The Malaysian Internet was almost broken today with this silly piece of news. Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp went mad with amateur economists giving their 5-sen worth – Tabung Haji misusing pilgrims’ money to save PM Najib. There goes my life-savings, and my parents’. There goes my dream of going to Hajj. Di da di da di da.
All of this probably started with this tweet at about 11pm Wednesday night:
@aisehman tweeted to Azeez, the chairman of TH to verify the truth behind the rumour. Azeez later set the record straight saying yes, TH bought 1 piece of land at RM188.5 million, not 2 at RM700 million plus. YB @khairykj further clarified today,about 1pm thus:
Good on Khairy. But he should’ve done it first thing in the morning. Good nonetheless. Syabas.
Now, let’s put the RM188.5 million spent on TRX/1MDB in perspective. Sure that’s a lot of money. But it’s a discount from the estimated price of RM194 million. And get this – RM188.5 million is only a small percentage that TH has already spent on property investments. As at 2013, TH has invested RM9.3 billion in ‘Properties, Plants and Machinery’. Total assets as of 2013 is RM93 billion.
To put it in perspective RM188.5 million is a mere 0.2% of Total Assets. It’s a tiny amount. And I’m sure some serious due diligence work had been done long before that decision was made.
Further, if Tabung Haji was going to invest in Properties anyway, why not buy from 1MDB. After all, we’ve heard that 1MDB might be in trouble, right? So, what’s wrong with moving money from one pocket to another? At the end of the day, one of the main agenda of 1MDB really is about protecting bumiputras’ interests, right? And the money in Tabung Haji is all bumiputras’ money anyway.
Besides, property investments are typically excellent medium to long-term decisions, betul tak? They appreciate over time. And especially properties smack in the middle of KL. I believe the TH board knows exactly what it’s doing.
If you have doubts about Tabung Haji’s capabilities, look at this:
RM2.6 billion profit on revenues of RM3.7 billion, that sounds good to me. So, can everyone relax already? Things are under control I believe, InsyaAllah. Here’s one more set of charts so that you can sleep better:
Revenues, profits and assets are on the uptrend. Relax, guys.
Let’s take a look at the timing of this so-called-news. Tweeting about ‘the government”s misdeeds on the eve of the Permatang Pauh by-election is naughty. That’s dirty politics. And you and I know how easily the man-on-the-street is easily excited by misdeeds, or the perception thereof, of the government of the day. These people then re-tweet, re-post and copy-and-paste the ‘news’ and well, you know the rest.
Here’s a little advice to the government machinery at large. Be more transparent – let the people know before we’re going to make significant investments using public funds. And, the damage control squad should have responded and acted in minutes. Not after 12 hours. Not on the day of a by-election.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t work for Tabung Haji. I am just a very small investor. I am also not a politician, not even a small one. But I do believe we need to put this whole episode in its proper context. And we shouldn’t help the ‘spinners’ by propagating falsehoods on the Internet. Dosa tu.