Loving remarks by Dr Khir:
"There is no need for me to answer. If we answer, then someone will say something else and it will go on and on. Let God decide who is right."
"I still got the number two spot in the Umno Youth Chief elections. As for the public, when I go around I still draw in crowds."
Khir has his say on allegations
Former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo has come under a lot fire recently for purportedly misusing the state agencies’ funds for costly trips, family holidays and personal gain - something he vehemently denies.
Pakatan Rakyat which wrested the state in the March 8 2008 general election has set up a Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) to probe the financial dealings of Balkis (the former Selangor Elected Representatives Wives Welfare Association headed by Dr Khir’s wife), to see if there was any wrongdoing or element of criminal breach of trust in the charity organisation.
Last month, the bosses of Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB), Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB) and PKNS and others testified at the Selcat hearing and some of their disclosures were shocking - that RM1.7mil was paid for DisneyWorld and DisneyLand “technical” trips, RM200,000 for a Jogjakarta trip and that they paid the air tickets for Dr Khir’s maid to go on the trips and that they got instructions from the (then) Mentri Besar to sponsor Balqis events.
Denying any wrongdoing, Dr Khir who chose not to attend the Selcat inquiry, gives his side of the story. He also says that he will never forgive Pakatan Rakyat until he dies for smearing his reputation.
Q: It has been a year since the general election with Selangor having fallen to Pakatan Rakyat, how do you see the whole political scenario?
A: I think there are mixed feelings among the public. Some believe Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is doing quite well but some do not. This is based on perception. PR managed to give a good perception about themselves to the public. The low income group are happy because a lot of goodies have been given to them but the business or corporate community in Selangor are not happy because they obviously see the economy shrinking. That is so apparent. Lately the urban areas are beginning to see that the local authorities have failed to improve their basic services.
Q: You contested the Umno Youth Chief post and came in second. What do you think of Khairy Jamaluddin as the new Youth Chief and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir as deputy minister?
A: Khairy has won and I think he needs to work hard. Without his father-in-law (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi), I think he needs to work even harder. But first he needs to clear the perception about him. I think the Malaysian public still cannot accept him as Youth chief.
As for Mukhriz - it’s simple. There must be ‘keturunan’ (lineage). His father (former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad) was there (in the seat of power) so his child too must be there. That’s Malaysian politics for you. It’s happened before and it’s happened again. It’s a normal thing.
Q: Some say you are arrogant because you used the broom award to shame departments, boasted before the March 8 general elections that there will be zero opposition in Selangor and in a forum after the election you challenged the new PR government to investigate you from head to toe.
A: The broom award was decided by the state government officers and personally I think it was good because that department (that was shamed for non-performance by winning the broom award) got number one placing for performance the following year. The broom award was just to change the mind set.
As for the zero opposition, as Mentri Besar and state Barisan Nasional chairman if I say we are weak, all my people will be disheartened and dispirited. As a general, even if you lose the war, you must still say that you have not. That’s the way to handle perception, feelings and the spirit of our ‘soldiers’. Psychologically everyone does that from Mussolin to Sukarno. How can you lead and say we are going to lose. We will not say that we are not going to lose even if we think we are. It’s a strategy.
As for the forum, some people were saying I am corrupt and they will boo me if I say that I am not. The situation at that time was very wild. So I said what I said to keep their mouths shut. Actually, I am not arrogant but I have my own character in politics.
Q: You have been at the centre of a lot of controversy lately. How have you been responding?
A: It’s all politically motivated. Pakatan Rakyat is trying to hide their own wrongdoings. The present MB (Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim) also has a case, one of the exco member also has a case. They are trying to cover up all these things.
For example, the Balqis issue. I am not even a member and Balqis has already been dissolved and the dissolution has been approved by ROS. I was investigated by the police over the Balqis issue and the police found no wrongdoing but still Pakatan is harping on it. But I am not worried. As for the trips (which has now become controversial), as far as I am concerned I paid for my own children.
Q: Why did you not go to the Selcat inquiry to defend yourself?
A: My lawyer advised me not to go. It is a one-sided hearing. Selcat called me on Balqis issue but I am not a Balqis member so there is no locus standi for me to talk. I cannot clear my name because it is a structured hearing. Selcat is made up of my political opponents. The only two Barisan members in it went for the hearing the first day and stayed away after that. And Selcat wants me - their enemy - to appear before them? If you and I are fighting, would you have something good to say about me? If I go to Selcat, it is like I serah diri (surrender) before my political enemy. They are not interested in the truth. They are just trying to look for kesalahan orang (find fault). If they are after the truth, they would have had professionals not politicians conducting the hearing. If it was conducted by ex-judges and non-partisan ex-top civil servants, then I would have gone. But in this case, tell me why should I go to the lion’s den? Besides, Selcat did not get the approval from the AG to set it up.
Q: But this comes under the Selangor state government and assembly, surely they don’t need the A-G’s approval to set up Selcat?
A: I checked with my lawyer. Any law that involves enforcement must be done by the Federal government first of all. They have said they want to jail people and stated that they can jail up to two years and fine RM2,000. Who is going to jail the person? Does the state have the authority to do this? Surely this comes under the police. Selangor has a Public Accounts Committee - why can’t use that mechanism? But they formed Selcat just to pick on people.
Q: You say there is no locus standi for you to attend an inquiry on Balqis but some of the money in question came from PNSB of which you were the chairman?
A: This falls under the Registrar of Societies. For example I am an Umno member and if I donate money to say MIC do I have the right to ask questions about the money of MIC and ask details about the MIC management? I can’t. This is a donation from a private company to Balqis. That’s why there is no locus standi. In fact even the state government doesn’t have the right to ask these questions because they are not members. I have checked with my lawyer. They can’t.
Q: But (former Selangor MB) Tan Sri Mat Taib’s wife, Puan Sri Asbi (Rohani Asnan) who was Balqis president (until 1997) attended the Selcat hearing?
A: That is up to her. I asked the lawyer’s opinion and (he advised me against it) and so I wrote a letter to Selcat explaining why I was not coming. Because I am not a Balqis member so how can they can ask me about Balqis issues.
Q: What was the purpose of the Dec 17-24 2007 DisneyWorld, Miami Beach and Honolulu trip?
A: It was a technical visit. It was for investment purposes, river management, canal city and the theme park. We wanted to make a second Klang Valley in Selangor - an RM1bil canal city from Sungai Kuala Langat to Sungai Klang which is about 16km. There was to be an artificial beach, a river fishing area, boating, a garden in the middle and cycling lane and walkways. The water level would be maintained throughout the year. You should have a look at the canal city plan. It is very nice. So the trip was to visit water feature development areas so that we know how to do it technically in Selangor and translate the concept to reality. That is why we had in our delegation the Yang Di-Pertua (YDP) of Kuala Langat, of Sepang, the DO Sepang, the DO Kuala Langat, town planners and technical officers. They want to see with their own eyes what it looks like, only then can they execute. My trips are always multi-purpose. We meet the business community there to try and get more investments.
Q: Why didn’t (PNSB CEO) Datin Khairiyah (Abu Hassan) say that? When Selcat asked the purpose of trip, she said it was to study the theme park and did not mention river management?
A: She made a mistake. She has to look through the minutes of PNSB again. The trip was partly to study the theme park and partly to study river management and canal city project. I am very sure about that. I am the one attending the programme so I know this.
Q: Datin Khairiyah said your delegation did not meet anyone from the Disney World management team?
A: The arrangement was done by the PNSB management. On the itinerary, there was supposed to be a meeting with them but I don’t know why they cancelled it. You cannot blame me for it.
Q: You said you do not know why they cancelled a meeting with the Theme Park management?
A: Yes. I don’t know. The PNSB management should know. They sent a Recce team there earlier and everything should have been okay.
Q: It cost RM366,000 to send the Recce team ahead and yet they could not organise a meeting with the Disney World Theme Park? Are you saying the PNSB officers are not competent?
A: The Recce team was decided by management not by board.
