Mahathir was furious. He had spent more than a year from mid-2002 to late 2003 discussing with Pak Lah as to what he can and cannot do once he took over as Prime Minister. Whether Pak Lah just forgot or whether he did a dirty on Dr Mahathir is not too clear. But the long and short of it, Pak Lah did everything he promised he would not do. And cancelling Mahathir’s pet projects was clearly one of the do-not-do's.
Actually, Pak Lah had a great dislike for Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary who had shunned him when he was the Deputy Prime Minister. Hence, within just a month of taking over as Prime Minister, Pak Lah did the unthinkable. He cancelled the Double Tracking Project, the Crooked Bridge Project, and all those other projects that Mahathir had given to his cronies. Did anyone not bother to tell Pak Lah that one just does not slaughter sacred cows, in particular Mahathir’s sacred cows?
Pak Lah explained that the government’s ‘poor finances’ did not permit such grandiose projects -- hence the need to cancel them. This caused Mahathir to flip. It gave the impression that Mahathir’s mismanagement has bled the country’s finances dry -- hence there is no more money. It also gave the impression that Mahathir’s projects are a total waste of money -- hence the need to cancel them. In short, Mahathir is a bungling idiot.
Try as he may, Syed Mokhtar could not get Pak Lah to agree to revive the Double Tracking Project. By 2006, Syed Mokhtar became very desperate. To get the project, he had already paid out commissions and under-table-money to various parties during Mahathir’s time. Syed Mokhtar realised that the only way to get this project back on track would be to work through the back door.
Syed Mokhtar asked the CEO of Gamuda, Lin Yun Ling, to approach Seow Lun Hoo to mastermind the penetration of Pak Lah’s inner circle. That was how Seow first involved Khairy Jamaludin, Pak Lah’s son-in-law, and later Shah Hakim, the close associate of Kamaluddin, Pak Lah’s son. And by a wave of the magical wand of Shah Hakim and Kamaluddin Badawi, the project began to be revived.
All these facts have now been revealed in court when Seow and Shah Hakim admitted that they “provided technical expertise and networking capabilities to help revive the once-shelved RM12.4 billion double-tracking railway project….It was through our efforts that the project was revived.”
The ‘networking capabilities’ and revival efforts included opening doors for Lin to present the revival ideas to then Minister-in-Charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Effendi Norwawi. Effendi initially told Lin that given Pak Lah’s grim description of the country’s finances it would be difficult for the government to be seen as reviving it from government funding. Effendi, the Sarawak financial wizard, then created this fanciful term for Lin to use when presenting the proposal to the government as a way in getting the project revived -- Private Finance Initiatives (PFI).
The idea was: the private sector can include all their additional financial costs and risks into the PFI proposal to make the project costs higher. Effendi also advised that after approval has been obtained, the PFI project could then revert to a design-and-build project fully shouldered by the government. And that was exactly how MMC-Gamuda cheated the Malaysian public into believing that the PFI projects were fully funded by the private sector whereas in the end the taxpayers would be footing the bill.
For his wonderful advice and support, Effendi also asked Lin to sponsor his new wife’s hobby in extravagant stage productions. That explained how Effendi’s wife, Tiara Jacqueline, could have the finances to mount the most glamorous and expensive Malay stage play to date -- Puteri Gunung Ledang. Lin and Syed Mokhtar were also made to sponsor Pak Lah’s wife’s pet project in the Pride Foundation and Endon Award for Performing Arts Excellence scholarship fund.
You see, Pak Lah, his family, and his friends in the cabinet, wanted to teach Syed Mokhtar and his sidekick, Lin, a good lesson for shunning them during Mahathir’s time. So they were going to make MMC-Gamuda pay for every single one of their whimsical pleasures.
Nazim Razak (Jim) was the architect who will design the various railway stations, Nazir Razak (Jay) of CIMB will be the merchant banker for the PFI, Nizam Razak will be providing financial and share advisory, while Najib’s job is to approve its revival. That is why the Plaintiff’s company is called NR Sistem, which are the initials of the Razak band of brothers.
So why the quarrel now if everyone in Umno and the Umno cronies were going to benefit? Shah Hakim had a deep distrust for Syed Mokhtar. So he had convinced Effendi that the project should be divided into two parts – the Infrastructure Works to be awarded directly to MGJV for RM10 billion and the Systems Work for RM2.38 billion which will be given to a contractor of the government’s choice. The Systems Work was supposed to be sub-contracted by MGJV to NR Sistem.
That was why, in 2007, Mahathir mounted vicious attacks against Pak Lah and mocked him about being Mr Clean. Meantime, Syed Mokhtar directed Lin to force Seow and Shah Hakim to accept a reduced profit margin RM360 million instead of RM600 million.
This infuriated Shah Hakim and Kamaluddin because they thought they had already agreed to the 30% margin, which was equivalent to RM600 million. That money was needed not just for them personally but also to fund Pak Lah’s 2008 elections campaign.
Syed Mokhtar held back the money and refused to give Pak Lah what he needed for the 12th general election campaign. Mahathir had advised Syed Mokhtar to hang on and not to commit to any figure as Mahathir wanted Pak Lah to perform badly in the election and subsequently be ousted.
The only way someone can become Prime Minister in this country is by paying huge sums of money to supporters to vote them into the hot seat. Without funds, Pak Lah could not pay for votes and was ousted.
Without enough funds, Mahathir’s plan became a reality. BN and Umno fared poorly in the March 2008 GE -- which was regarded as Pak Lah losing not just the elections but also losing face as well when Bumiputera businessmen whom had benefitted from Umno’s patronage dare renege on their promise of providing funding.
That is why Scomi has been side-lined from most government businesses and projects. Kamaluddin Badawi and Shah Hakim were then forced to sue MMC – Gamuda and expose in court that this is how BN/Umno raise funds for the elections.
Now, add that to the recent KIDEX project awarded to companies owned by Umno Lawyer, Hafarizam Harun, and former Chief Justice, Zaki Azmi. Consider also the sale of the 26 kilometre Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya Highway, better known as the Maju Expressway (MEX), to EP Manufacturing Berhad for RM 1.7 billion -- where the original construction cost of RM976.6 million was by way of a government grant, i.e. taxpayers’ money.