Don’t be fooled into thinking that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Umno President Dr Zahid Hamidi have the best interests of Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) members at heart.
The time was June 2015. The event was the annual general meeting of Felda Global Ventures (FGV). The EPF, with a 5% stake in FGV, voiced out serious concerns against the proposed takeover of Eagle High Point (EHP), an Indonesian plantation company owned by a close friend of then prime minister Najib, at an inflated premium of 70%. The deal was pushed through by the then FGV CEO, no doubt with the approval of Najib, at a cost of RM2.3 billion. In 2019, Felda Director General Dr Othman Omar, lodged a police report claiming that Felda was cheated in the purchase of EHP with an inflated price of more than 300%!
Fast forward to November 2021, Najib is continuing his calls to allow EPF contributors to withdraw another RM10,000 from their accounts for “one final time” via the i-Citra facility. He has repeated these calls at the end of December 2021 and recently, in January 2022, using the recent floods in the country as a reason.
The fact that Najib made his call in November for more EPF withdrawals, right after EPF revealed that 3.6 million account holders have less than RM1,000 in their accounts, out of which two million are Bumiputera members (55%) is an indication that he is not thinking of the long-term interests of EPF contributors, including the Bumiputera community. Instead, he is resorting to increasing populist and financially irresponsible ways of appealing to the public, thinking that he can fool them into believing him and his “Apa malu bossku” rhetoric.
Zahid, is following a similar tactic by calling for EPF withdrawals to continue, back in December 2021.
Najib has shown that he only has the interests of himself and his cronies and NOT the interest of EPF and its members when he approved the purchase of EHP by FGV back in 2015/2016 at a grossly inflated value.
Both Najib and Zahid are more concerned about saving themselves from going to jail as a result of the corruption charges against them than to help the rakyat who are suffering. I would not be surprised if they resort to more and more populist measures to fool the rakyat into thinking that they are trying to save the people but in reality, it’s all about trying to save themselves.
I sincerely hope that the rakyat won’t be fooled by the popularity stunts of Najib and Zahid. I hope that within the Umno leadership, more reasonable voices can come out to share concerns about these repeated calls for the rakyat to dip into their own EPF savings which would have serious long-term personal implications, especially for those contributors in the B40 community who will have very little left in their EPF accounts when they retire.