Tabung Haji’s (TH) explanation yesterday that it has decided to sell off the controversial land purchase from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) doesn’t erase the fact the deal is still a bailout.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said the controversy lay in the fact that it had bought the land that 1MDB had acquired just four years ago at RM64 per square foot (psf) at RM2,773 psf.
“Hence the fact that TH plans to on-sell the plot of land next week is irrelevant to the fact that 1MDB has been bailed out by the pilgrimage fund.
“1MDB ended up the winner because regardless of whether TH is successful in on-selling the piece of land for a profit or otherwise, it has collected the RM188 million in cash which would be immediately utilised to repay its mounting interest commitments.
“Why should TH basically undertake the entire risk of holding the land on behalf of 1MDB to look for a buyer?” said Pua in a statement this morning.
He said if there were already willing buyers on hand as TH claimed yesterday, 1MDB could have sold the plot directly to them instead.
“Hence the assurances from both Prime Minister Najib Razak and the TH chairperson Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim not only fails the logic test, they are not at all credible,” said the MP.
Azeez attempted to douse the controversy over the purchase yesterday saying Najib had advised them to sell off the land to make back its capital.
However, just two days before that, Tabung Haji explained it had purchased the Tun Razak Exchange land to develop a residential building .
Apart from the advice, Najib has personally not issued any statement on the controversial deal since the public outcry last week.
The prime minister and finance minister is also the chairperson of the advisory board of the scandal-ridden 1MDB, a government-owned investment arm.
Najib, cancel TH deal
Pua said if indeed there are ready buyers for the land as TH claims, then Najib should immediately cancel the 1MDB-TH deal and have the money refund to the pilgrimage fund.
The PM should instead, “as the responsible finance minister” ask 1MDB to negotiate the TRX land with the potential buyers directly, said the MP DAP national publicity secretary.
“There is absolutely no necessity to involve and abuse the funds of the Muslim pilgrims,” he added.
Pua reiterated the purchase was a farce aimed at rescuing 1MDB from its pressing cash flow problem.
“Malaysians are up in arms because the directors and top management of the pilgrimage fund have abused RM188 million to rescue 1MDB, which is drowning in its RM42 billion debt burden.
“1MDB has been desperate to dispose of assets in order to generate cashflow to repay its annual RM2.5 billion interest servicing commitment.
“The entire imbroglio has developed to become Malaysia’s most farcical circus,” said Pua.