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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Najib was the one who chose the Shahrizats for NFC, sidelining Felda

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:53 PM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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It was Prime Minister Najib Razak who selected a company owned by the family of Umno minister Shahrizat Jalil to be awarded the NFC cattle breeding project, whilst his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin endorsed the decision in his then capacity as Agriculture minister in 2006.

Najib, apart from heading the selection committee which also picked Lambert Sdn Bhd for a slice of the NFC project, also came under fire for not considering Felda, the national land resettlement scheme that falls under his direct supervision.

“The anchor company selection committee for the NFC was chaired by Datuk Seri Najib Razak. He must explain how he can talk about fighting for Felda with the public listing but did not give the project which would have benefited the settlers,” PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told a press conference.

Why no open tender and why not Felda

Indeed, the other shocker from Tuesday's revelations was the ruthless manner in which Najib had sidelined the interests of Felda, which given its land bank and agricultural experience, would surely be the most appropriate agency to be given first shot at the project.

"Felda has the land and they need to value-add their operations," said Rafizi.

Indeed, 6 firms including Felda Farm Product Sdn Bhd, Group Five Bonsmara Breeding Centre Sdn Bhd, Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd, Lamberts Agriculture Trade (M) Sdn Bhd, MIG Farm Sdn Bhd and MLC Industries Sdn Bhd were invited by the government to tender for NFC.

Yet, Najib chose Agro Science, the least experienced of the lot, and Lamberts, which is a unit of an Australian firm that had drawn up a master proposal for the project. Lamberts was given 500 acres to develop and Agro Science 5,000 acres.

Umno's quagmire of corruption and treachery

The National Feedlot Centre project has become a showcase of Umno political patronage, corruption and treachery, with key factions involved in the deal.

Najib was then the deputy prime minister and whie he may have headed the NFC selection committee, according to the Umno grapevine, it was Abdullah Badawi - the then prime minister - and his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin who had allegedly 'pre-selected' the Shahrizats for the project, which also carried in tow a RM250mil government soft loan.

Which is the true story story and who was really at fault - Najib, Muhyiddin, Badawi or Khairy - is unlikely to be ever made clear, especially officially, although all three factions will spread their version of the truth through their blogs and media.

Regardless of who was to blame, what is clear is that Malaysian public gets the short end of the stick, together with Felda - which has been looking for a good viable project to add to its planting activities for a long time now.

The NFC project - awarded to Agro Science which in turn set up NFCorp to manage it - has been described has having fundamental "weaknesses" by the Auditor General.

Revelations by Rafizi and his team, which includes PKR Women's chief Zuraida Kamaruddin and Felda bureau chief Suhaimi Said, that NFCorp had abused its powers, including splurging a large chunk of the loan on luxury condominiums, overseas holidays, credit card purchases, giving million-ringgit discounts to other family-owned firms, have stunned and angered Malaysians who want those responsible to face action.

So far, Shahrizat has insisted the NFC was awarded to her family and there was no reason for her to resign as she was not involved in the project's dealings. Her defense was ripped apart and condemned even by her own Umno colleagues.

Top Umno leaders such as Muhyiddin Yassin have been hesitant about the sort of action to take, while Najib has hinted that it was possible that the Attorney-General may not take action against the Shahrizats.

"Who then should pay for all the government loan used for the wrong purposes? What about interest on the free use of the government loan? Frankly, even if the Shahrizats have managed to make enough money from investing in the condos and what-not, it is still illegal and against the Companies Act to use a government loan for making non-related purchases or to 'sub-lend' to the directors. Who will punish the Shahrizats or will Umno let them off, so as long as they make good the RM250mil as Nazri Aziz had once proposed," Zuraida told Malaysia Chronicle.

Umno standing up for corruption

Indeed, Nazri - the minister in the PM's Department - had several weeks ago dropped a bombshell by proposing that Shahrizat need not resign so long as her family paid back the money they owed NFC. Obviously, Nazri was immediately denounced for his suggestion, which civil society and transparency advocates said was tantamount to supporting and whitewashing corruption.

Nonetheless, Najib himself has sounded warning that despite the police recommendation for Salleh Ismail, Shahrizat's husband and the NFC chairman, to be charged for CBT, it was not incumbent on the Attorney General to prosecute or to arrest Salleh.

“I am saying this on the principle that assumptions cannot be made on what is going to happen (next) because it is up to the A-G ... and only he has the right to make the decision in this matter. We cannot make the assumption that all investigations end with prosecution,” Najib told reporters on Sunday.

Info : News



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