Archive for January, 2018

30
Jan
18

1MDB scandal in BBC’s House of Saud episode on graft crackdown

Najib ‘guest stars’ in BBC’s House of Saud episode on graft crackdown

PRIME Minister Najib Razak has made an appearance in the latest episode of BBC’s “House of Saud: A Family at War”, a documentary series on the conflicted Saudi royal family.

“The Malaysian people are angry. They believe they have been robbed,” began the hour-long episode, which aired on Tuesday and which may be viewed online in the UK on the BBC website.

The second episode of the series traces the beginnings of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal, to a deal the seventh son of the Saudi King, Prince Turki Abdullah sealed in late 2009 to receive US$1 billion (RM4 billion) in investments via PetroSaudi International.

Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their children are shown in a picture with Prince Turki and Penang businessman Low Teck Jho, better known as Jho Low,on board the luxury yacht Tatoosh, where a plot was allegedly hatched to siphon money from the sovereign wealth fund.

Sarawak Report’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown is depicted in an interview telling the BBC that some US$700 million had disappeared from the fund.

Leaked documents showed that US$681 million was transferred to Najib’s personal bank account in March 2013, just before the 13th general election, Rewcastle said.

Prince Turki allegedly received US$77 million in commissions for his part in the scheme, according the leaked e-mails, the documentary said. These are the leaked emails that PetroSaudi has said were tampered with.

Also interviewed was DAP lawmaker Tony Pua, who said he had been tracking the scandal for eight years.

“We’re not talking about a million or two million. We’re talking about billions of dollars and yet the Malaysian government acted as if nothing happened. Absolutely nothing happened,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP in an interview in a coffee-shop.

“We were promised a tasty bowl of noodles full of meat vegetables and dumplings and the people would get to enjoy the feast,” Pua said, using a plate of wan-tan noodles to make his point.

“I was suspicious. We knew they’re going to siphon off the meat and and give it to themselves.

“But what actually took place, what really took place, was that not only did they take the meat, they took the dumplings, the whole bowl of noodles and the only thing they left for us to taste was the spicy chilli.”

Pua recounted the events after July 2015, when the Wall Street Journal broke the news alleging US$681 million of 1MDB’s money had been transferred into Najib’s account.

“Nobody believed it when it happened. Why would the prime minister be so stupid as to transfer that big an amount of money into his personal bank account? When I met people on the street, they said, ‘Nah that’s false news’. But later on, we discovered it was true,” Pua said.

The documentary said stolen funds were used to buy, among others, a hotel in Beverly Hills, a Monet painting and a US$33 million private jet.

“The cash had even been invested in a Hollywood movie. A film that just happened to be about rampant corruption and fraud,” the documentary narrator said, referring to the Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio

Prince Turki was recently detained during a crackdown on corruption initiated by the new Saudi crown prince, 32-year old Mohammed Salman. Hundreds have been arrested, including members of the royal family.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has also launched a criminal investigation into funds allegedly siphoned from 1MDB after filing to seize over US$1 billion in real estate and other assets allegedly paid for with stolen money.

The DoJ said between 2009 and 2015, more than US$4.5 billion belonging to 1MDB was diverted by high-level officials of the state investor and their associates.

The DoJ said the main beneficiary of the assets it was seeking to recover was “Malaysian Official 1 (MO1)” whose identity has since been confirmed as Najib by Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan Najib.

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing. Najib said that the money in his bank account was gift from a Saudi Prince and which had mostly been returned. He was cleared of wrongdoing by the Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali in January 2016. – January 19, 2018.

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Najib ‘guest stars’ in BBC’s House of Saud episode on graft crackdown
19 Jan 2018 – TMI

29
Jan
18

Terengganu: A tale of weak leadership and wasted assets

T’ganu: A tale of weak leadership and wasted assets

COMMENT | From the landscape perspective, Terengganu is a fine country.

This laidback state, with a population that is 95 percent Malay, has somehow taken for granted the beauty that it owns: a 200km stretch of fine golden sand beaches, together with some of the most beautiful islands in the South China Sea.

An almost perfect, indolent place to be when you are on holiday, no doubt, with a big dose of laziness during the hot summer months.

Somehow, this sluggish state of affairs has permeated their politics too, especially when it comes to political expediency. Why do Terengganu voters seem to have this averse attitude?

Terengganu has been and still is a poor state, clearly depicted by its typical seaside landscape of traditional wooden houses and huts scattered all over the coastal villages.

