By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — MCA leader Datuk Chua Tee Yong today accused the Selangor government of over-paying RM42 million for a 916ha plot of land that was part of a debt settlement with Talam Corporation, but did not provide further details of his earlier claims that RM1 billion in public funds had been used in the buyout.
Chua's latest allegations were made today despite Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim's lawsuit threat and an explanation of the deal that was made by Trinity Corporation (the new name for Talam) to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.
Dismissing Talam's rebuttal, Chua alleged that the troubled property developer had used its “exceptional business negotiating skills” to sell the plot of land in Bestari Jaya to Selangor for RM181 million even though it was merely worth some RM139 million at the time of purchase in 2010.
The Labis MP, citing an October 2010 land valuation report by Mitra Valuers and Property Consultants Sdn Bhd, added that 44 per cent or 410ha of the land in question has “complications”.
These complications, he said, include portions of the land that are underwater (438 acres), are 'forest and ecology reserves' (575 acres) and has a high-tension transmission cable cutting across.
“The question [that] remains in mind now is how did Talam manage to convince Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Selangor government to buy this land at such a higher price of RM42 million above the market value, although there is 1,103 acres (410ha) of land with complications and is encumbered?” Chua said in a press conference here.
He added that according to the valuation report, the land's market value of RM139 million, was provided that it is free from encumbrances, which he said was not the case.
“This deal gives rise to much speculation, either: Talam is good in negotiation, or the Selangor PR government is not aware of the true scenario, or the state is incompetent, or the rakyat's money is not important,” he said.
Apart from several pages from the land valuation report, however, Chua did not provide proof that the state government had purchased the land for RM181 million.
He told reporters, “That one, they (Selangor government) can confim. Ask them to confirm.”
“What I understand is that this is a land transaction for the debt recovery exercise. Some parts, the state government used to offset the debt ... some part, the state has to give cash for the land... but the portion, that one I don't know. You need to ask Talam,” he added.
The MCA Young Professionals Bureau chairman had on Tuesday alleged that the Selangor government had bought over Talam Corp's RM676 million assets to clear the firm's outstanding debts.
Chua also appeared to dismiss Khalid's lawsuit threat, saying that the Selangor PR government “can do what they want” while he pledged to proceed doing what he felt was necessary.
“I think that they, as a government, should do what they feel is necessary. And I will proceed with my work, with what I feel is necessary,” he said.
He coyly said he was in the process of receiving more information to back his allegations but said he would only disclose it “slowly” and “in time”.
When asked if he plans to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Chua said he would first wait for Talam's response to his latest allegation before proceeding with further action.
The Selangor state assembly had approved a supplementary budget of RM391 million for Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI) in November 2010 to buy over Talam Corp's debt incurred after several failed real estate ventures with state agencies.
Talam Corp had owed Universiti Selangor (Unisel) and Permodalan Nasional Selangor Berhad (PNSB) RM277 million as well as SAP Holdings – a subsidiary of listed company Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Berhad (KHSB) – RM115 million, or a sum total of RM392 million.
Talam Corp's annual report in 2010 stated that Selangor had also purchased assets worth RM284 million from the companu in addition to recovering its RM392 million debt, or a total of RM676 million.
Following Chua's allegation on Tuesday, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had immediately threatened to take legal action against MCA and all parties who have claimed of funds misappropriation in the debt buyout, insisting that everything was done “with basis”.
Khalid had also said that his administration would release a “white paper” on Talam Corp's debt restructuring plan at the end of this year, during the Budget 2013 presentation.
Trinity released a full rebuttal on the matter yesterday, insisting that Chua was misinformed in his allegations and that it had paid off its debt to the state via land and asset disposals that were scrutinised by the Securities Commission Assets Valuation Department and by Bursa Securities.
It said it had disposed of lands worth RM676 million in order to clear its RM392 million debt to the state as well as encumbrances attached to the land.