Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Proton, Bridge, APs, Sand In Face & Stuff Like That
By Raja Petra Kamarudin

(Generally, I would stay away from political commentary, but this is too good to pass up plus it involved some listed companies, written by Raja Petra Kamarudin, enjoy and learn).
So it is now official. Dr Mahathir and Abdullah are at war. And the Menteri Besar of Perlis, Shahidan Kassim, has offered to play the role of mediator to bring the two Umno giants back together again. Shahidan would have better luck in trying to reconcile Anwar Ibrahim and Dr Mahathir -- and this in itself is an impossible task.

Today, Dr Mahathir is experiencing what Abdullah endured almost 20 years ago. The hand kissers steer clear of Dr Mahathir like he is the plague. Speaking his name is taboo. Even whispering his name is high risk. Better one pretends that the man named Dr Mahathir Mohamad never existed if one values one's future in Malaysian politics. Today, Dr Mahathir is discovering the error of his ways. Dr Mahathir is trusting to a fault. And it is this trust and his bad judgment of character that will be the epitaph on his headstone. And he trusted many who eventually brought him to ruin. In the corporate world we have Abdullah Ang, Tan Koon Swan, Eric Chia, Francis Yeoh, Vincent Tan and many, many more. These are of course the Chinese corporate bosses. The Malays no less let him down as well. One just has to look at names like Daim Zainddun, Tajuddin Ramli and this gang of Merry Men from Sherwood Forest to fill pages and pages of one's address book. In the public sector are also names that were unknown to the uninitiated until Dr Mahathir brought them up and thrust them into the limelight. Today, these people are also biting the hand that used to feed it. The Francis Yeohs of Malaysia who used to swoon at Dr Mahathir's feet today throw millions in deals the way of Khairy Jamaluddin, the man of the hour. Those like Ani Arope condemn Dr Mahathir though no one knew who the hell he was until he was elevated to the position of the CEO of TNB. And Ani Arope was one pompous ass when he thought he was Dr Mahathir's blue-eyed boy. Today, he of course runs down the master he once served and exploited to boot.

Anyway, Dr Mahathir has had enough of the subtle sabotage and innuendoes meant to run him down. He is now fighting back, and when he fights back he fights back mean -- as the Rulers, the Judiciary, his Deputies, and many more have learnt the hard way. When Dr Mahathir fights, he asks for no quarters and gives none as well. Dr Mahathir knows how to fight only one way: the last man standing. And those who cross swords with him better be prepared for a 'till death do us fight' or else back off now while they still can.

Today, Dr Mahathir's biggest regret is appointing Abdullah as his successor. Dr Mahathir's second biggest regret is appointing Najib Razak as Abdullah's successor-in-waiting. Of course, he has many other regrets as well, past, present and future ( dulu, kini dan selama-lamanya), but all these others will need to be relegated to the back seat for the moment as he handles his current and two biggest regrets.Najib has just openly declared his support for Abdullah. So it is now Abdullah-Najib against Dr Mahathir. But it is also Abdullah-Khairy against Dr Mahathir. Does this mean then that it is now Abdullah-Najib-Khairy against Dr Mahathir, or is it two separate battle fronts; one comprising Abdullah-Najib and another Abdullah-Khairy? But how would Najib and Khairy come to terms when they are a threat to each other? Can Abdullah be actually thinking of two Deputy Prime Ministers? Will the Second Deputy Prime Minister be Khairy? Or will it be Anwar, then when Najib goes up to become Prime Minister, Khairy takes his place as Second Deputy Prime Minister? Sound far fetched? I am sure you said the same about Malaysia Today's other 'theories' as well before this. But then, how else would Abdullah accommodate Najib, Anwar and Khairy? You just cannot squeeze three people into two positions unless you create a third position? And why Anwar, you may ask. Well, how else to fend off Dr Mahathir's attacks? Are Najib and Khairy alone sufficient? Certainly not! Dr Mahathir can eat Khairy for breakfast, Najib for lunch, and Abdullah for dinner. Only with Anwar in the equation will it be a 'fair' fight -- four against one.

