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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is the Tajudin settlement another 'I help you, you help me', from Najib to Dr M

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:09 PM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The ease with which Tajuddin Ramli, the former chairman of MAS and a protege of former Finance minister Daim Zainuddin, was “released” from any civil action taken against him by Government-Linked-Companies, MAS and Danaharta smells worse than a rotting fish. Indeed, the instruction which came from the Finance Ministry reeks of a deal brokered within the ranks of the UMNO elite.
In his capacity as Finance minister, Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed to settle the cases against Tajuddin of court, thus hiding the full details of his misdeeds from the public eye. It is irresponsible of Najib to do so since Tajuddin’s mismanagement of MAS was at the expense of tax-payers money. And they have a right to know how they had been shafted.

Does the Prime Minister have the interest of the nation and its taxpayers at heart or is he playing a political game to ensure that he remains for another term? What then would become of the corruption investigation by the MACC into Tajuddin Ramli? Will these investigations be swept under the rug and closed? How can someone like Tajuddin Ramli, with his record for mismanagement and corrupt practices involving billions in tax-payers money be allowed to walk free?
Why should Tajudin be allowed to walk free?
In 2002, MAS lodged a police report against Tajuddin, who took the helm from 1994 to 2001, for allegedly causing the flag carrier to suffer losses in excess of RM8 billion. Tajuddin's mismanagement and poor business decisions in entering into a disadvantageous aircraft lease contract with a company, which was later linked to his family caused MAS to suffer losses of between RM10 million and RM16 million a month.
The government stepped in by buying back a stake in the floundering airline at RM8 per share-double the market price, a bail-out by the Malaysian government in order to save MAS from further falling into the red. By 2001, MAS was straddled with a debt reported to be at RM9.5 billion.
In 2009, Danaharta and two of its subsidiaries won a RM589.143 million suit against Tajuddin. The case arose after the tycoon executed a facility agreement on July 13, 1994 to borrow RM1.792 billion from a group of syndicated lenders to finance the purchase of a 32 per cent stake in MAS. However, from 1994 to 1998, he failed to service the original loan, causing it to become a non-performing loan.
In 1998, Danaharta acquired the NPL from the lenders but Tajuddin also failed to settle his debts to Danaharta until it was in default of RM1.41 billion as of Oct 8, 2001. As part of a settlement agreement, Tajuddin was to pay RM942 million in four instalments over three years and he was permitted to redeem his charged shares at a minimum price per share.Tajuddin, however, defaulted in the payment of the quarterly interest payable under the settlement agreement and on April 27, 2002, the plaintiffs terminated the settlement agreement and demanded RM1.61 billion from him.
On April 29, 2002, Danaharta, together with its subsidiaries Danaharta Urus Sdn Bhd and Danaharta Managers Sdn Bhd, sold part of the charged shares consisting entirely of Technology Resources Industries shares at RM2.75 per share, resulting in total proceeds of RM717.39 million. As at December 31, 2005, the amount outstanding was RM589.14 million and on May 11, 2006, Danaharta and the subsidiaries commenced action to recover the money.
Why then would the Finance Ministry and the government of Malaysia even want to go into an out of court deal with someone who has over and over again shown he cannot afford to pay back his debt?
Even Lorrain has gone
This move to “clean” the slate of cases involving top government figures comes suspiciously hot on the heels of the demise of former Bumiputera Malaysia Finance chairman Lorrain Esme Osman of the BMF-Carrian Group scandal. A scandal many suspected involved the highest echelon of Malaysian politics, a scandal with links all the way up to the then Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamed.
The decision to settle the claims against Tajuddin Ramli continued to raise even more eye-brows when you take into account the directive to MAS and Danaharta, that all claim documents be passed over to the firm of Hasfarizam Wan and Aisha Mubarak, a known UMNO lawyer. A clear sign that UMNO has vested interest in seeing this case against Tajuddin Ramli settled and buried. The reasons are not made public yet, but one can smell the connection between Najib Razak and his need to curry favour with Mahathir Mohamed.
Another 'I help you, you help me'
So why is Najib Razak so keen to gain the good graces of Mahathir Mohamed? Did Najib and wife Rosmah Mansor want something in return? A longer stay in power, perhaps?
This latest "drop-all-claims" order also followed the share swap by MAS and AirAsia, giving Tony Fernandes a major stake in the troubled airline. It is no secret that Tony Fernandes is a close associate to both Najib Razak and Mahathir Mohamad. Tony is now the one tasked with steering MAS back into profits, but whether he can succeed remains to be seen.
It is indeed ironical that on one hand, Najib pulls a bail-out to save MAS from the red and yet at the same time, also 'saves' the man who put MAS into the red in the first place.
Something big is brewing for sure. Some say this is part of Mahathir's move to clean up his trail just in case Pakatan Rakyat wins at the next general election. Yes, he has to be careful to scrub away all the dirt now.
Yet, there are others who say, don't be naive. To these cynics, this deal was done because there was new 'gain' for all involved. A new durian had fallen so to speak, and rushing to partake of its luscious, yellow fruit were the usual 'geng UMNO'.
But either way, it is a sad legacy for octagenarian Mahathir Mohamad, his once trusty finance minister Daim Zainuddin, the lacklustre Najib Razak and his ambitious wife Rosmah.

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