He can't even read a simple balance sheet, says MCA's Chua Tee Yong.
“The problem is Pua does not know how to calculate and read the balance sheet [of Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB)] . Thank God, he is not actually a qualified accountant because if he is, he’ll fail miserably, ” the Labis MP and Agriculture and Agro-Based Deputy Minister said at a press conference at his ministry’s office here.
“Sometimes when you spin so much, you probably lie to yourself. If you want to do that, it’s okay, but don’t mislead the public.”
Pua has repeatedly asked for a public debate with Chua after the MCA leader recently started attacking the Selangor government over its handling of public funds, especially in the debt recovery of property developer Talam Corporation (now Trinity Corporation).
Today, Chua said that he was “quite surprised” at Pua’s incompetency at reading a “basic financial statement” despite being an economist.
“He showed us documents from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) that PNSB had total assets of RM761 million and RM823 million in 2010 and 2011 respectively. He also showed that in 2008 and 2009, the assets were RM111 million and RM115 million. He claims that assets increased by eight times, that’s a very big figure.â€ť
However, Chua stressed that it was clear from public documents that the actual total assets for 2008 and 2009, respectively, were RM301 million and RM304 million respectively.
“Pua only calculated current assets but failed to add in non-current assets. Maybe it is the ‘Tony Pua way’ of counting,” he said.
He added that Pua also forgot to mention that when the total assets increased, there was a increase in total liabilities which went up after the debt recovery exercise. In 2009, total liabilities was RM27 million; in 2011, it was RM497 million.
In an immediate response, Pua admitted that he made a mistake when he extracted the 2008 and 2009 figures from the wrong column in the PNSB balance sheet.
“Ya loh, he said I can’t count, now have to go back to school. How lah now, I want to cry,” Pua joked.
“But he is correct, I added it up wrongly as I read from the wrong line. However, this does not invalidate my argument, because from some RM300 million to more than RM800 million is still an achievement [for the Pakatan government],” said Pua, who reiterated that he would very much like to “learn accounting” from Chua in a public debate.
‘Allegations still stand’
Chua also said that Pua focused on how profits went up under Pakatan Rakyat’s administration, but had failed to mention that there were also profits when Barisan Nasional was in control.
“Pua goes on to say that under Pakatan, they made profits, but he forgot to show that there was an accumulated profit of RM 260 million in 2007; so it shows that in the past years, there was profit as well,” said Chua.
He said that his previous allegations still stand, which was that “a lot of the assets of PNSB was pledged to obtain a loan whereby the interest cost is RM86 millionâ€ť.
“Hence, Pua is not fit to debate with me, because he can’t even read a simple balance sheet properly, how to debate? It is not fair for me as I am a qualified accountant with both internal and external qualification of audit.
“More so, he does not represent the state and he is spinning more for publicity rather than giving answers. Where are the [state] executive councillors who know the answers? Why are they quiet? There are those who probably know the transactions better but I don’t hear them talking, or are they
rubber-stamping or they simply don’t understand?”
Asked about Pua’s query on why it was wrong for PNSB to acquire land as that was what a property developer is supposed to do, Chua said that as a developer, it should have a development plan for its property, but so far there have been no answers.
Since July 3, Chua had embarked on a series of exposĂ© alleging that the state government had possibly used RM1 billion in public funds to bail out Talam.
First, Chua had alleged that the state lied about fully recovering its RM392 million debts when it â€śdid notâ€ť.
He had questioned why in addition to a RM392 million supplementary budget passed in the State Legislative Assembly in 2009, an additional RM676 million worth of assets were purchased from Talam to further assist the then ailing company.
In subsequent press conferences, Chua also alleged that the Selangor government paid RM181 million for a piece of land worth RM139 million in Bestari Jaya in 2010.
Chua 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, which was also allegedly 80% submerged in water, was only worth RM30.4 million.
State Barisan Nasional coordinator Mohd Zin Mohammed has said that he possessed documents to back up Chuaâ€™s claims on Bestari Jaya.
Chua had also alleged that PNSB was forced to take a supersized RM230 million loan to acquire land from Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI), formerly belonging to Talam, as part of the debt settlement deal. This RM450-million purchase, he claimed, caused PNSB to be
saddled with a huge debt in 2010.
Pua has taken it upon himself to â€śdebunkâ€ť Chua, saying that the Talam deal is not a scandal but actually â€śa testament and showcase of good governance, competency and accountability by the Pakatan state governmentâ€ť. He had rebutted the PNSB issue by showing figures of how it was actually â€śthriving under Pakatanâ€ť.
Calls, led by Chua, have been made for the Selangor state to fulfil its promise made two years ago to table a White Paper on the matter.
In response, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said the state planned to sue MCA over the allegations.
He also said that he would appoint independent accounting firms to review the debt-restructuring exercise and a White Paper would be presented during the tabling of stateâ€™s Budget 2013 by the end of this year.
In the meantime, Talam had also denied allegations that it sold land to the Selangor state government at above market value, pointing out that the valuation fell under the scrutiny of the Securities Commissionâ€™s Assets Valuation Department.
Other opposition friendly parties have also noted that Chuaâ€™s exposĂ© reveals that BN had done nothing about the said debts when it controlled the state.