Friday, May 6, 2011


Source: The Straits Times 6 May 2011
There was a time during my parents generation when you had to slog really hard for years before you made your first million bucks. These days there are short cuts to amassing wealth. You can strike it rich in a lottery, win a game show that offers a million-dollar prize, or marry into wealth. Then there are the more shady methods like conning gullible folks, especially the elderly and the lovelorn, into parting with their savings.

Or you could charge RM20 million (S$8.5m) for services rendered. That's precisely what Shazryl Eskay Abdullah did when he helped Merong Mahawangsa Sdn Bhd to procure a contract said to be worth RM2 billion to build the 'crooked bridge' to replace the causeway linking Malaysia and Singapore. The project was announced by former PM Mahathir Mohamad in 2003, but was subsequently canned by his successor Abdullah Badawi in 2006.

Eskay filed a suit against the company and its executive director Datuk Yahya Jalil in 2002 claiming breach of contract for failing to pay him the RM20 remuneration after he had secured the contract for the company and RM640m in foreign funding for the project.

The Star 6 May 2011
Yesterday the court ruled that Eskay was not entitled to the RM20m remuneration. The news report of the story in Singapore's Straits Times uses the word 'commission' instead of 'remuneration'. Interesting difference.

I quote from the Straits Times: "The case of the crooked bridge has thrown a spotlight on how the Malaysian government awards major projects." The reports confirm what people already know - that if you have connections with people in high places, you are in a vantage position to leverage on those connections for personal gain.

Apparently Eskay had told Yahya that he had good relations with high-ranking government officials, and could set up meetings for Yahya with then Finance Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to discuss the project, and also with Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub's family.
Here's what the judge said that was not reported in The Star article:

"While the practice of awarding contracts to selected individuals and corporations without calling for open and public tenders was irregular and not transparent, it was not necessarily illegal. Awarding projects which involve large contract sums must no doubt be carried out through public open tenders and not through private arrangements or by using the influence of ministers and political leaders for personal gain or benefit. The object of building the bridge between Malaysia and Singapore must necessarily be for the good of the people and should not merely be to confer benefits on a certain class or group of people who have the knack of having connections with high-level politicians."

He did qualify his statement by saying that in Eskay's case, "participation was done in a transparent manner, through correspondence with the Economic Planning Unit." Well, which is it? Was Eskay's service legal or illegal? I guess the judge wants us to draw our own conclusion

The axed 'crooked bridge' project to link Singapore and Johor-Malaysia.
Eskay would have been a multi-millionaire if he had been paid the commission. This is how some people get filthy rich - by soiling their hands with dirty money obtained from crooked projects!

If the name Eskay sounds familiar, it's the same guy involved in the controversial Anwar sex video scandal that's currently dominating the headlines. Talk about over-exposure in the media!

No comments: