Malaysiakini has just reported that Vincent Tan has denied that he had much influence under the Mahathir administration:
He also said that it was a “real joke” to suggest that Mahathir consulted him on the appointment of judges as indicated in a video clip which featured lawyer VK Lingam.
“If I am so influential, I would have gotten many government projects but I didn’t,” he said.
Little influence, huh. One thing comes to mind: the privatisation of Sports Toto. Take a look at the Berjaya website:
The history of Sports Toto began in 1969 when it was incorporated to run the Toto betting business. It was essentially the Government’s effort to raise funds to promote and develop sports, youth and cultural activities.
Sports Toto was privatised in 1985 when its Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, through his private company acquired 70% of the paid-up capital.
It was one of the first privatisations under the Mahathir administration and it was done without open tender (Searle, Riddle of Malaysian Capitalism). State-run Sports Toto had recorded a profit of $7.03 million in the 12 months prior to the privatisation. So why the need to privatise in the first place?
At that time, Mahathir justified the privatisation by saying that “the idea came from a private sector group and it would have been unfair if their unique proposal had been accepted by the government and then awarded to someone else.”
What “unique proposal” to take over a profitable state-run lottery?
Today, Berjaya Sports Toto is the cash cow of the Berjaya group.
On another note, Vincent Tan should also tell us what he plans to do with theSun, until now the most independent English-language newspaper in Malaysia, and the reason for the timing of his takeover.