“Isa Samad mistook Najib’s silence as tacit approval. And this is the mistake many people (politicians and heads of GLCs included) make. They think Najib is easily fooled and if he keeps quiet that means you have managed to pull the wool over his eyes. Najib might listen to what you say. But that does not mean he will listen to just what you say. He will check the veracity of your story to see if you are telling the truth. And he has his team of Boffin Boys for that”
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
When the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) made the announcement that Idris Jala would be given the task of looking into the Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGV) ‘crisis’ many were taken by surprise. They did not see that coming and, in fact, regarded it as a brilliant move on the part of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
Idris Jala will bring back the public confidence that has eroded so badly since Mohd Isa Abdul Samad took over as the Felda Chairman in 2011. Take the case of the controversy surrounding Felda’s purchase of PT Eagle High Plantations last year. It became a controversy only because Isa was not able to explain the rational behind that Indonesian investment. Whatever he said the public would not accept mainly because it was a crisis of confidence surrounding Isa himself.
When Shahrir Samad was appointed the new Felda Chairman in January this year, he explained the rational behind Felda’s purchase of PT Eagle High Plantations and the ‘crisis’ ended. Shahrir not only articulated the issue well but the public had confidence in what he says while no one would give what Isa says that same weight. In short, the problem was Isa Samad and now that Idris Jala is working with Shahrir to resolve the FGV matter public confidence has returned.
Last week, Isa went to see Najib to inform him about the alleged transgression committed by the company’s President and CEO, Zakaria Arshad. The so-called transgression involves a Dubai-based Afghan company, Safitex, that has an outstanding payment on its account with Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd (DOP).
Isa told Najib that Safitex was granted credit facilities instead of being made to issue a Letter of Credit on all its purchases, as is the company’s policy. What Isa did not tell Najib is that an agreement had been signed between Safitex and DOP before Zakaria was appointed the CEO of FGV and that Isa himself had been present at this signing ceremony. Isa then lied and told Najib that the auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), had uncovered this transgression, which is not true.
Isa also did not inform Najib that Safitex controls 40% of the Afghan market, which took 20 years to build up. Thus far Safitex has given DOP about a quarter billion Ringgit worth of business. And Isa is prepared to throw all this away with just one throw of the dice because he resents what he views as Shahrir’s ‘infringement’ of his territory and because Zakaria is interacting with Shahrir.
As in the case of Media Prima, Najib just listened to what Isa had to say. He then asked his Boffin Boys to look into the matter and report back to him. That happened in the Media Prima case when the Chairman, Fateh Iskandar, misinformed Najib about what was going on. Najib did his own investigation into the matter and discovered the opposite. So now Fateh is history and his job has been taken over by Ismee Ismail (READ HERE).
After Isa’s briefing, Najib told his Boffin Boys to check out his story and they discovered the opposite to what he told Najib. Isa, however, thought that Najib had bought his story — hook, line and sinker — so he immediately told Zakaria to resign. And when Zakaria refused to do so, Isa brought the matter to the Board and asked the Board to sack him.
Isa mistook Najib’s silence as tacit approval. And this is the mistake many people (politicians and heads of GLCs included) make. They think Najib is easily fooled and if he keeps quiet that means you have managed to pull the wool over his eyes. Najib might listen to what you say. But that does not mean he will listen to just what you say. He will check the veracity of your story to see if you are telling the truth. And he has his team of Boffin Boys for that.
One thing that Najib hates most is people lying to him. To Najib that is a most unforgivable crime. After Najib’s Boffin Boys checked further, it was found that Isa’s story does not add up. Yes, Safitex was granted credit, but that was the agreed arrangement and a contractual obligation on the part of DOP. Yes, Safitex is late in its payment, but there is a reason for that and the reason has been explained. So it is not a simple matter of violation of company’s policy on the part of Zakaria and three others in the FGV management team.