The following is an article in defense of the Tabung Haji-1MDB deal by New Straits Times Press group managing editor Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid:
Managing TH issue
BY A. JALIL HAMID - 10 MAY 2015 @ 12:57 PM
IT seems there is never a dull moment in Malaysian politics.
That was the case last week.
By the way, there is an Indonesian saying, which sounds like this: Wayang kepadaman damar.
Literally, it means a chaotic situation that happens suddenly.
To be more precise, I am referring to the uproar over Tabung Haji’s (TH) deal to buy a 0.63-hectare piece of land in the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) for RM188.5 million.
The episode has created a near hysterical situation for Malays in this country after the deal was first leaked about four days ago.
Timing-wise, it seemed to coincide with the Permatang Pauh by-election, which the Barisan Nasional lost ultimately.
The pilgrims’ fund board had planned to redevelop the land into a high-end residential tower that would contribute positively to the group’s future earnings. Never mind if the deal was first proposed in 2013, and cleared by its board and investment panel, and that it was an arms-length deal.
The moment you mention 1MDB, it suddenly becomes a less kosher deal for depositors of TH, whose assets now total RM56 billion and that their annual pilgrimage is heavily-subsidised by the pilgrims’ fund.
Malays suddenly melatah (to speak or act wildly, or deliriously) on hearing the link, even without getting the full picture or verifying the story.
Even some senior Umno ministers have suddenly become so concerned about 1MDB, saying it has turned into a “toxic” situation that all other government-linked companies, including TH, have to stay away from.
One minister even dared reporters to write about his frustration in the government’s handling of the 1MDB issue.
Never mind if the transacted price was still below some of the recent deals in the Golden Triangle.
Never mind if Bumiputera ownership of prime properties in the Golden Triangle is still less than 30 per cent compared with the dominant share by the Chinese.
How can Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad classify this as a “bailout” when TH will make a profit from the sale of the land, which it decided yesterday to let go despite what would be a sound investment?
By the way, there are at least a few foreign investors who have agreed or looking to invest in TRX.
They include an Australian property firm and an Indonesian group, which is looking to invest in a signature tower in TRX.
The issue is the people see that 1MDB would be making money at the expense of TH by selling the 0.63ha land at the so-called very “inflated price”, and they are not happy with that.
But TH would also be making money, maybe lots of money, from its returns on investments on that prime piece of property.
Is that the case of a missed opportunity?
But right now, the general sentiment is that it is not “politically correct” to be in the vicinity of TRX and 1MDB.
Just take a walk along upper Bukit Bintang. You are lucky if you find the sleek shopping malls there are owned by Bumis.
About letting go.
One writer by the name Salehuddin Omar posted a piece recently in the Malaysia Today portal.
The piece, under the heading “Tun Dr Mahathir – My Way” talked about how Dr Mahathir had taken the lead to galvanise the support of Umno and the rakyat to force the PM to resign and replace him with his chosen successor, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said Dr Mahathir believed his 22 years in office as PM, his standing amongst Malaysians, especially amongst the Malays, was strong and this gives him the right to dictate and judge his successors to ensure Malaysia continues to prosper.
“In other words, his successors have to listen and take his advice as long as he is around.
There is no other way but only his (Dr Mahathir) way,” he wrote.
He said the PM was always courteous and respectful to Dr Mahathir, always keen to listen to his views and suggestions.
These include Dr Mahathir’s big ticket items, the crooked bridge and financial support for Proton.
The other pressing issue was his son Mukhriz and his political future, after he lost the vice presidency in Umno elections in 2013.
Salehuddin is right.
The gloves have long come off.
This is despite the fact that Najib had been trying to be inclusive and accommodative to his predecessors.
He has not one but two predecessors to manage.
But he feels that he should be given the room to govern based on the mandate given to him and not to be a lame duck PM and take direction from say, Mahathir or caucus of elders.
Mahathir had promised that it would be a complete break when he stepped down.
That was in 2002 when he returned from his break after announcing his resignation.
In his piece, Salehuddin reminded the readers: “Dr Mahathir has little concerns that his attacks on the PM could weaken the party and BN. While during his time as PM, Dr Mahathir had advised and demanded party members to remain loyal and support his leadership during trouble and challenging times, he now advocates the opposite.”
Johor Sultan and GST
With due respect, I would like to touch on the point raised by the Johor sultan and the goods and services tax (GST).
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar last week the collection of the GST local government services, saying the imposition of the taxation system for such a purpose “does not make sense”.
He said the state should not collect GST for “government services” as it should be considered the state's responsibility to the public.
The statement is confusing.
The people at the MoF has clarified that there is no GST for government services. Services by PBT also attract no GST.
“But if the PBTs have business entities or appoint private companies to run, for example, parking services, that is considered business and as such they have to collect GST.”
GST is Federal matter and as such better for policy matters be left to the government.
Anyway, we cannot look back.
The tax is here to stay but of course there are teething problems and these are being sorted out.
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/node/83738
Note: Anyone knows who is Salehuddin Omar who was quoted in the article?
Anyway, this is how the pro-Pakatan The Malaysian Insider reported the article: