MAS-AirAsia Deal: Reprieve for Tajuddin Ramli?

August 11, 2011

MAS-AirAsia Deal: Reprieve for Tajuddin Ramli?

Written by  Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

Amid growing concern that Malaysian taxpayers have again been taken for a ride by the UMNO elite, Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim ticked off Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz for allegedly instructing Government-Linked-Companies or GLCs to withdraw lawsuits filed against for MAS chairman Tajuddin Ramli.

Among the affected GLCs are Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Naluri Corporation, Celcom (M) Bhd, Atlan Holdings Bhd, Pengurusan Danaharta Bhd, Malaysia Airlines and Duta Skyline Bhd. These firms had sued Tajuddin for losses suffered by MAS amounting to billions of ringgit, and there is concern that with a stroke of pen, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration was bailing out fallen tycoon Tajuddin.

“Such orders should have come from the Minister of Finance and not Nazri as this concerns GLCs. The government said it had a strong case against Tajudin involving billions of ringgit in filing the suit. It is a disturbing,” Anwar, a former Finance minister, told reporters on Thursday.

The UMNO elite

UMNO is the dominant party in the BN coalition, providing all 6 of the country’s prime ministers since 1957. A party of over 3 million members, it operates on a largely feudalistic style with power tightly held in the hands of a few elite families, including Najib’s and former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s.

On the back of this latest escape route for Tajuddin is the secrecy-shrouded MAS-AirAsia deal, wherein national investment firm Khazanah swapped its 20.5 per cent stake in MAS for 10 per cent in AirAsia.

Analysts have been mixed in their responses, with some insisting it benefited AirAsia and some who say it was a bailout for MAS. Whichever it is, the deal lacked transparency and shares in AirAsia plummeted, while MAS stock shot up more than 18 per cent.

Given the huge complexity of the swap, it is not clear yet who really benefited but already many say they smell corruption and improper benefits in the deal praised as a “very good idea” by Mahathir, former Trade minister Rafidah Aziz, and Najib himself. There is speculation that the ‘spoils’ have already been carved out and agreed on by these UMNO bigwigs.

It is also telling that Munir Majid, the former MAS chairman who initiated the suit against Tajuddin, had resigned effective July 31, 2011. He was MAS chief since 2004. Meanwhile, Anwar has appealed to the authorities, including the Securities Commission, to sieve through the transaction to ensure utmost transparency.

 “More importantly, the deal raises the question as to what is the fate of the GLC Transformation Programmes that had been launched by the Prime Minister Najib Razak with much fanfare and wastage of millions of the rakyat’s money. And is the government specifically admitting that the so-called successful turnaround of MAS was a mere charade? The Prime Minister must be held accountable for misleading the rakyat on this,” said Anwar in a response to the swap.

“This deal also raises fundamental issues of transparency because of the secrecy in which it was shrouded. In this regard, the Securities Commission must investigate the possibility of irregularities including insider trading of the shares of both entities.”

A news portal had reported earlier on Thursday that Nazri had issued letters to the GLCs, informing them that the Finance Ministry had agreed to settle out-of-court all outstanding civil suits against Tajuddin.

“This is to inform you that the government of Malaysia and the Finance Ministry has agreed to settle all civil claims against  Tajuddin Ramli (left) and others to be withdrawn immediately in view of the fact that the government and the Finance Ministry have agreed that the said cases will be settled out of court. For your information the government has given me the mandate to act for the government in this matter,” Malaysian Insider had quoted Nazri as saying.

It is believed that both the BN government and the GLCs will negotiate for a global settlement with all the parties involved in the Tajuddin lawsuits. Some of the matters which had come up before Federal Court judge Md Raus Shariff on Thursday have been deferred to September 29  for case management pending settlement.

Tajuddin is one of the coterie of Malay tycoons given special privileges by Mahathir who said he wanted to create a special speed of Malay entrepreneurs to crimp the Chinese dominance in corporate Malaysia. But soon after it was implemented, the plan succumbed to massive corruption, with many pointing the fingers at Mahathir and his finance minister of that time Daim Zainuddin as benefiting the most from the program.

When asked about the MAS-AirAsia deal, Mahathir not only insisted it was a “very good idea”, but that “AirAsia can learn about the experience of MAS and MAS can learn how to reduce costs as done by AirAsia.”

14 thoughts on “MAS-AirAsia Deal: Reprieve for Tajuddin Ramli?

  1. 3 Acronyms with almost identical meanings for the discerning:

    * It starts with TARFU – ‘cuz the flurs involved in this scam have absolutely no idea what they are doing and where they are going. This includes Husni who has become a very conflicted soul and who is seriously polishing apples, not realizing that its actually durians. Nazri is just a peon. This leads on to the next stage;

    * SNAFU – since Jiboo is reactivating Octo’s dastardly methods in his desperation to rejuvenate the slush funds required by UMNO for GE-13. These have gaping holes which are so difficult to cosmetically cover, that they are trying to re-invent the wheel;

    * FUBAR – ‘cuz in the end that’s what’s gonna happen. This ain’t the 80’s nor 90’s anymore, and i’m sure there will be snitches in both the Tax division of Khazanah and GLCs who will do the necessary due diligence. And the night sky over Endau-Rompin to Pekan will flash brilliant with a mammoth UFO mushroom cloud in 2012.

