Anwar: "I am not trying to destroy Syed Mokhtar's empire"

PUTRAJAYA: The government's directive for Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) to channel RM10 million to poor padi farmers by this month and another RM50 million next year was not intended to destroy Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary's business empire.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the move was to help poor paddy farmers, including those in Kedah, whom he described as being among the poorest Malays in the country.

"I discussed this with Syed Mokhtar, and he agreed. As long as profit is being recorded, he will help the padi farmers.

"He agreed with me on this and we will renegotiate with the Finance Ministry on how Bernas can ensure justice and comfort to the poor padi farmers. What is there to be politicised about?"

Anwar said this at a press conference after clocking in as Finance Minister here, today.

He said the agreement was reached following negotiations with Syed Mokhtar, adding that the latter can make more profits through his businesses in other sectors, including the Johor-based Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

Anwar said the Finance and Transport ministries would also look into resolving any issues faced by ports in the state.

"I don't understand why this is a problem, because this issue has been going on for many years, and this is the first time that I say, 'enough is enough'."

It was reported that Anwar yesterday also reprimanded the billionaire for monopolising rice imports.

At a press conference after chairing his first cabinet meeting, Anwar said Syed Mokhtar had agreed to allocate RM10 million for poor paddy farmers this month and Bernas woul give RM50 million next year.

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