But, with respect, there are still accusations about your son [Kamaluddin Abdullah] and your son-in-law [Khairy Jamaluddin] regarding nepotism. How do you feel about this?Khairy had many choices. He did not have to sell it at a loss.
l think the accusations of nepotism against a leader is one way of bringing him down, of eroding his credibility. They will do anything. My son [Kamaluddin] is a lawyer, he knows everything, that his father is the prime minister. He was in oil and gas. He worked overseas. He's got 35 locations overseas. He got some contracts with Petronas through open, international tender. And he offers the best terms.
That's what he does. And he bought some companies which he wanted because of their engineering capabilities, machine-tooling capabilities. He does not build the company organically, he goes for mergers and acquisitions. That's his style of business. Although many people have come and asked him to go into joint ventures with government-linked companies, he says 'No, I have enough money, I am rich'.
But your style of leadership, of allowing more debate, opens you to a lot of criticism, doesn't this get you down?
Of course, of course. I do get very sad. I did mention that the old man practically smashed Khairy's pot of rice. That's something about which I am very sad. He has sold his interest in ECM Libra (a merchant bank). Sold it at a loss. Now he has some debts to settle.
Khairy studied economic philosophy at Oxford. He was going to work in Hong Kong but it was too far away. Then he decided to go to Singapore. By that time he was already in UMNO Youth.
I posed him a question: 'Are you going into politics or are you going into business?' You cannot do both together, especially if you are going to operate in Singapore. That was the time when he was offered to join ECM Libra. That was the time they made all sorts of news about him. I thought, what the hell are you talking about? They made all sorts of noise so as to disqualify him. To make him scared. As a merchant banker his company was doing well. People were asking him to do all sorts of things. It is very unkind.
1. If everything is above board, why the need to panic and dispose of his shares in ECM Libra quickly?
2. In his own admission (and boasting), he had other suitors who were willing to pay more. He chose to sell to someone offering him less becuase they were of the correct race.
These are choices that the SIL himself made. He needs to be accountable for his own actions.
btw, the difference between us un-cultural nonMalay wage earners and un-cultural Malay entrepreuner - Lulu's only got a rice bowl. KJ's punya rice pot.