Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Three Reasons Isa Samad Should Not be SPAD Chief

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on 23 June 2017 in Petaling Jaya.

On June 19, when Isa Samad resigned as Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV) chairman, Prime Minister Najib Razak appointed him as the acting chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) with immediate effect “in appreciation of Isa’s role” in FGV.

This is an absolutely ridiculous appointment. No one will believe that Isa is the best candidate to fill the post left vacant with the retirement of Syed Hamid Albar. Here are three main reasons why Isa Samad should not be the chief of SPAD.

First, he is undoubtedly incompetent. Under his chairmanship, FGV went from glory to sorry.
In 2012, when FGV went for its US$3.1 billion initial public offering (IPO), it was the world’s second largest IPO of the year, after only Facebook Inc’s US$16 billion IPO.

In five years, FGV’s market capitalisation dropped more than 60% from around RM19 billion to only around RM6 billion, meaning RM13 billion had evaporated from the original value of the company.The share price went from RM4.641on June 29, 2012 to only RM1.75 as of close of trading on June 23, 2017.

In addition, FGV started with a cash surplus of RM5.09 billion in December 2012 but four years later in December 2016, it is RM1.97 billion in debt. FGV’s current sorry state of affairs didn’t happen overnight, it was a result of a series of missteps, all of which were made under the watch of Isa.

Second, Isa has little, if any, experience in public transport. He made no significant contribution in public transport either during his over 20 years as Negeri Sembilan menteri besar or during his one year stint as Federal Territories minister. Even as an MP, there is no traceable record of him raising public transport issues.

The chairman of SPAD should be someone with experience in the public transport industry and passionate about public transport in Malaysia. I am sure there are more suitable candidates from within the public transport sector or relevant industries in Malaysia or within SPAD and other relevant government agencies for the position. So, why did Najib choose Isa over others?

Third and most importantly, Isa has a highly-questionable integrity track record. He was found guilty of money politics by Umno over the contest for the Umno vice-presidency in the party polls in 2004, and was suspended by the party for three years from 2005.

The now suspended CEO of FGV, Datuk Zakaria Arshad, was quoted by The Edge that there were instances of direct negotiations and direct contracts in FGV, which he attempted to stop but was overruled by the board of directors, led by Isa as non-executive chairman.

As pointed out by my colleague Liew Chin Tong (Kluang MP), SPAD is directly or indirectly responsible for the RM55 billion East Cost Rail Link, RM60 billion KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail, MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line (RM28 billion) and MRT Circle Line (more than RM20 billion).

Therefore, how can a person with such a questionable track record like Isa be the chief of SPAD?

Millions of Malaysians use public transport regularly for intra-city and inter-city travel. SPAD has a huge responsibility to improve the condition of public transport – rails, buses, taxis and others, in terms of connectivity, frequency, cleanliness, safety and price.

Can we entrust the welfare of millions of Malaysians who use public transport regularly to a man, who has proven to be incompetent and inexperienced with questionable integrity? Even primary school children can answer this question.

Why did our prime minister still appoint Isa, then?

Is he using his position in government agencies to earn loyalty within Umno? For the benefit of the millions of public transport users, we call upon Najib to immediately revoke Isa’s appointment as acting chairman of SPAD, so as to prevent him from creating another mess in SPAD after allegedly having done so in FGV.