Assar is not like 1MDB, says Idris

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, May 9: Amanah Saham Sarawak (Assar) non-executive director Dato Idris Buang yesterday demanded that Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon retract his statement likening Assar to the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

He said unlike 1MDB, Assar is properly managed professionals and audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“As far as I know, all the legal parameters are met. So, there is no such thing as (Assar being the same as) 1MDB and to create a perception of corruption. He should have checked his facts, verified them with the external accountant of Assar, the Securities Commission etc on whether there is anything amiss or non-compliant with the law by Assar before lunging such rhetoric in his practising (of the) politics of perception.

“And I would like to repeat it in the boldest of terms to Dr Ting not to ply politics as this is not fair. We also want to ‘jaga’ (protect) our reputation and integrity because the moment you create something like that, that’s below the belt.

“As such, I demand that Dr Ting apologise and retract his malicious insinuation that Assar Sarawak is like 1MDB. His innuendo is outrageous and egregious,” Idris said at a news conference on the sidelines of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here yesterday.

He reiterated that it was wrong for Dr Ting to claim that Assar is similar to 1MDB as it would create negative perception on both Assar and the state government.

“Look at the report properly and ask for the report from the external auditors or internal auditors of Assar. They are ready to give you. Don’t play politics (as) you are playing with the sentiment of the unit holders and so on. Assar has nothing to do with 1MDB.

“Secondly, this thing is done by the gstate overnment and the CM is going to take it in his priority list probably in his winding-up speech tomorrow (today),” said Idris, who is also Muara Tuang assemblyman.

Idris (right) is seen in discussion with Dr Ting (left) at the DUN complex in the presence of Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang (second left) and Palawan assemblyman David Wong (second right).

On Monday, Dr Ting has urged the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to launch a full investigation on Assar and said that the investigation should be carried out before the case is taken up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Dr Ting had said as of December 31, 2018, the net asset value for one unit of Assar is a mere 2.9 sen and the state government is liable for the rest of 97.1 sen for each unit as guarantor.

“The net asset of Assar has reduced by 62 per cent in 2018, from RM35 million to RM13 million ringgit,” he said quoting the Assar Interim Report dated February 8, 2019.

He said most of the asset is in cash or bank deposit or non-trading stocks and that Assar used to have assets of more than half a billion ringgit 25 years ago, but which were now basically worthless to the unitholders.

Ting also claimed that the fund has lost RM4.3 million in the last six months, and most of the losses were due to ludicrous management fees of about RM7 million a year.

He said Assar expenditure has been consistently more than its income for the past few years, adding that for this year, the cost of managing Assar is going to be more than 50 per cent of the unit value.

“I predict Assar would have no net assets before the end of the year,” he said.

Dr Ting also said that that Sarawakians have entrusted the government to manage the state’s resources and the successive Barisan Nasional/Gabungan Parti Sarawak governments have performed poorly in the past 55 years.

He also alleged the money of Sarawak’s Bumiputera unitholders and the state government virtually disappeared in front of their eyes and that Assar could be the 1MDB of Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Idris insisted that Assar unitholders who wish to sell back their investment would still get RM1 per share.

Assar was set up in 1993 as part of the state government’s efforts to increase Bumiputera participation in business and the capital market. — DayakDaily