THE latest Felda scandal is being used to divert the public’s attention from bigger issues such as the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, says a former officer of the agency.
Zahid Mat Arip, who was an aide to former Felda chairman Mohd Isa Samad, also said his ex-boss would likely be turned into a sacrificial lamb for Umno’s campaign in the 14th general election.
“I am 100% sure that Isa Samad will be charged before GE14. It’s to take away attention from issues like 1MDB, SRC and the money going into the prime minister’s accounts ,” Zahid told The Malaysian Insight.
“Isa’s arrest is very important to Umno, Najib and Barisan Nasional as it will make people forget about the GST (goods and services tax), the scandals at Mara, Felcra, the Youth and Sports Ministry and the Johor exco,” said Zahid, who is now with opposition party Bersatu.
Zahid was Isa’s special officer from 2011 to 2015. Isa, who is an Umno leader, was Felda chairman from 2011 to January this year.
Four months ago, Zahid was detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in its investigation into the purchase of a Kuching hotel by a Felda subsidiary, Felda Investment Corporation (FIC).
Isa’s name has cropped up again as authorities investigate a suspicious transfer of Felda land to private developer Synergy Prominade worth RM270 million.
Felda’s current chairman, Shahrir Samad, has lodged a police report on the deal, saying it contained elements of fraud.
In series of tweets, Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged to take action against any allegation of impropriety or negligence.
Other Umno leaders, such as supreme council members Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Khairul Azwan Harun, had also called for thorough probes into the land deal.
1MBD, which has been called the world’s biggest kleptocracy case, has trigged investigations of fraud and money laundering in six countries.
Najib had denied allegations that US$731 million (RM2.9 billion) of 1MDB had flowed into his accounts. He had also been exonerated by Attorney General Mohd Apandi Ali.
Commenting on Felda’s current scandal, Zahid said while the agency lost power of attorney over its land in Jalan Semarak, the federal government has lost 45 parcels of land in the Kuala Lumpur area.
“The land at the Sungai Besi air force base was lost and the Tun Razak Exchange land was lost. It is the hobby of the Umno and BN government to sell off land.”