The Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) told Parliament that up to February this year, 18,007 import permits (AP) for cars were issued and the bulk of it went to three so-called AP Kings.
Minister Rafidah Aziz, described by parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang as the Queen of Parliament, in a written reply to Kit Siang said that 7,303 permits were open APs and 10,704 were franchise APs given to 22 franchise-holding companies.
AP King Nazamuddin S.M. Amin via The Naza Group and Naza Consortium received 5,455 APs.
The other two AP Kings - former army major Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim and his business partner and former MITI officer, Haniff Abdul Aziz were given 1,349 APs for five companies controlled by them -- Auto Pacific Star Bhd., Global Worldtrade Sdn Bhd., Territorial Star Sdn Bhd., Weststar Motorsport Sdn Bhd., and Go Smartstar Sdn Bhd.
In Malaysia, APs are seen as licences to "print money." They are given free to firms controlled by ethnic Malays under a decades-old affirmative-action policy design to redistribute wealth called the New Economic Policy (NEP).
The permits give their holders an exclusive right to import certain brands of cars. It is understood that for each car the AP holder can make up to RM40,000 (about US$10,500).
Among the three AP Kings, Nazamuddin is seen as "redistributing" some the wealth back to the people and country by having automobile assembly plants employing a substantial number of workers. His fleet of companies under the Naza Group also set up sales and after sales service centres and automobile showrooms manned by trained and skilled workers.
On the other hand, Syed Azman and Haniff used the wealth to purchase bungalow lots and construct mansions at Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Ampang. Syed Azman purchased three lots while Haniff bought two lots. Syed Azman's mansion is equipped with state-of- the-art security system, a helicopter landing pad and a three-metre wall protected by barbed wires. A security guard is also on duty round-the-clock.
Syed Azman and Haniff, if not for the APs, would not be where they are today. One was a former military intelligence officer and the other a middle-rank government officer.
It is indeed sad if they failed to utilise their easily obtained wealth to help the less fortunate and the hardcore poor or to donate a part of it to orphanages and for dakwah (missionary) work. How many poor Muslims did they sponsor to perform the annual haj? Do they care for the poor? The orphans and the single mothers with school-going children that are crying for help?
It is equally sad to see both of them showing off their wealth by building large mansions -- too large for their small families. Maybe to them the present day world is much better than the promised world where they will go to face their Creator.