Challenge to UMNO Youth Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, to a public debate on UMBC scandal, EPF scandal, $1 billion mysterious tin-buying scandal and others to prove that they are baseless allegations

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, June 17, 1986:

Challenge to UMNO Youth Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, to a public debate on UMBC scandal, EPF scandal, $1 billion mysterious tin-buying scandal and others to prove that they are baseless allegations

When Anwar Ibrahim was the crusading president of NBIM, he took an uncompromising stand against all forms of corruption, nepotism, conflict of interest, immorality, and abuse of power and authority. When he joined UMNO, he became the fastest rising star in the UMNO, rising to the key post of Education Ministry in a matter of four years, which put him on the threshold of the two highest political offices in the country – Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister.

Disappointingly, his fast political rise in UMNO was also accompanied by a fast abandonment of what he stood for in his ABIM days, for he now appeared to be defending what he had denounced in the past.

Yesterday, Anwar Ibrahim accused certain groups of making baseless accusations, referring in particular to the UMBC transactions of Daim Zainuddin’s family companies, to discredit the government leaders. The DAP is one of Anwar’s targets but we do not plead guilty to his charges.

I have no doubt that if Anwar Ibrahim had still been ABIM President, he would have joined in the popular demand that there should be a full accountability by the Government, and in particular by Daim Zainuddin, Finance Minister, over the two UMBC transactions in 1984 and 1985. But now, he has become the second UMNO leader, after the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to come out openly in support of Daim Zainuddin and in defence of the two UMBC transactions in 1984 and 1985 which resulted in the Daim family companies acquiring 51% of the third largest bank in Malaysia.

I feel sad that Anwar’s previous keen perception of what is right and wrong, what is proper and improper what is clean and corrupt, have undergone a sea-change since his assumption of high political office.

Anwar Ibrahim said the UMNO Youth could see nothing wrong in the two UMBC transactions of Daim’s family companies, which raises serious ethical, legal and political questions.

In this case, I challenge Anwar Ibrahim to answer the following ten questions:

(1) Wasn’t there a conflict of interest or illegality in the 1984 approval for the acquisition of 51% control of UMBC by Daim Zainuddin family companies, as Daim was already Finance Minister and under Section 24 of the Banking Act, it was the Finance Minister’s legal duty to decide on whether to approve any reconstruction or re-arrangement of bank equity?

(2) Wasn’t there a similar conflict of interest or illegality in the 1985 approval for the increase from 41% to 51% majority ownership of UMBC by Daim Z,sinuddin family companies, for the same reasons above?

(3) Although Bank Negara Governor, Datuk Jaffar Hussein had said that the Cabinet had approved the UMBC transactions, is Anwar Ibrahim aware that the Cabinet has no legal standing whatsoever as far as the Section 24 of Banking Act is concerned, and any conflict or interest or illegality committed by the Finance Minister cannot be exonerated on the ground of Cabinet directive?

(4) Why was the outright majority control of the UMBC by the Daim Zainuddin family companies in June 1985 carried out in a ‘hush, hush’ basis without any public announcement until the revelation in the Asian Wall Street Journal 10 months later on April 30, 1936?

(5) Wasn’t there a conflict of interest, impropriety and abuse of authority when the 51% majority control of UMBC by Daim family companies were completed two months before new government regulations limiting equity ownership in banks and finance companies to 10 per cent for individual shareholders, including family-owned companies, and to 20% for corporations? Didn’t Daim Zainuddin as Finance Minister know well beforehand before the approval of the 51% majority control of UMBC that the government regulations prohibiting such acquisitions and controls was being announced?

(6) If it was the Cabinet which approved both UMBC transactions, when did the Cabinet meet and approve, them, and why didn’t Anwar Ibrahim, as Cabinet member, object to both on ethical and moral grounds, especially as in the 1985 transaction, the government was having regulations to prevent individual ownership from exceeding 10% in banks and finance companies?

(7) In 1981, the UMNO Youth vigorously objected and sabotaged the acquisition of 51% of UMBC shares by MCA-run Multi-Purpose Holdings from Chang Min Thien. Why didn’t UMNO Youth object to the acquisition of 51% of UMBC by Daim’s family companies in 1985? Was it because of Daim being the Finance Minister?

(8) Was there any conflict of interest, impropriety or abuse of authority where the Daim Zainuddin family companies, made use of Daim’s influence as Finance Minister to secure $164 million loans from a foreign bank in Singapore to acquire majority control of UMBC without having to come out with a single cent of its own capital? In deciding whether to approve the loans to the Daim companies, the considerations the Singapore bank took into account included: “Positive Factors: Mr. Daim is the Finance Minister and a close personal aide of the Prime Minister of Malaysia Negative.. Factors: No definite source of repayment…….” Is Anwar Ibrahim seriously defending the use of the Finance Minister’s name and influence to raise bank loans running into hundreds of million of dollars for the Finance Minister’s family companies?

