The authorities have been urged to conduct an investigation following business tycoon Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli’s exposé that he was forced to buy Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) shares at higher than market value by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
A seven-minute video which has since gone viral on social media, showed Tajudin saying that then-Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin had told him that he was not allowed to say “no” to the prime minister (Dr Mahathir) with regards with the purchase of the shares.
Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) president Datuk Azwanddin Hamzah said the revelation by Tajudin proves that Dr Mahathir was someone who did not no for an answer.
Azwanddin said Tajuddin’s exposé should be taken into serious consideration and serve as the basis for an investigation against both Dr Mahathir and Daim.
“This exposé should be taken as evidence to launch an investigation to establish whether there were any elements of abuse of power or graft involved in this case, as both individuals mentioned by Tajudin were in senior positions at the time.
“If Tajudin himself can reveal this openly, it shows that there were some suspicious elements involved in the deal. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission must look into this,” he said.
Azwanddin claimed it was common knowledge that Dr Mahathir usually made unilateral decisions without the approval of others.
“This applies not only in politics but also the economy,” claimed Azwanddin.
Azwanddin’s calls were echoed by Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM) secretary-general, Datuk Dr Hasan Mad, who said Dr Mahathir did not brook any dissent.
“Anyone who worked under Dr Mahathir, cannot go against him. They needed to follow every instruction and decision made by him. This was the reality of those who worked with him.
“A thorough investigation needs to be done based on Tajudin’s revelations.
“Personally, I was shocked when he revealed this since Tajudin was someone who was very close with both Tun Daim and Dr Mahathir. There must be a concrete reason why he chose to reveal this matter,” he said.
Tajudin related the episode of how Daim explained the matter to him.
“Back then MAS shares were not even RM3 (total market value RM600 million). I was coming back with Daim, the late (Tan Sri) Yahaya (Ahmad) and (Tan Sri) Ali Abul Hassan from Hatyai to meet the then-Prime Minister (Dr Mahathir).
“When we came back, I was asked to buy the shares at RM8. I said to Daim, ‘that it was too expensive’.
“I told him that I will not pay more than RM5, and that RM8 was too expensive, I cannot afford it. I said I will not be able to pay.
“After that, Daim just told me ‘You don’t say no to a PM’,” said Tajudin in the video.
In the video, Tajudin explained that he paid an extra of RM400 million in the transaction to purchase the shares, as instructed by Dr Mahathir.
Tajudin was reported to have purchased a controlling stake of 29 per cent in MAS in 1994 from the central bank, paying nearly twice the market price for the carrier.
Tajudin said that he only agreed to buy the stake for RM1.8 billion because Dr Mahathir and Daim had assured him that he would be absolved of all liabilities if the job to run the airline became too much.
In 2000, the government bought back MAS shares at RM8 a share, a reported 117 per cent above the market price.
Later in 2006, when Tajuddin was sued by Danaharta for RM589 million, he filed a countersuit against Danaharta, the government and several other companies and individuals for a total sum of about RM13 billion.
The suit involved transactions related to shares of MAS, Celcom (M) Bhd and Naluri Bhd, all companies that Tajudin was involved in back then.
Tajudin had claimed that both Dr Mahathir and Daim asked him to buy the airline shares at above the then-market price as a “national service” to help the government cover Bank Negara’s losses from foreign exchange dealings.
He said in the court case that the deal was disguised as an arm’s-length transaction because the government wanted it that way.
Tajudin was quoted as saying that he was taking legal action because the government allegedly reneged on an agreement to protect him from losses and liabilities.
Dr Mahathir later denied allegations that he had persuaded Tajudin to buy the airline to help bail out the central bank.
Source : NST