Do Pro-UMNO Malays Realize They Will Be Bailing Out Tabung Haji To The Tune Of RM20 Billion For The Next 10 Years?...
In May 2015, Mahathir Mohamad warned Tabung Haji to cancel its land purchase from 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad). He disagreed that the Malaysia’s Pilgrims’ Fund was being used to bail out 1MDB – purchasing a small 1.56 acre of Tun Razak Exchange land for RM188.5 million, when an area as huge as 70 acres was purchased by 1MDB for only RM194.1 million.
Tabung Haji was set up about 55 years ago to help Muslims in the country save up for the hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca they are obligated to perform at least once. Over the decades, the fund board gained respect in the Islamic world for its management of the savings and Shariah-compliant investments, enabling over 30,000 Malaysian Muslims to perform Hajj every year.
Flushed with cash, the fund, however, caught a pair of glowing greedy eyes of Najib, who decided to secretly milk it. By December 2015, Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia) sent two letters to the chairman of the fund, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and copied to the Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was also the Finance Minister.
The letter warned that the pilgrims’ fund was on the brink of collapse and a massive bail out by taxpayers may be required. Governor Zeti also warned that the fund’s obligations far exceed its assets, as she observed that Tabung Haji was paying out far more than it had made in profits in recent years, in the form of excessive “dividends” and “bonuses”.
It would take slightly more than two years later to discover the horror story of the Tabung Haji financial situation. All hell breaks loose after the stunning downfall of the Najib regime on May 2018. By December that very same year, it was found that the Pilgrims’ Fund was insolvent – a nicer and more polite word to say that the Malay Muslim institution was bankrupt.
It was ultimately revealed in December 2018 that UMNO, with endorsement from the PAS Islamist party to a certain extent, had transformed Tabung Haji into a Ponzi “get-rich-quick” scheme. As it turns out, there was a reason how the fund could distribute “hibah (dividends)” ranging from 6.25% up to 8.25% in the period between 2013 and 2017 under Najib administration.
At a time where fixed deposit rates were at about 3%, the unbelievable dividend returns were so attractive that a single depositor had invested more than RM90 million in the fund. A report prepared by government-appointed accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to review the financial position for 2017 unveiled more juicy stories.
Tabung Haji was actually sitting on up to RM10.2 billion in losses of its domestic and international equities as of October 2018. Its liabilities outstripped assets by RM9 billion. A report says – “The gap between the assets and liabilities is RM9 billion. If the RM9 billion hole is not covered, no ‘hibah (dividends)’ distribution is possible not just for 2018 but also in the coming years.”
How did Najib government bankrupt Tabung Haji? It had lost RM5.7 billion in Felda alone. The pilgrim’s fund had been illegally distributing “hibah” to depositors since 2014, contravening the Tabung Haji Act 1995 where the fund is not allowed to declare dividends if its liabilities are more than assets. But the crooked dared not reveal the true financial health, as his mismanagement and incompetency will be exposed.
Ahead of the 14th general election on May 9th this year, the pilgrim’s fund even cooked its books to justify paying a 6.25% dividend, amounting to RM2.7 billion. The Pilgrims’ Fund Chairman, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, had conspired with the board of directors to dip their hands into depositors’ savings to pay the dividends. And Najib knew all along about the Ponzi scheme.
Yes, the ignorant Tabung Haji depositors actually applauded Najib for the handsome “hibah”, which went up to as high as 8.25%, without realising that the dividends paid was their own money used to pay themselves. And UMNO could afford to scam them successfully because out of 9.3 million depositors, only 30,000 would use their money in Tabung Haji to perform Hajj every year.
Last Friday, Tabung Haji announced a “hibah (dividend)” of 1.25%, the lowest in the history, for the financial year 2018. Even at 1.25%, the payout was at a staggering RM913 million to its 9.3 million depositors. Mahathir government also announced that it will allocate RM500 million in 2020 for the Pilgrims’ Fund and RM1.73 billion every year until all of its “sukuk” (Shariah-compliant bonds) were redeemed.
