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Sunday, June 11, 2017

THE TRUTH TO ISA’S LIE

Malaysia’s opposition is a failed opposition. They allowed Isa to get away with murder and allowed FGV to slide down a slippery slope. In 2014 when FGV began to show signs of rot the opposition was too busy with the 1MDB issue to care. Now maybe the opposition will start caring if they can somehow link this whole thing to Najib and put the blame on him instead of on Isa.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
What is going on in  Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) is not really about politics. It is about governance, in this case bad governance. FGV is the largest oil palm plantation company in the world (more than 2 million acres of oil palm) as well as the largest listing ever in Asia. In fact, it was the second largest IPO in the world after Facebook and on its debut the shares surged 20% from its listing price of RM4.55. Two years later the share price had eroded by RM2.00. By then the opposition should have realised that something was wrong and should have said something.
But then at that time the opposition was too busy. It had just launched the ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign) and all they were interested in was to oust Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. And they had the 1MDB issue for that. So the FGV issue was not on their radar screen. Furthermore, anything that does not hurt Najib and does not contribute to his downfall is not of concern to the opposition. And if the opposition takes up the FGV matter it will only hurt Isa and not Najib. And what does the opposition care about the welfare of the Felda settlers unless it can gain them votes?
The fact that not only the opposition did not whack Isa but also Isa did not once attack Mahathir over the last three years makes one wonder whether the theory that Isa is Mahathir’s Trojan Horse may be true after all. And why did Isa choose the fasting month of Ramadan to sack Zakaria Arshad and the three other key FGV executives? Isa knew this would anger the Malays, especially the Felda settlers, and yet he did it.
The opposition felt that what was going on in FGV was not a political issue but a corporate issue. And it was Isa and not Najib who would suffer if they attacked FGV. So they did not. And meanwhile FGV’s shares declined from RM4.55 per share to RM1.66 today. And it was because Isa interfered in matters he has absolutely no business to interfere in and has no idea about.
Isa thought that running one of the largest companies in Malaysia and the largest plantation company in the world is just like running the office of the Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan. In fact, even as the Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan he made a huge mess, as is evident in the many failed projects in Port Dickson. Port Dickson used to be a beautiful place until Isa littered it with failed projects and abandoned buildings.
It took Mohamad Hasan three years to clean up the mess that Isa left behind
It took Mohamad Hasan, the new Menteri Besar, three years to clean up the mess that Isa left behind. How long will it take the new Chairman of FGV to restore public confidence in the company and bring back FGV’s share price back to RM4.55?
Isa’s job was just to chair meetings, earn his RM1 million a year salary and perks, and stay out of the day-to-day running of the business. But then he ran the company like a family business and started removing and replacing key and experienced people and started putting his own cronies and hard-core supporters in important posts. One chap who Isa took in and gave a key position in Felda did not even have a form five qualification. He actually faked his SPM certificate, which they later discovered and asked him to go.
Another example is Dr Omar Salim. Omar is an Isa diehard and crony and he was made a director of Felda Asset Holdings Company Sdn Bhd, a company worth more than RM850 million (more details on Felda Asset Holdings). Omar is what the Malays would call talam dua muka or a man with two faces. When he meets Najib he pretends he is a Najib-loyalist but at the same time works against Najib behind his back. In fact, there are two other FGV directors in that same category.
There are many Isa cronies and diehard supporters who have been rewarded with posts that attract huge responsibilities and equally huge remunerations. Tens of millions are being spent in this manner. Felda and its subsidiaries are being used to grease the palms of supporters and to offer political patronage to cronies.
Isa treats Felda and FGV like it is a political party and runs it like he would run a political party. And the market reacted by giving Isa a vote of no confidence. Markets are very sensitive to such matters and small things trigger panic in the market. The drop in FGV’s share price from RM4.55 to RM1.66 reflects the very low opinion the market has of Isa.
In the 1980s when it was rumoured that Mahathir’s daughter had eloped the market went down on both sides of the Causeway. When Tun Daim Zainuddin said the market had overheated the shares went down. Small and unimportant rumours can tigger a market decline. What more when the market got to know about what ISA was doing to FGV. FGV’s shares did not just decline. There was practically a run on FGV.
Isa’s legacy in Negeri Sembilan, failed projects, that he is now repeating in FGV
But bad management or bad corporate governance is not the only issue that triggered the decline in FGV’s share price. It was also the abuse of power and corruption that was going on both in Felda and FGV. This was explained in the previous article, ‘The reason for FGV’s RM11 billion loss in market capitalisation’ (READ HERE). The expose ‘The Mess Isa Samad left behind’ goes into more details about the transgressions and losses suffered by Felda (READ HERE).
In short, Isa and his friends and family are ripping off Felda and are robbing it blind. The public knows about this and that is the reason for the run on FGV’s shares. And in 2014 the opposition should have realised this and should have said something.
Now that the shares are heading below RM1.00 maybe the opposition will finally wake up. But the damage has already been done or nasi sudah jadi bubur, as the Malays would say. That is like trying to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted. By the time the opposition wakes up and starts looking into the matter, FGV would have lost more than RM13 billion of its market capitalisation.
The opposition would probably take up the FGV cause if it can contribute to hurting Najib. If not then the opposition does not really care if FGV loses RM13 billion or RM30 billion. It is not the money that matters. It is what political gain the opposition can get from taking up the issue.
Malaysia’s opposition is a failed opposition. They allowed Isa to get away with murder and allowed FGV to slide down a slippery slope. In 2014 when FGV began to show signs of rot the opposition was too busy with the 1MDB issue to care. Now maybe the opposition will start caring if they can somehow link this whole thing to Najib and put the blame on him instead of on Isa.

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