A furious Mahathir wants Geely out of Proton

TTF: In 2013, Dato’ Mokhzani Mahathir appeared as a substantial shareholder in Yinson Holdings Berhad, an oil and gas service provider that’s among the world’s leading Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO & FSO) service providers.

The 18.5% stake that Mokhzani owns was acquired through a private vehicle of his, Kenchana Capital Sdn Bhd.

The acquisition resulted in the collapse of Mokhzani’s partnership with Tan Sri Shahril Shamsuddin inSapuraKencana (SK) Petroleum Berhad, an integrated oil and gas service and solutions provider that came into possession of deepwater technology technology Mokhzani desperately needed.

The collapse forced Mokhzani to seek the assistance of Tan Sr Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, who possesses that technology via a company he owns, MMC Oil and Gas Engineering Sdn Bhd.

Syed Mokhtar’s ownership of MMC Oil is through another one of his concerns, Melati Pertiwi Sdn Bhd.

Meanwhile, Dato’ Gooi Hoe Soon, board member of Yinson Holdings, was appointed Avenue Assets Berhad Group Non-Executive Chairman in 2004.

Avenue Assets is an investment holding company that is jointly owned by Tongkah Holdings Berhad and Pantai Holdings Berhad, two entities Mokhzani has substantial stakes in.

Gooi happens also to be on the Directorial boards of several public listed companies, including Proton Holdings Bhd (Proton), a subsidiary of the Syed Bukhari controlled DRB-Hicom Berhad.

Following the signing of a Definitive Agreement with China’s Zejiang Geely Holding Group Limited on 23 June 2017, the Chinese carmaker acquired 49.9% equity in Proton and triggered a major shakeup of the Board of Directors.

Geely, however, agreed to retain Gooi in a senior position at Syed Bukhari’s behest.

Negotiations are now ongoing between Yinson, DRB-Hicom, Melati Pertiwi and one or two board members from Gamuda Berhad, Avenue Assets and Sime Darby properties each to effect a multi-channeled cross-holding that involves subsidiaries of these companies.

The share swap arrangement is said to involve energy and infrastructure related projects and was contingent upon Daim Zainuddin’s ability to renegotiate terms associated with the East Coast Railway Link (ECRL) and the High-Speed Railway (HSR) projects with Chinse premier Li Keqiang.

But the negotiations have since fallen apart.

On the 23rd of July 2018, I wrote (in red):

“Daim was supposed to seal off a blanket agreement with China’s State Council regarding energy and infrastructure related projects worth some RM200 billion. The deal was supposed to be a sure thing given Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s willingness to venture with China in drilling the western edge of the South China Sea. Everything was going as planned until Dato’ Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull came into the picture. On Monday, the 18th of July 2018, the MACC head got his men to raid two Chinese state-owned entities that were involved with three mega-projects with links to China.

“Daim was stumped.

“So said The Strait Times Singapore, which added that the CEP elder, who came to know what happened moments before his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, “told Beijing that the raids were unfortunate.” An MACC insider who spoke to The Third Force (TTF) on condition of anonymity said more or less the same thing but added that Wang didn’t believe a word Daim said. According to him, the Chinese Foreign Minister warned the CEP elder “never to cross the diplomatic line” and accused Malaysia of intimidating China. A furious Daim called Shukri up moments after the meeting and gave the MACC chief a piece of his mind.

“The most poignant of words used by Daim was this:

“Shukri, if you wanted to slap my face, you should have waited for me to come back to Malaysia.”

China has since indicated that it would no longer tolerate any further delays to the ECRL and HSR projects and has given Daim a two month grace period to get them moving.

That immediately thwarted a secret plan by Dr Mahathir to afford Yinson a 15% stake in Geely’s slice of Proton.

The Chinese car maker was supposed to be offered a 20% stake in a second national car project that the Prime Minister planned to launch by December 2018.

But now that discussions have fallen through, Mahathir has decided to pressure Geely out of Proton altogether by preventing the Chinese automaker from bringing in key engineers from abroad (see news item below).

Gooi is rumoured to be monitoring Geely’s activities in the local car company on behalf of Mokhzani and Syed Mokhtar…

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will closely monitor China-based automobile manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holdings Bhd to ensure that it so does not neglect to hire Malaysian workers for national carmaker Proton.

In giving this assurance during the Dewan Rakyat proceedings today, Human Resources Minister M. Kula Segaran said the ministry will ensure that Geely abides by the nation’s labour laws.

“With regards to Proton, we will carry out comprehensive investigations if they do not abide by the law,” he said, adding that foreign firms are still bound by Malaysian laws on the employment of foreign workers.

Kula Segaran was replying an additional question by Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid (PH-Kapar) regarding what steps the government would take to ensure Geely hires local workers despite it acquiring 49.9 per cent of Proton in September last year.

The minister’s answer to the additional question was set against the backdrop of his answering Abdullah Sani’s main question on what steps the government would take in the event that foreign companies that take over local ones refuse to hire Malaysians.

During the additional question, Abdullah Sani also raised the issue of the Labour Department having only 400 inspectors to monitor employers and ensure they follow the rules on the hiring of foreign labour.

Kula Segaran admitted that there was a shortage of labour inspectors to check on businesses.

“There are only 350 labour inspectors at present. We have applied to the Ministry of Finance to increase the number of officers,” he said.

Earlier, in answering the main question from Abdullah Sani, Kula Segaran told the Dewan Rakyat that there were 1,781,598 registered foreign workers employed in five formal sectors and one informal sector as of May 31 this year.

The minister said employers are barred from firing local workers in order to hire foreign ones, in line with Section 60M of the Employment Act 1955.

He also pointed out that in the event that employers need to reduce their workforce due to over-abundance of employees, they must first let go of their existing foreign workers before they could terminate the services of local workers, in line with Section 60N of the same Act.

Source: NST Online

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