SCwatch


ANANDA KRISHNAN’S MAXIS & ASTRO VENTURES IN INDIA : SWEETHEART CRACKS IN SWEEHEART DEALS?

I don’t think that the memory of Mahatma Gandhi can ever be erased from the minds of all Indians ……. especially when iniquity rears its ugly head.

I somehow have this impression that this current wave of protests againsts India’s legendary corrupt civil service/corporate way of life emanated from the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi ……. which was more popularly referred to as the ‘CON-WEALTH GAMES’!

This roller-coasted till the point of the ‘starve to the death’ ultimatum by activist Anna Hazare, if the Indian Government did not legislate tougher laws against corruption.

What was brushed off as a publicity stunt by the authorities turned out to be an issue supported by millions in India.

The Indian Government relented.

This was followed by revelations that the Government had lost revenue to the tune of US$39 billion ….. arising from the slip-shod manner in which the country’s 2G communication licenses were given out.

This is where Malaysia’s Ananda Krishnan is seriously implicated in the report issued by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation ……. with respect of its dealings in receiving those licenses involving Maxis and Astro.

This is quite symptomatic with economies like India, China and Malaysia whereby corporate big-wigs usually think that it is not the technical know-how but the TECHNICAL KNOW-WHO that is of ultimate importance.

What these big wigs generally do not realize is the serious ramifications some of their actions have down the line insofar as costs to the man-on-the-street are concerned ……. since the ‘costs of doing business’ will be borne by the consumers.

Most of the time anyway ……. if not all the time.

Here, we have an Indian economy that had previously been ‘closed’ for so long ….. and trying to open up to the world ….. and what we have are these foreign ‘entrepreneurs’ especially Malaysians zooming in at warp speed to cut deals ….. with the assistance of the powers that be!

It therefore makes one wonder how some of the other Malaysian companies had conducted themselves when cutting deals with their counterparts in India.

Is is possible that Malaysian companies are to receive astronomical profits from the Indian operations …… solely on the blood and sweat of the Indian taxpayers and treasury coffers?

Meaning that the Malaysian companies hardly raise any funds for their share of the arrangement ….. and if they do …. they are merely ‘PAPER CONTRIBUTIONS’ derived from the sleight of the accounting hand!

In the case of Ananda Krishnan’s woes, the deals mentioned were struck with parties too close for the comfort of corporate observers …… in that Ananda used Astro to purchase a stake in a company owned by the Indian  Telecommunications Minister’s brother ….. shortly after Maxis’ newly acquired Indian company, Aircel, received 2G licenses from the same Minister!

Sure, it may be true that Ananda Krishnan’s companies have pumped in RM6.6 billion (financed mainly by borrowings from Indian banks?) into its Indian venture.

But let’s not forget the revenue that should have accrued to the Indian Government from these foreign investors!

Are these investors coming in on the cheap at the expense of the Indian people?

Blimey, US$39 billion of lost revenue to the Indian Government is a lot of money for a country where most of its people live below the poverty line.

Too many of these sweetheart deals have occurred in these emerging economies …… causing much discomfort and consternation to corporate observers.

In the Malaysian context, it becomes more pertinent when such questionable transactions occur just prior to the country’s General Elections.

This is a trend whereby deals of this nature have become alarmingly opaque and arrogant!

Some leadership to nip the problem at the bud, needs to be had in this area …… which unfortunately is not forthcoming from those that you would normally expect!

Should we therefore be surprised with the Anti Wall Street protests occuring in the United States against corporate greed?

Similarly, should we be surprised by the Spring Protests in the Middle East that has brought down Mubarak and Gaddafi todate?

Should we therefore be surprised by the Bersih Rally in July this year …… seeking for reforms and clean elections?

This ‘re-adjustment’ that is gathering steam around the world is only to be expected ….. much to the delight and support from the man on the street!

Click HERE for the press statement from the Press Trust of India (India’s equivalent of Malaysia’s  ‘Bernama News Agency’) and HERE to get a glimpse of what one Indian paper, Hindustan Times, is saying. Btw, 550 crore is equivalent to about RM370m!

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TAXPAYERS’ MONEY : USED TO SUSTAIN CLOUDING OF MINDS OF THE RAKYAT?

