KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come to the defence of the late Tan Sri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis following questions over how the latter had managed to amass an estate valued at RM2.1 billion.
Najib, in a Facebook post, said he was saddened by allegations hurled at Jamaludin, including claims that the latter made his fortunes thanks to his close ties with Najib.
Najib said when he became prime minister, Jamaludin was already a successful and wealthy entrepreneur in his own right.
He said Jamaludin, after graduating from the UK and Canada, had opened an engineering consultancy firm in 1984. He said that in 1986, Jamaludin bought EPE Power, which was eventually listed on the KL Stock Exchange in the 1990s.
“This was how he obtained his wealth and was able to invest in other projects, which generated even more income for him,” he said.
Najib said that in the 1990s, under the administration of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, EPE Power was granted an independent power producer (IPP) contract in Sabah. He was also given several government projects with the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Airod, NADI and DARA.
“These privatisation projects are listed in projects issued by Dr Mahathir in 1998 when the latter was involved in a crisis with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” said Najib.
Jamaludin, said Najib, was also appointed as Tenaga Nasional chairman in 2000.
Najib said when Tun Daim Zainuddin resigned as finance minister for the second time and Dr Mahathir took over the post, Jamaludin was appointed as Finance Minister II in 2002.
“Although Jamaludin and I had a close relationship, he never asked for any projects from me.
“At the time, I was also made to understand that Jamaludin’s children took over his business when he was made Malaysia’s ambassador to the United States, and they continued making investments.”
These investments, said Najib, including rescuing an independent power producer in Kulim which had been given a licence in 1997 and subsequently taken over by banks in 2004 after failing to settle debts totaling RM1.4 billion.
Najib said Jamaludin also had 10 per cent share in NADI, which was the result of privatisation from Dr Mahathir in the 1990s. NADI is among the investors in MALINDO Air and Lion Air of Indonesia.
“Jamaludin was highly-educated and a successful Malay businessman. He left under tragic circumstances and we should not smear his legacy with baseless allegations,” he said.
Jamaluddin died on April 4, 2015 when the helicopter in which he was in crashed at Kampung Sungai Pening, Semenyih, Selangor en route from Pekan, Pahang to Kuala Lumpur.
On Aug 30, PKR Youth information chief Lee Chean Chung had questioned the wealth accrued by the Jamaluddin.
Lee said Jamaluddin held cabinet posts for 15 years while he was in Umno but according to the government's code of ethics, a minister should not be involved in business.
The size of Jamaluddin's estate emerged when the Syariah High Court allowed his wife and children to intervene in an application for faraid (inheritance and wealth distribution) certificate filed by his mother over the deceased's RM2.082bil estate. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd