RM840 million for Tajudin Ramli and previous RM12 billion double bailouts

Lim Kit Siang

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should present a White Paper to Parliament when it reconvenes on March 12 to present the government case to justify a third bailout of RM840 million for former Malaysian Airlines (MAS) chairman Tajudin Ramli – as well as reasons for the previous RM12 billion double bailouts for Tajudin.

The latest round of bailout revolves around the out-of-court settlement of Tajudin’s RM589 million debts which Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd had obtained in a Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment in December 2009.

The Minority Shareholders Watchdog Group (MSWG) described the judgment as probably the largest sum awarded in Malaysian legal history and computed that the total amount would have ballooned to RM840 million as the judgment allows Danaharta to charge an interest of two per cent over the base lending rate on the outstanding sum from Jan 1, 2006.

It raised questions all Malaysians are asking and which must be answered by the Prime Minister in Parliament, viz:

·      What could have prompted Danaharta not to exercise its legal right to collect the outstanding amount?

·      Why the government resorted to an out-of-court settlement despite winning the case in court?

The government write-off of RM840 million judgment debt due from Tajudin would at least be the third bailout of Tajudin using public funds, the first time involving RM1.8 billion bailout of Tajudin in December 2000 paying RM8.00 per share for his 29 per cent stake in MAS or more than double its market price then; and the second bailout in taking over the some RM10 billion losses suffered by MAS after Tajudin’s take over from 1994-2000.

What public interests could Najib plead to justify a third bailout for Tajudin?

It is time for Najib to come clean with Parliament and the nation whether there is any truth to Tajudin’s claim that he was directed by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainudin in 1994 to buy a controlling stake in MAS to bail out the government as a “national service” – to partly “bail out” Bank Negara from its RM30 billion foreign exchange scandal in 1992/1993 – and that there was an “Overriding Agreement” to indemnify him against any losses suffered.

Is it because what Tajudin was the truth despite the denial by Mahathir that was the reason for the series of Tajudin bailouts, including the current third Tajudin bailout of RM840 million?

If Tajudin’s claim is baseless, as asserted by Mahathir, then Tajudin had committed perjury in making a false affidavit. Why then had no criminal action been instituted against Tajudin?

Whatever the truth, Parliament and the country are entitled to know the facts especially on why the Government of Malaysia has to embark on further billion-ringgit bailouts of Tajudin after the RM12 billion double bail-outs after the disastrous six-year “privatisation” of MAS to Tajudin from 1994-2000!