Was it a real surprise to find out that the Government paid RM94 million of taxpayers’ money to a foreign public relations company to enhance the world’s perception of the country, Malaysia (read: UMNO)?

Was it a real surprise to read about PM Najib recruiting as advisers ….. at a great cost to the taxpayers, I am sure ……. the same strategy team that advised former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to his first victory in the British General Elections in 1997 under ‘New Labour’?

Was it a real surprise to find that this year’s Budget would mean goodies for everyone …… and I mean everyone, including the taxi drivers …… with where the money is going to come from this being wondered about by the experts!

In Budget jargon, the financing is going to come from estimated future revenue, the source of which is being seriously questioned!

Where exactly does that leave the country in the foreseeable future?

In a bigger hole, I suppose.

With the stakes as high as it is now, fundamentals have been cast aside!

It is the perception war that is being waged between the political adverseries …… with ‘no prisoners being taken alive’ so to speak ….. especially by UMNO’!!

This mode of action has even resulted in unsubstantiated allegations to be made ….. so long as it scores brownie points for UMNO!

When such unsubstantiated allegations occur especially when they involve corporate deals ….. one would usually smell a rat!

Rat ….. because it is usually done to cover up their own misdemeanours.

In one such case, you would suddenly find the UMNO bloggers alleging that DAP (the opposition political party in control of Penang, under the Pakatan Rakyat banner) is involved in the tussle for control over E&O Berhad!

For those not in the know, Sime Darby recently acquired 30% of E&O from the controlling shareholders for RM766 million or RM2.30 per share when its market price trading on Bursa Malaysia then was about RM1.30.

This deal has created a furore because, to put it in a nut-shell, Sime Darby is claiming to have NO CONTROL of E&O despite having paid a substantial premium to become the largest shareholder (30%) of E&O ….. and they purchased the block from the previous controlling shareholders!

This stand enabled Sime Darby to claim exemption from making a similarly attractive offer of RM2.30 each for the remaining shares in E&O held by minority shareholders.

Questions naturally arose as to why these vendors i.e. Terry Tham, Wan Azmi & GK Goh should enjoy such substantial premium prices!

This is when the UMNO bloggers went to work with the alleged DAP conspiracy ….. seemingly to divert our attention from the questions relating to the E&O acquisition price.

These UMNO bloggers are alleging that ECM Libra (a substantial shareholder of E&O), which recently nominated two individuals as directors, are in cahoots with DAP.

So what? What has it got to do with the substantial price paid by Sime Darby for E&O to those individuals … long known for their association with UMNO?

In any case, it is impossible for ECM Libra to have any collaboration with DAP. 

Why?

Because, the substantial and largest shareholder of ECM Libra is UMNO croney, Azman Hashim (of Amcorp Group Berhad) ….. meaning that it is effectively an UMNO company!

It’s in ECM Libra’s 2011 Annual Report – check it out on Bursa’s website!


This deal (Azman Hashim surfacing as major shareholder) took place shortly after the ‘demise’ of Pak Lah as Prime Minister.

So, how can DAP be in cahoots with UMNO company, ECM Libra?

Isn’t this wild allegation a red herring …… to divert our attention from something else?

What could it be?

Grapevine has it that the substantial premium paid by Sime Darby i.e. RM330 million out of the RM766 million is for the ‘General Elections’ war chest!

For whose benefit?

Your guess is as good as mine!



AUSTRALIA’S SOCCEROOS ‘STROLL CASUALLY’ TO MAUL MALAYSIA’S TIGERS 5-0

It was certainly quite pathetic.

Two soccer nations who are ranked 128 places apart should not have been allowed on the same pitch!

By right, Australia should have sent in their ‘B’ team (or even ‘C’!) in the match against Malaysia in Canberra recently.

It becomes more appalling when one thinks that Australia was beaten by Japan in the recent Asian Cup final …… and back in the glory days of Malaysian football …… Malaysia would have mauled Japan!

The structure of the Malaysian football hierarchy has to be revamped ……. with due respect to the VVIPs currently helming it.

It has to be run by professionals with a clear mind as to their objectives.

And minus the syndicates ……… of course!



GOVT ‘TAKEOVER’ OF MALAYSIAN CHINESE OWNED LISTED COMPANIES : DONE IN A STRATEGIC CONTEXT?

