I am sure you all have heard about all those stories where Mahathir’s friends Vincent Tan and Danny Tan kept selling and buying businesses with Mahathir’s sons.
Or about the case where one month before retiring, the Ministry of Finance where Mahathir was the Finance Minister, had issued a letter to Telekom Malaysia asking to enter into direct negotiations for a RM214 million contract with Opcom Bhd, majority owned by Mukhriz – which helped Opcom’s shares more than double in price upon listing two months later.
Or the time just one month before retirement, Mahathir directly awarded, without tender and without informing cabinet, a 20 years exclusive sports-gambling license to buddy Vincent Tan for just RM20 million which Vincent then sold off at a value of RM700 million.
But certainly you would have heard about the multi-billion case in 1998 where Petronas and MISC had to bail-out Mirzan Mahathir’s Konsortium Perkapalan group which faced bankruptcy.
After the bail-out Mirzan reflected on his days as an owner of Konsortium Perkapalan in June 1997 where he told TradeWinds: “I must say I´m a greenhorn compared to others in the business. I got into it by necessity and that is probably the wrong way. It requires people who have a passion, and I didn´t have it.”
There you have it, a person without passion for the business but still wanted to build a multi-billion business full of dodgy govt-related contracts that eventually collapse.
But even more strange was that two years after the bail-out, in Feb 2000, Mirzan’s company was reported to have received a five years contract from Tenaga Nasional to ship coal for the Kapar power plant using a Panamax class ship – despite the fact that Mirzan no longer owned any more ships!
The decision to select Mirzan’s company over other existing owners had both confused and surprised those who follow coal bulk business.
Speculation then was that Mirzan could let the contract on to another party such as MISC, or another Malaysian party or could be working on behalf of a foreign owner as the .tender specifies that foreign owners bidding for the work must do so through a Malaysian broker – as required under the cabotage policy implemented by Mahathir when he was MITI minister (since 1976) and Deputy PM on 1 Jan 1980.
Ah.. that was the golden age of cronyism and nepotism that the current members of Parti Pribumi looks fondly back at.
The time when Mahathir couldn’t care less about what you thought of him as he could always ISA you.
Parti Pribumi members and Pakatan probably wishes that this golden age will make a return after GE14.