Friday, March 6, 2009

RPK, like KJ, is larger than life

Khairy Jamaluddin has been everyone's favourite punching bag since he burst into the political scene five years ago. He was the target of countless allegations - among them was his involvement in investment bank ECM-Libra.

One of his chief detractors was none other than controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin - whom he has never met.

"Raja Petra, like Khairy Jamaluddin," said the Oxford graduate, "Has become larger than life."

"It's the idea of Khairy Jamaluddin that you like to hate and it's the idea of Raja Petra that you like to like," he told Malaysiakini during a 90-minute interview last week.

In this third of a five-part series, the premier son-in-law sought to answer some of the allegations which have been levelled against him - his attempt to join top government-linked company Khazanah Holdings, his interest in being part of the cabinet, and that he takes a cut from the petrol rebate.

Malaysiakini: There were talks that you were involved in the Johor corridor, that you're actually the link person for the Singapore government, and there were also complaints that you sold off a lot of land in Johor to Singaporeans...

Khairy: I think you got me confused with someone else, I won't say his name. No, I mean, you know I've stayed away from business administration after the last elections and I have nothing to do with the Johor (economic) corridor, but I'm a supporter from far.

I don't have any personal interest, directly and indirectly, whether it's with me or with my family... and you know, the thing is, in this day and age where politicians are scrutinised and stripped naked regularly, with evidence. I take comfort in the fact that after all the allegations against me in the last four, five years, there hasn't been a single sheet of paper to say ‘this is the proof against this guy’, when careers were brought down just because of pictures in a mobile phone.

But your image has been affected by all the allegations…

Sure, sure! I don't deny that and I'm the first person to agree with that. But I can only say in my own defence - you can spin it a thousand ways - but what I say is the truth and I have not been confronted with any hard evidence that suggests otherwise, which in this day and age of open communication, is so easy to obtain.

But there's the case of ECM Libra, that you had a stake in it and eventually sold it off.

What is wrong with that?

How did that come about?

Okay, let's talk about this from the beginning. I joined the company as senior management. The senior management are offered stock options in the company, which I exercised, and all senior management were offered the same stock option with what is called the vendor loan. Vendor loan means basically the person selling the shares gives you the loan.

Contrary to what people think, it's not the company that gave me the loan. That would be wrong and that would be illegal. The people who sold the shares and gave the loan were the founding shareholders of the company - Kali (Kalimullah Hassan), David Chua, Lim Kian Ong. They gave me the loan...

How much was that?

RM10 million, and they give similar facilities to all senior management who want to buy into the company. We took a risk, because we buy at a certain price, obviously if the share price goes above that strike price then we're fine but if it goes below the strike price then you end up carrying the can, you can't fulfill the loan because the price is lower than the strike price - it's a share option which exists within the company itself.

Now, the reason I ended up selling is because I came to the realisation that after the many rounds of attacks, it would be unfair to the company, because the institution was suffering because of me, so I rather take myself out than to have the company suffer because the company has a lot of shareholders.

So that's really what happened. If I'm really guilty of anything, it's guilty of being offered such an opportunity at such a young age. But it was intended to build the company, for the long term, grow the company and to make sure that it was a success as a financial service institution.

Don't you think that there's something wrong - being very close to the government and yet having a stake in this particular company that is seen to be getting quite a few contracts from the government.

Ninety-five percent of our business, at the point of time when I came in and when I left ... no contracts from any GLC or the government, and I personally did not work on a single deal that involved the government or the GLCs, we made that very clear.

It would be very different if we are getting a lot of jobs from GLCs and manage for GLCs or public listing for GLCs, raising this and that for GLCs, but no. We were very much focused on the private sector.

Is it true that you have a directorship in Pos Malaysia and you benefit every time people get the RM620 rebate?

Actually, it's not entirely true, every time you send a letter, I get five cents. Every letter - imagine that, I think 3.5 million letters are sent out everyday [laughs]. No lah.

There were also rumours that you were interested to helm government investment arm Khazanah (Nasional)?

When I left the government, I was looking around and somebody asked me to (go for an) interview there, so I met (Khazanah managing director) Azman (Mokhtar), but I…

You didn't get it?

No, no, I wouldn't say I didn't get it, but I think both of us decided that it wasn't something that was good, so we left it alone.

A lot of people would consider that it was very ambitious of you being 30-something to helm the…

No, not helming it but just being part of the team.

So it was not for the chairmanship?

No, no, no, no, we talked about being a part of the team in some form or another.

But no discussion of any positions?


Also, touching on positions, we also heard that after 2008, the prime minster wanted to drag you into the cabinet, but some senior ministers told him that they don't want you in because you're too young and first time being in BN.

If you have heard this from a minister then he is bull-shitting out of his ass.

But were you interested in a cabinet post?

No, even during the (election) campaign itself I said that I don't want to serve in this cabinet and when I was picked as a candidate, PM (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) saw me and said that if all goes well in the election or whatever, he said that ‘you should serve as a backbencher to learn the ropes there’ and I agreed with him completely. I said, ‘Yeah, of course, I do agree being part of the cabinet is not right’.

What do you think of (blogger) Raja Petra Kamarudin?

Raja Petra, like Khairy Jamaluddin, has become larger than life. It's the idea of Khairy Jamaluddin that you like to hate, and it's the idea of Raja Petra that you actually like to like. We are creatures of, not our own creation, but we are similar creatures, you don't really know us.

How many people who contributed to Raja Petra's 'get out of jail' fund really know him, and how many who hate me really know me.

We are talking about shadows here, shadow play, and we're just looking at something like the thought of that, or loathing the thought of that. So that's my view on Raja Petra.

Have you met him personally?


What do you think of Mahathir's obsession with you? Is it true that you've actually written a letter to him while he was in power, asking him to step down?

No, I never asked him to step down, whether by letter or in person. What's the problem? I don't know.

This is my theory - when he stepped down and gave power to Pak Lah, he had a certain idea of what kind of person Pak Lah was, and maybe he thought Pak Lah is very compliant, and will continue to be compliant and go through with whatever it is that he wants to go through with, the (crooked) bridge, the double tracking, all this kind of things. And when those things didn't happen, he thought this is not the guy that I knew, so it can't be him, it must be someone else.

He was the one that appointed Pak Lah to be PM. So his idea of Pak Lah, the deputy prime minister didn't gel with Pak Lah the prime minister in the first few years.

So he must have thought there must be somebody doing this, I'm sure there's somebody telling him that, "It's that guy, it's KJ". Once Tun Mahathir locks his sight on somebody, he doesn't let go. Just like the F-16 locks its missile on the Sukhoi, he’s going to chase you down and hunt you down, and shoot his missiles until you blow up. So that's what's happening.

Was there any effort to meet with him to resolve the whole misunderstanding?

Not really, I think the whole thing became worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, till a point of which…

bold Could you have made the mistake - that you didn't manage to foresee that there is a critical pro-active action to deal with all these…

I don't know what the pro-active action would have been.

Perhaps meeting up with Mahathir? Or perhaps with Raja Petra, or perhaps come up with much more in explaining yourself?

Yeah, maybe, maybe. It's all possible where they are many things that maybe you could have done differently, I don't know.

Source : Malaysiakini

Part 1 : Me, Pak Lah and the 4th Floor boys

Part 2 :'Am I arrogant? I don't think so' - KJ


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