Third reason why Sarawakians should deny two-third parliamentary majority to Barisan Nasional – to restore our honour, dignity and international reputation

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary¬-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in the DAP Sibu Ceramah in Sibu on Saturday, June 21, 1986 at 8 p.m.

Third reason why Sarawakians should deny two-third parliamentary majority to Barisan Nasional – to restore our honour, dignity and international reputation

The DAP has decided to make the call ‘Deny the Barisan Nasional the two-third majority in Parliament’ our main election theme and the rallying cry in the next general elections.

In Miri two nights ago, I stressed that the denial of the two-third parliamentary majority to the Barisan Nasional is essential to protect our democratic rights and freedoms. The Barisan Naional Government has become so arrogant and dictatorial because of its overwhelming majority in Parliament that it has turned Parliament into a mere rubber stamp without a will and authority of its own. Constitution is changed at the whim and fancy of the Barisan Government, fully confident that if they make any mistakes, they could always re-amend it with retrospective effect to legalise past government wrongs, as had happened many times in the past.

As a result of its overwhelming four-fifth parliamentary majority today, parliamentary democracy in Malaysia is in danger of becoming a parliamentary dictatorship of the Barisan Nasional.

In Bintulu last night, I gave a second reason why Barisan Nasional should be denied its two-third majority. This is to ensure that the New Economic Policy, which institutionalises the division of Malaysians into bumiputras and non-bumiputras, should not be extended after 1990. This is because a vote for the Barisan Nasional in the coming general elections will be regarded by UMNO as a vote for the extension of the New Economic Policy of bumiputra quotas and percentages – for the coming general elections will be the last general elections before 1990. UMNO leaders had made it very clear that the New Economic Policy would be extended after 1990, if not in name, definitely in substance and policy. A denial of two-third majority of Barisan Nasional would be the most categorical and unambiguous declaration by the people of opposition to the extension of the New Economic Policy. It will also be a nation-wide demand that Malaysian should be treated equally, and stopped being divided into bumiputras and non-bumiputras.

Tonight, in Sibu, I want to discuss a third reason why Sarawakians should support the nation-wide campaign to deny the Barisan Nasional its two-third majority in Parliament in the coming general elections. This is to redeem our honour, self-respect, dignity and international reputation.

Malaysia’s international reputation has been badly sullied by the Mahathir Government. In 1982, the Barisan Nasional promised a ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ government, but these promises have turned to nothing. The 2M Government has been reduced to ‘One M’ Government, with the resignation of Datuk Musa Hitam as Deputy Prime Minister.

In my view, the refusal of Datuk Musa Hitam to withdraw his resignation letter, and return as Deputy Prime Minister is a loud and clear announcement that the Deputy UMNO President has no confidence in the UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, as the Prime minister of Malaysia. Malaysians have the right to ask if the Deputy UMNO President has no confidence in Dr. Mahathir as the nation’s Prime Minister, why should they have confidence in Dr. Mahathir?

One reason for this lack of confidence is the failure of the Barisan Nasional Government to honour its pledge to have a ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ administration.

Datuk Musa Hitam admitted as much when after quitting as Deputy Prime Minister, he called for a serious assessment of whether Barisan nasional has honoured its 1982 election slogan of a ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ Government.

Nobody expects the Mahathir Government to completely eradicate corruption and nepotism in Malaysia, for such human frailties cannot be completely eliminated. But Malaysians have the right to expect, in view of the 1982 election pledge, that the Mahathir Administration should be the cleanest, most trustworthy and corruption-free as compared to government of the three former Prime Ministers – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Hussein Onn.

Unfortunately, the opposite is the same. Never before in the history of Malaysia has there been more widespread allegation and corruption, nepotism and conflict of interest in high political places now in 1986.

This is why in the coming Parliamentary meeting is starting on July 14 (if Parliament is not dissolved by then), I am moving a motion asking for the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate into all allegations of rampant corruption, nepotism and conflict of interest in high political places.

Malaysians who go abroad do so under a cloud, for whenever they identify themselves as Malaysians, they are seen as coming from a nation notorious internationally for its corruption and scandals.

The greatest scandal – the Scandal of Scandals – is the $2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) Scandal, where $2,5 billion of the Malaysia taxpayers money had been stolen and defrauded.

Up till now, the Barisan Nasional Government has refused to allow the fullest investigations to get to the bottom of the BMF scandal, to ascertain who are the real culprits who authorised and conspired in the theft and fraud of $2.5 billion of Malaysian funds.

