Rafizi: Hadi gamed by Umno, now defending Tabung Haji scandal to save face

Rafizi Ramli said PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had only wanted to avert humiliation and save his own face by framing the Lembaga Tabung Haji financial scandal as the work of anti-Islam elements. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Rafizi Ramli said PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had only wanted to avert humiliation and save his own face by framing the Lembaga Tabung Haji financial scandal as the work of anti-Islam elements. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had only wanted to avert humiliation and save his own face by framing the Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) financial scandal as the work of anti-Islam elements, Rafizi Ramli alleged today.

The PKR vice-president said Hadi is employing racial tactics to divert attention from a backfired political strategy that intended to make then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak beholden to PAS.

Rafizi claimed it was Najib that manipulated PAS instead by using the Islamists to shield his administration from Malay backlash after details of the alleged corruption at the pilgrimage fund began to surface, a mistake that Hadi is trying to cover up now.

“The PAS entourage visited Tabung Haji, attended a briefing and the following moment declared it was satisfied with the financial management,” the PKR leader said in a statement.

“This indirectly made them the ‘kingmaker’ in the Tabung Haji issue, and they implied that I had made the allegations [about the financial problems] up.

“But when evidence slowly emerged, PAS was entrapped. If they backpedalled and agreed [to my exposés] it would have tainted the president’s image because prior to that they became the panel that cleansed off the corruption,” he added.

Rafizi was responding to a speech Hadi made before students in the United Kingdom last week, where he claimed the LTH scandal detractors were only targeting the fund as part of an attack on the Islamic faith.

Rafizi said he had first exposed the fund’s dubious finances in 2013, and more had come later.

Just last month, audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said in its report that LTH failed to recognise a total of RM549 million in impairment losses of investments in several associate companies and subsidiaries.

The fund had also failed to report its fair value losses in investment properties and impairment of investment in available-for-sale debt security totalling RM77 million.

Rafizi said LTH had intentionally excluded the impairment losses from its financial submissions so it could prop up revenue in order to pay out dividends to depositors. The dividends instead came from deposits by new depositors.

The PKR leader then said Hadi may have been “confused” by the explanation given by LTH officials loyal to the previous administration. He also chided the PAS president as lacking the necessary knowledge to understand basic accounting.

But Rafizi said Hadi was ultimately irresponsible for deflecting the scandal. The PKR leader said the PAS as an Islamic party should have been the most vocal in voicing their protest when the allegations surfaced since they affected Muslim depositors.

Rafizi added Hadi instead opted to do defend what he called the indefensible.

“When there is no profit and losses are concealed, where did the money for dividend came from? It came from new deposits,” he said.

“This kind of investment is no other than a get-rich-easy or pyramid scheme, which gives the impression of huge profits to lure new money in and use that money to pay the initial depositors. In time the pyramid will collapse.

“That is why when Datuk Seri Hadi masked his argument as ‘this is a malicious plan to tarnish Islam’, it was an irresponsible political play,” he added.