Public inquiry into the affairs of Mr. Khaw Khai Boh

Statement by DAP Serdang State by-election candidate and DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a press conference on Thursday, December 26, at 11 a.m.

Last Sunday, at a DAP public rally at Sungei Way new village, I called for an all-party commission of inquiry into the financial affairs of Cabinet Ministers.

I had said Cabinet Ministers should welcome such an inquiry because it would give them an opportunity to clear away the nation-wide impression and believe that their political and financial integrity could not bear public scrutiny and examination.

Since my public call for such an inquiry last Sunday, the Alliance Cabinet has not applied, indicating that they are not prepared to hold such an inquiry. This can only confirm and strengthen the public doubts about the political and financial integrity of Cabinet Ministers.

I had offered to inform such an inquiry of an improper relationship between an Alliance Cabinet Minister and private business, where there appears to be a prima facie case of conflict of interest between public duty and private and personal interests.

Since the Alliance Cabinet had shown no interest in such an inquiry into the financial affairs of Alliance Ministers, I will here publicly disclose the details of the improper relationship of the Cabinet Minister I had referred to.

The Minister concerned is Mr. Khaw Khai Boh, Minister for Housing and Local Government.

Mr. Khaw Khai Boh was made Minister without Portforlios in 1962, and from June 1964 till today, he has been Minister of Local Government and Housing.

But from 1962 to 1965, spanning the years when he was Minister without Portforlios and Minister of Local Government and Housing, Mr. Khaw was also a director if the firm, Metalex (M) Co. Ltd., which is a manufactures’ representative for iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, construction materials, tin plates, etc.

Was it proper for a Minister to be one and the same time a director of a private firm?

Was it proper for a Minister of Local Government and Housing to be a member director of a firm dealing with construction materials?

There is clearly an improper relationship and a prima facie case of conflict of interest, when Mr. Khaw was at one and the same time Minister of Local Government and Housing and a director of Metalex (M) Co. Ltd.

We want the Alliance Cabinet to answer the following questions:

(1) Why did the Alliance Cabinet permit Ministers to serve at the same time as directors of private firms.

(2) Did the Alliance Cabinet grant permission to Mr. Khaw Khai Boh to serve as director of Metalax (M) Co. Ltd. While he was Minister from 1962 – 1965.

(3) How many Cabinet Ministers had served as directors or in other capacities in private firms, while at the same time serving as Cabinet Ministers, and to give all the details and the Ministers concerned.

We also call for an open public inquiry, with opposition party representation, to inquiry specifically into whether there has been conflict of interest when Mr. Khaw Khai Boh was one at the same time Housing Minister and director of Metalax (M) Co. Ltd., and whether there had been improper practices.