Monday, July 30, 2018

Misreporting and misreprenting the Council of Eminent Persons

A Kadir Jasin

PREAMBLE: Views expressed herein are entirely mine. I am writing in my personal capacity as a blogger. It has nothing to do with whatever position I may hold.

The sitting of  the Council of Eminent Persons at Menara Ilham
THERE have been many articles and comments made on the role of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP). Some are thoughtful and largely accurate but most are akin to fictions.

I would not blame the writers and commentators because the council has not been generous with information. Understandably so because it is still work-in-progress and its chairman, Tun Daim Zainuddin, isn’t a chatty kind of person.

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While the Pakatan Harapan government encourages freedom of expression, still it is unprofessional and unethical for the journalists, writers and members of parliament to make comments based on untruth and hearsay.

The Rembau Barisan Nasional Member of Parliament, Khairy Jamaluddin aka KJ is one of them. He was reported saying in the Dewan Rakyat that members of the CEP are unelected.

Everybody knows that. If they are elected, they would be in the Parliament answering KJ. He then went on to accuse Daim of exceeding his authority by purportedly asking Chief Justice, Tun Md Raus Shariff, to resign.

As a parliamentarian and a former minister, people expect him to check his facts. Did he ask Raus if this is true? If he did not, it shows that he is being irresponsible and should apologise.

The same goes for those who wrote in or told the media about the CEP. Clearly some of them love publicity and think highly of themselves. They thrive on wild imaginations and can’t suppress their bloated ego. They crave the limelight.

This government promises freedom of expressions. But free expression must be based on facts and truths or, at the very least, on thoughtful analyses and fair comments.

KJ and his nemesis - Umno President and Bagan Datuk MP, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi - also issued statements on the en-bloc resignation of the Khazanah Nasional Berhad board.

KJ had said that company must not revert to old ways of doing business. Was he then agreeing with the PH government?

That’s exactly what the new government is asking government-linked companies (GLCs) and government-linked investment companies (GLICs) not to do i.e going back to the bad old ways.

The government and the CEP have discovered enough evident to conclude that their old ways of doing business were bad and had led to billions of ringgit of losses and missing funds.

I think KJ is too young to suffer from dementia. So he must have still remember that the bad old ways started in or around 2004 when he ruled supreme at the 4th floor of the Prime Minister’s Department and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop was elevated to the post of Finance Minster II by the then Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Nor Mohamed is a survivor extraordinaire. Despite losing billions in botched foreign currency trading at Bank Negara in the 1990s, he was rehabilitated by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis, made minister by Abdullah and Deputy Chairman of Khazanah by Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.

Zahid, on the other hand, hopes that there will be no political appointees in the board of GLCs and GLICs. He must be sleep walking or high on ketum, figuratively speaking I hope. Or he is perpetuating lies in order to continue to fool his uninformed Umno constituents.

The PH government has made it very clear about this. It would not flood the GLCs and GLICs with political appointees at the board and management levels like the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government did.

It was these political appointees who ran such iconic agencies like Mara, Felda, Tabung Haji and Felcra to the ground.

KJ is so confident of Khazanah’s performance that he fully supports the outgoing Board. Has he checked the accounts of the Company beyond what was reported in the annual reports and press statements?

Yes Khazanah did make tens of billions of ringgit in profits since its inception in 1993. Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar was its Chief Operating Officer since 2004. 

Making profits is the objective of Khazanah. Its executives are paid well to make profits. But what about those billions of ringgit of losses they incurred?

Many writers, bloggers and social media activists sang praises for Khazanah and Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) directors, saying they were professional and apolitical. Ex-ministers are apolitical?

Then there was the suggestion that Putrajaya was stunned by the Khazanah board en-bloc resignation. How could Putrajaya be stunned when it was reported that it declined to meet the Khazanah Managing Director?

But a representative of the departing board told me that they finally succeeded in making contact with the government following which the en-bloc resignation offer was made.

The government and the CEP have to dwell deeper into Khazanah and other GLICs that built their businesses around legacy assets.

We need to know how much of their turnovers and profits are generated by assets transferred to them by the government – the legacy assets – and by the new businesses they create on their own.

This could be the reason that prompted the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahatrhir Mohamad, to say that Khazanah had deviated from the objective of assisting the Bumiputera.

Like the PNB, much of Khazanah’s early assets were shares of blue chip companies held in trust for the Bumiputera by the government. They were transferred - mostly at cost - to PNB in the early 1980s and Khazanah a decade later.

While PNB remains largely Bumiputera although some of its unit trust funds are now open to all Malaysians, other Bumiputera trust agencies, including Khazanah, have lost their original character.

Let’s face it. Not all departing GLC managers are playing fair or are gentlemen. There are those who submitted resignation letters without stating the effective dates. There are those who said they would leave when their contracts expire.

The timing of resignation offer by the Khazanah board is also ominous. It coincides with the time when rating agencies are in town to interview their resource persons. Before this, Khazanah is known to be in their good books.

If the board’s claim that its role is supervisory and investment decisions are made by the management is true, then their en-bloc resignation shouldn’t leave a major impact on Khazanah’s operation.

I am told that Azman would stay on for a while and that his replacement has been identified.

As for Daim's recent trip to China, the Foreign Minister had clarified and one former ambassador wrote saying it didn’t matter if the cat was black or white as long it caught the mouse.

Dr Mahathir had been sending Daim as his special envoy all over the world since 1981. If we read Dr Mahathir autobiography “Doctor in the House” we would have known that he had sent Daim as his negotiator as early as 1981 to USA to negotiate on tin and to UK to end the “buy British last” campaign.

He had also sent the former Finance Minister to Singapore, Philippines and Australia.

Who was with Dr Mahathir in the White House when he was invited by President Bill Clinton? Did any minister accompany Dr Mahathir then?

Only those who are new in politics and the media or don’t read will question why the PM sent Daim to China. Daim himself is a familiar face in Beijing.

This coming week Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, will come to Malaysia to meet Dr Mahathir and arrange the Prime Minister’s visit to China next month. According to the programme, Daim will host a dinner for the Chinese dignitary.

The CEP’s main task is to collect information on the activities of GLCs and other government agencies during the kleptocratic reign of Mohd Najib, analyze them and present their findings to the Prime Minister. It is up to the Prime Minister and his cabinet to decide what to do with the findings.

The strong message here is this: The costly mistakes and conspiracies of the past should not and would not be repeated.

The cabinet runs the country. The suggestion that there is a contest for power and differences of opinions between the government and the CEP is the work of the ignorant and the foul-minded.

Personally I think the glory stories of outright cheating, corruption, breach of trust, abuse of power and the neglect of fiduciary duty should all be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency, the police, the Parliamentary Account Committee and the Auditor General.

The people have the right to know and receive restitution in the form of a better government, sustainable economy and fair wealth distribution.

This is what we want for Malaysia Baru - the New Malaysia.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Jangan Tawar-menawar Dengan Lembaga Pengarah GLC-GLIC

A Kadir Jasin

MUKHADIMAH: Pandangan yang terkandung dalam tulisan ini adalah pandangan peribadi saya. Saya menulis dalam kapasiti saya sebagai seorang blogger. Ia tiada kena mengena dengan apa-apa jawatan yang mungkin saya pegang.

Lembaga Pengarah Khazanah Tawar Letak Jawatan

MUTAKHIR – Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hari ini menerima peletakan jawatan Pengarah Urusan dan Ahli Lembaga Pengarah Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

Dalam satu kenyataan beliau, antara lain, berkata, peletakan jawatan itu akan membolehkan kerajaan menyusun semula agensi pelaburan negara tersebut.

Perdana Menteri mengalu-alukan tawaran peletakan jawatan daripada semua ahli lembaga pengarah.

Dr Mahathir berkata, Khazanah akan disusun semula sejajar dengan dasar-dasar pentadbiran baru.


AHLI lembaga pengarah Khazanah Berhad menawarkan untuk meletak jawatan secara beramai-ramai.

Saya kata, terima kasih dan kerajaan terima sajalah. Tidak perlu tawar-menawar.

