Prasarana chairman’s son crashes Muda press briefing to quash accusations
Party questioning Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman’s family ties to company linked to billion-ringgit development Latitud8
BY A. Azim Idris
Updated 1 minute ago · Published on 05 Jan 2021 5:13PM ·
KUALA LUMPUR – During youth-led group Muda’s press briefing today on Prasarana Malaysia Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, his son, Dr Faizal Tajuddin, gatecrashed the event to offer an immediate rebuttal.
Muda had raised questions on the family’s alleged involvement in a RM1 billion development project near Dang Wangi LRT station called Latitud8.
In the briefing, Muda co-founder Amir Abdul Hadi asked whether Tajuddin, who is also Pasir Salak MP and an Umno politician, had knowledge of the project being awarded to Intan Sekitar Sdn Bhd (ISSB) in 2012.
Amir said based on a search with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), ISSB is owned by Crest International Sdn Bhd (51%) and Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd (49%).
He added two of ISSB’s directors are Datin Sri Rahayu Tajuddin and Firdaus Tajuddin, both of whom are Tajuddin’s children.
Amir said Rahayu and Firdaus also hold a 40% share in Detik Utuh owned by his family members through a company named Tindakan Juara Sdn Bhd.
Amir added that Detik Utuh was appointed to manage the Latitud8 project in March 29 last year before Tajuddin became Prasarana chairman.
He said Tajuddin was appointed Prasarana chairman in May 1 after the Pakatan Harapan government fell to Perikatan Nasional in late February.
“From what we understand as the scheme of things, (some appointments) were given to reward parliamentarians who supported the (PN) government,” Amir said during the briefing outside the Dang Wangi LRT station here this afternoon.
“Therefore, we see many parliamentarians are given positions in GLCs (government-linked companies).”
Amir said he obtained documents from several sources on the Dang Wangi project, which began in 2012 is only 15% complete.
Azim said he also obtained minutes of a Prasarana board meeting held on October 8, last year, in which it was decided that ISSB would be dropped as the project management company for compensation amounting to some RM87.7 million.
Another document, Amir said, showed a committee had been formed in November to handle the ISSB’s removal. He alleged there were plans to change the unfinished development project into Prasarana’s new headquarters, worth an estimated RM500 million.
“(This is happening when) a project to build a headquarters is being carried out in Subang Depot that would cost RM150 million – whose money is this? It is surely the people’s money.
“But now, it plans to build another building that will cost RM500 million. So, what will happen to the headquarters in Subang Depot?”
He said these were among the questions that must be answered by Tajuddin.
Meanwhile, Faizal, who suddenly appeared at the roadside press conference, refuted Amir’s claims.
Faizal, who had received a media invitation to the press briefing, said the party calling the matter a scandal is “malicious”.
“If it is really a scandal, why didn’t you just go straight to the police and the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) to make a report? Why sensationalise the matter?
“Secondly, if a satisfactory explanation is given, is Muda going to apologise to him (Tajuddin)?”
Faizal said the RM1 billion project was a joint-land development project, in which the developers provided the funding, not taxpayers.
“Developers have to fork out their own funds, or from shareholders, for financing.”
He said Prasarana had not paid anything to the contractors of the project, adding that the removal of ISSB with compensation is only appropriate as the recent cancellation of the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail project is also being treated the same way.
Faizal added that his family members do not own 40% shares in Detik Utuh but only 20%. – The Vibes, January 5, 2021
Power play at Prasarana
Charges of political interference threaten to derail the national transport operator
Prasarana Malaysia Bhd has been subject of bad press since Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Rahman took over the helm as chairman on May 11 last year, especially over claims that the Umno warlord has been overstepping his boundaries by getting involved in executive decisions.
This is no mere storm in the teacup as the latest flashpoints call to question the political interference in the national transport operator, which in turn casts doubt over its fiduciary duty to the Malaysian public.
