Tergum Ictus

Raja Petra asks if Shahrir Samad is Isa Samad’s real target?
Just a few minutes ago I received a copy of a press statement from the Prime Minister’s Officer stating that Idris Jala has been appointed as an indepedent party to establish the facts and recommend the way forward regarding Felda Global Ventures’s (FGV) latest fiasco.

The press statement from the Prime Minister’s Office
For a statement to have come out from the Prime Minister’s Office shows that the Prime Minister himself is taking interest to protect those whose livelihood depend on FGV and wants to find out the inside story of how FGV has gotten itself in such a mess.

Isa Samad was appointed as the Chairman of FELDA and also became the Chairman of FGV.  Obviously he is a political appointee meaning that he had been entrusted to ensure that the needs and interests of the voters in FELDA are well taken care of.

This did not happen. Instead of becoming something that the settlers could bank on, FELDA was treated badly under Isa’s management, or mismanagement if you must.

There was that sturgeon farm initiative that cost FELDA a loss of RM47.6 million through a subsidiary called FELDA Caviartive Sdn Bhd.

Another mess that happened under Isa was by FELDA Wellness Corp Sdn Bhd., a loss-making biopharmaceuticals company wholly owned by the statutory body, had been wound up last year.

In less than three years of operation, FELDA Wellness accumulated losses of RM154.76 million, and current liabilities of RM154.03 million as at end FY15. The company’s total assets amounted to RM4.34 million.

The company was eventually wound up by Australia-based Gordagen Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd for debts owed to it by FELDA Wellness amounting to RM2.1 million.

Another outfit called Global Settlers Sdn Bhd (GSSB), which opened a chain of five restaurants and incurred losses of more than RM 8.4 Million, then closed down after 3 years of operations. If that is not bad enough, GSSB paid RM2.29 million to a Pastry Project called Schneeballen without having any supporting documents. In October 2015 that Pastry project was terminated after having spent another RM6.39 million for equipment.

I shan’t go into the failed investments by the FELDA Investment Corp. There’s at least half-a-billion Ringgit worth of losses by the FIC.

It was only right that the Prime Minister decided enough was enough and put Tan Sri Shahrir Samad at the helm, leaving Isa only as a non-executive Chairman of the FGV.

Although a lot of damage had been done by Isa, Shahrir’s appointment was welcomed by settlers and observers alike. Through Shahrir they see a management that would be able to surmount the obstacles Isa had laid.

But the latest fiasco of Isa using the Board of FGV to ask the CEO Zakaria Arshad and three others to go on a forced leave has again shaken the trust of the people in FGV.

I don’t know how kosher Zakaria is, but a thorough probe by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) into the affairs of the FGV is a very welcomed move.

Isa et al should realise that FGV and FELDA are of public interest and that he was entrusted by Najib Razak to make sure that the settlers’ interests are not foresaken.

Instead, Najib and the settlers have had their back stabbed.

Real Growth For The East Coast

Graphic courtesy of The Star

The first rail line was opened in 1885 running between Port Weld and Taiping.  The line to the east coast running between Gemas and Tumpat was only completed in 1931, by passing major towns such as Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu.

For decades after that there was no real growth in terms of communications in the east coast.

As a punishment to the people of the east coast for not voting in the Barisan Nasional, aid to Kelantan was curbed and was changed into the form of ‘Wang Ihsan‘ in 1990, and the East Coast Highway terminated near Kuantan because Barisan Nasional was ousted by the people of Terengganu in 1999.

Najib Razak changed all that.

Phase 3 of the East Coast Highway which will terminate at Kota Bharu will commence during the 11th Malaysian Plan (2016-2020), as well as the East Coast Rail Link, a new rail link cutting through green fields.

The first phase will see the Klang Valley connected to Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu in the second phase and Kota Bharu and Wakaf Bharu in the third and final phase.


Announcing at the handover ceremony of the Ganchong Water Treatment Plant, he said that the GDP of the state of Pahang would increase by 1.5 percent when the ECRL comes online.

The Opposition as usual is opposed to anything that is good for the people if it comes from the government.

PAN’s Mujahid Yusof Rawa, for instance, questioned how it will benefit the local economy – and you do not need to be a member of Parliament let alone a rocket scientist to figure out the answer.

The ECRL will act as a land bridge for goods coming from the west coast going to especially Shenzen in China through Kuantan port, and similarly goods from the east coast get sent to the Middle East and India through Port Klang.

This land bridge would also allow goods from the eastern part of the globe be sent to the western part through these two ports without having to circumnavigate the Singapore strait.

This cuts down the over-reliance on the Strait of Malacca. Today, more than 80 percent of China’s energy needs pass through that narrow waterway.

