For almost 30 years, Maika shareholders, many of them poor, waited in vain to enjoy the fruit of their investment. Now the shareholders are being offered a miserable RM0.80 for every ringgit invested, observes P Ramakrishnan.
More than 66,000 Indians, mostly poor and from the estates, invested RM103 million with high expectations of good returns. That was what they were promised, and they were enticed to rally around this Indian venture that was solely for the Indians. Many pawned their jewellery, others took loans or invested their entire life-savings to support this venture that was touted as a sure-win undertaking.
For almost 30 years, they waited in vain to enjoy the fruit of their investment. Many continued to service their loans and suffered. Others passed on, dejected and frustrated. There was no hope for them whatsoever and they stopped dreaming of the wealth that was promised them.
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While the Maika shareholders suffered, the directors of Maika continued to be paid very well. They did not take a pay cut but enjoyed their full benefits.
Now, there is some kind of offer for these shareholders. They are now being offered RM0.80 for every RM1.00 they had invested. After waiting for almost 30 years, now they have to suffer not only a 20 per cent loss on their investment but also the puchasing power of whatever they receive get now is a lot lower than it was 30 years ago. Instead of some gains, they are forced to suffer a further loss after 30 long years. What a tragic end to their dreams!
Even if the shareholders were given a 0.05 sen profit, they would have been thankful. After 30 years, don’t they even deserve a wee bit for the sufferings that they have had to endure?
But to offer 80 per cent is not fair at all. The assets of Maika which include a potentially money-making insurance company and valuable land – besides other assets – should have been able to yield a better return for these poor Indians, who had been led up the garden path with rosy promises.
What is unforgiveable is the fact that it was an Indian effort to raise the welfare of the Indians that was so badly managed by Indians in positions of authority.
The 10 million Telecom shares that were offered to Maika in 1990 would have helped these unfortunate Indians to realise their dreams but the Great Leader of the Indians high-jacked 9 million shares and gave them to shell companies run by his cronies. He literally deprived them of their just dues. This unforgiveable betrayal robbed the Indians of what should have been theirs by right.
It looks as if 20 per cent of their assets will be given over to those who have come up with this package to buy up the shares of these frustrated Indians. Maika and MIC have caused enough misery to these shareholders to deserve their curse for ten generations!
P Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran
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