Nov 25, 2006

Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) singled out because of Bumiputera-owned?

Bagai pepatah "Kalau tak ada angin bertiup, takkan pokok bergoyang"

Bumiputera-owned CMS Singled Out For Criticism, Says Govt Backbencher

KUCHING, Nov 24 (Bernama) -- Public-listed Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad (CMS) has been singled out for criticism by the opposition for being awarded government contracts because it is a Bumiputera company, a government backbencher said Friday.

Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (BN-Asajaya) told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly that other more successful companies were not singled out even though they were also doing government projects and had been given land for plantations and logging concessions.

"The economic cake has to be shared by all Malaysians. As a matter of justice and fairness, CMS should not be penalised merely because a group of its shareholders, with 43 per cent interest, have links with the top leadership in the government," he said when speaking during the debate on the Supply Bill 2007.

At this juncture, he was interrupted by Dominique Ng Kim Ho (PKR-Padungan), who said the opposition was not implying that CMS was singled out simply because it was a Bumiputera company.

Thursday, Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) incurred the wrath of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for alleging that CMS, a company owned by the latter's family, had become rich through contracts from the state government.

However, Abdul Karim said, Taib was not expected to be the sole breadwinner of his family and that his children and their families deserved to participate in business in Sarawak and elsewhere just like anyone else besides subjecting themselves to the same business risks.

He said he hoped that the opposition would realise that their criticism of CMS, within and outside the august house, could jeopardise the millions of ringgit that public shareholders had invested in the company as well as the job security of its employees.

"As the chief minister has explained on Tuesday (Nov 21) in this august house, if CMS is discriminated against or unfairly treated in the award of contracts by the government, public shareholders such as the Employees Provident Fund have a legitimate cause for action against the government," he said.

He said Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh had also explained that Taib was not involved in any decision on the matter as contracts for CMS were dealt with in accordance with the rules of good corporate governance.

CMS is not a family or private entity but a public-listed company with 329,445,840 shares issued and traded in the market and its shareholders include the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), which owns 8.19 per cent of the CMS issued shares, and EPF another 4.71 per cent. SEDC also owns directly 49 to 59 per cent of the operating CMS subsidiaries.

Meanwhile, Tan Joo Phoi (BN-Batu Kawah) asked the government to come up with laws to monitor the operation of scrap dealers in Sarawak in view of the increasing cases of electric and telephone cable thefts.

He also said that the crime rate had gone up a whopping 16 per cent between January and September this year throughout Sarawak and about 45 per cent in Kuching due to moral decadence, socio-economic problems, illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries and a decreasing sense of neighbourliness.

Dr Johnical Rayong (SNAP-Engkilili) urged the government to speed up the implementation of native customary rights (NCR) land for oil palm with the verification of land ownership.

He said the Land Development Ministry should have adequate personnel to go down to the ground to conduct meetings with land owners and build up rapport with them to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Violet Yong (DAP-Pending) said the state government should ensure that laws and policies did not discriminate against women by encouraging them to actively participate in the labour force and contribute towards the country's socio-economic development.

Urgent attention should also be given to provide government-funded childcare facilities, especially in selected housing estates in every major town, and childcare subsidies to working mothers, she said.

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