[Komen "Anonymous” tidak akan disiarkan. Tolong guna nama sebenar atau samaran.]

Hak mereka untuk berhenti dan hak kerajaan untuk menerimanya.

Pendirian saya mudah. Kerajaan tak perlu terseret untuk tawar-menawar.

Sekiranya ada antara mereka yang super bagus, tidak terlibat dengan apa-apa kesalahan atau pengabaian tugas, kerajaan berhak melantik mereka semula atau memberikan mereka tugas di tempat lain.

Satu hal kita kena faham. Semua ahli lembaga syarikat secara berseorangan dan berkumpulan mempunyai tanggungjawab fidusiari (fiduciary duties).

Perlu diingatkan yang ada antara ahli lembaga pengarah Khazanah itu baru sahaja dilantik untuk mengetuai sebuah badan berkaitan kerajaan yang lain.

Jika ada kegagalan fidusiari atau perbuatan jenayah, kita wajib pisahkan beras daripada hampas.

Saya kenal banyak daripada mereka secara peribadi. Ada yang saya kenal sudah lebih 30 atau 40 tahun. Malah ada yang sama belajar di luar negara.

Tetapi ini bukan soal kenal atau tidak. Ini soal kepentingan negara kerana perniagaan Khazanah melibatkan modal yang sangat besar - hampir RM90 bilion – tetapi tidak menjana pulangan yang cukup memuaskan.

Kemudian kita dengar mengenai pelaburan yang hilang begitu saja atau eksekutif yang dibayar gaji luar biasa besarnya.

Pada 7 Julai lepas, akhbar perdagangan “The Edge Market” melaporkan yang ketua pegawai eksekutif IHH Healthcare Berhad, salah sebuah anak syarikat Khazanah, dibayar gaji RM33.9 juta setahun.

Saya amat yakin bahawa ahli lembaga pengarah Khazanah itu tahu bahawa kerajaan baru Pakatan Harapan (PH) tahu apa yang telah dan sedang berlaku dalam organisasi mereka.

Khazanah adalah antara syarikat dan tabung pelaburan berkaitan kerajaan (GLC-GLIC) yang paling awal dipanggil untuk memberi bantuan dalam siasatan Majlis Penasihat Ekonomi (Council of Eminent Persons).

Majlis itu ditubuhkan oleh Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad sebaik saja mengangkat sumpah awal Mei lalu.

Hendak Menguji?

Maaf cakaplah kalau saya kata, langkah ahli lembaga pengarah Khazanah itu boleh ditakrifkan sebagai seolah-olah hendak menguji atau mencabar pendirian kerajaan dengan tidak meletak jawatan tetapi sekadar menawar untuk meletak jawatan.

Saya kata sekali lagi, terima sajalah tawaran mereka itu. Bukan apa, tapi sudah banyak pengerusi dan eksekutif kanan GLC-GLIC yang telah meletak jawatan atau menghantar surat mengatakan mereka akan meletakkan jawatan bila kontrak mereka tamat.

Berilah peluang kepada kerajaan baru untuk membuat keputusan dan melantik sesiapa yang ia mahu.

Apa yang hendak dihairankan sangat. Bila Perdana Menteri Barisan Nasional (BN) bertukar pun ramai pengerusi, ahli lembaga pengarah dan eksekutif kanan GLC-GLIC, jabatan dan agensi digugurkan dan orang baru dilantik.

Inikan pula apabila BN kalah dan PH mengambil alih pentadbiran negara. 

Mereka yang dilantik oleh kerajaan lama tentulah tahu yang kedudukan mereka akan dipertimbangkan semula, apatah lagi jika mereka adalah lantikan politik.

Yang saya rasa lebih penting adalah mencari pengganti yang berwibawa, iaitu mereka yang tidak dicemari oleh korupsi harta benda dan minda oleh kerajaan dahulu.

Alhamdulillah kita masih ada banyak orang baik yang boleh mengambil alih. Ini telah pun berlaku di Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Bank Negara dan beberapa buah agensi lain.

