Dr Rais, another broadcaster soon?

This week is where the telco industry players were busy holding their Hari Raya Open Houses. When the industry players met, they gossip. Top of the gossip amongst them is about a recently issued broadcasting license.

In the grapevine, a brand new broadcasting license was issued by Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission last month. The applicant is Nilamas Sdn. Bhd. The license was said to be issued in a very short time. The application is not known by persons who were experienced in the broadcasting business and the technology that is required for it.

One corporate figure has been said to be behind Nilamas. Dato’ Kenneth Eswaran, is the name that keeps cropping in this case. Eswaran was a corporate name of the 90s when Benta Plantations is mentioned. The game was logging and property development. Technology and ICT was

Kenneth Eswaran, then a newcomer to the corporate scene, bought into Benta Plantations Bhd via a reverse-takeover, acquiring 31% of this company and 28.1% of Mun Loong Bhd. Eswaran’s partner, who owned a further 30% of Benta, is Haji Ishak Ismail, of Idris Hydraulic. Benta changed its name to Best World Land Bhd and, in 1994, Eswaran was reportedly interested in a 250,000 ha timber concession in Southern Laos and was expected to sign a deal with the Laotian authorities at the beginning of 1995 and to undertake logging activities during that year. The concession would allow logging for 6 or 7 years.

Eswaran was reported to be setting up a new company, with both the listed vehicles in which he was involved (Benta—now Best World Land—and Mun Loong) investing 55% and 45% respectively in the new company. Total investment in the new concession was to be about RM 60 million (USD 24 million). Because the timber business was new to these companies, Eswaran was believed to be scouting around to hire timber experts.

Best World Land Bhd sold its equity in Mun Loong Bhd at the end of 1995 for a loss, reportedly in order to concentrate on its core business of property development. It is not clear whether the Laos deal was successfully concluded or not.

A name associated with Mun Loong Bhd was then former Assistant Governor of Bank Negara Dato’ Nor Mohamed Yackop. Later it became Abrar Corporation Bhd and that story is a dog of different fleas.

Technology and ICT was never Eswaran’s ‘cup of tea’. At the moment, he is President of Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI). Word has it that he is “Very connected to the PM”.

How and why MCMC issued a fresh broadcasting license is not too clear. Probably the Minister-in-charge Dato’ Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim could explain why this application was processed in record time and most of all, what is the business plan for Nilam Emas.

It is important for consumers to understand as active broadcasters such as Astro and Unifi are already giving consumers the agony of choice and not too long ago, MiTV failed with their cable TV project. As far as we know so far, they have been going around hawking the business plan for financing programs from banks all over town. A certain ‘note’ from a certain individual is said to be accompanying these proposals for Nilamas financing.

Is Eswaran a credible name for broadcasting business? That, the Minister got to explain also.

Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 10:00  Comments (6)