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Maika: While politicians bicker Maika shareholders just want their money back

Contributed by Anonymous on Saturday, August 01 @ 01:19:56 CDT

MIC
The unruly scene at yesterday’s protest. — File pic
By Baradan Kuppusamy KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — Yet another protest against Maika Holdings by opposition politicians and shareholders has come and gone with the usual angry confrontation, condemnations, police barricades and submission of memorandum.


By now it is a familiar routine for most shareholders and their numbers have been dwindling over the years. Many are old and infirmed, others have died and some are frustrated by the endless infighting and keep away. Maika was their ticket to a better life but for all intents and purposes it is now an eyesore. There is a strong case here for the government to intervene and end the controversy, shareholders said, by doing a due diligence, ascertain the company’s NTA, try to salvage what is salvageable and pay shareholders, if possible, ringgit for ringgit. “Just return the RM3, 500 I had invested and I would be happy,” said shareholder S. Kalaisundaram, 68. “We all know it is over for Maika… we know it is dead. But just return the money,” he said at yesterday’s protest. “I have no work, no pension, no children to support me and the money is important.” “Prime Minister Najib (Razak) should step in and end this controversy once and for all,” he said, expressing the general feeling of Maika shareholders. Opposition politicians have for years rode on the community’s anger over the failure of Maika Holdings to win support but without offering a solution. Yesterday’s protest was no different from previous demonstrations since the late 1980s when it was already known that Maika as a business venture had failed. The protest was in part a tit-for-tat reply by the Pakatan Rakyat to the MIC’s protest against the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat Penang state government over the Kampung Buah Pala issue. When the PR protestors, nearly all Indian except for Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu, demanded to know why shareholders have not been repaid, MIC supporters from inside the fenced-off headquarters unfurled banners to question why the DAP had “betrayed” the Kampung Buah Pala villagers. Both sides had anticipated each other and had came prepared with appropriate slogans and banners. While they traded insults shareholders like Ramaiah, 78, from Perak, could only watch with frustration from the sidelines. “They told me this time we could get our money back but we have to show our protest,” Ramaiah said, a retired factory hand who invested RM1, 000. “It is the same each time… we shout until sore and we go back until the next protest,” he said, urging the government to step in. "All these people are at each other’s throats... what solution can they offer?" As the confrontation continued outside, Maika Holdings CEO Vel Paari was giving a press conference on the 4th floor office of Maika Holdings, watched on one side by the skeleton staff of the company and on the other, his MIC supporters. Paari was squarely blaming former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam for all of Maika’s woes. Incidentally his father Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu was holding another press conference (after a meeting of the MIC central working committee) on the 1st floor attacking Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for "betraying" the Indians. Prodded by the press, Paari gave depressing financial figures that showed the sorry state of Maika. Its debts had ballooned from about RM19 million in the late 1990s to RM63 million as of today because of non-payment of interest, default charges and penalties. Some of the loans were taken using Oriental Capital Assurance Berhad (OCAB) shares as collateral and one bank, Paari said, has issued a notice for foreclosure. He agreed there was a danger Maika would lose OCAB if the loans are not settled. “If Subramaniam had not got the injunction to stop the sale of OCAB in 2006 we would have by now sold OCAB and paid off all the Maika shareholders. I blame Subramaniam for the current mess,” Paari said. “I had a firm offer of RM1.75 per share and it is all gone now,” he said. Subramaniam’s Nesa Co-operative had obtained an injunction, still in force, to stop the sale because a higher price could be obtained and to keep OCAB in “Indian hands”. As part of his campaign to get his team elected in the Sept 12 MIC elections, Samy Vellu is also using the “injunction issue” to attack Subramaniam who has tried to explain the “real” reasons why he went for an injunction. Paari said “as matters stand now” (financially) Maika is unable to pay shareholders ringgit for ringgit. Outside the MIC headquarters only a shaky fence separated the two groups that traded insults, unfurled banners and pushed and shoved each other. Some of the most degrading insults in Tamil were exchanged by the two groups as riot police watched in exasperation. At the end of the two-hour long confrontation a two page memorandum was handed to Paari, the CEO of Maika Holdings since 1999. By 1999 Maika Holdings was in shambles, most of its business ventures had failed and it was weighted down by huge loans with only one jewel left – OCAB. OCAB, Maika shareholders say, survived the rot because it was professionally managed and under the eagle eye of Bank Negara. The confrontation yesterday was not about the shell of Maika Holdings but it was really about what to do with the profitable OCAB. But with OCAB’s shares under mortgage and banks beginning to foreclose and with the Indian community wracked by massive infighting and unable to agree on anything much, shareholders are in danger of losing the insurance arm. “Our only hope now is for the government to intervene,” said shareholder Kalaisundaram.
 

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