How could Tabung Haji suddenly become as healthy as a horse overnight? Two words – Bail Out!! As of January 1, 2019, the Islamic Pilgrimage Fund Lembaga Tabung Haji was placed under Bank Negara (Central Bank). A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) was created to nurse and rehabilitate the insolvent fund. In short, taxpayers’ money to the tune of RM20 billion is used in the bail out exercise.
Even as Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng cracks his head squeezing every Ringgit to bail out the Tabung Haji, crooks from UMNO and PAS spread baseless and fake news that the hajj pilgrims fund board is now controlled by Chinese-based DAP. The depositors should be grateful that the fund is guaranteed by the government, unlike entity like Malaysia Airlines.
That was why Amanah President and Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu was so furious that he said – “If Tabung Haji was not rescued, it would have gone bankrupt … those who stole from Tabung Haji were Malays, the ones who put it in dire straits were Malays. You (Barisan Nasional) stole, you practised corruption (and then) you accuse the Chinese (of wrongdoing) … How long do you want to play politics like that?,”
Mat Sabu, during his campaign in Rantau, said that to prevent the Pilgrims’ Fund from going bust, taxpayers’ money to the tune of RM1.73 billion will be injected – every year over the next 10 years – to rescue it. But if the 70% of Malays who had supported UMNO and PAS last May think the RM20 billion bail out has nothing to do with them, they better think again.
Why do you think Najib Razak introduced the GST (goods and services tax) in the first place? The primary reason was because the Malays pay “zakat” as an alternative to income tax. The zakat paid will go to the Islamic cause while the tax the Chinese pay goes to paying the salaries of the 1.6 million civil servants, who happens to be mostly Malays. Najib needed a new source of incomes.
So, in order to “indirectly” tax the Malays, who did not pay income tax, Mr. Najib introduced the infamous GST effective from 1 April 2015, until it was abolished by the new government on June 1, 2018. In 2017 alone, the Najib government had collected an eye-popping RM44 billion from the Goods and Services Tax (GST). That was why all the Malays were bitching about the high cost of living after GST.
Unfortunately, whatever goes up will never come down in Malaysia. Hence, even after the GST was scrapped and replaced with SST, the price of goods has remained high. With the country trapped in RM1 trillion in foreign debts, thanks to Najib, from where does the ethnic Malay think the government could raise money to bail out Tabung Haji for the next 10 years?
Tabung Haji depositors should consider themselves extremely lucky that not only their deposits are secured, but is also paid 1.24% dividends, when there should be zero percent “hibah” on top of a haircut on their deposits. The yearly RM1.73 billion cash needed to bail out the fund will come from the pocket of everyone, including the 4-million UMNO Malay supporters of Najib and his minions.
From existing taxes imposed on the KFC or McDonald’s meals that the Malays enjoyed very much to the newly introduced sugar tax to departure levy for travellers leaving from Malaysian airports, everyone will pay towards the bailing out of Tabung Haji. Those monies could otherwise be used for salary increment or bonus of civil servants, or reduction of toll rates, or other utility rates. - FT
Singapore to give up ILS, Seletar
Airport unable to expand operations...
Singapore’s newest passenger airport, the S$80 million Seletar Airport, will be sitting under-utilised after the Singapore government gave up implementing the Instrument Landing System (ILS).
In the latest deal with the Malaysian transport authorities yesterday (Apr 6), Malaysia will suspend the airspace restriction over southern Johor while Singapore will have to give up on the ILS procedures.
Without the ILS, commercial pilots have to manually land the aircraft. This will however affect the number of aircraft landings Seletar Airport will take each day, especially turbo-propeller planes (ATR models) which require ILS to land. Seletar Airport was designated for private passenger flights, and ATR planes form the bulk of its service.
Currently, only Malaysian airline FireFly has been cleared to use Seletar Airport. There is no other airline which is willing to sign up for landing at Seletar Airport. FireFly will resume operations on end-April, after a four-month suspension resulted from a mistake committed by the Singapore government.
Earlier last year, the Singapore government assumed that the Malaysian government has given the approval and went ahead with the expansion construction of the Seletar Airport. The Singapore Transport Ministry overshot its budget for the airport by 60% from S$50 million to S$80 million.
