JULY 6 — The Talam controversy has again surfaced. It couldn’t have come at a worse time than now. It is meant to inflict the greatest damage on its primary targets — Selangor and its mentri besar — ahead of a looming election.
The last time it appeared on national stage, the immediate casualty was none other than the secretary-general of PKR, who went after Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
A controversial and enigmatic figure, Datuk Salehuddin Hashim had to be urged to back down when it became untenable and his antics surpassed the tolerance of party leaders and supporters.
This time, however, the issue is being brought up by a political adversary: The MP for Labis and Deputy Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong.
Although recognisable through his political lineage, the fact that his MCA party is leading the charge is baffling, to say of the least.
“Why MCA and not Umno?” is a question from all discerning Malaysians that begs an immediate response.
With his lack of finesse or mastery of the matter exposing his failure to grasp the subject, Chua has placed himself in the guillotine. Is this an internal attempt to finish him off?
His allegation of a RM1 billion scandal involving the Selangor government, a public-listed company and abuse of public funds is a “stunner” of sorts, as the ailing Barisan Nasional wants to paint Pakatan Rakyat as equally corrupt and corruptible.
His insistence that the Pakatan Rakyat government of Selangor had also earlier given a RM392 million grant to Talam revealed that he is clueless about the mechanics of “round-tripping”.
His claim that the state acquisition of the RM676 million worth of assets and the usage of the RM392 million grant resulted in the RM1 billion deal, is even more atrocious.
Lest you think I will take more pot shots at him in this saga, you are wrong.
Instead, I will be more merciful and explain the matter.
In a financial manoeuvre known as “round-tripping”, the state government takes over the debt from the state subsidiaries to squeeze Talam directly to fulfil its debt obligation.
If you also think that I’m an apologist for the MB, you got me wrong again.
I thought the white paper now mooted by the MB should have been presented ages ago, and all claims of assets purchases and their valuations ought to have been disclosed by a government committed to a openness, transparency and accountability.
Writing in this limited space, I am unable to fully debate or discuss at length the options and alternative views regarding each alternative….please refer to this..
Three years down the road, the white paper, once available, will surely explain the matter to all, albeit belatedly.
The gross fiscal mismanagement of the Barisan Nasional government will now be widely exposed.
In hindsight, I think the MB has a game plan for the long delay.
Barring anything unforeseen, it may or may not clear the air.
Whatever it is, the onus is now on the mentri besar.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.