Monday, August 14, 2006

The Parkway Poser

Parkway, a US-controlled Singapore listed company (now with 5% stake held by Government of Singapore Investment Corp) bought 31% into local healthcare group, Pantai Holdings in September 2005, enabling to have a controlling stake in the entity.

The problem emerges because Pantai indirectly holds the government’s 15-year concessions for healthcare services through its subsidiaries Fomema and Pantai Medivest with a structure that must be 30% bumiputera owned and at least 50% Malaysian held “until such time the company is listed”. But the problem is in its interpretation ie whether this should apply to the holding company not just the concessionaires.

In April 2001 Mokhzani Mahathir sold 32.85% in Pantai to Datuk Lim Tong Yong. And in September 2005, Datuk Lim sold his stake to Parkway. Datuk Lim is a Malaysian.

While Abdullah Badawi has recently reiterated that this is a problem, the questions is: Why is this a problem now and not in September 2005? If it is to be a problem, the government should have brought up the matter then and not now.

While Abdullah may lament that a Singapore based company with US interests is controlling Pantai, it does not stop the government from rewarding Parkway with another project : appointed as the consultant in the development of SJER’s mega medical hub. Was there even a tender out on the project?

So it seems to suggest that whilst Parkway controlling Pantai could be a big No-No just at this moment, to be appointed as the consultant for the setting up of a mega medical hub in South Johor is a Yes-Yes scenario. The questions are :

1. Which is more lucrative: Pantai or SJER.
2. Why another Singapore based company is appointed the consultant for this mega project?

Is the government selling another piece of Malaysia yet again, to Singapore?
What is so special about Singapore or Singapore based companies?
Do we lack our own consultants in developing such projects?
If we throw away opportunities to foreign companies, how are we ever going to learn to manage our own in the future and how are we going to increase or add value to our own human capital and potential? Does this not go against what the government is preaching?

You be the judge.

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