Police Report Filed over Tabung Haji-Guan Eng Social Media Posts

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TH Hotels owner defends Guan Eng, calls rumour of shutdown malicious.

Bloomberg

 

The police have been urged to investigate social media posts which alleged that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had chaired a meeting in relations to pilgrimage fund Tabung Haji.

In a statement, the Islamic Affairs Minister’s office said one of its officers lodged the police report yesterday.

“The spread of the photograph (through social media) is a deliberate attempt to spread religious and racial hatred,” read the statement released yesterday.

The Islamic Affairs Minister’s office said the photograph used in the social media posts depicted a visit by its minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) officials on Feb 18 last year.

“(They were) explaining the rahmatan lil ‘alamin movement (to Lim) which is promoted by the administration of Islam today.

“We wish to stress that according to the Tabung Haji Act 1995, the minister in charge of Tabung Haji is the Islamic affairs minister, not the finance minister,” the statement added.

In view of this, the Islamic Affairs Minister’s office urged the public not to spread fake news alleging that Lim chaired the meeting.

Yesterday, Mujahid had shared proof that the photographs did, in fact, depict a meeting that happened in 2019.

The spread of the photograph followed the revelation that Tabung Haji was relinquishing TH Hotel and Residences Sdn Bhd, which operated four syariah-compliant hotels, to another government-owned company known as Urusan Jemaah Property Management Sdn Bhd (UJPM) as part of a restructuring scheme.

This is part of a bigger effort to transfer 29 properties and one company with a value of RM9.63 billion to UJPM.

In 2018, Mujahid said a review of Tabung Haji’s finances revealed that the fund has been paying dividends (hibah) since 2014 despite the value of its assets being lower than liabilities.

Mujahid said this was in violation of the Tabung Haji Act 1995.

As part of the review, the government had commissioned independent audit firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to review Tabung Haji’s financial position review for 2017 and tabled the information in Parliament.

It was found that for 2017, dividends were paid out using depositors’ money through two deals to give the impression that these dividends came from profits.

Meanwhile, Urusharta Jamaah Sdn Bhd (UJ) denied today rumours that Lim had shut down TH Hotels and laid off its workers, calling the allegations malicious and irresponsible.

UJ, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MoF Inc, said the hotel franchise will continue to operate but under a new brand and managed by its sister company, UJPM, as part of a restructuring exercise meant to boost its assets.

“UJ strongly denies all malicious and false allegations that the Ministry of Finance or that the Minister of Finance, Lim Guan Eng, has irresponsibly shut down TH Hotels and subsequently dismissed the affected hotel staff,” it said in a statement.

“UJ also condemns all irresponsible and false allegations including various viral social media posts maligning the minister of Finance, including one which carried a death threat.”

On social media, critics of the Pakatan Harapan administration have tried to paint the exercise as an attempt to choke Malay businesses.

UJ, however, said Lim was not involved in the decision-making for the aforementioned restructuring exercise or any decision that pertains to the company.

“He did not even attend any meetings on any of the matters relating to UJ,” its statement said.

UJ’s assets are managed and governed by its own board chaired by Treasury Chief Secretary Tan Sri Ahmad Badri Bin Mohd Zahir, while the board of directors, chief executive officer Izad Sallehuddin and the senior management are Muslim professionals, UJ stressed.

“With this rescue package to protect the interest of LTH contributors and to help nurse LTH back to health, LTH will no longer need to bear the RM10.3 billion of losses on the value of these assets, as the losses are borne by UJ and the Malaysian government,” the company said.

“LTH will also no longer need to be burdened with the risk of further losses on these transferred assets.”


Earlier report: Feb 19, Mujahid Takes Responsibility for Sale of TH Hotels, Slams Those Baying for Guan Eng’s Blood