DAP greatly disappointed that no Royal Commission of Inquiry has been set up into the BMF Scandal

Press statement by Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary General, Lim Kit Siang, on Thursday, 12th January 1984.

DAP greatly disappointed that no Royal Commission of Inquiry has been set up into the BMF Scandal.

The DAP is greatly disappointed that after months of deliberation, the government has refused to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the $2,500 BMF Scandal, with full legal powers to summon and compel the attendance of witnesses who could help in the inquiry and to conduct the investigations in public.

The argument given by the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, yesterday, that the Commission of Inquiry Act 1950 is not effective ror the BMF inquiry because the BMF is registered in Hong Kong and subject to Hong Kong laws is not convincing at all. By the same argument, the Committee of Inquiry set up by Bank Bumiputra at the direction of the government minus the powers to summon and compel witnesses to give testimony on oath and punish them for contempt if any would be even more ineffective. Since the BMF remained a Hong Kong registered company and it would similarly have no extra-territorial powers.

The fact is that the key person to be investigated so as to throw light on the BMF Scandal would be Malaysians themselves and officials of the BMF, a subsidiary company of Bank Bumiputra, and a Royal Commission of Inquiry would definitely have the power to compel Malaysian to comply with its directive and would have greater power and scope than the Committee of Inquiry as announced by the Prime Minister yesterday.

The 3-man Committee of Inquiry set up by Bank Bumiputra is not high powered enough nor is its scope and terms of reference sufficiently wide to enable it to get to the bottom of the BMF Scandal.

Nobody believes that a handful of BMF officials could commit the BMF, and through it the Bank Bumiputra , Bank Negara and the government of Malaysia to the tune of $2,500 million in Hong Kong without the highest political approval being granted.

In a way, it is not clearly the BMF officials or Bank Bumiputra directors who are in the dock in the BMF Scandal but the entire governmental and financial system and authority which allowed the BMF Scandal to take place is also in the dock.

Any meaningful inquiry into the BMF Inquiry must also probe into the BMF links, connections, decision-making processes up to the highest level of government, including the role of the PM, If any, This is why such an inquiry must be high-powered, commissioned by the
Yang di-Pertuan Agong himself, answerable to Parliament and the country and the country and not the creation of Bank Bumiputra or the government of the day. For this reason, the 3-man inquiry into the BMF Scandal is unlikely to get very deep into the bottom of the BMF Scandal.

The terms of reference if the 3-man inquiry is also highly restrictive and inhibitive to a full disclosure involving all the BMF loans. The inquiry should not be confined merely to the Carrian and Eda Groups but should include the other borrowers as well such as property-developer, Keven Hsu.

I have the fullest confidence in the Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, who is one of the three person appointed. I have no personal knowledge of th4 credentials of the other two, namely Chartered accountant, Ramli Ibrahim and lawyer, Chooi Mun Sou. However, my first reports about one f them are not very impressive or even favorable.

The form, scope and composition of the BMF Scandal Inquiry Committee have not done so much to restore the public’s confidence in the government’s handling of the BMF Scandal. The DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Dr.Mahathir Mohamad, to reconsider the matter and to vest the committee if Inquiry with full powers under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1950 to enable a full-fledged.

We would support the government if it wants the entire parliamentary form of government to set the example of efficiency and competence, as in amending Article 66(5) to provide that a Bill presented to the Yang di-pertuan Agong for his Royal Assent shall be signed within 15 days of such presentation, as we hold steadfast to the parliamentary principle that the constitutional monarch has no ‘constitutional will of his own’ in the matter of Royal Assent, and cannot withhold it.

But there must be proper ‘leadership by example’ all down the line manifesting a degree of efficiency and competence which is sorely lacking in the Malaysian parliamentary system, as in the inability of the Government to give advanced notice of the 1984 Constitution on Amendment Bill to MPs for adequate study and deliberation.

We in the DAP welcome a more questioning Malaysian attitude on the role of the monarchs, as we expect our constitution monarchs to act responsibly to be the symbols of national unity , and where there would be no abuse or misuse of power or trust vested in them.

But again, this must be applied to all those who hold public office and public trust, and here, the failure of the Government to come out clean or its continued unpreparedness to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the $2,500 million Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Scandal had not strengthened the case of the Government leaders.

The DAP has previously contended that the 1975 Essential (Security Cases) (Amendment) Regulations was unconstitutional and void, and though this stand was unpopular and attracted a lot of name calling by the government benches, the DAP was proved right in the Privy Council judgment in The Cheng Poh alias Char Meh. The Public Prosecutor in 1979.

Time will tell whether the DAP’s contention that the 1983 Constitution Amendment Act on the amendments to Article 66, is unconstitutional Amendment Bill,/ is upheld by the courts. But it is a sad commentary on the state of constitution-making in Malaysia that the government is not prepared to clear up these doubts before effecting further amendments.