Fishing (and its famous by-product, kerepok lekor) has been the pessimistic hallmark of the state that never prospered, yet traditional fishing continues to provide for the people’s livelihoods. Current economic indicators, upon reflection, tell the sad state of affairs endured by the population.

Terengganu is not only considered poor by international economic standards, but is actually classified as under the poverty line even by Malaysia’s own barometer.

Based on a combination of data samples and a partial projection of historical data, the state’s average monthly household income of approximately RM2,500 is way below the national average of RM5,288 in 2016. This illustrates that more than half of the state’s population is living below Malaysia’s own urban poverty line of RM3,000 per month household income.

But being poor is not a good excuse not to work hard, or not to be involved in politics and not to make a right political choice, especially in such an important event as the 14th general election.

Similarly, those in Felda schemes in Terengganu now have very good and valid reasons to be more concerned and possibly more active than ever in this forthcoming general election.

After all, problems resulting from Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd failures, abuse of Felda funds and Felda land scandals have now become national mainstream issues as big as 1MDB or GST.

Felda schemes in Terengganu are located away from the coastal towns, often in very remote and rural areas and difficult to access. Almost all schemes started without water, electricity and basic amenities, including schools and medical facilities.

Failed leadership

Politically, the state has been known to have a history of weak leadership.

A weak state government can be traced back to the era of Umno’s Wan Mokhtar Wan Ahmad from 1974 to 1999. This was supposed to be the golden years of the state, when oil and gas were first discovered and plans were sketched on how to develop these resources, both for upstream and downstream activities.

But the Terengganu state government then did not have any clue about how to formulate a development plan that was centred on oil and gas industries. It lacked the necessary knowledge to educate, train and inject the skills to the people and encourage them to participate in this new sector.

That is why Wan Mokhtar, as the state’s menteri besar, has often been blamed for the lack of development, very little economic activities and an absence of employment opportunities for the local people.

Wan Mokhtar was also a poor administrator. Instead of pushing ahead with a solid development agenda for the state, or engaging technical experts to advise him, he wavered and staggered and got sidetracked into PAS politics.

He played into PAS’ set of political beliefs and let Abdul Hadi Awang’s shadow loom over his administration and the state civil servants by trying to match every religious agenda set by Hadi.

But Hadi’s fanatical approach and religious rhetoric were more effective, especially among the many rural folks in the state, than Wan Mokhtar’s brand of religion.

The religious gap widened and differences increased, as did the number of PAS supporters.

Eventually, Wan Mokhtar completely lost his grip on Terengganu’s politics and the state paid a high price by foregoing modern development.

Many of Petronas’ downstream projects and the accompanying infrastructure opportunities were lost in a changing market environment.

The final straw came in 1999, when Wan Mokhtar lost 28 of the 32 state seats to PAS in the 10th general election. BN only managed to secure four seats and even Wan Mokhtar himself lost what used to be his safe seat of Chukai in Kemaman.

That is a sample of leadership in Terengganu’s politics and development schemes, if any, which were sketched by the state Umno’s machinery during those hungry years.

One local pundit has sarcastically said that what is now left from the discovery of oil in Terengganu is sketchy oil paintings of Terengganu villages on canvas.

The lacking of quality leadership continued after the 1999 general election, when PAS took over the state for one term. By then, Terengganu appeared to operate in a vacuum. No sign of leadership seemed to have emerged from the state.

Today, as then, there is nobody from Terengganu who is bold or inspiring enough, who can speak with some intellect or possesses economic credentials that could give credence to the state leadership, especially now on the issues concerning 1MDB, GST, Felda or oil and gas royalty.

It is no wonder that Terengganu failed to get noticed at the federal level and effectively negotiate for a better allocation of development funds; failed to obtain oil and gas royalties; failed to bring in foreign direct investment; failed to attract oil and gas related industries and new job opportunities, and waited for more than 10 years or two general elections for an expressway extension from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu to be built.

Precursor to 1MDB

Despite the riches found in the form of oil and gas in offshore Terengganu, which was first found in the mid-70s and is all controlled by Petronas, a central agency under the federal government, Terengganu obtained very little revenue from the industry.

With very little income, the level of education naturally suffered. Avenues for locals to be trained in skilled jobs were not provided until recently, when the oil and gas sector was already diminishing in importance.

