KUALA LUMPUR: Inai Kiara Sdn Bhd wants sceptics of its ability to undertake major dredging and reclamation works to "eat their words", according to chief executive Quzaim Mohamad Guljar Mohamad.
Quzaim also dismissed any notion that Inai Kiara had been helped by "crutches", saying that it would rebuild itself to become a RM1 bilion-revenue company with a listing on the local bourse.
"The shipping business is more than just a business for me. It is my life and I can tell you this much, I will not betray my life," he told the New Straits Times.
Quzaim said former transport minister Anthony Loke's remarks over the award of a long-term contract for dredging and reclamation works at the country's ports to Inai Kiara's unit Integrated Marine Works Sdn Bhd "really hurt me".
"I am 30 years old. I took over from my dad at a very bad time. I don't expect a free lunch, I don't expect to lobby my way either, but some kind words and encouragement from the elders, during these trying times would have helped.
"Instead what I got was words to break my spirit. They won't break me. We will not go down, Inai Kiara under me will make everyone eat their words," said Quzaim, who has been working full time on vessels since he was 18.
Loke reportedly had criticised the government for not announcing the appointment as it involved a matter of national interest.
"This deal will have a big impact on our country, as it involves capital dredging at all federal ports, and this involves a lot of money. The decision was already approved by the Cabinet last July - why wasn't it announced to the public then?
"This is something very unusual and I think it's bad governance on the government's part and lack of transparency," said Loke when contacted by The Edge on March 7.
On Loke's allegations that the company was bankrupt, Quzaim said Inai Kiara had never been declared bankrupt but went under a receivership in 2016 before making the first payment to its creditors in March 2017.
"From that date till now, we have paid more than RM375 million to Malayan Banking Bhd. The government did not bail us out. From March 2017 up to March 2022, we have received payment amounting to RM698.2 million.
"From this amount, 55 per cent is automatically taken by Maybank. I will be frank, we don't have issues undertaking the job, but we have barely enough to do maintaince on our fleet. That indeed is a challenge.
"I am not an old man or am I young. I am 30 years old and I started working after SPM. I am dissapointed that elders like Anthony Loke instead of guiding us, had chosen instead to stigmatise us."
Quzaim said the real story why Inai Kiara had gone under receivership had never been reported.
"People say Malays only know to do business with the aid of crutches. Well at Inai Kiara, not only we didn't have any crutches, but both our legs were intentionlly broken. We were left for dead but we build ourself back to success."
He said the contract it received from the Ministry of Transport would definitely help and in return, the company would help Malaysia by maintaining a minimum 90 per cent workforce manned by locals.
"I am looking to build Inai Kiara into a RM1 billion revenue company, and an IPO (initial public offering) is definitely in the offing. It's not so much to make money from it, but to show the haters we will not back down nor go down without a fight and even then we will come back until we succeed," Quzaim added.