(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Star reported today the announcement by the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Aziz Shamsuddin that the government would explain "in a week" about its RM1.79 billion buy-back of Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli's 29.09 per cent stake in MAS at the inflated price of RM8 per share, at a premium of RM4.32 or 117 per cent over market price at RM3.68 per share.
Aziz told reporters at the Universiti Technologi Mara (UiTM) in Shah Alam yesterday:
"Give us about a week. The information will help to correct the misinformation arising from the purchase."Why should the Government take another week before it could "tell all" to explain the outrageous buy-back of Tajudin's block of MAS shares by overpaying 117% the market price, when the government agreed to the deal some two months ago - completely without an independent professional valuation as admitted by Tajudin in his circular to Naluri shareholders.
Malaysians are still reeling from the shock of the RM7.79 billion bail-out of Tajudin Ramli and the two Light Rail Transit companies, PUTRA and STAR, announced in the last ten days of last year.
Is Aziz aware that with RM7.79 billion, Malaysia could have more than 10 universities immediately, or to provide annual scholarships or study loans to 300,000 students or to build low-cost housing to benefit over 200,000 people?
Aziz said that "the appropriate leader" would be making the announcement in a week's time about the details for the outrageous government RM1.79 billion buy-back bailout of Tajudin's MAS.
The government should give advance notice of this RM1.79 billion MAS buyback bailout "tell all" conference and invite those interested to attend to query the decision in accordance with the principles of accountablity and transpasrency.
Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin had said that the government's RM8 purchase price for each MAS share was arrived at on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis. However, the government should realise that it is acting on behalf of the Malaysian people who are not the "willing-buyer" in this case, as could be established in any opinion poll.
I for one would want to attend the government's "tell all" conference on the MAS deal, and I hope "the appropriate leader" would not run away from a full public accounting so as to convince Malaysians that the MAS deal is not another rip-off of public funds.