KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12, 2014

Former Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his blog,Chedet, today said privatisation might not save Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

At the same time, Dr Mahathir took a swipe at Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, holding the latter responsible for Khazanah Nasional Berhad, which may buy up the remaining 30% of the airline that it does not yet own.
“Khazanah, I believe, is a Government company, or at least a Government controlled company. The CEO reports to the Prime Minister and usually acts on the direction of the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister personifies the Government. If a company is fully acquired by a Government company, is it privatisation or nationalisation?” asked Mahathir.
Although he admitted that a company that is fully owned by one entity was a private company, Dr Mahathir asked if it could be considered as private, if that entity was the Government.
“I believe prior to this privatisation, Khazanah owned 70% of MAS shares. Its control over MAS must be almost absolute. None of the minority shareholders can really say ‘No’ to MAS even if they all act together.
“So Khazanah has been in full control of MAS all this time. And all this time MAS has been bleeding profusely. In 10 years it has lost 10 billion Ringgit in terms of capital injection.
“So why should anyone believe that with 100% control Khazanah will not keep on losing.”
MAS’ situation, he warned, might degrade further without checks and concerned criticism provided by minority shareholders.
Dr Mahathir explained that in true privatisation, fear of losing money on the part of a private owner would force the individual to scrutinise the management and check the balance sheets frequently. The Government as the owner, he said, would be less concerned.
The former Prime Minister then leveled criticism at the ruling Government’s spending habits, saying it was about spending money which it could recuperate by increasing taxes or borrowing money.
“The way money is being spent nowadays doesn’t indicate the kind of careful financial management and scrutiny that MAS would require in order to turn around.
“Once when a new CEO was appointed, MAS registered some profit. But that was through selling assets. How much more assets can MAS sell?
“Catering was given to a company with very long term contract and even as MAS loses money the contractors seems to be doing well. A Government company will not be able to terminate this unusual contract. It is too sensitive. Someone might advice against it.”
In admitting that he had a bad record during his 22 years as Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir pointed out that he had stepped down in the end and he had “failed” but lamented that no one wanted to follow his example.
Taking one last swipe at Khazanah, Dr Mahathir alleged that only a few people would reap benefits if it bought MAS.
“I may be wrong but I think Khazanah’s 100% ownership of MAS will not be much different from its 70% ownership.
“We are going to see a lot of new people who will receive huge salaries, allowances and bonuses and not much else. That I believe is how Khazanah operates.”
As of publication, The Rakyat Post has not received response from Khazanah.
source : the rakyat post