Frankly Speaking: New independent directors at Serba Dinamik raises eyebrows

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on June 21, 2021 - June 27, 2021.
Frankly Speaking: New independent directors at Serba Dinamik raises eyebrows
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Last week, troubled oil and gas company Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd appointed three new independent non-executive directors to its board, They are Datuk Mohamed Ilyas Pakeer Mohamed (who was later in the week appointed chairman of the company), Masleena Zaid and Johan Mohamed Ishak.

On closer scrutiny, all three of them seem to be connected.

Ilyas, who made his money in the auto trade in the 1990s, is chairman of AP Holdings Bhd. According to its website, Ilyas is the one who leads the company. AP Holdings has a unit, Koperasi Amanah Pelaburan Bhd, which in turn invested in Awesome TV — a free-to-air Malaysian television channel owned by Awesome Media Network Sdn Bhd.

From the Bursa Malaysia announcement of their appointments to Serba Dinamik, it is stated that Masleena is a director of AP Holdings, while Johan is the managing director of Awesome Media Network, which has been reported as part of AP’s group of companies.

This raises eyebrows as they are all connected. Masleen and Johan report to Mohamed Ilyas either directly or indirectly. 

This raises the question as to whether they can be considered truly independent as they have obviously joined Serba Dinamik as a group.

Furthermore, why did Serba Dinamik feel the need to bring in three new independent directors?

There are already five independent directors — Tengku Datuk Seri Hasmuddin Tengku Othman, Hasman Yusri Yusoff, Rozilawati Basir, Sharifah Irina Syed Ahmad Radzi and Datuk Mohamed Nor Abu Bakar. 

It didn’t help that Johan’s work experience had him as chief executive officer of Media Prima Bhd when he was only the CEO of its TV division. It was duly corrected.

Serba Dinamik has appointed Ernst & Young to do an independent review of the concerns raised by its auditor KPMG over RM4 billion worth of transactions that took place over the past two years. Until the matter is resolved, dark clouds will continue to hover over the company.

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