Halim Saad- Plus Deal


June 28, 2014

Halim Saad- Plus Deal

by P. Gunasegaran & Khairie Hisyam

Issues  |  MARCH 27, 2014 3:36 PM

Halim Saad-Plus Deal

Sources tell KiniBiz the deal is unlikely to be approved by the government because of a number of factors, including non-viability of the project. We then outline the major obstacles Halim faces to make his deal a success.

____________________________________________________________________

The government is unlikely to approve a bid by former United Engineers Malaysia (UEM)-Renong chief Halim Saad for Plus Malaysia Bhd, the concessionaire for the North-South Expressway and several other highways.Halim Saad

Sources say that this is because the numbers in Halim’s proposal, presented by PwC Capital, a unit of audit firm PwC, are not likely to lead to a viable proposal, they said.  Halim is working with Lembaga Tabung Haji on this deal. However, Halim Saad told KiniBiz earlier today that he has not heard so far that the government has turned down the deal. In his presentation, Halim had sought government approval to do a due diligence on PLUS before he makes an offer. Halim declined to give any further comment.

Analysts say that shareholders’ funds or equity of PLUS currently amount to some RM3.4 billion while total debt, basically sukuk bonds issued in January 2012, amount to some RM30.6 billion, making in all a total value currently of about RM34 billion.

READ ON: http://www.kinibiz.com/story/issues/78289/halim-unlikely-to-get-green-light-for-plus-bid.html

Borders files application to quiz three Ministers


November 23, 2012

Borders files application to quiz three Ministers

by Hafiz Yatim@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Borders filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesteday to quiz two Ministers and a Deputy Minister on the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department’s (JAWI) raid of its Midvalley store and seizure of Irshad Manji’s books on May 23.

Documents sighted by Malaysiakini named Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (for Islamic Affairs) Jamil Khir Baharom and his Deputy Mashitah Ibrahim as those to be cross-examined by Borders’ counsel.

It cited their conflicting statements in their affidavits, and what was reported in the press as the reasons for the application.JAWI’s action is said to be causing problems in the administration of justice.

NONE

Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd which operates the Borders’ chain, along with its operations general manager Stephen Fung Wye Kong and store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz (above with Fung), had filed a judicial review application last June.

The review is to challenge JAWI’s action in prosecuting Nik Raina for distributing the book Allah, Liberty and Love, authored by the controversial Canadian author before its ban.

In their application, the lawyers representing Borders want Hishammuddin, Jamil and Mashitah to show various documents that formed the basis for the ban decision on the controversial book only six days later on May 29.

Ironically, the application to cross-examine Hishammuddin and the others was made by the firm Lee Hishammuddin Allen and Gledhill, a firm where the Home Minister was a partner before entering politics.

Supported by COO’s affidavit

The company’s chief operating officer Yau Su Peng in her supporting affidavit to the notice, said six paragraphs in Hishammuddin’s affidavit dated September 5, are questionable and challenged by hers and Nik Raina’s affidavit in reply.

“I am advised by my solicitors that this cross-examination is needed as the Home Minister does not seem to have personal knowledge of the things which he had sworn to or pleaded in his affidavit, giving rise to conflicts,” said Yau in her affidavit.

“The Home Minister said Nik Raina’s charge came within the ambit of the Syariah Court and not civil courts. However, in applications filed by Nik Raina before the Syariah court to suspend and strike out the charge, the judge noted this judicial review application had to be disposed of first.”

A syarie prosecutor, she said in her affidavit, had objected to Nik Raina’s application for a stay, so a Syariah Court was not a suitable place for it to be heard on the grounds that a judicial review application is already pending in the civil courts.

NONEYau (left) also said the Home Minister had also misconstrued the judicial review application in stating  that they want to challenge the legality of the book’s contents against Syariah law, whereas their application is to question JAWI’s action to prosecute Nik Raina when the book had yet to be banned.

