The Dawn Raid

Sunday Star 12 Sep 2021 carried an excellent article commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Dawn raid on Guthrie Corp Ltd. But it failed to document for posterity the role played by a Skrine & Co partner.

In the ‘dawn raid’ on the London Stock Exchange on 7 September 1981, the British-owned rubber and oil palm conglomerate in Malaysia, Guthrie Corporation Limited, was taken into control by PNB in less than four hours. This was the most dramatic Malaysian acquisition of a foreign company.
The Brits were unhappy. It led to the LSE changing its rules to make it difficult to do such a hostile raid.

Guthrie was the symbol of British colonialism in Malaya. One just has to go to Fraser’s Hill to see one of its vivid symbols. Standing majestically on a hill is Whittington. Located on Lady Maxwell’s Road it’s a huge Colonial bungalow built by Guthrie and used by its senior management as a hill station retreat. Think Simla.

So, what was the role played by the Skrine partner? The partner hails from the illustrious Anderson School, Ipoh. Famous alumni are Dato Lat the famous cartoonist, my friends Dato Shamsul Bahrin, Dato Anwar Hasan, and Dato Ismail Mokhtar, and two Malay cousins from opposite sides of the political divide.

The cousins were Abdullah CD a leading Malay Communist during the Malayan Emergency and Yeop Mahidin who fought for the British. (Noel Barber p 101 and 102).

Petronas Twin Towers by Lat. Displayed in Skrine’s law office.

The partner is Chin Yoong Choong. He was a notary public. His role was to notarise a Power of attorney granted by PNB Chairman Tun Ismail Mohd Ali to PNB Chief Investment Officer Khalid Ibrahim to authorise him to buy Guthrie shares in London etc.

The notarisation was done, and that very same night Khalid Ibrahim flew to London. There advised by Rothschild, Guthrie shares were bought in the open market when the market opened.

By 12 noon PNB had achieved majority control of 50.41 %. (See The Unfinished Business of Malaysia’s Decolonisation: The Origins of the Guthrie Dawn Raid by Shakila Yacob and Nicholas White (2010).

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