|Money Always Run Away|
There is an old sinister interpretation to the acronym MARA or Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA).
They say then MARA means Money Always Run Away. Interestingly, the person that told of that interpretation actually ran away with commissions from contracts given out to Chinaman suppliers.
MARA is a purpose-incorporated Federal Government agency by a Parliament act to assist the development of Malays. It has been successful in many ways, especially education.
For instance, 54 MARA Junior Science Colleges (MRSM) have been built and tens of thousands of Malays benefited in the various tertiary level financing programs, local and abroad. This and it's scholarship program have become feeder of Malay professionals to industries and institutions.
Unfortunately, as the interpretation say, MARA has been an organization where so many individuals took advantage of and made it a push-over.
MARA has and is acquiring properties and assets that it should not have interests in the first place and should not be in business.
|Kelab Rahman Putra, Sg Buloh Selangor|
One of the notorious case is the MARA acquisition of the Bukit Rahman Putra property development project in the late ‘80s, when Mohd. Tamrin Ghafar was the Chairman.
MARA paid over RM70,000.00 per golf membership where 260 golf membership of Kelab Golf Rahman Putra was transferred to MARA and acquired 100 acres from the 760 acres development.
|Ashley Hotel, London|
Then the acquisition of 53 room Ashley Hotel near Paddington Station, London by MARA Inc. two years ago.
Why MARA goes into the hotel business and in London is baffling many.
MARA has neither the expertise in the inn business nor understands anything remotely about property in London. In the first place, they never did were into the inn business in Malaysia.
|746 Swanston Steet, Melbourne|
The most recent is MARA Council's approval to dish out RM140 million of soft loan to MARA Inc. to acquire an accommodation building in the neighbourhood of Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria.
MARA Inc. is supposed to acquire 746 Swanston Street, Carlton, Melbourne VIC 3053, Australia. Currently, the building lease twin-sharing or single rooms at the rate of AUD 160 and AUD 210 per week, respectively.
Why MARA is doing this especially when the sponsorship program for students to Australia has been reduced drastically?
If the acquisition of this property is for the benefit of MARA sponsored students in Australia, then the next question shall be how many students do MARA sponsor to study in Australia annually.
Wouldn’t these sponsored students attend Universities all over New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia too?
The fact that 746 Swanston St. is a building where there is 313 beds. Unless MARA intend to have about 100 sponsored students to Melbourne University and RMIT annually, the acquisition of the accommodation building is about making money from a market where MARA Inc. has little understanding about.
RM 140 million for a property investment abroad by a wholly own company of a Federal Government socio-economic development agency is definitely mind boggling.
MARA should be looking into acquiring high street commercial spaces and develop the Bumiputra retail opportunities first instead of looking at and acquiring properties abroad.
|Majlis MARA or rubber stamp?|
Is the ahli-ahli Majlis MARA merely a rubber stamp for someone's greed?
As a comparison, RM 140 million should be suffice to build four different complete MRSMs and fully fitted, even with the laboratories and sports facilities.
MARA could not have decided for that kind of investment without the explicit knowledge and blessing of the Minister-in-charge.
|Datuk Muhammad Lan bin Alani|
There are already rumours circulating about this man travelling on First Class treatment to London and stay in £400-500 per night accommodation on visits which is supposed to be ‘official business’ for MARA Inc.
Off course, it is unfair to blame politicians or in this case, former politicians only.
This will not happen if MARA management did not prepare the proposal papers for Majlis MARA to approve and allow such exorbitant claims and spending for top appointments in MARA.
|Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad (left) and Dato Idris Jusoh (right)|
The Director General of MARA that is jointly and severally responsible for taking MARA astray from it's rightful path is Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad. He was bumped few notches up in the swiftest of time during the time of Dato Khaled Nordin as Minister of KPUN. Ibrahim is also the Deputy Chairman to MARA Chairman, Dato Seri Idris Jusoh in Majlis MARA.
This will not look good in any way one sees it, especially because MARA is a Federal Government agency to help the Malay and Bumiputera masses, and not some already well-to-do individuals to have a lifestyle and indulge in business they dream off.
If the Minister-in-charge is allowing an UMNO leader from his own kawasan to devour MARA, then it would be anyone’s best guess as to what else have been passed or even covered under the watch of this Minister.
|Datuk Shapie bin Apdal|
Recently, Sabah has been seen as a stiff battleground for BN. Scandals such as these are definitely vote-losing big-ticket items. RM140 million could be spend on four different MRSMs in four different parliamentary areas all over Sabah.
In a time of limited scholarship fund for Universities and Colleges, local and abroad, to meet demand of Bumiputera students that is supposedly guaranteed under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, RM140 million can pay the tuition and board of hundreds of students a year.
This revelation will not auger well for government. Rakyat will be angry if MARA is being made to be pushed-over. The Malays and Bumiputera still require the socio-development programs under MARA, even though she has been around over 45 years.
Election or no election, one cannot allow such thing to prolong. By right with an election around the corner, more care should be exercised. In the age of digital democrasy, that care must be for all the time.
Minister-in-charge, Dato Shafie Apdal must do something about this now. This expose on MARA is only the beginning.