Musa laments fate of Felda and worries for Tabung Haji

Musa Hitam

PETALING JAYA: Speaking frankly, former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam laments the fate that has befallen the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) which was pioneered by the nation’s second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein.

In his book titled ‘Frankly Speaking’, Musa claims Abdul Razak’s son, current Prime Minister Najib Razak, has used Felda as a tool to gain the Malay rural vote.

Musa, who chaired Felda back in the 70s, claims that Najib had turned it into a public listed company in hopes that the settlers would get lots of shares at favourable rates.

“It is not surprising that Najib’s motives were widely regarded as political. He was probably thinking that he had to depend on Malay rural votes and wanted a way to win the favour of this group.

“The political calculation was simple. If Najib could use Felda to get Malay support, his chances of retaining power would be very good,” he says, adding that, instead, Felda has turned into a serious problem for the government.

Musa points out that from an offer price of RM5.39 in June 2012, Felda shares were trading at around RM1.54 as of March this year.

Noting that while there are many other reasons for its poor performance, which include palm oil prices, he says Felda is also faced with problems of mismanagement and corruption.

Musa also questions the appointment of an individual with a record of practising money politics, to lead the board.

“Felda is now being run by a senior Umno leader who was once suspended from Umno for three years for practising money politics. Yet he now presides over an organisation sitting on billions of ringgit,” Musa writes in his book.

While no name is mentioned, it is believed that Musa is referring to former Umno vice-president Mohd Isa Abdul Samad who was appointed as Felda chairman in 2010, two years after his suspension period ended.

The Johor-born politician expresses worry that the fate that has befallen Felda may befall Tabung Haji, an initiative inspired by Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz to help Muslims perform the hajj.

“Personally, I am not comfortable with the way Tabung Haji is being administered. Even if I were not a depositor, which I am, I would still be concerned,” he says, referring to the allegations that Tabung Haji has been involved in questionable dealings with 1MDB.

Musa says it appears that Tabung Haji is open to abuse, in citing an example from 2012 when two Tabung Haji personnel were charged in a sessions court with altering its database and receiving bribes.

“Najib seems to have no effective answer to its problems.”

Musa’s book was launched yesterday by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.It is available in bookstores.