Monday, June 9, 2014

YTL's Francis Yeoh Doth Protest Too Much

YTL’s Francis Yeoh (left) may have withdrawn his remarks about ‘crony capitalism” but the maelstrom he created, is not going to go away anytime soon!
 
It is well-known that Yeoh’s YTL would have remained as a two-bit construction and property development company if not for the government’s largesse. His YTL Conglomerate is where it is today because it was/is a beneficiary of government assistance.
 
For instance, in 1990, YTL was awarded an almost RM1 billion contract to build public hospitals.
 
Also in 1992, the government awarded him the first licence to build, operate and manage power plants. In fact, his power agreement with Tenaga Nasional Bhd was so lopsided and so unfair that Ani Arope, the then TNB boss resigned after refusing to accept YTL's terms. Yeoh’s "take or pay" agreement with TNB obligated it to take up YTL's power output – priced much higher than what TNB could easily produce – whether the utility needed it or not, for 21 years.
 
And YTL’s school project is another happy venture that will be very rewarding for the company. The 1BestariNet aims to connect 10,000 schools nationwide to the Internet to enable online learning. According to The Edge, the government is forking out a total of RM3 billion over 15 years to pay for the YES 4G network infrastructure and the maintenance of the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Not to mention supplying overpriced Chromebooks (laptops) which is another profit-making exercise.
 
Bukit Bendera MP, DAP’s Zairil Khir Johari had described this money-spinning business deal as a roguish ruse by YTL to get taxpayers and public schools to fund the commercial expansion of the YES 4G network in the name of promoting E-Learning. Zairil maintained that the total bill that Putrajaya would have to foot for the 4G network, VLE as well as Chromebooks would come up to a whopping RM9 billion!
 
Just consider this! YTL’s pre-tax profit last year which totalled a massive RM2.5 billion and compare this with his 1991 numbers, which stood at a more modest  but still substantial RM30 million. No wonder the rich are getting richer!
 
Francis Yeoh should stop preaching about ethical leadership and wagging his finger, screaming “crony capitalism”. Coming from him, it all sounds hollow. Phony. Fake.
 
Ramon Navaratnam summed it up aptly when he said that "people who live in glass houses, should not throw stones". He further correctly stressed that Yeoh's talking about getting rid of cronyism doesn't sound right while his companies bagged lucrative government contracts through direct negotiations rather than open tender exercises.

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