Friday, November 21, 2014

More than meet the eyes

For us mere mortals, we can only decide on what is available and visible. Nothing is what as it seemed. There is always the chance that there is more than meet the eyes.

What a person say maybe not what is intended to express. It could be a caution but accidently hinted clue of something bigger. There is something more than what was found and the real picture unknown to many is a bigger problem than what is perceived.

At times, what is being said is to hides the real reason. Action and expression on display may not be as it was meant to be but cryptic signals to mean something else.

The Cameron Highland incident and the Protasco boardroom tussle could be example of events that is more than meet the eyes.

NST's turn?

While waiting for our plane back to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, we bought NST and Berita Harian to keep abreast with the latest on the Cameron Highland incident.

NST was reporting on the Sultan of Pahang visit to Cameron Highlands. His highness expressed concern and wants stern action to be taken against those land scheme culprits.

Pahang Menteri Besar Dato Adnan Yaacob could be seen accompanying the Sultan. He is not as feisty and angry as before. However, Utusan Malaysia has stopped giving the Cameron Highland incident frontpage news.

Will he be angry at NST and BH now?

It seemed the suspicion that this whole episode is another Khir Toyo like attempt to ouster him has not simmered. Was it him or his Highness complained of Putrajaya giving only RM2 million when RM40 million was needed to solve the river problem.

Nevertheless, the presence of his Highness was useful for Tok Nan and helped neutralise the bad publicity to the palace when NST disclosed the presence of "surat kuning" last week. It is the "surat kuning" that led to the illegal encroachment into government land and causing the environmental degradation and deluge of illegal immigrants at Cameron Highlands.

About money 

The money made from the land scam to vegetable farmers is exorbitantly large and run to couple of hundred thousands per acre of land. However, do not be surprise that these farmers can afford it. The payback is not that long. It serves both sides purpose.

Read NST past report below:
‘Insane’ profits from farms in Camerons

By Farrah Naz Karim And Aliza Shah - 17 November 2014 @ 1:35 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: PROFITS from illicit farming in Cameron Highlands is so insane that authorities fear it will be an uphill battle to stop the illegal clearing of government land and forests in the highlands.

New revelations have suggested a gaping difference between the “official” output from land under Temporary Occupation Licences, and the actual tonnage of produce harvested from the highlands.

The New Straits Times was made to understand that some 500,000 tonnes of farm produce, from three harvests, are exported from the highlands each year. This is all supposedly from farms under TOLs. Income derived from these exports is in the region of a whopping RM1.5 billion a year.

Agricultural experts and authorities told the NST that the kind of tonnage coming out of Cameron Highlands would have been from at least 5,300ha of farmland.

However, official documents suggest that only some 2,000 TOLs were issued for agriculture in the highlands, covering an area of roughly 2,000ha.

The number of state-issued TOLs for Cameron Highlands in 2003 was 1,843. By 2012, it had increased to 2,041. Each licence is roughly for a tract of land between 0.8ha and 1.6ha. Illegally expanded farms are a different story.

The output of farm produce from 2,000ha of land in Cameron Highlands, according to agricultural experts, should logically be in the region of 180,000 tonnes a year, if harvested three times annually.

“Unless the officially allowed acreage for TOL land cultivation had been expanded by 3,300ha (from 2,000ha to tally with the output of produce from 5,300ha of farm land) since 2012, it is rather perplexing to see so much produce coming out of legal cultivation.

“Just how do you explain the difference in tonnage? Where did the rest come from? I think we all know the answer,” said the expert.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry’s Horticulture Division director Normah Othman told the NST that records showed that 50 per cent of the farm produce from Cameron Highlands were exported to Singapore.

“The up to 500,000 tonnes of produce that comes from Cameron Highlands we are talking about are all from TOL land. For every kilogramme of farm produce, the average profit is RM3,” she said.

If basic calculations are anything to go by, greedy and unscrupulous farmers have been laughing all the way to the bank, with some RM890 million every year, thanks to the dubiously sourced produce tonnage.

This latest revelation has also prompted stronger calls for a thorough audit of official data of land approved for cultivation under TOLs against farming currently being carried out in the highlands.

Malaysian Institute of Integrity Datuk Dr Mohd Tap Salleh said only by doing so would the authorities know the extent of the damage that irresponsible farmers had done.