 

In my mind, there has been too much ‘hot air’ and over-speculation about the acquisition by Government Linked Companies (GLCs) of public listed companies owned, in particular, by Malaysian Chinese entrepreneurs:

  1. It all started with UEM Land taking over listed Sunrise Berhad from Tong Kooi Ong, who had made a name for himself in Malaysia (Allied Bank, properties and securities) and Canada.

  2. Then there was the widely believed takeover of Air Asia Bhd by government agencies …. that explains the share price support up to RM3.95 …… and culminated in Tony Fernandes’ “rescue” of Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

  3. This was followed by the controversial takeover by Sime Darby of boutique developer E&O Berhad from major shareholders led by Terry Tham.

  4. And finally, PNB’s apparent ‘hostile’ takeover of SP Setia led by Liew Kee Sin.

First and foremost, I think this is part and parcel of the government’s plan to pare down its holdings in GLCs.

Why?

Because the government requires cash and Foreign Direct Investments are only trickling in …… and even then, it’s going to opposition controlled Penang and Selangor!

The monies will be needed for the government to stimulate and prop up the economy since it cannot export its way out of recession as it did in the late 1990s downturn …. the economies the world over are in trouble!

At the same time, the government realises that they cannot just arrange for cronies to buy these ‘significant’ stakes and run the companies profitably …… they will generally run them down; if not seek government ‘help’ in meeting their skewed KPIs.

Therefore, the government buys up these Malaysian owned, well run, profitable listed companies …. (I’m not too sure about Air Asia though!)

This is with the proviso that the previous controlling shareholders (Tong Kooi Ong, Tony Fernandes, Terry Tham and Liew Kee Sin) help run the bigger entity (UEM Land, MAS, Sime Darby and PNB respectively).

Effectively, the GLCs have the ‘bullets’ but they need these ‘marksmen’!

As a result, we now see Tong Kooi Ong is already in the Exco of UEM Land.

Same in the case of Tony Fernandes who sits on MAS’s Board and Exco.

As for Terry Tham (who worked for Wan Azmi in Land & General Berhad then), the collaboration agreement is not revealed in detail but it was mentioned he would still be there for E&O for the next three years.

As for Liew Kee Sin, he was effectively working for UMNO (read: Rashid Manaf) by building up the SP Setia group for his political master. The arrangement does not seem to change ….. as long as it enriches him.

Of course, this will face the brunt of the fury of right wingers in UMNO and condescending racists ….. but that’s how Malaysia works!

At the same time, it is assumed that these ‘successful entrepreneurs’ will act in the best interest of the larger government owned entity.

Well, most of us live on a wish and a hope!

This is at best, the start of the Malaysian meritocracy regime ……. in its own convoluted way!



WHAT IS BEING SAID CANDIDLY …… IN THE ‘SMALL PRINT’

Malaysians are known to be one of the worst group of people …… when it comes to reading ….. or the lack of it.

Parents have the most difficult of task in encouraging their children to read as much as possible ……. this being one of the main means in building a good English vocabulary …… for communication purposes.

Alas, not many children are prepared to do so …… and this may explain the abysmal standard of English amongst Malaysian children when compared to say 25 to 30 years ago!

It stands to reason therefore that it is the older generation Malaysians who articulate it much better.

Unfortunately, their commentary on the plight of Malaysia’s serious short-comings are hardly HIGHLIGHTED in the mainstream press and if they do, they are generally confined to the small print.

This may be due to the attempt by the current administration to create a ‘feel good’ Malaysian environment ….. as a precursor to the calling of the next General Elections!

But to be fair to the press, some of the concerns are reported and printed in the media …… but targeted only to sections of the public eg economic news, property news etc …. ie they are not targeted and highlighted for the attention of the Rakyat at large.

Let’s look at one example starting with ex-Bank Negara Malaysia Deputy Governor, Lin See Yan, who was quoted as follows in last Saturday’s Star Biz Week whilst commenting about Malaysia’s economy:-

  • In this country we love form rather than context and in the process of assessment, we bastardised the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

  • We try to keep KPIs for the sake of the numbers. Even in education we look at how we are ranked, and we break it down and see how we can play with the numbers in order to meet (KPI) criteria so that we can be upgraded.

