Presentation of White Paper on Felda in Parliament postponed

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 11, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The presentation of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) White Paper in Parliament by the ministry of economic affairs (MEA) has been postponed to next year on the recommendation of the cabinet.

This follows an earlier advice from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) against the release of the White Paper yesterday due to several legal issues, said Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Mohamed Azmin said the MEA had worked closely with Felda to prepare the report for insights into numerous issues concerning Felda.

This is to help the MEA and the new Felda management formulate a turnaround plan and a future direction sustainable for the agency, he said in a statement yesterday.

“The MEA is committed to present a White Paper that is comprehensive and credible,” said Mohamed Azmin, adding that the report was “in its final stages of preparation” for its scheduled presentation in Parliament yesterday.

“However, the MEA has been advised by the AGC to reconsider the proposal to present the White Paper [yesterday]. This is because the AGC is of the opinion that several legal issues need to be resolved before the White Paper can be presented in Parliament,” said Mohamed Azmin, without elaborating on the legal issues mentioned.

“The MEA takes serious note of the AGC’s opinion, and has decided to seek the views of cabinent members. To ensure the integrity of Felda’s White Paper, the cabinet has agreed that the presentation of the White Paper be postponed to the first Parliament meeting in the second term of the 14th Parliament sitting [in 2019],” said Mohamed Azmin.

Felda, along with Lembaga Tabung Haji and several other government agencies, has been scrutinised by the government over allegations of graft and poor governance.

The Edge Malaysia weekly reported last month that the White Paper on Felda will include three proposals for the beleaguered agency, now saddled with RM8 billion in debt. They are to improve the management of Felda, the privatisation of its subsidiary FGV Holdings Bhd, and merging Felda with the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority Bhd (Felcra).

Mohamed Azmin has reportedly said he had studied the first draft of the report, and found serious frauds involving the financial problems of the government agency.