Daim Zainuddin’s 1987 Budget cannot manage Malaysia’s deepening economic crisis as it does not inspire Malaysians that the Government is prepared to recognize and resolve the Crisis of Confidence in the country

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General. MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the 1987 Budget on Monday, Oct. 27, 1986

Daim Zainuddin’s 1987 Budget cannot manage Malaysia’s deepening economic crisis as it does not inspire Malaysians that the Government is prepared to recognize and resolve the Crisis of Confidence in the country

On Budget day, on Friday, Oct 24, the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, painted a bleak and gloomy picture of Malaysian economy. The Finance Minister said Malaysians must be prepared for a period of low growth in real output for the next few years. Because of the drastic falls in prices of primary commodities, we would receive about $5,900 million less in export earnings from our primary commodities compared to 1985.

As a result, the GNP in current terms is expected to decline by 8.1% in 1986, resulting in per capital income fall by 15.7% to $4,094 in 1986 compared to 1985. the deficit in the current account of the Balance of Payments is expected to deteriorate to $3,237 million this year compared to $1,795 million in 1985; while the Federal Government overall deficit will increase from $5.7 million in 1985 to $8.9 billion this year while the overall deficit of the public sector, which comprises the Federal and State Governments and Non-Financial Public Enterprises (NFPEs) is expected to increase from $7.5 billion in 1985 to $12.5 billion in 1986.

The Public Sector external debt has reached $40 billion this year, while unemployment has reached 8.7% in 1986, the highest since the launching of the New Economic Policy in 1970.

For 1987, Daim Zainuddin forecast an economic growth rate of one per cent, with unemployment rate rising to 9.5%.

However, by Daim Zainuddin’s past budget forecasts, it is likely that these will also err greatly on the conservative side.

For instance in his 1985 Budget speech of Oct 19, 1984 (which was also his maiden speech), Daim Zainuddin forecast an economic growth rate of 6.7% for Malaysia in 1985. last year, in his 1986 Budget speech on 25th October 1985, Daim Zainudin revised the 1985 economic growth rate to 5.2%. But in his 1987 Budget speech delivered on 24th October 1986, we are told that Malaysia experienced a negative growth rate where our Gross Domestic Product in real terms declined by 1% in 1985.

Daim Zainuddin has therefore the dubious distinction of being the only Finance Minister in Malaysia since Merdeka in 1957 to take the country into a period of negative growth in our economy, although in October 1984 he forecast it would be 6.7%, while in October 1985, he revised it slightly downwards to 5.2%.

Can Daim Zainuddin explain why his Treasury experts could be so far off the mark even as October last year about 1985’s economic growth rate – or were the forecast figures dictated more by general elections considerations than by economic data and trends.

In view of this example, we cannot take for granted that the Finance Minister’s forecast that the economic growth rate for 1986 would be 5% (when in October last year it was forecast as 6 per cent) and that would not be both equally off the mark, and like our per capita income, the economic growth rate could be heading for negative growth for three years in succession.

In his 1985 Budget delivered in October 1984, Daim Zainuddin forecast a 1985 per capita income of $5,061 for Malaysia; which was revised downwards to $4,900 in October 1985; and we are now told that our national per capita income had actually declined by 5.7% in 1985 to $4,581, and which is expected to decline 10.6% in 1986 to $4.094, and in 1987, it will decline further by 2.5% to $3,993.

In other countries, a Finance Minister who had been so wrong in his economic and budgetary forecasts would have either resigned or been transferred to another Ministry, but in Malaysia, we are not burdened by such niceties and forms!

1987 Budget a Painless Budget?

The 1987 Budget has been hailed in some quarters as a ‘painless budget’ for the low-income groups. The low-income groups have been the greatest victims in the prolonged economic recession in the country, with negative economic growth, massive retrenchments, high unemployment rate and falling incomes, and the test of the 1987 Budget should be what relief from pain it provide to this group rather than what pain it could impose.

As it is, the lower-income Malaysians have not been fully spared by the Finance Minister in his budget. For instance, the Finance Minister’s proposal to impose or increase fees and payments for outpatient treatment including medicine and hospitalization, its review of the textbook loan scheme and applied nutrition programme, would affect the low-income Malaysians the hardest.

The 50 per cent increase in the rate of interest for government housing and car loans for Category C employees in the public service will also cause hardship, and there is clearly a case for exemption of this increase for Category C like Category D employees.

