Malaysiakini News

Royal businesses - who is Daing A Malek?

Nigel Aw  |  Published:  |  Modified:

SPECIAL REPORT Over the last four days, Malaysiakini has looked at three major reclamation projects in southern Johor with a combined area that will be almost the size of Putrajaya.


These are the Benalec Holdings reclamation sites in Pengarang and Tanjung Piai for petroleum facilities and a maritime industrial park respectively, and Country Garden's reclamation off Tanjung Kupang for Forest City.


The Johor royal family has stakes in all these projects, be it Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ismail or the state's crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris.


However, the name of Daing A Malek Daing A Rahaman had repeatedly appeared as either director or shareholder in companies where the Johor royal family has interest.


Ask any politician in Johor about Daing A Malek ( right ), and they would associate him with the Johor  monarchy.


The man is widely reported to be a member of the Royal Court of Advisers to the Johor Sultan and a close friend of the current ruler and his father.


But Daing A Malek is no mere businessman - he is also an Umno politician  who has proven himself as  a capable adversary.


More than a just a businessman


In 2008, he led a faction to challenge then home minister Syed Hamid Albar for the leadership of Johor's the Kota Tinggi Umno division.


Daing A Malek obtained 13 nominations to Syed Hamid's 10, suggesting a stiff fight for the incumbent who had led the division since 1993.


The contest eventually degenerated into accusations and counter-accusations of bribery between the two factions and Daing A Malek was eventually found guilty of money politics by the party and barred from the contest.


However, he emerged as the new Kota Tinggi Umno division chief in 2013, winning the post uncontested upon Syed Hamid 's decision not to defend his position.


Daing A Malek's role in Umno highlights the dynamics of the Malay nationalist party in Johor and dismisses the simplistic notion of "Umno versus royalty".

The businessman-cum-politician is well-known among the Malay and Orang Asli villagers along the coast of southern Johor, particularly among the fishing community whose livelihood has been severely impacted by the ongoing reclamation projects.


"He told the fishermen not to oppose the reclamation project and that they would be given some compensation," said an environmental activist who has been working in the area since 2011.


The activist, who declined to be named, said this was conveyed to him by fishermen from at least two fishing villages located along the Johor Straits - in the Sungai Danga and Tanjung Kupang


What some fishermen may not know is that Daing A Malek has a personal stake in these projects.


A foot in royal businesses


According to Fisheries Statistics 2012 prepared by the Department of Fisheries Malaysia, there are 613 registered fishermen on the western side of Johor Bahru and another 615 registered on the eastern side.


Of them, 817 are bumiputera, 127 Chinese and 284 from the other races.


"Along the coast from Pendas to Tanjung Kupang, about a 10km  stretch, there are some 250 fishermen, mostly ethnic Malays, operating small boats  powered by outboard engines.


"The Forest City reclamation site is located just next to the coast," said the activist.


Daing A Malek is a director - and controls 15.6 percent of the shares - in Esplanade Danga 88 Sdn Bhd, which has a 34 percent stake in the Forest City project.


The controlling stake in Esplanade Danga 88, at 64.4 percent, is held by Sultan Ibrahim while state-owned Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) has the remaining 20 percent.


Likewise, in Spektrum Kukuh Sdn Bhd (SKSB) and Spektrum Budi Sdn Bhd (SBSB), in which Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris holds a 21 percent stake, Daing A Malek's stake is nine percent stake and is also a director in both companies.


SKSB and SBSB are the vehicles of Benalec Holdings for the reclamation of 1,410.3 hectares off the coast of Tanjung Piai and another 712.3 hectares of reclamation along the coast of Pengerang.


Also, in SIPP Energy Sdn Bhd in which Sultan Ibrahim controls a  stake of 51 percent, Daing A Malek's name again surfaces as a director and a substantial stakeholder with 24.5 percent of the shares.


SIPP Energy is part of the SIPP Power consortium, which was directly awarded Project 4A to build and operate a power plant with a capacity of 1,000 to 1,400 megawatts in the state.


However, the project is in limbo now, with YTL International Power Bhd withdrawing from the consortium after coming under pressure over the way the project was granted, without an open tender.


From monarch to tycoon


Sultan Ibrahim has attracted much attention in the last year, especially after selling 47 hectares of prime land in Johor Bahru to China-based Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd for RM4.5 billion in December last year.


The area is not far from a massive waterfront land bank in south-central Johor Bahru, owned by tycoon Lim Kang Ho's Iskandar Waterfront Holdings. Sultan Ibrahim has described Lim as a business partner.


This came in the wake of  the ruler's purchase of a 15 percent stake in MOL AccessPortal (MOL) for RM396 million and 20 percent for that of  Berjaya Times Square Sdn Bhd for RM250 million.


Earlier this month, Sultan Ibrahim finally conducted the groundbreaking ceremony for Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd, which is commencing development on the multi-billion ringgit land it purchased from the monarch, which has now been dubbed as "Princess Cove".


During the event, the ruler thanked the company's willingness to invest in Johor and said it would change the landscape of the state and create job opportunities.


Since the land sale, there has been speculation that Sultan Ibrahim may be involved in the subsequent development.


A Companies Commission of Malaysia search on Guangzhou R&F Properties’ Malaysian subsidiary, R&F Development Sdn Bhd, revealed that it is wholly owned by Profit Range Holding Ltd, based in the British Virgin Islands.


Profit Range Holding is in turn owned by R&F Properties (HK) Company Ltd, which is in turn  is wholly owned by Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd.





Part 1: The case of Forest City and the Johor sultan      


Part 2: Johor crown prince a top millionaire at age 30        


Part 3: Of reclamation, sand and the royal company


Part 4: Royal businesses - who is Daing A Malek?

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