Prime Minister and Finance Minister had been guilty of gross breach of parliamentary privilege In withholding for two weeks information from Parliament about BBMB’s March 6, 1986 Police Report

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 21st March 1986:

Prime Minister and Finance Minister had been guilty of gross breach of parliamentary privilege In withholding for two weeks information from Parliament about BBMB’s March 6, 1986 Police Report

The Finance Minister’s reply in Parliament yesterday on the BMF Scandal is quite a remarkable performance. He took cheap pot-shots at the DAP, trying to ‘politicise’ the BMF Final Report himself while accusing the DAP of the offence, ad even made unfouded allegations against the DAP.

For instance, Daim Zainuddin accused me of the ‘evil motive’ – ‘niat jahat’ – of wanting Bank Bumiputra to suffer even greater losses when I suggested that the two-volume BMF Final Report should be printed and sold to the public at $10 or $20. But at the next breath, he wanted to claim credit about the government’s decision to print and sell and two-volume BMF Final Report to the public at $40.

I don’t think it is even necessary to rebut such cheap pot-shots, but to let the Malaysian public judge who is being serious and who is being flippant and frivolous. Does the Finance Minister really want the people to believe that the government is really so- concerned about saving $20 for every two-volume BMF final report, when it is so ‘unexcited or ‘philosophical about the $2.5 billion scandal? If the Government Printers print 10,000 copies, it will mean a difference of $200,000 on the basis of $20 savings a set. This will be worth it if it make more Malaysians understand the enormity and monstrosity of the BMF Scandal, costing Malaysians the staggering loss of $2.5 billion. The Finance Minister is clearly ‘dollars wise, billion foolish’ in this case!

In his speech, Daim Zainuddin accused the DAP of fault-finding and misleading the public on the BMF scandal, and as example, he alleged that the DAP had made this into a ‘hot’ issue in the 1982 general elections. He also said that the MCA had demanded the DAP to withdraw its allegation that MCA leaders were involved in the BMF scandal, but up to date, the DAP had not yet made an apology.

I have not come across a Finance Minister, which is the second most important Cabinet post after the Prime Minister, who is so careless of his facts and allegations, that I wonder whether this is the same attitude and approach he applies to his Finance portforlio.

Let me remind Daim Zainuddin that the 1982 general elections were held in April 1982. Probably, by that time, Daim Zainuddin and other top UMNO leaders were already fully aware about the $2.5 billion BMF scandal. I must confess, however, that despite my sources of information, that I knew nothing about the BMF scandal in April 1982, and the question of the DAP hurling BMF allegations and implicating MCA leaders during the general elections therefore does not arise.

I also feel great pity for the MCA under the new leadership of Tan Koon Swan, Ling Liong Sik and Lee Kim Sai. They dare not raise in Parliament their allegations against the DAP, but must hide behind the sarong of Daim Zainuddin, asking him to raise it for them.

Daim Zainudduin’s speech was spiced with empty slogan of ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’, ‘government has never broken its promise’, ‘its not an empty promise’. I can give a long rebuttal, but I don’t think it is necessary.

I find Daim’s attack on Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin and Chooi Mun Sou, members of the Inquiry Committee, most uncalled for, indefensible and in extremely poor taste.

The Finance Minister said Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin had act outside his terms of reference in pressing for the publication of the Final Report. He said the Inquiry Committee is responsible to Bank Bumiputra and it is up to Bank Bumiputra to make the decision whether to publish the report or not.

If as Daim claimed in his speech yesterday, it is the Government’s intention to publish the entire BMF Report in full without editing, then what is all the fuss about? It is only understandable if given the choice, Bank Bumiputra and the Government would want to suppress the Report.

In the $2.5 billion BMF scandal, the Government should not have taken a narrow, legalistic attitude, but should take a broad, public interest approach, for finally the $2.5 billion is the money of the people of Malaysia and not the BBMB Directors. In terms of the principle of public accountability, the Inquiry Committee is answerable to the people of Malaysia, and not just the BBMB!

The Finance Minister, and the Government, are also very annoyed that the Inquiry Committee had sought the advice of ‘Queen’s Counsel’ about banking secrecy and the publication of the Final Report.

What the Inquiry Committee has done is fully within its terms of reference, which is to ‘determine and enquire into and report …… on the measures which are necessary in order to ensure the due and proper administration of BMF in the future’. The Inquiry Committee clearly is of the opinion that the publication of the report is an essential measure – and the seeking of Queen’s Counsel’s opinion to enable such publication cannot be said to be going outside its terms of reference.

The Finance Minister also faulted Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin and Chooi Mun Sou for their joint memorandum to the Prime Minister stating their preparedness to assume responsibility for the consequences of the BMF Final Report. This is most unfair. It was the Prime Minister who, publicly and privately, insisted that Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin must be prepared to publicly state his preparedness to assume responsibility for the BMF Final Report before it would be published. If the Finance Minister wants to blame anyone here, he should blame the Prime Minister for imposing such a ridiculous condition on a matter of grave public interest and importance.

In his reply, Daim referred to the charge by the UMNO MP for Ulu Muda. Othman Abdul, that Chooi Mun Sou had a ‘conflict of interest’.

Daim said Chooi and Co. , of which Chooi Mun Sou is partner, are the solicitors for the Hong Kong Government for ‘Proceedings for the Deposition of Evidence’ at the High Court in Malaya recently from persons involved in the BMF scandal. Daim said he left it to more qualified people to decide whether Chooi had acted against the ethics of the legal profession, as Chooi was a member of the BMF Inquiry Committee.

I find the pre-occupation of both UMNO MPs and Ministers with this so-called ‘conflict of interest’ of Chooi Mun Sou most baffling. Where is the ‘conflict of interest’?

I not only do not see any ‘conflict of interest’, I can perceive ‘complementarity of interest’, if it is equally the common determination of both Malaysian and Hong Kong Governments to bring the BMF culprits to book and justice.

I am sure Chooi, and his firm, would gladly be the solicitors for the Malaysian Government if the Malaysian Government is really determined to use all available expertise to bring the BMF culprits to book in Malaysia. This was the offer by the Inquiry Committee members in their report, ehich said that the members are willing to offer their assistance in such manner as may be required to the police in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Government and BBMB should be happy about the ‘complementarity of interest’ that Chooi & co. are the solicitors for the Hong Kong Government in the BMF Scandal. Can the Government and BBMB explain their unusual attitude of criticism and hostility instead?

Daim Zainuddin accused me of being afraid to carry out my 24-hour ultumatum to BBMB to lodge a police report against the former BBMB Board of Directors, headed by Dr. Nawawi Mat Awin, on the purchase of US Assets of Carrian. There is nothing for me to fear. I changed my mind for I realised that by lodging the police report myself, the BBMB would get off lightly from its responsibility to implement the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee. The BBMB would be able to say that since I have lodged a police report, there is no need for them to duplicate, and just do nothing. I would have lodged a police if the BBMB had persisted in refusing to act. Daim made the disclosure that the BBMB had on 6th March 1986 lodged a police report against the former BBMB Board of Directors, headed by Dr. Nawawi, and the BMF Directors, for the US$82 million transaction involving the purphase of the Carrian’s US Assets, which were supposed to be securities for Carrian loans.

I welcome this disclosure, for this is what I had been pressing for. But I want to ask Daim Zainuddin why he and the Prime Minister had withheld this information from Parliament for two weeks. This information should be included in the Government White Paper, or if it is too late, should have been presented to MPs as an separate addendum to the White Paper.

Both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister have been guilty of gross breach of parliamentary privilege in withholding for two weeks information from Parliament about BBMB’s March 6, 1986 Police Report.

What is the reason. Is it because the BBMB is keeping open its option to do what it did to the seven writs against George Tan in Hong Kong – to withdraw them mysteriously subsequently?

The Finance Minister had failed to give satisfactory explanations on many aspects of the BMF scandal, or even to address himself to the important lessons to be learnt from the scandal.

It is clear that the government cover-up of the BMF scandal is still going on.