“Hence there is a need to cross-examine to determine whether the Home Minister had understood the facts he had pleaded in his affidavit, as they seem to contradict that of the Syariah judge’s and the prosecutor’s when Hisham said JAWI were able to take action separately other than that of his ministry in this raid.

Jamil, Mashitah blamed Home Ministry

“Furthermore, Jamil Khir and Mashitah had reacted and blamed the Home Ministry in an English daily for its tardiness in prohibiting the book (before the raid).”

Jamil Khir had defended JAWI’s action and will answer accordingly in court. Mashitah was quoted as saying that her department had advised the Home Ministry that the book was considered unIslamic.

“The Deputy Minister was also reported to have said in June that Borders had not only to deal with Jawi but also the Home Ministry,” said Yau.

The COO added that Hishammuddin’s affidavit that Jawi can seize the books without the ban order was merely a cover-up to protect the former.  The fact was, Yau said the ban was gazetted only after the incident and did not precede it.

She also referred to the Home Minister’s statement that Jawi can take action on its own separately from the Home Ministry’s powers under the Publications and Printing Presses Act 1984 that conflicted with other ministers’ stand.

She then quoted Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai as saying on the issue that a country cannot have two parallel criminal justice systems dealing with the same offence as it will create a lot of uncertainty.

“Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad also commented that “the book was not banned at the time of the raid but action was taken against the owner. This is wrong in the eyes of the law,” she quoted the former premier.

The conflicting statements resulted in Yau’s application for Hishammuddin, Jamil Khir and Mashitah to be questioned by Borders.

The MAS Story: Malaysian Hospitality or Malaysian Humbug


June 30, 2012

The MAS Story: Malaysian Hospitality or Malaysian Humbug

by Mariam Mokhtar (received via e-mail)

In MAS, MH stands for Malaysian hospitality which many of us know is highly overrated; MH might as well stand for Malaysian humbug. Or Malaysian hanky-panky.
 

A once proud airline is now a shadow of its former self. It is run by the corrupt and the incompetent – all puppets of the government. If the MACC were a responsible outfit, MAS would not be in the position it is today and many MAS senior managers, and government ministers, past and present would be languishing in jail.

The new MAS-AirAsia merger is shrouded in secrecy. Tony Fernandes is just a public front and assumes the rôle of pilot in this move.Someone else has charted the route for him. Who is that person?

One thing is certain. There is talk about solving the operational issues in MAS. Will Tony be able to alter an UMNO-BN culture that has been allowed to corrupt all levels of the airline’s hierarchy? This UMNO-BN culture is mired in controversy. MAS, like other GLCs, is haemorrhaging money. Attempts to stem this outflow have been unsuccessful.

Would any CEO of MAS be as daring as Peter Hill, the British CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines, who stood up against the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2007?

President Rajapaksa, together with his family and several officials, was in the United Kingdom to witness the passing out parade of Rajapaksa’s son from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. When Rajapaksa demanded that 35 seats be reserved for his entourage to return to Colombo, Hill refused to bump passengers off the flight from London. Hill may have been the passengers’ hero but his work permit was rescinded.

Unfortunately, the work culture that exists in MAS is symptomatic of our government’s performance. Some dishonest MAS staff allegedly “steal” from the airline.

Perhaps they are taking their cue from the government officials or from previous chairmen. Perhaps they see this as part of their perks and benefits.

Cost cutting has reduced many allowances which they once enjoyed.One stewardess who declined to be named, said that she had lost track of all the items she took from the plane and according to her, “everyone did it”. In an attempt to justify her actions, she blurted, “What about the millions the chairmen have ‘stolen’?” She is wrong. It is billions. Not millions.

How many politicians and their spouses have used their influence to obtain free flights or bullied airline staff for upgrades for themselves, their officials, friends or relatives? How many times have we heard of a spouse of a leading politician wasting taxpayers’ money on transporting her shopping via MAS and MAS Air Cargo?

How many genuine passengers have been victims of alleged over-booking by MAS when it is well known that government officials were offered preferential seats over normal fare-paying passengers?

