PETALING JAYA: Umno leaders say the all-time low income distribution by Amanah Saham Bumiputra (ASB) shows that investors and businesses are troubled by the political instability in Malaysia.
The Opposition party, which has millions of members who have invested in ASB, said the Pakatan Harapan government was to blame for the lowest dividend rate in the unit trust fund’s history.
“Pakatan has caused the perception that there is no political stability in Malaysia.
“In fact, there is also the perception that there will be no stability in the future, ” said Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan.
Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) yesterday announced the income distribution of 5 sen a unit plus a bonus of 0.5 sen per unit for 2019.
The lowest rate before this was last year’s 6.5 sen plus 0.5 sen, while previous income distributions had been as high as 14 sen in the 1990s.
“Our local financial market is very small and we depend mostly on foreign investments.
“Who would want to invest in a country where the ruling government’s parties are continuously bickering and there is nothing pointing to a stable future after 94-year-old Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad steps down?” said Mohamad.He referred to a recent report by MIDF Research which said foreign funds had taken out almost RM9bil from Malaysian equities between January and November this year.
“I am very disappointed and this (the latest ASB distribution) spells doom for the Malays. It is not only ASB but also Tabung Haji, whose returns were very low.
“The government needs to regain the confidence of the foreign investors and it cannot continue to be in this cash-strapped situation where it has to keep borrowing.
“Something has to be done. Pakatan needs to get its act together, ” said Mohamad, who is state assemblyman for Rantau.
But Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said Umno was wrong to heap blame on Pakatan.
“If there is uncertainty in the political climate, it is in no small part due to the Opposition, ” said Mukhriz, who is also Kedah Mentri Besar.
Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the low ASB dividend reflected poor market sentiments for the past year, which had affected corporate earning significantly.
“This is the result of an overall lack of investor confidence and the political uncertainty and instability. It is proof of the poor handling of the national economy by Pakatan leaders, ” said Annuar.
Federal Territory Umno liaison chief Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, who is also KUB Malaysia Bhd’s chairman, said he was not surprised by the low ASB dividends as ASB invested heavily in the domestic equity market.
“Our capital market has dropped quite significantly in the last 18 months. The Bursa Malaysia index has dropped 13.5%, which translates to approximately RM250bil in market capitalisation.
“Investors do not like uncertainty. Many factors caused uncertainty. Among the main reasons could be the country’s leadership succession issue, slower growth of gross domestic product and the gloomy prospects for the domestic economy, ” said Johari, who is also a former finance minister.
Following PNB’s announcement, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took jibes at the government by asking if “lowest is the trend of Pakatan”.
He listed the record-low returns for ASB unitholders, Tabung Haji depositors and Armed Forces Fund Board members, and contrasted these with the increased costs of goods and services.
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