PM Says Singapore Controls Pantai Hospitals
A Kadir Jasin
A WEEK after denying in a TV3 interview that no Malaysian company is being controlled by a foreign company, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was forced to acknowledge that private hospital operator, Pantai Holdings Bhd is now controlled by Singapore-based Parkway Holdings Ltd.
The admission came amidst reports in The Star, the Internet newspapers and blogs that Pantai Holdings, together with its two privatized components – Fomema and Pantai Medivest – had effectively fallen into Parkway’s hand.
Bernama, on Aug. 13 quoted the Prime Minister as saying in Kepala Batas that the government was studying the necessary action to be taken pertaining to the disposal of a 31-per cent stake in the company to Parkway.
He said the matter was being looked into by the Treasury after realising that it had become a problem as it was related to the concession for the supply of hospital requirements.
(The Bernama report did not mention the PM saying anything about foreign workers' medical examination and monitoring privatised to Fomema).
"The share sale has become a problem, as it involves several matters related to the concession given to Pantai Holdings, that is a contract to supply hospital requirements," he told reporters.
Having overlooked the problem when approving the sale just over half a year ago, is the Treasury a competent authority to look into the matter now?
How could the Treasury, together with its agencies and affiliates like Securities Commission, Bursa Malaysia, Foreign Issue Committee (FIC) and, possibly, Bank Negara overlook the problem in the very first place?
Even during the interview (conducted by the non-journalist Bernama chairman, Datuk Annuar Zaini, who is a close associate of the PM), Abdullah was not cautioned on the Pantai Holdings issue, resulting in him declaring that “there is no Malaysian company that is controlled by a foreign company.”
This latest development will not help convince the people that the Government is on top of things, especially after so many sweeping statements Abdullah made during the Aug. 7 interview are proving to be inaccurate.