By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 15.11.1985:
Challenge to Khalil Ya’akub to prove that I had made wild allegations’ about ACA’s bias against PBS Government
On Wednesday’s debate during Committee Stage on the Prime Minister’s Department, I asked the Anti-Corruption Agency to explain why it could act so swiftly to arrest Sabah Attorney-General and PBS Adviser, Datuk Herman Luping, within six months’ of PBS Government, when it could not arrest a single top USNO or Berjaya leader during the past 15 years of USNO and Berjaya State governments.
In his reply in Parliament yesterday, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Ya’kub Khalil, criticized me for making ‘wild allegations’ that no USNO or Berjaya leaders had been arrested for corruption in the last 15 years, and proceeded to claim that five political leaders were arrested for corruption when USNO and Berjaya were in power.
Datuk Ya’kub Khalil had deliberately missed my point, for my query was why no top USNO or Berjaya leader was arrested when he was in power, and not when he was out of power. One of the five persons referred to by Datuk Ya’kub Khlil was the former USNO Finance Minister, Datuk Dzulkifli but he was arrested and charged with corruption when the USNO Government had already been toppled by Parti Berjaya. This case supported my argument that corruption is not acted against on its intrinsic crime, but to serve some political purpose!
I challenge Datuk Khlil Ya’akub to prove that I had made ‘wild allegations’ in Parliament, by mentioning the top USNO or Berjaya leaders who were arrested for corruption when they were in power!
Datuk Ya’kub Khalil’s claim that the ACA would act against anyone, regardless of his political affiliation, if there were enough evidence of corruption against him, ranks as the ‘Most Disbelived Statement of the Year’, for Malaysians know from the ACA’s record that it is not so.
If the Government and ACA are so committed in the war against corruption as distinct from using the ACA as a political instrument to harass and eliminate political opponents – then why are they not prepared to give the fullest support to the effort by the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate into the ‘mismanagement, maladministration and corruption’ under the two previous Sabah State Governments?
Normally, the Federal Government will find it impossible to get the State Government to agree to a full-scale public investigation to expose the corruption and malpractices at State level; but this time, it is the Federal Government which is not prepared to see such a public inquiry by a high-powered Commission of Inquiry into corruption in Sabah State.
What is the meaning of this reversal of roles?
The rejection by the Ghaffar Baba Ad Hoc Committee to allow a MCA Presidential Address to be given at the Nov.24 MCA General Assembly is another chapter of shame for MCA
The rejection by the Ghaffar Baba Ad Hoc MCA Committee of second request by the MCA Headquarters to include the presidential address in the MCA general assembly on Nov. 24 is another chapter of shame and ignominy for the MCA and the Malaysian Chinese community it claims to represent.
Clearly, the rejection by the Ghaffar Ad Hoc Committee was made by the Chairman with the full support of the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction.
Is the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction now so frightened of Datuk Dr Neo Yee Pan that it is afraid that if Datuk Neo makes a presidential address at the Assembly, he would be able to swing the Tan faction supporters to vote for him?
Is Petronas treated like a ‘fat cow, to be milked, bled and fleeced’?
Of all the OBAs, the most powerful, wealthy and most disturbing is Petronas, whose wealth has come to equal that of the government, and even holds the key to the liquidity of the Malaysian banking system.
Redent Petronas events have reinforced public concern that the Government is using Petronas to firstly, avoid public accountability for the management and stewardship of substantial public funds, and secondly, to bail out failing operations and to hide the public cost from the people.
The most notorious example was of course the bailing out and purchase of the Bank Bumiputra and $2.5 billion BMF bad loans, which was an illegal action which had to be validated retrospectively by Parliament when the DAP challenged the legality of the action in the courts. The second dubious action was the proposed purchase of the $313 million Dayabumi complex from UDA, which would help UDA improve its financial position as it lost $10million in the first ten years of its operation.
The dubious petronas action was the purchase of a Boeing 747 and leasing it to MAS, partly to avert a law suit for breach of contract from Rolls Royce and to preserve the airline’s debt-equity ratio on its becoming a public company.
Malaysian petroleum lawyer, V.K Moorthy, who had been the first Malaysian lawyer to say that Petronas was acting ultra vires in going outside petroleum-related fields, including the purchase of Bank Bumiputra, is of the opinion that despite the recent amendments to the Petroleum Development Act, its purchase and lease of a Boeing 747 to MAS is still ‘ultra vires’ the powers of the notional oil corporation. I tend to agree.
But leaving aside for the moment the doubt over the legality over the Petronas’ Boeing deal, which the government probably feels confident of curing by another retrospective legislation in Parliament if necessary, Malaysians are entitled to ask about the series of events leading to the Pratt & Whitney engine deal.
The Government must be aware of allegations that US$5 million kick-back had been involved in this transaction involving a Cabinet Minister, and a fullest public inquire into the entire transaction is needed to establish the full integrity of the deal, notionally and internationally.
The fourth dubious event is the government approval for a Malaysian businessman, Mohamed Ariff Ibrahim, to buy a second-hand French refinery and relocate it at Lumut at a cost of some $1.2 bilion.
I understand that government approval was given despite the Petronas’ strongest objections, because plummeting refinery profits, mounting world overcapacity and the generally bleak oil market with the recent forecast of an oil price war which may bring the oil market with the recent forecast of an oil price war which may bring the oil price to as low as US$20 a barrel next year, do not give the project much hope as a viable undertaking.
According to the Asian Wall Street Journal of 5th Nov. 1985, Mohamed Ariff Ibrahim is associated with Tan Sri Ibrahim Mohamed of Promet Fame, and theat the private refinery project could have the blessing of the Prime Minister and Finance Minister personally.
But petroleum specialists fear that the $1.2 billion private refinery project would end up as big flop, and Petronas would be required to step in to bail it out as happened with the $2.5 billion BMF bad debts.
Malaysians have a right to demand that Petronas come under close public scrutiny and accountability, so that it is not operated as ‘fat cow’ to be milked, bled and fleeced for the creation of new bumiputra NEP millionaires not through entrepreneurship but recklessness and blatant irresponsibility.