  • That is not the way, we must start from meritocracy. If you don’t do that, you can meet your all KPIs but you are still be back to square one.

  • As far as the Government is concerned, I am not worried about the Government per say.

  • I’m worried about the government agencies which are piling up debt. If you look at the development expenditure, it’s the agencies that are the big spenders. What sort of return on capital are we are getting?

  • We say the right things – liberalisation, bringing taxes down, taking away subsidies, but in reality we do the exact opposite.

And this is coming from someone who has seen it all ….. from the time he was Deputy Governor to Tun Ismail Ali in Bank Negara Malaysia to this present moment in time.

Doesn’t it make you shudder to think that our country’s bureaucrats have allowed the system to de-generate to what it is today?

They are now kidding themselves into believing that everything is still hunky-dory and that there is this light (artificial, I am sure) at the end of the tunnel.

Do you now know why we need a two party parliamentary system into order to keep the checks and balances working?

Click HERE for the full interview given by Lin See Yan and others to The Star.



LIM GUAN ENG : BESIDES STIFLING DISSENT, IS UMNO ALSO STIFLING COMMENTARY ….. EVEN THE PRIVATE KIND?

To me, it was still quite a spectacle watching the manner in which Lim Guan Eng was hounded by his critics for his alleged disparaging remarks about Johore’s perceived lack of security from criminal elements.

You even get individuals like Rocky aka Ahirudin Attan ‘coughing’ out statistics showing the number of reported crimes in Penang exceeding that of  Johore.

Such is the mentality of some that a reported petty theft in Penang is equivalent to a reported robbery cum murder in Johore!

It was good that Guan Eng offered an apology especially to His Royal Highness, The Sultan of Johore, in order to avoid the ‘elements’ from prolonging and exacerbating the matter.

Even if Guan Eng did utter those remarks, they were done in private …… and yet, there were those rats and cockroaches at every nook and cranny attempting to record what Guan Eng was uttering!

This is certainly confirmation that the paid hatchet media spinners of UMNO are bereft of ideas and stories to raise the profile and legitimacy of UMNO as a leader of the community and the country.

They have been reduced to finding faults with their opponents ….. to the point of whining ……. at events they have not been invited to!

Btw, it is in the grapevine that Penang has this year todate attracted nearly 60% of the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) that has come into Malaysia.

It may be no wonder the knives were especially sharp for Guan Eng this time round!

But well, that’s Malaysia for you!

As the old saying goes:

A USEFUL TREE THAT BEARS FRUITS WILL CONSTANTLY BE ATTACKED BY PESTS !

Click HERE for the rocky statistics ….. targetted for the un-initiated!



NAMEWEE’S THE MAN …… WHILST THE SERPENT’S CAPITULATING!

It’s amazing how the raw anger of a young and talented Malaysian could be directed for the purpose of rallying the masses for the betterment of Malaysia.

I recall Namewee’s first music video that belittled the national anthem of Malaysia whilst taking the mickey out of certain races and religions of the country.

Since then he has re-focused his energy on less controversial projects …… the most notable being his movie, ‘Nasi Lemak 2.0’ and the music video ‘Undilah’, the latter of which had cameo appearances by Tengku Razaleigh, Wee Ka Siong, Tony Fernandes, Lee Chong Wei, Nurul Izzah and other Malaysian celebrities.

They were cool!

Really cool!

But not so to the likes of Rocky aka Ahirudin Attan or Fly-Shit (mole.my)!

Bottom line is that these two UMNO mouth pieces just cannot condone the coming together of all the Malaysian races for the betterment of the country.

A look at their latest sites, especially Rocky’s that was unexpectedly crude, leave a bad taste to any objective visitor to those sites!

Even the YouTube site (highlighted in Rocky’s blog) that was responding to Namewee had been removed by the host due to ‘hate speech’.

Maybe Rocky and his ilk should take a leaf from Namewee and collect and re-direct their anger and hatred for a more useful purpose ……. like encouraging assimilation (for a change!).

Click HERE for the attack on Namewee.

UPDATE (30 Sept 2011) : And now PM Najib is supporting Namewee and describing the rapper as “unique and unconventional in his methods and thinking”. Click HERE