Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP), a high-technology industrial park, inspired by the Silicon Valley in America was once a pride of Kedah. It was said to be the only project under Kedah State Development Corporation (KSDC) that has succeeded.
Being managed by Kulim Technology Park Corporation (KTPC), the project received many international property award, thus puts it on the map of most prestigious investment parks in the world.
But it was the glory of the past that was, before KTPC and the state were under PAS administration. The success story ended just after the 2008 Election and KHTP today, is nothing more but a slowly dying company.
The new management of KHTP, headed by Haji Muhammad Sobri Osman, the President of KTPC hasn’t managed to get any new investment into the park ever since. Under the direction of Annuar Safar, the Vice President of Industrial Development and Researh, Haji Sobri would agree to any proposals and decisions made by him.
Annuar Safar is one of the three top management figures who stay on from the Barisan Nasional’s era. Ever since the BN days, Annuar Safar is known to be a supporter of Pakatan Rakyat and all the staff are well aware of how he misused office equipment to help the Keadilan party’s campaign in Lunas by-election in 2000.
Annuar Safar’s history record would show that he was once asked by the board of directors for a show-cause letter for the evidence found that he was involved in corruption while handling the vendors and company’s money. Prior to joining KTPC, Annuar Safar too was asked to resign from a GLC on the same account.
Among employees, Annuar Safar is known to have vengeance and resentment towards those at higher ranks as well as subordinates with the potential to climb higher. While he was responsible for the management of Techno Center, he would fill the office with young female graduates and would add the number of workforce even though there is no requirement to do so. All criticism and warnings from the top fell on deaf ear with overwhelming vengeance.
When PAS took over Kedah, KTPC was also taken over by PAS. This has caused the experienced employees to leave KTPC as they found themselves unable to work in a highly-political environment rather than professional.
Every decisions made were political-oriented especially pertaining the employees. The new management would indirectly persuade an employee to resign should he/she be suspected to be a supporter of BN. Most of these were done upon the advice from Annuar Safar.
Many might not have a clue that Haji Sobri is actually a committee member of PAS Kedah. There are rumors that said he would be challenging for the Pantai Merdeka seat in the next election. It could be that he is too involved in politics that he leaves the management of KTPC to his most trusted person, namely Annuar Safar. But rumors also have it that he does not have adequate experience and knowledge to handle a corporate company of global standard like KTPC. With the popular attitude of ‘religious but womanizer’ of the average PAS, Haji Sobri often led the meetings that he chaired to an endless talk about women and would only very reluctantly touch on work matters.
Now, this is where the big question lies about KHTP, that is, how is it that a President of a state-owned company, operating under the supervision and ‘compassion’ of federal, be an active member of a political party that is against the federal government?
Haji Sobri was seen at a Himpunan Hijau PAS last 1st of June, giving his full support to ‘kill’ the ruling party. Isn’t it awkward that the head of a company responsible for foreign direct investment (FDI) would go against the federal government when they are supposed to work closely together?
Without help, co-operation and support of the federal government, the effort to bring in FDI is almost impossible.
For information, the former management of KTPC had limited their investment promotion program to only 3 or 4 a year. This is because these missions would cost the company hundreds of thousands of ringgit for only 4 – 5 delegations from KTPC and the state.
Therefore, it was only practical that the mission be made together with the federal government so that all procedures, offers or special discussion regarding tax whatsoever may be done on the spot between the state and federal government with the potential investors. Surely, a big investment deal would need commitment not only between the investors and KTPC but also with the embassies and ministers or may be the Prime Minister of both countries.
With the hostile manner of Haji Sobri towards the federal, how can we ever dream of him bringing in new investments to Kedah?
In addition, there are many rivals of KHTP from in and out of the country, especially Senai Hi-Tech Park which is being led by Dato’ Ahmad Shukri Tajuddin, the former CEO of KTPC who was ‘expelled’ by PAS. With this in mind, how can KHTP continue to survive? Senai is said to be very pro-active in getting new investments although the frequency of trade missions overseas made by its officers are far less than those made by KTPC today – that is 3 – 4 times a month! Imagine if 3 – 4 trade missions a year would cost hundreds of thousands of ringgit, then what would 3 -4 trade missions a month, would cost KTPC?
It is bad enough that the Kedah PAS government could not generate any income for the state, now with KTPC burning money in millions a year to promote the park, without any return, the state would eventually hit rock-bottom. Bear in mind that some of the current investments are already talking about moving out of KHTP giving various excuses like reshuffling of organization and global economic affect.
As long as PAS Kedah couldn’t separate politics and state administration or state-owned companies’ administration no project would be accomplished. And even the already successful project like KHTP too, would finally fail.
So, is it over for KHTP? Could KHTP be helped should the state and the company’s management personnel remain the same?
Whatever it is, we would like to congratulate Haji Sobri, Azizan and PAS as a whole, for doing a very good job in shredding KHTP to pieces. You guys must be very proud of yourselves.