Charles Santiago

Posted by : Unknown | Rabu, 24 November 2010 | Published in

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Charles Santiago

Syabas may default on payment, risks losing investors’ confidence

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 09:48 PM PST

Source: Free Malaysia Today



By G Vinod

PETALING JAYA: Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) risks defaulting payments to its bond holders as coffers of the water services firm may be drying-up, leaving Syabas with insufficient funds to pay stake holders, an opposition MP has claimed.

To rub salt to the wound, Syabas bonds amounting to a whopping RM1 billion would mature this year, while payout for bonds maturing next year was even higher.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said while the issue was all about economics and finance, it had also became a political contention between Barisan Nasional-led federal government and Pakatan Rakyat-led state government.

"In 2006, the Parliament passed the Water Services Industries Act where it called for a holistic management of water services," Santiago told FMT in a recent interview.

With the passing of the Act, distribution of water was no longer separated and managed by different entities but giving the state government the legal position to acquire water assets from Syabas, its parent company Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (manages water treatement), Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor (Splash) (building, operating and maintaining Selangor River Water Supply Scheme Phase 3) and Abass Konsortium (operating and maintaining Semenyih River).

Santiago said the previous BN state government had sent letters to the four entities on the matter before the 2008 general election.

However, after Pakatan took over the state government after the last general election, negotiations broke down after Puncak Niaga and Syabas rejected the state government’s offer despite the latter offering RM5.7 billion to acquire water assets.

"The Water Assets Management Berhad (PAAB) evaluation estimated the state’s water assets to be worth RM1 billion but the state government offered RM5.7 billion.

"Last year, an offer of RM10 billion was made to the entities but was also turned down. The point here is Syabas and Puncak Niaga should have taken up the offer,"said Santiago.

With Syabas now risking a default, its major bondholders (CIMB Principal Asset Management, Hong Leong Investment Bank and Great Eastern Life) are said to be urging the federal government to offer a bail-out to Syabas or risk its bonds being downgraded.

"If the federal government provides a bail-out for Syabas, not only it will be paying off the bond holders but it will also acquire Syabas’ debt which will put the government further into debt,"said Santiago.

Memo to the King

The DAP lawmaker added that not only will this tantamount to crony-capitalism, the federal government would also risk violating the Water Services Industries Act.

"In 2005, Syabas was given RM2.9 billion in soft loans and grants by the federal government when it acquired water distribution function from Perbadanan Urus Air Selangor Berhad (PUAS).

"In 2008, the federal government again provided it with RM320 million, with no interest for five years and payable within 20 years.

"However between 2005 till 2009, Syabas accumulated RM44.5 million in revenue after disconnecting 809,000 water connection. Most of those affected were poor people,"claimed Santiago.

He added that while the state government was trying to fulfill the requirements under the Water Services Industries Act 2006 by trying to provide a holistic water services management to the people, the federal government is throwing spanners into the works by planning to retain Syabas as the water supplier for the state.

"The federal government had told the state government in a recent meeting that it wished to retain the status quo, that is Syabas controlling 52% stake in the company while the state government only retains 48% which is in direct violation of the Act.

"Therefore, while the cronies are being bailed out, the state government has to wait for the federal government to consent to our deal despite us being supported by the Water Services Industries Act," said Santiago.

The Selangor state government plans on Dec 5 to submit a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a bid to stop the federal government from bailing out Syabas and return water assets to the state government.

DAP leadership endorses Unity Team?

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 09:41 PM PST

Source: Free Malaysia Today


By Teoh El Sen

SERDANG: DAP’s top leadership appears to have endorsed a group of leaders dubbed the “Unity Team” to helm Selangor DAP.

In a show of support for the team, DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday graced a dinner organised by the “Unity Team”, indicating that the group had the blessings and endorsement of the national leadership.

The Selangor DAP would hold its election this weekend, and the dinner was to fete state delegates who would cast their ballots to pick the new state leaders come Sunday. The “Unity Team” would face another group calling itself the “Justice Reform Group”.

Members of the "Unity Team”, headed by Kinrara state assemblywoman Teresa Kok, were unveiled at the dinner in Seri Kembangan here last night.

The candidates were introduced to the delegates towards the end of the dinner where 11 out of the 13 candidates were asked to come on stage.

Others in the team were Ean Yong Hian Wah (current Selangor DAP chairman), Teo Nie Ching, Tony Pua, Lau Weng San, Gobind Singh Deo, Charles Santiago, Lee Kee Hiong, Tiew Way Keng, Chandra Mohan, and Ganabati Rao.

The names of two others – Jenice Lee and Hannah Yeoh – were not announced as they were overseas. Although the names of those in the “Unity Team” were called out first, other candidates were also given a chance to show themselves to the delegates.

Since these “outcasts” were called after the “Unity Team’s” appearance, observers said it was a clear signal of who the party leadership wanted to take over Selangor DAP.

One notable figure left out of the “Unity Team” was controversial Selangor exco leader Ronnie Liu, who was present at the dinner but left before the introductory session began.

Liu out of the picture?

A source revealed that Liu, who was recently embroiled in the support letter fiasco, was not invited for the dinner, but had insisted on attending.

Whether Liu would become the 14th or 15th member of the “Unity Team” was still uncertain.

Chong Hoon Ming, a DAP branch chief in Serdang who organised the dinner, said that the bash was held to raise funds and also “to state support from six other branches for the Unity Team”.

The grassroots leader said he would back the “Unity Team” as the group could defend the party against "dissidents and troublemakers who are trying to topple the Selangor DAP establishment.”

It has been reported that Selangor speaker and veteran DAP leader Teng Chang Khim was behind the other team. He had purportedly teamed-up with sacked former DAP organising secretary Tee Boon Hock. Although Teng was said to be unhappy with Tee’s sacking, the former had denied that he was leading the other team.

It is an open secret that Teng, though popular, is considered a rogue among the party’s top leadership, and is now said to be gunning for the secretary-general post, which is speculated to fall vacant soon.

The “Justice Reform Group” swept the posts in Klang, Petaling Jaya Utara, Kuala Langat and Puchong divisions.

Come Sunday, some 50 candidates would battle for the 15 slots in Selangor DAP. Those elected would then decide on who becomes the state chief, deputy, organising secretary and so on.

A total 1,100 delegates from 145 DAP branches in Selangor would cast their ballots. Each branch is eligible to send seven representatives to vote.

While the “Unity Team” seems to have a solid line-up comprising state assemblymen and MPs, the same could not be said for the “Justice Reform Group”.

Apart from Teng, names mentioned to be in the “Justice Reform Group” were James Ooi, T Kannan, senator S Ramakrishnan, M Batumalai, Lee Ah Seng, Lee Fu Haw, Lim Soon Kang, Ivan Ho, Ng Suee Lim, Michael Soon Kwai Choy. However this is yet to be confirmed.

There were also grouses raised about the show of support to the “Unity Team” by the secretary- general yesterday.

“How can the sec-gen attend a public dinner and show support for one group? It’s not right. Is he sec-gen for some or sec-gen for the party?” asked a candidate who wished to remain anonymous.

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