So if you imagine it takes just four hours for goods to be transported by a lorry from Kota Bharu to Port Klang using the ECRL as compared to seven hours using the Gua Musang way or nine hours via the East Coast highway, you would be able to imagine the kind of economic growth the east coast states would stand to benefit from the ECRL.

No longer would SME or heavy industries have to be centred in the Klang Valley where the costs of land and living are far higher compared to in Kelantan and Terengganu. More jobs would be created and the luxury gap lessened tremendously.

The time for goods to be transported from Shenzen to Port Klang would be 30 hours lesser than having to sail them around Singapore.

Cost issues aside, this new network will create new alternative routes to boost trade for Asean, with Malaysia as the base; and why this has to be taken seriously is because the Chinese have a direct interest in the (Kuantan) port and the rail link,” said Mr G. Durairaj, managing director of maritime and logistics consultancy PortsWorld.

Already Kuantan port is home to several petrochemical companies such as the BASF-PETRONAS Chemicals. 

The port has also attracted RM8.9 billion worrh of investments including a RM3.5 billion steel facility.

The integrated steel mill will occupy a 287ha site – half the size of Singapore’s Sentosa island – and have an annual production of 3.5 million tonnes.

Imagine the size of investments that the ECRL could bring into the east coast states. Would you now question the benefits the ECRL would bring?

Is Selangor No Longer Attractive Economically Or Is The State Government All Talk Cock?

  
It is a Ramadan and a bleak Syawal for the former workers of JVC Kenwood at Section 22 Shah Alam as the factory ceases its operations as reported by The Rakyat Post above.  I am sure the decision to cease operations must have been made much earlier than just a few months or a year ago as any plant closure affects production as well as support services.

Many were too quick to blame the Federal Government as according to them investments come under the purview of the Federal Government. Many however forget that investments in a state comes under the purview of the respective states’ economic development council or committee. 

Does the seemingly bleak economy (despite the A- rating by Fitch) have any role in the closure of the plant? Let us examine:

  
Now it seems that TASCO had come into a sales and purchase agreement with JVC Manufacturing Malaysia Sdm Bhd for the purchase of the said property in 2009. This is a year after Pakatan Rakyat took over the state from Barisan Nasional. Six years on, it seems as if the Selangor SEDC had done nothing to persuade JVC to maintain a plant in Selangor. Why so?

It is easy to put the blame on the Federal Government. However, JVC has been cutting back its workforce not just in Malaysia but worldwide.

“They told us that the factory operations were moving to Thailand,” said a worker.

It was reported last year that JVC had cut its workforce globally by 14% to just under 20,000 people and about 90% of production now took place mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Checks on jobstreet.com have shown that JVC is still hiring staff for its Tampoi plant in Johor.

Similarly, a few metres away from the JVC plant, Ansell Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s operations have also ceased and its workers were retrenched yesterday. The Australian company made healthcare protective gear.

A worker on site said: “They are moving their operations to Melaka. They have already told us about this six months ago and compensation was also paid out.”

Therefore, we are seeing a move out of Selangor not just by JVC but also by other foreign companies as well, unless Melaka and Johor are not in Malaysia, or that these states are not affected by the “slowdown” in the Malaysian economy. 

Maybe it is the hard work that Johor’s and Melaka’s SEDC have put in to ensure that foreign companies do not divest, unlike Selangor’s that was not able to or did not talk to JVC when the sales and purchase agreement was made six years ago.

Maybe Selangor has lost the edge it once had when it was still governed by Barisan Nasional.

TH-TRX Land Poll Result

I ran a poll on the sale of the TH TRX land on the 28th May 2015. Here is the result:

3,191 voted.

92.48% (2,951) said TH should not sell the land.

7.52% (240) said TH should sell the land immediately.

37% are from Selangor
32% are from Kuala Lumpur
5% are from Perak
3% are from Pahang
3% are from Johor
3% are from Outside Malaysia
2% are from Pulau Pinang
2% are from Putrajaya
2% are from Kedah
2% are from Melaka
2% are from Kelantan
2% are from Terengganu
2% are from Negeri Sembilan
2% are from Perlis
1% are from Labuan

38% are between 36-45 years old
33% are between 46-60 years old
26% are between 21-35 years old
2% are 61 and above
1% are below 20

1MDB:The RM42b Is There

Media statement by Arul Kanda, 1MDB President and Group Executive Director

Issued on 3 June 2015
For immediate publication

RM42 Billion All Accounted For.
“In recent weeks, there has been much speculation about the use of RM 42 billion of debt raised by 1MDB, and more specifically that RM 27 billion of debt proceeds are alleged to be “lost” or “missing”. We provide a summary of what the RM42 billion debt has been used for, information that is fully disclosed in 1MDB’s audited and publicly available accounts from 31 March 2010 to 31 March 2014. We trust this clarification will help to clear any confusion on this matter.”

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