Press conference Satatement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-general, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Lim Kit Siang in DAPPJ Headquarters on Saturday, Sept.13, 1986 at 2pm.
Ghaffar Baba confirms that the Bank Negara’s proposal for the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives was that depositors can only 50 per cent of their deposits, while the other 50 per cent is converted into equity.
I paid a courtesy call on the deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, in his office this morning, and I discussed with him a wide range of subjects, including the co-operatives crisis, in particular the future of the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives; the LPN mess and the grievances and problems it has created for farmers, millers and retailers; the illegal Indonesian immigrant problem; the new villages; the economy and national unity.
Gahffar Baba confirmed that Bank Negara’s proposal for the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives whose assets and activities had been frozen for over a month was that depositors whose deposits have matured, can withdraw 25 per cent only; with the withdrawal of another 25 per cent of their deposits in two years’ time at six per cent interest, while the balance of the 50 per cent of deposits would be converted into equity. He said this proposal would depend on the acceptance by 75 per cent of the co-operative members affected. Ghaffar Baba said the government was prepared to come out with half the funds to back up the co-operatives, whose total deposits stand at $1.6 billion, but the government cannot come out for the full amount.
I urged the Deputy prime Minister and the Government to consider the interests of the small-time Malaysians, the hawkers, workers, housewives and petty businessmen, who have put their life savings in the co-operatives.
The Bank Negara plan for the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives should modify the proposal that 50 per cent of the deposits be turned into shares in the co-operatives, for it has never been the intention of the depositors to become shareholders or members of the co-operatives.
A plan should be devised whereby with the $800 million government safety net fund, troubled co-operatives should be taken over by a team of managers to nurse them back to health so that eventually the depositors will not face any financial losses.
At the meeting with Ghaffar Baba, I pressed for the public release of the Bank Negara’s investigations into the 24 co-operatives, so that all fraud, breach of trust, abuse of authority and negligence could be brought to public light. This is to ensure that the whole country learns the expensive lessons from the $1.6 billion Co-operative Finance scandal.
I also asked for all directors and officers of co-operatives who had abused the trust placed on them by members and depositors to be prosecuted and punished without fear or favour.
LPN needs a shake-up and clean-up
I raised the LPN with Ghaffar Baba, suggesting that there should be a shake-up and clean-up of the LPN, which had failed to operate efficiently and competently in the last 14 years.
The LPN has not only left down the padi farmers, it has also become a great harassment to millers and retailers, as I had received numerous complaints of LPN officers misusing their powers to prosecute millers or retailers for minor technical offences, if they refuse to grease the palm of LPN staff.
I note that my visit to the LPN complex at Anak Bukit, near Alor Star, last Sunday with other DAP MPs and Assemblymen to study at first-hand the complaints and grievances of the padi farmers at the inefficiency of LPN to purchase and process their padi, has stirred up waves in Kedah UMNO.
At the Kedah UMNO State Convention in Alor Star yesterday, UMNO delegates attacked LPN officials of trying to sabotage and destroy UMNO political power base, on the ground that the LPN’s inefficiency
And insensitivity to the problems of the padi farmers had enabled me to visit Kedah and take up the issue.
I would advise all UMNO leaders and members to regard the padi farmers’ problem and sufferings on its merits, and not to give it any racial or political twist or connotation. If after 29 years of Merdeka, there are UMNO leaders who challenge and question the right or motive of DAP leaders to champion the padi farmers, and then we have not made any headway at all in nation building.
I am glad that Deouty Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, acknowledged and welcomed the DAP’s concern over the plight of the padi farmers.
Illegal Indonesian immigrations: Tough Government action needed
I expressed my concern to Ghaffar Baba that despite the government’s pledge to take firm action against illegal Indonesian immigrants, the problem has become even more serious, with more incidents of serious crimes involving illegal Indonesian immigrants.
The Deputy Prime Minister has rightly pointed out that the problem of the illegal Indonesian immigrants is now a concern, not only of the Chinese, but also the Malays.
However, the Government must take tough action to stop the influx of illegal Indonesian immigrants, and progressively deport the illegal Indonesian immigrants already in the country, and the DAP hopes that the government’s words would be matched with concrete actions.
New Villages to come under Ministry of National and Rural Development
In reply to my question, Ghaffar Baba confirmed that the 450 new villagers have been transferred to the Ministry of national Rural Development, and would no more be under the Ministry of Housing as was the case previously.
He said that his Ministry would be responsible for the development of all kampongs and new villagers and he would be fair to all.
I raised with Ghaffar Baba the long-standing of the 450 new villagers sings their establishment 25 years ago, the backward infrastructures and in particular, the shortage of land for a new village population which had exploded three or four times since their origin.
I suggested that the government should give priority to the expansion of new village boundaries so that more land could be allocated for the new generation of new village residents.
Datuk Harris Salleh should not only give up all State titles, but all State land he had acquired, directly or indirectly, at nominal price.
Former Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Harris Salleh, yesterday relinquished all State titles conferred upon him. He said the State awards, especially those carrying the title Datuk, had been deprived of their true dignity and respect.
Datuk Harris Salleh should realize that when he was Sabah Chief Minister, the conferment of state awards and titles did not give them any dignity or respect, as many of his sycophants and ‘yes men’ were the recipients.
What is more relevant to the people of Sabah and Malaysia, however, would be for Datuk Harris Salleh to give up, not only all his State titles, but all Sabah state which he had acquired, directly or indirectly, at nominal prices.
Is Datuk Harris Salleh prepared in the first instance to make public all the lands which he, either directly, or through his next of kin, or through companies where he or his next of kin had shares and interest, had acquired during his entire public life?