Kedah MP on defensive over RM48 million debt, land ownership

ADIE SURI ZULKEFLI



SUNGAI PETANI: Brushing off allegations that he abused his position for personal gain, Merbok Umno division chief Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain today denied that a debt-ridden company linked to him is being bailed out by the Kedah government.

Responding to a charge made by Pokok Sena Member of Parliament, Datuk Mahfuz Omar, Tajul categorically denied that a piece of land the Kedah government has awarded him will go towards a third party to pay off his company’s RM48 million debt.

He explained that the eight-hectare plot of land in Semeling in question belongs to the state, and cannot be sold.

"The land’s Temporary Occupation License (TOL) had been issued to someone else (decades ago). (Nevertheless), in the 1990s, I took over the land and cultivated an oil palm plantation and a durian orchard.

“I have been cultivating the land since way before I was elected the Tanjung Dawai assemblyman in 2008.

“It was only in 2013 that my child officially submitted a TOL application to the Kuala Muda District Office (which the Kedah government granted),” Tajul explained.

"The allegation by Mahfuz that the state government awarded me the land, to be sold to a third party to pay off the RM48 million debt, is absurd, because TOL land cannot be sold, as it belongs to the state," he told reporters here today.

Tajul, who is also the state Education and Transportation Committee chairman, denied that he abused his position to attain the TOL, as the licence can only be granted to a party who lives or toils on the land, and it cannot be sold to a third party.

He also addressed the issue of the RM48 million debt owned by a company, for which he is a major shareholder, to a major bank here. It is understood that the debt is the loan amount (plus interest), Tajul secured from the financial institution to invest in the company.

He stressed that he obtained the loan in his personal capacity, and not as an MP.

"I hold shares in the company based on the 30 per cent Bumiputera quota requirement, and the loan was obtained by the company and not in my personal capacity," he said.

Tajul claimed that he has engaged a law firm to resolve the issue with the bank concerned, and is confident that the issue will be resolved soon.

"Let the law firms deal with the matter. I do not wish to comment further on this to avoid complicating the issue," he said.

Tajul hit out at Mahfuz for blowing up the issue in the Dewan Rakyat last Wednesday while debating amendments to the Bankruptcy Act, saying he did not have his facts right.