It is also well known that MAS practices two sets of rules: one for Malaysians and another for westerners. One Malaysian mother and child were bumped off one flight to the UK. Under EU rules, cancellation of the flight meant they were due compensation. Only her teenage son was offered compensation because he had an English name. The mother was refused compensation despite pointing out the discrepancy to the senior managers in London.

In one European airport, it is alleged that some members of staff have protected their long-term positions by fraternizing with senior politicians and VVIPs. In most companies, employees would not be allowed to remain in one posting indefinitely, but not, apparently, in this location.

Another person alleges that it is common knowledge that a member of staff would use influence to perform “dodgy” upgrades for friends or people of influence and later be rewarded with “gifts”. Others allege, too, that this person removes items from the aircraft on a regular basis. Cheese, toilet rolls, toiletry bags, duvets and blankets from First and Business Class may not be classed as the crime of the century, but it is theft all the same.

The modus operandi appears to be to wait till the flight and cabin crew, have left the aircraft. The security staff must be complicit in these thefts. Could there be hanky-panky with food and fine wines from the Golden lounge?

One wonders why work colleagues have remained silent about the alleged petty theft. Are the senior station managers in these postings incompetent or in collusion? Perhaps theses managers don’t want to deal with the problem.

Co-workers are probably afraid of whistleblowing because they fear they will be known as troublemakers. They wonder, “Can the system be trusted or will they will be identified and crucified?” Like the Malaysian public and corrupt politicians, employees are reluctant to report irregularities because they do not see much hope of redress.

Perhaps the worst sort sycophancy is the one which is ignored by all because it involves VVIPs. In one European airport, it is alleged by many that some MAS employees turn up, even when they are not officially on duty, to attend to the VVIPs. This is no charitable act or selfless dedication to duty. The rewards are high. Cash and expensive, small personal electrical items are the norm but the most prized of all is a title.

When even the bodyguards of the VVIPs proudly display their designer labels, which lowly worker can fail to be impressed?Which junior employee would refuse a title in exchange for making sure personal baggage and the truckloads of luxury goods are safely loaded onto the plane? Who dares ensure that the customs at KLIA will tax these items?

It wouldn’t take a genius to trace the titles that are dished out to MAS employees at some of the overseas airports which are frequented by VVIPs. And it would surprise no-one that even those in menial positions in the airline, can acquire Datukships.

The equilibrium at work must be disturbed as it is alleged that those conferred titles are known to be generally work-shy, are late for work, despite occasionally reporting for extra duty for VVIPs.

It is baffling that these employees are allowed, allegedly, to have a stake, either directly or indirectly, in companies which provide airline services which are in conflict with MAS cargo services.

Will Tony address the staff, who only attend to VVIPs and celebrities who give them benefit in kind? This is a form of bribery and theft from the airline, reminiscent of UMNO political tactics.

Will he put pressure on those in charge of complaints? VIPs get their complaints seen to promptly. Others may take months. The truly unlucky customers have theirs swept under the carpet by lazy station managers.

So what else is going on? Tony should whip the corrupt and inefficient MAS work-culture back into shape and the MACC should investigate these irregularities. Then again, pigs might fly.

_______________
The MAS-AirAsia deal has been aborted. Agitated Tony Fernandes has decided to relocate the airline’s regional hub to Jakarta, Indonesia. But the problems of MAS remain. This is because the MAS culture is rotten to the core, and it is also trite to say that the culture has to change. Mana Ada Sistem is the reputation MAS enjoys.
 

We need a Peter Hill, or Jan Carlzon who changed SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System) in MAS so that real transformation can take place. If the MAS Union is an obstacle to change fix it.

To operate an airline profitably every seat must generate revenue and every flight is  making money.  That is basic in management. It is, therefore, the duty of the sales people in our national airline to do their job. And they are not.

