How Tun M Helped Shahidan Kassim To Acquire The Bernas Cash Cow – RM25 Million Per Year In Directors Fees & Dividends And Sell His Stake At RM 400 Million

Anwar said Syed Mokhtar had bought 31% of the company’s shares from Tan for about RM800 million and Shahidan’s stakes at RM400 million

How the Shahidan clan acquired the Bernas cash cow

Lembaga Padi Negara or LPN was privatised about eight years ago into what is known today as Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas). -brings in a turnover of almost RM2 billion per annum and profits averaging about RM80 million per year.

Bernas made a pre-tax profit of RM60 million on a turnover of RM1.76 billion. No doubt the company could argue that this is a drop of 54% from the figure of RM128 million the year before that. Nevertheless, the ‘suffering’ Bernas still saw fit to pay its Directors RM4 million in salaries and its shareholders RM21 million in dividends. That’s RM25 million in all.

Though it is supposed to be a public company, Bernas is very much controlled by one family, that of the Menteri Besar of Perlis, Shahidan Kassim.

Shahidan was then the Member of Parliament for Arau, Perlis, the Chairman of Parliament’s Back Benchers Club (BBC), Chairman of FAMA, Chairman of Yayasan MARA, Director of MARA, and many more. The then Menteri Besar of Perlis was Dr Hamid Pawanteh who was slotted for ‘retirement’ due some ‘indiscretions’ that was threatening to blow up if he continued as Menteri Besar.

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad summoned Shahidan and told him that he and Dr Hamid would have to switch jobs. Dr Hamid would be contesting the 1995 General Election on a Parliament seat while Shahidan would in turn take over his state seat. The reason being, Shahidan would have to take over as the next Menteri Besar of Perlis.

And this was what Shahidan discussed with the Prime Minister as revealed by one of his business partners whose company Shahidan was the Chairman of.

“Why should I want to be the Menteri Besar of Perlis?” asked Shahidan Kassim when I met him just before the 1995 General Elections. “What has Perlis got?”

“At least if I am Menteri Besar of Kedah that is something. Kedah is big. There are a lot of business opportunities there. Perlis is so small, it has nothing!”

“And that is what I told the PM,” said Shahidan. “I told him I am not interested in being the Perlis MB. I want to do business.”

“The PM was taken aback,” added Shahidan. “He asked me what business I wanted to do and I told him I wanted to take over the privatisation of Bernas.”

“The PM was puzzled. He told me he has offered me the Perlis MB’s post and I reject the offer. Other people would jump at the chance.”

“I told him I am more interested in getting rich,” laughed Shahidan.

“The PM said he will think about it and get back to me later. A few days later the PM told me that he will agree to me taking over Bernas if I agree to become the MB.”

“I asked the PM, how is this possible? The PM replied to leave that to him. He will clear it with the Cabinet. He will explain to the Cabinet that the Bernas deal is part of the terms for me accepting the MB’s post.”

And that was how Shahidan ended up with control of the privatised Bernas.

“Once I saw what they were going to do, I decided to quit,” explained a senior officer of LPN.

“I saw the move to privatise LPN as just one more move to make some people rich and I wanted nothing to do with it.”

“I spent practically my entire working life serving LPN. Our only mission in life was to serve the rice farmers and ensure that their welfare was well taken care of. But what they wanted to do to LPN is criminal. So I just left in disgust.”

“It’s not only what they wanted to do that was so wrong. It is also the people who were behind the whole exercise that was not right.”

“I personally know Shahidan so I know what type of person he is. He is just out to make money. And he was going to do so at the welfare of the rice farmers.”

Source : understanding malaysia

Bernas is supposed to ensure that Malaysia’s dependence on rice imports is reduced to 35% or less. This is to ensure that, in the event of a war or a major catastrophe in any of the rice exporting countries like Thailand, Vietnam, China, etc., Malaysia will not be starved of rice — reminiscent of WWII when Malayans then had to eat Tapioca.

Malaysia is the only rice producing country in South-East Asia that is highly dependent on rice imports. Malaysia is at a great security risk and all our neighbours have to do is to stop selling us rice and we will be brought to our knees. And Bernas’ role is to reduce this dependence.

But this is not happening. Instead, Bernas wants to transform itself into another Nestle rather than safeguard the needs of Malaysia’s rice consumers and padi farmers. If we want another Nestle there are many other trading giants that can play that role. Why must Bernas dabble in affairs it was not set up to be involve in?

By the way, out of curiosity, who are these people who are enjoying this RM25 million per year in Directors’ fees and dividends? Shahidan Kassim and his immediate family, are these beneficiaries.

Incidentally, they are attempting to sell off their stake in the company and may be hundreds of millions of Ringgit richer soon.

Bernas says that rice smuggling is crippling it. If making RM80 million per year is being crippled, then I don’t mind being crippled any time. Better being crippled with RM80 million in my pocket every year than walking upright but being broke to boot.

Source : Malaysia Today

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