Friday, March 31, 2023

Several top executives of public listed firms the target for Malaysia’s “corporate Mafia”

Friday 31 March: A reliable source told me the other day that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was aware of activities where outside elements, with the help of unscrupulous enforcement officers in our enforcement agencies, had been working hand in hand  to “fix” certain targets in the corporate sector. 

The rise of the Malaysian Corporate Mafia, as some blogs call it. 

The modus operandi is simple enough: 

- a whistle blower (sometimes an officer of the enforcement agency himself) would lodge a complaint against these targets, who are typically major shareholders in public listed companies

- these targets would then be hauled in for interrogation, they may be detained for a day or ten by the enforcement agency if necessary,

- they would be pressured to such an extent that they would be so happy to surrender their shares in the company (the value of which would have dropped exponentially because of the bad publicity arising from the scandal) to this Mafia, or else …

- they would be charged in court. 

Or something to that effect. 

I’m sure the MO is more complicated than how I’ve made it sound to be, or how I was made to understand. But, bottomline, this unholy alliance existed!

MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki, who made reference to this alliance a week ago, is said to be aware that officers from the anti-graft commission may be involved. 

“The boss knows, We could see some fireworks in the days to come,” the source said. 

And like Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who said leaders in his own government are being investigated for corruption, the source believed Azam would have no qualms about investigating his own officers for wrongdoing.

Many suspect this unholy partnership is not confined to the ongoing scandal that has consumed Revenue Berhad, the gateway payment provider for none other than the Bank Negara. The money trail and “dead” bodies lead to several public listed companies and corporate people linked to some of our young politicians. Read the blogs.

For context, another reliable source in an enforcement agency sent me this article by the FMT for my Readers’ pleasure:

PETALING JAYA: The belief that they will escape punishment is a major reason law enforcement officers engage in corrupt practices, according to former Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph.

He was commenting on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya’s statement that unscrupulous enforcement officers were using their position to secure bribes from foreigners and that the situation had become “increasingly chronic and worrying .. 

Read more, What Keeps Corrupt Officers Going

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Mahathir wages “holy” war against Anwar

Wed, 29 March:: PM4+7 Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has officially spoken up against Anwar Ibrahim and his unity government. And in the holy month of Ramadan, too, when Muslims around the world make extra effort for restraint. 

He’s called Anwar’s administration NATO (Anwar’s government all talk and no action) and in almost the same breath is threatening to sue the Prime Minister for slander (Tun M demands Anwar retract defamatory statements) for hinting that he was the “scoundrel” who had amassed billions during his premiership for his children, cronies and himself.

Should Anwar worry? Of course. Mahathir brought down a couple of successors with relative ease after stepping down as the longest PM in 2003. He even earned a second premiership along the way. He is not one to be taken lightly. 

Should Anwar stop speaking his mind against corruption and abuse of power, especially by the very powerful? Hopefully, not. Anwar can always offer a bouquet to Mahathir, seeing that this is hari baik, bulan baik. But when restraint is no longer required, the people want to see their Prime Minister go after each and every one of those politicians who have wronged us, as he said he would  (Leaders in govt being probed for corruption, too).

After all, how hard can it be to prove abuse of power and corruption? Dr M did that relatively easily against Anwar back then … 

But let’s please wait until after the Holy month.. Ramadan Mubarak, AI. 

Monday, March 06, 2023

Fahmi’s appointments that say it won’t be business as usual anymore

KL, Mar 06: IT’S still early in the game but young Minister  Fahmi Fadzil seems to be making all the right moves. The appointment of billionaire Mohamad Salim Fateh Din as chairman of the MCMC, for instance, should make some people wet their pants. It won’t be business as usual for MCMC as the seasoned corporate man is expected to bring in external auditors, new brooms and fire extinguishers for greater transparency and better governance. The best thing is Salim would know exactly what to do: he was there as interim chairman before offering Fahmi his resignation in Dec last year. The MCMC sits on a huge pile of money contributed by telco companies and we need to know all that money have gone and will go to the right places and not the pockets of the corrupt and unscrupulous. It also needs a clearer direction and leadership. Right now, most people see MCMC as a little more than just cybercops.

Fahmi, who turned 40 in Feb, had earlier announced the appointment of Al-Ishsal Ishak, a former chairman of MCMC  (also short-lived), as Communications and Digital Advisor to the Minister. Ishsal was instrumental in launching the 5G services in this country, starting with a standalone pilot project in Langkawi way back in Dec 2019. He was replaced in June 2020 following the so-called Sheraton Move. His stints with Pos Malaysia (prior to MCMC) and a leading news portal in the country (post-MCMC) make Ishsal a formidable force in Fahmi’s team.

Under Fahmi’s watch, a decision on 5G will be made one way or another. (in other words, one DNB or two DNBs) and Salim and Ishsal will have a big say on that. From the little I know of both men,  I believe neither is pre-occupied with the debate on whether a single wholesale network is better than a multiple wholesale network.  Their question, I’m guessing, would be: should government be directly involved in business at all, in the first place?

Fahmi has made two more major appointments: Kamil Othman as Finas chairman and Suhaimi Sulaiman as director-general of RTM. While the first-time minister looks to Suhaimi to modernise RTM and make the government broadcasting company less a propaganda tool and more BBC or CNN, he may expect the seasoned Kamil to help him cleanse the National Film Development Corp. The Auditor-General’s report for 2021 found that RM4 million had been awarded to production houses with links to FInas directors, a revelation that, quite frankly, hardly raised eyebrows because … why, it’s Finas!

Saturday, March 04, 2023

The latest Aerotrain incident at KLIA: A lesson on procrastination

03 Mar: The aerotrain at our main airport, KLIA, is quite old. Last century technology. But the trains have served us well. They have done 2.8 million km in service (roughly 69 times the Earth’s circumference) and carried some 300 million passengers since 1998, according to  The Vibes. 

Thursday’s breakdown was not the first one. In 2017, scores of passengers trapped in a stalled train put their own lives in danger when they decided to get off the train and walk to the terminal; it was a miracle all of them lived to tell the tale. It was clear by then that KLIA needed a replacement. For reasons known only to them, however, the decision makers deferred a long-term solution for quick fixes.

The decision to replace the aerotrain with a brand new 21st century system was approved only last year. The replacement project is due for completion in March 2025. 

After the latest incident, Malaysia Airports swiftly decided to suspend the Aerotrain services. So from now, buses will ferry all arriving and departing passengers between the satellite building and the terminal, instead. Buses may not be the most efficient mode for transfer of passengers at airports but they are pleasant, safe and, OKU-friendly. I’m sure you have been on these terminal buses in the world’s biggest airports like Dubai, Doha and O’Hare. 

But MAHB better make them buses operate efficiently for passenger comfort and safety as well as the airport’s overall efficiency. Make sure there are sufficient buses (and drivers). And that the March 2025 deadline is met.