Monday, February 15, 2021

Prasarana chairman says CEO out to get him over internal probe

Tajuddin Abdul Rahman refuses to divulge details of the probe on Muhammad Nizam Alias although an officer says it is 'HR-related'.

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Prasarana Malaysia chairman Tajuddin Abdul Rahman today accused the company’s CEO Muhammad Nizam Alias of launching an attack against him using the media, following an internal investigation on him for insubordination.

“It is unprofessional for him to air dirty linen in public,” Tajuddin told a press conference today, hours after officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) raided the company’s office.

At the press conference, Tajuddin refused to divulge details of the probe on Nizam, but an officer said it was “HR-related” and not criminal, adding that he has been suspended with pay.

This follows MACC’s confirmation that it has launched an investigation into Prasarana.

MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki said the probe is related to several media reports as well as those it received on the company, but declined to give further details.

It is understood that Nizam had refused to abide by an instruction by Tajuddin to investigate Prasarana’s agreement with MRCB George Kent Sdn Bhd, leading to his suspension for insubordination.

Tajuddin today said he viewed the agreement with MRCB George Kent as one-sided.

“When it is not fair, how can I as the chairman of Prasarana keep quiet? I must look into it, I must enquire,” he said, adding that he could expose many past deals including one where Prasarana lost some RM500 million in Saudi Arabia.

Tajuddin said he was accused of interfering in the award of the project to MRCB George Kent.

He also denied that Prasarana had refused to pay contractors, saying some RM3.468 billion was paid to MRCB George Kent up to October.

“It’s not a small sum of money,” he said, in response to claims that the company had not paid its contractors.

Tajuddin said Prasarana has to exercise prudence as it does not have a huge capital, adding that much of it goes to the operation of its train network.

“We cannot afford to see any interruption in the train services,” he added.

Tajuddin meanwhile criticised a report by The Edge that he had been “exerting his authority” in Prasarana.

“I want to make it clear, as a chairman, whether executive or non-executive, I am responsible on behalf of the board,” he said.

He added that he was just trying to be more accountable as the chairman of a public company.

Last month, The Edge reported that Tajuddin wanted to terminate the contract of two companies awarded with constructing Latitud 8, a mixed development on land owned by Prasarana.

One of the companies is controlled by his family members: his wife, a son and a daughter.

Any move to terminate the contract would mean the company being paid tens of millions of ringgit in compensation.

Tajuddin, who was appointed as Prasarana chairman in May last year, said the contract for the Latitud 8 project was awarded to Intan Sekitar Sdn Bhd in 2012 through open tender.

Intan Sekitar is 51%-owned by Crest Builder Holdings Sdn Bhd, and 49%-owned by Detik Utuh.

Among Detik Utuh’s shareholders is Tindakan Juara, a company controlled by his family members.

“Effectively, Tindakan Juara’s interest in the project is only 20%,” he said.

He said Prasarana board members had discussed the failure of the project to take off due to the current property market.

He said the company also considered moving its headquarters from Subang to the city centre.

“Was it wrong for me to propose?” he asked.

He added that there was no proposal made to terminate the contractors which would mean them getting RM80 million in compensation.

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