Sama pentingnya adalah kita mengambil tindakan ke atas pihak-pihak yang terlibat dengan perbuatan jenayah dan kegagalan menjalankan tanggungjawab fidusiari, sama ada berseorangan atau berkumpulan.

Rakyat jelata dan pembayar cukai wajib dilindungi daripada serigala korporat seperti yang digambarkan dalam filem Hollywood “The Wolf of Wall Street” terbitan bersama Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, anak tiri bekas Perdana Menteri, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.

Kita tidak mahu lagi musang berbulu ayam mengaut kekayaan di atas belakang rakyat jelata.

Kita dengar cerita bagaimana seorang bekas pengerusi sebuah agensi tani yang diberi kereta rasmi jenis Mercedes tetapi berpakat dengan ketua pegawai eksekutifnya untuk menyewa kereta Lexus mewah dengan kereta gantian jenis Masserati. CEO itu pula menyewa kereta jenis Bentley.

Kerajaan baru PH memikul mandat yang sangat berat dan wajib diberikan peluang mengatasi kerosakan yang ditinggalkan oleh kerajaan dahulu.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Spies, Spooks and Treasonable Act

A Kadir Jasin

PREAMBLE: Views expressed herein are entirely mine. I am writing in my personal capacity as a blogger. It has nothing to do with whatever position I may hold.

Illustration only: Signing of ERCL Contracts

EXPOSE that Research Division in the Prime Minister's Department had written a letter to then director designate of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Gina Haspel, five days before the May 9 General Election does not come as a surprise to me.

Haspel had since been confirmed as CIA director and the letter to her could be one of the documents that the police were looking for when they raided the house and office of one officer by the name of Hasanah Abdul Hamid soon after the Barisan Nasional’s defeat.

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The letter that is making the round in the online and social media bears her name and signature. The letterhead used introduces this Hasanah as Director General, Research Division, Prime Minister’s Department.

The content of her letter can be read in the online and social media accounts. In short it appealed for CIA's assistance just in case the BN won the GE narrowly.

To justify that extraordinary request, the letter writer ran down the Pakatan Harapan and its Chiarman, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Sadly this Hasanah did not even get the Prime Minister’s name correct. The name of Dr Mahathir's father was spelt as Mohammad. She, among other things, told the CIA that Dr Mahathir is anti-West and anti-Semite.

Her purported letter, reminds me of the many stories I heard from reliable sources that the ousted PM, (Datuk Seri I Mappadulung Daeng Mattimung Karaeng Sandrobone Sultan Abdul Jalil) Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, had the support of many foreign embassies in Kuala Lumpur and their governments.

This is not surprising. Embassies and countries whose governments were super friendly with Najib and had committed billions of ringgit in his cost-inflated mega projects surely did not want to see him defeated.

So the story goes that almost all major embassies and foreign missions in Kuala Lumpur reported to their governments that Najib and the BN would the GE comfortably.

There’s a lot of hypocrisy in diplomacy. Many experienced diplomats knew the BN would lose. Some of them were even sympathetic towards the opposition. But they had to predict the BN’s victory because that was what their governments wanted to hear.

I was told that a few of them were called back to their respective capitals to explain how they got it wrong.

Again it is hypocrisy and play acting. Actually their bosses back home knew what exactly happened and wanted to make sure that their own tracks were covered.

I would not dare accuse them of interfering on behalf of the BN but their generosity towards Najib was a bit too much to be a coincidence.

But the new Pakatan Harapan too has engage in some degree of play-acting itself. This is diplomacy.

Illustration Only: Signing of HSR agreement at Sri Perdana
I am sure the PMO and Wisma Putra knew countries and foreign leaders that consorted with Najib but they would not do things to embarrass these leaders and their people.

So the new PH Government has to send special representatives and envoys to calm things down before the Prime Minister and other political leaders make a visit to these countries.

As for past public servants, including former ministers and diplomats, action will certainly have to be taken if there is evidence that they consorted with foreign government and agencies.

I am not accusing them of treason or anything like that. But seeking foreign help in what is essentially a domestic and internal affair - like the General Election - is unpardonable.


About Me

My photo
I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).