  2. Tajudin Ramli is a great swindler and he should be rightfully prosecuted and made to repay the losses incurred by MAS due to his greed and corrupt practices. Those who nurtured and supported him should be held accountable and given the rods as well.

    It is a total disgrace if this guy could be just let off so easily. If so it reflects the administrations weakness and inefficiency and also as an encouragement to those in power who may have loose hands.

  3. Tun Mahakutty ruled for 22 years? You’re all wrong, his rule has never ended and we are all still under his control. Don’t for amomemnt think its Pak Lah or Najib as your PM, the PM is still Mahakutty… he still call the shots! He will still do for many more years – and it will only cease when he dies or the country is in the longkang tengkujuh (Monsoon Drain), whichever comes first! We are screwed!

  4. Er.., Ii seldom prophesy, Sentinel. But Octo is history, although his methods are still venerated and much revered.

    Yes, we are screwed unless something drops out from the sky – and it ain’t bird shit. You know why the Bumi equity doesn’t ever seem to rise a certain mark? It’s the gravity of earthly damnation, irresponsibility, ability to get away with murder and other escapism inbred in UMNO’s genes. Houdini’s magic ain’t no match for these flurs. The word on the street (unverifiable, of course) is that the slush fund amounts to rm2 billion and climbing – and it ain’t in Zimbabwean dollars.

    You guys can dream all you want, but the battle ain’t in blog-sphere nor any intellectual discussion of who, how, what and why. It’s on the ground of sewing machines, TOL, batik, and sarongs. We have commentators who claim to be on the ground, but the ground is shifting.

  5. If the out of court settlement goes ahead, it’s not TR who doesn’t have to pay back but you know who doesnthave to pay back as the shares were held by TR as a front for you know who. That’s why Khazanah bought back the MAS share at RM 3.80.

  6. All I know my friends and relatives in MAS are updating their resumes. They stayed on for years all this while out of loyalty. Didn’t get bonus for many years.

  7. I don’t think Tajuddin swindled MAS just for himself. Do you think the powers that be didn’t have a hand in this?
    You mean he is the Fall Guy?–Din Merican

  8. Jeff, the good qualified people at MAS need not worry. They’ll get a job easily that is if they are willing to relocate. I know many well qualified engineers, pilots and technicians that are prospering all over the globe. However if they chose to stay in Malaysia their job opportunities is bleak or at the least limited.

  9. didi,
    Depending on your major, it will be challenging that is unless you are willing to take any job that is not in line with your interest or field of study.

    On the MAS employees I am referring to the Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Certified Technicians and Pilots with license for a variety of aircrafts. They won’t have problem getting a job as their license is recognized worldwide. The clerical and managerial staff will have a problem.

  10. Reprieve for TR/TRI ? Not him alone, but reprieve for whoever that caused MAS to loose the RM8 Billion. Have to know the full terms of sttlement in the Ct Order. This was expected & anticipated some years back, that all these suits, counter-suits will come to nothing, zero ! Merely an exercise to pull wool over public’s eyes…

    It were as if to say : Look everything sttled amicably, so public restlessness can be at rest… what’s the implication ? Public is being ” invited ” to forgive & forget ( or condone ) the previous purchase back by Khazanah from TR @ RM 8 per share, the inflated value, as ” directed ” by the powers that be, in order to settle-off TR’s ” debt” of RM 600M.
    If this whole exercise or rigmarole is not done, then someone or some people is guilty of Criminal Breach of Trust, yes criminal fraud for buying at -exorbitant inflated value – not mere civil fraud

  11. If not ” amicably settled “, and goes full -steam trial in open Court, TR/TRI WILL definitely squeal to whom he parted with that RM600 million (?), or portions of the big chunk ! So, settlement good for all parties….but public has to forget about the breach of trust, and start paying back through HIGH or increased Cost of Living in in indirect taxes through thousands of purchasing items in the market, not to mention increased petrol costs, electricity & telephone bills, Astro & gullible public playing like toys on their mobile phones….excitement…public advised, don’t give them the pleasure, because ten to twenty cents increase in all items lead to billions in collection by the Treasury/Khazanah.

  12. The whole game in this Economic cycle of the Nation will be to perpetuate or even encourage Entrepreneurs , especially paid Servants & politicians, to take ALL risks, any risk, with impunity, even as the ventures undertaken become misadventures…..because its the population of 20 million people that will take the brunt of all the misadventures of the Government Treasury on their shoulders : beautifull Economic Cycle…..

    Desrve the Nobel prize for innovative RECYCLING of current Economic principles attributable to man’s ingenuity ! We have to learn to recycle our goods & stuffs to cut down our purchasers by half or

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