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Did Chua misunderstand the Talam deal?

 | July 14, 2012

Tony Pua tells Chua Tee Yong to figure out how to present a more credible and air-tight case before jumping into the deep blue sea at the very first instance.

INTERVIEW

PETALING JAYA: With rebuttals coming in thick and fast over his so-called exposé over the PKR-led Selangor government’s Talam deal, MCA’s upcoming leader Chua Tee Yong could learn to be better prepared to present an air-tight case in the future.

This advice comes from DAP’s Tony Pua, the main Pakatan Rakyat leader who had taken it upon himself in challenging Chua to clarify the fine lines of the Talam deal.

Chua had embarked on a series of exposé alleging that the state government had possibly used RM1 billion in public funds to bail out Talam.

Chua, the MCA Young Professionals Bureau chairman and Agriculture and Agro-Based Deputy Minister, also accused the PKR-led state government of overpaying Talam by RM57 million in acquiring 134.34 acres of land at Danau Putra in 2010.

He claimed that the state paid RM87.7 million for it when the land was only worth RM30.4 million. Chua is also the Labis MP and the son of MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Speaking to FMT today, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said Chua should find out what had gone wrong with his billion-ringgit blunder.

“He should now cut his losses and conduct a post-mortem on what went so wrong with his billion- ringgit blunder.

“He should figure out how to present a more credible and air-tight case before jumping into the deep blue sea at the very first instance [if there’s a next time],” said Pua.

Below is the excerpt of FMT’s interview with Tony Pua on the Talam issue:

FMT: Is the Talam deal really a scandal as being touted by Chua Tee Yong? What is the issue here?

Tony Pua: The Talam deal is not only not a scandal, but a testament and showcase of good governance, competency and accountability by the Pakatan Rakyat state government led by Khalid Ibrahim.

The fact of the matter is Talam would have escaped from its debt obligations to the state if not for the sharp accounting eyes of the Menteri Besar who discovered the RM392 million discrepancy inherited from the BN government.

And the MB should be applauded for successfully recovering every single sen of the RM392 million in cash and assets. One must remember that Talam was undergoing recovery from its own financial crisis, and the MB would have had to drive a uncompromising hard bargain in order to recover the debts without any haircut. In fact, out of the properties recovered by the state valued at RM676 million, professional independent valuers have valued them at RM685 million. This means that the state actually gained further as part of the debt recovery exercise.

If the Talam deal is a straight-forward debt restructuring deal as stated by the Selangor government, why is MCA trying to paint a different picture now?

I can only hazard a guess that they completely misunderstood the deal and had no one with the right financial skills to decipher how the Selangor government actually collected RM392 million worth of cash and assets from Talam. Either that or worse, they are intentionally misleading the man-on-the-street, believing that the powers of the media they control like The Star will enable them to deceive the people and prevent the truth from correcting the negative perception of the state Pakatan government.

Why do you reckon it is Chua, and not any other senior MCA leader, or MCA’s state level leaders, who is spearheading this ‘Talam bailout’ campaign? Is this a MCA strategy to promote Chua?

It is possibly a strategy for MCA to promote Chua. As one can see, he appears on the front page of The Star for every press conference he has conducted to date. Alternatively, and possibly unfortunately, he could be the best brain they have within the leadership.

Do you think the confusion over the deal has been exacerbated by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s refusal to clarify the matter, even if the state government had spoken about the deal in 2010?

The MB’s job is to ensure that the outstanding debts are collected and the money collected is used for the benefit of the rakyat. The documents relevant to the above transactions are in the public domain. It really doesn’t need the MB who has better things to do to tear to shreds the allegations put forth by Chua and MCA.

Should the state government be more forthcoming and transparent instead of threatening to sue MCA and Chua?

I think the fact that all these documents were readily available in the public domain means that the state government is extremely transparent about the process and has nothing to hide. But there’s little need for MB to entertain directly the malicious attacks by MCA whose motives are questionable. Khalid very much prefer to let his actions do the talking, and the fact that he’s willing to have five auditors come inspect the books of the Talam settlement exercise proves that he really has nothing to answer for.

Why are you defending the state government? Isn’t there anyone in the state government who is capable to handling the accusations thrown by Chua?

A Johor Labis MP is attacking the state government. Why can’t a Selangor MP who is able to make sense of the issue and put the Labis MP in his place? If even I can do it with publicly available information, then it only goes to prove that there’s really no case for the Selangor state government to answer.

Do you think this Talam issue is turning out to be a battle between Chua Tee Yong and Tony Pua, based on the numerous press conferences and press statements that’s going about?

No, it’s not about Tony Pua vs CTY. It’s about the competence of Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives vs that of BN, including those who are ministers and deputy ministers.

Also read:

Another call for debate, this time on Talam

Chua digging a hole for himself

MCA exposé ill-planned, without focus

MCA wants answer on S’gor’s Talam ‘RM1b deal’


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