You proved me right, Najib tells Tong Kooi Ong

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Tong Kooi Ong shake hands during the FundMyHome project in Semenyih November 4, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — EdgeProp Sdn Bhd owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong’s disclosure that the FundMyHome scheme was a result of his firm’s proposal corroborates suspicions of insider knowledge of Budget 2019, Datuk Seri Najib Razak claimed.

Seizing on Datuk A. Kadir Jasin’s blog entry that was critical of the launch’s timing for exposing the government to allegations of cronyism and leaked secrets, the former prime minister said this showed he was not alone with his misgivings.

However, he said the prime minister’s media advisor failed to see the larger issue as the latter was concerned only with the possible political repercussions to the Pakatan Harapan administration.

“The problem is far bigger than avoiding the crony image!” Najib wrote on Facebook last night.

He cited reports of industry and analysts’ concern about the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending concept, such as fears that it could fuel a subprime lending crisis that could not otherwise exist in Malaysia’s current banking system.

Najib asked if Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng fully considered the risks contained in the private proposal and if he was, why the latter still chose to continue.

Lim previously acknowledged the possible risks involved, but said these were “worth taking” if they could alleviate Malaysia’s perennial problem of unaffordable homes.

Najib, who preceded Lim at the Finance Ministry, pointed out that a similar scheme in China was now mired in crisis after hundreds of P2P firms collapsed under the weight of CNY1.49 trillion (RM902 billion) in outstanding loans.

“Do we want the same thing to happen in Malaysia?” he asked.

Tong sought yesterday to differentiate his firm’s FundMyHome scheme from the P2P lending that Lim announced in Budget 2019.

The owner of The Edge Media Group said FundMyHome was a digital property platform and did not need the government’s approval to launch and operate as it was not soliciting individual investors.

He also stressed that it was unrelated to Lim’s Budget 2019 announcement, but said his firm planned to partake in the P2P system once the Securities Commission approves the details.

Tong’s media group played a crucial role in exposing the 1MDB corruption scandal.