(Penang, Thursday): The Malaysian Airlines System (MAS) police report on January 9 and the police investigations into alleged million-ringgit management irregularities at the MAS cargo division during the tenure of former MAS executive chairman and key shareholder Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli is a most welcome departure from the invariable past practice of government and corporate cover-ups, especially in government-owned or controlled companies, making Malaysia notorious as a country teeming with “heinous crimes without criminals” - starting with the infamous Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal in the eighties.
has been reported that the alleged management irregularities centred on business
arrangements between MAS and a Germany-based cargo handler controlled by Tajudin
Ramli and focussed on contracts between MAS and ACL Advanced Cargo Logistic
GmbH, a 60%-owned unit of Naluri Bhd., a listed Malaysian company in which
Tajudin is the largest shareholder. ACL
operates a cargo facility in Hahn, Germany, that MAS in 1999 contracted to use
as its global cargo hub.
management irregularities being investigated by the police can only be
the tip of an iceberg as MAS has chalked up colossal debts of RM9.2 billion
and accumulated losses of R2.5 billion, requiring repeated billion-ringgit
bailouts at the public taxpayers’ expense - and the Malaysian public are
entitled to demand a full
accountability as to how the national airline could end up as such a sick
company, a national embarrassment and a burden on public coffers.
was reported that the management irregularities in the cargo division
were discovered in an audit ordered by the government after taking control
of MAS early last year following
the scandalous RM1.79 billion buyback
bailout of Tajudin’s 29.09 per cent stake at RM8 a share when the
market price was only RM3.68.
raises the question as to why an audit was not conducted before the
bailout of Tajudin’s MAS stake - which would have a very important
bearing on the proper price of the government buyout.
March 21 last year, the then
Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, gave a long and most unsatisfactory reply
in Parliament during question time to justify the buy-back bailout of
Tajudin’s MAS stake which took place under his watch, but he
failed to address or answer
the two most important questions, viz:
current police investigations into management irregularities in MASkargo
Sdn. Bhd. have again brought to the fore the questions concerning prudence,
propriety, responsibility, integrity,
accountability and transparency of the decision to use RM1.79 billion public
funds for the buy-back bailout of Tajudin’s MAS stake.
month, the government announced a RM6.1 billion MAS restructuring exercise
involving assets sale to enable the national carrier to retire some of its debts
and provide RM820 million as working capital, which is just a creative way for a
second round of government bailout for the national airline.
was because the RM6.1 billion MAS restructuring exercise - which
involved the two key elements of
RM3.9 billion for the sale and leaseback of eight aircrafts and the
disposal of properties worth RM2.2 billion - hinged on the government using
public funds to take over the national airline’s debts and financing risks by
buying over the MAS aircrafts and properties.
the government envisaged when it
decided on the first RM1.79 billion
bailout of MAS by relieving Tajudin of his MAS stake at more than double the
market price, that to make MAS viable, the government would have to embark on a
second round of bailout to the tune of RM6.1 billion to relieve MAS of its
assets to enable it to fast-track recovery back to profitability?
Parliament reconvenes next month, it should demand full accountability and
transparency for the two rounds of government bailouts of MAS
within 12 months totalling RM7.9
it should censure the Public Accounts Committee for its failure
to convene hearings on the propriety of the government’s RM1.79 billion
buy-back bailout of Tajudin’s MAS stake, and in particular, why no
independent valuation had been made before the decision was taken and why
Tajudin got away with a bonanza instead of being forced to get a “hair-cut”
for the government bailout.
former Finance Minister Tun Daim
Zainuddin should be referred to the Committee of Privileges for an inquiry to be
held as to whether
he had deliberately misled MPs when answering questions in the Dewan Rakyat on March 21, 2001 about the RM1.79 billion government buyback
bail-out of Tajudin Ramli’s MAS stake, particularly when he made the following
statements and suggestions:
Parliamentary Committee of
Privileges should ask for documentary evidence to establish that there were foreign
investor interest in the MAS stake at RM15 per share - or even at RM8 or above -
or Daim would have been guilty of
gross breach of privilege in misleading MPs with baseless information and
On March 21 last year, Daim told Parliament:
"With additional positive input like more effective management and solid support from the Government, the share value will be more than RM9, according to several international investment banking institutions and investment houses.”
has been proved to be grievously wrong, as the price of MAS share closed at
RM3.74 yesterday - a far cry of his “more than RM9” despite a year of
“more effective management and solid support from the Government”.
should be referred to the Committee of Privileges as no Cabinet Minister should
be allowed to mislead Parliament with baseless information or untruths on
matters of great public interest and importance as in the double government
bailouts of the national airline totalling RM7.9 billion.