The Barisan Nasional leaders hope the people will believe that only four persons were involved, – Lorraine Osman, Hashim Shamsuddin, Rais Saniman and Ibrahim Jaffar – and promptly forget about the whole BMF scandal. Nobody believes that this is possible. Even the Ahmad Nordin Inquiry Committee, after two-year investigations, recommended that the Government should agree to allow the fullest investigations into the BMF scandal, with unlimited powers, to be pursued.

I want to ask Dr. Mahathir and the top Barisan Nasional leaders. If they have nothing to hide from the public about the BMF scandal, why are they not prepared to allow a Royal Commission of Inquiry with full investigative powers, including the powers to compel Ministers and the Prime Minister to give evidence, to find out the full story of the BMF scandal?

As I said in Parliament, I do not believe, and the overwhelming majority of Malaysians do not believe, that only four persons could steal and defraud Malaysians of $2.5 billion in the BMF scandal. These four persons, Lorraine Osman, Hashim Shamsuddin, Ibrahim Jaffar and Rais Saniman, are being used as ‘scapegoats’ to assume total responsibility for the BMF scandal, when there are clearly more important people implicated.

Who are these people – this is what Malaysians want to know. If the Barisan Nasional cannot answer this question, or prove to the satisfaction of the people that there are no other culprits in the BMF scandal, on this issue alone the Barisan Nasional should be punished in the coming general elections. In fact, in other countries where political leaders have more developed sense of political responsibility, the Prime Minister and the entire government would have resigned over the BMF scandal. But in Malaysia, our government leaders have probably the ‘thickest’ skins in the whole world, who have no ‘sense of shame’ at scandals.

I read in the Sarawak press today that former Sarawak Yang di Pertuan Negeri, Tun Abdul Rahman, has challenged the Sarawak Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Yakub, to publicly repeat his allegation that Tun Rahman had invested and lost a huge sum of money in Carrian Holdings of Hong Kong. This is a new angle of the BMF scandal and I hoppe both the Sarawak Chief Minister and Tun Rahman could let Malaysians know what is all about.

Of course, the true identity and role of George Tan and Carrian remains a great mystery. George Tan has about 200 $2 shell companies and was chiefly responsible for the loss of $2.5 billion by BMF. Was George Tan ‘off-shore NEP operation’, working with top political and financial leaders in Malaysia. Was George Tan a puppet, or was he a puppeteer, or a puppet who, flushed with unlimited funds, became a puppeteer?

Malaysians should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves that although we are the main victims of the BMF scandal involving out money, Malaysian authorities have not arrested or prosecuted a single person for the ‘Scandal of Scandals’. We are leaving to foreign governments, like the Courts in Hong Kong and London, to clean up our ‘dirty’ in the BMF scandal.

The net effect of the BMF scandal, and the manner the Barisan Nasional Government handled it, with the aim to effect a ‘cover-up’ than full expose and accounting, was to defame the international reputation of Malaysians in the whole wide world. Unfortunately, Malaysians have no right to sue the Barisan Nasional government for ‘defamation’ reputation of Malaysians both nationally and internationally.

The UMBC Scandal of Daim Zainuddin

The BMF Scandal, however, is not the only scandal of the Barisan Nasional Government while promised ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ administration.

There is the UMBC Scandal of the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin. In June 1984, a week before his appointment as Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin announced that his two family companies, Daan Sdn. Bhd. and Dani Sdn. Bhd., would buy over 41% share ownership of the third largest bank in Malaysian, UMBC, from the MCA’s Multi-Purpose Holdings.

Under Section 24 of the Banking Act, the Finance Minister has to approve any bank reconstruction of equity, and as the take-over of 41% of UMBC by the Daim family companies were not completed until November 1984, the question of conflict of interest involving Daim approving his own family companies’ acquisition of 41 per cent of UMBC arose.

Then in June 1985, the Daim family companies increased its 41% stake in UMBC to 51%. Again, there arises the question of conflict of interest. How could the Finance Minister approve his own family companies increasing its stake to majority control of 51 per cent of UMBC without committing conflict of interest unethical sets?

Thirdly, the majority control of UMBC by the Daim family companies were kept secret from the Malaysian public, until 10 months later, on 30th April 1986 a foreign newspaper, Asian Wall Street Journal, published a detained article on it for the first time. The take-over of majority control of a major Malaysian bank is an important event. If there is nothing to hide, why did the Government or the Daim companies try to hide such acquisition from public knowledge?

