Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP 1984 National Delegates’ Conference held at Hotel South East Asia, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 15.7.1984 at 10 a.m.
DAP calls on Malaysian Government to change its’ China is a bigger military threat than Russia approach and to have full-scale normalisation of relations with Communist China
Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China ten years ago in 1974, the Malaysian Government has been guided by the belief that China is a bigger military threat in South East Asia than Russia, and this has coloured its relations with China.
This belief is based on the Malaysian Government’s perceptions about the intentions of Communist China, as well as a distrust of the loyalty of the Malaysian Chinese in certain quarters, to the extent that the long-standing problem of the 300,000 stateless people remain unresolved.
The time has come for the Malaysian Government to review and change its’ China is a bigger military threat than Russia’ outlook not only because there is no proof ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations with the PEOPLE’s Republic of China of any threat to Malaysia’s sovereignty or territorial integrity, but also because the Communist leaders would be too busy with its four modernisation programmes to conduct foreign adventures.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no basis for the Government to found its foreign policy on the distrust of the loyalty of the Malaysia Chinese, or suspicion that they would with the slightest opportunity become ‘fifth columnists’ of the People’s Republic of China.
Such an attitude is not only be an unwarranted slur on the Malaysian Chinese in Malaysia, but would be an indictment of the failure of government leadership in nation building in the last 27 years of nationhood since Merdeka in 1957.
Malaysia n Chinese, the overwhelming majority of whom are now local-born, are attached and loyal to Malaysia as any other Malaysian, having made Malaysia their home, without any association or connection with their ancestral home. The mother-land of Malaysian Chinese is not China but Malaysia, and it is as illogical and libelous to suspect a Malaysian Chinese of being a potential ‘fifth columnist’ for China, as to suspect a Malay of being a potential ‘fifth columnist’ for Indonesia or an Indian of being a potential ‘fifth columnist’ for India.
It is no secret that the reason why the Malaysian Government has continued to impose a ban on Malaysians visiting China except for certain specified categories is because of the government fear that a Malaysian Chinese who visits China would return as a subversive or as a ‘fifth columnist’ for Communist China.
This is a most short-sighted policy, for it ^ evinces the lack of government confidence in the loyalty of its citizens and the success of its nation-building policy as well as a failure of imagination for the government to realize that Malaysian Chinese visiting Communist China would return even more committed to the Malaysian nation.
Malaysian Chinese, visiting Communist China, and exposed to the communist system of life which is so vastly different from the Malaysian life, would return even more committed to the Malaysian system.
There will be those who point to the migration of Malaysian Chinese professionals as a proof of their disloyalty to Malaysia. I do not want to go into detail here about this problem, which I had dealt with at length even in Parliament, expect to stress that if anyone is to be faulted for the migration of Malaysian Chinese professionals, the policy makers which inducted them to do so must bear the biggest blame. But for the purpose of the question before us, these professionals do not go to China, but to Australia, the UK, the United States and elsewhere which should also debunk the suspicion that the Chinese in Malaysia are potential fifth-columnists for Communist China.
China is as foreign a country to Malaysian Chinese as any other country, although there is common cultural roots between the Chinese in China and the Chinese in Malaysia, as is the case with other Communities in Malaysia, or multi-racial nations with large migrant descendants, as the United States, with countries of their cultural origin.
The Government’s China is a bigger military threat than Russia’ should be reviewed especially in view of the increase in Soviet military and naval build-up in the Asia. As Major-General Datuk Leong Siew Meng, Armed Forces Defence College Commandant, told a seminar on ‘The Soviet Threat in South East Asia – Illusion or Reality’ at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Kuala Lumpur recently; with its level of arms in the region, the USSR could confront China, could intimidate Japan, could enhance surveillance activities aimed at subjugating Governments of South East Asia, and could ensure the safety of its commercial sea lanes.
Major-General Datuk Leong said that when these (Soviet) capabilities are examined, one cannot dismiss the possibility of greater instability. He concluded “the Soviet threat is with us and likely to grow.”
