StarBizWeek’s EUGENE MAHALINGAM spoke to a few Maika shareholders to gauge their sentiments then and now.
■ Lured by the potential of good returns, like thousands of others, retiree JESWANT KAUR, 64, took a loan to buy 5,000 shares in Maika. She was then assistant examiner at the Inland Revenue Board. Why has she held on to the shares for so long when many others have given up hoping and sold theirs? “I just kept the shares as I was quite confident something good will happen. After all, it’s the MIC’s investment arm and MIC is part of the Government. You can’t really lose much,” she says. On what are her thoughts on the latest offer on the table by Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam, she seems quite upbeat. “At least I get back my money. Some people may have lost their capital but I will get mine back. What’s the alternative? None. So I’m quite happy with the solution,” she says.
■ For lorry driver BALA (not his real name), 47, the Maika Holdings saga is a painful but distant memory. His father, now deceased, had purchased the shares. “Back then, my father, an oil palm estate worker, had heard about this (Maika) and was quite taken with what was being offered. I remember they promised a lot of things and my father felt that it would be a good investment,” says Bala, who lives in Rawang. “It was a very long time ago. I think my father had forgotten about it.” Bala’s father only ear ned RM180 a mont h. “Although he didn’t have much money, my father still wanted to invest. I remember him complaining in the past that Maika had promised so much but there was little to show for it.” According to Bala, just weeks before the recent Hulu Selangor by-election, he had “several visitors” who came over to speak to him and other Maika investors, on what seemed like a fact-finding mission to ascertain how many members were still active. “I’m not sure who they were. I gave them a photocopy of the details of my father’s investments. But since the by-election, we have not heard from them,” he says. Naturally, Bala’s patience to see a resolution to this Maika issue has thinned out.
■ ARULDASS SANDASAMY’s father, a Maika shareholder, passed away 20 years ago. The father was then an estate worker earning RM200 a month. He bought 500 shares. His mother was also an estate worke r and they raised eight children. “My parents used up their savings to invest in Maika shares as they believed then it would earn them decent returns,” he recalls. Aruldass also remembers that they had received a couple of cheques over the years, which was probably dividend payouts in the early years. “We received a cheque twice for about RM30 but that’s about it. Of course, my father was very unhappy with the returns. After putting in RM500, what happened to the rest of the money? Back then, RM500 was a lot of money. It’s disheartening that we don’t even know where the money went to.” After waiting for years, they simply “gave up hoping.”
■ K. CHANDRAGOPAL, 60, a retired teacher, laughs mockingly when asked about his investment in Maika. “It’s so long ago. It’s easy to forget! In fact, I had forgotten all about it until I read about our “white knight” (Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam),” he says. Chandragopal bought RM300 worth of shares in Maika. “A few of us teachers had invested in it because we thought there was a future. Unfortunately, it was all hype and talk, no action. “I feel sad and cheated about the whole thing. They really did promise us a lot but in the end, we got nothing. It feels like we Indians are always on the losing end.”
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