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Tan Sri Halim Saad, the chairman of Renong Berhad, was clear and to the point:  Renong is deep in the red, owing RM20,500,000,000, by doing its national duty of privatising the North-South Highway and generally create a Bolehland monopoly of the transport services. The government does not have the money to buy it;  so it must rescue the company with a loan of some RM10,000,000,000 which it does not have, so that Renong can continue to gouge even more money from the long suffering public.  Tan Sri Halim assumes that the Malaysian public s duty bound to help him and his officials to mismanage Renong at is expense.  Its debt exposure, he proudly proclaims, represents five per cent of the total corporate exposure to the banks -- a total of RM410,000,000,000.  He has not answered several key questions:  How did it acquire such losses when it was given on a platter negotiated privatisation contracts so loaded in its favour that the works minister, Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu, is reduced to be its super public relations executive to tout for higher tolls and additional contracts.

The fact is that Renong is a favoured company within the purview of the minister with special functions, the incomparable enghulu Tikus Rasputin, himself.  Otherwise, how did it get the loans it did from the banks, with its much vaunted professionalism so thoroughly maintained that every one of them is technically bankrupt, as Renong itself is.  This rescue of Renong is done on terms most favourable to Renong;  though one Renong wife threw a spanner in the works by walking away with Renong shares in her name as part of a divorce settlement not far from RM500 million.  The question of government having the funds to buy Renong does not arise;  it does not assume nor guarantee the concessionaire's debts. There is -- there should be -- an arrangement -- called "step-in rights" -- that should the concessionaire not perform as stipulated, the concession can be taken back and the concessionaire sued for damages caused. The government should have taken back the concession, and leave Renong to its own devices.

If it wants to help, as it obviously does, the present management must be replaced with competent management, the shares devalued to zero, and after the recovery -- if it can ever be rescued -- sold back to the management or other investors at market rate. To talk of the impact on share prices does not arise. Shareholders took a gamble and failed.  They lose their shares.
This is the inexhorable law of the market place, though not in the Bolehland market place.  Tan Sri Halim talks through his hat for suggesting that foreign companies are just waiting to grab the company.  He brings the "foreign enemy"  bogey that one hears much these days from the mouths of ministers in respect of Dato' Seri Anwar's travails.

The government's attempts to provide the banks with fresh capital, revive the economy, and chase the wolf from its door is based on doubtful underpinnings.  The government's profligacy brought the country to bankruptcy -- one estimate, albeit unofficial, is that if Malaysia's eventual liabilities are set off against its assets, we would be in the red to the tune of
RM700,000,000,000.  And we continue to lurch ahead like a drunk in a bar, committing the country to billions or ringgit that we do not have on projects that are not relevant or essential.  Why is there the need to commit hundreds of millions of ringgit to bid for the Olympic Games, when the recently concluded Commonwealth Games, while it gained much kudos, is a financial disaster?  Despite what the government says, the country is headed for a recession.

Those Bolehland companies who thought even the sky was not the limit is struggling hard to pay its rent, and look with hope for government handouts, while small, efficient companies, caught in the default of loans by these Bolehland companies, quietly go under.  I know of prominent companies defaulting on their legal and accounting fees, insisting that the bills be discounted to a fraction if payment is desired.  These issues are not addressed.  Instead, the likes of Renong must be rescued.  The Siblings must be rescued.  The cronies and hangers on must be rescued.  Tan Sri Halim Saad's explanation why Renong should be rescued is yet another assumption that Malaysians are generally fools who will believe any rubbish Bolehland figures utter.

To claim now that traffic projections are behind schedule -- that is not true;  every of their projections exceeded beyond their wildest dreams with the most profitable route three times as profitable -- and therefore the government's unbounded responsibility is to ensure that Renong be compensated for its wrong forecasting, is akin to Tan Sri Halim Saad that his empire must be maintained at all costs by public subventions.  In this, Tan Sri Halim Saad and his Renong has much in common with that other great and eminent much vaunted Bolehland figure of unqestionable, Tan Sri Dato' Dr Candonodam Ting Pek Khiing, and his Ekran empire have much in common.