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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Friday
): MCA President Datuk Ong Ka Ting has a moral obligation to apologise to the Chinese community and MCA members for MCA’s RM 100 million financial losses from its failed investment in Nanyang Press Holdings (NPH) and going against the wishes of the Chinese community that political parties should not take control of a Chinese newspaper. Even though former MCA Deputy President Tan Sri Lim Ah Lek had exposed MCA’s RM 100 million losses and demanded that former MCA President Tun Ling Liong Sik apologise to the Chinese community, Ka Ting should apologise as he is the MCA President now and was a core member of the Liong Sik team that took over NPH.
Just as the Chinese has a right to demand a contrite and remorseful apology from Japan for its horrific attacks, inhumane torture and murder of innocent Chinese civilians during the Second World War, culminating in the barbaric Nanking Massacre. Even though Japan’s present leaders have played no role in making war during the Second World War, they still have a moral obligation to assume responsibility and apologise for the horrors and grave mistakes of their ancestors.
Like Japan, Ka Ting has a moral obligation to account for the wrongs of his predecessor and ‘guru’ Liong Sik. There is therefore more reason and a higher moral obligation for Ka Ting to apologise when he was such an integral part of the decision-making process in MCA to acquire NPH. One can still recall Ka Ting as a main proponent for buying over NPH that was approved by a narrow majority of 157 votes during MCA’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on 24.6.2001. Ka Ting must practice what he preaches to MCA elected representatives of being conscientious in public duties and being clean as an official or risk being dismissed as mere empty rhetoric and double-standards.
Ka Ting’s apology and admission of the RM 100 million losses suffered by MCA would clarify the confusion within MCA which of the four different version of MCA’s losses floating around from its failed investment in Nanyang Press Holdings(NPH) that serves as a painful lesson that political parties should not take control of a Chinese newspaper against the wishes of the Chinese community. So far neither Ong nor MCA has accounted to MCA members or the public how much MCA suffered in financial losses for buying over NPH 5 years ago, through MCA’s investment arm, Huaren Management Sdn Bhd.
NPH controls not just Nanyang Siang Pau but also the second largest Chinese newspaper, ‘China Press’ and other publications. Controversy about which correct version or the exact losses incurred by MCA begun after Ong announced the selling of a 21% stake or 15.4 million shares to Ezywood Options Sdn Bhd.
First we have is a version by MCA Publicity Bureau of RM 3.54 million based on losses of 23 cents per share for the 15.4 million shares sold. There is a second version of RM 3.08 million losses by MCA Kelana Jaya MP Loo Seng Kok based on losses at 20 cents per share. Or the third version by analysts of only RM 1.7 million losses based on losses at 11 cents per share. Clearly MCA could not even agree amongst themselves which “correct” version of losses to use to mislead the public. These three versions of losses incurred however does not include the holding cost by MCA due to loan interest payments of RM 24 million.
The latest press reports show that MCA had bought over NPH from Hume Industries (M) Bhd for a total of RM296.56 million 5 years ago. To finance its purchase MCA borrowed RM 300 million from banks to fund the acquisition at an annual interest rate of 7%. Huaren is believed to have paid some RM58 million in interest alone so far for the loan taken to buy over Nanyang Press in 2001. Based on this rate, the interest cost for just the 15.4 million shares that is sold now by MCA over the last five years would come to about RM24 million.
All these estimates of losses of RM 1.7 million, RM 3.08 million, RM 3.54 milion (which did not factor in an additional RM 24 million in holding costs) pale in comparison to the RM 100 million losses exposed by Lim Ah Lek. Clearly Ah Lek must have some information that is not known to the public. Why is Ah Lek’s protégé and MCA Deputy President Datuk Chan Kong Choy so quiet now in not speaking up for his old boss? The loud silence from MCA leaders to what Ah Lek said only adds further suspicions that MCA leaders are trying to hide the truth exposed by Ah Lek that MCA suffered huge losses of RM 100 million from its failed venture in controlling NPH.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP