30
Oct
15

New Crony Scandals for Malaysia’s Najib

In the middle of two gigantic scandals involving hundreds of millions of US dollars, the Malaysian government may be courting another mess, according to critics in Kuala Lumpur.

In mid-September, in an affair that is being widely talked and written about in Malaysia, the government-owned Prasarana Malaysia Bhd. (Infrastructure Malaysia Bhd) awarded a RM11.5 billion contract to extend the capital area’s light rail system from the city center to the port city of Klang on a so-called project-delivery-partner basis to the government-linked Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd, an engineering firm, and George Kent (M) Bhd — despite the fact that it was the third-highest bidder and was in fact nearly RM1.62 billion higher than the UEM consortium, owned by the state investment fund Khazanah and a full RM2 billion higher than the lowest bidder, whose name hasn’t been revealed.

The new major shareholder and group managing director of Malaysian Resources is Mohamad Salim Fateh Din. His son, Mohd Imran, is executive director. Salim is a close friend of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s, Rosmah Mansor. Malaysian Resources has never done a rail project. Its expertise is in construction, not rail.

George Kent (M) Bhd. is headed by Tan Kay Hock, 67, who has bragged that he has been a golfing buddy of Najib’s for 25 years. His wife is said to be close to Rosmah and reportedly accompanies her overseas on shopping trips. In addition to George Kent, he is also chairman and CEO of his umbrella company Johan Holdings Bhd.

George Kent won a similar contract to construct the RM1.1 billion Ampang light rail extension project in 2012 despite the fact that for the previous 76 years, the company was known as a minor-grade manufacturer and supplier of water meters with an annual income of RM 30 million. Tan denied at that point that George Kent won the contract because of his links to the prime minister. The project’s completion was delayed by a year although George Kent officials said it wasn’t their fault.

Malaysia is notorious for this kind of crony capitalism. In 2014, before he was jailed on what many consider spurious sexual abuse charges, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim calculated that more than 80 percent of the country’s richest businessmen – both Malay and Chinese – owe what Anwar called “a significant portion of their wealth and success to who they know, instead of what they know.” In 2014, The Economist ranked Malaysia third in its world rankings behind Russia and Hong Kong for the extent to which businessmen linked to government handouts owed their fortunes.

…more
New Crony Scandals for Malaysia’s Najib
September 17, 2015 – Asia Sentinel

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