Fourthly, two months after the Daim family companies acquired 51% control of UMBC, the government announced new regulation limiting individual ownership (including family companies) of banks and finance companies to not more than 10% equity. Didn’t know that this new regulation was being announced, and did he use his ‘inside knowledge’ to allow the Daim family companies to acquire 51 per cent before the announcement of the new regulation? Again, conflict of interest questions have to be answered.

Finally, it is now known that the two Daim family companies acquired 51% control of UMBC without having to come out with a single cent of their own capital. They raised $164 million from a foreign bank in Singapore, which gave the loan on the basis that Daim was the Finance Minister and a ‘close aide’ of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed. Isn’t this conflict of interest, abuse of power and authority?

How can Malaysians’ reputation inside and outside the country be high when we have such UMBC scandals involving our Finance Minister?

Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, had said that the Asian Wall Street Journal report were ‘trash’, but that he would not sue the Asian Wall Street Journal. I call on Daim to protect the reputation of Malaysians, and if what was reported is the Asian Wall Street Journal is indeed ‘untruth’, then he should sue not only to clear his own reputation, but the reputation of all Malaysians and our country.

The EPF Scandal

There is then the EPF Scandal, where EPF funds of five million contributors were used to buy speculative stocks and then re-sold to a $2 company, MAKUWASA, causing the EPF contributors to lose $10 million in 13 counters.

If the 13 counters were sold at market price to the $2 company, the EPF would have made a profit of $10 million. But the EPF authorities wanted to do ‘charity’ at the workers’ expense, and use their money to make gifts to the $2 company, MAKUWASA.

During the March meeting of Parliament, the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, said the EPF had a $36.8 million ‘paper loss’ from investing $200 million in the shares market through the EPF portfolio manager. I understand that the Finance Minister was misleading Parliament, by not giving the full story. As at the end of 1985, the EPF invested some three percent of total EPF contributors funds of $2.5 billion in stocks and shares – which is about $750 million. I understand that the total loss from such EPF investment in stocks and shares last year was in the region of $100 million.

Up till now, the EPF and the Ministry of Finance, which is in charge of EPF, has refused to tell the workers what has happened to their EPF money. The Government refused to appoint any trade union leader or worker representative on the powerful EPF Investment Panel, so that workers are excluded from decision-making on investment matters. In fact, until I left KL for the Sarawak trip, there has been no single worker representative on the EPF Board for about one month!

This is most scandalous. The EPF is a compulsory savings scheme for workers to look after their retirement, and should not be used to speculate in stocks and shares, or try to ‘jack up’ the prices of shares of top political leaders or their families and friends.

Profits made from EPF contributions should be used to benefit the workers directly, as in higher EPF interest, or better EPF schemes to allow EPF contributors to use the money to pay for the education of their children, meet medical expense, or even to start a business. It should not be used as a ‘captive fund’ to benefit a handful of people in government.

$1 billion mysterious London tin-buying scandal in 1981

There is then the mysterious London tin-buying scandal in 1981, which started in July 1981 (just after Dr. Mahathir become Prime Minister), where there was an attempt to monopolis and manipulate the international tin market and jack up tin prices. The whole operation collapsed in February 1982 when the United States released its tin stockpile as a counter-measures.

It has been estimated that this mysterious London tin –buyer lost $1 billion from the operation. Who is the mysterious London tin-buyer of 1981? Even at that time, foreign journals had identified the Malaysian Government is the mysterious London tin-buyer. A few months ago, a book was published referred to the mysterious London tin-buying and openly mentioned Dr. Mahathir Mohamed as being behind the operation.

I understand that the mysterious London yin-buying operation by a $2 company, MAMINCO, which was first registered in 1981. The 1985 Telephone Directory suddenly listed MAMINCO as a government department under the Ministry of Finance.

The questions Malaysians are entitled to ask is, who is MAMINCO, did Malaysians loss $1 billion from the London mysterious tin-buying operation, who would have benefited if the operation had succeeded, and the authorised $1 billion for the operation when Parliament was never informed and had never gives approval for such an operation.

I have no doubt that there are many other BMF, UMBC, EPF, MAMINCO type of scandals in our country which have so far been kept away from public knowledge.

Malaysia’s reputation has never beached such an all-time result of such multiple scandals. This is one important reason why there is a crisis of confidence in Malaysia, and why both Malaysians and foreigners are not prepared to put their money in the country for long-term investment.

The DAP calls on Sarawakians to join Malaysians to purge the country of such ill-repute, and by dental of two-third majority to the Barisan Nasional, tell the whole wide world that the people condemn and dissociate itself from the hosts of scandals in the country, and redeem and regain our honour, self-respect and international reputation. Only then can Malaysians hold their heads high, whether inside the country or anywhere abroad.