I disagreed with Dr M’s Sapura bailout during PH rule, Rafizi tells Najib

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PETALING JAYA: PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli says he had disagreed with the Pakatan Harapan government’s decision to bail out Sapura Energy Bhd through the injection of funds from Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) in 2019.

The former Pandan MP said he had no influence or position in the PH government but had spoken out against several decisions made by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“I had disagreed with the decision by the Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led PH government to inject PNB funds to save Sapura,” he said in a statement today.

Watch the video here.

Rafizi maintained that he was always against the bailout of private companies using public funds, but accused former prime minister Najib Razak of being inconsistent in his stand.

“While he criticised PH’s bailout of Sapura in 2019, now he thinks he’s smart and caring by calling for the same thing,” he said.

Sapura, a government-linked company (GLC), had announced a loss of RM8.9 billion last year, which Najib said was the largest for any Malaysian GLC in history.

Najib and Rafizi have been going back and forth over the ailing oil and gas company, after Najib had initially called on Putrajaya to intervene by providing easy interest loans or loan guarantees to Sapura to solve its cash flow problems.

Alternatively, Najib said, Putrajaya could direct Petronas or Khazanah Nasional Bhd to take over ownership of Sapura, citing how the national oil company still required Sapura’s services for its projects and had a better understanding of the sector.

However, Rafizi said this would only benefit a “handful of elites”, adding that the money used to bail out the ailing oil and gas company could be put to better use to serve Malaysians.

Rafizi claimed that bailouts would encourage corporate figures to look for shortcuts in making money and were akin to “privatising profits and nationalising losses”.

He also said Putrajaya would usually be “inheriting” firms that had chronic financial problems which were unsalvageable even with the injection of public funds.

He suggested that PKR MPs formulate a private member’s bill on the regulation of government bailouts to curb the practice of “crony capitalism”.

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