The DAP calls on the Malaysian Government to change its ‘China is a bigger military threat than Russia’ outlook and to have full-scale normalisation of relations with Communist China, removing all travel restrictions while encouraging Malaysians to participate in the modernization programme being undertaken by China, so that Malaysian could beneficit but not economically but also from a reduction in international tensions in the area.
2. Call on new Minister of Finance, Daim Zainuddin, to set the tone of strict public financial accountability by presenting a report to Parliament on the heavy qualifications of the auditors on the BMF’s 1983 Accounts
Bumiputra Malaysia Finance, the wholly-owned Hong Kong subsidiary of Bank Bumiputra, is having no end of financial notoriety. With a paid-up capital of HK$75 million ($22.7 million), BMF piled up a loss of over $2 billion, which is 10,000 per cent of its paid up capital.
If the BMF had been a private finance company, it would have gone bankrupt 10,000 times over already.
Last week, the BMF was again in the news, this time for the unprecedented event where its auditors, Touche Ross, so heavily qualified the 1983 BMF Accounts as they were in no position to state whether the accounts were ‘true and fair’, resulting in the auditors being fired and replaced by a little-known accounting firm.
On 31st December, 1981 the last day of 1983 financial year, the BMF transferred 92 per cent of total outstanding Hong Kong loans and related collateral security (including the colossal Carrian debts) having a book value of M$2.04 billion to the parent company, Bank Bumiputera, in return for the payment of the same sum by Bank Bumiputera to BMF. BMF then used this money to pay off most of the $2.1 billion it had borrowed from the parent company.
By this process of juggling with figures and accounts, the BMF was able to show a healthy financial statement for 1983, leading the BMF to boast, when objecting to the Auditor’s qualifications: ‘With the present net worth of the company, it feels that it should be to continue without outside assistance.’
After the juggling of the figures and accounts, the BMF’s M$2.04 billion Hong Kong loans, including the colossal Carrian debts, are now the direct responsibility of Bank Bumiputera – when the Bank’s total share capital including reserves is only $1.24 billion.
When the Auditors questioned the continuing financial viability of BMF and the financial capacity of Bank Bumiputra itself, the BMF bristled in anger, and the Bank Bumiputra Management issued a statement which said that it “cannot over-emphasise the fact that the Bank is a strong financial institution which is formed and fully backed by the Government of Malaysia.”
As the Bank Bumiputra Management claims that it is formed and fully backed by the Government, which means fully backed by the people of Malaysia, Malaysians have a right to hold Bank Bumiputra and its subsidiary, BMF, to direct account, and ensure that the statement that Bank Bumiputra is “formed and fully backed by the Government of Malaysia” should not be a blank cheque to allow ‘heinous crimes’ (to use Dr.Mahathir’s own words), unprofessional and unethical conduct and management, to take place.
The Government has been taking a very evasive stand on the BMF scandal, revealing only where it was forced by uncontrollable developments in Hong Kong, seeking to avoid a strict public accounting for the stewardship of BMF and Bank Bumiputra which is ‘formed and fully backed by the Government of Malaysia’.
Even the Committee of Inquiry into the BMF headed by the Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, was wrung out from the Prime Minister, and lacked the full ^ powers, scope, and responsibility to assert the public’s right to a full accounting on the BMF scandal.
Last week Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin said that it expected to submit an interim report on the BMF scandal in a month or two, to the Bank Bumiputra, and then it was up to the Bank to advise the Government. This meant the Bank Bumiputra may decide not to pursue the matter further, or the Government could stop the publication of the report.
This is most unsatisfactory and makes a mockery of public ^ accountability of a Bank which its management boasts is ‘formed and fully backed by Government of Malaysia’. I call on the new Finance Minister, Zaim Zainnudin, to set the tone of strict public financial accountability to all Malaysians by:
1. Assuring all Malaysians that the interim and financial report of the Committee of Inquiry into BMF scandal would be published simultaneously on their receipt by Bank Bumiputra; and
2. Present a Report to Parliament on the heavy qualifications on the BMF 1983 Accounts by its Auditors, Touche Ross.