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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 2-3. doc_id=NR20020327670.2_c2ce000eea03d0d8

Chronology of the Perwaja collapse

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 Japanese yen.

* 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 venture.

* 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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