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What’s the Bank Islam deal, Khalid?

 | March 3, 2014

Khalid Ibrahim's insistence that his case with Bank Islam is a personal matter does not hold water.

COMMENT

khalid1Questions are being asked on how Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim has managed to get Bank Islam to agree to an out-of-court settlement over the RM66.67 million Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd shares fiasco.

To recap: in May 18, 2007, Khalid initiated a suit against Bank Islam seeking damages from the bank for alleged wrongful sale of his shares in Guthrie.

In May 24, 2007, Bank Islam filed a counter suit to recover RM66.67 million claiming that Khalid’s failure to repay his loan.

Twice the High Court ordered Khalid to pay the RM66.67 million in summary judgments obtained by Bank Islam.

Upon appeal by Khalid in March 2010, the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment and ordered a full trial of the issues.

And then this year, Bank Islam withdrew its legal challenge to recover the RM66.67 million from Khalid to allow for an out of court settlement.

Among the questions being raised is whether Umno had a role in the out-of-court settlement, and if PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim was aware of such backroom dealings, if any.

A point to note is that negotiations for the settlement are still in progress with a decision expected to be announced shortly.

On his part, Khalid had said this court matter was a personal matter which he need not make public disclosures.

Linked to water sale?

Khalid’s perceived financial difficulty to repay the Bank Islam debt, and his legal action for damages against the bank for the wrongful sale of his Guthrie shares have dogged his tenure as Selangor menteri besar.

He must resolve his financial problem or face eventual bankruptcy. A bankrupt cannot be a wakil rakyat or hold public office.

If the settlement with Bank Islam is generously in Khalid’s favour, questions will be asked if a deal was made between Khalid and Bank Islam’s political masters – Umno.

If so, what was the deal?

Did it involve selling Selangor’s water assets to the federal government, and did it require for Khalid to do nothing in regards to the recent anti-Christian sweep in the state?

Khalid’s insistence that his case with Bank Islam is a personal matter does not hold water.

In politics there is no “self” – everything that you do in your private and public life is up for scrutiny and judgment by your peers and the electorates, especially in light of what Khalid has said about government before:

There is a lot of work. I wanted to restructure the water industry which is quite big by any standard and create trust for (public) ownership for the people of Selangor. If I have done that, I think there is a little bit of legacy that I can leave, to change the thinking – that utilities should be owned by communities as opposed to being monopolised by the private sector and the benefit would be shared by the people themselves.

Leadership is above politics. If you believe in the principle of doing the correct thing – adherence to corporate governance and so forth – you should do so.

When I encountered this type of situation as MB, I started to think that politics and corporate leaders are different. But they are both the same as they believe in what they do. Of course, like the late Lord Baroness Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, you have to believe in what you do. They were hit by their own party members but they adhered (to their principles). It’s either you survive or not but in the end, people appreciate you for what you are. So I thought, either you become like everybody… Or I believe in what I’m trying to do without any personal advantage and I perceived it as what it is.”

There are allegations that from his time in Guthrie and during his tenure as Selangor Menteri Besar,

Khalid has been generous with projects awarded to an individual who had allegedly loaned him funds to cover the margin shortfall after his borrowings from bank Islam to buy his Guthrie shares back in 1994.

The terms and conditions of the out-of-court settlement between Khalid and Bank Islam is critical to the making or unmaking of Khalid’s position as MB.

Abandoned by Pakatan?

It is certain that the issue of Khalid and Bank Islam has come about at this moment was not engineered by either Anwar or Azmin – both undertaking tasks to remove Khalid as the MB, to be replaced by Anwar.

It is just that the timing of it all happened to dovetail into the perfect storm that Rafizi Ramli had been planning for Anwar’s tryst into Kajang.

Those in PKR who have got their vested interests covered under the Kajang gamble just took the opportunity to use Khalid’s adversity to their advantage.

After all, is that not what politics is all about? Like the funeral house which profits from the miseries of others?

No matter what will be negotiated between Khalid and Bank Islam in the out-of-court settlement, you can be rest assured that Anwar will be the Selangor MB after Kajang polls at the expense of Khalid, barring a defiant stance from the palace.

Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat’s first-tier leadership however will not abandon Khalid to the wolves.

He is without doubt one of Pakatan’s prized assets and everything will be done to accommodate him within Pakatan leadership structure to ensure that he will continue to be relevant to the political future of Selangor, PKR and Pakatan.

Of course, I cannot say if Azmin feels the same way too!

CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.


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