Perkasa wants KFC chain to stay in Malay hands

.By G. Manimaran
Bahasa Malaysia Editor

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Malay rights group Perkasa has urged the Najib administration to ensure that Kulim (M) Bhd, which controls the local franchise for the popular Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food outlets, remains in the hands of Malays.

At the same time, its president Datuk Ibrahim Ali also wants assurance that both Kulim and franchise holder, KFC Holdings Bhd, will not be sold off to a Malay-Bumiputera individual.

There was an earlier attempt at buying the majority stake in KFC Holdings recently but it came to naught.

“We heard stories that Kulim will supposedly be sold off to a non-Malay company, while some have also said that it will be bought over by a Malay-Bumiputera individual.

“However, the information is still unconfirmed… but whatever it is, we want it to stay in the hands of a Malay-Bumiputera company, even if it is sold to a Malay-Bumiputera individual we disapprove,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The independent Pasir Mas MP added there was also talk that Kulim would be bought over by a politician from a non-Malay Barisan Nasional component party and a public-listed company.

“But this has not been endorsed, I have checked,” he said.

When asked if he planned to convey his views to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak or Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ghani Othman on the matter, Ibrahim said, “No”.

“Even if we wanted to meet them, it will likely be difficult because everyone’s too busy. Perkasa and other Bumiputera-based non-governmental organisations will wait for a confirmation first.

“Once we get answers in black and white, only then will we decide what to do next,” he said.

Ibrahim was commenting on a statement by Johor Corp (JCorp) former president and chief executive Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim on Sunday that he was privy to information that the firm’s current management had plans to sell its subsidiary Kulim.

Muhammad, who has served in JCorp for over 30 years, said he had obtained the information from a reliable source and expressed disappointment if the plan materialised.

He also said he hoped the decision would be considered thoroughly as Kulim was the main asset of JCorp and the Malay community, and its sale would likely invite strong opposition from Malay rights groups.

Kulim is a prized asset of JCorp’s, as it owns 57.5 per cent stake in QSR Brands Bhd, which, in turn, owns 50.6 per cent stake in KFC Holdings Bhd.

Kulim also owns 50 per cent of London-listed plantations company New Britain Palm Oil Ltd and has rights to over 38,000ha of oil palm plantations throughout the country.

Both JCorp and Kulim have, however, denied Muhammad Ali’s claim and, in an announcement to Bursa Malaysia on Monday, said they were not the source of the information published in the media.

In a news report carried in StarBiz yesterday, a JCorp spokesman noted that the statement on the purported sale of Kulim had been made by its former, and not its current, president.