Have you tried booking a flight to London? It is always full. But when you are finally given a seat and board the aircraft, you will find there are still plenty of seats available. The problem of overbooking must be solved and ticketing agents should be penalised for blocking more seats than they can sell . You can deal firmly with erring ticketing agents, if they are your cronies, friends or relatives.

I myself cannot understand why certain number of Business class seats on domestic routes, for example, must be reserved for Royalty and Politicians. Can’t these VVIPs plan their trips? What are the private and political secretaries doing if they do not know the travel schedules of their bosses. It is that simple, yet it is not done.

There is no such a thing as a free lunch. MAS has to bear the burden of serving privileged customers. Furthermore, first and business class passengers must be treated in the same manner, irrespective of their social class or political office. No double standards, please. Will MAS top management answer me?–Din Merican

Desperate Times Require Desperate Moves: The F&N Way


June 13, 2012

Desperate Times Require Desperate Moves: The F&N Way

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

Of the dozens of comments on Malaysiakini’s story on the appearance of Najib Abdul Razak’s picture on the 100Plus can, the most telling I saw was from someone writing as ‘Patchen’: “Can you imagine putting your lips on Najib’s face as you drink?…It’s like kissing him…!”

Like Patchen and seemingly almost everyone else, I  have been racking my brains to think why F&N (Fraser & Neave) would defile one of its most popular brands with pictures of Najib.

Was it a ‘clever’ marketing concept gone horribly wrong? Or the company’s misguided attempt to get itself back into BN’s good books after Ambiga Sreenivasan committed the unforgiveable sin of kindly offering 100Plus to anti-BERSIH protesters outside her house?

Or was F&N’s use of Najib’s picture on the can of one of their most popular brands in response to a Mafia-style BN “offer that they couldn’t refuse”? Whichever, it certainly served to highlight the increasingly evident fact that, to multitudes of Malaysians, Najib, his BN accomplices, and all their works and words are the absolute kiss of death.

Terminal blight

They have even managed to terminally blight their own 1Malaysia brand by making it a by-word for suspect, shoddy or otherwise undesirable products and services foisted on an unsuspecting public by crony suppliers.

1Malaysia shops notoriously sold, and perhaps still sell, a whole range of illegally-labelled goods, many of them no more cheaply than the genuine articles available elsewhere.

And they even stooped so low as to cheat mothers and children by selling so-called “growing-up” milk powder completely devoid of essential vitamins and minerals.

The 1Malaysia email service was launched as a “free” link for citizens with the government and its agencies, yet outrageously paid the crony operators of this “service”, and may do so still as far as I know, 50 sen of public money for every message subscribers sent.

As for the BR1Malaysia “gift” of RM500 to every needy Malaysian, there’s been no accounting or auditing that I’ve seen, and so I assume at least some of those responsible for dispensing the cash kept a good deal of it for themselves in the notorious “I help you, you help me” spirit of 1Malaysia.

And recently we saw the launch of the 1Malaysia tablet, which was greeted by those claiming far more IT expertise than I have to be both under-performing and overpriced.

But surely the most insulting offering to date has been the book Menyerlalahkan Amalan Nilai-Nilai Murni 1Malaysia(Highlighting 1Malaysia’s values), which was launched by Information Minister Rais Yatim as an ideal gift for supporters of BERSIH.

With a cover prominently featuring Najib Razak pressing the flesh with a member of his adoring public, this sickening exercise in hypocrisy proposes 21 “moral values” including patience, discipline, respect, meritocracy, cleanliness, education, integrity, humility, courtesy and loyalty.

Thus vividly highlighting the fact that the BN 1Malaysia gang practices none of the virtues to which it pays lip-service, and clearly has no intention of ever doing so.

Indeed, it can’t manage a morsel of morality even when its activities almost literally result in the kiss of death, as in the disgracefully-disorganised drag-race at its so-called “Millions of Youths” gathering in Putrajaya last month.

The Sports Minister had the extraordinary cheek to claim that there were “no grounds for the government to apologise” to the families of seven young people seriously injured when a car ran off the inadequately barriered track.

