KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli has urged his party colleagues to push for a law that would regulate the use of public funds to bail out companies.
Under the law, firms that require government support will have to meet specific terms and conditions to prevent abuse, he suggested. A key feature of the new Act could be a cap on the emoluments given to top executives of companies that are being helped.
The suggestion came amid a public spat with former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the latter’s call for the government to keep non-performing oil and gas firm Sapura Energy Berhad from tanking, either through a loan or a takeover via state investment funds.
Rafizi argued Najib’s proposal was essentially a way to bail Sapura out and help its executives.
“This has been the practice in the decades under all previous prime ministers and financial ministers. It has to be stopped now,” the PKR vice-president said in a statement.
“I suggest all PKR MPs begin the work to enact a law to regulate all public funding in the shape of a bailout to be tabled in Parliament (as a Private Member’s Motion Bill).
Cash-strapped Sapura Energy posted a net loss to the tune of RM8.9 billion — its highest ever — for the financial year ended January 31, 2022 (FY22) from a net loss of RM160.87 million for the prior financial year, business paper The Edge reported.
Sapura Energy said it is now undertaking a massive debt restructuring involving banks, vendors and contractors.
Najib suggested the Bumiputera community could face the impact if Sapura Energy goes bust. Amanah Saham Bumiputera holders could lose RM4 billion, and 10,000 employees would lose their jobs.
Rafizi immediately responded by urging the public to reject the proposal, claiming Najib had wanted to help his friends. The PKR leader claimed Sapura CEO received RM983 million in various payments from 2009 to 2018 when Najib was the prime minister.
In 2018, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) — which manages the savings of the Bumiputera community and is the parent of investment vehicles such as Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB) — paid RM2.68 billion in a deal that increased its shareholding in Sapura from 12.6 per cent to 40 per cent.
After Sapura’s latest losses were published, Najib — who has been found guilty of misappropriating funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former 1MDB subsidiary — urged the government to protect the company from bankruptcy.