KUALA LUMPUR (July 13): The Boustead group of companies are no longer viewed as a "premium product" after being marred by several controversies in recent years, according to Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
“Sorry for me to say this,” he told the audience here after launching Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera’s (LTAT) Strategic Plan 2023-2025, adding that LTAT and Boustead are widely viewed as "hidup segan mati tak mahu" (lit. hesitant to live, but refuses to die), which is a disparaging Malay expression used to indicate that a person is useless.
“We are in the comfort zone all this while, but we are in a situation that is different. The world has changed so rapidly, so if we don’t change then we will be changed,” he said.
Tok Mat, as he is fondly known, warned LTAT against betraying the trust of its contributors, as they consist of military personnels who have sacrificed for the nation.
“Do not betray their trust, I repeat, do not betray their trust. This is their money; their sacrifice and their hard work, it [the fund] must be managed in the best way possible. Even with small returns, it's okay. If it's a 5% return, I will be very happy,” he said.
LTAT’s new strategic plan, Sustainable25, is aiming to deliver a 5% annual return to its members through 2025, while also enhancing the well-being of its members and employees and reinforcing the fund’s reputation as a trusted provident fund.
“I am not saying LTAT is not managed well, but it can be improved further. Unlock the value. There are a lot of ‘diamonds’ in our groups. If the diamond is not crafted, there is no value,” he said.
“Your performance is also my performance, people would blame Haji Mat Hasan. What a useless minister of defence. I don’t want that.
“When we do business, don’t be so sentimental, especially when we are the pension fund manager. The assets are not ours, we are there to make returns, that is all,” he added.
LTAT took Boustead Holdings private in a RM703.2 million, or 85.5 sen per share, deal last month, after the group found itself mired in several controversies, including the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) scandal, with the project taking up RM6 billion of taxpayers' money without completing any vessel on time.
The failure led to a subsequent bailout by the federal government, who took over Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd, the entity tasked to build the ships, while revising the total construction cost upwards to RM11 billion for the delivery of five LCS vessels, from RM9 billion for the delivery of six vessels previously.