Thursday, July 25, 2024

Peristiwa memberi pengajaran

Yet more cash cows cum geese laying golden eggs going to be killed -


So there you have it. First the multi-billion IPP business. Then the multi-billion AP business. And now the multi-billion ‘one-arm bandit’ business. All these businesses combined earn an estimated RM20-25 billion a year. And all these businesses are controlled by Dr Mahathir’s cronies — who are said to be mere proxies for certain people but which has thus far never been proven, of course.

Yesterday, in an article titled ‘Najib is either brave or he has a death-wish’, we reported that Francis Yeoh earned RM15-20 billion over 21 years through his company YTL Power Generation Sdn Bhd and would earn a further RM25-30 billion if the government agrees to extend his power purchase agreement (PPA) with Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) for another 25 years, which YTL is asking for.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, however, does not want to extend YTL’s contract and as at 1st October 2015 YTL has seen its cash cow cum goose that lays the golden eggs being killed off.

As for the other independent power producers (IPPs), 1MDB has acquired them and if they had refused to sell their operations to 1MDB then their contracts, too, would suffer the same fate as YTL Power since many of the PPAs for those IPPs are also about to expire.

It is reported that 1MDB paid RM18 billion to acquire the remaining IPPs but if they had not been acquired then the government would have to pay 10 or 20 times more that amount to the IPPs over the next 25 years or so. YTL alone would be earning about 10% that amount while Ananda Krishnan, Genting and the Negeri Sembilan Royal Family would be getting the lion’s share of those billions.

If the arithmetic is correct then 1MDB is getting all these IPPs for only 10% or less what it would cost the government over 25 years to not ‘nationalise’ them. One very important point to note is that all those IPPs are owned by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad cronies so, of course, this has upset the old man, who wants Najib ousted from office.

The other important point to note is that both TNB and Petronas are extremely unhappy with these PPAs, which they say are lopsided and nothing more than a licence to print money. The then TNB Executive Chairman was so upset that he chose to resign rather than sign the contracts.

Well, more than 20 years on and Najib has finally solved this controversy by ending what those in the industry say is the biggest rip-off in Malaysian history. Thus ends the life of these cash cows and geese that lay the golden eggs and this makes Dr Mahathir even more determined to end Najib’s career as Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

But the story does not end there. There are more and even more lucrative cash cows and geese that lay golden eggs that Najib is about to kill off. One is the Approved Permits or APs for the import of motor vehicles and the other is the ‘one-arm bandits’ that have infested Malaysia for more than 30 years now.

There are two types of APs issued by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. One are Franchise APs that are given out to franchise holders of car brands registered with MITI and the other are Open APs (for Bumiputeras only) to import cars of any brand of vehicles to sell in the Malaysian market.

The total number of APs issued each year is supposed to be 10% of the number of local-assembled cars in the preceding year and 60% of the APs are given to Bumiputera Open AP holders while 40% are given to franchise holders.

This was what The Ant Daily reported on 18th April 2015:

In 2005, the “AP king” controversy blew up when it was highlighted that only a few individuals monopolised the AP business. It was reported among the few AP kings then were the late Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin SM Amin, Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz.

They collectively received 33,218 APs (about 50.1% of a total of 66,277) for 2004 and 28,283 APs (or 41% of 68,330) for 2005 alone, according to a list revealed by the government. Based on an estimated street value of RM30,000 per AP, this translates to RM996 mil in profit for 2004 and RM848 mil for 2005.

Nasimuddin is founder as well as former chairman and CEO of the Naza Group. Naza is well-known for its automobile business and holds the Malaysian franchise for South Korea’s Kia. Its other franchises include Ferrari, Maserati, Koenigsegg and Citroën.

Meanwhile Weststar, then 80%-owned by Syed Azman and 20% by his partner Haniff, was granted 16,303 APs in 2004 and 15,759 in 2005. Haniff was assistant director in Miti from 1975 to 1978. He also served as director of the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) from 1991 to 1994.

