Malaysiakini reported yesterday that Ling had told a briefing with a number of Selangor division leaders at the Transport Minister’s office earlier in the afternoon that the MCA investment arm Huaren Holdings would divest about half of its RM230 million stake in newly acquired Nanyang Press to “a friendly and experienced partner”.
Defending the Nanyang deal as “a good buy”, Ling said the MCA would soon sell about RM110 million of its Nanyang shares so that MCA would not be burdened by the loan which Huaren has to take to pay for the acquisition.
According to Malaysiakini, Ling did not disclose who the buyer is. And he did not mention when the shares would be sold to the new partner nor touched on the exact percentage of the stake that would be sold for RM110 million.
It would appear that Ling is treating the MCA as his personal property, where the MCA Central Committee members and the Huaren trustees like MCA Deputy President Datuk Lim Ah Lek and Vice President Datuk Chua Jui Meng are kept completely in the dark about the various manoeuvres concerning the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.
The MCA Central Committee members were treated to the charade of asking for their approval for the RM260 million takeover of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd. on Wednesday, when they were never told that regardless of their decision, the takeover deal of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd by Huaren Holdings Sdn. Bhd. had already been signed and sealed two days earlier on Monday.
Furthermore, the Huaren trustees were also completely sidelined, as Liong Sik told the MCA Central Committee meeting on Thursday that it was not necessary for Huaren shareholders or trustees to meet and approve the purchase.
Liong Sik is not only acting above the party but also above the law - and Malaysians are entitled to know why he is riding roughshod not only over the MCA and the law, but the sensitivities and objections of the Chinese community to lay his hands on the two Chinese newspapers which neither MCA nor Huaren has the RM230 million to pay for the takeover deal.
At the MCA Central Committee meeting on Thursday, Liong Sik admitted that Huaren Managment, a subsidiary of Huaren Holdings, does not have the money for the RM230 million purchase and will seek a 100% bank loan, using all its 68 million shares in Star Publications Bhd as well as another 40 million shares in Nanyang Press Holdings as bank collateral.
In less than 48 hours, there had been a major variation to the takeover deal, with MCA divesting about half of its RM230 million stake in newly acquired Nanyang Press to “a friendly and experienced partner”. It would appear that the entire MCA has been reduced to a one-man party.
Malaysians are entitled to know the identity of this “friendly and experienced partner” of Ling in the gobbling up of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.
According to Malaysiakini, Ling indicated that if the MCA failed to buy the two Chinese dailies, it might result in Gerakan controlling the press.
However, MCA Central Working Committee member Chor Chee Heung was singing a different tune in Alor Star where he told newsmen yesterday that the MCA takeover of the two Chinese newspapers was necessary to fob off “Malay capital” acquisition.
From the different claims of Ling and Chor about the rationale of MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, one thing is certain: the acquisition is not a purely business deal but most political in nature, from conception to implementation!
In the first place, why should Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan and Hong Leong be compelled to dispose of the stake in Nanyang Press Holdings? Is this because of a directive from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who still begrudges Quek Leng Chan and Hong Leong for supporting his nemesis, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, when he was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister?
Secondly, if the rationale for the MCA acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press are fears that they might be taken over by Gerakan or “Malay capital” in the words of Chor, then MCA should yield the acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press to a consortium funded by the Chinese community, independent of any political party influence.
Is Liong Sik prepared to allow an independent consortium funded by the Chinese community free from any political party influence to take over the MCA’s acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press?
I am not optimistic, as there is a larger political agenda behind the MCA acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, which Ling has not confided with the MCA Central Committee and which bodes ill for the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese community and Chinese education in particular and Malaysian human rights and democracy in general.
For this reason, there should develop a strong and powerful nation-wide movement to oppose the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, to compel MCA to relinquish its suffocating hand of ownership of the two Chinese newspapers.