JOHOR BAHRU – The difficulty of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in making decision on the final Employees Provident Fund (EPF) proved that the current government is not ruled by UMNO.
On the contrary, the current government is ruled by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) 2.0.
According to the UMNO Youth Chief, Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dasuki, the Barisan Nasional (BN) is only represented by 41 seats while the PN has 56 seats. Thus, the party’s decision is unlike what it used to be.
“When the party dominated the government in the past, when a policy was decided by the party, the government must implement it.
“Therefore, during the UMNO General Election, for example, when we have a motion on economy, religion, education, when each of these motion was debated and made into a resolution, the resolution would become a policy for the government to implement.
“However, it is different now. Although the Prime Minister is from UMNO, the government today is not an UMNO government but PN 2.0 or a mixed government.
“So, when we want to do something, some threaten to press button, and we also need to consider the oppositions,” he said during the Johor Memilih Programme organised by MalaysiaGazette, when asked to comment on why Ismail Sabri could not decide on the EPF withdrawal despite UMNO had strongly fought for the issue.
However, according to him, during the UMNO Supreme Council meeting two weeks ago, the issue was raised again and UMNO wanted Ismail Sabri to take up the responsibility as the final withdrawal was the demand of the people.
“If we refuse to listen to the problems, we are the problem,” he said.
Sharing his experience of fighting for the EPF withdrawal, Asyraf said that UMNO not has not only spoken to the Prime Minister on the final EPF withdrawal but has also met the Finance Minister twice and debated with the highest management of EPF itself.
“Yes, we must think about the future of the people but we must also understand about the cause of power in EPF Act 1991, Section 54 (L)(M)(K) which gave a clear justification that if the people are in a dire situation (for the purposes of survival and continuance of life), thus, the withdrawal should be allowed.
“The (M) was amended, it means, due to the pandemic, thus, whatever effect from the pandemic, that it also a justification to ensure the continuance of life of the people,” he explained.
Therefore, Asyraf said, he did couldn’t see the difficulty of EPF in allowing the final withdrawal.
According to him, the effect of three withdrawals from – i-Lestari, i-Citra and i-Sinar was only RM110 billion. Besides that, there are not many contributors who needed the final EPF withdrawal.
“Therefore, there is not much issue. Besides that, since when our people depended a lot on the EPF for their golden years? The issue here is that the people are suffering now. The people are suffering due to MCO 1, 2 and 3.
“That was also the weakness of the leadership of Tan Sri Muhyiddin. That was why we asked for a proper total lockdown but Malaysia was the country which implemented the longest half-cooked total lockdown. The problem was, the people became unemployed, given unpaid leave, lost their income since 1 January 2021,” he said.
He also said that it is the reality that the people are facing, although the government has opened the economy but it still needs the recovery process.
“The recovery process means that the people are starting their new life with outstanding debts. Many people need to leave their rented house.
“This is the real issue, not political sentiment. That is why, everyone is talking about the EPF. Besides that, those who want to withdraw EPF know that they still have money there, and they want to use that money to pay their debts, redeem their car, pay loan-sharks and other commitments,” said Asyraf.
He also said that the EPF had RM986 billion of assets as of July 2021 and it had a huge income of RM76 billion, thus, EPF had assets exceeding RM1 trillion.
“What is the effect of i-Citra amounting to about RM25 billion? RM25 billion is only 2% of RM1 trillion. If we want to stabilise the market, by taking the EPF assets in the capital market, financial market, overnight money market amounting to RM28 billion. This figure can be used stabilise the position of EPF’s assets instrument,” he added.
Commenting on the u-turn reaction by PAS, PN and DAP on the EPF withdrawal, Asyraf said that the situation is a political unity, although UMNO remains committed with the fight.
“We have been consistent since the beginning. He debated with the finance minister and he has been difficult from the start. He thought about finance from the perspective of a banker. We are fighting with the people from the bottom.
“We know how hard it is for the people. This is the difference between the politicians who fight along with the people, compared to the minister who has never met the people,” he said. -MalaysiaGazette