|Laman Webantu KM2A1: 4712 File Size: 6.4 Kb *|
AWSJ: Investors Try To Gauge Daim's Exit
By Cris Prystay
13/6/2001 4:45 pm Wed
[Penganalisis sedang memerhati siapakah nanti yang bakal
dilantik sebagai Menteri Kewangan. Kalaulah Daim yang dijanjikan
bebas mengemudi ekonomi dulu dicampuri apakah orang baru nanti
akan bebas bertindak lagi? Kata-kata dan janji yang molok-molok
sudah tidak diperduli lagi tetapi bukti kesungguhan dan ketelusan
yang lebih diperhati. Mahathir diramalkan akan memilih seseorang
yang boleh menaikkan imej politiknya kerana inilah yang menentukan
hidup matinya kariernya. Pemesatan ekonomi akan membuat ramai lupa
mereka yang teraniaya - khususnya masyarakat peniaga. Kita meramalkan
yang terlantik adalah robot yang dikawal juga akhirnya jika tidak
Mahathir sendiri yang menjawatnya.
By Cris Prystay
KUALA LUMPUR -- The resignation of finance minister Daim
Zainuddin has caused international investors who avoided Malaysia
for months to sit up and take notice. But fund managers said they
want to know who the new finance minister will be and whether
that person will effect real change before they'll take a closer
look at Kuala Lumpur's stock market. Tun Daim resigned on June 1
after weeks of speculation that a growing rift with Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad would force him from the finance
portfolio. Dr. Mahathir said he would assume the finance post
until a successor is found for Tun Daim, who also resigned as
treasurer of the Dr. Mahathir's United Malays National
It could be a pivotal political event in a market that is plagued
by a weakening economy, concerns over poor corporate governance,
and a series of state-backed rescues of debt-ridden and listed
companies run by well-connected businessmen. People close to the
two politicians said several controversial Daim-endorsed
corporate bailouts helped sour the relationship between the
former finance minister and Dr. Mahathir, who faces growing
discontent with his 20-year rule from both the opposition and
within his own party.
Investors said Tun Daim's exit could indicate the government will
push ahead with economic reforms and stop state-backed rescues
within Malaysia's debt-heavy corporate sector. But they said they
need tangible evidence of change before they'll beef up anemic
Malaysia weightings in their investment portfolios.
"Seeing is believing in Malaysia," Christopher Wood, Asian
equities strategist of ABN Amro, said in a recent report. The
stock market barely budged on news of Tun Daim's resignation,
which "shows that foreign investors are almost completely out of
the market and will want to see positive proof of change before
they return," he said.
Investors are watching closely to see who is named finance
minister - something the prime minister appears to be in no rush
to do. On June 11, Dr. Mahathir told reporters he needed time to
select a candidate, and said that any new minister must be
"clean" without being controversial.
"At the end of the day, who it is and how that person is
perceived is the most important thing," said Winnie Lee, chief
investment officer at Parvest Asset Management in Hong Kong. Ms.
Lee said Malaysian investments comprises a steadily shrinking
proportion of her regional funds' allocation, but said she's
keeping close tabs on this issue. "If he continues with the sort
of close, party-related business policies we've seen, then
nothing is gained."
Some fund managers worry that Dr. Mahathir could hang onto the
portfolio himself, a move that could indicate a bid to
consolidate his hold on the country as he fights to shore up
political power. But any attempt to centralize power could
increase the country's political-risk rating, giving investors
wary of this market even more pause.
"It's a combination of a higher level of political risk,
deteriorating macro risk and the classic old problem in Malaysia
that the majority of big index stocks are just unattractive,"
said Adrian Mowat, a director with Edinburgh-based Martin Currie
Investment Management, which has no Malaysian holdings in any of
its regional funds.
Dr. Mahathir has watched support for his government continue to
wane since 1998 when he fired his former deputy prime minister,
Anwar Ibrahim, who was later convicted and jailed on s###my and
corruption charges. A spate of Finance Ministry-led rescue plans,
including the 1.8 billion ringgit ($473.7 million) purchase of a
controlling stake in Malaysian Airlines from a businessman close
to Tun Daim, and the acquisition of shares in a
telecommunications unit of Renong, a company with historical
links to United Malays National Organization party, drew
criticism from his own party members as well as opposition
politicians and market investors.
A few weeks before Tun Daim resigned, Dr. Mahathir, who denies
any fall-out with his former minister, said the government would
"review" a 1.85 billion ringgit rescue plan for two privatized
But many investors remain skeptical over whether Dr. Mahathir can
edge away from the deals struck under Tun Daim.
"Mahathir is quite clearly fighting for his political life,
trying to distance himself from some of these business problems,"
said William Pitman, a fund manager at Henderson Global Investors
in Singapore. "But we all know that Daim and Mahathir have been
very close for a long time. Whether they can be separated, I
Mr. Wood, at ABN Amro, said investors also worry that political
priorities will continue to distract Dr. Mahathir from strategic
economic problems, such as a loss of manufacturing
competitiveness to China. "Investors are right to wait for
evidence of change, not talk of it."
(END) Dow Jones Newswires 12-06-01