It is simply outrageous for the Prime Minister to brush off all the despondent criticisms towards the Tabung Haji Properties – 1MDB transaction with “it was not a bailout”.
Perdana Menteri menjelaskan, ketika Tabung Haji (TH) membeli sekeping tanah milik 1MDB ia adalah pelaburan dan bukannya ‘bailout’ 1MDB kerana TH boleh memperoleh keuntungan sehingga lebih RM170 juta melalui pembelian itu namun disebabkan perkara itu dijadikan isu, beliau menasihatkan TH menjual tanah berkenaan.
Najib berkata, melalui penjualan semula aset berkenaan, TH boleh untung sehingga RM5 hingga RM6 juta namun pada masa sama merugikan pendeposit TH sendiri kerana jika aset itu tetap milik TH, pendeposit boleh untung sehingga RM170 juta.
Now, since the Prime Minister thinks that all the rakyat are idiots, then let us try explain to him and his advisers on how we perceive things..
Firstly, in the eyes of the public, IT IS A BAILOUT. Why? Because regardless how much Tabung Haji Properties got from the deal (some say up to a huge amount of RM5 million), 1MDB received a cool RM188.5 million out of it. And they got that much because the government sold that land to them dirt cheap while Tabung Haji Properties had to pay really high.
Now why did the government sold that land for around RM60 per square feet but allowed 1MDB to resell it at nearly RM2,900 per square feet? That was a bumi tract of land.
We are not talking about Tabung Haji here. Of course Tabung Haji wasn’t bailed out. The common people know this. Even a child can identify with this. But 1MDB got easy money and this made the rakyat uneasy.
And to make matters worse, what most people couldn’t stomach is the fact that the hard earned money of depositors, the money from rural folks were used to transact with a much maligned entity. An entity which is perceived to be the epitome of ‘pecah amanah’ on a grand scale. It doesn’t matter if Tabung Haji Properties and Tabung Haji are two different entities. The ordinary folks don’t even care. It’s from their halal money, subsidising a mismanaged company. It’s a matter of perception.
The trust is simply not there. Compounded by the fact that when the news broke out, its ignorant chairman quickly lied to the public saying that the story on the exposed documents, in his own words were “tak betul”. Well it turned out Azeez Tak Betul is the one Yang Tak Betul when the land purchase turned out to be true after all. The trust deficit widens. The people can’t trust you anymore.
And what did Tabung Haji Properties was ordered to do after that? Sell the bumi land off to a third party. Now is there a replacement for the bumi tract of land that is lost to the private sector?
Otherwise, the bumis will be at the losing end. 1MDB gets the money to pay off its laughing creditors, Tabung Haji Properties received a little bit of money to appease the people but the rakyat at large got swindled and lost a prime tract of land.
Is this the definition of New Economic Model? What kind of model is this when the Prime Minister wears so many hats and decides on various financial decisions?
The Finance Minister orders the land to be sold very cheap to 1MDB. The real market value of the land inflated their balance sheet. But 1MDB incurred a lot of debt due to mismanagement and has to service their loan interests. Top boss of 1MDB gets a lifeline from Tabung Haji when it received money through land sale. Tabung Haji incurred a lot of wrath. The Prime Minister advised Tabung Haji to sell the land to third party after people raised the issue (if it wasn’t exposed, government will not deem it as sensitive).
Now, why should the top boss of 1MDB also be the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister as well? Where is the segregation of duties? Where is the accountability? Can the Finance Minister be sacked because he failed in corporate governance? Can the Prime Minister order, without fear and favour, a complete and thorough investigation on 1MDB when he himself is in 1MDB and MOF?
We have always believed that the PM should never hold the post of Finance Minister. Having two Finance Ministers shows lack of trust and above all, exposing the Prime Minister unnecessarily to an artillery of criticisms. The post of Finance Minister is a delicate post. One smart move will ensure strong vote of confidence from the people. One ill advised move or a contentious project made under the watch of the Finance Minister will render him hapless in the face of public scrutiny. Datuk Najib do not need this kind of attention as the Prime Minister. Repeating the mistakes of Pak Lah will be the death of Umno under Najib.
We told you so. We are in dire straits. We have serious trust issues. The answers are not forthcoming.
Instead of getting answers for 1MDB, Jho Low etc, we got replies in the form of crooked bridge and Team A/Team B battle royale in 1987 Umno AGM. What kind of nonsense is this?
Politics 101. You must not open new battle grounds when you can’t even afford to defend the 1MDB battle. You will then face so many battles in many fronts.
It is hard for the common people to say things to correct the government. Voltaire once said:
“It is dangerous to be right in matters where men in the establishment are wrong.”
To be continued..
p.s.: JMD will blog once again after months dishing it out on twitter.