Arul Kanda Kandasamy may be diplomatic about his removal from key positions at Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd and TRX City Sdn Bhd, but speculations on the real reasons behind this remain rife.
According to The Malaysian Insight, Arul Kanda, who is the 1MDB president, posed a “conflict of interest” to the company.
A government source told Malaysiakini that the real reason behind Arul Kanda’s fate was his opposition to the termination of the Bandar Malaysia deal with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH) and China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC) consortium.
“In a way, he was objecting to the termination. He thinks it is not proper,” said the source.
According to the source, the RM7.41 billion deal was terminated without notifying Arul Kanda, who was a board member of both Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd and TRX City Sdn Bhd.
When asked by Malaysiakini if he had objected to the said termination of the Bandar Malaysia deal, Arul Kanda refused comment.
The collapse of the Bandar Malaysia deal came as a shock among business circles because it was so sudden and that the deal was inked with much fanfare back in 2015.
Troubled waters for the troubleshooter
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was supposed to visit the site – located on the former Sungai Besi airport and was slated to become a transport hub and digital free trade zone – last Wednesday, but cancelled his visit unannounced.
On the very same day, landowners TRX City Sdn Bhd announced that the deal with the IWH-CREC consortium had collapsed because the latter did not meet payment obligations for its 60 percent stake. The consortium had disputed this claim.
As for Arul Kanda, he told the press yesterday that both Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd and TRX City Sdn Bhd have new owners now – Minister of Finance Inc – and that they had the right to choose whoever they want to be on the board.
Arul Kanda still remains the president of 1MDB – the troubled state firm which bought prime land from the federal government at a low price and marketed it as Bandar Malaysia and Tun Razak Exchange (TRX).
1MDB had attempted to divest assets, including Bandar Malaysia, as a means of settling billions of outstanding debt.
Arul Kanda was brought in to take helm of 1MDB in January 2015, at a time when the firm was struggling to meet its debt repayments.