KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Prasarana Malaysia Berhad chairman Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman has insisted that there is no conflict of interest in the Latitud 8 project, as alleged in news reports.

Tajuddin said when the project was awarded in 2012, it was before he was appointed as chairman of the national transport operator.

He also defended himself by saying that at that time, as a businessman, he too needed to make a living.

“I don’t see anything wrong, if you ask me.

“The project was awarded eight years ago, when I was Felcra chairman at the time.

“If you got a project eight years ago through an open tender, was it wrong?” he asked reporters during a press conference today.

He added that this is not the same as him having already been appointed the Prasarana chairman eight years ago.

“It’s different if I were awarded now when I am the Prasarana chairman.

“Then, it is a conflict of interest and an abuse of power,” he said.

Tajuddin was referring to Latitud 8, a project in Dang Wangi that is right smack in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur city centre, which he said was granted to a firm linked to his family in 2012 through an open tender.

He also clarified that he had already transferred company shares to his family when he became a deputy minister post-2013 general election.

“I asked Najib Razak (former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) if I have these businesses, what should I do? I can’t possibly throw them into the drain.

“I asked if I can transfer the shares to my daughter and family,” he said.

In 2012, the project was awarded by Prasarana to Intan Sekitar Sdn Bhd, which is 51 per cent owned by public-listed Crest Builder Holdings Bhd and 49 per cent by Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd.

In offering a clarification, Tajuddin said his family has a 40 per cent stake in Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd through Tindakan Juara Sdn Bhd, and this is how his family is linked to the project.

The project came under scrutiny when news reports surfaced indicating that Prasarana is considering terminating the project and may have to compensate RM80 million to Intan Sekitar.

“There are allegations that I demanded Intan Sekitar to be terminated and for the board to approve a RM80 million compensation. I would be rich if that were the case.

“As far as I know, the board has yet to make any such decision,” he added.

He added that the project had since been halted following the downturn of the property market.

When asked if Prasarana has plans to terminate the project altogether, Tajuddin said it would be a waste if it were scrapped.

“Intan Sekitar has spent a lot of money... done ground construction. I’m not sure how much they have spent... Prasarana will have to talk to them.

“The board has not made a decision (to terminate). We are exploring how the project can be saved and can benefit the rakyat, Prasarana and Intan Sekitar, that is the spirit.

“But if following people who are cruel, then it will be terminated,” he said.

News reports published in 2019 claimed that construction was halted, with a date of a relaunch in 2020.

Tajuddin said some time should be given for the market to recover and a relaunch could be done, and in return, no one will lose out from this project.