Q: Why couldn’t they just call or e-mail to fix an appointment? Why do they have to go all the way there to fix the programme?
A: All this was decided by the management. I am the chairman (of the board) and they are the ones who set the programme and I just go for it. In fact sometimes the programme just comes to my table where to meet etc and I just follow. I did not ask for this and that. The PNSB management decided and I just followed.
Q: The Canal Development project between Sungai Kuala Langat and the Klang River is not something new. It was already proposed in 2006 and universities like UKM and Uniten have already had papers on it and discussions on the concept.
A: Yes, but after one year, the officers still did not understand the technical things about how to manage river development and all that. They wanted to have a look at what it is. That’s why I brought the technical team to study and look in detail water feature developments. A year ago we had already completed the concept of the canal city, only after this (concept paper) was completed that we go and visit.
Q: Why go to Miami Beach and Honolulu and not Venice Italy which is known for its canals?
A: PNSB suggested this to us. I don’t choose. I just follow. In fact, I had to put it off a few times because I had no time. We wanted to learn about water-feature development. We were planning an artificial beach in the Canal City so we went to these beaches (Miami and Hawaii) to learn how to develop these areas - like how many feet development should it be from the water and how to maintain the sand. In Malaysia, we tend to develop right to the water front, when in fact you must leave at least a 20 to 30 feet distance from the water. We also don’t want development projects to cause river banks to collapse (due to a lack of technical planning in developing the area around it). The technical department didn’t approve the project because they couldn’t understand the concept and couldn’t visualise it, so we said ‘then okay let’s go and learn from them’ (the experts).
Q: Why was the delegation so big? Why not bring only 10 or so people?
A: I don’t remember how many came along. When we went, developers came along too. They too want to learn about the river development and canal city development. On my part, I brought along two District Officers, Town Planner, YDP, the state secretary and the PNSB board of directors. The developers, of course, paid their own way.
Q: And why not just bring the experts down to Selangor to train the officers?
A: The thing is the technical group here do not understand the concept. They want to have a look at such projects themselves so that is why we brought them there. Besides, bringing consultants and experts down would be more expensive. The canal project is about RM1bil and foreign consultants and experts would cost about 18% of that. And that does not even include the cost of flying them down. Another thing too is that we also need to expose our officers because they are the ones who are going to approve the project. These departments need to see the project otherwise they won’t approve.
Q: Are the trips to reward the officers?
A: No. There must be a purpose to the trips. We bring officers in charge of the Kuala Langat and the Klang River area. And now because of that, they are better and better because they have more knowledge. Otherwise the officers do not know how to do it. If you talk about the barrage, the officers cannot visualise what it is like. They need to go there and learn. That is the problem with our officers these days. If we don’t give them the exposure, they don’t know. You should have a look at the canal city plan. The concept is the first in Malaysia on how to combine water, humans and development. We had the concept already in 2006 and now the trips are how do to translate that to reality. That’s why we brought YDPs, District Officers, the town planner, the state secretary and the PNSB board of directors. We can have sand, the canal and development.
Q: So the officers are sufficiently knowledgable now?
A: We have had discussions with MTES (Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Selangor). In fact, because of their exposure, many regulations in development have been changed. Instead of having the river running along behind the house near the kitchen area, the front of the house is built to face the river. We managed to change so many concepts. It’s good exposure.
Q: Why did you not ask the officers who went on the trip to go to Selcat to give their side of the story?
A: Selcat did not call them. That’s why I think it’s all political motivated. They could have called the state secretary or the others who went on the trip. But the hearing was very structured. The questions were very structured. They didn’t want to find out who is right or wrong. All they wanted was a one-sided story. The purpose is just to tarnish my name. That’s all.
Q: How come PNSB paid RM110,000 for your presidential suite in Honolulu?
A: I am not sure. It was all organised by them. And I didn’t ask. I didn’t even get to enjoy the suite or the facilities. I just used it for sleeping. I returned from the programme at midnight and by 8am I am up. Q: People are shocked by the RM1.7mil spent for the Disney trips?
