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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Memorable cases

About 9 yrs ago, the the MD of the Firm decided to send me to the Malaysian Institute of Management in Jalan Ampang for a 2 (or was it 3) days course in Financial Analysis. I thought that by reading law in my university days would save me from having to deal with numbers, but the MD retorted "How would you expect to advise our corporate clients, if you could not even understand all the financial statements that you will be perusing?" At that point in time, I was involved with the restructuring of a cooperative society... on its way to be listed on the main board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

Short deadlines, practically and inconveniently "moving targets" and lots of meeting and joustling around was involved. The due dilligence exercise had disclosed some potential problems. It was later found out that the cooperative society had been registered as the legal owner of lands catagorised as Malay Reserved Land in various states in Malaysia. At that time, due to special exemption in the Malay Reservetion Act, the cooperative society was recognised as "Malay" and therefore it could be registered as propreitor of Malay reserve lands.

It was unfortunate that the vehicle company (newco), to whom all the assets of the cooperative society would be injeccted into is not 100% owned by Malay or ingeneous people and I had rightfully voiced my concern in several meetings, but due to my status as a junior lawyer or maybe they did not listen to me properly, my concern was ignored, by reason that they were confident that by writing to all state chief ministers, the issue would be easily solved. They were only concerned with the various plots of Malay Reserved land situated in Kelantan, at that time Kelantan being the state controlled by the opposition party, PAS and lead by its spiritual leader, Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

As stated in the Federal Constitution, land is placed under the state list and I was instructed to draft a standard cover letter to the various Mentri Besars to ask for their consent. As for Kelantan, I was told THE OLD MAN himself would see Nik Aziz himself in Kota Bharu and was to not to worry about it. The morning before I left for MIM, I was told the OLD MAN had seen Nik Aziz. The Tok Guru had given its consent for the transfer of the lands to the newco.

I was grimacing over some number crunching exercise in MIM, when suddenly my handphone rang. It was an emergency. "Encik, ada masalah,tolong balik ke ofis, Din & sorang lagi budak despatch yg hantar dokumen ke Jabatan Perdana Menteri siang tadi tak balik-balik lagi - agaknya depa tu ikut berdemonstrasi kat Masjid Al-Rahman, UM bantah perlawanan kriket Malaysia lawan Israel - Polis tengah kepong kawasan tu". (Sir, please come back to the office, there is a serious problem, Din and another despatch staff whom had went out this morning to send an important document to the Prime Minister's Department is probably involved in a peaceful demonstration objecting to the freindly cricket match between malaysia and Israel at the University Malaya's mosque, the police has surrounded the whole place".

As I was told that all of the Firm's lawyers were around as they had earlier left for some urgent meeting with the merchant banks, I reluctantly went back to the office to get the full story.

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