Monday, August 14, 2023

The best analysis on the 3:3 outcome of the State Elections goes to …

Damansara, 14 Aug (a public holiday in Selangor): Of all the analyses on the outcome of the six-state elections, I like one dished out by Liyana Marzuki the most. The Scoop has the story: Mereka bukan menang besar, mereka hanya sembang besar [They didn’t win big, they only talked big]

The self-confessed Unity Government advocate didn’t mince her words in her analysis, reminding the people of how cocky Muhyiddin Yasin and Dr Mahathir Mohamad were in their prophecy of a landslide defeat for Anwar Ibrahim’s UG (the Bersatu president said Perikatan Nasional could win all 6 states if Malay voter turnout exceeded 90% while Dr M predicted a 1-5 defeat for Anwar). 

She even made fun of Muhyiddin’s call for Anwar to step down after the state elections results were announced. (Read her FB at the end of this posting)

Pakatan Harapan retained Selangor, Penang and Negri Sembilan in the state elections while Perikatan Nasional got to keep Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. The outcome of the elections, one analyst told Bernama, “… will help clear up uncertainties in the local political scene, and will attract more foreign investors to the Malaysian stock market.” 

Additionally, we can expect the overall outlook in the midterm to be positive buoyed by improving economic conditions, the same analyst said. 

The outlook would have been grim if Mahathir or Muhyiddin’s prophecies had come true: the KLSE index and the Ringgit would have plumetted today and FDI would just go elsewhere (and not Kelantan, Kedah or Terengganu, for sure).

Liyana Marzuki’s analysis taken from her Facebook: 

TSMY punya bongkak sebelum PRN ini. Katanya dia cukup yakin PN akan tawan semua 6 negeri.
Tun M jangkakan mereka akan dapat skor 5-1. Selangor dan Negeri Sembilan akan jatuh.
TGHH juga kata, kalau ini berlaku mereka akan buat gerakan menebuk atap sekali lagi. Tiada siapa termasuk pihak Istana, boleh menghalang.
Hakikatnya, mereka jauh tersasar. Mereka bukan menang besar, mereka hanya SEMBANG BESAR.
Negeri Sembilan kononnya PN boleh rampas, kecundang pula. PHBN siap dapat 2/3.
Selangor lagi kan pula, siap PN kata boleh dapat 2/3, kalah juga! Walaupun pelbagai janji ditabur dan bulan bintang hendak diberi. Orang Selangor cerdik lagi.
Saya jangkakan Kelantan akan beri telur ayam. Still UMNO menang di sana. Dan di Kedah DAP dan PKR boleh menang kerusi.
Mana cerita MENANG BESAR itu tadi?
Sebenarnya Presiden PN ni sudah terciduk. Terkantoi over confident pada mulanya.
Tu sebab jangan bongkak dan sembang deras mula2.
Sembang deras itu hanya boleh makan Taksuber.
Untuk GAP dan fence sitters, we can see through you, your true colours.
Sekarang, dia buat statement, PMX kena resign dan retire. Sebab PN sudah “menang besar”. Yang saya nampak “sembang besar” saja.
Masa PH 1.0 22 bulan dan zaman 33 bulan, setiap PRK dan PRN , PPBM kalah. Ingat PRN Johor dan Melaka? Patut masa tu TSMY pun retire! Gagal banyak benda. Kalau bukan sebab PAS, PRU15 pun terciduk juga.
Not my kinda of PM. Kalau PN nak berjaya, elok lah ditukar lain pula. Ni dah level dinosaur. Tambah Kluster Mahkamah Jana Wibawa. Sudah basi jua.
Salam hormat,

Liyana Marzuki. 



Saturday, August 12, 2023

Chief Tyrant Officer rules EPF and that’s not OK, say workers

Amir Hamzah
AMIR Hamzah Azizan has helmed nearly a dozen companies, including GLC giant Tenaga Nasional, and in all those years at the top has probably never been called a “tyrant” before. 