In fact he went so far as to claim that “the victims’ families understood that (had) their children not been there, they would have gone somewhere else and faced other mishaps,” and thus they “have foregone suing the government as had been urged by certain quarters.”

Catastrophic crash

I wonder if the Minister for Transport (MCA-BN) will be so callous and cavalier in his attitude to victims and their families if and when the allegedly defective 1Malaysia regime air traffic control radar upgrade results in a catastrophic crash.

NONEOf course there’s always the chance he wouldn’t even notice, as these days he seems to be devoting most of his attention to trying to stifle public anger aroused by the antics of the lying Health Minister (MCA_BN) Low Tiong Lai over his alleged bid for a WWW number plate.

And the Malaysian public would be shielded from any bad news about the 1Malaysia brand and its promoters, as usual, by the 1Malaysia “news” media, largely owned as they are by BN and its crony “communications” corporation, Media Prima.

But to judge by the sinking circulations of most of its so-called “newspapers” and the pathetic content, on-air-personalities and production values of its television stations, Media Prima appears to be succumbing to the 1Malaysia kiss of death too.

Though not as quickly, unfortunately, as many of us would like. Elsewhere the process appears to be speeding-up, however, with virtually instant calls for a boycott of 100Plus following the appearance of the number 1 promoter of 1Malaysia on its can.

So, considering the visceral revulsion of Patchen and countless others at the thought of pressing their lips to a lMalaysia-polluted drink can, I hope has plans for lots more crony-enriching 1Malaysia scams posing as products and services.

The opportunities are endless. From foodstuffs, or rather stuff-ups like 1Malaysia beef from the National Feedlot Corporation to a range of sub-standard 1Malaysia cosmetics featuring lipsticks with a picture of a pouting Najib Razak on their packs.

We can’t look forward to a 1Malaysia car, unfortunately, as the country is already stuck with the 1Mahathir Proton.But the Najib Razak administration has already floated the prospect of as 1Malaysia nuclear power. And if that comes to pass, and proves as much of a combined rip-off and stuff-up as most other BN projects, it could prove the kiss of death for millions of citizens.

Though by then there would likely be a chain of 1Malaysia undertakers, so surviving BN politicians and cronies could still go on making a killing.

Jeffery Sachs denies Public Relations Role for Sime Darby


November 16, 2011

Jeffery Sachs denies Public Relations Role for Sime Darby

Professor Jeffrey D Sachs, a sustainability advocate, told a US news portal that he is no way involved in the public relations of Malaysian oil palm giant Sime Darby.

NONE“Absolutely nothing is going on here. I am in no way, shape or form a representative of any company, including Sime Darby,” he was quoted as saying to Ben Smith, a political writer of US-based Politico, in an article published yesterday.

Last Saturday, whistleblower website Sarawak Report had claimed that Sime Darby, through UK-based public relations company FBC Media Ltd, had embarked on a campaign to “court and seduce” Sachs (left), one of the world’s most celebrated economists, into becoming an “ambassador” for the company.

According to Politico, Sachs said he has neither worked for Sime Darby nor received payment from it.

“Interesting story regarding what they might have wanted (I have no idea if it’s accurate), but I don’t work for them or any other company. I do not receive (nor have I ever sought) a penny from them,” Sachs wrote in reply.

The special advisor to the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and former director of the UN Millennium Project admitted that he had visited Sime Darby’s plantation once for few hours at its invitation, noting that he has an honorary professorship at University of Malaya.

Sarawak Report also alleged that Sime Darby had provided a half-million dollar donation to support  Columbia University’s prestigious Earth Institute helmed by the economist.

Sachs clarified that the money was not a donation, but for a scientific programme designed to advise the conglomerate on designing sustainability programmes.

“I agreed with Sime Darby officials that the Earth Institute would help them, if they sought help, to design a science-based, ecologically sound programme for sustainable palm oil under the framework of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

“It seems that not much has come of this. I have had no contact whatsoever with the company for probably more than one year, perhaps two years, except perhaps one of their representatives being on a group phone call with the Earth Institute.

“They are part of a group of companies that participate in a quarterly phone conference call with the Earth Institute regarding global sustainability challenges. This is a one to two hour quarterly briefing on global scientific and policy developments,” he was quoted by Politico.

Institute to ‘review’ links

Politico also reported that Erin Trowbridge, the Institute’s Director of Communications, has emailed Sarawak Report to clarify some issues and address inaccuracies in its article, reiterating the same points made by Sachs.

Asked if Earth Institute would drop Sime Darby from its Corporate Circle – a recognition of Sime Darby’s commitment to sustainable development – in view of the Sarawak Report article, Trowbridge replied that a review is in order.

“We saw the article on Saturday and it raises very serious issues… Sime Darby came to us declaring their desire to pursue a new agenda on sustainable development and asking for our scientific help in designing those policies.

“We hope that is real. The article of course will lead us to re-examine this relationship, and see if it was indeed driven by public relations considerations. Since the article contains many incorrect comments about Sachs, we will do our own due diligence, and not take decisions based on a news article,” Trowbridge added.

In a reply to Malaysiakini, Sime Darby had also trashed the allegations, insisting that it had not elicited favourable comments from Sachs.

The Politics of AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes: The Carma


October 5, 2011

The Politics of AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes: The Carma

By Debra Chong@www.themalaysianinsider.com (10-03-11)

Aviation tycoon Tan Sri Tony Fernandes appears to be moving his allegiance from one former Prime Minister to another since coming under attack from influential Malay right-wingers over AirAsia’s controversial share swap deal with Malaysia Airlines System (MAS).

Having won the public backing of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last month, the AirAsia boss has now distanced himself from former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the latter’s circle, which was believed to once hold great influence over the government and included Abdullah’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and businessman Datuk Kalimullah Hassan.

The ambitious Fernandes has been hard-hit following allegations he is using the national carrier to further his personal aspirations — the latest being the acquisition of English Premier League football club, Queens Park Rangers.

The country’s flag carrier will sponsor QPR’s home jersey for the next two seasons, while AirAsia’s logo will be emblazoned on the team’s away and third kits.

In an exclusive interview with Malay-language news portal, Agenda Daily, earlier this week, Fernandes addressed head-on the questions that have cast a shadow on his involvement in the airline industry.

Football-mad Fernandes recounted how his problems started when Khairy, a fellow football lover, said he could bring “My Team” to Old Trafford, the home of Premier League champions Manchester United.

“I said ‘great idea’, because it was a dream… and from there the problem started,” said the businessman who managed to turn a RM1 company into Asia’s biggest budget carrier.

When quizzed, he rubbished the suggestion that he owed AirAsia’s dramatic success to Abdullah who approved the budget carrier to fly into Singapore.“No, our first international route was during Dr Mahathir’s time. The route we got during Pak Lah’s time was the KL-Singapore (that became controversial),” Fernandes was reported as saying.

He also played down his close ties to Khairy, who was seen as having an influence on the fifth prime minister who governed from October 2003 to March 2009 — around the time when AirAsia took off.

“Actually, we didn’t get anything, what we got was mostly during Dr Mahathir’s and Datuk Seri Najib’s time. During Pak lah’s era, it was very little,” Fernandes said.

Fernandes insisted that the share swap deal between AirAsia and MAS involved great risks to both companies, and denied either party was being “bailed out”. He also sought to portray the controversial decision to buy Queens Park Rangers as a publicity stunt that had benefitted the loss-making MAS.

“Do you realise that since a month ago, MAS has got so much publicity… before this, if you go to London and ask them to name an airline from Malaysia, they would say AirAsia,” Fernandes told Agenda Daily.

“And if you go to Australia, they would say AirAsia X. AirAsia X spends four times as much as MAS (in advertising). You have to spend. That’s promotion.”