Malaysians want to know why the Government Ministers have so much objections to the publication of the Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee final report when Hong Kong authorities have no objections whatsoever

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Sunday, 29.12.1985 at 11 am

Malaysians want to know why the Government Ministers have so much objections to the publication of the Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee final report when Hong Kong authorities have no objections whatsoever.

Malaysians are really baffled why the Malaysian Ministers and government leaders have so many objections to the publication of the Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee final report on the $2.5 billion BMF loans scandal, when the Hong Kong authorities have no objections whatsoever to their publication.

It is significant that in the press conference held by the Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee members announcing the completion of their final report on 8th December 1985, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin said that the Attorney-General of Hong Kong had requested that the publication of the final report be withheld until after the arrests of former BMF Directors Lorraine Esme Osman and Datuk Hashim Shamsuddin in London were made.

This meant that apart from Hong Kong Attorney-General’s concern that Lorraine Osman and Datuk Hashim Shamsuddin should not be alerted and thus evade arrest, the Hong Kong Attorney-General has no objection to the final report’s publication.

It is most surprising that even Anwar Ibrahim, the UMNO Youth Leader, has joined the ranks of those who do not want the final report to be published, although he had very adroitly couched it by saying that the Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee should publish the report and be responsible for its contents.

Anwar Ibrahim’s turn and twist in the BMF report matter is ‘a scandal within a scandal’. When the final report was completed, Anwar Ibrahim’s first reaction was to demand its publication on 9th Dec.85. But on 17th Dec., Anwar changed his tune and ask for time to be given to the government to consider the matter, and a few days later, he got the entire Barisan Nasional Youth Council to support the UMNO Youth’s stand backing down from immediate publication of the BMF final report.

Two days ago, Anwar said the BMF final report should be published, but by the BMF Inquiry Committee which should bear responsibility for its contents.

There are more and more mystery surrounding not only the BMF scandal, but the handling of the scandal.

For instance, two weeks ago, the Far Eastern Economic Review reported that Lorraine Osman had been openly coming and going from Malaysia during the entire two-year long investigations into the scandal from 1984, and that in 1985, he returned to Malaysia several times to try to divest assets.

The Far Eastern Economic Review reported that the government took no reaction against Lorraine when he returned to Malaysia in 1984 and 1985 because the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, had taken the view that the Ahmad Nordin Committee reports could not form the basis of criminal action inside Malaysia.

For two weeks, the Attorney-General, who had been very vociferous over the BMF final report, had been keeping quiet about the Far Eastern Economic Review Report. I call on Tan Sri Abu Talib to clarify the Far Eastern Economic Review report, for if it is true that Lorraine Othman had been allowed openly come and go away from Malaysia when he is the most wanted man in the country and the whole world in connection with the biggest financial and banking scandal in Malaysian history, then a lot of explanation is warranted.

Retrenched ATLAS workers have the right to peacefully picket at Komtar to bestir the conscience of Penang State Government and attention of Malaysians about plight of retrenchment.

Then 1,200 retrenched Atlas workers have the right to picket peacefully at Komtar to bestir the conscience of the Penang State Government, the Federal Government and to draw the attention of Malaysians to the plight of retrenched workers.

It is most unbecoming of Gerakan Chief Mister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, to threaten action against Electrical Industries Workers’ Union(ETWU) if it attempted to organise pickets at Komtar.

Gerakan had claimed to be a workers’ party on its formation in 1966, but it is now very clear that the workers are the least concern in the Gerakan’s order of priorities when its Chief Minister in Penang could even threaten workers and the unions for trying to organise picketing at Komtar.

Retrenchments in Malaysia have become a major national problem, and instead of threatening the retrenched workers who wanted to highlight their plight, Dr. Lim and the Gerakan State Government should work out a special strategy to help the retrenched workers while at the same time impressing on the Federal Government the inadequacy of retrenchment benefits to workers.

The retrenchment benefits provided by law are meant to deal with retrenchment under normal times, when retrenchments are few and far between, and not to deal with an extraordinary situation where retrenchment has reached epidemic proportions, running into tens of thousands.

The Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, was very quick to express support to the Finance Minster, Daim Zainuddin, in his efforts to boost up the stock market by pumping billions of dollars into the market, to try to rescue the NEP companies and tycoons who had been having a good time at public expense. But I do not see Dr. Lim Keng Yaik or any other Gerakan nasional leaders raising their voice on behalf of the retrenched workers. Only threats and warnings against the retrenched workers emanate from the Gerakan leadership.

One of the tragedies of the workers is that at this time of their crisis, they do not have a Labour Minister who cares for them. Under the beat of times, the Labour Minister in Malaysia is more Minister for employers than for workers. But in the present case, the Labour Minister, who had been under a cloud of “political retrenchment’ himself, have had no time to spare for his portfolio for the past year. In fact, I will not be exaggerating if I say there had been no Labour Minister for the past one year, for Datuk Mak Hon Kam had completely abdicated from his Ministerial duties, apart from delivering speeches prepared by his officials, trying to ensure that he is not ‘retrenched’ from the Cabinet.

DAP calls for establishment of a Cabinet Task Force on Retrenchments under Deputy Prime Minister to work out a package solution for retrenched workers

The DAP calls on the Cabinet to establish a Cabinet Task Force on Retrenchments headed by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, to work out a new national strategy to deal with the problem of retrenchments which must include the following element:

1. Examine the merit or justification of company retrenchments to ensure that it is not used as an excuse to cut cost, maximize profits or disregard corporate responsibility to country and workers;

2. Provide new regulations which would require a longer period of notice for retrenchment and larger retrenchment payments;

3. Scheme and fund to provide alternative employment or livelihood for the retrenched workers;

4. Effective check on the influx of illegal Indonesian immigrants and other foreign nationals who are compounding the problem of Malaysian workers, who are already hit by mass retrenchments locally as well as abroad.