But first, as previously reported on this blog:
Wesfarmer's Lynas takeover: Betting on Mahathir's demise, and a Anwar Ibrahim-Najib Razak Lynas friendly government.
And now, turning to the story in the Sydney Morning Herald by Colin Kruger and Elizabeth Kinght:
While the Sydney Morning Herald does not quite put it that way, this excerpt from the story below published this morning says a lot:
By that time, the Wesfarmers delegation were knee-deep in meetings.
They had been meeting officials and ministers from two of the ministries relevant to the future of Lynas in Malaysia - the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and the Environment ( whose ministers in charge are from the DAP).
Their presence had caught Mahathir's attention, which should not have been an unexpected development for the company.
Mahathir had led Malaysia's strong campaign for foreign investment. Wesfarmers is a $39 billion conglomerate with a mandate to invest around $10 billion after the Coles spin-off.
It was an opportunity the PM was never going to ignore, but the relatively low-level delegation clearly needed more firepower for such a high-level meeting. Scott dropped everything and flew to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to meet with Mahathir, before turning around and flying out that evening.
Only the parties involved know exactly what was discussed in the meeting, but you can imagine the shock when Mahathir stepped out of the cabinet meeting on Friday evening and dropped a bomb with his grand new plan to reconcile the disparate interests of his coalition partners.
“We have opened up the business to other people, and there are other companies willing to acquire Lynas,” he said. “They have given us a promise that in the future, before sending the raw materials to Malaysia, they will clean it up first. They will crack it and decontaminate it in some way with regard to radioactivity.”
His comments were widely interpreted as suggesting Wesfarmers had cut a deal with the Malaysian PM over a company it did not own a single share of.
Again, one must ask, was DFAT's anti-Mahathir pro Anwar stance to blame?
It has been noted on this blog that DFAT has made little effort to hide its preference: