Malaysia Today and the battle of Umno’s billions
Yesterday’s attack on Malaysia Today was yet another skirmish in the long-running secret war over Umno’s billions. The immediate reason may have been the series of damaging revelations by MT founder and editor Raja Petra Kamarudin about Malaysia Airlines’ RM8 billion in losses incurred when it was owned by high-flying businessman Tajuddin Ramli.
But Tajuddin Ramli, once owner of mobile-phone monopoly Celcom, later bought by Telekom, is just one of Daim’s Boys, that coterie of high-flying business executives who, over the span of a generation, have bought and sold and wheeled and dealed, over billions of public funds and public facilities.
The Umno elites have been at war over billions for a long time, and the attack on Malaysia Today has to be seen in the context of this long-running struggle within the plutocracy in the ruling establishment.
Two others of those in the struggle were in the news recently.
- Halim Saad, the first of Daim’s high-flyers; and
- Che Khalib Mohd Noh, boss of Tenaga Nasional, whose business career took off after long service with Halim, but said to be now linked to Mohd Noh Yakcop, the current economic czar.
They highlight the battles going on between Daim’s Boys and those of Mohd Noh Yakcop, whose hands are at the levers of the Economic Planning Unit, the Treasury and Khazanah Nasional.
Halim Saad’s re-emergence into the public spotlight seems linked to a RM50 billion tussle between him and Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, the ports and power tycoon. At stake: all highway concessions in the country and the billions of cash they throw up from toll collections.
Halim and Daim are said to be behind little-known Asas Serba which emerged soon after Najib Tun Razak became prime minister last year and applied to take over all highway toll concessions. Syed Mokhtar later responded with his own version, which is believed to be receiving favour.
Asas Serba’s proposal: RM50B to take over all assets of highway concessions, 20% toll reduction across the board. Syed Mokhtar’s: RM45B to take over highway concessions, 10% toll reduction across the board, and no toll increases in the remaining years of the concession. » see Asas Serba Watch
Daim’s Boys were once at the heart of Umno’s huge business empire in the 1980s and 1990s. They bought and sold on behalf of Umno, it is said, but also on their own account, it is widely believed.
It’s a long, complex story with many strands but with its roots in the early days of the NEP and the efforts of Tun Abdul Razak’s boys (e.g. Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah) to reshape the national economy.
Many would conclude that those high-minded efforts of the NEP led to the looting of the public purse. Zaid Ibrahim, for one, has labelled the ruling establishment a kleptocracy.
As the battle of the billions continues, Raja Petra remains at the heart of things exposing various aspects of this war, just as in Reformasi times a decade ago, when much of the shady wheelings and dealings began to see light.
A shadowy web site called Free Malaysia.com, now defunct, ran a sensational series of reports exposing Daim’s hand in many of the huge deals going on. In many ways the new Sarawak Report is reminiscent of that site, and of those times.
The immediate focus is on the battle between Tajuddin Ramli and MAS. It is likely that Raja Petra’s series of articles in recent week, exposing letters and memorandums relating to the deal, resulted in the immediate attack. However, RPK has also exposed shenanigans at the Terengganu state government’s e-book initiative, and taken a long series of pot shots at MCA president Chua Soi Lek.
Since 15th August 2010, Malaysia Today published nine reports on how Tajudin Ramli plundered MAS and reduced this airline company from a surplus of more than RM600 million to a deficit in excess of RM8 billion. Malaysia Today also showed documents to not only prove this but also to prove that there was collusion between the AG Chambers, MACC and PRDM to sweep this entire episode under the carpet. But that is not the whole story. Today, we are going to show you how else MAS was plundered. RPK last week: Now let’s see how else MAS was plundered
- Tajuddin Ramli and the MAS cargo deal at Frankfurt airport involves a German company whose directors are said to be linked to Tajuddin and his fellow-director and friend Wan Aishah Wan Hamid and her sister May.
- Halim Saad who broke a long silence last week in an interview with the NST, whining about how Khazanah Nasional (meaning Mat Noh Yakcop) forced him to sell UEM (United Engineers) and PLUS (the North-South Highway builder and concessionaire), leaving him with almost a shell in Renong. Halim’s Renong was once the bluest of blue chips, owning the highway concession, built on soft loans and a huge mountain of cash from tolls, and later also owning the New Straits Times and TV3.
- Che Khalib Mohd Noh, boss of electricity monopoly Tenaga Nasional, who rose after long service at the side of Halim Saad at Renong. He’s been the target of criticism for allowing Tenaga Nasional to press criminal charges against blogger Hassan Skodeng for a satirical article lampooning Che Khalib, Tenaga and Earth Hour.
Hassan Skodeng is the alter ego of Irwan Abdul Rahman, the lifestyle executive editor of the Malay Mail, which comes under the supervision of Mahathir acolyte Ahirudin Attan or Rocky’s Bru, who is a sidekick of former NST boss A Kadir Jasin, another of Daim’s boys.
Che Khalib was criticised by Rocky » Che Khaleb!? I thought it was a joke, an early April Fool’s joke over Che Khalib being a contender for CEO of the Year; for Che Khalib’s hopes for a 100% pay increase from a million ringgit a year compensation to two million, and Khazanah’s defence of the move.
A note to motorists
Be safe as you take to the road for the holidays.
You’re worth billions to Umno. Their hopes ride with you too.
Selamat Hari Raya
© 2010 uppercaise