Nor Mohamed Yakcop never contacted me about UEM

From Ali Abdul Kadir, Free Malaysia Today

A letter by Halim Saad published on Oct 6, 2022 mentioned my name.

There’s no rest for former regulators, it would seem.

I felt that l should clarify my involvement as the Securities Commission (SC) chair on the matter, to protect the good work being done by SC.

I just wish to confirm herewith that I never received any call from Nor Mohamed Yakcop on any matter regarding UEM Berhad.

In fact, we had only called each other a few times during my five-year tenure. If he did indeed call and speak to somebody, it was certainly not me, and I am very sure that it was not to somebody in SC either as no one reported so to me.

Furthermore, Nor Mohamed knew fully well that the SC would not do something that would deprive minority shareholders of their rights as the put price on Halim was higher than the market price at that time.

What I do remember clearly was that I was alerted by one of my colleagues that the UEM board had cancelled the put price on Halim. I could not see the logic of that action, and I wanted to find out if what was done by the UEM board was done on their own initiative and why it was done without reference to the shareholders’ views.

I instructed the whole UEM board to be invited to a meeting at SC, so that we could hear from them directly the reason for their action.

I knew most of the UEM directors who met with me that day, including Robert Lim who was my partner from our time in Lim Ali & Co and successive firms till my retirement from practice when the firm was part of Ernst & Young.

Another director was Syed Amin Aljeffri, a practising chartered accountant with his own firm and who was one year my senior at Victoria Institution. While I respected them, I had a job to do.

The session was ineffective in my view. I personally questioned the directors and they steadfastly confirmed that they had acted of their own volition and were not instructed to do so by an outside party.

In doing my job, I lost a friend, as I heard later that Syed Amin’s health deteriorated and I was told that in his last writings, he held the view that I had harangued him as a UEM director.

For that, I apologise to his family. One of the hazards of being a regulator is the possibility of losing one’s friends, as I recall my late father Abdul Kadir Yusof, who is a former attorney-general, telling me.

It should be appreciated that the ’97-98 crisis years had caused a loss of confidence in the capital market and the stock market dropped by 80%. Efforts were made by my predecessor Munir Majid to strengthen the rules and it was my duty, having accepted the responsibility, to continue the effort.

Confidence could not be restored that easily if the same loopholes, weaknesses and perpetrators were still around. The SC needed to close the loopholes, tighten the rules and implement stricter laws.

Capital market constituents at that time understood the need for stricter rules, but 20 years later a few have forgotten and are complaining about it, sigh!

l am very proud to see how our capital market has grown to date. It was worth our sacrifice, even if people forget after two decades what we went through to pick up the pieces after the financial crises.

Ali Abdul Kadir was the Securities Commission chairman from March 1999 to February 2004