PETALING JAYA – Tony Pua says any move to have Arul Kanda Kandasamy take over the helm at national sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional would be a disaster.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP was referring to a report in Singapore daily, The Straits Times, last week which had said that the 1MDB group president and chief executive officer was one of two “outsiders” being considered to take over from Khazanah managing director Azman Mokhtar, who is due to retire in May 2019.
“It is not hard to imagine Prime Minister Najib Razak giving the job to the man who has willfully bent over backwards to defend his image and paint 1MDB as a success.
“However, appointing Arul Kanda to lead Khazanah would only be an absolute disaster for the sovereign wealth fund, as he has had an utterly shameful record helming 1MDB,” Pua said.
He added that instead of saving 1MDB with the “rationalisation plan” Arul Kanda had masterminded, the troubled state-owned fund has only found itself “in a deeper hole with no sight of the end of the tunnel”.
Pua, who is DAP national publicity secretary, also cited 1MDB’s attempt to sell 60% of Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which he said was an abject failure.
“The finance ministry had to terminate the contract because of the failure of the purchaser to make payments according to schedule despite repeated extensions.
“To rub salt onto the wound, it was the ministry which refunded the RM741 million ‘deposit’ despite it being 1MDB which received the monies,” he said adding that Arul Kanda’s removal by the finance ministry from Bandar Malaysia “practically says it all”.
According to the Straits Times, Arul Kanda and CIMB Bank group CEO Tengku Zafrul Aziz are two outsiders being considered for the role despite original plans for one of two Khazanah executive directors to take over from Azman.
This turn of events has especially come about following the departure of Khazanah’s former deputy chairman, Nor Mohamed Yackop.
Nor Mohamed resigned from Khazanah on Sept 30, in what was seen as the consequence of his testimony at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) losses due to foreign exchange trading in the early 1990s.
The former second finance minister was said to have been firmly behind the succession-from-within plan but his leaving the sovereign wealth fund has opened the doors for non-Khazanah people to vie for the influential position.
“Apparently senior politicians and well-connected business people close to Arul are lobbying Prime Minister Najib Razak who, as Khazanah’s chairman, would have the final say on who replaces Azman.
“Malaysians must protest the fact that a man who has proven incompetent and devoid of integrity is even considered for the post of managing director at Khazanah.
“If 1MDB, with debts up to RM50 billion at its peak could be brought to ruins, what more could happen at the RM145 billion Khazanah Nasional,” Pua said.