Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjong and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at the Co-operative Depositors’ Protest Ceramah organized by the DAP in Kajang at the Kajang community centre on Friday, January 16, 1987 at 9 p.m.
Co-operative Depositors should collect their 10 or 20 per cent of refunds and immediately demand for the repayment of the balance of their deposits
There may be those who ask why is the DAP organizing co-operative Depositors’ Protest Meetings like the one in Kajang tonight when the co-operatives are refunding portions of the depositors’ monies before the Chinese New Year.
MCA leaders, like the MCA Vice President and Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Kok Wee Kiat, are claiming credit for the MCA as they claim that the partial refunds to depositors of co-operatives are due to be efforts of the MCA.
Clearly, the MCA leaders want the 588,000 depositors to feel very grateful to the MCA for their 10 to 20 per cent refunds before the Chinese New Year. We in the DAP, however, do not think that there is anything for the MCA leaders to boast about, or for the 588,000 depositors to be grateful about.
This is like asking the victims of a robbery to feel grateful that they had been returned 10 or 20 per cent of their properties robbed! If this is the logic and mentality, then thieves and robbers would be having an excellent time, for after stealing or robbing their victims, they need to return 10 or 20 per cent of the stolen properties, and the victims would have to feel grateful for their ‘generosity’ and ‘magnanimity’!
The DAP is launching a new series of co-operative depositors’ protest meetings precisely to emphasise that the 588,000 depositors must be prepared for a new phase of their struggle to get back a dollar for a dollar of their deposits, as otherwise, the various authorities, like the Ministry of Finance, Bank Negara, the court-appointed receivers, and most important of all the Cabinet and the MCA and Gerakan Ministers, may conveniently forget about them after paying out 10 or 20 per cent of their depositors.
I have been asked by many depositors whether they should accept the refund of 10 to 20 percent of their deposits, for fear that they would never get the balance. I advised them to collect their 10 to 20 per cent deposit refund, so long as it is without conditions, and to immediately demand for the repayment of the balance of 80 or 90 per cent of their deposits.
This new series of co-operative depositors protest meetings which we are launching from Kajang tonight is to remind the 588,000 depositors that they must be even more united and prepared to act and demand the repayment of their total deposits after the refund of 10 to 20 per cent before Chinese New Year.
In the past five months, the DAP was the only party which had championed the right of the 588,000 depositors to dollar-to-dollar refund, with protest meetings up and down the country, as well as various demonstrations.
The DAP has been accused of ‘politicising’ the co-operative finance issue. If the DAP really wants to ‘politicise’ the issue, we would taken a different approach altogether.
As the general elections has just been held, we would have no short-term benefits from our pressures and demands. If the DAP is indeed an irresponsible party purely interested in ‘politicising’ an issue for our interest, we would have folded our arms and pillowed the Government, and in particular the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders, to neglect and betray the 588,000 depositors.
This is because in four years’ time when the next general elections comes around, the Barisan Nasional, and in particular the MCA and Gerakan, would then be held to account for their gross failures to protect the rights of the 588,000 depositors in terms of an unprecedented electoral disaster. In terms of the next general elections whether in 1990 or 1991, the lesser the 588,000 depositors get, the more angrier they will be with the MCA and Gerakan, and the better it is for the DAP.
We in the DAP know that the greater the pressure we put now on the Government, and in particular on MCA and Gerakan, on the co-operative finance calamity, the greater the likelihood that the Government would have to ensure a higher pay-back of the depositors’ monies than it originally intended.
In a nutshell, if the DAP wants to play politics with the co-operative finance calamity, the lesser refund the co-operative depositors get, the more political capital the DAP can get out of it. But as a responsible political party, we want the depositors to get the maximum repayment, even dollar to dollar, even if politically, we have less to gain from it.
In the past five months, it is the DAP and the small group of co-operative depositors not prepared to be left in the lunch by the Government, who had kept up the pressure to demand that the Government bear its responsibility to the depositors.
