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Incensed Subra walks out of Maika meeting

Contributed by Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 @ 12:11:17 CDT

Thursday, August 30, 2007
By: Traveler
As expected,  Maika AGM today at Sime Darby Convention centre was full of dazzling fireworks; heckling, hurling abuses, vulgar words, pushing and shoveling between Samy and Subra camps. After 50 years of Malaysian independence the Indian Malaysians remain divided, angry, emotional and an acrimonious community.

Incensed Subra out from the mob

MIC former deputy president Subramaniam led his camp, true to what he said a week ago that he is not the old Subramaniam, anymore. He has been widely regarded as a passive and submissive person. Today, several times he came forward aggressively to support those who were manhandled. Finally, he led the walk out when the Maika chairman went ahead for casting ballot to pass the resolutions without giving Subra a chance to put forward his proposal regarding Maika’s insurance arm.

Meanwhile, Makkal Osai will be using Nayanam weekly magazine, tomorrow for their news.

Maika investors will get money back: CEOBede Hong
Aug 30, 07 Malaysiakini

Investors with MIC’s investment arm, Maika Holdings, will get their money after shareholders voted overwhelmingly today to dispose of its subsidiary insurance company Oriental Capital Assurance Berhard (OCAB).

Maika chief executive officer Vel Paari said that investors will get RM1.00 for each share invested, including bonuses, within four months.

“At this moment, the minimum I can guarantee you is RM1.00 per share, and that’s including buying back of the bonus shares at RM1.00. Once this is done, my work is completed,” he told reporters following the company’s AGM held at Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Over 1,100 shareholders, most of whom were proxies, voted at the AGM. Several scuffles were reported during the proceedings, following which shareholders were escorted out of the hall.

Five resolutions were tabled, including one which calling for the disposal of equity interest held in OCAB, where 20,748,901 votes in shares voted in favour while 370,625 voted against.

In resolution five, 20,825,151 votes in shares voted in favour for the distribution while 270,625 voted against.

Maika, an investment company set up to increase Indian Malaysian equity, has put OCAB up for sale at RM129 million. The company had been profitable until last year when it suffered a loss of RM9.33 million.

Other assests to go too

Vel Paari said engineering company Celcon had made the highest bid for OCAB, which will be dispose of at RM1.75 per share, he said.

“We were hoping to take Oriental public. At that time we did appoint CIMB Merchant Bank to do the full evaluation on the process of taking it public. They said we could get in terms of listing, an IPO (initial public offering) of RM1.60 and that was also based on projected after tax profit,” said Vel Paari, who has been CEO since 1999.

“In 2005, we didn’t achieve that kind of ranking so they were looking between RM1.10 and RM1.60. We had to get what was the best value for our shareholders,” he said.

Vel Paari said the initial offer was at RM1.33, approved by Bank Negara, from IOE, a Japanese insurance company.

“Once we sell the insurance company, we want to dispose the other assets as well, and give the shareholders an option. Those who want to take it and those who want to maintain the funds in the company.”
“I’m hoping to see it done within two to three months or two to four months, but you know with Order 69, I can’t actually give a time frame,” he said.

On why former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam’s opposition to the sale could not be tabled, Vel said the former’s proposals came too late.

“I explained to him under public guidelines, you have to give seven days before the AGM date. But since his came two days before, the board cannot accept it. I asked the company secretary to explain to him. He said he was satisfied with the explanation,” the CEO said.

Vel Paari also said that the board opted for ballot voting to prevent scuffles: “The problem with a show of hands is some people would shout ‘put down your hand, put down your hand’. You always have this type of problem, last time we ask to have a show of hands, they started shouting.”

Maika still has some 200 acres of land in Sepang, which will be disposed off. In addition a management buyout has been proposed for Maika’s intellectual resources.

“Other assets, we already have buyers. My focus now is to work to get a discount from the institution which we still owe some money and then try to give the money to the shareholders in three to four months time,” said Vel Paari.

'My conscience is very clear' 

Asked on his performance as CEO, Val Paari said, “If you ask me, I have done well for the company. But if I was really allowed to do my work, instead of spending more time at the commercial crime and the anti-corruption office, I think I would have done better. No regrets.

