Rafidah Quits as Supermax Chairman over MD’s Apology to Najib

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The former international trade and industry minister dubbed Malaysia’s “Iron Lady” fears no intimidation.

A statement to Bursa Malaysia on Monday stated that Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz has resigned as the independent and non-executive chairman of glove maker Supermax Corporation Bhd, with the resignation effective from last Saturday.

The Malay Mail reported that Rafidah disagreed with convicted managing director Datuk Seri Stanley Thai’s apology for supporting Malaysia’s Opposition in 2013.

According to Malaysiakini, she said it was the right of all Malaysians and companies to support whichever political party they choose

“Pursuant to the ‘apology’ by Stanley Thai to the (incumbent) prime minister for whatever he did during the 13th general election, I have resigned from serving as a director of Supermax Corporation and as the chairperson, with effect from April 14.

“While it is his (Thai’s) right to do what he feels he needed to do, I do not share the same sentiments,” she was quoted saying.

Rafidah said she was a strong advocate of integrity and honesty as well as a believer in the individual’s prerogative to back the political party of his choice without fear of repercussions.

She was appointed chairman of Supermax, the world’s second-largest glove manufacturer, in 2015.

Rafidah has publicly criticised Najib amid the 1MDB scandal and the RM2.6 billion in his personal bank account which the latter claimed was a donation and the amount has since been returned to the Saudi donor.

He denied wrongdoing or taking public funds for personal gain.

Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali also cleared him of wrongdoing.

Thai called a press conference on April 14 where he formally apologised to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“I regret that in GE13, I believe I was influenced by the Opposition. Being a businessperson, I should not be involved in politics under any circumstances, and I regret it,” he had said.

In his statement, Thai said prior to GE13, his comments at a dinner in March 2013 were quoted by Bloomberg in a report two weeks before the polls.

In the article, he was quoted as saying that he would join Malaysian Chinese in abandoning support for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) “to protect the future of his children” and vote for the Opposition for the first time in GE13.

He added that the local Chinese had lost the fear of going against BN after its performance in the 2008 general election.

In GE13, the BN coalition, led by Najib, retained power in Putrajaya, despite losing the popular vote.

Following the election results, the Employees Provident Fund sold off its shares in Supermax, with the share prices taking a hit.

Today, Thai said he has completely stopped all political activities and has no affiliation with any political parties since May 2013.

“I have even requested Institute Rakyat to remove my name from their website as a member of their advisory panel. I also like to reiterate that I will continue to fully support the ruling government’s sound economic policies.

“After GE13, I was focusing on my business and most of the time, I was travelling overseas. I am now sincerely seeking the forgiveness from Datuk Seri Najib for what I did in the last election and I truly regretted it,” he said.

“Just for record purposes, I have been a supporter of the ruling government’s economic policy from day one, including the economic policies implemented by Datuk Seri Najib.

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The frustrations that we have over the years have been the infrastructure delays in expanding our glove manufacturing business. The last two projects were delayed for two and a half to three years due to the water supply issue in Selangor where most of our plants are located,” he added.

It is worth noting that in the last three years, Thai has been fighting an insider trading charge related to Supermax unit APL Industries Bhd (APLI).

On Nov 24 last year he was sentenced by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to a five-year jail term and RM5 million fine for the insider trading offences committed when he was the chief executive officer of APLI, a company that was delisted from Bursa Malaysia in 2009.

The sentence was the first time a jail term was imposed for insider trading. It is also the harshest sentence passed down thus far by the court for the offence.

Thai is reportedly appealing against the sentence.