The total AP business is worth about RM2 billion or more a year or about RM65-80 billion since it was first introduced back when Dr Mahathir became Prime Minister (and when he implemented the system). According to the car industry, APs have resulted in car prices being 20% more than what they should be so the car buyers end up subsidising what the AP holders are making.

In other words, we the consumers are paying for the APs and it is an open secret that the AP holders are merely proxies for certain people who walk in the corridors of power. And those getting filthy rich on APs are not just the AP holders but, in fact, certain leaders very high up in Umno.

There is, of course, talk within Umno (and which Anwar Ibrahim also said) that the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Trade Minister, etc., at that time are the real beneficiaries of these APs. But this has never been proven and, of course, probably can never be proven since proxies would never talk.

One way would be to get these alleged beneficiaries to swear on the Qur’an that the AP holders are not their proxies. But this would be like asking Najib to prove that he did not steal any money from 1MDB when the accusers, instead, should prove that he did.

Whatever it may be, the days of printing billions every year through APs may soon come to an end and the TPPA that was finally settled on Monday after five years of heated negotiations may be that platform to terminate the AP rip-off.

And this is what worries the beneficiaries of those APs. Once Malaysia signs the TPPA would that mean the death of the AP business? Dr Mahathir, for one, is opposed to the TPPA and the end of the AP business is reason enough to oppose the TPPA.

The other licence to print money is the slot machine or ‘one-arm bandit’ business. Since the 1980s this business has seen an income of an estimated RM10 billion a year, 70% of which is controlled by the Vincent Tan family, yet another Dr Mahathir crony.

According to those in the business, Robin Tan, who now runs that part of the family business, told his friends that they have earned more than RM200 billion thus far just from the gambling business. Whether this is just an idle boast cannot be ascertained but the arithmetic seems to prove that he may not be too far off the mark.

It is no wonder that Robin is now one of the greatest critics of the Prime Minister. He probably knows that Najib is about to kill his cash cow cum goose that lays the golden egg so he has openly said that Najib should resign. If Najib is going to kill off my business, which brings in RM7 billion a year, I, too, would campaign against him.

So there you have it. First the multi-billion IPP business. Then the multi-billion AP business. And now the multi-billion ‘one-arm bandit’ business. All these businesses combined earn an estimated RM20-25 billion a year. And all these businesses are controlled by Dr Mahathir’s cronies — who are said to be mere proxies for certain people but which has thus far never been proven, of course.

Any surprise why they want Najib kicked out? And to make sure that the planned vote of no confidence against Najib gains traction, they have asked the Conference of Rulers to issue a statement regarding Their Highnesses’ concerns about 1MDB.

The 239th meeting of the Conference of Rulers actually starts today. Yesterday was just a pre-council meeting to discuss what they would be discussing today. Never in history has the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal issued a press statement to inform the public what is going to be discussed.

Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali has praised the Rulers for their statement and said that the ‘royal statement’ should not be politicised. If Azmin does not want the issue politicised then he should not have said anything since he is a politician and an opposition leader on top of that.

Aspan Alias, another politician, also issued a statement, as did Mahfuz Omar, yet another politician. Kadir Jasin, too, another Dr Mahathir man, came out with his statement as well. So the politicians themselves have politicised yesterday’s pre-council statement, which in the first place is a very odd statement for the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal to issue and the first time this has ever been done.

But of course we all know that the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal is linked to Dr Mahathir loyalist Sanusi Junid so it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who is behind this move. And Sanusi has made no secret of the fact that he wants Najib ousted.

The worrying part about all this is that the Rulers have now been dragged into what is clearly a political issue and 1MDB is without doubt a political issue. So will this now expose the Rulers to the danger of being accused of playing politics?

The fact that the Rulers are not allowed to make statements and all statements must be issued through the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal means we will never know whether the Rulers wanted this statement to be issued or whether it was a ‘private initiative’ by the Dr Mahathir team a.k.a. the Kedah Mafia, all whose names have been mentioned above.

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