A: That was decided by the management. I am actually a very simple man. I do not ask for these kind of things. Maybe they said as a chairman, that is my entitlement and they did that.
Q: You say you are a simple man but people would disagree because you fly first class and stay at expensive presidential suites?
A: You must remember when I was the (PNSB) chairman. I have my entitlement. If I were to reduce my entitlement to what an officer gets then what is the officer going to reduce to? I am the chairman. There is the deputy chairman, board of directors, government officers going along. If I fly business class (not first class), then what happens to my state secretary? He will complain. If I am travelling alone it is easier. But I am travelling with a group of people and if I downgrade myself - it’s a problem for the others. But I never ask (for the pricey presidential suites or first class flights). Whatever they provide, I go along with. I just tell them to give me a full itinerary on these trips. I want a full programme with investors and companies.
Q: But isn’t the RM1.7mil spent on the Disney trips wasteful?
A: No. The trip has so many purpose. Look at the effect, the officers got good exposure. And we get to bring investments to the state. Usually when I go on these trips, my programme is packed from morning to midnight to visit companies, factories, business associates, governors. That’s how we have increased the state’s investments from RM4bil a year to more than RM6 to RM7 bil a year. The RM1.7mil spent used proper channels and we got RM50bil investment (over the last eight years). If we spend RM5 mil for trips but it brings in RM50bil worth of investment, what’s wrong with that? Just look at Selangor now. The RM11.8bil last year was the result of my investment not Pakatan’s. They just try to take credit for it. But now investments have dwindled to RM6bil. I worry that it’s going to wind down to RM4bil. And we used to get RM17mil from sand mining but when PKR took over the state, they got only RM3mil. And they promised the people that they could collect RM250mil for sand mining. As far as I am concerned all the trips I made bring a lot of development to Selangor and introduced new concepts. The ideas come from these trips. I stopped over in Dubai for few days because I got the Sepang Gold Coast idea from Dubai’s The Palm development. I don’t know why the state cancelled the River Canal City project. They should proceed because it can spur the economy.
Q: During the technical trip you went to Kennedy Space Center and visited Disneyworld?
A: Selcat should get every information and see the real itinerary of our visit. I am not crazy to use government money for leisure trips. Sometimes on a technical trip, we have meetings after meetings for six hours or the whole day and if there is a break in between, we can fit in some leisure time too. Why not? I am a workaholic and when officers accompany on these trips they get angry because it is one meeting at 8am, followed by another at 10am, another business lunch, followed by more meetings and at night official dinners. Every one of my trips so far is like that. You can ask my state secretary or officers to confirm this.
Q: Why did your family and maid go along on these ‘technical’ trips?
A: When I move around, I do bring my family but all that is paid by me.
Q: But PNSB said they paid the flight for your children and maid for the trips?
A: As far as I am concerned I paid for my maid and children. I don’t know why she (Datin Khairiyah) would say they paid. Maybe she is against me. And why would the management pay? I paid for the flights. So why did the PNSB management pay again? Look, I am the chairman. I am not the management so I wouldn’t know if they paid for it again or not. But the management should take responsibility for that. They shouldn’t pay my personal expenses or flight tickets for my maid and children. If they pay for my family and don’t inform me, how am I supposed to know they did that (because I am not part of that decision making process).
Q: So you are denying that state funds were used for the maid?
A: I checked and the answer is ‘no’.
Q: What was the purpose of RM201,000 Jogjakarta trip?
A: The trip was to study the batik industry and also river management. There was a garbage problem at Kuala Selangor where there is the fireflies (attraction) and we wanted to see how to take care of that. Their (Jogjakarta) river management is very good. It was JPS (the Irrigation and Drainage Department) that asked us to go for the trip.
Q: On that Jogjakarta trip, Malaysia paid RM10,000 to Indonesian dancers to welcome the Malaysian delegation. Isn’t that odd?
