On Daim Zainuddin–The Silent One

January 5, 2017

Malaysia’s Daim Zainuddin–Controversial but Competent and Effective Finance Minister and Political Operative Par Excellence

by Professor Mohamed Zain

Image result for Daim Zainuddin and Mahathir

Books have been written about Tun Daim Zainuddin, but not many people know who the real Daim is. He is famous for being taciturn. Everyone knows that Daim is the silent type; so silent, in fact, that the victims of his scheming and conniving have fallen like ten pins without ever knowing what hit them.

He has, on the quiet, made a career of shooting poison darts, laying booby traps. and knifing friend or foe in the back. His hand is never seen, but his mark is everywhere. Truth to tell, he has been at the root of many national crises, but his name has never been smudged, thanks to the wealth he wields and his bond of friendship with Dr. Mahathir.

Silent cancer

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Most members of UMNO’s new generation are aware that Daim is an acquisitive millionaire and a macho man with a taste of young women, but they concede him these weaknesses because they see in him a clean and competent Economic Adviser to the Government. But the generation of Harun Idris, Musa Hitam and Manan Othman to name just a few of the old hands – they are the ones to ask in order to discover who the real Daim is.

It was Dato’ Harun who plucked Daim up from the depths of failure in the salt business. Daim’s wife, Mahani and Harun’s wife, Salmah were good friends and an influential pair in the early 1970s. It was wife power that moved Harun to give Daim 160 acres of prime Kampung Pandan land. And thus Syarikat Maluri was born.

There is no use speculating over how much Daim paid Harun. After all, the two were fast friends. For the gory details, just ask Low Kiok Bow or Thamby Chik. They can relate how Daim cheated a land broker and greased Selangor state executive councillor and Mahathir’s brother-in-law, Ahmad Razali for that piece of land.

 Of course, Daim still had to pay for the land. In those days, it was not easy to borrow from a bank. Hence, he was forced to corrupt Bank Bumiputra. Lorraine Osman and Rais Saniman know how much he spent. Manan Othman can no doubt confirm the figure, he was so close to Daim that they tried to share a girl friend, with Manan often borrowing the bedroom at Daim’s office in Taman Maluri.

Mahathir’s choice

Image result for Daim Zainuddin and Mahathir

Daim’s elevation as Senator and, subsequently, Minister of Finance, was part of Mahathir’s strategic plan. Mahathir’s choice should surprise no one, after all the two were intimate friends from the same kampung in Seberang Perak, Alor Setar. Upon becoming Prime Minister on 16 July, 1981, the first thing on Mahathir’s mind was how to sideline his archenemy, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Musa squeezed out

Musa Hitam, the Deputy Prime Minister, was at first oblivious of the closet ties between Mahathir and Daim. Innocently, he expressed to Mahathir his disquiet over Daim’s wheeling and dealing, particularly his award of projects and contracts to his own associates and cronies. It must have baffled him when his complaints fell on deaf ears although he was Deputy Prime Minister, he has no say when it came to economic matters, particularly privatisation and the assignment (to supporters) of economic projects.

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Daim told everyone he had no interest in politics, but all the while he was confident of getting the Finance Minister’s job after a stint with the Senate. A few months after joining the Senate, Daim became Chairman of Fleet, which owned the New Straits Times. In 1984, he finally got his dream job and became the third most important man in the Federal Cabinet, after the Prime Minister and his deputy.

How disappointed Musa must have been to find that Daim could not care less about his effort to help his supporters secure some projects or contracts. Daim succeeded in making millionaires of such cronies of Wan Azmi, Halim Saad, Tajuddin Ramli, Samsuddin Hassan, Razali Rahman and Tan Sri Basir, but Musa in the end was cast off as a poor ex-DPM.

Musa once complained to Mahathir that Daim had stolen a number of supporters’ project proposals, but again Mahathir ignored him. These were the first acts in the eventual breakup of the Mahathir-Musa partnership. As the interests of Mahathir and Daim bloated, Musa got squeezed out.

Many UMNO members assume that Razaleigh is Musa’s number one enemy. In fact, the reason for the 1986 split in UMNO must fall on Daim. It was he who drove Musa to the edge until he had no choice but to resign. Again, Daim’s man of few words demeanour to his advantage. Few knew of his behind-the-scenes role in that UMNO rupture not many more know it today.

One really should not wonder why Musa called a truce Razaleigh and the two decided to collaborate in the 1987 fight, the one that eventually caused UMNO to be outlawed. At that time, Daim was almost invincible, what support coming from such strongmen as Sanusi Junid and Anwar Ibrahim. The comradeship of the three was rock solid, and the Musa-Razaleigh camp could do nothing except to make a joke of it by giving them the nicknames AIDS.

Image result for daim zainuddin and mahathir

The United Engineers Company, bought for RM2, changed into a multi-million- ringgit corporation. As Finance Minister, Daim practically ordered banks to lend to companies that he himself owned. And no Daim crony every complained of difficulty in securing bank credit. Indeed, bankers lived in fear of Daim. Having appointed Wan Azmi and Basir to head Malayan Banking and Bank Bumiputra, he would give any project to any of his cronies because funding was not an issue.

If those physical projects were not enough, Daim also took every opportunity to take wealth from the share market as well. Every time the Treasury approved a company for listing on the stock exchange, Daim cronies received their lion’s shares. That was how Southern Bank, Resort World, Sports Toto, Berjaya, Tanjong and scores of other blue chip firms landed with Daim and Company.

Once, when share values were high, Daim boasted among friends that his visible wealth alone totalled RM65 billion. To shut the mouth of Barisan Nasional leaders, Daim gave lucrative projects (CRUMBS) to Samy Vellu and Ling Liong Sik so that their children could be big-shots in batches.

Daim managed to persuade UMNO members into believing that Mahathir would not let him go although he had asked to be relieved of his Cabinet post on a number of occasions.

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With Musa and Razaleigh out of the picture, Daim could grab as much wealth as he wanted without even Mahathir stopping him. Besides, he was UMNO’s treasurer and he could make it look as if the companies he controlled were those in which the party had a stake.

Daim’s avarice damaged not only his own image as finance minister, but also Mahathir’s and Malaysia ‘s reputation with the international community. It is said that he used to demand exorbitant fees for himself in negotiating contracts involving foreign suppliers. The chairmen of Japan ‘s two biggest banks – the Bank of Tokyo and Sanwa Bank – once complained to Mahathir that his Finance Minister demanded commissions that were too high when negotiating yen loans.

Margaret Thatcher, too, has complained about Daim’s role as a commissioned agent. He had – or still has – accounts in Zurich , London , Hong Kong, Tokyo , Singapore , Caymen Island , Channel Island and Virgin Island. Indeed, instead of keeping his billions in Malaysia , he has stashed them overseas.

KTM land in S’pore

Image result for Daim Zainuddin and Mahathir

With his immense wealth and far-reaching influence, Daim eventually became a burden that Mahathir could no longer bear. In every deal he made, there was something in it for himself. It was not beneath him even to cooperate with Lee Kuan Yew to snatch KTM land in Singapore . The Malaysian Cabinet had no knowledge of this. But this issue of Malaysia being outwitted by Lee Kuan Yew and Daim is far from over.

Mahathir eventually realised that he had to end Daim’s lordship over the Finance Ministry. And so he told him to quit. He  worried that if Daim continued as Finance Minister, complaints would come not only from Vincent Tan, Ananda Krishnan, Arumugam (M’s DIRECT CRONIES) and other members of the Malaysian business elite, but also from foreign leaders.

Signs of a Daim-related scandal were ominous and it could break any time in Japan or Britain, therefore, Daim had to go.

 Daim’s resignation

Daim’s resignation was planned such that it would not appear as if he had been sacked. Indeed, it does not make sense why a powerful Finance Minister, rich and in control of so many public companies, would suddenly quit simply because he had lost interest in the job.

Observers will recall that Mahathir’s first comment on the so-called reaction was, ‘He has asked several times for permission to resign, and I have finally allowed it. I hope Daim would not leave the country after resigning’. That statement was pregnant with meaning. Mahathir knew Daim was sulking. So did Anwar and Sanusi. Mahathir retained Daim as UMNO Treasurer for a good reason, he wanted to ensure the safety of UMNO money, a lot of which was under Daim’s control.

But Daim who holds so many of Mahathir’s secrets, is only a sly one. After resigning, he went to live in his San Francisco residence. He told the Malaysian public he wanted to study at Harvard, but in fact he wanted to leave Malaysia. Mahathir, who was familiar with Daim’s antics, pleaded with him to come back, saying he needed him to advise on economic matters.

Image result for rafidah aziz

Daim returned and announced that Mahathir had named him Economic Adviser to the Government. Rafidah asked Mahathir to confirm this, but all she got was silence. Daim was never formally appointed as Economic Adviser, a post which Tun Raja Mohar once held. The appointment is the prerogative of the Public Services Department. Daim gave himself the job. To keep Daim happy, Mahathir allowed him to open an office at the Economic Planning Unit, and this strengthened the public perception that he was still in control as far as economic affairs were concerned.

