June 21, 2012
Government “must guarantee” no bailout for Syed Mokhtar, says Tony Pua
by S Pathmawathy (06-20-12)@http://www.malaysiakini.com
The government “must guarantee” that public funds are not used to bail out tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary if he is unable to settle his RM34.3 billion debt accumulated in building his business empire.
Tony Pua (DAP-PJ Utara), who raised the issue in the Dewan Rakyat today, also questioned the wisdom of privatising the Penang Port to Syed Mokhtar’s company, which would expand both his “empire and debt holdings”.
He cited examples of corporate debt that had contributed to the stock-market crash during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, including the RM20 billion debts accumulated by Renong Bhd.
“The government must explain the measures being taken to ensure that a repeat of the 1998 financial crisis will be avoided at all costs,” he said.
Debating the RM13.7 billion Supplementary Supply Bill, he said the Penang Port privatisation project could put Syed Mohktar (right) “several more billions in additional debt”.
“These companies have an estimated total cash and cash equivalent of RM7.8 billion as at May 2012.
“Hence the debt far exceeds that of Renong’s, causing genuine fear of a repeat of a crisis requiring monster bailouts with taxpayers’ funds. This fear is real in light of the global economic slowdown and fallout from the Eurozone financial crisis,” he said.
Major shareholdings and debts
Pua later told reporters that Syed Mohtar has a 51.8 percent stake in MMC Corporation which has an outstanding debt of RM24.2 billion. He owns 55.9 percent of DRB-Hicom, which has a debt of RM5.7 billion.
Tradewinds (M) Bhd, which has a monopoly on rice purchase, import and distribution, has a debt of RM3.48 billion and Tradewinds Corporation Bhd, which runs several five-star hotels in the country owes RM890 million, Pua said.
“The Finance Ministry must make available data on how much our financial institutions and statutory bodies – Employees Provident Fund, Civil Service Retirement Fund, Tabung Haji Fund and Armed Forces Fund – have invested in these debts,” he added.