Just last week seventeen contractors appointed to complete the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT) sent appeal letters to Putrajaya’s highest officials, urging them to step in and release more than RM700 million owed for works done on the project.
The three letters dated December 30 and signed by the companies’ chiefs were addressed to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Aziz and Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, titled “Constructions and Completion of Guideway, Stations, Park and Ride, Ancillary Buildings an Other Associated Works for Light Rail Transit Line 3 from Bandar Utama to Johan Setia: A Plea for the Release of Payment for Work Done.”
Tajuddin has also been accused of involving himself in two major decisions: the suspension of its president and the possible termination of a development project.
The suspension of Prasarana president and group chief executive Muhammad Nizam Alias is believed to be because he showed signs of insubordination when the board and Tajuddin instructed him to investigate MRCB George Kent over LRT 3. Nizam is also said to have a tense relationship with Tajudin especially over the awarding of contracts.
Further, Tajuddin has sought to terminate the contractors involved in transport-oriented development Latitud8, situated on the site of the Dang Wangi LRT station, and is pushing for Prasarana to play a more prominent role in the project and eventually move its headquarters there.
The public transport operator is expected to pay as much as RM80 million in compensation to terminate the joint land development agreement. According to business publication The Edge, citing documents, Prasarana’s owner, the Finance Ministry, had given tacit approval for the company to move there.
The joint venture developing Latitud8 is Intan Sekitar Sdn Bhd, owned by Crest Builder International Holdings Bhd’s unit Crest Builder International Sdn Bhd (51%) and privately held Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd (49%).
Detik Utuh is a Tajuddin family company. Tajuddin himself was a director until October 2013 while his daughter, Sri Rahayu Tajuddin, remains a board member.
The company’s shareholders are Tindakan Juara Sdn Bhd (40%), Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd (35%) and Vignesh Naidu Kuppusamy Naidu (25%).
Tindakan Juara is another Tajuddin family company that counts Sri Rahayu, Tajuddin’s wife Rohkiah Abd Samat and Firdaus Tajuddin as shareholders.
Intan Sekitar won the bid to develop Latitud8 at end-March 2012. Prasarana, the owner of the land, was expected to receive RM46.64 million or 21.2% of the project’s estimated RM220 million gross development value.
Since Tajudin was only appointed Prasarana chairman in May this year, he and his family were involved in the project even before holding the position.
According Crest Builder’s listed parent company, in its 2019 annual report, main building works at Latitud 8 had commenced.
But various media reports show that the project’s deadlines had been consistently shifting. The development was set for launch by end-2016. That never happened, instead construction was brought to a halt with the relaunch date some time last year. Now it’s set to take place in two years’ time with the delay being attributed to tough market conditions.
At the time of writing, it is not known whether Crest Builder and Detik Utuh have been informed of the possible termination of Latitud8.
Prasarana currently maintains and operates Malaysia’s two LRT networks, namely the Kelana Jaya line and Ampang-Sri Petaling line, as well as the KL Monorail, bus rapid transit Sunway line, and bus services in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuantan and Kamunting. It is also the operator of the mass rapid transit service in the Klang Valley.
But, the group has been bleeding red since 2014. According to its latest financial results ended December 31, 2019, Prasarana registered a loss of RM3.61 billion on the back of RM842.09 million in revenue. Its total liabilities for the year stood at RM35 billion compared to total assets of RM1.29 billion.
External auditor Ernst & Young PLT, in Prasarana’s 2019 annual report, said as liabilities exceeded assets, “these conditions indicate the existence of material uncertainties that may cast significant doubt on the group’s and the company’s ability to continue as a going concern and, therefore, the group and the company may be unable to realise their assets and discharge their liabilities in the normal course of business”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: TAJUDDIN IS EXPECTED TO HOLD A PRESS CONFERENCE AT 4PM TODAY TO ADDRESS SOME OF THESE ALLEGATIONS.