because he is Shahrir Samad, but because he stood under the UMNO ticket, in the city where UMNO was incorporated and legacy lives on, eternally.

So Shahrir, who had the last laugh to your April Fool practical joke?

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 00:19  Comments (8)