Can the 1987 Budget turn the Economy Around?

The answer all Malaysians were waiting from the Finance Minister on Budget Bay is whether he could produce a budget which would start the process to turn the Malaysian economy around, but this is an answer they did not get. In fact, they get the feeling that there is no light yet at the end of the tunnel.

Daim Zainuddin claims that his 1987 Budget strategy is to promote moderate growth with stability in the economy by:

I. To reduce the role of the public sector in the economy and strengthen its financial position;

II. To promote the growth of exports and to reduce imports in order to improve the balance of payments; and

III. To improve the environment for an expansion of private sector investment and stimulate business confidence.

In the 1987 Budget, budget strategy of the government is basically one of no strategy – but merely hoping that the economy will improve in the shortest possible time. Apart from some measures to improve revenue collection, there is no attempt to tap new sources of revenue.

For instance, the international price of commodities have come down, but neither the government or the people had benefited from them. The price of crude petroleum had dropped some 60 per cent in the past year, but the pump price of petroleum had dropped by about 10 per cent. This difference in pricing should not be allowed to become additional profits for the oil companies, but should be transferred as increased revenue for the government or reduced price of petroleum products for the consumers. The same applies to sugar and other commodities whose international price have dropped sharply, but which are not reflected locally.


The government is depending on a ‘more speedy and effective’ process of privatization to reduce the cost of government. One of the rationale for the case of privatization is that private entrepreneurs can manage industries more effectively and can operate services more efficiently and at lower cost to the public than can government.

But the Finance Minister has gone on public record to express his doubts that “the private sector is more efficient or more aggressive than the public sector”.

Be that as it may, public interest demands that there must be the fullest public discussion of the pros and cons of privatization of any service or industry, especially as the government seems to be very keen in replacing a public monopoly with a private monopoly like the Syarikat Telekom Malaysia Bhd (STM).

An economist with the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, (ISIS) and lecturer of University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Professor Ismail Mohamd Salleh, recently pointed out that a private monopoly could be worse than a public monopoly, as the latter had at least to take into consideration the consumers’ needs. I would add that another reason is a public monopoly would be more subject to public and parliamentary accountability as compared to a private monopoly.

According to Professor Ismail, the government appears to have no proper planning and strategies as how to go about privatization, nor has it made clear its criteria for choosing the candidates for privatization.

The secretary with which the Government has conducted its economic and financial affairs of the country has landed Malaysia in the greatest economic crisis in history, and it is time the government open itself up and be more receptive to public views on its economic policies and strategies.

In this regard, I call on the Government to establish a Committee of Inquiry on Privatisation comprising eminent Malaysian economists, administrators and public figures to study and make recommendations on the strategies and principles of privatization, so that we do not a situation where privatization is merely another short-cut to create new millionaires, without either improving the service being privatized, or looking after the public interest.

DAP calls for privatization of university and colleges

Despite the annual budgetary statement of government resolve to reduce the substantial deficits in the services account of the Balance Payments, the deficit in the services account had exceeded $10,000 million since 1984. Daim Zainuddin said one of the items in the services account that contributes to the deficit is the outflow on fees and expenses by our students overseas, which amounted to $1,177 million in 1985.

To reduce the amount of this outflow of foreign exchange, the government will encourage the setting up of private colleges, particularly those which can establish linkages with well-known universities overseas. The Finance Minister also announced that from next year, local universities will be required to increase their intake of students to meet the increasing demand for higher education without increases in staff and existing facilities.

The privatization of tertiary education will be a double contribution to the country, not only in reducing the Balance of Payments and save foreign exchange, but also in relieving the government’s burden on higher education expenditures. I therefore call on the Government to rise above narrow political considerations and in the larger national interest, allow tertiary education to be privatised.

In this connection, I call on the Minister of Education to give fuller details as to the government’s plan to encourage the setting up of private colleges with linkages with well-known universities overseas.

In the past few years, the government has introduced ‘twinning’ system with American Universities whereby local students spent the first two years of university course in Malaysia, while finishing the final two year university course in the parent university campus. The ITM, I understand, had five such programmes ‘twinning’ with five American universities which are hardly known.

