"With reference to your post today titled "Khazanah owes me one", we would like to re-iterate that our previous correspondence with you on this matter stands and that there is no change in our response of 5th February 2007, as the facts remain the same.This has left me with more questions than answers. Who appointed Fox Communications as c0nsultants for the Iskandar project, which is under Khazanah, then? Was it the PM's Department or the Finance Ministry? Or was it the Johor state government? Does Khazanah have any relationship with Fox?
For the benefit of your readers, we hope that you will check your facts fully on this matter and we consider this matter closed. This will be the final comment we will be making on this subject. Khazanah reserves the right to evaluate and appoint prospective advisers in accordance with our internal policies."
I strongly feel that Khazanah should clearly state what Fox's role is and assure us that all procedures are being strictly adhered to to ensure fair competition and a level playing field.
I do not consider the matter closed.
The matter must remain open until Khazanah comes clean with clear and straight forward answers. No one is questioning Khazanah's right to appoint whoever it wishes to in accordance with its internal policies. But taxpayers money is involved and Khazanah owes it to them to be more transparent and professional. Business people are anxious and want to know if they are obliged to accept the services of advisers who make themselves out to be close to the powers that be. Reassure them, Khazanah.
In the meantime, let me share with my readers a bit more information on Fox. Following a lead given by Kawan, a regular poster in this blog who indicated that a bureau chief of a mainstream newspaper may have quit to join Fox Communications as a senior consultant for the Iskandar project, I made a few queries and found out that the bureau chief meant by Kawan is veteran Ravi Nambiar from the New Straits Times' Johore Bahru bureau.
Incidentally, those queries led me to the discovery that Lionel Morais, who was made Crime Editor of the Malay Mail in 2003, has gone to Johore Bahru to "cover" for Ravi Nambiar until young and promising Sheridan Mahavera arrives from Kota Bahru to head the JB bureau.
When Lionel returns to Balai Berita, he will assume his new position as the NST's Deputy Chief News Editor. He will assist Chief News Editor A. Kathiresan and Executive Editor for News K.P. Waran.