As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on August 12, 2014
1. I am a bit mystified by the privatisation of MAS. Khazanah, I believe, is a Government company, or at least a Government controlled company. The CEO reports to the Prime Minister and usually acts on the direction of the Prime Minister.
2. The Prime Minister personifies the Government. If a company is fully acquired by a Government company, is it privatisation or nationalisation?
3. Yes, a company that is owned 100% by one entity, is not a public company. It is a private company. But if that person or entity is the Government, can it be said to be private?
4. I believe prior to this privatisation, Khazanah owned 70% of MAS shares. Its control over MAS must be almost absolute. None of the minority shareholders can really say ‘No’ to MAS even if they all act together. So Khazanah has been in full control of MAS all this time. And all this time MAS has been bleeding profusely. In 10 years it has lost 10 billion Ringgit in terms of capital injection.
5. So why should anyone believe that with 100% control Khazanah will not keep on losing.
6. In fact with no one to check and give concerned criticism as when there were minority shareholders, MAS can go very wrong indeed.
7. In true privatisation, fear of losing money on the part of a private owner would force him to scrutinise the management and check the balance sheets frequently. The Government as the owner would be less concerned. The Government is about spending money. Any shortages (or losses) can be overcome by increasing taxes or borrowing money. The way money is being spent nowadays doesn’t indicate the kind of careful financial management and scrutiny that MAS would require in order to turn around.
8. Once when a new CEO was appointed MAS registered some profit. But that was through selling assets. How much more assets can MAS sell?
9. Catering was given to a company with very long term contract and even as MAS loses money the contractors seems to be doing well. A Government company will not be able to terminate this unusual contract. It is too sensitive. Someone might advice against it.
10. People in glass houses should not throw stones. Right. I shouldn’t say all these. I had such a bad record as Prime Minister. But I was ready to resign. And I did. I did because I failed. But no one wants to follow my example.
11. I may be wrong but I think Khazanah’s 100% ownership of MAS will not be much different from its 70% ownership. We are going to see a lot of new people who will receive huge salaries, allowances and bonuses and not much else. That I believe is how Khazanah operates.