“The institute welcomes the positive response from the state government to the suggestion by NST for a full land audit to be carried out.

“We also welcome the National Audit Department’s response that they would soon send their auditors for the purpose,” he said.

The NST had been running a series of issues besieging Cameron Highlands.

Among others, it had exposed the existence of a highly-confidential document known to those in business in the highlands as surat kuning. This “recommendation letter” is usually sent to the district office by influential figures.

This newspaper then called for a thorough audit of the highlands’ administration, including the issuance of land development permits, if the state was serious in arresting the ongoing land encroachment problem in the highlands.

Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob responded to the NST, agreeing to an audit that would cross-check the development of land against what had been set in the highlands’ development plan.

He said in the district’s planning, land-use categories had been pre-identified and marked and that “all development programmes needed to tally with the plan”.

In his statement, he denied that the surat kuning from palace officials, was among the root causes of problems that Cameron Highlands was facing, saying that it was only normal for many applicants to get testimonials and recommendations from whom they think could lend support to their applications.

He said testimonials and recommendations from all, including palace officials, were looked into, but in the end, it would be the state authorities who would decide, based on merit.

The NST has learnt that the issuance of new TOLs has been frozen since 2001.
Bukan berlakun 

It does not take too long to unravel the real culprit.

Today, NST publish a report that MACC probe the black sheep. What black sheep? Will it mean the black sheep of the royal family?

The black sheep identified must be but one Tengku's name that kept cropping up. Not another Tengku Wong but the one whose usual nicname to such a name is associated with a one time hot young male singer. His late wife was a popular singer too.

Many Pahang princes marry celebrities. So it could be anyone. However, no one dare to openly mention the singing Tengku's name because he has connections with the unsavory world.

Sultan Ahmad Shah must mean business for taking the trouble to come to Cameron Highland. His highness will not have the palace name smeared because of some black sheep. The paper reported today of his majesty insist on the farmers to return the government land back.

His highness is unlike other royalties. Ini bukan berlakun (this is not an act). So it should not have anything beyond what is seen.

Talking of the public images of royals, it reminded us of one Sultan with a state capital along the East Coast. One former Deputy Minister delivered a speech and mentioned of a plan to upgrade certain institutions. He was then summonned to the palace. It seems the Sultan kept abreast of news.

The royal highness was also sharp in his assessment. The Deputy Minister was commended for the effort planned by the Ministry. Without mincing his words, his majesty said, "Awak mesti perlu bina macam-macam untuk tujuan ini. Projek ini kasi saya ... Kita share."

His highness had no shame.

Tasteless politics

While all the stuff was making it's way in the newspaper, one politician reported to distastefully take political advantage of the incident today.

He cannot see beyond what was happening but decided to take potshot at Cameron Highlands MP, Dato G Palaneivel. Bulldozers lack foresight to see things beyond their sight.

Give him a break.

He is only a year as MP there and is busy with his other duties as Minister and MIC President. While he is what he is, it was not his fault. He has neither the power nor the authority to stop this from happening.

Surely he should be seen there and make his face available in the midst of a crisis. That is the least he should do. Although he claim to take care of his constituency, this crisis might cost his seats.

And he would not want to be another MIC president to lose his Parliamentary seats.

Damn if I do

The Protasco boardroom tussle could be more than meet the eyes on many aspects.

Dato Chong Ket Peng has yet to lay out his own money trail in his various accusations toward Tey Por Yee and Ooi Kock Aun. Maybe there is more than meets the eye than his unsubstantiated accusations.

He could be holding back his information till the right moment. Most likely he will bare open his accusation on the day of the November 26th EGM. Tey Por Yee and Ooi Kock Aun could be made stunned without well articulated explanation to tell shareholders.

Being young and straight forward characters, Tey and Ooi could easily be irritable towards lies and fabrications. They lack the experience and the control on their feelings and expressions. The elderly Chong may have the exterior of being decent and composed but sometimes when it warrants, they may lie too. It is easier to believe him and his team.

However, being brash and straightforward young men, Tey and Ooi may be as WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and has nothing to hide. It is Chong that is lying.

Then there is also the possibility that Chong dare not be as confrontational for fear of something else. There could be a bigger picture hidden from the public eyes that could unveil itself should it becomes a full blown court case.

