PETALING JAYA: Another Umno leader has joined in the chorus of criticism against the Lembaga Tabung Haji-1 Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB) land deal.
Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir tweeted Saturday questioning Tabung Haji's RM188.5mil purchase from 1MDB.
“Kalau TH sanggup bayar harga begitu tinggi utk tanah kepunyaan 1MDB, apa alasan Kem Kewangan jualnya pd harga begitu murah kpd 1MDB dulu? (If Tabung Haji is willing to pay such a high price for 1MDB land, what is the Finance Ministry’s excuse for selling it cheap to 1MDB previously?),” he tweeted.
On Thursday, Tabung Haji said that it was buying a plot of land in the TRX from 1MDB at a discount of about 3% from the fair value of the real estate assessed by an independent valuation firm.
Tabung Haji defended the decision to purchase the land, saying the pilgrimage fund was forking out RM188.5mil for the 1.6-acre (0.64ha) parcel while its fair value was RM194mil.
The fund’s deputy chief executive officer Datuk Johan Abdullah said the decision to buy the land went through the fund’s “usual and strict investment processes” involving its own valuation committee, the board, external independent valuation firms, and brought up to the ministry.
Other Umno leaders joined in the criticism of 1MDB and also the land deal as some claim that the government’s credibility would be questioned if the situation is not handled well.
On Friday, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said the issue has become a concern not only to for him but also the public.
“I urge that the issue be taken seriously so that the public and stakeholders in Tabung Haji can continue to be confident about their investment,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the results of both Permatang Pauh and Rompin by-elections polls must be taken as a lesson as the rakyat demanded concrete and immediate action involving issues such as 1MDB that had become “toxic”, causing negative perception in their minds.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the matter, which he described as “getting worse”, must be addressed as it had raised speculation that could lead to public anger.
He said although Tabung Haji had to invest in the equity market and real estate to generate returns to be distributed to depositors as dividends, what was at dispute was the manner of transaction.