FROM 18 to 24 Oct, the Chinese media highlighted the government’s plan to inject RM5 billion into Valuecap Sdn Bhd, Datuk Ong Ka Chuan’s unsuccessful bid to be MCA deputy president, as well as Utusan Malaysia‘s changing role in two different eras.
Sin Chew Daily‘s editorial on 21 Oct, titled The impact of rescuing the stock market, was about Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s announcement that the government would inject RM5 billion into Valuecap to bolster the stock market. It said the allocation of more funds for Valuecap to invest in undervalued stocks in the local bourse was a concern for many people.
Fund management firm Valuecap was set up in 2003 to invest specifically in the Malaysian equity market. It is jointly owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Retirement Fund (Incorporated).
The editorial said the injection of another RM5 billion could give investors the impression that the government would keep propping up the local bourse. It said investors could end up being exposed to risky investment if share prices were pushed up by Valuecap’s activities and did not reflect the stocks’ actual value.
The article added that this could increase money supply in the economy and cause inflation to worsen. It asked whether Malaysian society was able to bear the burden of this move to rescue the share market.
He Fan’s article in Sin Chew Daily on 23 Oct, titled RM5 billion loan without Parliament’s approval, queried why the allocation for Valuecap was decided by the finance minister alone and did not obtain Parliament’s approval.
He said while there might be some rationale in using the loan to bolster the stock market, it should still be tabled and debated in Parliament, just like the national and state budgets were presented in Parliament and the state assembly respectively.
When announcing the plan on 20 Oct, as part of efforts to help the Malaysian economy weather the external financial crisis, Najib said the government would borrow the RM5 billion from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
In the Sin Chew Daily article, He noted that the RM5 billion was not part of the 2009 Budget.
“Why did they take the loan from the EPF, whose money belongs to the people, and without Parliament’s approval?” the writer asked.
“The way the fund was transferred to this company is worrying, as the lending procedure is not transparent.”
He also asked if profit were made from Valuecap’s investments, who would the profit go to: the EPF or Valuecap?
“If it were to lose money, who bears the losses? And how do we calculate the interests of the loan?”
The Ong bothers
Chiu Zhong Ni’s article, Ong Ka Chuan’s loss is no coincidence, in Oriental Daily on 22 Oct, said the former MCA secretary-general’s defeat to Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was partly a reaction to former president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting’s decisions in the 8 March general election.
Chiu said although it was a four-corner fight for the deputy president’s post, Datuk Donald Lim had secured only 209 votes, and would not be able to divert Chua’s votes. He said even if Lim had not contested, those 209 votes would still be equally split between Ka Chuan and Chua .
Chiu attributed Ka Chuan’s defeat to his brother, Ka Ting, whose decision to appoint new candidates for the general election was unpopular among some delegates.
“Ka Ting replaced 50% of the MCA’s [then] Members of Parliament (MPs) and state assemblypersons with new candidates to contest in the general election.
“Unfortunately most of these new candidates were defeated by the opposition, and were thus unable to control the delegates. The former MPs and state assemblypersons used their votes to take revenge on the Ong brothers [at the party elections on 18 Oct],” Chiu said.
Utusan Malaysia before and after Umno
Li Ya Ao’s article, Utusan Malaysia in two different eras, in Merdekareview on 20 Oct, compared the Malay daily before it was taken over by Umno and now that it is under the party’s control.
He said Utusan Melayu, the former name of Utusan Malaysia, published an article by the progressive educationist leader Lin Lian Yu on 4 May 1954. Li said Lin’s article discussed the need to build the concept among the people that all races were equals, and that only then can they build up this nation hand-in-hand.
“Lin said that unfortunately, the cultural and economic development among the races was not balanced. However, he believed that as long as government policies were fair, these problems could be rectified. In the future, there would be no racial lines, and they (the different races) would become a family,” said Li.
He also noted that Utusan Melayu was the first newspaper to publish the article and in the Jawi script.
Li said Utusan Melayu, then under the leadership of people such as Said Zahari, promoted progressive ideas and interaction among Malay and Chinese intellectuals and community leaders. Even the communist leader, Abdullah C D, praised the contribution of this paper in his memoir, he said.
However, everything changed after the newspaper was taken over by Umno in 1961.
Li said Utusan Malaysia promoted violence by publishing Politik Baru YB J, humiliated the opposition and the way it discussed the teaching of maths and science in English reflected its tendency to play up racial emotions.
“Utusan Malaysia has changed from the defender of justice to become an obstacle to national progress,” Li said.