A-G's report on 1MDB ready by June

PETALING JAYA - A report on the Auditor-General's investigations into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) accounts will be ready by next month.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told a closed-door gathering of Umno division leaders that the report of the initial findings by the Auditor-General would be immediately given to the the Public Accounts Committee.

Najib, according to a Selangor division leader who attended the meeting, called the Auditor-General yesterday morning to ask about the progress of the investigations and was informed that the preliminary findings would most likely be available next month.

The luncheon meeting with the division leaders at Najib's official residence in Putrajaya took place amid the furore of a controversial RM188.5mil (S$69.7mil) land sale by strategic development company 1MDB to Tabung Haji, the Malaysian pilgrims fund board.

It was attended by about 120 division leaders. Prior to the meeting, a number of them had said that they would speak up and be critical but there were few questions and most of them seemed to accept Najib's explanations.

The Umno president stressed that he was trying to resolve the problem and asked for their support in what he described as "trying times".

"He (Najib) received overwhelming support when he was in Sabah a few days ago and he sounded more confident," said the division leader.

Najib said the land sale to Tabung Haji was not a bailout because the Muslim pilgrimage fund stood to profit from the purchase.

He said the purchase was discussed as early as 2013 but he had advised Tabung Haji to dispose of the property because the perception had not been positive and it would be difficult to explain the deal to the pakcik and makcik out there.

He said a bailout was when money was put in without any prospect of returns and cited the Malaysia Airlines bailout during former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Moha­mad's administration as an example.

He said the Government had bailed out the airline at a loss of a few billion ringgit, paying about RM8 per share when it was worth only RM3.50 each.

Najib said every prime minister faced challenges and problems.

"During Tun Mahathir's time, he won the Umno election in 1987 with 52 per cent support. About 48 per cent of the delegates were not with him. But loyalists, friends and supporters like me stood by him and he survived," he said.

Najib was referring to the epic contest between Dr Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for the presidency of Umno that split the party and resulted in the courts declaring Umno illegal.

It led to almost a decade of instability in Umno, which had to be re-registered as a new party.