But now the generally timid trade unions of the Employee Provident Fund, where he has been CEO since March 2021 (when Muhyiddin Yasin was PM), are calling Amir Hamzah’s management zalim, which is Malay for tyrannical, a title accorded to Firaun in biblical times and, in more recent times, to Dr Mahathir. Surely, something any CEO can do without especially if he or she harbours any ambition to climb to the highest rung of the GLC ladder. 

The trade unions are sore with Amir’s administration for allowing a pay gap cancer to permeate and give birth to a “caste system” between EPF’s top managers earning fat pay checks and ordinary workers who take home crumbs. 

Worse, the workers seem to have closed the door for discussions with the management, tired of being ignored time and again by the management, they claimed. They are now demanding that the Prime Minister steps in to help resolve the dispute.

I don’t know how big the salary disparity in the EPF is or how much Amir Hamzah takes home compared with the salary he pays, say, Ahmad Hamzah the trade union leader. I’m sure Malaysians in general are not bothered how much Amir is paid or how generous he is with his top managers or how much the Minister of Finance (who is also the PMX) allows the directors of EPF to reward themselves. But so often we see low-income workers in this country getting poorer and poorer compared with their bosses and that is something we (ie the employers) need to consciously address if we truly aspire for a more just and equitable society. 

The EPF, which was the 4th largest pensions fund in Asia in 2020 and 7th in the world before the pandemic (its income in the first quarter of 2023 was RM16 billion, 3 per cent more than the corresponding quarter of 2022), is the body entrusted to safeguard the interests of 15 million workers in the private sector who mandatorily contribute 12 per cent of their income to it. 

As I see it, the EPF can’t be doing a great job (for the millions of contributing workers) if it can’t even rein in - or please - its own 5,700 workers.  


Friday, August 11, 2023

The truth behind Halim Saad’s lawsuit against Dr Mahathir & his “Top Cat”

Bukit Kiara, 11 Aug: Just when I thought I had covered all the lawsuits that are keeping our lawyers and judges busy these days, here comes a big one: Halim Saad vs Nor Mohamed Yakcop aka the Top Cat and Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself! 

Halim, we all know, was once Mahathir’s the poster boy of Mahathir’s privatization policy (and, to some, Umno’s capital cronyism). So far and wide was Halim’s corporate reach back in the day he even helmed the New Straits Times Press and TV3 during Nineties when whoever controlled the media controlled the hearts and minds of the voters. His reign in that media conglomerate was brief and stormy, though, and preceded a management buy out by the Empat Budak Melayu, which was seen as a proxy war between the powerful Daim and the then Finance Minister and Umno deputy president Anwar Ibrahim. 

The SCOOP’s Aug 9 scoop puts Halim’s lawsuit in the following context:

KUALA LUMPUR – The true story behind the controversial RM2.3 billion Renong-UEM deal is expected to be unravelled in court following a suit by Tan Sri Halim Saad against former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former finance minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, and the government of Malaysia.

Halim, in his suit filed today in the high court here, claimed that the then Mahathir-led government and Umno – some 26 years ago – had forced the acquisition of the company, which eventually led to its collapse.

Halim is seeking a declaration that he was the beneficial and legal owner of Renong shares and not Umno Baru; a declaration that the government compulsorily acquired his vested right to effect a general offer on UEM; and a declaration that, with respect to the said acquisition of his vested right, the government had acted through Mahathir and Nor Yakcop.

He is also seeking a declaration that, in acquiring his vested right, the government was obliged to provide him with adequate compensation.

Halim was Renong’s executive chairman. 

In a statement today, Halim said the then-government’s plan to take over UEM and eventually privatise it would not have been possible without his support, which he was obliged to provide. 

“I was instructed by (Mahathir) in his capacity as the then prime minister and (Nor Yakcop) in his capacity as the special economic adviser to (Mahathir) not to proceed with the acquisition of 32.69% of Renong from UEM pursuant to a put option exercised on me by UEM in December 2000. 

