By Lisa J. Ariffin
KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — PKR said today it will continue to pursue the recovery of RM250 million in federal funds awarded to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) even though Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil’s husband has finally been hauled to court to face criminal charges.
The party’s strategic director, Rafizi Ramli, who had made a slew of exposés on the cattle farming project awarded to Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat’s family, hoped the prime minister will soon address the “main issue” of the abuse of public funds.
“(Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) has not responded... And we will continue to push to recover the RM250 million,” Rafizi told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today.
Rafizi, however, lauded today’s move to charge Shahrizat’s husband, Datuk Seri Mohamed Salleh Ismail, in the Sessions Court with criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act in relation to RM49 million in federal funds given to the NFCorp.
“It is a welcome decision. It shows that Najib and [Barisan Nasional] prove they mean business,” he said.
“(But) I hope it’s not a show of charging them before the election and acquitting them after,” he added.
Shahrizat (left) announced yesterday her decision to relinquish next month her Cabinet post as the women, family and community development minister. She, however, will continue as Wanita Umno chief despite being dogged for over four-and-a-half months by the NFC scandal.
The former Lembah Pantai MP and her family were accused by the opposition of using a RM250 million federal loan meant for the national cattle-rearing scheme to pay for unrelated land, property and expenses.
The cattle-rearing company is headed by her husband, Mohamad Salleh, and their three children.
It was tapped to run the National Feedlot Centre in Gemas, Negri Sembilan in 2006, when Shahrizat was in Cabinet.
She previously resisted calls from within her own party, including by influential former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to quit by stressing that she was “only the wife” of Mohamad Salleh and had nothing to do with the embattled entity.
NFCorp hit the national headlines after it made it into the Auditor-General’s Report last year for missing production targets.
Police recommended last month that the Attorney-General (A-G) charge NFCorp’s directors for criminal breach of trust, but the A-G had asked the police to conduct further investigations prior to charging Mohamad Salleh today.
Shahrizat was appointed as the women, family and community development minister in 2001 and held the post until 2008, when she lost her seat to Nurul Izzah Anwar in the general election.
She was then appointed special advisor to the prime minister on women affairs and social development, before taking up her Cabinet portfolio once more a year later.