(9) After Daim was appointed Finance Minister, he announced that he would put his private businesses in a blind trust. Is Anwar Ibrahim happy with this ‘blind trust’ arrangement, where there is nothing ‘blind’ at all about the transactions of Daim’s family companies. Has the new Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, put his own companies in a similar ‘blind trust’ arrangement – which in fact proclaim and advertise the high Ministerial connections of the companies?

(10) Is Anwar Ibrahim and UMNO Youth prepared to refer the two UMBC transactions to a Public Inquiry Committee to investigate whether there has been any conflict of interest, unethical conduct or even illegality, giving all the facts of the transactions to the public, instead of making general unsubstantiated accusations against those who want to hold the Barisan Ministers to honour their motto of ‘Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy’ and strictly adhere to principle of public accountability.

‘Lies’ and ‘Trash’?

There have so far been three official reactions to the Asian Wall Street Journal article on the UMBC transactions.

The first official reaction as an unnamed, but clearly officially-¬drafted article entitled ‘Daim – the target?’ which was first published on May 21, and admitted that the Asian Wall Street Journal article was ‘well-researched but unflattering’ on Daim. The most remarkable thing about this unofficial reply to the Asian Wall Street Journal was that it did net even attempt to deny the facts of the UMBC transactions, made no attempt to answer the ethical, legal and political questions raised, but merely charged the Asian Wall Street Journal of being part of a ‘Jewish Conspiracy’ to discredit Daim.

What this official reply in fact did was to admit that all the things said about Daim and the UMBC transactions are true, but that the person who said them had a ‘bad motive’!

This was followed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s dismissal of the Asian Wall Street Journal article as ‘lies’ – yet the Prime Minister refused to let Malaysians know the truth!

Daim Zainuddin made his first public reaction to a foreign magazine, the Indonesian weekly, Tempo, early this month describing £he Asian Wall Street Journal article as ‘trash’, and yet he would not sue Asian Wall Street Journal for the ‘dirty untruths’. Again, Daim did not want to tell the people about the ‘clean truths’ about the two UMBC transactions!

Now, we have Anwar Ibrahim championing Daim Zainuddin and the two UMBC transactions. But he did not say that the Asian Wall Street Journal article was ‘lies’, ‘trash’, ‘dirty untruths’, but only that there was nothing wrong! Let me tell Anwar Ibrahim that on the basis of the uncontradicted facts in connection with the two UMBC transactions, there is everything wrong, for it shows that the Finance Minister as well as the Cabinet have become impervious to basic and fundamental ethical and moral values of what is right and wrong, and that the government slogan of ‘Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy’ have no meaning whatsoever.

Malaysia should be ashamed that foreign countries are trying to ‘clean up’ the dirt of the BMF scandal, while Malaysian government does absolutely nothing

Anwar Ibrahim’s reference to the BMF scandal should be a source of shame and embarrassment to the UMNO Youth, but then, they have also become impervious to such decent feelings.

Currently, Hong Kong and London are conducting marathon court proceedings in connection with the $2.5 billion BMF scandal, and trying to ‘clean up the dirt’ of the BMF scandal, while the Malaysian Government does absolutely nothing.

Why is the UMNO Youth and Anwar Ibrahim doing nothing about this, or are they equally content that nothing more should be done on the biggest financial and banking scandal in Malaysian history?

Anwar Ibrahim should not run away from the fact that never before in Malaysian history has there been more widespread allegation and belief of corruption, nepotism, conflict of interest, immorality in high political places. If Anwar Ibrahim claim that all these are without basis, I challenge him to a public debate on the UMBC scandal, the $l billion the EPF scandal, the $1 billion mysterious tin-buying scandal, the BMF scandal, and all the other serious allegations against top government leaders.

‘No Force’ on National Culture Policy must mean the drafting of a new Cultural Policy for Malaysians

Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, said in Malacca yesterday that the National Culture must be allowed to grow and not be forced on the people.

With the approach of general elections, Barisan and even UMNO leaders are making more and more ‘reasonable’ and ‘sweet-sounding’ statements and speeches, which are promptly forgotten after general elections.

Ghaffar Baba must explain whether he really means what he says a4hen he talks about no compulsion in the evolution of a National Culture.

If he is serious, and not just making election speeches which the government has no intention to honour after elections, then he must also concede that the National Cultural Policy formulated in 1971 should be completely redrafted, because the 1971 National Cultural Policy was formulated by ‘force’, in the sense that there was no meaningful multi¬racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious participation in its formulation.

Is the Deputy Prime Minister prepared to announce that the Barisan Nasional Government wou1d put aside its National Cultural Policy of 1971, and summon a representative Cultural Conference fully represented by all racial, cultural and religious groups to formulate a genuine Malaysian National Cultural Policy?