Holding back 

Protasco mainstay is in construction and road maintenance.

It is not difficult to find out to the going-ons in public construction works. The walls in the industry do speak and the trail can be made as to know what happened inside.

Was that why Chong could not appoint Tey as Executive Director as agreed? He was supposed to be appointed Executive Director 2 years ago but till only recently he was only appointed as independent Director.

However, Protasco already claimed PT ASU as their subsidiary in their Annual Report. So what could be the real reason for holding back Tey's appointment as Executive Director?

They went into oil and gas industry and show the Indonesian company as part of their corporate structure but yet to hire anyone with the experience in oil and gas. The logical explanation could be they will commit once the deal is completed.

However, as an ongoing concern, PT ASU cannot wait but continue to move on. Something is more than meet the eyes. 

On the line

In the whole world, construction is known to be the most corrupted industry in the world. Prostitution is commonly mentioned as the oldest profession and not the most immoral profession.

The presence of Tan Sri Hadenan Abdul Jalil lend credence to Protasco as construction based company. So no one would suspect that there is more than meet the eyes in the company.

Though not strong in business reporting, the conflict of interest to Hadenan in the boardroom tussle could even be spotted by Utusan Malaysia:

Kedudukan Hadenan dalam Protasco jadi tanda tanya
20 November 2014 3:04 AM

KUALA LUMPUR 19 Nov. – Kedudukan Tan Sri Dr. Hadenan Abdul Jalil sebagai Pengerusi Protasco Berhad (Protasco) menimbulkan persoalan dalam kalangan sesetengah pihak apabila syarikat tersebut menghadapi krisis di peringkat pengurusan tertinggi.

Persoalan timbul apabila pihak yang bertelagah di dalam syarikat itu dikatakan perlu merujuk kes tersebut kepada Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) mengenai dakwaan wujud salah laku membabitkan pengurusan syarikat terbabit.

Apa yang menimbulkan persoalan pihak terbabit ialah kedudukan Hadenan selaku Pengerusi Panel Penilaian Operasi SPRM dan status beliau tersebut dikhuatiri boleh menimbulkan konflik kepentingan selain aspek soal integriti urus tadbir korporat.

Kemelut dalam Protasco timbul setelah Pengarah Bukan Eksekutifnya, Tey Por Yee dilaporkan memfailkan tindakan mahkamah bagi pihak dan kepentingan syarikat untuk menuntut semula wang sebanyak RM10 juta daripada Pe­ngarah Urusan, Datuk Seri Ir. Chong Ket Pen yang didakwa diperolehnya secara rahsia daripada urus niaga pembelian 68 peratus saham syarikat minyak dan gas Indonesia, PT ASI.

Krisis tersebut berpanjangan apabila Protasco pula dilaporkan bertindak balas dengan memfailkan tindakan mahkamah ke atas Por Yee dan seorang lagi Pengarah syarikat itu, Ooi Kock Aun pada 22 September lalu kerana didakwa melanggar kewajipan fidusiari membabitkan tuntutan ganti rugi sebanyak AS$27 juta (RM88 juta) atas penipuan dan konspirasi dalam urus niaga pembelian saham sebuah syarikat minyak dan gas Indonesia, PT ASI.

Tidak cukup dengan itu, syarikat dilaporkan turut membuat laporan polis ke atas Por Yee dan Kok Aun yang dikatakan mahu mengadakan mesyuarat agung luar biasa (EGM) dijadual 28 November ini bagi menyingkirkan Chong.

Krisis dikatakan semakin panas apabila Chong pula dilaporkan memanggil EGM pada 26 November ini, bagi menyingkirkan ke­dua-dua seterunya itu.
If he decide the wrong way, he could be putting Chong on the chopping block even though he thinks it is the proper or decisive way. Either way, Chong could get his head chopped. It is a matter of short term or long term.

There must be something more than meet the eyes when a group led by two young men spent RM97 million worth of shares but ended up being accused of stealing RM50 million. If was RM2 million spent to steal RM55 million, people could believe without batting an eye.

Even for the target of controlling the company, not with purchasing 17%.


Anonymous said...

To quote Shakespeare, There is something rotten in the State of Denmark !'

Anonymous said...

Adnan Yaacob is suing Utusan for RM15 mil. Why RM15, not RM40 or RM100?

There must be more than meets the eye

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