Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Najib, why not cattle project for Felda subsidiary that also bid for it?

PKR today urged Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who has been seen silent on the scandal of National Feedlot Centre, to explain why he chose the company owned by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's family to run the mega project, instead of a Felda subsidiary which had also bid for it.

It was hypocrite for the premier to trumpet about his contribution to the Felda settlers but did not give the project worth over RM300 million, which can benefit the settlers to a company owned by Felda, said the opposition party.

NONECiting the answer of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar, given to parliament on Oct 31, 2011, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli (left in photo) pointed out that Najib, who was deputy prime minister then, chaired the National Feedlot Project Anchor Company Selection Committee in 2006.

The committee invited six companies, including Felda Farm Products Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Felda Plantations Sdn Bhd, and Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd to submit their biddings for the mega project.

Eventually the committee shortlisted Agroscience Industries and Lamberts Agriculture Trade (M) Sdn Bhd but Lamberts withdrew, making Agroscience Industries the sole company to execute the project.

Comparing the profiles of all six companies, based on documents obtained from company searches, Rafizi, a corporate executive before venturing into politics, concluded that Felda Farm Products was the best company for the project.

The company was established in 1995 with a paid-up capital of RM10 million and RM9.6 million as revenue as of Dec 31, 2010, while Agroscience Industries was only formed a year before the contract was awarded, and had no experience in cattle farming.

“It does not take a genius to figure out which should be the best company to take over the project,” said Rafizi.

NONE“Najib cannot wash his hands and keep quiet like what he has done in the last six months.

“He is like (former prime minister) Pak Lah now. He is quieter than Pak Lah... He has his signature on the project.

“If he doesn’t respond, we’ll bring something on him,” warned Rafizi, adding that the premier “is not a gentleman”.

“"I don’t want to use the word coward. But the only word to describe Najib for leaving Shahrizat alone to fend off the issue so far, is not gentleman.”

Natural choice among six companies

When asked about the RM22 million loss suffered by Felda Farm Products as shown in the financial documents, Rafizi, who is also the chief executive officer of the Selangor Economic Adviser Office, argued that the major criteria to evaluate the size and operations of a company is its revenue.

He said the loss may not reflect the company’s performance unless more details were available.

“Felda may not be the best company, that’s why the government should call for an open tender.

"If I was Najib, my natural choice among these six companies would be Felda Farm Products because the other five were just formed yesterday,” he stressed.

Furthermore, Rafizi elaborated, Felda possesses huge land and its settlers can be readily trained to farm cattle.

“Najib is responsible for granting the project to Shahrizat’s family. If he had given it to Felda, we would not have the mess now,” he added.
Hence PKR demanded the premier to publish all minutes of the selection committee meetings and explain: Why he sidelined Felda Farm Products in awarding the project; and what was the criteria used by him to award the project?

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