Thursday 23 June 2011

Isa on RM6 bil EPF loan to Felda: So what?

Federal Land Authority (Felda) chairperson Isa Samad today brushed off allegations that the agency needs to be probed over its RM6 billion loan from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

"What is extraordinary. What is wrong? A company will always get a loan to conduct its business," he said after officially opening the Felda Settlers Cooperative annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

PAS-linked NGO Anak, which is aggressively campaigning on Felda issues, had wanted the matter to be reviewed by a royal commission of inquiry (RCI).

isa samad interview 150509Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim also raised the same matter in Parliament last week, asking about Felda's financial standing and its rationale in borrowing more than RM6 billion from EPF.

This led to the BN backbenchers slamming Pakatan Rakyat's own policy recommendations, and BN's Maran parliamentarian Ismail Abd Muttalib accusing the Opposition of being “jealous” of Felda's success in helping to uplift the lives of settlers.

But Isa (above), a former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar, said that the loan was given because EPF was confident in Felda's business acumen.

"That EPF gave us the loan is a recognition for us. It shows that they believe that we are able to repay (the loan)," Isa said.

He also dismissed the call for RCI as the usual tirade of the opposition, and said he sees no real need for such a move.

“Why do we need a commission to investigate? They should be thankful we do not form a committee to investigate them (Anak),” he said.

'Unappreciative of blessings'

In his speech earlier, Isa hit out at those he called kufur nikmat (those unappreciative of blessings).

“Those who are unappreciative of blessings. Repent! Or else God will take it (the blessings) back.”

NONEHe was referring to some settlers who have sued Felda, alleging that the authority had cheated them on the palm oil extraction rate.

These, he said, are people who have been influenced by those who go into Felda settlements to stir up the people for political purposes and to gain votes for the coming general election.

Asked in a press conference later whether Felda will investigate the matters brought up by the settlers, Isa said that the information about the extraction rate is already a matter of record and needs no special investigation.

He also related how the process of harvesting and sending palm oil fruit to factories had already been made transparent via a special committee, which include representatives from the settlers themselves who observed shipments.

'No smear'

Isa also dismissed questions as to whether the settler's legal action against Felda wold affect the company's image.

“Not Felda as a company,” he stressed.

NONEIsa also said that they are not yet considerating legal action against those making such allegations against Felda, saying he doesn't want to play into their hands.

“I think he (Mazlan Aliman, left)) will like it if we sue him. Some people are like that,” he said in reference to Anak chairperson.

If the claims made are serious enough to impinge the image of the company, it will strike back, Isa warned.

“In the 'Felda bankrupt' case (involving a headline in PKR organ Suara Keadilan), we sued,” concluded Isa.
Asked to respond to allegations that Felda subidiary Felda Global Ventures had suffered hundreds of millions of ringgit in overseas ventures and whetherhe was referring to that when mentioned "losses" in his speech earlier, he said that he was speaking in general about businesses.

However he admitted that Felda, "too, experienced losses in the beginning", but did not expand on the remark.
The important thing is how Felda manages the losses so that it will be better later on, Isa added.

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