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BTS: Mokhzani Aimed To Shield Dad
By Eddie Toh

28/4/2001 10:11 pm Sat

[Mokhzani berundur untuk menyelamatkan Mahathir dari diserang dengan peluru nepotisma. Sudah tentu ada sebabnya beliau melakukannya sekarang - kerana perhimpunan agung nanti sudah semakin menjelang. Mahathir amat perlu menonjolkan kehebatannya untuk terus kekal menjadi presiden. Malah mungkin itu langkah mengejut untuk menurunkan kuasa presiden kepada seorang klon.

Mokhzani menafikan penglibatannya dalam projek RM1.2 bilion pusat perdagangan NECC baru di dalam hutan. Kamunting telah lama membolot kerja-kerja pembinaan bangunan kerajaan di Putrajaya melalui syarikat Putrajaya Perdana Sdn Bhd. Inilah syarikat yang diberitakan akan membina NECC. Pada 23/3/2001 lepas Mokhzani mengumumkan beliau memiliki 26.93% ekuiti dalam Kamunting - sekaligus menjadi pemegang saham terbesar. Ia dilakukan secara tidak langsung melalui Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O) dengan anak syarikat E&O, Dynamic Degree Sdn Bhd membeli 23.1% blok di Kamunting dengan harga RM127 juta atau 70 sen sesaham Julai lepas. Kepentingan Mohkzani dalam E&O dipegang melalui Avenue Assets Bhd, yang dikawal oleh Pantai.

Sila rujuk KM2 4069 - Editor]

The Business Times, Singapore
27th April 2001

Mokhzani's corporate retreat aimed at shielding dad

He wants to stem further allegations of nepotism against Dr M, the PM

By Eddie Toh

BUSINESSMAN Mokhzani Mahathir, the second son of Malaysia's prime minister, is adamant he would not return to the corporate world in a bid to shield his father from any further allegations of nepotism.

'I won't change my mind. This decision was not a whimsical one,' Mr Mokhzani told BT yesterday following his sudden decision to sell his entire business empire.

Late last night, Bernama reported Dr Mahathir, who is in Dubai on an official visit, as saying he was not aware of the decision made by his son to withdraw from the corporate world.

'I only heard this (the decision to opt out). I am in the dark, so I cannot comment. People say he made the decision to withdraw, no reason given,' he said when asked about Mr Mokhzani's decision.

Mr Mokhzani has sold his 28.7 per cent in flagship Tongkah Holdings and 65 per cent of Pantai Holdings to Lim Tong Yong, nicknamed 'Mr Clean' because of his control of listed soap maker, PAOS Corp. He has also stepped down from Avenue Assets, in which he has an indirect stake. Pantai owns 22.8 per cent of Avenue Assets, while Tongkah owns another 5.4 per cent.

Mr Mokhzani, 40, who is the treasurer of the youth wing of the dominant political party Umno, is estimated to have received more than RM145 million from the deals. This is based on the price tag of RM2.80 for the Pantai shares. The transaction price of the Tongkah stake was not disclosed. The stake is worth RM26.5 million based on Tongkah's price of 56 sen on Thursday.

However, he would have suffered a loss from the disposal as he is believed to have acquired the stakes at higher prices.

His shares were worth over RM1 billion a few years ago, but the regional financial crisis took a toll on his two companies. Tongkah turned to the national debt arbitrator Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee for help.

Mr Mokhzani had earlier told BT that he and his father, Mahathir Mohamad, had been unfairly accused.

Mr Mokhzani cited the Opposition's claim that Dr Mahathir has awarded a RM1.2 billion contract to him to build a convention centre in Subang.

However, he was not involved in the bid as it was Kamunting that had tendered for the project. The contract has not been awarded yet.

Mr Mokhzani does not have a direct interest in Kamunting but Avenue Assets owns 16 per cent of Eastern & Oriental, a substantial shareholder of Kamunting.

Mr Mokhzani said he will now concentrate on party work.

'I will have more time to fulfil my responsibilities as Umno youth treasurer and others,' he said. y0427112214.mv5v5wks.txt

Resignation of Mahathir's son gives stock market a boost

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 (AFP) - The decision by the second son of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to quit the business world helped boost Malaysia's stock market Friday.

Mokhzani announced late Thurday he was quitting business because of false allegations of favouritism which tarnished his and his father's names.

"Lately there have been many wild allegations linking me with government projects or mega-projects which are not true and I feel this is an irresponsible move to tarnish my name and that of my father's," he said.

Mokhzani has resigned as chief executive officer of Pantai Holdings and executive chairman of Tongkah Holdings and sold his stake in both firms. He said he would also sell holdings in all other locally listed companies.

Dealers said the news was seen positively as a sign Malaysia is improving poor perceptions about the way it does business. The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange composite index ended up 5.98 points at 585.87.

The new owner of Pantai, Lim Tong Yong, is the founder of soap-maker PAOS Holdings.

OSK Research manager Pankaj Kumar said speculation about Mokhzani's departure ranged from politics to pure business decision-making.

"Some will say it's because of politics, others will say he just wants out of the business scene," he told AFX-Asia, an AFP-owned financial newswire.

A senior analyst with a foreign brokerage said Mokhzani's move was unlikely to have a lasting impact on the market.

"If anything, it will improve (the senior) Mahathir's image. It will certainly remove the (nepotism) labellings," he said.

Mahathir's other two sons have also had business interests.

Mirzan, the eldest, in 1996 listed his shipping and logistics company Konsortium Perkapalan. Later that year it acquired Pacific Basin Bulk Shipping.

Youngest son Mukhriz has had interests in Reliance Pacific and Opcom Cables.

In July last year the premier defended his sons' business interests and said they did not benefit from favouritism.

He said it would be unrealistic to stop them being involved in business just because he is prime minister.

"I cannot say, look here, your father is prime minister, please be poor. You have to be realistic," Mahathir senior said.

The South China Morning Post, HK

27th April 2001

Nepotism claims lead PM's son to sell interests

IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur

A decision by Mokhzani Mahathir, a son of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, to quit the corporate scene because of "wild allegations" has highlighted the intensity of public interest in the business dealings of him and his two brothers.

Nepotism and cronyism have became major issues of political debate in Malaysia following the ousting of former Indonesian president Suharto and corruption allegations against his family.

The businessmen sons of Dr Mahathir have also become the subjects of critical comment and rumour at home and abroad, despite their business activities being modest compared with the Suhartos.

Mr Mokhzani announced his decision on Thursday after selling his shares in Pantai Holdings and Tongkah Holdings. Pantai, a health care group, has six hospitals operating through peninsular Malaysia. Tongkah owns subsidiaries engaged in stockbroking, manufacturing and quarrying.

He said the allegations, which linked him with government projects, were aimed at tarnishing his name and the name of his father.

The Prime Minister's son, who is assistant treasurer of the youth wing of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) - the dominant force in the ruling coalition - said his action was unrelated to Dr Mahathir's recent remark that very rich Malaysians should not be allowed to run for party posts.

"It has got nothing to do with that," he said. "People only look at the assets but don't see the liability."

The opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia recently charged in Parliament that a US$1.2 billion (HK$9.3 billion) construction contract had been awarded to a company in which Mr Mokhzani held an interest. He said the contract had not yet been awarded.

In 1998, as Malaysia plunged into recession, the opposition accused the Government of bailing-out a transport company owned by Mr Mokhzani's elder brother, Mirzan Mahathir, after its shipping assets were purchased by the national oil company Petronas, which comes under the Prime Minister's Department. Petronas said it was a practical commercial deal.

The youngest of the three businessmen, Mukhriz Mahathir, has steered clear of such controversy.

His main business vehicles are two companies - Reliance Pacific and Opcom Cables.

At the Umno general assembly in 1998, Dr Mahathir released lists of thousands of people who had benefited from the Government's privatisation schemes and affirmative action programmes, saying they showed that cronyism and nepotism were not major problems in Malaysia.

"Did I give all the projects to my children," he asked. "They are treated like everyone else."

He then referred to the economic activities of the leader's children in a "neighbouring country".

"National car, the clove monopoly, toll roads. Everything belongs to his children," Dr Mahathir said.

"That is surely nepotism or cronyism. But it is a different situation in Malaysia."