“My conscience is very clear. I came to do a job. We got back our money. At least everybody is getting RM1.00 minimum,” he said.

Meanwhile, several shareholders expressed outrage at today's proceedings, which were marred with several outbursts and scuffles.

Several shareholders were escorted out by security personnel after speaking from the floor. Some were cut off mid-way, including Subramaniam.

"It is just a farce. The board of directors did not explain what has gone wrong with Maika. They did not explain why in the last 24 years, Maika has been operating at a loss," said DAP legislator M Kulasegaran

"They were only ten policemen around and they did nothing when microphones were pulled away from shareholders after they raised certain matters," he said.

Another shareholder, Kumarasen, an accountant, said that shareholders who oppose the sale were not allowed to speak at length of their disgruntlement.

"It looks like the shareholders have been ripped off. At the end of the day, the last remaining finance license will go into the hands of people who have no idea what they are getting into," he said.

"This is the remaining asset for the Indians. This is no racist undertone. But this should be a lesson that corporate governance is needed in a listed company. There was complete ruckus inside. In the name of security, you have people bashing other people up," he added.

A shareholder from Perak, who did not wished to be named said he did not expect to get much returns from the disposal.

"Five of my family members invested into Maika. For all of us, it is a big loss. Even if we were to get our money back, it would still be a loss because of inflation.

"The money could have been put to better use in this 24 years," he added.

Maika was established in 1982 to increase the equity of Indian Malaysians. The company raised RM106 million in 1984 from 66,000 investors. Maika has only paid its shareholders cash dividends on seven occasions to date, the last being in 1995. It will not be paying dividends this year.

A pandemonium in the shape of a meetingK Kabilan
Aug 30, 07 Malaysiakini
About 1,100 Maika Holdings’ shareholders today came to the company’s annual general meeting hoping to hear some good news about their investments.

Instead the meeting ended with more questions and uncertainties over the future of the MIC’s troubled investment arm.

The main agenda for the meeting today was to obtain the shareholders’ approval for the sale of the company’s golden goose, insurance company Oriental Capital Assurance Bhd, for RM129.8 million.

The Maika board of directors got it approved through a quick balloting process, which many shareholders had not even bothered to vote.

Their lack of interest was largely due to their frustration in not getting any satisfactory answer from Maika chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Manaf, or the manner in which he conducted the meeting.

The meeting started promptly at 10am at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. Just minutes into the meeting, the sign of things to come was evident.

First came the issue of who should chair the meeting. One shareholder said that since Vell Paari - son of MIC president S Samy Vellu - was the chief executive officer of Maika, he should the conduct the meeting.

This was opposed by others, who said that Abdul Rashid was the right person to chair the meeting.

While this matter was being hotly debated, up cropped a second issue, on the matter of which language to be used to conduct the meeting.

Some shareholders opposed the use of English, some wanted only Tamil while the rest said let’s do it in both.

Abdul Rashid, who by virtue of his post has been the chair of past Maika AGMs, said he neither speaks nor understands Tamil.

Shouting match

By now, just entering the third minute into the meeting, a shouting match started where almost everyone had something to say. One even questioned if Abdul Rashid should remain Maika chairperson if he could not communicate in the language of the shareholders.

In the midst of this, one shareholder claimed that there were many non-members in the hall and demanded Abdul Rashid, who chaired the meeting in English, to remove them. According to the shareholder, these non-members and security personnel were intimidating the shareholders.

Others defended the security personnel and claimed that everyone in the hall was a member.

It was strange indeed that there were many ‘young and stern looking’ shareholders in the crowd. Their job, on most occasions, was to silence shareholders asking questions on financial matters.

Up to this stage, the chairperson had not said a word and was instead watching the ensuing commotion like an observer.

By the first half hour, Abdul Rashid totally lost control of the floor. Just about everyone in the floor had something to say - and no real attempt was made to discuss the items in the agenda.

It was at this stage that former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam walked up to the microphone to say something. While he was about to talk, someone drowned his words by speaking into another microphone.

Subramaniam’s supporters got angry and started heckling the culprit. Similarly, the former deputy minister too was heckled by others.