To make it worse, when Terengganu was ruled by PAS for one term between 1999 and 2004, the five percent oil and gas royalty to the state was withdrawn by the federal government.

And despite the continuous, strong religious agenda set by the state government and a ban on alcohol consumption, youths in Terengganu continue to suffer from drug addiction, considered the number one enemy in the state for many decades.

The seriousness of drug-taking among youngsters is often denied by the government of the day, who have grossly overlooked this issue and neglected to provide any remedy to this pertinent youth problem, save for some religious rhetoric and a spiritual approach, which hardly work for drug abusers.

The withdrawal of oil and gas royalties was not rectified even after Umno/BN wrested back the state in 2004.

Some other forms of aid were given to Terengganu, the funniest ones being in the form of Monsoon Cup sponsorship and expenditure under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s premiership, an event which did not benefit the people at all.

Many similarly silly ideas were mooted, which eventually led to the formation of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) in 2008 after Umno/BN won the state again in the 12th general election.

TIA was a corporate body set up with objectives similar to a sovereign wealth fund, flimsily structured after the Abu Dhabi model and supposedly meant to receive the five percent oil and gas royalty.

Instead, the body was transformed by the federal government when Najib became prime minister in 2009, had its name changed and became a precursor to 1MDB manoeuvres and the activities that followed. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history, including the scandalous “RM2.6 billion” donation.

…more
T’ganu: A tale of weak leadership and wasted assets
20 Jan 2018 – malaysiakini

25
Jan
18

Najib slammed for playing down 1MDB scandal

Najib slammed for playing down 1MDB scandal

CIVIL society groups and a lawmaker criticised Prime Minister Najib Razak for trying to soft pedal the colossal scandal at state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) yesterday.

They said the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) had called it the world’s biggest kleptocracy and other jurisdictions, such as Switzerland and Singapore, have taken legal action against banks and individuals for money laundering linked to 1MDB.

In contrast, Malaysia has not acted against anyone.

Najib told investors yesterday that 1MDB’s problems were amplified by the opposition to attack the government.

“Now, I am not going to brush over this issue. There were indeed failings at the company, there were lapses of governance. There was valid cause for concern,” Najib said in his speech at Invest Malaysia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.

“This is why I ordered one of the most comprehensive and detailed investigations in Malaysia’s corporate history, one that involved multiple lawful authorities, including a bipartisan parliamentary body. Their findings were taken on board – and the company’s board was dissolved, its management team changed, and its operations reviewed.”

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua, however, said abroad, banks have been shut down and collaborators jailed for money laundering charges linked to 1MDB.

“(But) no action has been taken in Malaysia. Not even an attempt to recover the stolen funds. So what exactly was amplified?

“What about the missing US$4 billion (RM16 billion) or more which the US DoJ has identified as stolen from 1MDB to acquire luxury yachts, private jets, properties all around the world, rare and famous paintings as well as to produce Hollywood movies?”

Both Pua and anti-graft watchdog the Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) director Cynthia Gabriel said Najib has yet to explain DoJ’s assertions that US$681 million were transferred from 1MDB to his bank accounts.

“Was it ‘amplified’ because the purported Arab donor has disappeared after the US DoJ exposed the above transactions?” asked Pua.

Cynthia said the failings of 1MDB were caused by deliberate failed investments, fraudulent transfers and the use of offshore banks and shell companies, as well as the purchases of luxury properties and paintings.

…more
Najib slammed for playing down 1MDB scandal
24 Jan 2018 – TMI

24
Jan
18

Stop intimidating and blackmailing teachers

Stop intimidating and blackmailing teachers

IT is unprofessional of both the Education Minister and the president of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) to use their power to harass, intimidate, threaten and even blackmail teachers from having the freedom to support the political party they want. Teachers have the same rights as any other citizen.

For the past few elections now, teachers have been targeted this way because of their sheer number – almost 500,000. This is the single largest vote bank among the civil servants, more than all the armed forces combined. If the BN could engineer an excuse, they would be made “advanced voters” who will have to vote under the watchful eye of the school heads and NUTP representatives.

Is it legally, morally or ethically right for the education minister and the NUTP president to take away the democratic right of the teachers to support the politicians of their choice so long as they do not absent themselves from school to work for the politicians?

It used to happen and may still be happening that during election time, some teachers who are Umno and Barisan Nasional supporters will actively campaign for their teams till late and fall asleep in school the next day. And this is perfectly all right?

