Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mahathir's First Son

India is waging a war against corruption and although it is going to be a long-drawn offensive, it is important to recognize that a serious (“I am being optimistic here!”) start is being made. Malaysians are belatedly finding out that their questionable business practices are drawing attention and they are being assiduously investigated.

The first case involves Ananda Krishnan (left) – a member of Malaysia’s billionaire club – who together with Maxis Communications Bhd director Ralph Marshall are being investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on charges of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act pertaining to the Aircel-Maxis deal. India’s telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanidhi as well as three companies (Astro, Maxis and Sun TV) were also implicated in the scandalous misdeed.

The second case concerns Mirzan Mahathir (left), first son of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and who has been implicated in a deal gone bad. He was named in an Indian court affidavit – the filing by YS Vijayalakshmi, wife of Andhra Pradesh’s late chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy last month in the state's High Court – that is related to investigations in the Kakinada Port development project.

The 2,424-paged document revealed that a Mirzan-led International Seaports Consortium won the deep water seaport expansion venture in 1999. Delays bedeviled the project and because of the stalling, the state exchequer was alleged to have lost about RM33 million between 1999 and 2007.

Mirzan secured the project during the tenure of the state's former chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu. And based on the court documents filed, the High Court has now directed the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe all allegations against Naidu and his associates – including Mirzan.

I can see that Malaysians love doing business through rent-seeking and patronage. They lay money on “who we know” rather than “what we know” to win contracts. They do not really subscribe to good business ethics. They want to make money the quick and easy way.

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