Under this ‘twinning’ joint programme with American universities, young raw American graduates with Masters’ degree who have no teaching experience are recruited from the United States to teach in Malaysia, and paid housing allowance which is the same as the salary of a new lecturer in a local university; and a salary higher than a local Professor, no to mention other allowances. Some of these American lecturers of the ‘twinning programmes’ could not get any academic posts in America, and one of them was even a janitor before coming to Malaysia to lecture.

There is a very good staff-student ratio in these ‘twinning’ campuses, (and I am told there had even been cases of 1:4), when in local universities, the students are crammed in tutorials in the ratio of 1:30, which will increase further with the new measure announced by the Finance Minister to increase university student intake without increase of funds or facilities.

I believe that all students in the local universities, as well as the students in the local main campus of ITM who complete their entire course in the country, have the right to feel aggrieved and resentful about the special favours in terms of government funds and resources bestowed on these ‘twinning’ campuses, unless they are being prepared for courses in American universities which are not available locally, or to join outstanding universities.

In many cases, the American universities involved are the lesser-known and mediocre universities, like L.S.U. – popularly known among Malay students in ITM as ‘Lebih Senang University’ – which represents Louisana State University.

The Ministry of Education has maintained great secrecy about these ‘twinning’ campuses for American universities, and I call on the Minister of Education to give a full report to Parliament, giving the campuses, the total number of students, American lecturers, arrangements with American Universities, and other information so that Malaysian can judge whether the government is wisely spending taxpayers’ money in this manner – or whether they would be better spent by setting up more local colleges or Universities instead.

What is the use of a Housing Ministry which is not responsible for building houses for the poor?

The Finance Minister said the Government has given top priority to the low-cost housing programme, with the crash programme of building 80,000 units of low-cost houses per year from 1986-1988, with the funding of $2,000 million per year by the banking system.

Although this three-year programme of 80,000 low-cost houses a year was announced in November last year, the programme had hardly got off the ground in most states, and Penang is one of the States which is still engaged in the stage of condluding contracts for such privatization projects.

It would seem, however, that this 80,000 low-cost houses a year programme from 1986-1988, instead of being a serious programme to build houses for the poor, is an excuse for the Federal Government to ‘wash its hands’ to provide houses for the poor, and pass the entire buck to the State Governments, knowing that they will get bogged down in the various states.

This is why Daim Zainuddin said in his budget speech that the Federal Government’s role in the funding of low-cost houses will be reduced, and all that is provided in the 1987 Budget for the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is a $98 million allocation in its Development Estimates “to enable the state governments to complete on-going projects at various stages of implementation.”

The question Parliament and Malaysians must ask is what is the use of having a Housing Ministry if it is not responsible for building or funding houses for the poor. The new Housing Minister, Ng Cheng Kiat, should raise this question at the first Cabinet meeting that he attends, and in the public interest of cutting costs and eliminating redundant Ministers and departments, should suggest the dissolution of his Ministry if it is no more responsible for building and funding the construction of low-cost houses through the various State Governments.

The Federal Minister of Housing should at least be made responsible for the completion of the government programme of 80,000 low-cost houses per year from 1986-1988, or otherwise, it is a complete waste of public funds to spend $37 million next year to support the operating expenditures of he Minister, Deputy Minister and staff of the Ministry of Housing who have no housing responsibilities!

DAP calls for condensed version of accounts of the 900 companies with Government equity to be tabled in Parliament for scrutiny by PAC

The operation, role and accountability of the Non-Financial Public Enterprises (NFPEs) has continued to be a matter of public concern. The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said on May this year that many of the 900 companies with government equity were struggling; that some are losing very badly, either due to poor management on the part of directors or some managers are involved in some hanky-panky.

Parliament must exercise closer concern over the NfPEs, especially as they derive a large proportion of their financing from foreign borrowings. In 1985, for instance, foreign borrowing of the NFPEs totaled $2,149 million, and accounted for about 82% of the total NFPEs borrowings.

I suggest that all the 900-old companies with government equity by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee. The government should also consider the suggestion by the former Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, that the Companies Act provision on the auditing of subsidiary companies should be extended to include government companies.

Under a recent Companies Act Amendment, the auditor of a holding company has the right of access to the accounting and other records of its subsidiary. Companies in which the government or any statutory body held majority shares were very much in the same position as the holding companies in the private sector as regards accountability requirements specified in the Companies Act. Appropriate arrangements should be made for auditors of statutory bodies and government agencies to have direct access to the accounting and other records of subsidiary companies.