Only the authoritative voice of Wilayah Persekutuan MIC leader M Saravanan helped to bring the chaotic situation under control and the meeting continued with the chairperson reading out Maika’s financial report for last year.

The four groups

By now everyone in the hall were well aware that there were four groups of shareholders at the meeting.

The first group was fiercely loyal to MIC president and Maika founder Samy Vellu. Naturally, this loyalty extended to his son, Vell Paari, the company’s CEO. These shareholders would willingly rubber stamp whatever the board wanted.

The second comprised of Subramaniam’s supporters, who have lost all confidence in the leadership of Samy Vellu. For them, Subramaniam would make a better leader if he had been given the chance. For this group, Maika’s mismanagement was yet another sign of Samy Vellu’s inability to do anything good for the community.

And then there were the third group of shareholders who genuinely were interested in making Maika a successful company. They wanted to eradicate all problems of mismanagement and ensure that Maika did what it was originally set up to do - to enable Indian Malaysians to have a share in the country’s economic growth.

The fourth group were the poor shareholders who were taken in by the sweet talks made by their MIC leaders in 1982, promising them a good return for their investment in Maika.

In all, 66,000 shareholders - majority of whom are from the fourth category - invested in Maika, generating a total of RM106 million.

These shareholders have only one thing in mind - the return of their hard-earned money.

One man said: “I have waited for 24 years. Nothing big has come out of my investment. Just return my initial investment.”

Back to the meeting. After Abdul Rashid had finished reading his financial report, he opened the floor for questions.

Shareholders asked him on various issues - from the proposed sale of OCAB to the apparent financial irregularities in the annual report.

The melee

Once again, things became tense when Abdul Rashid said he would take all questions before answering them. Many shareholders objected to this. Abdul Rashid said that he was doing so to allow his team “behind me to provide you the answers”.

And when he began to answer some of the questions, once again tempers flared with one side saying they were not happy with his answers while the other side said they were sufficient.

One particular question, raised by housing cooperative Koperasi Nesa’s secretary R Rajanan, became a point of contention.

Rajanan wanted to know why the evaluation of the Bukit Tumbuk estate in Sepang dropped drastically from RM115 million to RM67.7 million.

The chairperson’s answer and rebuttals that followed turned the meeting into another melee.

It was at this stage that Subramaniam rose to speak again, asking the chairperson for clarification when one shareholder attempted to throw a punch at Subramaniam, who incidently is also Koperasi Nesa president.

All hell broke loose at this stage. Subramaniam was roughed up and his supporters were heckled.

While the melee was going on in one part of the hall, Abdul Rashid proceeded with his meeting, running through the agenda on his list. He said that he was calling for the balloting on the proposed sale of the insurance company and asked the shareholders to vote.

Most had gotten so frustrated by this stage and had left the hall, including Subramaniam and his posse of supporters.

The question by Rajanan remained unanswered. So were a host of other questions by other shareholders.

Don’t mention Vell Paari

Few other short interludes of violence also broke out during the four-hour meeting.

In one, shareholder and DAP national vice chairperson M Kula Segaran was roughed up for questioning what Samy Vellu had done for Maika that the directors had thanked him for his “tireless work and guidance” in the annual report.

“What guidance has he given you? What tireless work has he done in the past 24 years that has now put Maika on the brink of being bankrupt,” he said, only to be met with shoving and pushing by some menacing looking men.

Another man, a 74-year-old shareholder, said the meeting was being conducted like a “toddy shop” and asked why Vell Paari was walking around the hall while the meeting was proceeding.

The mere mention of Vell Paari’s name was enough for this man to be physically assaulted and bundled out of the meeting room.

But the man came prepared for these - he had chili powder with him which he threw on his ‘attackers’.

At the end of the day, many shareholders had come to accept that the insurance company would be sold and this will eventually mark the end of Maika Holdings.

A Pachiammal, a 73-year-old grandmother from Kapar, was arguably the oldest shareholder at the meeting.

She had a worried look in her face and said she regretted putting her hard-earned cash into Maika.

When asked if she was still hopeful of getting her money back, she appeared dumbfounded and declined to answer.

She need not to say anything. Her body language was enough to show her bitter disappointment in the men who managed Maika. And she was not alone.



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