In defence of Tabung Haji, writes Lukman Sheriff Alias (updated)

As the facts are becoming clearer, Tabung Haji has purchased one lot at 1MDB at a discounted value and rejected the tower. There has been tremendous debate from the likes of our former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, blogger Din Merican, Khairy Jamaluddin, and the list goes on.

Lukman Sheriff Alias takes a different perspective. He writes to share with us from his Facebook posting. Also please see updated comment from Lukman in the Comments Section:

Lembaga-Tabung-Haji

It reminded me of some of the allegations made then against the purchase by Tabung Haji of a building at KL Sentral from MRCB. I was PUU then at Tabung Haji and had to defend the deal. The deal was said to be a purchase to help out a crony. It’s a similar allegation now concentrating on who Tabung Haji buys from rather than the transaction deal.

My personal view back then was that Tabung Haji should have bought more. It’s a good location and indeed it has brought great returns benefiting the depositors. We must do what we think is right. They should have bought more then.

Our problem now is similar to the one faced then. We failed to ask whether the deal is beneficial to Tabung Haji . We concentrated much on who Tabung Haji bought from.

Much has since changed in Tabung Haji. Now all investments have to get the approval of the Investment Committee who are independent and reputable. They too now have a Risk Department which assesses the risks to Tabung Haji .

The assets of 1MDB are good assets in my view. Based on public information, the purchase price is reasonable to me. I would say within a fair range of fair value. The last transacted price at KLCC area that I know of has reached over RM3,000 psf.  The area here is outside KLCC and so should be lower but it has MRT connectivity and a known development plan for an Islamic finance hub.

I don’t see improprietary. Some may dislike 1MDB or other things or people at Tabung Haji . But the point is that Tabung Haji has an opportunity to buy at a good location with good connectivity. There are other considerations like plot ratio and a detailed development plan which I’m not privy of, but until proven otherwise, I don’t see any improprietary but a fair deal transaction.

And for this I defend the transaction.

Addendum: It’s been revealed that Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, D Johan Abdullah sit on both Tabung Haji and 1MDB Boards. Tan Sri Abdul Samad Alias then sits on TH Investment Commitee and 1MDB’s Advisory Board. There is prima facie of a conflict which can be negated by abstention. At the moment I’m not privy to any facts in relation to the meeting.

PS: I need to declare I’m a solicitor for Tabung Haji . However I’m not involved in the deal and have relied purely from public information on the deal. The client does not know I’m writing this. It’s my own view not representing anyone and not the firm.