Read my lips: ‘arah’ means ‘advice’ (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

First read the Malaysiakini news report below. Then read the copy of the ‘surat arahan’ or ‘advisory letter’ below it that Nazri is talking about. ‘Arah’ may mean ‘directive’ or ‘instruct’ to those of you who do not speak Bahasa Malaysia well enough. But it means ‘advice’ to those like Ministers who do. This is what we call ‘lost in translation’.


Raja Petra Kamarudin


Nazri: I didn’t instruct the GLCs, I only advised them

Hafiz Yatim, Malaysiakini

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz has admitted that he sent a letter to government-linked companies (GLCs) on Aug 8 over a settlement with former Malaysia Airlines chairperson Tajudin Ramli, but denied instructing them to drop their suits against the tycoon.

Nazri said he made the move in his capacity as de facto law minister, and it came on the heels of moves by Tajudin over the past several months to come to a settlement with the government over the companies’ suits against him.

It was therefore not compulsory for the companies to settle their suit, but it was conveyed to them that it was advisable, given the possible scenarios the new situation had presented, said Nazri.

The alternative was for the GLCs to further slug it out with Tajudin, without a guarantee as to when it would be resolved.

“Tajudin had been in contact with us for the past six months, proposing a settlement.

“I wrote to the GLCs after gaining approval from Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, and as a law minister to the effect, as this case has been going on for so long – six years,” Nazri told Malaysiakini when contacted.

He said it was “not necessary” for the GLCs to follow his advice, as it was up to them to decide based on what they deemed to be in their best interests.

“If they feel they can win, they can continue with fighting the suit. As a legal entity, they have the right to make their own decisions.

“I only wrote to them to remind them Tajudin had approached (the government) with a view to settle, and I merely asked them to look into it,” he said.

The minister said further that the court cases could drag on without an assurance of victory for any party.

“Let’s say this case goes into trial, it will take another five to six years and on appeal. It may (even) take another 10 years. We do not know whether the suit will go our way or in favour of Tajudin. Hence, that is why the out-of-court settlement was proposed.

“However, if we settle, it must not be at an additional cost to the government. We do not want a payout,” he said, admitting that some of the GLCs, like MAS, were in a bad shape.

Earlier today, former deputy prime minister-turned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim questioned Nazri’s actions in writing to the GLCs.

Instructions to GLCs to drop their legal suits should come from the finance ministry, not Nazri, said Anwar.

Some GLCs upset

It is learnt several GLCs had disapproved of a settlement as some of them had already obtained summary judgments against Tajudin, who some said had provided a weak defence.

Some familiar with the case said such a move would not go well with the principle of corporate governance as GLCs were still public limited companies. The law requires the board of directors of these companies to decide.

It is not for someone outside the company to issue directives, and some even questioned how someone could direct a company to withdraw lawful suits.

It is learnt that Tajudin took loans from several financial institutions, totalling in excess of RM1 billion, which some alleged he was not able to repay when he took over MAS, resulting in the on-going suits.

Asked about this, Nazri said the GLCs have to look at the context that they were faced with counter-suits by Tajudin.

On the surface, the minister pointed out, when you get a summary judgment it means you win without a trial and that is just on the surface.

“However, on appeal it may go for a full trial and there is no way of telling who will be victorious. But I stress, it is upto the GLCs,” he said.

Nazri also explained that the matter came before Federal Court judge Justice Md Raus Sharif today, who was upset that the case had taken so long. Raus is the managing judge for the commercial division.

That is why, Nazri said, there was this proposed settlement.

“If nothing can be worked out by Sept 29, which is supposed to be the last date, the matter may go for a full trial,” he said, adding that between now and then, the parties concerned could discuss the matter.

Not afraid of skeletons in closet?

Asked whether the suggestion for a settlement was because the government was afraid of skeletons coming out of the closet if it were to go into full trial as there was a potential number of former VVIPs being involved, Nazri denied such a notion.

“Actually, we (the government) are not afraid if the case goes for trial,” he said, without elaborating further.

In Tajudin’s counter-claim, he alleged that he had been instructed by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad to take over MAS and this was against his will.

His defence is mainly about doing national service and that there was a conspiracy to get him to fail.

Nazri’s letter comes on the heels of questionable actions taken by the minister and government, such as the replacement of lawyers who had been involved in the case for the past five or six years.

It is learnt four to five well-known legal firms acting on behalf of the GLCs in their suits against Tajudin and on the counter-claims he filed have been replaced by the Putrajaya-based law firm of Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak, which is well known among legal circles to be aligned to Umno.

According to sources, some of the GLCs are not happy that Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak had called them up and showed them the letter, directing them to transfer all files to that firm.

“Never in history has there been a case where lawyers direct their clients to appoint them,” a senior lawyer said.


Translated into Chinese at: