Detailed study needed on proposed Harapan Coin, says Dr M

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The government has not approved the proposed Harapan Coin, claimed to be the world’s first political fundraising platform utilising cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. 

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the proposal was purely Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad’s idea and does not represent the government.

The Cabinet will also need some time to scrutinise the details of the proposed Harapan Coin before a decision could be made, he said.

“He (Khalid) was mentioning his opinion. We have not given enough thought on it…we may still accept it, but it depends on how well the proposal is,” said Dr Mahathir told reporters in Singapore yesterday.

Harapan Coin was implemented for the survival of Pakatan Harapan in the 14th General Election. Khalid was one of its founders.

On its website, Harapan Coin told its supporters that the currency — denoted as HRP — has the “potential to become an official currency if Pakatan Harapan wins (the) election”.

It sells a minimum of 100 HRP at the rate of US$45 or approximately RM182.

In February, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) finalised its guidelines, which outlined the reporting obligations for cryptocurrency exchanges. At least nine exchanges have registered.

The central bank had previously stressed that it does not authorise, nor endorse cryptocurrency-related activities. Cryptocurrencies are still not recognised as a legal tender.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said he re-proposed for the Asean region to create an East Asian currency for trading purposes.

He said a common trading currency would empower even the poor countries to handle problems of inadequate foreign-exchange.

“It was an old idea of mine. I told them (Asean) that we should have an East Asian currency only for trading, and not for domestic use,” he added.

On a suggestion by International Monetary Fund (IMF) MD Christine Lagarde for governments to issue sovereign cryptocurrencies, Dr Mahathir said the administration is studying the proposal.

The PM said rather than issuing a cryptocurrency, he is more interested in India’s cashless society initiative.

“More interesting was the cashless society of India. I had a long discussion with (Indian PM Narendra) Modi.

“They (India) hardly use any money at all and they have produced a small mobile phone that is very cheap and everyone can buy.

“With that, they (Indians) can pay taxes, make payments and purchases. So, when money is not (mostly) used, corruption is less possible,” Dr Mahathir said.

An initiative introduced by Modi, Digital India is a flagship programme of the government with its vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

As part of promoting cashless transactions and converting India into less-cash society, various modes of digital payments are available for Indians to perform transactions, with proper investments on infrastructures underway.

Meanwhile, the Equanimity, which was allegedly purchased using the money siphoned from scandal-tainted 1Malaysia Development Bhd, was moved to Langkawi from Port Klang to ensure the super luxury yacht keeps running.

Dr Mahathir said ships cannot be anchored all the time because such vessels will incur problems like barnacles if they are anchored at the berth constantly.

The RM1 billion super luxury yacht owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho arrived in Langkawi on Wednesday for temporary docking after sailing from Port Klang a day earlier.

“Ships must be run. You have to sail the ship at least once every few days,” Dr Mahathir told reporters after a bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on the sidelines of the 33rd Asean Summit and Related Summits here.

The 92m-long yacht is currently docked at the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Naval Region 3 headquarters’ jetty in Bukit Malut, Langkawi.

“The court has decided that the Equanimity belongs to Malaysia. We can put it anywhere, but of course, our main intention is not to keep the ship.

“We don’t need such a big ship. It is too luxurious for us. We want to sell. If you can find a buyer, tell us,” the PM said in jest.

On Oct 26, the Admiralty Court approved the terms and conditions for the bidding of the vessel to take place from Oct 29 to Nov 28.