I am writing to challenge MP Shahrir Samad who is chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and the Backbenchers Club (BBC) and the rest of Umno MPs and senators to stop something that is going to happen soon, which makes a mockery of Pak Lah's government policy of transparency, ethics, etc.
It is the proposed merger between ECM Libra and Ministry of Finance-linked financial services company, Avenue Capital, to form a new investment bank. The two entities signed an agreement on Jan 19, and ECM Libra executive chairman Kalimullah Hassan has already announced that his company expects the merger to create a complete investment bank with capital of more than RM500 million by July this year.
I hope former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will also take notice of this, check the facts and raise hell with his successor. Also, what say the Securities Commission and the Bank Negara about this?
I hope nobody or no agency will act as midwives to this nasty affair which, I am sure, will erode further Pak Lah's credibility as a sincere man. This is a clear case of conflict of interest or even nepotism and cronyism. The prime minister is also the finance minister and the second finance minister Nor Mohamad Yaakob is also a friend of Kalimullah.
And that is not all. The clincher is Khairy Jamaluddin, who was granted a loan by ECM Libra a couple of months ago to buy a three-per cent stake in the company, is also the son-in-law of the prime minister. Khairy who now has a regular column in the New Straits Times describes himself as an investment banker. Kalimullah who recently stepped down as NST's group editor in chief, remains its deputy chairman.
As a Malaysian citizen who is still giving a lot of the benefit of the doubt to this new prime minister, I am quite amazed to see that he could not see the immoral side of this deal, and perhaps would even personally allow it to go through.
I don't wish to dwell on whether Avenue, being a government company, is being given proper market value. Ideally, if Avenue is to be disposed off, it should go to outfits not connected with the PM and his son-in-law.
I can't help comparing this to George W Bush and Dick Cheney dishing all the lucrative contracts in Iraq to their friends and cronies. So what else is new?
I would urge Shahrir and other MPs to table a private member's bill to stop this deal from going through. Over time, Pak Lah himself will thank them for taking such action, or else his name will go down as a prime minister worse than his predecessors.