For a start, the Government should present a White Paper to Parliament listing out these 900 companies, their nature of business and financial position, and future prospects, as up to now, this huge chunk of public enterprises have been beyond the pale of parliamentary of public accountability or scrutiny.

Twin Crisis of the Economy and Confidence

Just as Malaysia suffers from the twin deficits of the Balance of Payments and the Budget, similarly we suffer from the twin crisis of the Economy and Confidence.

Listening to the Finance Minister’s budget speech in Parliament last Friday, outlining his strategy to revive the economy and strengthen the government’s financial position, I find something missing which makes his call to Malaysians to make sacrifices sound hollow, and his exhortation that all should place the national interest above all other considerations, unable to stir and arouse the people.

Malaysia is in the throes of the deepest economic crisis in our history since Melaka in 1957, as well as the most serious crisis of confidence in the government.

Daim Zanuddin is not unaware of the crisis of confidence argument, although he dismissed it in his Budget speech when he said:

“We had been told that one of the reasons for the poor performance of the private sector in the last few years is a lack of confidence in the investment climate. Confidence is an attitude of mind. So long as we continue to harbour doubts ad suspicions and remain content to believe in wild and baseless rumours, we will always have a crisis of confidence.”

I agree that confidence is an attitude of mind. The question is why after the ‘overwhelming mandate’ of the Barisan Nasional in the recent general elections referred to by Daim Zainuddin, the Barisan Nasional Government has not been able to generate and inspire this attitude of mind, this ‘confidence’? The Finance Minister, the Prime Minister and all serious government leaders should give this deep thought, for the rumours in the country are not the cause of the crisis of confidence, if anything, it is vice versa, as it is the crisis of confidence which spawn the rumours.

In my view, the solution of the crisis of confidence remain the key to the effective governance o Malaysia, and the 1987 Budget cannot manage Malaysia’s deepening economic crisis if it does not inspire Malaysians with the liberating conviction that it recognizes and is prepared to resolve the crisis of confidence in the country.

The government’s greatest challenge today is how it could get Malaysians to respond to its call to make sacrifices to face the economic crisis, after getting the country into this economic mess in other words, to regain the people’s confidence again.

I think there are two ways: One, is to have a new team of government leaders; and if this is not possible, then the government should try to inspire the confidence of the people by new perceptions, approaches and commitments.

Leadership by Example

Daim Zainuddin said that all levels of society must be prepared to sacrifice for the sake of reviving the economy. He then announced the review to either reduce or abolish allowances and privileges of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other members of the Administration, including a 10 – 20 per cent reduction in entertainment, housing and official travel allowances; abolition of allowances which are now paid during vacation travel; and the limiting of cost of passage to Ministers, Deputy Ministers and their spouses.

Politicians and civil servant’s second and subsequent pensions will now attract a 100% tax – whatever this means, as it could mean that second and subsequent pensions would be subject to normal tax without any exemption, or that they would be taxed to the total amount, as to return the entire second or subsequent pensions to government coffers.

Be that as it may, these are not great sacrifices, as workers who are being asked to bear in a voluntary three-year moratorium of wage increase. Politicians and civil servants are being asked to sacrifice their extravagances, while the workers are being asked to sacrifice their basic necessities.

In fact, these ‘extravagances’ should be further slashed to reduce the entertainment, housing and official travel allowances of Ministers and Deputy Ministers by 50 per cent; and to provide vacation travel cost to Ministers and Deputy Ministers and their spouses within the country only – bearing in mind the Finance Minister’s attempt to promote local tourist spots.

It would indeed be difficult for the Finance Minister to inspire the ordinary rakyat to respond to his call to make sacrifices if the people have doubts whether he, or other Ministers or Deputy Ministers are themselves setting such an example, by their uprightness, integrity and probity in their conduct.

This is why it is so unfortunate that the Finance Minister’s refusal to give a full, detailed and satisfactory explanation to Parliament and the Malaysian people about he and his family companies’ various acquisition of UMBC shares, leading to majority control of the third largest bank in Malaysia, and the latest sale of the shares to Pernas, had only reinforced conflict-of-interest questions.

