By-election looms as Kedah lawmaker denies bankruptcy

By G. Manimaran and and Syed Mu’az Syed Putra, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Kuala Nerang assemblyman Datuk Syed Sobri Syed Hashim was declared a bankrupt last week for failing to pay contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), raising the possibility of a by-election if he does not clear his debt.

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that the Kuala Lumpur High Court declared the Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmaker bankrupt last Friday after his company, Kulim Enterprise, did not pay some RM700,000 in employee contributions when the case began in 2003. Two other company directors have yet to be sentenced, sources said.

It is understood that his political career now rests on whether he will pay up and lift the bankruptcy.

But Syed Sobri denied to The Malaysian Insider that he has been made a bankrupt, saying it was a rumour spread by his political enemies.

“Everything is under control, everything is OK. I don’t know who’s behind this.

“No problem, I don’t know why this has happened. I take this as an accusation by the opposition because of the current Umno annual general assembly,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

The ruling Umno annual general assembly officially began last night.

Syed Sobri said he might be taking legal action against the people who had spread the rumours intentionally.

When asked to confirm if he had settled his outstanding contributions to the EPF, he said he paid them in stages.

“I had paid gradually, this is an old case… no problem,” he emphasised.

In early November 2008, Syed Sobri was said to be nearly bankrupt for owing money to a bank, but the lawmaker said he has since paid off the debt amounting to RM150,000.

He said his lawyers brought up a plea to put aside the court decision on November 3, 2008, which had declared him bankrupt.