Tengku Zafrul denies resignation rumours amid absence in Parliament

The absence is due to the minister attending some personal emergency matter during the MQT 

by ASILA JALIL / Pic by BERNAMA

FINANCE Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz has denied resignation rumours following outcry in the Dewan Rakyat due to his absence during Minister’s Question Time (MQT) yesterday. 

Tengku Zafrul explained on his Facebook page yesterday that he had a personal emergency to attend to in the morning which was why he had to skip the MQT. 

“I did not have any intention to not fulfil my responsibilities as the finance minister to answer the questions. 

“Based on the MQT’s standard operating procedures, only a minister can provide the answer and this was not the first time a minister had to read another minister’s response. 

“Thank you YB Idris for reading my response. I will prepare written replies for all of the supplementary questions,” the minister said. 

He also apologised to Padang Serai MP Karuppaiya Muthusamy, Tumpat MP Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi and Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar for not being able to respond to their queries in the lower house. 

The minister was supposed to respond to the second question posed by Karuppaiya on the amount that has been paid by the government with regards to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and SRC International Sdn Bhd’s debts. 

However, the question was answered by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad which drew criticism from the Opposition MPs. 

Lembah Pantai MP Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil said the ministers and his deputies should have been there to answer the question while Kuala Langat MP Dr Xavier Jayakumar said it was not right for a minister in a different department to answer on behalf of the Finance Ministry (MoF). 

“Where are the minister and his deputies? Why are we paying them high salaries if they’re not here?” questioned Fahmi. 

Despite the comments, Idris proceeded to answer the question on the funds but he, however, could not provide answers to the three supplementary questions that followed and said the responses would be given as written replies. 

Idris said as at Feb 28, 2022, the government had gotten back a total of RM19.14 billion in its efforts to repatriate 1MDB assets. The amount encompasses foreign currencies including the US dollar, Singapore dollar and the Australian dollar. 

“These funds have been used to pay back 1MDB debts whereby as at Feb 28, 2022, RM3.32 billion has been used to settle 1MDB bond or sukuk interest. 

“This makes the total amount that has been paid by the government to be RM13.31 billion,” he said. 

The total amount that has been paid back includes RM10 billion worth of loans and advance payments channelled by the government through MoF and MoF Inc from April 2017 until November 2021 to repay 1MDB’s debt interests and commitment. 

He added that the government still has a shortfall of RM17 billion for the repayment of 1MDB principal debt interests which amounts to RM38.8 billion from 2022 until 2039.