Tun Dr. Mahathir: Help us to publicise the effort to rebuild Gaza

Fourth Prime Minister and President of Perdana Global Peace Organisation Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad appealed to the world’s NGOs to assist in the effort to rebuild Gaza, which was overwhelmingly by the brutal Zionist Israeli occupying force to a point where innocent Gazans, which include women, children and old people suffered terribly. They also prohibited any aid to come into Gaza, even for humanitarian grounds and the blockade is still being enforced.

He said this in a media conference at the PGPO HQ, housed in Yayasan Al Bukhary near the National Mosque this morning.

"Rachel Corrie", being prepared for humanitarian mission to help Gazans, Ireland early May 2010

He was announcing the Flotilla of 8 Vessels, as part of he expedition which one of the vessel was named Rachel Corrie to sail from Dundalk on the Irish coast to Gaza, via Lanarca, Cyprus to bring aid workers, activists, media and goods such as building materials. Two of the vessels were contributed each by PGPO (from donation collected) and Yayasan Al Bukhary at the cost of RM 1.5 million.

The mission will be lead by Huwaida Arraf of the Free Gaza Movement.

A total  of 5000 tonnes of aid in the form of construction materials including pre-fabricated homes, medical equipment including 150 wheelchairs, dental chairs, blood collecting machines and hospital beds, water filtration equipment and generators, school materials including children’s books, pens and pencils, drawing brushes, paints and colourings, clothing, toys and sports equipment like football etc.

'Rachel Corrie' with some of the activists/volunteers, which include PGPO's Matthias Chang and Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal

Besides aid, the ship will also carry around 600 people including politicians, members of parliament and high- level peace activists including a former Nobel Prize winner from Ireland -Mairead Maguire. Apart from the Rachel Corrie, the money donated by Malaysians also went to the purchase of two other vessels.

Apart from PGPO representatives, there will be two members from the local press and a Member of Parliament has committed but he will need clearance from the government.

When asked bout the danger of the mission, Tun Dr. Mahathir admitted that it is extremely dangerous not because of the journey but the brutally nonchalant and sadistic attitude of the Zionist Israeli troops. In the previous mission led by Arraf, her tiny fishing boat which carried 18 activists and no weapons were rammed and sunk by an Israeli Navy patrol vessel and the survivors were picked up and held in an Israeli prison.

Seventeen year old Rachel Corrie's lifeless body

“That is how cruel they (the Zionist Israelis) are. They have no regards for other people, even unarmed civilians. In China (during the Tiananmen democracy uprising 21 years ago), the tanks stopped when a protester stood in front of it and he was not run over and killed. Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer when the teenager stopped one to halt the machine from destroying innocent Palestinians’ homes”.

“You (the media) can help by creating awareness and publicizing this mission and effort. More people would be drawn and eventually create (international) pressure, to help the Gazans”.

When asked, why is the mission set to sail now and not capitalised on any event involving Israeli Leaders and the country during an international media attention period (like recently concluded PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington D.C. and meeting with President Barack H. Obama), he quipped “We have no more time. We have to do this as soon as we can. The Gazans have suffered too much, too long already”.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 12:16  Comments (2)  

Slaughtering the Sime

Yesterday afternoon, Sime Darby Bhd. Chairman Tun Musa Hitam called for a media conference to announce  Group CEO Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zubir Mursyid’s “leave of absence”, which took affect immediately. This was a decisive move, especially after a lot of Sime Darby’s scandals were being highlighted here in bloggosphere more that 15 months ago.

BizStar reports:

Friday May 14, 2010

Sime President and CEO Zubir removed

By RISEN JAYASEELAN
risen@thestar.com.my

The high-profile removal is linked to Qatar and Bakun projects’ cost overruns

PETALING JAYA: In what is seen as the first high-profile removal of the head of a government-linked company, Sime Darby Bhd’s board of directors has asked its president and group chief executive Datuk Ahmad Zubir Murshid to take a leave of absence prior to the expiry of his contract on Nov 26, 2010.

