Shortfall At Haj Fund The Latest Headache For KL

Tabung Haji’s 2016 assets are RM4b short of deposits, with allegations it cooked the books to justify dividend payout….

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration is now weighing options to deal with Tabung Haji (TH), whose assets are RM4 billion short of deposits by nine million would-be pilgrims, according to its last financial report in 2016, with more losses likely since.

A senior official told The Sunday Times that TH had “faked last year’s accounts to justify its dividend payout” of up to 6.25 per cent in February, just three months before the May 9 elections. This amounted to RM2.7 billion, just shy of a net profit of RM2.8 billion.

TH, whose depositors are put in a queue for highly-sought-after and scarce places to perform the haj, has yet to present its audited 2017 accounts, after its top management and board were reshuffled following the elections.

The fund’s new leadership lodged a police report last Friday against their BN-appointed predecessors – including former chairman Azeez Rahim, an Umno lawmaker who is a close confidant of former premier Najib Razak – after internal investigations that began in July.

They alleged abuse of RM22 million for political financing, as well as misrepresenting and hiding information relating to a 2012 sale of an Indonesian plantation worth US$910 million (S$1.25 billion).

PH leaders have in the past accused TH of being run like a Ponzi scheme, paying out dividends with new deposits despite underwhelming earnings due in part to questionable deals. These include the purchase of land and Islamic bonds from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) – now insolvent after racking up over RM51 billion in debt with a third of it allegedly stolen – and a RM1.38 billion stake in ailing palm oil giant Felda Global Ventures that is now worth only a fifth of the initial outlay….

The spotlight on TH began just weeks after the May 9 polls, with a raid on Datuk Seri Azeez’s home and office, before the Umno supreme councillor and his brother were remanded for 10 days in late September.

Since taking power, PH has blown the lid on billion-ringgit scandals in 1MDB, the Felda agency which has resettled poor Malay families, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah and even the central bank.

But TH may be the biggest test, as it involves actual savings earned by the politically crucial Muslim majority, and not mere handouts or distant investments of government assets.

Our comment

PAS Must Issue Their Comment On Tabung Haji’s Missing RM4 Billion.

When the first news came out back in May 2015 with enough evidence to make it absolutely clear that Najib and his placeman Azeez Rahim were raiding the savings of pilgrims at Tabung Haji by using the fund to buy up 1MDB land for gross mark-ups, the leadership of PAS failed to condemn the matter or to criticise the then PM and supporters in BN for stealing from the faithful.

Instead President Hadi came out a few days later and many times since to say that Najib should not resign. Time and again he likewise supported the then PM saying he should not resign over 1MDB or the billions in his account unless ‘four witnesses’ would say they saw him stealing it.

As the evidence has mounted and charges multiplied since the election, pointing to gross, rampant corruption and outrageous theft by Najib and BN from the people of Malaysia the remaining rump of PAS, which Hadi still leads has kept up that refusal to criticise Najib or his party (for which the ex-PM remains a sitting MP).  To the contrary, the worse the mounting evidence has become, the closer the two parties have edged together in the name of proclaimed ‘Malay Muslim solidarity’.

In a few days they plan a joint march to complain of alleged moves against Malay Muslims – an apparent attempt to set a united political face against other Malaysians.  In terms of tactics the parties have started to make way for each other in by-elections to help each other win.

However, this is not about religion, race or politics it is about right and wrong. PAS appears to have beem forging ever closer ties with a party that presided over the shocking theft of the savings of the faithful and trusting – those poorer Muslims, who wished to save for the Haj.

Will PAS condemn this apparent abuse of the very group of people they seek to lead, because so far the party has appeared surprisingly quiet?

And will they enlighten as to whether they intend to forge a more formal coalition out of the new ad hoc cooperation with the party responsible for those alleged thefts?

If PAS simply does not believe the reports and thinks the admissions of the new board of Tabung Haji and their police report are all a hoax, then it ought to explain that this is the party’s position. Likewise, all the findings of international investigators over 1MDB (including the Muslim nation of Abu Dhabi, which has also now sued Goldman Sachs). Does PAS think it is all is still not proven to the standards of their choosing or do they simply not care, prefering to put politics first?

The position of PAS as the self-proclaimed defenders of the Muslim Malays over the matter of the alleged thefts from Tabung Haji, FELDA, 1MDB and Bank Negara by the administration of Najib Razak needs urgently to be heard.

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