It is this unrelenting pressure which had finally forced the MCA Central Committee to hold an emergency meeting early January (five months after the freezing of the 24 co-operatives) to discuss the seriousness of the anger and despair of the 588,000 depositors.
The Chinese New Year is less than two weeks away, and there is no doubt that this Chinese New Year will be the most bitter and unhappy Chinese New Year in Malaysian history.
The 588,000 depositors should make use of this Chinese New Year to let the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders know that as a result of their political irresponsibility and failure, they had brought about the most bitter and unhappy Chinese New Year to the people.
The MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders will be holding Open House for the Chinese New Year. The 588,000 depositors should attend the Open House of the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders and let them know in person their demand for the repayment of the balance of 80 or 90 per cent of their deposits.
Whether the depositors can get back the balance of the 80 or 90 per cent of their deposits will depend on whether the 588,000 depositors are prepared to be more assertive of their rights in this new phase of their struggle – to let the Barisan Nasional Government, and in particular MCA and Gerakan Ministers know that unless the $ 1.5 billion Co-operative Finance Calamity is resolved satisfactorily, the crisis of confidence in the country cannot be solved!
How much of the BMF bad loans had Bank Bumiputra recovered?
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said in London on Thursday that the Government bailed out Bank Bumiputra, but not the 24 co-operatives, because “while there was hope of recovering the losses in the BMF rescue, the 23 co-operatives now facing difficulties have no hope of recovery.”
He also said that some of the suspended co-operatives have assets worth not more than 10 or 20 per cent of their depositors’ money.
Dr. Mahathir has grossly misreprensented the facts, both in the BMF scandal as well as in the Co-operative Finance Calamity. He has however failed to explain why the Government was prepared to use $ 2.5 billion of public funds to bail out Bank Bumiputra because of the BMF scandal, but not prepared to advance $ 600 million to bail out the 23 co-operatives.
In September 1984, Petronas was directed by the Government to stump out $ 2.5 billion to bail out Bank Bumiputra from collapse because of the BMF scandal, made out of the following three transactions:
1. Buying up 86 per cent stake in Bank Bumiputra from Permodolan Nasional Bhd (PNB) for $ 933 million;
2. Injecting $ 300 million into Bank Bumiputra by subscribing for 300 million shares;
3. Petronas buys # 2.25 billion Hong Kong problem loans for $ 1.25 billion from Bank Bumiputra.
One important reason why the Government had to use Petronas funds to bail out Bank Bumiputra is because the Government wanted PNB, which was the major shareholder of Bank Bumiputra owning 86 per cent stake, to show good dividends to the 1.3 billion bumiputra ASN shareholders, especially as the government was planning to hold early general elections.
The Barisan Nasional Government could come out with $ 2.5 billion to bail out Bank Bumiputra for the sake of the 1.3 million ASN shareholders, and previously, come out with $ 150 million to bail out Bank Rakyat to rescue the co-operative members and depositors. No MCA or Gerakan Minister could explain such discrimination, whereby the government is not prepared to use the same yardstick to come out with $ 600 million to bail out the 588,000 depositors in the 24 co-operatives.
Dr. Mahathir’s statement that the assets of some of the co-operatives are worth not more than 10 or 20 per cent of the depositors is also shocking, as the Government White Paper put the worst co-operative, KOSATU, at 30 cents. Recently, the KOSATU’s new board said that in a re-evaluation, agreed by Bank Negara, the net asset value of KOSATU has been revalued as more than 60 cents.
Where did Dr. Mahathir get these figures?
In any event, the people are entitled to know how much of the $ 2.5 billion BMF bad loans had been recovered by Bank Bumiputra. In October 1983, Dr. Mahatir estimated that the BMF would be able to recover some 25-30 per cent of its loans, which had been regarded as overly-optimistic. It is now more than three years since Dr. Mahathir’s estimate, and I ask the Finance Minister to let Malaysians know what percentage of the BMF loans had been recovered. I will raise this question in Parliament for the March 3 meeting if the Prime Minister or Finance Minister is not prepared to give an answer now.