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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Would Gani Patail dare to rock Umno's boat: The RM7.1bil WCE 'reservations'


Would Gani Patail dare to rock Umno's boat: The RM7.1bil WCE 'reservations'
Much has been made about the "expressed reservations" the Attorney-General, Gani Patail, had over the RM7.1billion West Coast Expressway agreement reported in the press recently. So what? Has anything been done? Was the Umno-controlled media doing a favor for the Najib administration which has been severely criticized for the obviously over-priced deal?
Or is the media being used as a battle field for warring factions in Umno, jealous of each others' goodies? Actually, which are the personalities in Umno who really benefit the most if the deal goes through?
To those who are wondering, why so many politically-aimed questions and so much cynicism? The answer is because the WCE deal is a political deal. And the A-G is definitely not independent of his various bosses in Umno and therefore it is laughable to believe even for a second that he could have dared to express "reservations”.
Here is an easy test. If Gani is truly worried, then find out for sure. Why let reservations remain reservations, especially in a deal as huge as this? The A-G is not a nobody, his position is high with power and influence. So, use it and get results. But make sure the scrutiny is real and it is done for the people and for not himself or his political bosses.
Not just the main deal, look into the deals surrounding all the companies involved
First things first, the A-G should look not just into the terms of the agreement for the project but also into the ones behind the companies awarded the project. The West Coast Expressway (WCE) is not a new project. It is a project that has been delayed for over 10 years due to financial problems.
Europlus had problems funding the projects since the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis. The WCE was first mooted by Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye, who controls Europlus, 15 years ago. To promote the project, Chan set up Konsortium LPB Sdn Bhd (KLPB). Chan holds 27.58% equity interest in Europlus and construction giant IJM Corp Bhd owns 22.72% stake. IJM also holds a controlling stake in KLPB.
IJM through Road Builder Holdings Bhd, operates toll for the Sungai Besi Expressway, New Pantai Expressway and Kajang-Seremban Highway. And with the WCE also in the bag, IJM stands to be the biggest toll operator in the country.
The record-breaking 60 years toll concession between Europlus and the government would mean the IJM would remain in the business of collecting toll for a very long time. The ties IJM has with the BN government is pretty clear.
IJM’s board of directors is headed by Tan Sri Abdul Halim bin Ali. Abdul Halim Ali was appointed the Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia in 1998 and retired in 2001. After his retirement, he was made the Chairman of the Employees Provident Fund Board until January 2007. The WCE project started moving in 2007, when KLPB entered into a concession agreement for the construction of the WCE. Mere coincidence?
Then the losses...
The very fact the government was willing to entertain Europlus and renegotiate the terms to build the WCE should be questioned since year after year, Europlus has seen revenue fall from RM50.4 million to RM28.0 million. Europlus is basically a non-perfoming company, yet the Najib administration has awarded it with a RM7.07 billion contract.
In Jan 31 2008, Europlus total revenues were RM58.5 million, but by Jan 31 2011 the total revenues for the group stood at RM28.0 million. Gross profits for 2008 was RM8.9 million, in 2010 Europlus saw a -ive RM17.2 million in gross profits, this rose to RM4.2 million for Jan 31 2011. The net income for Jan 31 2008 was -ive RM24.8 million but by Jan 31 2011 the net income stood at -ive RM50.8 million.
Europlus is a money-losing entity yet after renegotiation on the WCE, they have pulled the biggest sucker-punch ever with the Malaysian government.
Who will safeguard Umno members from their own elite
The questionable nature of how Europlus gain such favors should be investigated by the A-G. Were there other “forces” pulling the strings in order to gain as much as possible from the government coffers?
Is this an exercise to stream the money to BN friendly individuals and groups, and disguise the greed in a noble form by spinning that stories that the Umno elite have no choice. That they need to take the money to safeguard Umno in case Pakatan Rakyat wrests the control of the federal government. Who then safeguards the ordinary Umno members from their unscrupulous leaders?
A lot of questions but Malaysians can be sure the Najib administration won't be able to answer even 10% of it, simply because it is not to their advantage to do so. So do not be fooled by Gani's sudden attack of conscience. It is well within his powers to order a full probe into his so-called reservations.
But let's take a bet - we say, he won't. He would never dare to rock Umno's boat!
(above picture courtesy of donplaypuks)
Malaysia Chronicle

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