KUALA LUMPUR: A veteran journalist has slammed Transport Minister Anthony Loke over the latter’s plans to seek alternative models for airport operations.
Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said Loke had failed in his duty to “talk the market up” during his briefing at an investor forum on Thursday.
“His briefing to the fund managers and analysts has had the effect of talking down the market, causing them to ‘dump’ Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd (MAHB) shares.
“I have been generally impressed with this DAP minister, but in this particular instance I’m disappointed,” he said in a Facebook post.
He said at a time when investors and fund managers were jittery, a minister’s main responsibility was to instill confidence.
Only a “not clever” minister, he added, would talk the matter down, but noted that there could be instances where a minister would talk the market down on purpose.
“He or she may have a sinister reason for doing that, like pressing prices down so that someone could buy them at a discount.
“I would not accuse minister Loke of any of the above. But I would have to give him a fail mark in this particular instance,” added Kadir.
In the forum, Loke had reportedly said the ministry was looking at alternatives to the Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) framework for the future development of domestic airports.
He had also said the government intended to adopt the public-private partnership model for airport operations and developments.
Research house RHB Research said Loke’s remarks had caused MAHB’s share price to tumble 66 sen to RM8.04.
This was MAHB’s biggest fall since November last year, wiping out RM1.09 billion of their market capitalisation on Thursday.
Kadir, who is media and communications adviser to the prime minister, said this was not the first time that ministers had “shot themselves in the foot and government-linked companies (GLC) in the head”.
“Actually, come to think of it, it’s better for ministers to be a laughing stock for saying stupid things than trying to be clever and causing market capitalisation of GLCs to tumble.
“At least the stupid things they say are funny and entertaining,” he added.