A: You shouldn’t ask me. I was there as a guest . I don’t know the details. I am the Mentri Besar and I don’t ask all that. I didn’t know RM10,000 was paid for the welcoming ceremony. All that was decided by management. That trip, the itinerary was all decided by the management. I am the chairman so I am in the board. The board meets only about three to four times a year but it is the management (of which I am not a part of) that runs the company. They meet almost monthly. I attend their meeting only three to four times a year.
Q: Your former chief secretary Norzatun Ain Mohd Kassim told the Selcat inquiry that you asked her to write a letter from your office on behalf Balqis to seek an AP bring in RM40,000 worth of imported Indonesian batik which was being held at Port Klang but this was finally rejected by MITI because it had to protect the local batik industry. But doesn’t this shows a misuse of your office?
A: I can assure you there was no letter from me to Miti. In any case the AP was not approved, so it is a non issue. Q: PNSB’s Datin Khairiyah said PNSB paid RM14,900 for business class flight tickets to Melbourne for your wife to visit your son who is studying there?
A: No. I have checked that up already. I am very sure that my wife’s ticket was paid by me for that trip. Q: Then why would she say PNSB paid? And why did Datin Khairiyah accompany your wife?
A: I don’t why. She didn’t tell me. You should ask Datin (Khairiyah) why she went along. She can’t say there was an instruction from my wife because who is my wife to give such instructions.
Q: The Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB) said it spent RM550,000 sponsoring four Balqis dinners at Sunway Lagoon on July 24, Aug 2, 3, 4, 2007 while PNSB too donated another RM300,000 for them?
A: It was for fund raising and we got RM6mil for charity.
Q: Logically speaking why have four charity dinners held almost consecutively which cost a lot of money instead of just one?
A: They had too many people coming for it so they had to break it up in smaller groups. If they do it at such a grand scale, it would cost even more so it was better to split it up and have small programmes with different guests.
Q: There was a Balqis event where KDEB paid RM25,000 for chocolates which were to be given as souvenirs while buying imported chocolates would have cost less?
A: You can’t ask me all these details. I wouldn’t know. All this was decided by the management. For example, Tan Sri Khalid (Ibrahim) he wouldn’t know how much the chocolates cost. He wouldn’t have time for that.
Q: KDEB also paid RM17,000 for tickets for Balqis to go to China to buy artificial flowers and caps there when the company has a branch in Kepong. Why waste money when the ordering could have been done in Kepong?
A: I really don’t know. But it must have been approved by the KDEB management. It might be cheaper to fly there and order it from there. You know how cheap things are in China. What costs 10 sen there costs RM10 here. I know my wife very well. She is very careful about accounting. She’s far-sighted and always thinking about how to save money. Perhaps that’s why she bought so many flowers and caps for the welfare programmes one shot - to save money And she gets really frustrated when the public thinks otherwise.
Q: PNSB said they had to give Balqis about RM1mil each year?
A: Yes, that was a decision by PNSB. The 1mil is for charity. Balqis uses the money to help the needy. During Chinese New Year, they give RM100 to 1,000 poor Chinese, for Hari Raya they give money out to poor Malays and during Deepavali, it goes to poor Indians. And we don’t ask the people to sign invoices to show that they got the money. Balqis does many welfare programmes. They buy wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs for the disabled and fund dialysis treatment for the needy.
Q: KDEB, PNSB and PKNS all said that they became like a ‘tukang bayar’ because whenever there was a request from Balqis they felt obliged to pay.
A: They should have brought it to the board if they were unhappy. Balqis is a welfare organisation which does work for charity. These companies have put aside a certain amount for charity (under their Corporate Social Responsibility programme). And they can channel the money to any clubs or charity. They can sponsor sports, Balqis or give it to old folks homes. In fact, KDEB sponsors football programmes more than it does Balqis events. The companies decide where to give the money to. As far as I am concerned the money is not misused. And the money Balqis gets does go to the target group (welfare and they needy). That’s what is important.
Q: But this puts bodies like PNSB. KDEB, PKNS in a dilemma because you were after all their Mentri Besar (from 2000 until the March 8 general elections) so how can they say ‘no’ to Balqis. They had to accord Balqis, which is headed by your wife, special treatment?
A: Even if Balqis made a request, the management has the right to turn it down. They can’t be ‘segan’ (embarrassed). Where does the money go? If the money goes to charity, then it’s okay. What’s wrong if it goes to the poor, old and the needy. But if it goes to certain people’s pocket that’s a different matter. What the company donates goes to charity and not to individual’s pocket. Balqis does not benefit from it. Sometimes, the money is not enough and Balqis has to top it up with their own money.
Q: But did you make calls and give verbal instructions to these bodies to fund Balqis activities?
A: No I never made any instructions. It was all done through the board of directors and went through the proper procedures. I am very sure about that. For me, in the eight years, I never called a single officer up and asked them to do things without going it through meetings first. I discuss everything in the board and jot things down. I don’t like not to be responsible for what was decided so I would jot down every instruction. And I give instructions in the meeting not outside.
Q: But the bosses at PNSB and KDEB said they received many requests from you, verbal instructions to pay for Balqis?
A: No. Can they prove it? Which letters have I signed?
Q: They said the requests were verbal?
A: No. Never. You can check my phone bill. I never call. They are trying to save their own skin. I never call. Instructions must be written. I never use my office for my own personal gain. I never do that. Maybe some officer down the line just said “the MB said to do it”.
Q: PNSB, KDEB, PKNS are all saying ‘yes you did’ but you are saying ‘no I didn’t’. Who is telling the truth?
A: I never call. If you want to be sure you can check my phone bills throughout the years.
Q: So you are saying that they are all ganging up against you?
A: That’s the problem. They want to protect themselves. That’s why I can’t go to Selcat because Selcat is my enemy. It’s not transparent.
Q: If this is the case, aren’t you angry with them for doing this?
A: No, why should I be angry. I don’t even have any power anymore (as I lost the Mentri Besar post).
Q: It was also disclosed at the Selcat inquiry that PNSB had to pay the salaries of three workers who worked exclusively for Balqis?
A: They are actually PNSB staff. They were just loaned to Balqis to help out like once a week or something like that. They are not doing it full time.
Q: There was also this Chinese New Year event organised by Balqis that you went to officiate where your wife who is the Balqis president asked PNSB to sponsor a RM3,600 Summerman suit for you as a souvenir for officiating the function?
A: That is a token of appreciation. It was decided by the management. My wife would never make such a request. I am very sure of that. My wife doesn’t interfere at all. She doesn’t go to my office. When I officiate a function, I don’t have a clue what I would get as a souvenir. It is up to the management to decide what to give. And my wife is certainly not involved in the management of PNSB (so how can she influence a decision on gifts) Actually I appreciate books as a souvenir. For me that is best. If I attend a function and if they give me some other gift, it would be very rude to reject it. But I appreciate books most and I have my own library now.
Q: When say the Prime Minister and his wife comes for functions in the state, do you give out expensive gifts costing RM40,000 to RM60,000? There were reports that KDEB had paid RM65,000 for songket for dignitiaries at a Balqis function?
A: We have to give them something special from Selangor. Every state is doing that. That’s normal.
Q: Why did PNSB give you a Patek Philip watch worth RM159,000?
A: I told them they shouldn’t have done that and I turned it down immediately. It was too expensive a gift. I was quite surprised. I never asked for anything that’s why I returned the watch. I told them you better sell the watch back and get the money back.
Q: What is behind the RM338,000 Balqis organised Sporting event where RM131,000 was spent on tracksuits?
A: It was a Bakti programme. States take turns organising it every year. It is attended by the wives of the ministers and the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister turn up with their wives. And we gave out a tee-shirt and a tracksuit. When Kedah hosted it, they gave the sports attire, so did Penang. And when it was Selangor’s turn, we too would give. It is after all once in 14 years. And there were four teams so that is why there were track suits in four colours.
Q: There was a report that Balqis received RM100,000 for a SPM programme?
A: These kids come from needy background and because of the Balqis programme some of them got all As.
Q: Have you spoken to your wife about the Balqis issue and what has she been saying?
