Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bad investment leaves S'wak RM2.5 billion poorer

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By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: The state government's RM2.5billion loss from an investment in 1st Silicon Sarawak, a premier foundry, has turned out to be the largest scandal ever according to the DAP.
The company is said to be among the global semiconductor industry’s premier foundries dedicated to reliable, cost-effective manufacturing processes for high-volume system on-chip (SoC) designs and innovative niche markets.

But since its founding here in 1998, 1st Silicon has been losing money. The last known loss was RM2.5 billion.

“And that is the loss on paper alone,” said DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen.

Chong, who is the assemblyman for Kota Santosa, was briefing the media on the questions he had submitted to the state assembly for its sitting next month, which he has been suspended from attending. The assembly or Council Negri suspended him in May.

The suspension however does not bar him from seeking written replies to his questions to the state.

Chong said that he submitted the questions on 1st Silicon for the Chief Minister to answer during the last sitting, but the council placed his questions at the bottom of the list.

“My questions never saw the light of the day. This time I am resubmitting the questions for which I want written replies from the Chief Minister.

"The loss of our investment in 1st Silicon is the biggest scandal in Sarawak...and the public must be told the truth,” said Chong who is also Bandar Kuching MP.

In March 2006, 1st Silicon merged with a German-based X-FAB Semiconductor Foundries AG, which is one of the world’s leading analog mixed signal foundry.

The combined entity is known as XFAB Silicon Foundries N.V. It was expected to produce approximately 700,000 piecs of 200mm equivalent wafers per year, and the sales of the new company were expected to exceed $300 million USD.

Chong said XFAB's move was described as a 'merger.' when in actual fact it was a 'takeover' exercise in which the government must absorbed all loans and losses. The arrangement was noted with the Registry of Companies.

“Every year in the state government’s budget one item of one billion ringgit is unaccounted for.

“The money is believed to be used to pay to agencies approved by government,” Chong said.

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