The Malaysian authorities had also declared that they will exercise their right of sovereignty and take over the airspace management at Johor. The Singapore government has expressed its opposition to Malaysia reclaiming their airspace, and talks are still underway. - ST Review
Action will be taken if prince
makes seditious remarks, says PM...
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stressed that nobody in Malaysia is above the law and this includes Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim. Responding to a question, he told reporters in Parliament this evening that Tunku Ismail is free to air his views like all Malaysians.
“We consider him as an 'orang biasa' (ordinary person). He can criticise the government as long as he does not break the law,” added the premier.
However, Mahathir warned that action would be taken against the prince if he makes statements which are considered seditious.
“He is not above the law. In fact, nobody in Msia is above the law,” he added.
When asked if he would advise Tunku Ismail to join politics, Dr Mahathir merely brushed the query aside. Mahathir said the prince could make that choice himself.
“If he wants to be political, he can be but there is nothing to prevent any citizen of Malaysia from expressing his opinion. And he is a citizen of Malaysia, nothing more than that,” he added.
Tunku Ismail had locked horns with Mahathir over the government ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which the prince argued would threaten the position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malays and Islam.
Mahathir also claimed that the person wanted to be “free to beat up people and things like that.”
“If he beats up people again, I will send the police to arrest him. I don’t care who he is,” he had said.
Though he did not mention names, speculation was rife that Mahathir was referring to the Johor palace, in particular, Tunku Ismail.
Perdana Menteri Dr Mahathir Mohamad menegaskan bahawa tiada siapa di negara ini yang berada di atas undang-undang dan ini termasuk Tunku Mahkota Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
Menjawab soalan di lobi parlimen, hari ini, katanya Tunku Ismail bebas menyuarakan pandangannya seperti semua rakyat Malaysia.
“Dia boleh cakap seperti orang biasa, kita anggap dia orang biasa.
“Asalkan dia tidak buat kenyataan yang dianggap hasutan,” katanya.
Pengerusi Pakatan Harapan (PH) itu berkata, pewaris Sultan Johor tidak akan terlepas daripada undang-undang jika melanggar peraturan.
“Kita akan mengambil tindakan terhadapnya, beliau tidak kebal undang-undang malah tiada siapa di Malaysia yang kebal undang-undang,” katanya.
Ditanya berhubung nasihatnya kepada Tunku Ismail sebelum ini supaya menyertai gelanggang politik, Mahathir berkata beliau boleh membuat pilihan sendiri.
"Jika dia mahu terlibat dalam politik, dia boleh, tidak ada apa yang boleh menghalang mana-mana warganegara daripada menyatakan pendapatnya. Dan dia adalah warganegara Malaysia, tidak lebih daripada itu," katanya.
Tunku Ismail bertikam lidah dengan Mahathir berhubung keputusan kerajaan untuk meratifikasi Statut Rom Mahkamah Jenayah Antarabangsa (ICC), yang menurut putera raja itu akan mengancam kedudukan Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Melayu dan Islam. - mk
Sila, TMJ jawab amaran Dr.M
MB Johor letak jawatanOsman Sapian berjumpa Dr Mahathir Mohamad semalam dan menyerahkan surat peletakan jawatan sebagai Menteri Besar Johor.
Pada masa kini Johor tidak mempunyai Menteri Besar.
Dr Mahathir dijangka akan mengadap Sultan Johor, Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar dalam masa terdekat bagi mempersembahkan nama Menteri Besar yang baharu.
Osman sebelum ini dilaporkan mengadakan pertemuan dengan Dr Mahathir tanpa diketahui apa sebab musababnya. Petang ini tujuan pertemuan itu menamatkan persoalan itu apabila Mahathir mengumumkan Osman telah meletak jawatan sebagai MB Johor.
Perkembangan di Johor itu membimbangkan. Apakah ia satu permulaan kepada tindakan berturutan selepas ini. Akan ada lagi Menteri Besar yang akan membuat keputusan sama? Jangan pelik.
Diharap perkembangan di Johor itu tidak akan sampai menjadi satu pergolakan dalam kerajaan PH yang hari ini sedang mula diserang hendap. - f/bk
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