Probe on Mara dealings could make a comeback

Any persons who do not uphold the trust given, we will take action according to the law, minister says


The Entrepreneur Development Ministry will undertake its own probe over Majlis Amanah Rakyat’s (Mara) past dealings and take actions against those who had breached their fiduciary duties.

Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof (picture) said he will personally look into the matter when the agency created to help Bumiputera in various fields is handed over from the Rural Development Ministry to his ministry.

“We will look into it. It must be stopped and we will do it. Any persons who do not uphold the trust given, we will take action according to the law,” he said after his visit to the Mara building in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. He also met with Mara’s top management.

The agency, which is allocated billions of ringgit for the development and improvement of Bumiputeras — largely the Malays — has been in the spotlight in the last few years over its investments and dealings.

Pakatan Harapan had promised to launch investigations into a few state-owned establishments like 1Malaysia Development Bhd, Federal Land Development Authority, Mara and Lembaga Tabung Haji in its quest to seize Putrajaya.

These agencies have been plagued with claims of mismanagements. They are also allegedly used for the benefit of selected political parties.

In 2015, Mara was under the spotlight over the purchase of a fivestorey apartment block, Dudley House, in Melbourne for A$22.5 million (RM67.69 million) by Mara Inc Sdn Bhd, a Mara subsidiary.

Several news reports said Mara had overpaid for the apartment block by as much as A$4.75 million. Dudley House was originally meant as a student hostel.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had launched investigations into Mara’s property purchases in Australia. However, no one has been prosecuted in relations to the deals.

Mohd Redzuan said the official announcement related to Mara and other agencies that will fall under his ministry is expected to be made by August. “If my ministry has jurisdiction over Mara, we will meet again in the near future,” said the Alor Gajah MP in jest.

He also did not not dismiss the possibility of some restructuring at Mara.

Mara is largely involved in entrepreneur development, education and investments. It is the largest operator of education centres in the country.

Mara and 16 other agencies were put under eight different ministries after the Entrepreneur Development Ministry was dissolved in 2009 by the previous Barisan Nasional government.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced the reestablishment of the ministry. But the names of the agencies which would fall under its jurisdiction have not been announced.

Among the agencies which reported to the ministry previously were Mara, Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Bhd or Bank Rakyat, National Entrepreneurial Group Economic Fund or Tekun, Perbadanan Nasional Bhd and Small Medium Enterprise Development Bank Malaysia Bhd.

Mohd Redzuan said his ministry will look at ways to increase the contribution of the entrepreneurship sector to the country’s gross domestic product from 36% currently to 40%.

“The whole industry blueprint has to be relooked and how we can strive better. We are not going to change everything, but we want to find how we can improve it further,” he said.

“We are also committed to helping the B40 and M40 groups without leaving any group (behind).”