The education system is in bad shape, what with broken schools and indiscipline rising. This is what is crying for attention but neither the Education Ministry nor the NUTP seems to have any workable solutions. Jointly, instead of improving the standards of education and character building of the children, they have allowed standards to fall all round.

People are questioning why more and more Malay children are going to Chinese vernacular schools. Why are they abandoning the sekolah kebangsaan which is supposed to be the pride of the school system? Why is indiscipline so rampant in our schools?

If the teachers who have to work in a broken school system feel that the malaise is due to a broken political system, and that the political system must be changed for the broken schools tobe repaired, why is it wrong for them to lend a hand to change the broken political system?

The NUTP is showing itself to be happy with the broken school system. This is a great disservice to the nation. Of all parties, a teachers’ union should know that schools make or break the nation. They either develop future generations of people with good, strong moral values or future generations of unethical and lawless people, which is what is happening now.

The NUTP has no call supporting the minister in threatening, intimidating and blackmailing teachers, but should instead defend teachers who are punished in any way for not supporting BN. – January 20, 2018.

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Stop intimidating and blackmailing teachers
Ravinder Singh
20 Jan 2018 – TMI

23
Jan
18

Huge debts and the mismanagement by Felda subsidiary will rock the Felda vote

Shady land deal won’t rock Felda vote, but settlers’ debts will

FELDA’S troubles may have made national headlines but for the majority of 1.2 million plantation settlers and their families, the latest RM270 million land scandal is but a sideshow.

More pressing for them are the huge debts they owe the agency and the poor upkeep of their smallholdings by Felda subsidiary, Felda Technoplant Sdn Bhd (FTP).

Settlers’ groups said these everyday worries are what will rock the Felda vote spread out over 54 rural parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia.

The Felda vote has long been a certainty, or a “fixed deposit”, for Barisan Nasional, but land reform agency’s mismanagement of settlers’ holdings and their debts are jeopardising this traditional support base.

Financial scandals such as the Jalan Semarak land sale and acquisition of overvalued hotel properties could intensify the anger of the settlers, especially those of the second generation, at the government.

These scandals are campaign fodder for Pakatan Harapan (PH) which is making major inroads into Felda, thanks to former prime minister-turned opposition icon Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

However, Zulkefli Nordin, head of SGK2F, a group representing second-generation settlers, said the settlers were little bothered by the latest revelation of possible fraud in a Felda land transaction.

It was their poorly managed holdings and their high debts that the settlers were concerned about, he said.

“The mismanagement of their holdings by Felda and Felda Technoplant Sdn Bhd (FTP), their debts and their loan statements, which are not transparent – these are the issues that the government must settle if they want to win back the hearts of Felda settlers. These are the issues that everyone is talking about in the schemes, ” Zulkefli told the The Malaysian Insight in a WhatsApp message.

Felda settler families typically span two or three generations.

The first generation are the original settlers who received 4ha of land for them to plant rubber trees or oil palms. This group make up 30 to 40% of the Felda vote .

The second generation are the children of the original settlers. These make up 50 to 60% of the Felda vote. Their children are third generation settlers, but not all of them have reached voting age.

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Shady land deal won’t rock Felda vote, but settlers’ debts will
6 Jan 2018 – TMI

22
Jan
18

Umno is broken and can’t be fixed, says ex-MB’s son

Umno is broken and can’t be fixed, says ex-MB’s son

THE son of former Kedah menteri besar Sanusi Junid said Umno is beyond saving with money politics truly entrenched in the ruling party.

Akhramsyah Sanusi noted that he waited in vain for party members to rise up and demand change in Umno, saying those who left the country’s largest Bumiputera-based party felt that they had tried everything to fix it.

“Umno is a party that cannot be fixed. The groundswell of revolt that we prayed for never happened,” the Bersatu founding member told The Malaysian Insight.

Akhramsyah was first exposed to money politics when he entered the Umno elections in 2008, contesting a Youth exco post.

“It was unsuccessful because I refused to participate in money politics. On the last day of the elections, I was told that I was on the verge of winning.

“The evening before the votes were cast, I was advised to spend the night ‘pumping’. I was naive, and I come from a family that didn’t get involved in money politics, so I didn’t understand what ‘pumping’ meant. What it meant was… buying votes.

“You basically needed to fork out money to secure votes. That’s insane.”

In the party’s 2013 polls, Akhramsyah again tried contesting, this time, challenging Khairy Jamaluddin for the post of Youth chief.

