(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The 10-year Capital Market Masterplan launched by the Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin last Thursday had a dampening effect on the Kuala Lumpur stockmarket, as registered by the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) declines on Friday and today as it failed to address pressing investor concerns pertaining to corporate governance, greater transparency and disclosure policy and the protection of minority interests.
The Capital Market Masterplan was unable to inspire public confidence badly dented by a slew of corporate shenanigans reeking with cronyism, bad corporate governance and the sacrifice of the interests of minority shareholders like the restructuring of Renong-UEM, the "bailout" buying of 29.09% MAS equity by the Government at RM 8 per share while the market value was RM 3.68, the RM 6 billion government bailout of two Light Rail Transit companies, STAR and PUTRA followed by the RM1.4 billion Time dotCom IPO undersubscription, with no assurance that government-linked funds and agencies like EPF, SOCSO, Tabung Haji will not be forced to take up the shortfall.
All that the 10-year Capital Market Masterplan evinces is that the Barisan Nasional government has the political will to talk about corporate governance in the unforseeable future, but no political will to institute corporate governance here and now to restore investor confidence.
There are concerns however that the Masterplanís recommendation for the liberalisation of EPF investments parameters may be implemented without any strengthening of accountability and transparency principles - exposing EPF funds which stood at RM167 billion in contributions as of September last year, to irresponsible and imprudent investments inimical to the interests of the 10 million EPF contributors.
It would be scandal of the first magnitude if the Capital Market Masterplan is used to accelerate raids on the EPF to bail out troubled crony companies while lip-service are made to structural reforms and corporate governance without any political will to implement them by the Mahathir administration.
The Capital Market Masterplan has made 152 recommendations with the objective of raising RM500 billion from the capital market in the next ten years to fund the economy.
The Government should present a report to Parliament when it reconvenes
next month setting out a time-line as to which year each of the 152 recommendations
would be implemented and thus allowing Parliament and the Malaysian public
to monitor government performance in implementing them.