Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dr M officially opens the Lotus F1 Racing factory

Tun Dr. Mahathir, ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia, today conducted the official opening of the Lotus Racing factory in Hingham, Norfolk. Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister, and one of Asia’s most influential political figures, was joined by Lotus Racing Team Principal Tony Fernandes, Deputy Team Principals Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin and Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne for the official ceremony to declare the factory open.

During his tour Tun Dr. Mahathir was given a detailed explanation of the different aspects of a modern Formula One team factory. He was then seated in the Lotus Cosworth T127 Chassis 02 while the engine was fired up, giving the team’s esteemed guest a very rare insight into the conditions the team’s drivers, Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy, Italy’s Jarno Trulli and Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen work in at races and tests.

Tun Dr. Mahathir created the vision for the establishment and growth of motorsport in Malaysia, and therefore the birth of the Lotus Racing team. This visionary spirit was the driving force for the establishment of the Malaysian Grand Prix, held at the world-renowned Sepang International Circuit which was also created and built under his Premiership.

Tony Fernandes and fellow Lotus Racing shareholders Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin were honoured that Tun Dr. Mahathir oversaw such an important milestone in the team’s development, saying “It is very exciting for us and the team that Tun Dr. Mahathir has been able to come to Norfolk to officially open our factory. He is the Father of motor racing in Malaysia, the visionary behind the birth of the Sepang International Circuit and the Malaysian Grand Prix and has given us all the inspiration to reach for the skies and achieve our dreams – as such it is a tremendous honour for us to welcome him here and we are extremely proud he has opened our factory today. ”

Lotus Racing completed its first official test last week in Jerez and now moves to Barcelona for the final official test before the season kicks off in earnest in Bahrain from March 12th – 14th

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mahathir blamed me instead of himself : Soros

Controversial currency speculator cum philanthropist George Soros said the reason he got bad press in some Asian countries was due to attacks hurled against him by former Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"It really started with Mahathir blaming me instead of accepting responsibility (for the Asian financial crisis)," Soros told Malaysiakini in an interview in Hong Kong.

"He blamed me instead of accepting blame for his excesses, which led to the crisis."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mahathir Attacks Proton Holdings Again

FOR an 84-year-old, Mahathir Mohamad certainly knows how to dish it out.

On Tuesday, the former Malaysian prime minister (1981-2003) returned to one of his pet bugbears: his grievance with national carmaker Proton Holdings, which had sold an expensive Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta for one euro.

Writing in his blog, Dr Mahathir quoted the February edition of the magazine Robb Report. 'Since acquiring MV Agusta for more than US$100 million in 2008, Harley-Davidson has helped revitalise the 65-year-old Italian brand.'

Dr Mahathir has never hidden his distaste for Proton's management under his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Mr Abdullah had removed Tengku Mahaleel Ariff as Proton's chief executive, something that the former premier did not agree with. In addition, he was incensed with Proton's sale of MV Agusta - a purchase which he encouraged, as premier, as improving Proton's technological capability.

'People might just remember that Proton sold its share of MV Agusta for one euro (RM4) to some unknown Italian, who subsequently sold a part of the company to Harley-Davidson for the sum stated above (more than US$100 million, equal to more than RM340 million),' Dr Mahathir wrote.

He didn't stop there. 'We may also remember that the remaining part of MV Agusta was sold to BMW for about the same price - that is, more than RM340 million,' he continued.

'So we sold for RM4 something that the buyer, the mysterious Italian, sold for more than RM680 million,' said the ex-premier. 'We may also know that Proton bought a part of MV Agusta for approximately RM560 million.'

'The previous management of Proton claimed that it had saved millions of ringgit by selling its share for RM4,' said Dr Mahathir, who is ostensibly adviser to the car company. 'I am designated as adviser to Proton but during the period of the previous management, it was the management who advised me that the sale had been carried out. Obviously, the duty of the adviser was to be advised and not to advise.'

Proton Holdings has never really given a satisfactory explanation of its disposal of MV Agusta. When Dr Mahathir first began carping on the issue back in 2005, Proton defended itself by contending that there were no synergies between MV Agusta and Proton as a carmaker.

Describing continued criticism over the sale and change in management announced by Proton in July 2005 as 'uninformed speculation', the national car company said - in a tacit reference to Dr Mahathir - that there was 'a refusal among some to acknowledge explanations provided earlier'.

'There were no operational, engineering and technological synergies between Agusta and Proton,' said the car company in 2007. 'This has been independently confirmed by Proton's appointed advisers. Proton manufactures cars for the masses while Agusta manufactures motorcycles.'

Proton bought a 57.75 per cent stake in MV Agusta in December 2004 for 70 million euro. Its management then sold the stake to Italy's GEVI Spa, which also assumed the motorcycle maker's 107 million euro debt.

'In the event MV Agusta falls into bankruptcy,' the car company said, 'Proton would have been subject to a contingent liability for an amount of up to RM923.1 million.'

