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Shahrizat's cow business

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

Shahrizat's name is of late associated with the cows. Oh yes, she is the minister of women, family and community development, not the minister of agriculture, and by right shouldn't have much to do with cows.

But because of her involvement in the cow business, she now finds herself repeatedly queried by people. Pakatan has made it a priority issue, and is now targeting all its firepower at it.

And that is not all. In a very rare development, even people in her camp begin to turn against her. Her colleague in Umno Bung Mokhtar has made the shocking announcement that he wants to see Shahrizat out of her office.

You may think Bung Mokhtar could have something against Shahrizat. Indeed, Bung Mokhtar is not a particularly popular chap among Malaysian women, and since Shahrizat is in charge of women's affairs, they definitely do not make perfect working partners.

Bung Mokhtar has made it loud and clear that Shahrizat has to take full responsibility for her misdeed, lending force to the already vociferous critics while aggravating the impact of the cow incident.

Shahrizat is the clear and obvious target, and the scandal only serves to remind the public of what happened to her senior Rafidah Aziz, whose reputation was tarnished thanks to the AP scandal, and who later had to bow out of politics in disgrace.

Shahrizat's public image is not that bad after all. A lawyer by training, she is known for her open-mindedness and this makes her a popular figure among the grassroots.

If not for the revelation of the AG's report, her association with the cow business could have been left in the dark from most people in this country.

Well, that is actually the business of her husband Mohamad Salleh Ismail.

To boost the country's beef supply, the government encouraged private entrepreneurs to go into large scale cow farming several years ago.

Mohd Salleh set up the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) and secured the pledged RM250 million low-interest loans from the government on condition that the NFC set up 130 satellite farms to supply 40% of the country's beef requirement.

The government has so far handed out RM134 million, but the centre fails to deliver, and its supply falls far short of target.

The money could have been better spent if it were used for beef imports.

To make things worse, the centre has spent almost RM10 million to acquire a top notched condominium in KL.

In defence of the NFC move, Khairy said some of the satellite farms had yet to be set up, and so the money was put in condominiums for investment returns.

The Umno Youth chairman's explanation does not help to put things in clearer perspectives. No fund managers would ever put short-term funds in property investments, as real estate assets do not guarantee high liquidity.

Moreover, returns on luxurious condo investments are over the peak now, and the risks are simply too high for any discreet investment.

Another thing, I have no idea whether the investment conforms to legal requirements.

The fact that Shahrizat's family has secured this mammoth farming project and massive government loans itself is enough to raise eyebrows across the nation.

Shahrizat has an obligation to set things right!


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