“I was never active in Umno until I felt compelled to provide my services. I ran for the post of Youth exco in 2008 to help Mukhriz Mahathir, who I thought was the right candidate, win the post.

“I later ran for the post of Youth chief not because I thought I could win, but because I thought we needed to give Khairy a nice tight slap, even though he was the undisputed winner.”

The 2013 elections proved that despite structural changes, corruption had reached the grassroots level, the father of six said.

“I’m not saying that grassroots members are corrupt. But leaders at the branch level find themselves under pressure to run their branches with meagre assistance from the divisional and national levels.

“The party became corrupt because branch leaders didn’t get the structural support from the party to do what needs to be done during elections. That’s why they hold the leaders at ransom.

“It’s the only time when money comes from the party or individuals. It only comes with the pledges for votes, so the party becomes corrupt,” said the 45-year-old.

To join politics is to serve

Joining politics was a kind of calling for Akhramsyah, given his family’s involvement.

His maternal great-grandfather and grandfather were politicians in Aceh, Indonesia, while his father served as menteri besar from 1996 to 1999, and was a minister prior to being appointed as menteri besar.

Akhramsyah was the head of Umno Youth’s Bendang Baru branch in Langkawi before he left to join Bersatu.

“We joined politics to serve. Two years ago, I left Shell with the idea of doing a PhD on sustainable development and I saw myself as being a sustainable development expert in Malaysia, both in academia and business. My life plan has changed several times.

“But I never dreamt of being a prime minister or even a minister. My family were never brought up that way. We were brought up to serve,” said the Jerai Bersatu division chief.

Akhramsyah, who has 18 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, and holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College London, said he pledged to the party leadership that the election machinery in Jerai would be ready by March.

“The machinery is growing organically. Whatever we have now, I think, is quite solid, but there is a lot more to be done.

“I need to prepare my division to contest in the next general election. Whether or not I become a candidate depends on the party.

“If the party nominates me, I don’t think I have a choice, because the truth is, we are a young party, and if the party thinks I’m the best choice, I will have to accept.

“But in the end, if we have a better, more winnable candidate for Jerai, I’m willing to concede.”

…more
Umno is broken and can’t be fixed, says ex-MB’s son
5 Jan 2018 – TMI

21
Jan
18

Hadi risks losing own seats if PAS sticks to GE14 plan

Hadi risks losing own seats if PAS sticks to GE14 plan

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s plan for his party in the 14th general election will likely lead to the loss of the seats he holds at the parliamentary and state levels in Terengganu, a study revealed.

This latest study comes as Hadi leads PAS to contest against both main opposition pact Pakatan Harapan and the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.

Hadi’s plan for PAS will likely see three-cornered contests among it, BN and PH in all the 21 parliamentary and 78 state seats the Islamist party won in the 13th general election.

The study by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) policy lecturer Dr Mazlan Ali showed even Hadi would lose the Marang parliamentary seat and the Rhu Redang state constituency in the event of three-cornered fights.

Mazlan said the Islamist party stands to lose another three parliamentary seats in Terengganu in the event that it contests against both BN and PH.

The study estimated that PAS will only win two out of the 14 state seats it won in Terengganu if there are three-cornered fights. These are Sura and Paka under the Dungan parliamentary constituency.

The main reason for the losses was the split among opposition supporters towards PAS after the party’s internal schism in 2015 and its decision to sever ties with PH parties.

“All the PAS state seats in Marang will also fall into the hands of Umno if there are three-cornered fights between BN, Pakatan Harapan and PAS,” Mazlan told a briefing in Kuala Terengganu organised by Terengganu executive councillor Mohd Jidin Shafie on December 31.

First, Mazlan said PAS’ influence declined after some of its most influential leaders and members broke off to form splinter party Amanah.

The second reason is that non-Malays who voted for PAS in GE13 in 2013 have now shifted to PH.

“The third reason is the uncertainty in PAS’ direction. Voters do not see PAS as an alternative to replacing BN. They see PH as the only party that can compete with BN.”

After the party split in 2015, PAS lost many of its supporters, including non-Muslim voters, middle-class Malays and the young, he said.

The perception that PAS wants to cooperate with Umno is another factor creating unease among the party’s grassroots and they may either protest or vote for PH, he said.

