Control and check against malpractices and misuse of public funds by MIDFL

Speech by DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Ra’ayat on the Loan Guarantee Bill on 7th February 1972

Control and check against malpractices and misuse of public funds by MIDFL

This Bill authorizes the Federal Government to stand guarantor for the MIDFL in its loans from the Asian Development Bank.

Under the Second Malaysia Plan, the government is allocating $100 million to the MIDFL to give loans to industrial ventures. Now the government is further committing itself to stand guarantor to its loans from the Asian Development Bank.

$100 million of public money is no small sum. Standing guarantor for probably greater amounts of loans from the ADB is no minor matter either.

The taxpayers have a right to expect that every dollar the MIDFL spends is devoted to the industrialization of the country and not to enrich some Alliance leader or sycophant.

During the debate on the Supply Bill, I demanded to know why the MIDFL advanced a loan of $2.8 million to the Malaysia Textile Industries, six miles from Kluang, and why it was pioneer status, when the factory was built without approval, and has been in operation for more than a year without plan approval. The land the Malaysian Textile Industries occupies was originally rubber estate, and the land had not been converted to building land. The MTI contaminates and pollutes the water supply of the 50000 people of Kluang and may cause the people long-term cancer. It also pays its workers low wages.

I want to know the criteria the MIDF advances loans to industrial ventures. Does it carry out an independent study of the proposed industrial venture, go into every aspect of its plan, or does it give loans depending on whether Alliance leaders and members are the shareholders of the project or not?

We know that in the case of the Malaysian Textile Industries, its chairman is the Johore Executive Councillor member, Dato Tan Peng Khoon, and its other shareholders include another Johore State Executive Councillor, Dato Chua Song Lim, the Menteri Besar of Johore himself, Dato Haji Othman bin Haji Mohd. Sa’at, and the MCA Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society of which Mr. Lee San Choon is the Chairman.

In fact, here, the MIDF is advancing a loan of $2.8 million to pollute the water supply of Kluang and threaten their well-being and future health.

The Finance Minister, in his winding up of the Supply Bill debate, scrupulously avoided this issue. Do we have reasons to believe that there is something shady which cannot stand up to public examination that the Finance Minister thinks it wise to try to ignore the subject?

I hope the Minister of Finance will not again evade this question, or we must conclude that there is grave financial irregularities or procedures involved in the MIDF advancing $2.8 million to the MTI.

In this connection, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Manpower said that the people of Johore are grateful to the MTI and Dato Tan Peng Khoon for creating jobs for the people of Johore. If the MIDF will give me $2.8 million loan, I can also create jobs for the people of Johore.

The people pay taxes to finance the operation of the MIDFL, and it is imperative that there must be means for Parliament to control and check malpractices and misuse of public funds by the MIDFL.

The MIDFL should submit an annual report to Parliament, detailing its loan operations, the details of the companies or ventures which receive loans, the board of directors and shareholders, to ensure that public funds are not being used to feather the nests of Alliance politicians. The operation of the MIDFL should come within the jurisdiction of the Auditor-General, and be subject to scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee of the Dewan Ra’ayat.

Clause 4 of this Bill Provides that the Minister may by order commit the Government to stand guarantor to any company in its loans from the Asian Development Board, if a resolution is approved by the Dewan Ra’ayat.

I can see the spectre of Alliance tycoons like Senator T.H.Tan, four-digits magnate Lim Chooi Seng and others borrowing money from the ADB with the Government standing as guarantor. This will be highly improper.

Before any such resolution asking the House’s approval is made, the government must give full details of the company concerned, the directors, the shareholders, its operations, the purpose of its loan, so that this provision will not be abused. Furthermore, the activities of the company, for which the loan which the Government is standing guarantor, should come within the general purview of Parliament.

Otherwise, without such controls, the public cannot exclude the possibility that this Bill will open the treasure chest for the Alliance politicians and sycophants, at public expense.