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‘Talam Corp issue not over’

 | November 21, 2012

The release of the Talam Corp White Paper has sparked further questions from MCA's Chua Tee Yong.

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PUTRAJAYA: The Talam Corporation White Paper, released to the public yesterday, raises more questions on the Selangor state government’s debt recovery exercises, said MCA’s Chua Tee Yong today.

“How were private valuation companies such as Suleiman & Co selected? Why did the government agree to pay a higher amount for land in Bukit Beruntong 2 if JPPH [Valuation and Property Services Department] valued it at less?” said Chua, who is MCA Young Professionals Bureau chief.

He was referring to the fact that JPPH, a government body, had valued the Bukit Beruntung land at RM113 million, but private valuation company Suleiman & Co had valued it at RM375 million.

According to the White Paper, the Selangor state government, led by Pakatan Rakyat, had accepted Suleiman & Co’s valuation as it was more reflective of the land value.

The White Paper explained that Suleiman & Co’s valuation was higher because it took into account the land’s pending conversion to mixed development land status, whereas JPPH had made the valuation based on its status as an agricultural land.

When reporters pointed this out to Chua, he replied: “The JPPH is a government body set up to make valuations. Their job is only to make valuations.

“Thus when they made the valuation for Bukit Beruntung, and the Pakatan state government said they were wrong – as if Pakatan has more expertise on the topic – then why didn’t the state government ask them to re-evaluate the land?

“Why was the government so keen to accept a higher price? Are you supposed to get the highest price or the best price?” he said.

He also accused the state government of not following procedure by choosing a private valuation company over JPPH.

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“If you want to follow procedure, then you must follow JPPH’s valuation. The state government is actually bound by JPPH. So they must provide justification for why they chose to listen to a private company.

“They must also explain why they chose Suleiman & Co over many other private valuation companies available, considering these are large assets,” he added.

Another issue Chua brought up today was the fact that the state government had not provided KPMG (independent auditors) with JPPH’s valuation.

“This shows the Pakatan government is not transparent,” he said.

Chua to wait for Khalid’s response

Chua, who is Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Deputy Minister, has long accused the Selangor government of bailing out Talam Corp, claims which have been repeatedly rubbished by the opposition coalition.

Pakatan lawmakers had clarified that the state government had only restructured the firm’s debts to ensure the monies were reclaimed in full.

Talam Corp had then owed Universiti Selangor (Unisel) and Permodalan Nasional Selangor Bhd (PNSB) RM277 million as well as SAP Holdings – a subsidiary of listed company Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Bhd (KHSB) – RM115 million, for a total of RM392 million. They had originally been incurred during BN’s reign in the state.

It was reported that Talam Corp finally agreed to a full repayment of its debts in the form of cash and assets in two tranches – one on March 12, 2010 and the second a month later on April 9.

Yesterday, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim announced that the release of the White Paper signalled an end to the matter, and that the state government would not be debating the issue in the State Legislative Assembly.

But Chua said today that the Bukit Beruntung issue was only one of many, and that he would continue to poke holes in the White Paper.

“But I will first wait for him [Khalid] to finish what he says. It’s not fair that I criticise now, because then he will suddenly add additional information to the White Paper to rebut my points,” he said.

“If the White Paper is for all the people to understand the Talam Corp issue, then it would be complete with all the points.

“Yet there are still questions, so let him reveal all the remaining information on Talam Corp before I make further criticism,” he added.

When reporters pointed out that Khalid had stated the issue was closed, Chua claimed the menteri besar was a “flip flopper” and would likely change his mind.

“This MB is always flip-flopping. Before, he said he would respond in the Dewan Rakyat, but he never did.

“He also once said he would never entertain or respond to MCA. But then they had a roadshow to explain Talam.

“So considering he always changes his mind, I will allow him to finish what he says first before I raise more questions,” said Chua.

Also read:

Hutang Talam bukan ‘bailout’


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