Is a Government which is not prepared to take firm action against the criminals and crooks in the BMF, Co-operative Finance, Pan El and many other scandals qualified to instill moral values to prevent the occurrence of such scandals?

Press Conference (2) Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secreatry-General, MP for Tanjung and assemblymen for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Tuesday, Sept.30, 1986:

Is a Government which is not prepared to take firm action against the criminals and crooks in the BMF, Co-operative Finance, Pan El and many other scandals qualified to instill moral values to prevent the occurrence of such scandals?

The Prime minister, Datuk Seri Dr, Mahathir Mohamed, told Malaysian students in New York yesterday that the government would require all Malaysian school-leavers to undergo physical and spiritual training to inculcate in them moral values, before they are employed or allowed to go for further studies abroad.

He explained that the country “had in some way failed in its efforts to instill such values among certain quarters”, saying that this was why malpractices and criminal activities, like the BMF scandal and incidents in other banks”, the co-operative finance scandal and the Pan El affair, were rampant.

The most pertinent question to ask is whether a Government which is not prepared to take firm action against the criminals and crooks in the BMF, Co-operative Finance, Pan El and other scandals, is qualified and competent to instill moral values to prevent the occurrence of such scandals?

Malaysians are aghast that the government has refused to get to the root or the $2.5 billion BMF scandal, to ascertain, in particular, where the vast sums of the BMF monies have gone to. It is believed that a substantial chunk of the $2.5 billion in the BMF scandal have found their way back to Malaysia. Is it beyond the capability and competence of the Malaysian Government to mount a high-powered operation to trace the flow and destination of such BMF monies? If the Government had tried and failed, it is another matter, but the Government had not tried at all.

Again, it is a scandal by itself that in the BMF scandal, not a single person had been arrested or prosecuted in Malaysia, although it is the biggest financial scandal in Malaysian history, and despite the fact that the prevention of Corruption Act had extra-territorial powers to charge Malaysians for their corruption abroad.

Even now, the Government seems content in leaving the many questions about the BMF scandal unanswered.

The $1.6 million Co-operative Finance Scandal is another example where the government has not impressed Malaysians by its will, competence and ability to bring the criminals and crooks camouflaging as directors and officials in co-operatives to justice, for defrauding the life-savings of 540,000 small-time depositors.

It is now the eighth week since the August 8 action by Bank Negara freezing the assets and activities of 23 co-operatives, on the ground of massive fraud, criminal breach of trust and dishonesty. But to date, not a single director of these 23 co-operatives had been arrested and charged in court. Two persons who were arrested and charged were in connection with Kosatu, which was frozen on July 23.

In the Pan El crisis, the government rejected the DAP call for a public commission of inquiry to determine how small-time investors in Malaysians were made to suffer the great loss of $14 billion by the affair. How can the government demonstrate its hatred of such corporate dishonesty, when it would not do anything about it – even if it is to make public the corporate world of crime in Malaysia?
Koral courses will not succeed in installing the values of public honesty, dedication and public service if the people see the criminals and crooks in public life walking freely about to enjoy their ill-gotten gains, and even enjoying important places in high society.

Dr. Mahathir should realize that example is more powerful than a thousand lecturers and courses. How even the school leavers are impressed by exportation of moral value, when they see the correct and immoral conduct in public life pays so well in Malaysia?

If the Government is serious in wanting to inculcate moral values in the young generation of Malaysians, the first thing it must do is to convince Malaysians that the Government would not compromise with corruption, public greed, criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and all forms of immoral and decadent conduct.

For a start, the Government should set up a special commission to consider how the BMF, co-operative finance, Pan El and other scandals have eaten away at the moral fibre of our society, and what stops should be taken to restore the moral and public integrity of Malaysian leaders in all sectors of public life.

This is a task not just of the Barisan Nasional Government, which secured only 57 per cent of the popular vote in the August 3 general elections, but must be the work of a bi-partisan commission which include all political parties as well as public interest organizations for we are trying to save the soul of Malaysia, not just the Barisan Nasional soul.

I hope the Prime Minister will agree, for a start, to establish National Task Force comprising representatives from all political parties as well as public interest organizations to study the whole problem of decline of moral standards in Malaysia, and what action should be taken to raise these moral standards.

The Government cannot pretend to have the answer to this grave problem, or this moral crisis would never occur. The Government must invite all Malaysians to find the answer.

If the Government is not prepared to include all Malaysian in a search for an answer to this grave moral challenge to Malaysia, then the people would suspect that the compulsory training course for all school-leavers may be only a disguise to disseminate Barisan Nasional propaganda and philosophy. Such a project would be counter-productive and would end as a great failure and waste of public funds.

If co-ops are not in bad shape, why are the $1.6 billion deposits of 540,000 small-timers in jeopardy by Bank Negara freeze action?

Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, denied a newspaper report that 19 of the 24 frozen co-operatives are facing financial difficulties. He said initial reports indicted that the co-operatives had so such problems.

If this is the case, then why the Bank Negara did froze 23 co-ops on August 8, putting in jeopardy the $ 1.6 billion deposits of the 540,000 depositors? As a result of the freeze action by Bank Negara on the 23 co-operatives, the Government now fined that any re-opening of the co-operatives will result a run, leading to the collapse of the co-operatives and even affecting the entire financial and banking system.

If Ghaffar Baba is right, that it is not true that 19 of the 24 co-operatives are facing financial difficulties, then Bank Negara had the Co-operatives Department must bear full responsibility for the present co-operative crisis and the hardship faced by 540,000 depositors. This is why the Cabinet tomorrow must discuss the Co-operative Finance Crisis in depth, and come out with clear-cut announcement to allay the anxieties of depositors.