…more
Hadi risks losing own seats if PAS sticks to GE14 plan
5 Jan 2018 – TMI

20
Jan
18

2017 in review for Felda – a need for change

2017 in review for Felda – a need for change

LETTER | Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) is concerned with the ongoing and seemingly endless saga of malpractice, corruption and breach of trust and duty cases lately affecting Felda – the last case reported being the questionable Felda “Semarak” land transfer deal.

In fact, the year 2017 can be perhaps be named as the “Felda Year” for the series of news of happenings which has caught the attention of us average Malaysians.

It appears that it is not only Felda investors (including the hardworking settlers and planters) and the public who are not happy with these cases – discontent seems to be seen from even within the Umno and BN circles.

It is believed that besides Khazanah and Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) groups of companies, the government-linked company (GLC) sector is the biggest source of threat to financial stability due to their being closely linked to political parties, and fraught with lack of good governance and transparency. There are also allegations and suspicion of widespread favouritism, cronyism and corruption in such corporate entities.

Lately, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) has taken drastic action by appointing professional subject matter experts to strengthen the composition of the FGV board and senior management.

But to actually make a change, there must be true and fearless intent to make sincerity and integrity an integral part of the corporate culture by setting the “tone at the top”.

To recap the sad narrative – the year 2017 started with the hopeful appointment of a new chairperson. The appointment was supposedly in line with the government’s desire to strengthen and solidify Felda’s leadership. Such noble intentions were very quickly called into question.

In April, Felda Investment Corporation Properties Sdn Bhd (FICP), a special purpose vehicle of Felda, acquired 37 percent of loss-making PT Eagle High Plantation Tbk. Settlers, analysts and investors showed their disapproval towards this acquisition done at a very high premium with a price that lacked financial and commercial justification.

A few months later, Felda’s current chairperson said Felda was merely an “intermediary” for the Malaysian government in the acquisition. Is this how Felda is to be viewed – an intermediary of the government?

Subsequently in June 2017, there was a management crisis at FGV where the MACC investigated several company officials for alleged corruption and abuse of power. The prime minister’s office also got involved, asking a former cabinet minister to look into the suspension of FGV’s top executives.

Its CEO denied wrongdoing and refused to step down as instructed by the then chairperson.

Shortly afterwards, FGV announced the resignation of the chairperson Mohd Isa Samad from the company and its subsidiaries and later was appointed the acting Land Public Transport Commission (Spad) chairperson. His appointment has continued to raise eyebrows amongst the public, bearing in mind his questionable “track record” in Felda.

In August, MACC arrested the said former FGV chairperson in a corruption investigation into FICP’s purchases of two hotels in London and Kuching between 2013 and 2015, said to be above their market value. Until today there has been no decision made yet on this case.

Later in Dec 2017, to cap the end of an eventful year for Felda, it was reported that there was a transfer of title for Felda’s 16-hectare land (the old Felda headquarters, Anjung Felda and Wisma Felda) at Jalan Semarak in Kuala Lumpur for which Felda did not receive a single sen.

The present Felda chairperson was reported to have described the matter as a “dubious deal” and discovered it in Jan 2016. On Dec 23, 2017, the prime minister vowed action to be taken against any negligence or misconduct in the land ownership transfer.

Due to the seriousness of the scandal, the prime minister should impose a deadline on the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to complete investigations on this “dubious deal” which has taken such a long time to surface. They must take action without fear and favour.

To be sure the rakyat are watching and will judge to see whether all these current cases will be allowed to proceed with due legal process, or whether they will take a sudden turn and end up like other lost cases which were announced with much fanfare, only to end with a whimper. If this happens, the rakyat will surely suspect a “cover-up” and abuse of legal process and failure of the rule of law.

…more
2017 in review for Felda – a need for change
4 Jan 2017 – malaysiakini

19
Jan
18

Turkey Of The Year: Why did FELDA buy 37% of Eagle High?

Turkey Of The Year: Why did FELDA buy 37% of Eagle High?

IT came as a surprise when the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) was reported to be in talks to acquire a 37% stake in PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk from Tan Sri Peter Sondakh’s Rajawali group. The deal was concluded for US$505.4 million or RM2.26 billion in April.

While FELDA attempted to justify the purchase — among other things, saying it got a 30% discount from Rajawali — most market watchers, analysts and industry players questioned the merits of the deal.

After all, FELDA’s 33% unit Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) had scrapped plans to buy the same block of shares upon the advice of two separate advisers, Bank of America and JP Morgan, for a variety of reasons. So why buy an asset its own unit had walked away from?