A: She said everything has been done according to procedure and no money has spent for her own purpose. It was all done for the welfare programme to give the needy.
Q: When is she going to clear her name?
A: There is no need. If we answer, then someone will say something else and it will go on and on. Let God decide who is right.
Q: Why did you buy 12 units of the Al Marwa Tower in Mecca for RM25mil when PNSB had only given approval for the purchase of 5 units for RM8mil?
A: When I was in Mecca, there was this offer from this Mecca group for the apartments. So many people came and were fighting for it because it was in a prime area. It was on a first come first serve basis and we (PNSB) wanted to get five. Then one of the Indonesian companies withdrew and their seven units were offered to us and we took it. But settlement had be done in cash and within 14 days otherwise we would lose the deposit. At that time PNSB did not have enough money so instead of losing the deposit we got another buyer to buy it within 14 days. The apartment is in Mecca so only Muslims can buy it. For that reason too, the apartment units cannot be under the PNSB name because there are non-Muslim directors in PNSB. This is why as chairman I put it under my name. The name should be under whoever is the PNSB chairman and now that’s Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. I signed three times to transfer the name to his. In fact, I was the one who requested for the transfer of name for the apartment units. I had called state secretary and said ‘let’s settle this because the apartments do not belong to me and I don’t want it.” That’s the whole story.
Q: Was it a good investment?
A: Yes, very good. Now I think the five units which cost RM8mil in 2007 are now easily worth RM12mil easily. It’s very exclusive. It’s the only property near the Kaabah and just about 60m away from the Holy Mosque. You can see the Holy Mosque from the apartment. And we fought like hell to get the units.
Q: PR has raised questions on the transaction about whether it contravened the Exchange Control Act and Anti Money Laundering Act?
A: How can we transfer such a huge amount of money from here to Mecca without approval from Bank Negara? Come on lah. We are talking about RM25mil. So was I wrong to go after a good investment. The value has more than doubled now. I personally stood in the queue for four hours to get it. One Arab man offered me RM200,000 just to change the name of the booking to him but I refused. That’s why I am really frustrated and that’s why I won’t forgive Pakatan. I don’t get a single sen from it. It was for the state. The intention was for investment.
Q: There are lots of questions over the numerous technical trips you made overseas to US, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo which are costly?
A: As far as I am concerned all the trips have all been very successful. That’s why I bring a lot of officers to give them exposure. The trips are multi-purpose and bring in investment and give us ideas. I did nothing wrong so I have nothing to worry about. As for the personal trips, I made my own.
Q: Do you agree that the issue has smeared your reputation?
A: Yes, That’s why I won’t forgive them till I die, until Akhirat (the end of the world). The people will come to know the truth later on. The people are restless and fed up with this kind of gutter politics.
Q: Are you suing the state government?
A: I am looking into it.
Q: This issue has tarnished not just your image but also that of Umno?
A: That’s why I won’t forgive them. Maybe when they got into power, they forget that God is there. When you do something bad to people, one day God will do something bad to you. Wait and see. Time will decide.
Q: How are going to repair your reputation?
A: I will go down to the people. I will talk to them about what Pakatan is doing to the country, to the state now. They bohong banyak (lie a lot). They said they were planning RM10bil for the Klang River development programme and I have waited more than 3 months and there is nothing. Don’t bluff the people. That is the whole reason they want to suspend me so that I will not raise the issue.
Q: Is your conscience clear?
A: Very clear. If they do this to me and expect me to keep quiet, they are talking to the wrong person. I will continue to speak up because I love Selangor very much. I will talk because I know what they are doing. Even if they suspend me from the state assembly, they can’t prevent me from talking to the public. I will keep talking. Because far as I am concerned my job is to advise and tegur (criticise).
Q: Do you think people will believe you?
A: I think so. I still got the number two spot in the Umno Youth Chief elections. As for the public, when I go around I still draw in crowds. For example when I went to campaign in the Bukit Gantang by-election, so many people came to my ceramah. This happens everywhere I go.
SHAHANAAZ HABIB/The Star/the Malaysian Bar
Loving remarks by Dr Khir: