NFC assets frozen

PROBE CONTINUES: DPM, Noh tasked with charting corporation’s future direction

(New Straits Times) – THE assets of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), which is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police, have been temporarily frozen.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak confirmed this yesterday, when asked to comment on calls for the assets to be frozen. “It has been frozen for the time being,” he said. However, the prime minister did not elaborate on who had taken the action and what this entailed. Najib said he had also asked Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar to look into NFC’s future direction. Muhyiddin and Noh would look for the best solution concerning NFC while investigations are being conducted by police and MACC.

On Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s decision to take three-week leave from her ministerial duties pending the outcome of the investigations, Najib said it was “an appropriate

He said the decision would allow both agencies to investigate whether she was involved in the issue. “She discussed it with me and told me she was prepared to be  investigated. What happens after this will depend on the outcome of the investigations,” he said after declaring open the National Farmers, Breeders and Fishermen Day here.

Shahrizat had on Thursday issued a statement that she was taking a break from her ministerial duties to facilitate MACC and police investigations into her possible involvement in the NFC case.

Her husband, Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail, is executive chairman of NFC and their children are directors of the company.

The controversy surrounding NFC started after the Auditor-General’s 2010 Report described the project as “messy” and having failed to meet government targets.

In December 2007, the government approved a soft loan of RM250 million, with an annual interest of two per cent for a 10-year period, for NFC to start a national feedlot centre in Gemas, Negri Sembilan, to help reduce beef imports.

The initial target was to produce 60,000 head of cattle a year.

MACC has so far confirmed that it was finalising its investigation papers on the case before making recommendations to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Police are carrying out a separate probe on NFC for cheating and criminal breach of trust.

Later, in Kangar,  Muhyiddin said the government would soon announce  measures to handle the NFC issues. He said he had met with Noh and they would soon chart a solution before briefing Najib.

Speaking on a separate issue, Najib said Barisan Nasional (BN) was not rattled by the so-called roadshows being undertaken by opposition leaders.

He said such sessions were part of the democratic process and different parties had their own strategies to garner support.

On claims by deputy Pas  president Mohamad Sabu that BN members were  helping the opposition topple the ruling coalition, Najib said: “He can say all sorts of things. This is the same person who claimed he was knocked down by a police car (which was proven untrue), so it is not surprising.”

On another matter, Najib said the government’s strategy to ensure food security in the country was to help farmers increase productivity as there were no plans to expand agricultural areas here.

He said those involved in the sector needed to transform their mindsets and focus on increasing output besides finding ways to add value to their produce to increase their income.

This, said Najib, meant farmers should not just be producers, but also involve themselves in the supply chain processes.

Earlier, the prime minister and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, visited Taiping, where more than  4,000 people turned up at the Esplanade field to exercise with them at the 1Malaysia exercise event.

The couple were accompanied by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and his wife, Datin Seri Saripah Zulkifli, at the event before leaving for breakfast at Taiping market.

Additional reporting by Lee Keng Fatt, P.  Chandra Sagaran, Sharanpal Singh Randhawa and S. Ista Kyra