KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 10): In view of the controversies surrounding the Federal Territory Foundation (YWP), its chairman Khalid Abdul Samad said it has decided to stop venturing in businesses involving land deals.
Khalid, who is also the Federal Territories Minister, said: “YWP ventured into land development in 2011, and it is currently the biggest contributor to our funds”, reported The Star today.
“Despite that being the case, we have decided to step back and look at other business opportunities. After all, there is not much land left anyway,” he added.
He estimates “it will be another three to five years before its land development ventures end”.
“There are 12 parcels of land in YWP’s possession, which were all transferred to the foundation before I was appointed as Federal Territories Minister.
“Two of them were bought from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) at market rate and the rest were obtained through alienation process by the Federal Land Commissioner.”
Khalid explained that DBKL is not authorised to develop its own land without the development order (DO), which is only granted to developers.
“DBKL can sell their land to a private company or get into a joint venture. The private company buys and develops the land, so the profit goes to the company.
“But if DBKL sells to YWP and the latter develops it through a joint venture, at least 50% of the profit goes to charity,” he elaborated.
“When I took over the seat, I inherited everything. YWP got the land with the mixed development status,” Khalid said, referring to allegations of conflict of interest.
Khalid highlighted that the foundation’s ventures has been ongoing since 1986 but now, its every move has come under scrutiny when the Taman Rimba Kiara issue erupted.
He reiterated that the Federal Government is the one responsible for the long overdue resettlement of the Bukit Kiara longhouses in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
“The Federal Government took over the rubber estate and relocated the residents to the longhouses temporarily for development. The residents were promised permanent homes.
“The government wants to fulfil its responsibility. Ten hectares of Taman Rimba Kiara were subdivided into 5.2ha for open area and 4.8ha for mixed development. The 4.8ha was alienated and sold to YWP for the purpose of settling the longhouse issue.
“YWP called for tender and from the few developers that submitted proposals, Memang Perkasa offered the best deal and was chosen.
“The conflict of interest issue arose when Memang Perkasa applied for the DO.
“Some are calling for the DO to be cancelled. If I cancel the DO, DBKL has to pay the developer. The money paid to purchase the land, which was about RM80 million, was paid to the Federal Land Commissioner.
“If DBKL were to cancel the DO, DBKL will have to pay for something it did not receive.
“It is estimated that DBKL will have to pay RM150 million to the developer if the DO is cancelled, and there will be no progress on the longhouse residents’ problem.”
The Minister stressed the action is “in line with the government’s on honouring contracts”.
The original plan has been scaled down by half after it was deemed to be too dense.
DOs are issued by DBKL, which is helmed by the Kuala Lumpur mayor, who in turn reports to the Federal Territories Minister.
Khalid acknowledged that “both of us sit on the YWP board”.
However, he highlighted similar arrangements in other states, such as Selangor Foundation, Mentri Besar Incorporated and Selangor State Development Corporation.
“It is unfair to pick out YWP alone. State-run foundations are aplenty and commonly headed by the head of state.
“If government should not run business, all government-linked companies (GLCs) should close. That is too extreme.
“There is merit if the argument is that a politician must not be in charge of GLCs, but what if the politician is capable and competent, and appointed because of his skills?” he asked.
Khalid emphasised YWP has increased its transparency [since being taken over by the new administration].
“In the past, YWP’s welfare programmes were conducted through Umno branch leaders, but with the new administration, all programmes are done through the MPs.
“YWP, which has never called a press conference before, is now doing so. We are trying to increase transparency to ensure that the foundation and its funds are not being misused for other objectives,” he said.
He added YWP is needed, especially to help the B40 group.
“Local authorities have limitations when it comes to helping those in need, and can only give grants and partial aid.
“On the other hand, a welfare foundation reaches out in a wider scope.
“Some state governments have a few foundations but for the Federal Territories, there is only YWP.
“YWP is solely for the purpose of generating funds to conduct welfare programmes. The profits go to overheads and charities,” Khalid stressed.