Rafidah more honest than Anwar?

When he was to told to resign as Finance Minister, Daim asked Mahathir to appoint Anwar Ibrahim to the job. Obviously, he thought this would help to ensure that his skeletons would remain closeted. He warned Mahathir of the peril that Rafidah would be to both of them: the secrets they shared would be uncovered.

As far as we know, no Finance Minster in this world has retired a billionaire, except Daim. In the book Daim yang Diam: Sebuah Biographi (Daim the Silent: A Biography), Daim explains his retirement: ‘I am happy in retirement. It was too heavy a responsibility. In truth, I love the business world. Business is in my blood. I love to make money. I know how to do it. I can do it just by sitting in this chair. On a lucky day, I can make millions.’

 Friend of Soros

According to an internal bank analysis, collaborated by the corporate community, and from Daim crony Amin Shah, Daim’s wealth, in ringgit and foreign currencies kept overseas currently amounts to RM20 billion.

With so much money at his disposal, Daim can manipulate the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. He showed his hand in 1991, just to prove how much influence he wielded. After selling off his stocks, he made a statement to the effect that the market would crash. And crash it did.

 As we can all recall, even Mahathir could not help but make a wry remark when Daim boasted that he invested in KLSE only for pocket money. But to his good friend, Daim said he could turn in profit on RM90 million a day when the market was up. When the market plummeted in October 1991 Daim bought back his share on the cheap. When the market turned bullish again 1995 and 1996, Daim made billions of ringgit from it.

So it turns out that Soros is not the only big time market manipulator and currency dealer. Daim met Soros twice in London when the ringgit was being hotly traded. Anyway, when the ringgit fell below RM4 to the US dollar, Mahathir asked Daim for help and, according to a source in Singapore, he lost RM1 billion trying to prop up the Malaysian currency. To lose that much in currency trading, imagine how much money he had at his disposal.

Mahathir panicked

The falls in currency and share values put Mahathir in a feverish panic. He knew his policies and his own belligerent attitude were partly to blame. Seeing Mahathir in such a frenzied state, Daim recommended that he declare a state of emergency to enable him to restore the economy and at the same time, bury the corpses that were beginning to stink.

We hail the Chief Secretary to the Government and the Solicitor-General for opposing the move. If Daim’s plan had been followed, Mahathir would turn dictator and the Malaysian economy would be utterly ruined. Having failed to declare an emergency, Mahathir set up the National Economic Action Council, headed by Daim, with the Economic Planning Unit as its Secretariat. Daim also persuaded Mahathir to appoint Mustapha Mohammad as Anwar’s deputy because these two could be depended on to fill up the holes he had left gaping. Anwar is nobody’s fool, but he sacrificed his idealism to protect his towkay.

Eventually, the council became merely an advisory body, with the Cabinet having final say on its recommendations.

 Daim finally found a road-block in Anwar

The establishment of the council was a wedge between Anwar and Daim. Thus, two old friends who had together stood behind Mahathir against Musa were now turned against each other.

 The original plan was to give the NEAC complete autonomy, but the Cabinet ministers opposed this for fear that they would lose any vestige of power they had left.

All of the council’s recommendations were rejected by the Cabinet and Bank Negara. Daim openly assailed Bank Negara for dismissing his proposals, such as those relating to interest rates and credit control.

We salute the Bank Negara Governor (Tan Sri Aziz Taha) for maintaining a prudent monetary policy in the face of Daim’s bullying and insults. Unlike Daim and his cohorts, Bank Negara’s officials are not self-serving.

Daim’s appointment to the NEAC was a major national mistake. Going by press reports of its deliberations so far, the NEAC’s sole preoccupation is with saving mega corporations from bankruptcy. No doubt, these are Daim-related companies.

Daim has yet to show any concern over the rise in the price of chillies, or the leaps in fish prices or how the price of rice has boiled over. Neither has he talked about small businesses in their death throes. Class F contractors going bankrupt or kampung road projects being abandoned. In his dictionary, there are no entries for the small man’s worries, nothing about low-cost houses, water cuts or study funds for the children of poor Malays. In fact, it contains only billion size fi

While the Malaysian economy is close to ruin, Daim remains a billionaire, living a life of glamour, jet setting with his new wife Naimah and the attractive Josephine, an Indian lass who helps him run one of his firms, the International Malaysian Bank.

We have merely given a sketch of who the real Daim is. A thorough account will soon be available in book form. We recommend the book to UMNO members, especially those with big ambitions, because they will learn much from its fantastic but true tales of economic and political intrigues.