But what is Dr Mahathir's beef? What is he so hot and bothered about? We have in fact addressed all this in the previous episode of The Corridors of Power. Anyway, in case you did not catch our drift then, let us take you through some of the issues again. Dr Mahathir's first beef is about the supply of sand to Singapore. He had banned the export of sand back in 1997 -- so, 'legally', sand cannot be exported to Singapore or anywhere else for that matter. Abdullah then announces the cancellation of the bridge three weeks after it is announced in Parliament that the bridge would go on at all costs. And the reason given for the cancellation of the bridge is because Singapore wants the supply of sand thrown in as a package. Dr Mahathir then discovers that it was not Singapore that demanded the supply of sand be included as a package in the bridge deal but Malaysia that offered it without Singapore even asking for it. Then Dr Mahathir discovers that the sand suppliers are top guns in Umno Johor who stand to make billions from the deal. The King of Sand Suppliers is an Umno Youth leader who contested the Muar Youth Head post but lost by one vote. Since he lost by only one vote they wanted a re-contest but the Umno Youth Chief offered him RM300,000 if he would agree to withdraw and not challenge the incumbent. Needless to say, while the incumbent is Hishammuddin Hussein's man, the challenger, the biggest sand supplier in Johor, is Khairy's nominee.

The bridge was aborted not because Singapore wanted the supply of sand thrown in, as what they say. It was aborted because the Johor State Government opposed the extraction of sand from its territory, especially if it was going to be supplied to Singapore. Johor wants the bridge, but it does not agree to the supply of sand. But then the supply of sand had already been packaged in the bridge. So, the only way to get out from the supply of sand clause was to cancel the bridge. And they had to blame the cancellation of the bridge on Singapore, so they said that Singapore wanted the supply of sand thrown in; that is why they want to cancel the bridge. That is Dr Mahathir's first beef.To make matters worse, work on the bridge had already started, so they now have to pay compensation of RM100 million to Gerbang Perdana Sdn Bhd. And who is Gerbang Perdana and why are they so powerful that RM100 million has to be paid to them? This is another thing that riled Dr Mahathir. Not only will Malaysia not be getting the bridge, but RM100 million has to be paid for not getting the bridge. Anyway, you will have to be patient for now. We will reveal in due course the movers and shakers behind Gerbang Perdana and how far the host of Umno's recent 50th Anniversary celebration may be involved in this whole thing, so stay tuned.

Next on Dr Mahathir's list of grouses is the AP issue, and at the top of the AP issue is the awarding of car import permits to a company called Autostadt Asia Sdn Bhd. Malaysia Today has in fact revealed this issue in an earlier article called Remember The Good Old Days on 20 February 2006. This is what we said then:
Now that Dr Mahathir has 'gone to war' with Rafidah, Abdullah Badawi cannot possibly remove her as the Trade Minister, or even demote her to a lower ministry of little significance. If Abdullah Badawi gets rid of Rafidah, then he would prove Dr Mahathir right. Abdullah has to appear like he decides the cabinet positions and not Dr Mahathir. So, in spite of whatever scandals and controversies Rafidah may have, Abdullah has to retain her just to spite Dr Mahathir and show everyone who is boss. Furthermore, the AP controversy that Dr Mahathir raised was not actually targeted at Rafidah alone though it appears like Rafidah was the target. Rafidah was just the catalyst or smokescreen. The real target was Abdullah Badawi, and he knows this beyond any shadow of doubt.

