MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik said yesterday that the MCA takeover of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd, which publishes the two Chinese national dailies, is a “willing-buyer willing-seller situation”.
Nothing can be further from the truth. It is an open secret that Hong Leong, the parent of Hume which owns 72 per cent of the Nanyang Press Holdings, is forced to sell its stake in the two Chinese newspapers more for political rather than business reasons.
This was powerfully illustrated by the massive special dividend payout by Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd of 103.27 per cent on Thursday in a move to return capital to its parent instead of using the money for the future operations of its two Chinese newspapers.
Hume Industries, which owns 72 per cent of Nanyang Press, will pocket some RM43 million. An official of Hong Leong - the parent of Hume - estimated the total gross dividend payout to be in the region of RM60 million. The payout ratio was 10 times larger than its previous payments to shareholders. And the dividend payout was substantially higher than Nanyang Press's interim profit of less than RM3 million.
The massive special dividend payout is also a clear reflection of the forced sale of the majority stake of the Nanyang Press Holdings to MCA - another example of the corporate jungle instead of good corporate governance prevailing in the Malaysian market, which can only serve to drive away interested investors, local or foreign.
It is most significant that the windfall dividend came one day after the emergency MCA presidential council meeting gave the “go-ahead” to the party's investment arm, Huaren Holdings Sdn Bhd, to proceed with the takeover of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd by a vote of 12 in favour with three abstentions, namely MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lim Ah Lek, MCA Vice President and Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy and Central Committee member and MP for Mentakab Fu Ah Kiow.
Once the MCA acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press is completed,
there will be a long list of multiple victims, some immediate while others
will take a longer time to surface, such as:
It would indeed be a catastrophe for the Chinese community if the Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press ends up like the Star after the MCA takeover - for the voices of the Chinese community would be completely shut out in the mass media.
The latest concern of the Chinese community was the statement by the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad on the extension of the 55:45 bumiputra quota to private institutions of higher learning (IPTS).
Education ranks very high among the issues which are most sensitive to the Malaysian Chinese - whether mother-tongue education or fair higher educational opportunities.
The Chinese press today were full of reports and reactions to Musa’s statement on the extension of the 55:45 bumiputra quota to IPTS, but there was not report whatsoever of such Chinese community concerns in the Star today. In fact, the Star yesterday deliberately omitted Musa’s statement on the extension of the quota system to IPTS - a blatant example of self-censorship.
If Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press end up like Star after MCA takeover, there would be no reports whether on the Damansara Chinese primary school issue or other educational controversies close to the heart of the Chinese community.
This is one important reason why the Chinese community is strongly opposed to the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press.