We denounce the likes of Vincent Tan and Ting Phek Khiing for land-grabbing, but perhaps we should ask the Menteri Besar of Johor and the Menteri Besar of Kedah how much land Daim has taken.

Ask Sanusi how much Daim paid to the Kedah government for 12,000 acres in Sungai Petani and how much profit he made from them. For 12,000 acres, Osman Arof had to be sacrificed. The true story of the Daim-Sanusi conspiracy in Kedah will be exposed in the book.

UMNO at Crossroads

UMNO is at a crossroads and has to decide wisely where it is going. One road heads to glory, where stability and democratic practice will abide. The other leads to division, autocracy and ultimately, utter destruction.

The call for reform, which used to be made only in whispers at small, secretive gatherings, is becoming louder. UMNO members, showing that they can no longer contain their restiveness and frustration, have begun to openly debate the need for change, even at party conventions.

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The Kaki Ampus (Sycophants) in UMNO with their Provider, Najib Razak

Can there be a clearer indication that they have reached their tether’s end, that they can no longer stomach the leadership’s undemocratic attitude and the prevalence – whether in the party or the government – of favouritism, cronyism, nepotism, graft and other misdeeds? Malay nationalism is dead and materialism and egoism are running amok.

We cannot depend on the UMNO Supreme Council to initiate reform because few of the members have the guts to speak up. In fact, the council has lately been transformed into a monologue theatre. But of course even a monologue can flop without good supporting players – fools, clowns, jesters, attendants and the oh-so- important flatterers.

Can there be a clearer indication that they have reached their tether’s end, that they can no longer stomach the leadership’s undemocratic attitude and the prevalence – whether in the party or the government – of favouritism, cronyism, nepotism, graft and other misdeeds? Malay nationalism is dead and materialism and egoism are running amok.

 We cannot depend on the UMNO Supreme Council to initiate reform because few of the members have the guts to speak up. In fact, the council has lately been transformed into a monologue theatre. But of course even a monologue can flop without good supporting players – fools, clowns, jesters, attendants and the oh-so- important flatterers.

As far as these bit players are concerned, UMNO’s ideals and principles are not as important as their jobs. This keep-your-mouth- shut syndrome serves only to embolden the party leadership in its conceit, arrogance and h au ghtiness. A president has become a dictator. Woe are the Malays and Umno. What is to become of them? That is a question only Umno members can answer.

– Professor Mohamed Zain – Professor of Technology & Strategic Management -College of Business & Economics -University of Qatar









11 thoughts on “On Daim Zainuddin–The Silent One

  1. It is all about using the forms of the democratic process to undermine its substaance. This is the problem of all Third World Countries except Malaysia. I have done nothing wrong.

  2. Timing of this book says a lot about UMNOb politics, and speaks volume about the author’s connection with current administration.
    Nothing in the author’s online resume would suggest he is particularly close to Tun Daim, throughout his won career. Layu-layu Melayu continues.

  3. These umnoputras are indeed despicable scumbags . All of them are such greedy, self serving so called Malays who have no qualms in destroying Malaysia and shamefully regard themselves as Muslims.

  4. Diam …Diam Zainuddin equates to ‘ still water runs deep ‘ , as the saying goes , and Silence is the quality of a successful person… but too much of water has gone past the bridge, and its pointless to rake it up.

    It would be interesting to recount the circumstances which put them together , himself and Dr Mahathir ….you could say that Fate is a matter of event in the higher dimension concerning human lives……he was a legal practisioner , and Dr M had his own medical practice , on the opposite of the road where they practised back in their hometown…. the rest is history…..

    One thing though , it was Dato’ Harun Idris former MB of Selangor who lent him a helping hand in a particular housing project , and his salt factory project somewhere near a coastal town near the sea.

    Pity was that Dato’ Harun himself was embroiled in a vicious political ‘crucifixion’ , because the then PM had wanted the team of Dato’ Harun / Tun Musa Hitam pair to helm the country’s Leadership…..instead ‘jealousy ‘ prevailed …… ; and the rest is history !

  5. My personal hero , Dato’ Harun Idris , and extremely good man , (sigh ) he died a broken man…….Al’ Fathihah for him…..
    I am an admirer of Tun Hussein Onn but what he did to Dato’Harun Idris was too harsh.–Din Merican

  6. Waaahhh……we never expected the magnitude of Avaraciousness & greed involved , beyond comprehension ! Very , very grateful indeed to this most Esteemed & learned Professor in the sordid detail about the raping of the resources and wealth of our beloved nation…..

