Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, to the Pahang DAP State Committee and Pahang DAP Branch leaders in Kuantan on Thursday, 13.12.1984 at 8 p.m.
Two special reasons why the Government should give serious consideration to Tun Hussein Onn’s call for Royal Commission of Inquiry into BMF loans scandal
The announcement by Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting that the government would not recognise the existence of second, third or subsequent reports of the BMF Inquiry Committee for as far as it was concerned, there would only be an interim and a final report on BMF seemed to be an indirect dismissal of the call by the former Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the BMF loans scandal, only the day before.
I call on the Cabinet not to dismiss Tun Hussein Onn’s call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry summarily, without a second thought. Although the DAP and many other organisations and individuals, including Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin himself as well as the UMNO Youth Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, had earlier proposed a Royal Commission of Inquiry, and had been rejected, Tun Hussein Onn’s call last Tuesday commanded special consideration by the Cabinet for two unusual reasons.
Firstly, as a former Prime Minister who handed the reins of the highest office in government to Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, Tun Hussein Onn had the benefit of experience and insight to the responsibilities of a head of government, as well as their constraints.
Thus, Tun Hussein Onn was speaking with authority as the recent Prime Minister when he said that he understood the problems in setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry, that when he was in office, he was reluctant is a case where there are very good reason for one.
It is clear from Tun Hussein Onn’s views, if he had remained Prime Minister when the BMF loans scandal erupted, he would have no hesitation in establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of the loans scandal.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, had given two reasons in January why a Royal Commission of Inquiry was not suitable for the BMF loans scandal, namely that the Commission would have no jurisdiction in Hong Kong and the Banking secrecy requirements – but with Tun Hussein Onn’s public call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry, after taking into account the two reasons advanced by Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir, the case for such a Royal Commission become most compelling.
Secondly, Tun Hussein Onn is also Petronas adviser, and since the Petronas take-over of Bank Bumiputra and the purchase of the $2.5 billion BMF bad debts, he must have had an insight into the BMF loans scandal which is denied tooutsiders. That he should make such a public call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry after the Petronas take-over of Bank Bumiputra and the BMF bad debts strengthen the case that only a Royal Commission is appropriate to deal with a loans scandal which rates as the biggest in Asian banking history.
There is athird reason. As the BMF’s ill-fated loans relationship with George Tan of the Carrian Group started in 1979, when Tun Hussein Onn was still Prime Minister, there was speculation as to whether it was Tun Hussein Onn or Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed who must be held finally responsible for the loans scandal, as the chief executive of the country in charge of Bank Bumiputra at that time.
With Tun Hussein Onn’s call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry, the DAP is of the view that Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir should not hesitate anymore and should forthwith establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to pierce the mystery and secrecy shrouding the biggest banking and financial scandal in the country.
DAP welcomes the formation of the Asian Human Rights Commission and calls on Malaysian government to support and co-operate with the Commission to uphold human rights in Malaysia
The DAP welcomes the formation of the Asian Human Rights Commission by 42 jurists in Tokyo earlier this week, and calls on the Malaysian Government to support and co-operate with the Commission to uphold human rights in Malaysia.
The government must respect human rights as well as human rights activists who work for human rights to be given daily practical meaning for the people, for we cannot truly claim to be a democratic system and society if ‘human rights’ is regarded as a ‘dirty phrase’.
When the 2M Government came into office, the people of Malaysia were given the hope that the government would show greater respect to human rights, but although the 2M government started with the release of political prisoners under the Internal Security Act, there are disturbing signs that this ‘liberal hour’ has ended, and a new era of political repression is not far off.
The DAP calls on Malaysians to cherish their human rights of liberty of the person, freedom of speech, expression and assembly, and religious belief, and to let the government know that they want a more liberal government which not oppose a throw-back to the old era of mass arrests to silence opposition, whether in political, trade union or other arenas.
In answer to DAP MP for Kuching, Sdr. Sim Kwang Yang, in the recent budget meeting of Parliament, the Deputy Home Affairs Minister, Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, said that there are over 250 detainess currently held under the Internal Security Act. This must be regarded as a shocking figure, especially when we consider that some of the detainees have been held without trial for over eight or even ten years.
The DAP calls on the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, to improve Malaysia’s human rights record, by repealing the Internal Security Act and releasing all ISA detainees whom the government is not prepared to charge in court for an open trial.
As a first step, Datuk Musa Hitam should seriously consider the release of all ISA detainees who had been held for more than two years.
The latest Amnest International Report for 1984, which was released in October this year, had expressed concern at the practice of the Malaysian government to transfer ISA detainees from the detention camps to undisclosed police lock-ups or ‘rehabilitation’ centres, where they are held in solitary confinement and were usually maltreated by being denied exercises or books. Those held for long periods were occasionally taken blindfold to police stations to visits by relatives. The length of time spent in the cen undisclosed ‘centres’ varied from several days to several weeks or months.
I call on the Minister concerned to give a full statement with regard to these improper practices by the Ministry of Home Affairs Officials.
The Amnesty International also complained that the Malaysian Government does not usually answer its inquiries about individual cases and that the organisation’s information about prisoners remained incomplete. I call on the Malaysian Government to be more forthcoming in inquiries by Amnesty International or the newly-formed Asian Human Rights Commission if the government’s claim that it has nothing to be apologetic or ashamed of its human rights record is truly believed by the government leaders themselves.