KUCHING, May 8 — Amanah Saham Sarawak Berhad (Assar) is still a good trust fund, though its business model needs to be restructured to make it more economically vibrant, its non-executive director Datuk Idris Buang said today.
He said it has been able to sail through “stormy weather” in the past without any financial assistance from the state government as proof it is a good trust fund.
However, he said Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg is looking at restructuring the model and has asked an external accounting firm to look into it.
He said he believes that the accounting firm has prepared a report for the chief minister to study.
Idris, who is also Muara Tuang assemblyman, said one of the things that needed to be looked into is the redemption for each unit of Assar fund.
“Under the model, whoever are the unit holders who want to get back their shares, they are being paid, by way of redemption, a guaranteed par value of RM1 per unit even though the market value may be less than that,” Idris told reporters.
“Because of this model, ASSAR has been burdened by paying the unit holders at RM1 per unit over the years,” he said when responding to recent comments on the fund’s performance by DAP’s Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon.
He said Assar, through its investment arm, Pemodalan ASSAR Sdn Bhd (PASB), had done well until a stock market crisis a few years ago.
“The crisis had simply wiped out almost the investments of all the unit trust funds, including Assar, and of course, their share values fell down sharply,” he said.
Idris said despite the unfavourable market conditions, Assar did not seek the state government’s help to inject funds.
He said ASSAR will not go bankrupt as alleged by Dr Ting as it has about RM600 million worth of assets, mostly land.
Idris said it can pay unit holders their shares at RM1 per unit without any problem.
He said it is misleading and malicious for Dr Ting to perceive Assar as another 1MDB.
He said Dr Ting should apologise to the state government and Assar and retract his malicious insinuations that Assar is like 1MDB.
“His innuendo is outrageous and egregious,” Idris said, adding that the DAP lawmaker should verify with the external accounting firm and the Securities Commission if there is anything amiss or non-compliant with the law by Assar before lunging such rhetoric in stressing his practising politics of perception.
During the debate on the opening of the state assembly two days ago, Dr Ting had said that as of December 1, 2018, the net asset value for one unit of Assar was a mere 2.9 cents, and that the state government was liable for the rest 97.1 cents for each unit as guarantor.
He also claimed that the net asset of Assar had reduced by 62 per cent in 2018, from RM35 million to RM13 million.
He also claimed that the trust fund had lost RM4.3 million in the last six months, and most of these losses were due to ludicrous management fees.
He had urged the state assembly’s Public Accounts Committee to conduct a full investigation into Assar before the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) steps in.