Malaysiakini in an exclusive report yesterday quoted the leader of the consortium which is bidding for MCA’s stake in Nanyang Press, Tan Sri Lim Guan Teik as saying that in his meeting with Mahathir on Tuesday, the Prime Minister had proposed that MCA, through its investment arm, Huaren Holdings, should retain a minority share.
MCA’s minority stake or even a single golden share in Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press is completely unacceptable to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese community and Chinese education as well as to ensure a free, independent and responsible Chinese press.
A golden share is one where the shareholder is vested the final executive and editorial decisions in the running of the company, and even if MCA sells off all its shares in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd keeping only one golden share, the whole deal must be opposed until MCA relinquishes the golden share and every other share and give up all effective executive and editorial control over the newspapers.
Contrary to claims by MCA officials, the MCA take-over of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd. is right from the beginning not “above board” but part of a larger political agenda.
After initially claiming that the Nanyang takeover was a “purely business deal”, Ling has finally admitted in his roadshow to drum up party support that the MCA purchase of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd was a “strategic political investment” because “the media has a very important role in our party” and debunked his own earlier stance that the MCA has no political intentions to impose its political agenda on Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.
Ling was forced to make such a concession because the MCA faction opposed to the acquisition led by MCA Deputy President Datuk Lim Ah Lek had made a powerful case that the MCA purchase of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd made no business sense.
The MCA’s takeover of Nanyang was not a “willing buyer, willing seller” business deal, but a “strategic political power-play” by Ling, with his dual agenda to internally eliminate his rivals inside the party and externally to wipe out the Opposition and to give unblinking support to Mahathir.
When speaking at the annual general assemblies of Selangor MCA youth and Wanita on Sunday, Ling detailed the choronology of events leading to the MCA purchase of the Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd.
He said the Huaren directors had informed him about the possibility that Nanyang was for sale about one to two months ago.
He said he told them to go ahead and study its commercial and business aspects.
He said: “As for MCA, if there is such an opportunity that we can acquire Nanyang, I think it is a strategic political investment.”
He said he was informed by the directors on May 21-22 that it was a good buy and he called an emergency presidential council meeting on May 23, where 12 voted for the deal while three abstained.
Ling said he informed the directors about the presidential council decision and was then told by the directors that another political party and companies also wanted to take the Nanyang stake. Thus, the Nanyang buy was signed on May 28. The MCA Central Committee met on May 30 and endorsed the deal with 32 votes for and eight against.
The question was the circumstances whereby the Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd was up for sale “one to two months ago” as mentioned by Ling, which would put the date around mid-April or mid-May.
Was it believable that in mid-April or mid-May, the former owner of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd., namely the Hong Leong Group of Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan was willingly and voluntarily looking for a buyer?
This is unthinkable because it was only in mid-April that Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd announced the major appointment of Kou Yok Liong as the group executive director, indicating a new strategic plan of the management to take Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press to greater heights.
In fact, pages of complimentary advertisements on Kou’s appointment in the Nanyang Siang Pau were only beginning to be published when they were brought to a halt as they were overtaken by completely unexpected “strategic developments” compelling Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd. to be “sold” to MCA, although MCA claimed that Gerakan was also an interested competitor.
What were the factors and forces which could derail the plans of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd. on a revamp of its management with a new group executive director, even before Kou had warmed his seat, and compelled the media group to entertain “take-over” offers whether by MCA or Gerakan?
This is a story that has as yet to be told. What is of immediate concern is how MCA could be forced to relinquish every single share of its “strategic political investment” in Nanyang, so that it would not become a “strategic disaster” for the Chinese community, Chinese education, press freedom and democracy in Malaysia.
After the Cabinet yesterday, Ling briefed Mahathir and said the Prime Minister respected the MCA’s takeover of the two Chinese newspapers, implying that he still has the Prime Minister’s authority for the MCA to make the final decision on the takeover, including the offer by the consortium headed by Lim Guan Teik.
Ling’s involvement of the Prime Minister is the best proof that the MCA’s takeover of Nanyang Press Holdings is neither a “willing-buyer, willing-seller” deal nor a strict business transaction - but pregnant with far-reaching political implications affecting the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese community, Chinese education, press freedom and democracy in Malaysia.
For these reasons, the MCA extraordinary general meeting on Sunday should make a clear and unequivocal stand as to whether the MCA fully respects the wishes and aspirations of the Chinese community to relinquish its entire stake in Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, or whether the MCA has decided to defy the entire Chinese community and to use a common analogy, for the MCA “fish” to reject the “water” of the Chinese community.