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Action Must Be Taken Against Ministers And Prominent UMNO Businessmen In the RM 756.7 Million Metramac Corporation Bhd (Metramac) Scandal To Uphold The Basic Economic Principle That Prosperity Must Be Based On Merit and Value Creation, Not Rent-seeking And Casting Magic Spells.


Media Statement
by Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday):  DAP calls for stern action to be against Ministers and prominent UMNO businessmen in the RM 756.7 million Metramac scandal to uphold the basic economic principle that prosperity must be based on merit and value creation, (i.e. sustained effort hard work and intelligence), not rent-seeking and casting magic spells. Malaysians are shocked at the expose of the scandalous state of affairs as exposed by the Court of Appeal decision when directing Metramac to pay Fawziah Holdings Sdn Bhd about RM65 million in compensation for loss of advertising rights.

In this case the Minister involved is former Finance Minster Tun Daim Zainuddin and UMNO cronies Datuk Halim Saad and Anuar Othman. The main facts  in the 52-page judgment by Judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram in relating the RM 756.7 million scandal were as follows:

·     Syarikat Teratai KG Sdn Bhd (STKG) won the tender to construct and operate the privatisation of a number of roads, including one in Jalan Cheras. But toll collection was suspended in September 1990 after a demonstration at the Cheras toll plaza headed by residents and DAP National Organising Secretary and Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai. Tun Daim Zainuddin told the shareholders that the Government did not have RM764 million to compensate them for terminating the contract on 12 September 1990.

·     STKG faced financial ruin as it had invested RM 65 million in shareholders funds and RM 40 million in loan repayment.

·     In November 1990, UEM Bhd made an offer to purchase all the shares in STKG for RM97.5 million. In reality, the shares were to be purchased by a company nominated by UEM, namely Metromac, whose shareholders were Datuk Halim Saad and Anuar Othman.

·     Judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram noted that, "No one in his or her right mind will consider the choice of selling their shares to Metromac at RM97.5 million as a choice at all. Further the offer by UEM to buy out STKG’s shares for RM97.5 milllion simply did not make any commercial sense. Here you have a company that has just had its loan and shareholders capital wiped out in one stroke. It had no money in the coffers. It had huge debts. It had no prospects of receiving any compensation from DBKL. So why pay RM97.5 million for the shares of such a company. The answer is simple enough. Anuar and Halim had something which the plaintiff did not. And that was the patronage of Daim.”

·      Even before Metromac bought over the company on Jan 23, 1991, Metro Juara wrote to DBKL on 14 January 1991 about recommencing the toll collection and re-negotiating the first concession agreement. Judge Gopal added "Not long after the takeover, a strange thing happened. Where doors were once closed to STKG  before its takeover, as if by the utterance of a magic spell, all bureaucratic doors were opened to Metramac after its takeover. And as if by the rub of a magic lamp, the Federal Government and DBKL, who hitherto, claimed to be impoverished, suddenly found themselves flush with funds. They were now in a financial position to compensate the Metramac a total sum of RM756.7 million.”

·     Judge Gopal concluded that Datuk Halim Saad and Anuar Othman siphoned RM32.5 million from Metramac. By doing so, they could have been flirting with an aggravated form of criminal breach of trust under section 405 and 409 of the Penal Code, an offence which carries a maximum 20-year jail term with whipping and fine upon conviction.

·     Judge Gopal asked, “Why taxpayers’ money was channeled into the hands of two private individuals – to profit them – instead of a wider section of the general public? It is not clear why Tun Daim used his power to favour Anuar Othman and Datuk Halim Said”.

This is one of the two main questions in the Metromac scandal, the other being the criminal breach of trust committed by Anuar and Halim. Why did Tun Daim use or abuse his powers to favour the company owned by Anuar and Datuk Halim by readily paying RM 756.7 million in compensation to them when he had earlier refused to do so to STKG and Fawziah Holdings Sdn Bhd?

These are questions that require immediate investigation by both the police and the Anti-Corruption Agency. In view that these findings of criminal wrongdoing are made by the Court of Appeal, the seriousness of the subject matter requires immediate attention from the highest authorities. DAP will press Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to direct both departments to carry out investigations and take necessary action to bring the culprit committing such wrongdoing to court. This is a good opportunity for the government to prove that everyone is equal before the law whether they are high-ranking Ministers or prominent businessmen.

The credibility of our country’s economic management and national integrity is at stake. Are we a nation that uphold transparency, accountability and merit relying on value creation to achieve our goals of becoming a developed nation in 2020? Or are we a nation that relies on rent-seeking and economic black magic where political “know-who” is more important than technical know-how?

DAP wishes to remind the long-suffering people of Kuala Lumpur who are forced to pay toll why DAP opposes the toll hikes. DAP does not oppose highways but opposes the high toll hikes imposed because they are used to enrich cronies of BN not the create value or overcome traffic jams and congestion. Tan Kok Wai was detained under the ISA for 7 days in 1990 for standing up for his constituents in opposing the collection of toll. Like other DAP leaders, Tan Kok Wai gained nothing but lost his liberty to defend the people’s rights. Halim Saad and Anuar Othman not only did not go to jail but got RM 756.7 million in compensation.

Is this Justice, Malaysia Boleh?                                                        


* Lim Guan Eng,  DAP Secretary General

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