Companies in Pakatan states are throwing in their towels

TTF: Businesses in Penang and Selangor regret having supported the opposition during the 2008 and 2013 general elections. Read between the lines, and you will see that the formal apology extended yesterday by the Group Managing Director of Supermax Corp Bhd (see news item below) is really a sign that companies in Selangor are facing very bad times.

And it’s no different in Penang.

In the fourth quarter of 2015 alone, nine corporate giants in the state were either talking shutdowns or complete relocations to other states. The companies involved were Motorola, Western Digital, Blaupunkt, HGST, Amphenol TCS, EMC, UTi, Ericsson and AMD. But to deliver the impression that things were fine, Lim Guan Eng got his team to quietly tuck away a portion of the development expenditure allotted to Penang into the State Finance Department’s Trust Fund. 

That explains how Penang registered a cumulative RM574 budget surplus between the years 2008 and 2015. In 2016, the state utilised only 67.6 percent of the RM346.12 million – or RM233.98 million – allotted for development but made it look as if it spent RM307.45 million for the purpose. A remaining RM73.61 million was quietly channeled into a Trust Fund before being marked in the books as “State Revenue.”

By performing such acrobatics, Guan Eng gives the impression that the state’s coffers are brimming with investments owing to its Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT) policy. Ask him, and he’ll tell you tales of Chinese construction firms that are willing to pump millions into state-linked entities. On the 4th of April 2013, the state-run Buletin Mutiara told one such tale when it fraudulently announced that China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC) held stakes in a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) awarded the RM6.3 billion Penang Undersea Tunnel project. 

And where is CRCC now?

Not in Penang, for sure. Sometime in 2016, the company – which never had stakes in the SPV to begin with – bolted after being paid only RM3 million of the RM69 million it was promised. Yet, the Lim Guan Eng administration saw fit to ‘donate’ land worth RM73 million to the SPV in 2017 despite having already transferred parcels worth RM135 million in 2015, parcels that were never translated into payments to the SPV.

It has since been discovered that the tunnel project was nothing but a huge smokescreen to mask a massive land-scam deal involving kickbacks promised to politicians, consultants, shareholders of the SPV and the guys from the Penang Chinese Chambers of Commerce (PCCC). With such dubious practices and under-the-counter deals, it is no wonder that foreign companies in Penang are leaving the scene – God only knows what other tricks Guan Eng has been up to.

And let’s not forget Selangor.

According to Dato’ Seri Stanley Thai (see news item below), Supermax lost millions of dollars owing to the way Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali managed the state’s water woes. Like Guan Eng, the Selangor Menteri Besar is too busy politicking and hardly spends time looking into investor concerns. It wasn’t too long ago that we discovered why.

Apparently, the stalemate in negotiations between the Azmin government and Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (SPLASH) has to do with an under-the-counter deal the Menteri Besar reached with the company’s chairman, Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah. If what we’re told is true, the duo deliberately orchestrated a ‘standoff’ to justify a RM4.4 billion payout by the state government to acquire SPLASH, a water concessionaire that’s 60 percent Pakatan ‘controlled’.

Needless to say, the sum is RM2.55 billion higher than what Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim offered to pay the concessionaire in 2014. TTF was told that a portion of the difference involves kickbacks due to politicians from PKR and owners of the concessionaire. Part of those kickbacks is said to involve funds Azmin is seeking to bankroll his team’s GE14 campaign in Selangor. And while he negotiates those billions, companies in Selangor are fast leaving the scene.

And yet, Pakatan Harapan wants you to believe that Najib is ruining the country.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Supermax Corp Bhd Group Managing Director Datuk Seri Stanley Thai today expressed regret for getting involved in campaigning for the opposition in the 13th General Election (GE13).

Extending a formal apology to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at a press conference here, Thai said he was influenced by the opposition’s propaganda in the previous general election, and realised that it was wrong for him as a businessman to be involved in politics.

“As a member of the business community, I like to see political stability. Businesses operating in Malaysia will continue to prosper with the sound economic policy of the ruling government that is led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib.

“Foreign investors will continue to have full confidence to participate and drive the economic growth and continue to expand their investments in Malaysia,” he saId.

During the press conference, Thai also expressed his disappointment with the state of Selangor’s management of the water issue, as it had cost Supermax, one of the largest rubber glove makers in the world, millions of dollars and hindered its growth.

“Our last two projects there were delayed for two and a half to three years due to the water supply issues in Selangor, where most of our plants are located,” he said, adding that Supermax has a total of 11 plants nationwide, and eight are located in Selangor.

Thai added that he believed that good governance and management are key to industry’s growth, and that he will continue to fully support the government’s policies.

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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