Sime Darby chairman Tun Musa Hitam said at a press conference yesterday afternoon that Zubir’s leaving was in connection with the cost overruns that the group’s energy and utilities division had suffered in carrying out projects in Qatar and the Bakun hydro-electric dam.

Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid, currently head of Sime Darby Plantations, has been appointed as acting group chief executive.

Sime Darby also said it would take a hit of RM964mil in its second half earnings from losses from its energy division.

From left: Datuk Seri Panglima Andrew Sheng, Tun Musa Hitam and Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid at the press conference on Thursday

Musa said the problems in this division first surfaced when the board was performing its functions in the last six to seven months. “We discovered that there were a few questionable positions in relation to the financial status of the company and the application of corporate governance. We then decided to look further and realised that there was cause for curiosity in the energy and utility division,” he said.

Musa added that the board then formed a working group in October 2009 to look into the matter. The work group, which is still looking into the issues, consists of Datuk Seri Panglima Andrew Sheng, as chairman, Tan Sri Wan Zahid Noordin and Datin Zaitoon Othman.

It is advised by external lawyers Ashurst, Rajah and Tann and Zaid Ibrahim & Co as well as the accounting firms of Deloitte and KPMG

The work group then found that one particular project needed more attention.

Subsequently, a comprehensive investigation was conducted and it was discovered that the problems involved two or three other projects, Musa said.

“The group worked with seriousness, determination and thoroughness that was demanded of them. They did a tremendous job,” Musa said.

Musa said the board had assessed the “damages” caused by this division and, in the interest of good corporate governance, identified the individuals that were responsible and accountable for these losses. “It is not appropriate for us to list out everyone concerned and the whys and hows of what went on. But this is the basis of our decisions,” he said.

When asked if this meant Sime Darby was firing Zubir, Musa said: “The fact is, he has left as of today. It is up to you how you want to interpret that.”

Sime Darby was also asked if there was a breakdown of risk management within the group. Musa said the same question had been raised in the working group as the Bakun project had stated in 2002, while the Qatar projects first began in 2005. “But note that these are very long and complex technical projects. But we do acknowledge that there should have been better controls in place.”

Sheng, who is also a Sime Darby board member, said there were valuable lessons to be learnt from this episode. “We have given instructions to the management to strengthen controls and manage all operations in the most prudent and efficient manner.”

Musa added that the board was looking at making changes to the management structure of the group to ensure that better corporate governance was adhered to.

On whether any fraud has been detected or criminal charges filed against any Sime Darby employees, Musa said that would depend on the findings of the working group and their special consultants, which is still “work in progress.”

Azhar added that Sime Darby would be obliged to follow up on the appropriate course of action based on the findings of its investigations.

The RM964mil provisioning that will take place, is made up of losses of RM200mil from the Qatar Petroleum project, RM159mil from the Maersk Oil Qatar project, RM155mil from a project to construct vessels for use in the latter project and RM450mil from cost overruns in the Bakun project.

Kenanga Research, in a note yesterday evening, reversed its rating on Sime Darby from a hold to a sell, noting that the announcement was “extremely negative” as the provisioning was “much larger than what the investment community had been forcasting.”

“The lack of controls in such a large GLC is nothing less than shocking,” the report stated.

Kenanga estimates Sime Darby’s full year FY2010 net profit to come down to RM1.74bil versus its previous projection of RM2.5bil.

Ivy Ng, senior regional analyst at CIMB Investment Bank shared the same view that Sime Darby’s provisions are bigger than what CIMB had expected. “So that is negative. Furthermore, the change of management is only marginally positive as they have not named who will be their permanent CEO,” she said.

A glimpse of Sime Darby’s cost overruns in its energy and utilities division:

  • Qatar Petroleum project – delays and cost overruns which resulted in losses on the project exceeding RM500mil, which have already been accounted for. The board has decided to reverse the revenue of RM200mil previously recognised in FY2009.
  • Maersk Oil Qatar project – delays and cost overruns have resulted in foreseeable losses of RM526mil for FY2010. Of this, RM367mil has already been recognised in the first half FY2010 and the board has decided to recognise the remaining RM159mil.
  • Contruction of vessels for use in the Maersk Oil Qatar project – the board estimates the project may result in losses of about RM155mil.
  • The Bakun hydroelectric dam project, in which Sime Engineering Sdn Bhd holds a 35.7% effective interest – management estimates that there could be a potential additional cost attributable to the group in the FY2010 results of RM450mil.
  • *****************

    The board of directors (BOD) met for a marathon of 13 hours on Wednesday, going through a barrage of audit reports to understand the real situation and the true extend of the damages that all these scandals have dragged Sime Darby financially, morally and even trying to minimally guess the erosion of the general public opinion. The conglomerate which was formed with merger of three separate conglomerates in 2007 now boast to be the largest oil palm and rubber plantation in the world.

    Personalities that sit in the BOD are non other but high acclaimed individuals, with an impeccable mixture of vast of experiences in public service, corporate world and professional services. The Chair is occupied by Fifth Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam and other members are PNB Chairman and former Chief Secretary to the Government Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, former Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Shamsuddin Osman, Former Director General of Education Department Tan Sri Wan Mohd Zahid Wan Noordin, former TNB Chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Tajuddin Ali, shipping tycoon Tan Sri Dato’ Panglima Andrew Sheng, former Price Waterhouse Coopers Executive Chairman Raja Tan Sri Arshad Raja Tun Uda, Former CEO of Bank Islam Bhd. Dato’ Dr. Abdul Halim Ismail, former Sime UEP CEO Dato’ Sri Mohamad Sulaiman and renowned lawyer Datin Paduka Zaitoon Dato’ Othman. British national Dato’ Henry S. Barlow and former Indonesian Central Bank Governor Dr .Ariffin Mohamad Siregar are the two non Malaysian in the BOD. Of course Zubir sits in the BOD also.

    It was said that the BOD was “Misled about the Qatar project” and “Kept from the true information”. It was also said that the BOD was told that “The Qatar project failed because of ‘variation order'”. The truth is that, people in the industry had been talking about the ‘mismanagement and fraud’ in the near-billion-Ringgit scandal.

    It is clear that the reporting system and the independent audit committee within the Sime Darby BOD is not effective. The nation can no longer have large corporations like this be marred by scandals and loss making ventures. It must not be good for PM Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s agenda of the ‘New Economic Model’ for the Malaysian economy per capita to expand by double in 10 years time and lure in human capital and FDIs, to complement this growth and objective set.

    Probably it is time the Sime Darby BOD look into the recent acquisitions of Sime Darby Group, such as Sapura Auto, Auto Europecar and Asia Pacific Institute Information Technology (APIIT) . Sime Darby can’t possibly dwell into any more scandals and financial quangos. People on the street still talked about how Sime Darby went into banking in the 1990s when they took over Sime Bank from UMBC and that turned out to be a very bad experience, even for regular unit trust holders of ASB.

    The ‘dismissal’ of Zubir alone is deemed inadequate, especially from the ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency’ perspective. If the BOD had been “misled and kept away from true information”, then Zubir could not possibly have acted alone. BOD should do a comprehensive investigations to ‘witch-hunt’ every single person who had the knowledge about all these but decided to keep ‘mum’ about it.  We expect to see more heads be chopped of, either at Sime Darby BOD, SDE BOD, SD Energy and Utilities and executives at all three companies.

    Again its spring time in the northern hemisphere. ‘Spring Cleaning’ is timely. Sime Darby Bhd. as a group would have to do a lot to recover the confidence which has been marred and grossly eroded.

    *Updated Friday 14 May 2010 0800hrs

    Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 00:00  Comments (20)