Maika Holdings raised RM108 million in 1981 from Indians, especially rural folks from the lower- and middle-income groups. These people were told to use their life savings – and even sell their jewelry – to invest in Maika Holdings because they were told the company would give them returns that were 10 to 20 times their initial investment. This, of course, is sweeter an offer than any licensed bank could make.
Samy Vellu, whose rhetoric needs no introduction, managed to fool these mostly not-so-well- educated individuals into parting with their money.
If you ask anyone who was in MIC at that time about how they organised groups of people to go out there to convince the masses to part with their money, you will be surprised. They even went to the extent of telling would-be investors to sell their properties and cattle to invest in Maika Holdings.
In other countries, this would have been considered a huge financial scandal, not just because of the amount of money involved, but because of the number of people involved in fleecing equally vast numbers of poor and less-educated citizens.
The RM108 million then had a buying power that was 10 to 15 times its value today. In today’s terms, it would be valued between RM1 billion and RM1.5 billion. Shortly after the initial investments were collected, the recession in the mid-1980s enabled the cash-rich Maika Holdings to go shopping for properties and collect fantastic deals.
If those properties were still in the hands of Maika Holdings, the company would be worth some RM3 billion to RM5 billion today. But those properties were sold at below-market prices through shady deals in which more money was transferred under the table than through actual and legal sales agreements.
Some of us may also remember the Telekom shares scandal, in which Maika Holdings was extended an offer to buy Telekom shares during its initial public offering (IPO). But Maika Holdings did not buy the Telekom shares. Instead, Samy Vellu bought them through his personal company, because Maika Holdings, supposedly, did not have the money to do so.
Maika Holdings could have made RM30 million, but this opportunity was hijacked by the sole defender and representative of the Indian community.
Telekom was only the first privatised government department. Since then, many other government agencies and departments have been privatised. As with Telekom Malaysia, shares were offered to Maika Holdings, but the offers were hijacked over and over again by Samy Vellu and his gang.
Using the Maika Holdings money, the gang bought into well-run companies and turned them upside down by appointing their own people to run these companies, squandering away the profits with luxurious parties and lavish parties, and, finally, by closing down these companies. They plundered in epic proportions.
To date, Maika shareholders have received almost nothing for their investments. The Maika Holdings scandal has cost many their life savings, property, opportunities to send their children for advanced education and so much more.
Recently, during a political speech, Samy Vellu announced that he will return RM1.30 for every RM1 invested in Maika Holdings and set a deadline of 100 days to do so. At the end of the deadline, however, he conveniently turned around and said that he has nothing to do with Maika Holdings because Maika Holdings is a business enterprise and he is only the president of MIC.
The managing director of Maika Holdings, Vel Pari, the son of Samy Vellu, then said that he did not know of any such deadline and, as such, is not bound to honour any kind of commitment.
Those who had the courage to go to Maika Holdings’ annual general meeting last year were met by thugs who intimidated and harassed anyone who raised questions about the management. Death threats and armed assaults are not uncommon at Maika Holdings’ annual general meetings.
No wonder the MIC is considered the most violent political party in Malaysia with two MPs shot dead by assailants in recent years, one or two knocked down by cars (in what are supposed to be accidents) and some even slashed by parang-wielding gangsters.
But Samy Vellu and gang have been allowed to continue plundering Maika Holdings without any accountability. And they were never questioned by the government, Bank Negara, the former prime minister or even the present prime minister.
The MIC’s handling of Maika Holdings was a con job approved and blessed by the highest public office. Perhaps it’s because Indians are the disenfranchised lot in this country that Samy Vellu can do anything, as long as he delivers the votes every election.
The government's total apathy regarding this scandal shows its attitude towards Indians – we are nobody's children. This injustice – this lack of government oversight – is happening in Malaysia, a country that is, supposedly, a leader among developing countries and is supposed to be a ‘developed nation’ in 12 years.
If the government is serious about showing its commitment to the Indians, start by asking Samy Vellu to step down. Get Maika Holdings cleaned up and bring to justice those who have been responsible for cheating its shareholders.
Don't be so stupid as to think that all we want are a few temples to be left in a few squatter areas. We know that as long as they are in squatter land, they will have to go. And repairing a few Tamil schools in some estates is like throwing us table scraps.
Show us that the government cares about Malaysian Indians as equal citizens who are entitled to equal protection under the law.