Najib Abdul Razak has warned that the Pakatan Harapan government's "surprise" revelation on Lembaga Tabung Haji's alleged cooking of the books could result in mass withdrawals of deposits and destabilise the fund.
The former premier said this following the revelation by de facto Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa yesterday that the pilgrimage fund had contravened the law when it chose to pay out dividends (hibah) despite a deficit of RM4.1 billion.
Najib said that as a result, the media had been "playing up the issue," with some highlighting that 30 percent of its share investments in listed companies experienced a more than 50 percent fall in fair value, reportedly at the end of October.
"At a time when Tabung Haji's investment value has fallen, as a result of Bursa Malaysia's continuous drop after foreign investors unceasingly withdrew their funds following the 14th general election, (damage to the) confidence in Tabung Haji need not be added with this surprise by the Pakatan Harapan government.
"This step has eroded the depositors' trust towards Tabung Haji, to the point there is a possibility of a bank run or mass withdrawals of deposits.
"If this happens, Tabung Haji's funds and cash flow will continue to deplete to the point of its stability being affected," he said in Facebook post today.
'This is not Tabung Harapan'
As such, Najib said, the Harapan's regime move to politicise the issues surrounding the pilgrimage fund was "not a wise step."
"If the past management of Tabung Haji and its auditors are truly in the wrong, investigate and take action, but don't politicise it.
"Tabung Haji is not Tabung Harapan for you to politicise," he said.
He called on the government to cease issuing negative statements on the fund, and instead work to reassure its depositors.
Mujahid told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that a comprehensive turnaround plan is needed to restore Tabung Haji's balance sheet, and that its deposit-taking activities will now be placed under Bank Negara Malaysia's oversight.
This came after a review by audit firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers was tabled in Parliament, which claimed Tabung Haji paid dividends using depositors’ savings.
It also stated that the company structured several deals to give the impression the dividends were actually coming from profits instead.