Cutbacks as well as a refusal to release allocations meant for Malay economic empowerment, including for a major project to improve infrastructure at Felda settlements, were among the decisions by the finance ministry under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government that led to the start of a major rift, says Bersatu's Mohamed Azmin Ali.
Azmin, who was economic affairs minister during the PH rule and whose jurisdiction included Felda, said some RM400 million allocated for Teraju, the unit under the Prime Minister's Department set up to empower the Bumiputera economy, was also blocked by then finance minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said his claim could be proven as the decision was made known in writing.
The RM400 million for Teraju was an annual allocation under the five-year 10th Malaysia Plan, which allocated a total of RM2 billion to assist small Bumiputera businesses.
Azmin said before the 2018 election which saw PH taking over the administration, some RM700 million had been channelled to Teraju.
"But once PH took over, the finance minister from DAP, starting from 2018, stopped altogether the allocations for the Malays and Bumiputeras," Azmin said last night at the launch of Perikatan Nasional's (PN) election machinery in Gombak, where he will be defending his seat for a fourth term at the Nov 19 polls.
In 2020, following the resignation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad which caused the collapse of the 22-month PH administration, Azmin and a group of MPs from PKR joined hands with Bersatu to form a new government headed by Muhyiddin Yassin, after the latter received support from Umno, GPS and PAS.
Azmin and about a dozen PKR MPs were sacked by the party after their fallout with Anwar Ibrahim in the wake of demands by the president's supporters that he be appointed as prime minister to replace Mahathir.
Azmin said he wrote to Mahathir to protest the move by the finance ministry but that it was ignored by the PH government.
He said instead of the annual RM400 million allocation for Teraju, Lim set aside only RM100 million for it under the 2020 budget.
"This is an insult to an agency that is given a huge mandate," Azmin told reporters last night when asked to explain his claim.
"With RM400 million, we could have helped 200 Bumiputera companies and benefited 10,000 for Malays in various fields."
He said Teraju was just one among many agencies that were not given fair allocations by PH.
He cited another case involving a major road improvement project for Felda settlements spanning 1,000km, saying only allocations for 300km were approved.
"The same went for Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas), a government agency that injects capital into Bumiputera businesses to take over strategic companies.
"Unfortunately, the finance ministry also wanted to take over Ekuinas' revolving fund and requested that the agency be shut down," he added.
Azmin said he had gone to the Prime Minister's Office to protest the move to Mahathir.
"Alhamdulillah, the prime minister agreed with my suggestion and we were able to retain RM2.4 billion for the capital."