Remember when the controversy first exploded last year and they identified a few 'AP Kings' by name? Well, the 'King of AP Kings' is no other than the cousin of Abdullah Badawi's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddiin. And we are talking of hundreds of millions here. Malaysia Today has already written on this matter in great detail so we will not repeat what we said -- but for those who have not read the reports yet, you can see them in our archives: Special Report On The AP Kings. But this was still not the main issue. Dr Mahathir was not upset that a few Malays were becoming super-rich by becoming beneficiaries of APs, though they may be linked to Abdullah Badawi's or Rafidah's family -- as his family members also enjoy the benefit of APs. We must read between the lines when Dr Mahathir lamented that the APs were 'killing' Proton. In what way are the APs killing Proton when the class of cars being imported are not in direct competition to Proton? What Dr Mahathir was trying to say, without directly saying so, is that someone who managed to get his hands on some APs has torpedoed a deal Proton was sealing with a foreign car manufacturer that would have been Proton's saviour. In 2004, Proton entered into negotiations with Volkswagen to formalise a joint-venture with a view that Proton would manufacture their cars in Malaysia plus get technical assistance and transfer of technology from Germany. However, Zulkifli Ishak went to meet VW to negotiate the VW franchise for Malaysia. VW said they will consider the proposal but only if Zulkifli can arrange for the APs to import the cars into Malaysia. On 29 April 2005, Zulkifli and his partner, Ahmad Rashdan Amir Hamzah, set up a company called Autostadt Asia Sdn Bhd (company number 689924-A) with a paid up capital of RM500,000 and with both of them as Directors. Ahmad Rashdan, however, does not hold any shares in the company. The shares belong to Zulkilfi (499,999) while Zulkifli's wife, Annie Tajul Arus, holds the one remaining share. They then applied for APs specifically for VW vehicles and got them -- though the company was dormant, did not have any business address, and did not yet have the franchise for VW. These APs were shown to VW who then agreed to appoint Autostadt Asia Sdn Bhd as the Malaysian franchise holder for VW. This would be better than having to sell VW vehicles through Proton plus having to transfer the technology to Malaysia. Of course, in the meantime, Proton was still talking to VW not knowing that the franchise had actually been hijacked. Dr Mahathir was hoping the deal with VW would transpire whereby Proton's arse would be saved and its future look brighter than it does now. Imagine Dr Mahathir's horror when he found out that Autostadt Asia had 'stolen' VW from Proton. But what made him really fly off the handle was when he found out that Autostadt Asia's shareholder, Annie Tajul Arus, is Rafidah's niece, and Zulifilfi is Annie's husband, a husband and wife outfit related to the Trade Minister. And that was why, last year, Dr Mahathir fired his shot against APs and alleged that it was detrimental to Proton's health. And we all know what happened recently. VW announced that it was aborting the deal with Proton. They did not even officially inform Proton who had to read about it from the newspapers. VW, in a way, told Proton to go jump in the lake. VW does not need Proton anymore to penetrate the Malaysian market. They have their own Ali Baba, Autostadt Asia Sdn Bhd, which is actually funded by a Chinese businessman. Of course, there are more issues than these, but all these are now already public knowledge so we really do not need to go into too much detail on what is available in the public domain. What we want to raise are the unsaid or 'silent' issues, those that are the hidden agenda for everything that is being said and done. There is one more thing, the Ani Arope public confession on the way the IPPs were thrust down his throat. This is actually the 'Ani Arope Bear Trap'. They are just waiting for Dr Mahathir to respond to Ani Arope. Then they will boil him in oil. We will not reveal anything just yet. We will see whether Dr Mahathir responds to Ani Arope or not in the next few days. If he does, then they will fry him alive. If he does not, well, then we will reveal in the next episode of The Corridors of Power what they had planned for Dr Mahathir. It is actually a very ingenious strategy and certainly one that will damage Dr Mahathir quite badly (not 'slight bruise' as what Dr Mahathir said in his press conference). Whether this story they are going to spin is fact or fiction is not for us to say. The point we are making here is that it is a very convincing story that even a person like Dr Mahathir would be hard-pressed to rebut or deny. And only someone with a very brilliant mind would be able to come up with this ingenious and most convincing yarn. Anyway, stay tuned, and in the next episode we will reveal how they plan to cook Dr Mahathir's goose and turn the hunter into the hunted.

p/s Raja Petra Kamarudin's Malaysia Today site can be accessed at:

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