Evasion shows ‘guilt’, Kok tells Najib over RM800m EPF land buy controversy

Teresa Kok speaks to reporters during a press conference at the Ministry of Primary Industries January 3, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Teresa Kok speaks to reporters during a press conference at the Ministry of Primary Industries January 3, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak is behaving “guiltily” by refusing to answer claims his administration made the Malaysian Rubber Board sell a land parcel for nearly RM800 million below fair value, said Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.

Demanding a clear response from the former prime minister over the matter she made public on January 3, Kok said it was imperative that Najib respond as the sum involved represented a loss to both the MRB and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) that subsequently bought the land.

“The fact that he has remained evasive from the start and keeps ‘beating around the bush’ when criticising the government’s revelation of the sale transaction which was directed by the Cabinet under him, is a clear admission of ‘guilt’,” Kok said in a statement today.

The minister added that Najib’s response to the controversy showed he still has no remorse over the scandals that took place during his administration and was continuing to use bald deflection to escape responsibility.

Kok added that Najib was employing the same tactics from his 1MDB defence to avoid explaining the “unwarranted” transaction that cost the EPF around RM800 million that could have gone to contributors of the retirement fund.

“This is typical of Najib. It is a repeat and similar pattern of how he dealt with the many questions raised on 1MDB,” she added.

On January 3, Kok alleged that the Najib administration forced the MRB to sell a 1,120ha parcel of land in Kwasa Damansara, Sungai Buloh to the Aset Tanah Negara Berhad (ATNB), a special purpose vehicle formed under the Finance Ministry, for RM1.5 billion in 2010.

Just two years later, ATNB sold the same land to the EPF for RM2.3 billion.

The MRB has since come out to say that it was “short changed” in the transaction and demanded an answer from Najib.

Najib responded to the demand by saying that it was Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s place to explain the matter.

The EPF is also under scrutiny now for its role in the transaction, which it has sought to explain away by insisting that the purchase was made at “arm’s length”.