Apart from that, Peter Sondakh is known to be well connected in Malaysia, giving rise to talk that the deal may have been politically motivated.

To recap, in June 2015, FGV signed a heads of agreement with Rajawali to acquire a 37% block in Eagle High for US$680 million in a mix of cash and shares.

In 2015, the average crude palm oil (CPO) was RM2,258 per tonne, compared to RM2,670 so far this year — which indicates the offer to FGV would have been overpriced if a 30% discount was given after a rise in the CPO price.

The fact that it was FELDA Investment Corp (FIC) Properties Sdn Bhd — originally mandated to acquire non-plantation assets — that acquired the shares also raised eyebrows. Most would think FGV would be the natural choice to invest in plantation and agriculture-related assets.

So, did FIC Properties step in because FGV was advised against buying Eagle High?

The US$505.4 million for the 37% stake works out to IDR580 a share — a whopping 95% premium to Eagle High’s closing price at the time. With Eagle High now trading below IDR180, it means FELDA is sitting on a paper loss in excess of US$326 million.

Now, eight months after the acquisition, Eagle High’s market capitalisation is just below US$420 million, which means FELDA’s 37% is valued at just US$155.4 million — less than one-third what it paid.

Attempts by FELDA chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad to suggest that FELDA was an intermediary for the Malaysian government did not come across as a strong justification for the acqusition.

“We are representing the government of Malaysia on two levels — the management and board of directors of Eagle High,” he said in August.

FELDA officials also explained that the acquisition was made with government funding, which raised the question as to whether the agency would have been able to obtain the funding on its own.

But what is not clear is why this acquisition is so important that FELDA had to pay more than RM2 billion for it via a loan from the government?

…more
Turkey Of The Year: Why did FELDA buy 37% of Eagle High?
January 01, 2018 – theedgemarkets.com

18
Jan
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Selangor voters cite massive size discrepancies in objections to EC’s redelineation

Selangor voters cite massive size discrepancies in objections to EC’s redelineation

SHAH ALAM, Jan 3 — The Election Commission’s proposed redrawing of electoral boundaries would create seats with massive voters populations, said voters objecting to the exercise in Selangor today.

During today’s hearing, Yvette Mah Looi Yin who represented 172 voters cited concerns with the proposed Damansara (P106) seat that would replace their Petaling Jaya Utara constituency.

She said Damansara would have at least 150,000 voters or about four times the size of Sabak Bernam, the smallest seat in Selangor.

“One the existing problem was the term ‘approximately equal,’ which was not clearly defined with a formula,” she said at the objection hearing held at Concorde Hotel, Shah Alam today.

Mah said that if the redelineation is done in its current form, the member of the Parliament for the area would have constituents served by three different local authorities.

DAP’s Tony Pua is the current MP for Petaling Jaya Utara.

She said it would not be possible for a single lawmaker spread so thinly to be able serve voters effectively.

“It is unfair to voters as they would be under-served by our MP because of multiple new urban and rural districts.

“We want the EC to listen to our voice and to give effect to the spirit of the Constitution that all should be equal,” she said.

Chua Piak Chwee, who represented at least 110 voters, said the size variations were illogical given the Federal Constitution stated that constituencies should be approximately the same sizes. However, this is no longer a requirement.

Chua said the EC’s proposed redelineation would dilute the rights of voters in her area, noting that the Damansara would cover 60 per cent of the state and would have 10 times the voters in Putrajaya.

“Our constituency will become the biggest in Selangor and possibly the largest in the country,” he said, when noting that the exercise would cause the seat to go from 85,000 voters to 150,000.

The proposed redelineation exercise would see parts of constituencies such as Selayang, Bukit Lanjan, Kepong and Sungai Buloh absorbed into the new parliamentary seat.

Chua said redelineations should aim to improve service to voters rather than to worsen this.

“By pulling various voting districts into the new constituency, the needs of the people would differ, so how can one MP serve such a large area?” he said.

The EC resumed hearing of objections in Selangor after the Court of Appeal allowed it to continue the process that had been halted by a legal challenge from the state government.

The EC started its redelineation process in September 2016, with the constitutional timeframe of two years meaning that it has to complete the process in September 2018.

…more
Selangor voters cite massive size discrepancies in objections to EC’s redelineation
January 3, 2018 – MMO





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