The Economic Report 1986/87 referred to the government’s attempt to reduce the level of the overall public sector expenditures, in particular the NFPEs, and their external borrowings – but how could this government concern reconcile with the recent $200 million loan in Japanese Yen from a consortium of Japanese banks by Pernas, just to help pay for the 51% UMBC stake belonging to the Finance Minister’s family companies?

At this period of economic recession and tight government finances, was it prudent for the government to approve the Pernas to purchase the 51% UMBC Stake of the Daim Zainuddin family companies, whether the price Pernas paid for the UMBC, shares the highest the Daim Zainuddin family companies would have received from any purchaser; and why the secrecy surrounding the purchase price paid by Pernas for the 51% UMBC Stake?

It is most unfortunate that the government had not realized the importance and urgency of restoring public confidence and overcome the crisis of confidence by allowing the fullest public scrutiny into propriety of certain government actions and decisions, as in the 1981 Mysterious tin-buying in London by Maminco and the EPF-Makuwasa investment deals involving EPF funds of the five million EPF contributors, resulting in the EPF losing some $9.9 million.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, had promised at the UMNO General Assembly last month that the Government would explain all about the 1981 London mysterious tin-buying episode, but this has not been done. Why is the Government back-tracking on its word?

Last week, the Deputy Finance Minister told the House that the Government has decided to dissolve Makuwasa Securities Sdn. Bhd.

Isn’t it true that the government’s decision was made after it found that EPF’s transfer of 13 share counters at below-the-market price to Makuwasa Securities Sdn ? Bhd was unlawful. If this is so, is Makuwasa Securities Sdn. Bhd. going to turn over the entire 13 share counters, or their sales proceeds, to EPF on its dissolution?

Furthermore, who is to prosecute the EPF Investment Panel members for abuse of authority or breach of trust in the EPF-Makuwasa shares transactions, as the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, is a Member of both the EPF Board and the EPF Investment Panel?

In this connection, the five million EPF contributors and workers are entitled to a full explanation as to the operation of the high-powered Investment Co-ordinating Committee set up by the Ministry of Finance to deploy tens of millions of dollars from EPF, SOCSO, Bank Simpanan Nasional and Sports Toto to speculate in shares, in particular, RALEIGH, which was the biggest share purchase by the TCC.

Wang Choon Wing’s $20 million loan with CCB is a matter of public interest

Public confidence have not been helped by the refusal, for instance, of the MCA Deputy Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports, Wang Choon Wing, to explain how he could get a $20 million loan from Co-operative Central Bank using as a third party charge a piece of land valued at $9.6 million.

Wang Choon Wing and the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, claimed that as the loan was taken by Wang Choon Wing before his appointment as Deputy Minister for business purpose, the public had no right to know.

Both Datuk Dr. Lin g Liong Sik and Wang Choon Wing cannot be more wrong, for even General Orders Chapter D made serious pecuniary embarrassment” an actionable cause for disciplinary action to be taken against a civil servant.

General Orders Chapter D Clause 10 defines ‘serious pecuniary embarrassment’ to mean “the state of an officer’s indebtedness which, having regard to the amount of debts incurred by him, has actually caused serious financial hardship to him; and without prejudice to the general meaning of the said expression, an officer shall be deemed to be in serious pecuniary embarrassment; –

I. If the aggregate of his unsecured debts and liabilities at any given time exceeds the sum of three times his monthly emoluments…”

Wong Choon Wing has admitted his $20million loan from CCB, although he has not denied that the loan had not been serviced. As is well known, the lending rates of CCB are very much higher than commercial banks, normally at about 16 per cent; but taking even the below commercial lending rate of 10 per cent for convenience of calculation, and stipulating that it is for a three-year loan, this will work out to $2 million of interest-payment of a year, or about $170,000 a month – without taking into account the $20 million Principal. Surely, the public and Parliament is entitled to ask how Wang Choon Wing, with his monthly emolument of $8,000 (made up of $5,000 as Deputy Minister and $3,000 as MP) could service a loan requiring $170,000 a month just to pay the interest?

With these and many others questions involving important government personalities unanswered, how could the government inspire the rakyat with the call that every Malaysian should sacrifice to work for Malaysia’s economic recovery, as it sounded like the rakyat sacrificing while the leaders are exempted from the sacrifice.

Crisis solution to some of the country’s economic problems

The country is facing an economic crisis, and the government that be prepared to resort to crisis solutions to some of the country’s economic and unemployment problem which would not be adopted in normal times.

