Guan Eng Willing To Testify If Freight Forwarder Equity Dispute Goes To Court


 


Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng said he is willing to be a witness if there is any court action to block the forced disposal of shares and control of freight forwarder companies to 51 percent bumiputera equity.
In the latest salvo following the furore, Bagan MP Lim said that any attempt by the present government to overturn the decision made by the Pakatan Harapan administration on Oct 24, 2018 can be challenged in court.
“I am willing to come forward as a witness to confirm this.
“First, it is unfair to withhold any renewal of licences of freight forwarders for not complying with the 51 percent bumiputera equity after they have been operating their business for decades to just suddenly surrender control of their companies.
“Second, there are double standards in forcing this 51 percent bumiputera equity ruling only on locally-owned international integrated logistics services (IILS) but not foreign-owned IILS approved in 2015,” he said in a statement today.
“Where then is the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ concept of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob when foreigners are better-taken care of than Malaysians?
“Giving special privileges to foreigners at the expenses of locals is clearly contrary to the Federal Constitution,” he claimed.
Lim said that when he was finance minister between May 2018 to February 2020, the Royal Customs Department had issued a letter stating that existing freight forwarder companies were exempted from complying with the 51 percent bumi equity requirement.
“In the said letter issued on Oct 24, 2018, the Customs Department disclosed that the Finance Ministry had agreed that freight forwarders who were issued licences before 1990 did not have to lose control of their companies and dispose of off their shares to comply with the 51 percent bumiputera equity ruling.
“Unfortunately, this ruling appeared to be reversed by the current government who is attempting to forcibly compel freight forwarders that had been operating before 1990 to comply with the 51 percent bumiputera equity ruling,” said Lim, acknowledging that freight forwarders formed after 1990 were required to have 51 percent bumi equity for issuance and renewal of licences.
He said that his successor, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Aziz had confirmed in Parliament that the requirement for existing freight forwarding companies and locally-owned IILS to forcibly sell off their shares to increase the equity ownership to 51 percent bumi equity was not issued in 2018 but by this current government.
“Applying such a ruling retrospectively, whether back to 2015 or 1976 is clearly unconstitutional,” added Lim, questioning whether poor bumiputera would benefit from the move.
“The question arises of how many poor bumiputera would benefit, especially those from Sabah, Sarawak and Orang Asli, or is it concentrated in the hands of the rich bumiputera. What about the poor non-bumiputera then? MOF should reveal the latest figures,” he said.
“Instead of battling corruption and crony capitalism benefiting the few, more emphasis should be placed on agencies to help the poor, like Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) which manages the Amanah Saham Bumiputera funds.
“From managing RM30 billion in assets in 2001 to over RM323 billion today, PNB has grown more than 10-fold, and owns about 10 percent of companies listed on Bursa Malaysia. Between 2016 and 2020, RM52.4 billion in dividends were distributed to more than 12 million bumiputera unit-holders,” said Lim. - Mkini


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