    ” JANGAN SANGKA AIR YANG TENANG TIADA BUAYA ” , a new dimension of Adage could be added : ” bukan hanya buaya biasa, tetapi juga , buaya gergasi dan buaya Naga …..” –

    We do indeed feel startled and ,,,,exasperating , these people go into , to ravish the national wealth & resources…..with such Impunity , and with such contumacious scorn upon the rakyat…..

    Checked up the book of Scriptures of major religions, directly or impliedly , it is stated by all without exception : Quote : ” YOU CONSUME FIRE ….” –

    When and where , not clearly stipulated , but to Muslims we say : ITs HELL FIRE …

  7. @abnizar, dato.din,

    //Abnizar>My personal hero , Dato’ Harun Idris , and extremely good man , (sigh ) he died a broken man…….Al’ Fathihah for him…..
    //I am an admirer of Tun Hussein Onn but what he did to Dato’Harun Idris was too harsh.–Din Merican

    I am borned too late to know Dato’ Harun. I would assume it might be even more difficult even it weren’t the case. From what I can read on materials related to May 13, I kept finding the following as already mentioned by some in wikipedia.

    I grew to respect both of you. I sure hope I could get to learn from you on your take on Dato’ Harun better one of these days.

    // Harun’s career was marred by the 13 May racial riots, which had been triggered by a political rally held at his residence in the national capital of Kuala Lumpur. Harun, who was perceived as a proponent of ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy, although this exact phrase was not in use at the time), had seen UMNO suffer several losses in the Selangor State Assembly due to the 1969 general election. After the opposition held a victory rally to humiliate the Malay government, UMNO leaders called for a retaliatory rally to be held on 13 May to “teach the Chinese a lesson”. The discipline of party members soon broke down, and the rally turned into a riot which lasted two days and cost at least 180 lives.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harun_Idris – snapped Jan 10. 2017

    // Harun’s role in the riot is not exactly clear. Although the rally was to be held at his house (in which two innocent Chinese bystanders were killed)[citation needed] and then parade around the town, it has been claimed by some – including a member of the opposition in the state assembly and Parliament at the time – that Harun was too pre-occupied with trying to form a new state government to have given much thought to the rally, although it is not denied that he approved it. It has also been claimed that during the riot, Harun sheltered some Chinese who had been forced into the mosque he attended by the rioters.[3] There are also accusations that the Malays who gathered at his house were supplied with knives and machetes.[citation needed]After meeting in large numbers at Harun’s official residence in Jalan Raja Muda near Kampong Bahru, and hearing inflammatory speeches by Harun and other leaders, the Malay mobs prepared themselves by tying ribbon strips on their foreheads and set out to kill Chinese. The first hapless victims were two of them in a van opposite Harun’s house who were innocently watching the large gathering. Little did they know that they would be killed on the spot.[4]

  8. many, many people knew this , but chose not to mention it –
    What precipitated the 1969 riots , was the Victory by DAP in the election preceding the riot. The victory celebration itself was the prior cause . The jubilation, excitement and furore of the victory , became uncontrollable …..as the huge crowd passed by Dato’ Harun’s residence , the loud chantings were ” melayu balek kampong ….., jangan dudok dalam bandar …etc ” –

    The crowd at the MB’s house swelled and broke loose , and the iintial skirmishes looked like it was the spark , which triggered those inflamatory utterences by the Victors…..then riots broke in othe parts of KL – Security forces were mobilised , curfew imposed …..especially riotious was the Kg Baru vicinity .

    With curfew imposed , orders were ‘ shoot to kill ”’ – ( there’s on record , that a Malay family sheltered some Chinses families in the safeety of their homes , too.)

    Malays from every part of KL swelled into the city centre…. near to the Residence,

    Then, there were the rowfy crowds , demanding the MB to immediately resort to other states , for Malays to CONVERGE in KL.

    (yes here ) = Dato Harun sensed the extreme danger , he quelled the crods by telling them, he had to fly immediately to all the nothern , east , and southern Malay states, single=handedly by the Heli to stop them from such convergences for fear of Escalation….

    Curfew was imposed , and the rest is history ( NOC was formed to investigate the causes , witnesses were called , amongst them Dr Tan Chee Koon , a respectable man, who gave unbiased testimony…..) –

    CAUTION : Do not rake it up , its already a new beginning…..

    Remark : Dato Harun Idris was the Man…..the hero ,,,,,

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  10. Pingback: Insider Submarine Trading? – Malaysia Today | MalaysiaUpdates

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