For instance, in almost every budget in the past two decades, the Finance Minister would talk about the need to reduce food imports, which stands today at $3.1 billion.

As Zaim Zainuddin said, among the major food import items are maize, meat, vegetables, fish and fruits which could be produced locally as they yield returns within a short span of time. But why hasn’t a breakthrough been achieved to reduce Malaysia’s dependence on food imports?

Call for a five-year Open Land Cultivation Policy to encourage food production, save foreign exchange and provide employment.

With negative economic growth, falling per capita income, and unemployment rate expected to reach the unprecedented 9.5 per cent next year, the DAP calls on the Federal Government, with the agreement of the State Governments, to launch a five-year Open Land Cultivation Policy, whereby Malaysians could occupy government land for cultivation or livestock rearing, on the condition that the land is reverted back to Government after five years.

This will put idle land to productive use, benefiting both the diligent citizen and the country. The government should put the minimum of administrative obstacles in the way of this five-year Open Land Cultivation Policy, so that all idle land not meant for immediate commercial and other government utilization could be put to productive use.

Similarly, the government should encourage the establishment of small-scale industries which can create employment, and remove the red tape and bureaucratic obstacle which stifle their growth. New Economic Policy suspended as the priority must be given to promote economic activities and to generate job opportunities.

There should also be a New National Hawker Policy where the various Municipal and District Councils help the unemployed to eke out living by issuing temporary hawker licences for them, instead of hounding them into crime by driving them of the streets with heavy fines for illegal hawking.

Any moratorium on wage increase must be accompanied by freeze in the increase of prices, incomes and profits.

It is most regrettable that the Finance Minister’s suggestion of a three-year voluntary moratorium on wage increase was made without consultation with the trade union movement. Any such moratorium, to be fair, must be extended to increase in prices, incomes and profits, so that the workers are not the only group discriminated against during this period of recession. It will be particularly unconscionable if wages are frozen, while prices and profits are not subject to any restraint.

We must warn the Government not to impose compulsory wage freeze without the fullest consultation with the trade union movement or it will precipitate an industrial crisis – or sour conditions which would not be conducive to economic recovery.

Land reforms essential to abolition of rural poverty

The Finance Minister said the main thrust of the government’s policy to reduce poverty in the rural areas is through improving agricultural productivity and opening of new land schemes.

The Government has so far successfully resisted land reforms, although numerous studies have shown that land reform aimed at the consolidation of uneconomic holdings in both the rubber and padi sectors is an indispensable prerequisite for attacking rural poverty in Malaysia.

As a first step, the Government should be prepared to commission a study by Malaysian economists on the relationship between the failure to undertake land reforms with persistent rural poverty in the midst of NEP wealth creation. Such a study should also examine whether the Lembaga Padi Negara (LPN) price support scheme for the padi sector:

a) Misallocates resources by encouraging the production of high-cost, low-quality domestic rice;
b) Its redistributive effects are significantly regressive and
c) Its subsidy management is fraught with waste and inefficiency.

Challenge to Datuk Samy Vellu to deny that the Penang Bridge consultants have found 32 ‘defective’ pile-caps and 68 ‘defective’ piles following underwater inspection

Finally, I want to end by challenging the Minister for Works, Datuk Samy Vellu, to deny that in July and August, the penang Bridge consultants have found from an underwater inspection of 206 pile caps and 3,290 piles, 32 pilecaps and 68 piles were ‘defective’.

I had raised this matter in the Penang Assembly earlier this month, not to create alarm, but because it is in the public interest that these defects be made public, and that the most suitable and appropriate remedies be carried out.

I regret Datuk Samy Vellu should deny that there were ‘defective’ pile-caps and piles, and I would ask him to look at the inspection reports himself, and he would find that they were described as ‘defective’ there.

Datuk Samy Vellu said that there was nothing wrong with the bridge and that even if the defective pilecaps and piles were not repaired, nothing would happen to the Penang Bridge. If this is the case, why waste money on its repair?

I hope Datuk Samy Vellu would give a full and satisfactory explanation on this matter in this House, as is his duty, is the country has spent $850 million on the Bridge built by the Korean contractor, Hyundai, and Malaysians are entitled to know the full details of the pilecap and pile defects.