FEER: Mahathir's White House Wish Nears - Chronology of Perwaja collapse
By FEER Intelligence
28/3/2002 11:03 pm Thu
Issue cover-dated April 04, 2002
Mahathir's White House Wish Nears
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad may finally
have his wish for an invitation to the White House
granted. Diplomats following Malaysia's relations with
the United States say President George W. Bush has
invited Mahathir for an official visit in mid-May, though
one U.S. officials stresses "nothing can be said
officially at this point." Mahathir had been largely
shunned by Washington after he imprisoned his former
deputy Anwar Ibrahim in 1998, but the Malaysian prime
minister has greatly rehabilitated his image by
cooperating with the U.S. in the war against terrorism.
Mahathir met Bush at the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum in Shanghai in October, but U.S.
officials give conflicting signals about whether Bush or
Secretary of State Colin Powell raised concerns about the
continuing imprisonment of Anwar following conviction on
charges of sodomy and abuse of power. In an apparent
effort to bolster Malaysia's image in the U.S. ahead of
Mahathir's visit, companies seen as close to the prime
minister took out a three-page advertisement in The New
York Times on March 21 trumpeting the strengths of the
Malaysian economy. The Malaysian embassy, meanwhile, is
hosting a conference on Malaysia in Washington on April
March 27, 2002 9:22am
* APRIL 22, 1982 Perwaja Terengganu Sdn Bhd started with
a paid-up capital of RM250 million.
Construction of the plant started six months later.
*1986 Perwaja Terengganu plunged into the red with an
accumulated loss of RM131 million by the end of 1986 due
to management problems and the appreciation of the
* FEBRUARY, 1987 A new management team headed by (Tan Sri)
Datuk Eric Chia was appointed to bring Perwaja back to
profitability. He was UMW group chief executive then.
* MAY 17, 1988 The Government received more than 10 proposals
to turn the RM1.2 billion Perwaja steel plant into a profitable
* MARCH 2, 1989 Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Sulong was
appointed chairman and a year later, Perwaja Steel Sdn
Bhd was incorporated to take over the operations from
Perwaja Terengganu Sdn Bhd.
* MARCH 11, 1996 The Employees' Provident Fund (EPF)
approved a RM600 million loan to Perwaja Steel to expand
its rolling mill in Gurun, Kedah. This was the second time
EPF had provided financial assistance to Perwaja.
The first, amounting to RM100 million, was part of a
syndicated loan extended to Perwaja in the late 1980s.
*MARCH 1996 Perwaja Steel reported a pre-tax loss of
RM376.54 million for the year ended March 31, 1995.
The losses were caused by, among others, Perwaja's
expansion project involving the building of a rolling
mill in Gurun. Morever, the steel company relies heavily
on foreign raw materials such as iron ore from Brazil and
Australia, and scrap iron from India.
* APRIL 10, 1996 The Anti-Corruption Agency is probing an
audit report into possible malpractices and fraud which
contributed to the RM2.5 billion losses incurred by
Perwaja Terengganu Sdn Bhd. The response was made following
former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's
address in Parliament a day earlier in relation to a
preliminary report by a financial and management audit
team. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said
the Government will take steps to resolve the problems at
Perwaja Terengganu Sdn Bhd.
* JUNE 16, 1997 Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd took over Perwaja
Steel with 51 per cent stake and management control.
* MAY 4, 1999 The Anti-Corruption Agency's probe into the
RM2.9 billion losses incurred by Perwaja Steel as at Dec 31,
1995, is ongoing, said then ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad
Zaki Husin, who added that it began in October 1996.
* JULY 22, 1999 Anwar lodged a police report in the court
lock-up and registered at the Tun H.S. Lee police station.
* SEPT 9, 2000 Tan Sri Eria Chia, who once helmed Perwaja
Steel, is said to be ready to give evidence in court.
* The Straits Times of Singapore reported that Chia spent
six months collecting documents detailing transactions
from Chile, Brazil, Germany, Italy as well as Japan.
* FEB 26, 2002 Dr Mahathir said that there could have
been misappropriation of funds and mismanagement at Perwaja
Steel and Malaysia Airlines, both of which had recorded
hefty losses. Touching on Perwaja, Dr Mahathir said a
businessman brought in to run the company might have
mismanaged it and taken money from the company, but that
investigations had run into a stonewall. The same day,
the firm closed its two plants.
* MARCH 26, 2002 Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd would reopen its
Kemaman and Gurun plants in April, said its chief
executive officer Datuk Abu Talib Mohamed.
Copyright 2002. All Rights Reserved.
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