Unfortunately, Dr Mahathir was never convinced.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dr M: Never question the citizenship of the non-Malays

PETALING JAYA: The citizenship of non-Malays in the country should never be questioned, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

A provision in the Federal Constitution clearly stated that the Malays were the indigenous people of the country while the non-Malays had rights to citizenship, he said.

“That should not be questioned. The Constitution provides that you cannot take away citizenships,” he told reporters after opening the Malaysian Liver Foundation building at Ara Damansara here yesterday.

The former prime minister was asked to comment on alleged racist remarks made by Datuk Nasir Safar, a special officer to the Prime Minister, during a 1Malaysia seminar in Malacca.

“It is a very bad statement to make. Even if it is true, we don’t say things like that. They are in fact, the children of the people who came here. They have not just arrived,” said Dr Mahathir.

Johor Umno information chief Datuk Samsol Bahari Jamali said Nasir’s remarks did not reflect the views of Umno in any way.

He said Johor Umno always looked at ways to get everyone to work together and not hurt anyone’s feelings.

“I am shocked to hear it. He never struck me as a racist,” he said when contacted.

MIC vice-president Datuk Dr S. Subra­maniam said the immediate action taken by Najib indicated his seriousness and commitment in ensuring the success of the 1Malaysia policy.

“This should act as a deterent to ensure that similar statements are not repeated by any quarters,” he said in a statement.

Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said the alleged racist remarks had aggravated the already high political tension in the country

Meanwhile, non-governmental organisation Perkasa came to Nasir’s defence.

Its president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said the remarks would have been harsher had it come from him (Ibrahim).

He said he understood why Nasir had made that statement.

Kelab Belia Graduan 1Malaysia also came to Nasir’s defence, saying his remarks were misunderstood and taken out of context.

Its deputy president Najieb Mokhtar said Nasir never intended to offend anyone.

“Only a small number of those present at the function took offence and left the hall,” he said, adding that he was also at the same seminar.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tengku Razaleigh Using Opposition Platform Not Acceptable

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's using an opposition platform to state his stand on the oil royalty issue is not acceptable, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said this was because the former finance minister could have used a more suitable platform like a forum to put forward his views.

"I don't think it is acceptable, I must use other channels like a forum in order to voice out my views. He could have raised it with the Prime Minister," he told reporters after delivering an address entitled "Asean:Present and Future Challenges" at the 2010 Asean Logics Conference at the International Islamic University, Malaysia, here Tuesday.

Dr Mahathir said this when asked to comment on Tengku Razaleigh's action in stating that Kelantan was entitled to oil royalty at a PAS function held at the Sultan Mohamed IV Stadium in Kota Baharu recently, which was also attended by Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

"I think he gives Kelantan more priority than the government. As a Kelantanese (Tengku Razaleigh is the Member of Parliament for Gua Musang), you want to see Kelantan get its money," said Dr Mahathir.

Asked if Tengku Razaleigh's action would have an effect on Kelantan voters, Dr Mahathir said: "Perhaps, but in any case we (Barisan Nasional) will not be able to retake Kelantan because the Kelantanese have their own ideas."
KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has refrained from criticising Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for using an Opposition platform to voice his opinion on the Kelantan oil royalty issue.

He said that he had also been critical of the Government in the past.

“I do not think it is acceptable to use the platform of the Opposition but I have also spoken out using smaller groups critical to the Government.

“I am not in a position to condemn,” he said when asked for his reaction to Tengku Razaleigh’s comment that the PAS-led Kelan-tan government was entitled to a 5% royalty for petroleum extracted off its waters.

Last Thursday, Tengku Raza-leigh, who is a former Finance Minister and founding chairman of Petronas, told a gathering in Kota Baru that Kelantan was entitled to the royalty.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after giving a talk at the Asean Logics Conference at International Islamic University, Dr Mahathir said he had been very vocal against some of the moves made during the administration of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Dr Mahathir said he was of the view that Tengku Razaleigh was placing greater importance to Kelantan compared to the Federal Government.

“I suppose as a Kelantanese, he wants to see Kelantan get money. I am only guessing,” he said.

Kelantan Umno Youth was upset that Tengku Razaleigh chose to make his stand at a gathering organised by the PAS-led government, where he shared the stage with Mentri Besar and PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat at the Sultan Mohammed IV Stadium in Kota Baru.

Asked if Tengku Razaleigh’s ac-tions would affect the voters confidence towards Umno, Dr Maha-thir said: “Maybe, maybe. But whatever we do, we cannot win back Kelantan. Kelantanese have their own way of thinking.”

In his speech, Dr Mahathir said that Asean countries, together with China, Japan and South Korea, should have a common trading currency in place of the US dollar.

He also renewed his calls for the formation of the East Asia Economic Group (EAEG) , which would boost economic solidarity among the 10-member Asean group with the three north-east Asian countries.