Thursday, 5 July 2012

Pua: Tee Yong should get Talam facts right

KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — DAP's Tony Pua today slammed MCA's Datuk Chua Tee Yong for not getting the facts right before alleging that the Selangor government had been involved in a RM1billion deal with Talam Corporation.

"Datuk Chua should learn that before making an 'expose' he must get his basic facts right or the pie will be in your face," said Tony Pua, DAP's national publicity chief in the party's headquarters today.

Pua (picture) said Chua had "got all his substantive facts over the deal wrong" and referred to Trinity Corporation (the new name for Talam)'s rebuttal yesterday.

Chua should not have made a "mistake" on Talam's shares as he was a "former chief financial officer of a government-linked company", said Pua.

Today, Chua appeared to scale down his earlier claim that RM1billion in public funds have been used by the Selangor government in a buyout, and did not provide further details on that claim.

He instead accused the Selangor government of over-paying RM42 million for a 916ha plot of land that was part of a debt settlement with Talam.

Chua's latest allegations were made today despite Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim's lawsuit threat and an explanation of the deal that was made by Trinity Corporation (the new name for Talam) to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

Dismissing Talam's rebuttal, Chua alleged that the troubled property developer had used its “exceptional business negotiating skills” to sell the 916ha plot of land in Bestari Jaya to Selangor for RM181 million even though it was merely worth some RM139 million at the time of purchase in 2010.

However, apart from several pages from an October 2010 land valuation report, Chua did not provide proof that the state government had purchased the land for RM181 million.

He told reporters, “That one, they (Selangor government) can confirm. Ask them to confirm.”

“What I understand is that this is a land transaction for the debt recovery exercise. Some parts, the state government used to offset the debt ... some part, the state has to give cash for the land... but the portion, that one I don't know. You need to ask Talam,” he added.

The Labis MP had cited the land valuation report by Mitra Valuers and Property Consultants Sdn Bhd, which he says shows that 44 per cent or 410ha of the land had "complications and is encumbered".

He added that according to the valuation report, the land's market value of RM139 million, was provided that it is free from encumbrances, which he said was not the case.

“This deal gives rise to much speculation, either: Talam is good in negotiation, or the Selangor PR government is not aware of the true scenario, or the state is incompetent, or the rakyat's money is not important,” he said.

He coyly said he was in the process of receiving more information to back his allegations but said he would only disclose it “slowly” and “in time”.

When asked if he plans to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Chua said he would first wait for Talam's response to his latest allegation before proceeding with further action.

The MCA Young Professionals Bureau chairman had on Tuesday alleged that the Selangor government had bought over Talam Corp's RM676 million assets to clear the firm's outstanding debts.

The Selangor state assembly had approved a supplementary budget of RM391 million for Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI) in November 2010 to buy over Talam Corp's debt incurred after several failed real estate ventures with state agencies.

Talam Corp had owed Universiti Selangor (Unisel) and Permodalan Nasional Selangor Berhad (PNSB) RM277 million as well as SAP Holdings – a subsidiary of listed company Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Berhad (KHSB) – RM115 million, or a sum total of RM392 million.

Talam Corp's annual report in 2010 stated that Selangor had also purchased assets worth RM284 million from the company in addition to recovering its RM392 million debt, or a total of RM676 million.

Following Chua's allegation on Tuesday, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had immediately threatened to take legal action against MCA and all parties who have claimed of funds misappropriation in the debt buyout, insisting that everything was done “with basis”.

Khalid had also said that his administration would release a “white paper” on Talam Corp's debt restructuring plan at the end of this year, during the Budget 2013 presentation.

Trinity released a full rebuttal on the matter yesterday, insisting that Chua was misinformed in his allegations and that it had paid off its debt to the state via land and asset disposals that were scrutinised by the Securities Commission Assets Valuation Department and by Bursa Securities.

It said it had disposed of lands worth RM676 million in order to clear its RM392 million debt to the state as well as encumbrances attached to the land.

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