“I was also instructed by (Mahathir) and (Nor Yakcop) not to proceed to undertake a take-over of UEM, which I was about to undertake with Renong jointly. 

“Instead, I was required by (Mahathir) and (Nor Yakcop) to support the government’s initiative and or plan, through Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary company Danasaham Sdn Bhd, to undertake the take-over of UEM via a general offer,” Halim said. 

He added that the collective and concerted actions of the defendants resulted in his loss of control of Renong, which also meant the indirect loss of control of UEM and its “highly valuable assets”. 

The assets he named include the North-South Expressway (PLUS) project, the Elite Expressway, the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link Expressway (LINKEDUA), Pharmaniaga Bhd, Intria Bina Sdn Bhd, Ho Hup Construction Sdn Bhd, and Kualiti Alam Sdn Bhd. 

He said he had suffered financial losses as a direct result of the defendants’ action, which constituted a breach of his constitutional rights under the federal constitution.

Halim’s suit filed today comes after he unsuccessfully sued the government, Khazanah, and Nor Yakcop in 2013 for RM1.8 billion.  

In November 1997, the nation’s biggest infrastructure firm, UEM, purchased a 33% stake in its heavily-in-debt parent, Renong, for RM2.3 billion, leading to Renong’s value plummeting as investors dumped shares in both firms.

Following public uproar over the deal, which was said to be in opposition to stock exchange reporting rules, the Securities Commission urged Halim, as the controlling shareholder of Renong, to buy back the stake from UEM, with payments to be made between February 2001 and April 2002. 

However, in July 2001, the government determined that Khazanah Nasional would take over the entire Renong group – including a RM12 billion debt – for RM4 billion. – August 9, 2023

In May, Dr Mahathir’s filed a defamation suit against Anwar Ibrahim over the PMX’s purported claim that the former Prime Minister had used his position to enrich himself and his family members.That’s the other context Halim’s lawsuit, if you like.

Halim’s court action against the former PM won’t be the last, I’m hearing. Tajudin Ramli, the founder of Celcom and former owner of Malaysia Airlines, may follow suit, pardon the pun.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Wee threat to sue MCMC

Bangsar, 1 Aug: Another potential lawsuit, which may well lead to a counter-suit, involves the beleaguered (although some prefer belligerent) Tourism Malaysia former chairman Wee Choo Keong, 70, whose blog has been taken down by the MCMC, the authority in charge of regulating and promoting the telecommunications and multimedia industry. 

In a strongly-worded letter to the MCMC Wee, a lawyer and former MP, has given the authority an ultimatum to “unblock my blog or see you in coourt”. 

Excerpts from the news  report:

"Kindly take notice that if our client's blog continues to be blocked and remains inaccessible for service of this letter, our instructions are to file proceedings against you and/or your minister and/or the government of Malaysia, without prejudice to a claim for compensation or damages.

"Our client hopes that it will not be necessary for him to resort to legal action if you act with due dispatch within the above time frame to comply with his demands."

I’ve always been amazed, when not perplexed, by Wee’s combative nature. The blocking of his blog, therefore, did not come as a surprise. I’m not privy to why exactly the MCMC has blocked his blog but fellow bloggers have suggested it may have something to do with his incessant attacks on a former Tourism Malaysia chairman and people associated with the individual. 

The MCMC is not obliged to inform anyone prior to blocking a site or a blog deemed “undesirable” or to have flouted the law. In fact they could, if they so decide, invite themselves (in the company of the police) to your home or office and confiscate your equipment which they believed have been used to post stuff considered defamatory or seditious or undesirable. You can challenge them, of course, this is a free country. I did in 2010, when they took my Ferrari but I didn’t sue them. I guess that’s because I’m a journalist.

Wee did not stop at the ultimatum. In the sane letter to the MCMC, his lawyers reportedly accuse the MCMC of acting like a “secret society” even though Malaysia is a “civil society”. I think that’s where things will go sideways and where Wee can expect to get a letter of demand from Cyberjaya soon.