The lowest-ever dividend of 2% announced by the Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) is disappointing but an unfortunate consequence of years of alleged mismanagement and irregularities.
The problems it faces are not a recent phenomenon, but rather the result of the omissions and malfeasance of the past.
What is needed are concrete measures to strengthen the LTAT and hence the welfare of our heroic armed forces personnel.
It is hence extremely disappointing that the Sembrong MP and former Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is playing politics by blaming the Pakatan Harapan Federal Government for the lower dividends.
He has inexplicably chosen to ignore the results of an audit by Ernst & Young which found, among other things, that LTAT’s earnings were affected by the overpayment of dividends in previous years. Indeed, its five-year asset returns from the financial years 2014 to 2018 (after excluding one-off gains) were lower than the declared dividend rates.
In effect, the LTAT had been paying dividends at higher rates than it could afford.
There’s no point for the previous administration’s defenders and enablers to crow about the supposed higher dividends of the past when they actually hurt the future of the LTAT as well as other funds.
The audit also found that LTAT had 88 condominium units worth RM45 million that had been unsold despite having been completed in 2015. Also, since 2014, LTAT was said to have become over-reliant on Boustead Holdings Bhd and its quoted subsidiaries (BHB Group). Indeed, it was alleged that LTAT’s exposure to BHB Group increased almost 50% from RM2.1 billion to RM3.1 billion.
The fact is that Hishammuddin was Minister of Defence from 2013 to 2018. These alleged irregularities and weaknesses—which significantly contributed to the LTAT’s current poor performance—happened under his watch as the Cabinet Minister tasked with administering of our Armed Forces.
What was he doing all those years?
Why had he done nothing to address the problems facing the LTAT?
And yet, he seeks to blame others for his own failures and shortcomings. What is worse is that he seeks to use the fate of Malaysia’s soldiers, sailors and airmen to give him political cover.
He should consider his own responsibility for the parlous state of the LTAT and the country as a whole before seeking to blame his successor, Mohamad Sabu.
In that period, Rafizi Ramli, the Pandan MP then had constantly warned the public about the problems facing the LTAT. He did so under great personal risk and cost.
This included exposing, in March 2016, a document classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), on the LTAT’s controversial dealings with the now-discredited 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The fact that the LTAT had in May 2018 withdrawn a lawsuit it had filed against Rafizi is proof that the concerns he had raised about the Board at the time were justified and indeed, vindicated.
The current management of the LTAT must continue the reforms it has proposed as well as work closely with the Federal Government to better ensure the wellbeing of our Armed Forces personnel.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY
KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT