David Webb continued with his series "Raking Muck", Part 3 and Part 4.
In the latter one the following text, describing the situation in Hong Kong:
"Regulatory note: the "Independent Financial Adviser" system in the Listing Rules and Takeovers Code is a waste of shareholders' money and gives investors false comfort. However bad a company's proposal is, the company will almost always be able to find an "IFA of last resort" to say that the proposal is fair and reasonable, and investors may then be misled into voting in favour. When investors do vote a proposal down, it is usually against the advice of the IFA. The system is a gravy train for shoddy IFAs. It would be better to scrap the requirement for an IFA, and require the company to justify its proposal on its own, taking whatever advice it wants to prepare the circular. If the company can't convince shareholders of the merits, then it risks being voted down.An alternative would be a jury-pool system where IFAs are randomly assigned to deals by the regulator. Pricing for the work could be determined by an annual tendering exercise. A firm would only qualify for the next year's jury pool if investors had actually agreed with the firm's recommendations by passing or rejecting proposals at least (say) 80% of the time. We proposed a similar such system in 2001."
It all sounds very similar compared to the situation in Malaysia. Independent advice in Malaysia is also not worth the paper it is written on. It actually often does more damage than it does good: it costs time (the delay to write the report) and money (paid for by the shareholders), and can be used as an excuse by Government Linked Funds to vote in favour, regardless how bad the deal is.