(Penang, Sunday): Yesterday, the Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin admitted for the first time that the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) had been a victim of extremist and irresponsible politicking over the Suqiu Appeals when he expressed his belief that the stock exchange "would pick up" now that the Suqiu issue had been "resolved".
He said this "denotes the beginning of a pick-up".
It is sad that the economic welfare and interests of the country had repeatedly been sacrificed to serve the political agenda of extremist, irresponsible and desperate politicians as happened in the Suqiu controversy - where the attempt to escalate ethnic tensions came solely from a small group of people from one side.
Even now, this group of extremist, irresponsible and desperate politicians are not fully prepared to stop their attempt to escalate ethnic tensions to serve their ulterior political motives.
Daim should realise however that the Suqiu issue and the attempt to escalate ethnic tensions was not the sole cause for the poor performance of the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange, and why the forecast by the Deputy Finance Minister (1) Datuk Shafie Mohd Salleh four months ago on Sept. 12, 2000 that the KLSE Composite Index (CI) would rebound to the 1,000-point level by the end of last year had completely gone wide off the mark.
In actual fact, last year ended with the CI at its lowest level not only for the year but a 14-month low, and in the first week of the new year, it had hit a 17-month low.
The manner in which those in power had condoned the extremist, irresponsible and desperate politicos to communalise the Suqiu controversy, threatening an escalation of ethnic tensions and polarisation, is only one reason for the general economic, political and nation-building gloom surrounding the stock exchange and the Malaysian economy.
If the government is serious in wanting to restore confidence in the economy and the stock exchange, then it should convince Malaysians and foreign investors that there would be an end to the corporate shenanigans reeking with cronyism, bad corporate governance and the sacrifice of the interest of minority shareholders like the restructuring of Renong-UEM, the "bail-out" buying of 29.9% MAS equity by the Government at RM8 per share while the market value was RM3.68 and the RM6 billion government bail-out of the Light Rail Transit and public transport system.
Although Daim said that he had yet to decide on the person likely to
head Malaysian Airlines - probably the greatest thing the Finance
Minister can do to boost investor confidence about the government’s seriousness
about corporate reforms and economic restructuring is to end the abuses
of privatisation where profits are privatised and colossal losses are re-nationalised
by suspending the outrageous RM1.792 billion MAS deal and bail-out of Tan
Sri Tajudin Ramli and Naluri Bhd by paying a premium of RM4.32 or
117 per cent over the market price of the MAS share of RM3.68.