‘Why is Tajudin let-off despite owing half-a-billion ringgit?’

(Harakah Daily) – The government is being taken to task for refusing to appeal a decision letting off former Malaysia Airlines System chairman Tajudin Ramli over a RM589.15 million debt owed to the Financy ministry’s asset management agency Pengurusan Danaharta Bhd.

“The Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Najib Razak must immediately explain why the BN government is writing off the entire debt and letting Tajudin off scot free without even defending itself in the Court of Appeal.  The decision smacks of sinister motives especially since the Government has already won its case in the High Courts,” Tony Pua, the Petaling Jaya Utara member of parliament, said in a statement.

The court of appeal had rendered the agreement of an out-of-court settlement between Tajudin and Danaharta as confidential.

The case between Danaharta and the tycoon was centred on a syndicated loan of RM1.79 billion taken by a group of lenders to his purchase of a 32 percent stake in MAS. Tajudin had twice failed to settle loans, forcing Danaharta to commence action to recover the loans from the latter.

He had earlier claimed of doing a “national service” in the purchase of MAS shares under the instruction of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Finance minister Daim Zainuddin in 1994 to bail out the government.

In December 2009, the High Court ruled in favour of Danaharta and its two subsidiaries and ordered Tajuddin to settle the debt of RM589.14 million with two per cent interest per annum backdated to January 1, 2006.

However, the undisclosed settlement between Danaharta and Tajudin did not come as a surprise as last August, Putrajaya had directed all government-linked-companies to drop their civil suits against Tajudin and Daim.

According to Pua, the BN govenment’s decision proved it would continue to protect its cronies even at the huge expense of government’s treasury.

“Where is Najib’s ‘New Economic Model’ where the Prime Minister declared to foreign investors that ‘the behaviour of rent-seeking and patronage will no longer be tolerated’?

“Or is the settlement a result of the Government’s agreement with the Tajudin defence that he is completely indemnified by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Daim Zainuddin (left) from having to bear any responsibility for losses?” he asked.

Citing the Port Klang Free Zone fiasco which saw former MCA president and deputy president Ling Liong Sik and Chan Kong Choy being hauled to court, Pua urged Najib to do the same with Mahathir and Daim over the duo’s negligence in giving “guarantees and indemnity to Tajuddin in the privatisation of MAS”.

“It is clear from the above settlement, the BN Government has no political will to manage our treasury in any prudent fashion.  Large-scale leakages, corruption and wastages will continue under a BN government that is keen to promote cronyism and marginalise accountability,” said Pua.