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Friday April 13, 2012

Khazanah man top of KTMB chief candidate list

PETALING JAYA: While speculation still continues as to who will take over the reins of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB), industry sources say that it is increasingly looking like the candidate will be little-known Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah.

The 40-odd-year-old Azharuddin is currently the vice-president of special projects at the managing director's office of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, and sources say he has been handpicked by the Government to put KTMB back on the right track.

Azharuddin's name had surfaced in a recent news report that mentioned him as a possible replacement for current KTMB president Dr Aminuddin Adnan.

“Azharuddin is energetic, a performer and is known to deliver results,” said one industry source.

Before holding his current position at Khazanah, among his previous posts were associate director at Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit, Prime Minister's Department), where he was involved in National Key Results Area (NKRA) on improving public transport.

He has also held the positions of vice-president, GLC Transformation at Khazanah, and vice-president of project development vehicle at Iskandar Investment Bhd.

Besides Azharuddin, Land Public Transport Commission chief operating officer Azahar Ahmad was also one of the names that have surfaced as potential candidates to helm KTMB.

So too is Datuk Alias Kadir, the chief executive officer for KTMB Logistics, now involved in freight train operation services and also a KTMB board member. “He has expressed interest in running KTMB,” said an industry source.

It would be interesting to note that the speculation of top management changes of KTMB cropped up in the midst of due diligence exercise by MMC Corp Bhd for the purpose of taking over and turning around the ailing rail operator.

This initial attempt to privatise KTMB received negative response from Railwaymen's Union of Malaya (RUM). RUM was worried that MMC's takeover of KTMB would see many of its 5,500 workers retrenched, if it came to pass.

As of 2009, KTMB posted a net loss of RM92.6mil against net loss of RM84.6mil in 2008.

These losses were mainly due to high operational cost and the decline in cargo volume over the years.

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