DAP calls for re-opening of the BMF Scandal Inquiry in view of the new information from London extradition proceedings

Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, to the Penang Straits Chinese Association on “Malaysia Post-General Elections” at the Penang Old Frees Alumni Association Hall on Saturday, Nov 1, 1986 at 8p.m.

DAP calls for re-opening of the BMF Scandal Inquiry in view of the new information from London extradition proceedings

I propose tonight to look at Malaysia Post-General Elections, in particular at the various major issues and events which should throw some light as to whether the government of the day is drawing the right lessons from the August 3 general elections, just three months ago.

Despite the Barisan Nasional’s general elections success in winning fourth-fifth parliament majority, there is no doubt that the ruling government had suffered one of the greatest electoral setbacks in history in Malaysia. Although the Barisan Nasional won about 70 percent of the electoral support in the rural areas, it was rejected by 75 percent of the urban electorate.

The whole purpose of the general elections is not just to elect the new government of the day, but even more important, to ascertain the political views and wishes of the people. I f parliamentary democracy in Malaysia is to work, then no government should use its parliamentary majority achieved by inegalitarian and undemocratic delineation of constituencies, to ride roughshod over the aspirations and rights of those who vote against the ruling party. On the other hand, the government should take the general elections as an important soulding-board to understand the views and aspirations of all sections of Malaysian, and to be a government of all Malaysians- including those who did not vote for it.

This is why I made important point in Parliament that Dr.Mahathir Mohamed must decide whether he is going to be the Prime Minister of only the 55 per cent of the voters who voted for Barisan Nasional, of he is going to be the Prime Minister of 100% of all Malaysians- which means he must also respect the views and aspirations of the 45% of the electorate who voted against Barisan Nasional.

The Malaysian voters went to the polls on August 3 in the midst of the greatest crisis of confidence in Malaysian history. Dr Mahathir Mohamed admitted as much during his UMNO Presidential Address in September. With his four-fifth parliamentary majority, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed had the opportunity to resolve the crisis of confidence by winning the hearts and minds of Malaysians by promising the 45% of these who voted decisively against the Barsian Nasional that their grievances and unhappiness would be looked into by the new government. Instead, Dr.Mahathir said on the morning of the election results that the Barisan victory showed that the people are happy with the Barisan Nasional policies, and that these policies would not change.

It is most unfortunate that Dr. Mahathir missed a great historic opportunity to resolve the crisis of confidence, heal the differences in the country and put Malaysia on a united path, by acknowledging and resolving to address the serious national problems highlighted by the general elections.

The failure of the Prime Minister to resolve the crisis of confidence, despite his fourth-fifth parliamentary majority, can best be seen from the fact that his landslide victory did not dispel rumours about political instability, but fanned new rumours that Dr. Mahathir was going to step down as Prime Minister soon.

The Prime Minister had accused the DAP of spreading these rumours, which is completely without basic. What is important is that these rumours did not create the crisis of confidence, but are spawned by such a crisis of confidence.

In my view, the most serious issue in Malaysia post-general elections is the Barisan Nasional’s refusal to come to terms with the growing aspirations of Malaysians for a change in style of government- the demand that the government must be democratic, open, accountable, clean, efficient fair and just.

For instance, the Barisan Nasional , including UMNO, MCA Gerakan, MIC and other component parties, refuse to acknowledge that Malaysians are very disenchanted by the Barisan Nasional’s numerous scandals, and in particular by their attempt to hide these scandals from public knowledge.

On the contrary, the Barisan Nasional government is proposing to use its fourth-fifth parliament majority to amend the Official Secrets Act to make it impossible for these scandals to be exposed by the Opposition.

This has been the attitude of the Barisan Nasional Government all along, being more concerned about protecting the crooks and criminals responsible for the various scandals, rather than in upholding the public interest to expose these crooks and criminals.

The $2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) Scandal is the best illustration, where the Opposition and public interest organizations had to fight every step of the way for the government to give some accounting to the people. The full story of the BMF scandal has not been told, but the Barisan Nasional Government does not want to hear anything about it, claiming that all that could be said and known had been done, and the people should forget about the BMF scandal.

The news reports from the London extradition proceedings against the two main BMF culprits, Lorraine Osman and Datuk Hashim Shamsuddin, shows otherwise. For instance, the former Bank Bumiputra Executive Chairman, Dr. Nawawi Mat Awin, had claimed during the entire BMF scandal that he had never approved nor authorized nor had any knowledge of any loan to Carrian or George Tan. Dr. Nawawi became Chairman of Bank Bumiputra in April 1982, and it is now public knowledge that Bank Bumiputra through BMF lent about $1 billion to Carrian and George Tan related companies after the collapse of the Hong Kong property market in Sept 1982.

The London extradition trial of Lorraine Osman and Hashim Shamsuddin has thrown new light on this aspect of the BMF scandal. Ibrahim Jaffar, former BMF general Manager in Hong Kong, told the London magistrate’s court that Dr. Nawawi, together with Lorraine Osman and Hashim Shamsuddin, knew of the “disguised” money market loans made to communist China banks which ultimately went to Carrian companies and George Tan.

If Dr. Nawawi was aware of these frandulent loan transactions, I cannot believe that top UMNO leaders are not kept informed by Dr. Nawawi, who was a “political appointment” in Bank Bumiputra.

The DAP calls for the re-opening of the BMF scandal inquiry in view of new information from London extradition proceedings. Such a re-opening of the BMF inquiry is also warranted by the recent attempt to poison Mak Foon Than in Hong Kong prison. Mak was convicted of murdering former BMF Assistant General Manager, Jalil Ibrahim.

Why should anybody want to murder Mak Foon Than if there are no masterminds to the murder of Jalil Ibrahim who are out at large, and who are afraid that Mak Foon Than may decided to ‘squeal’ and tell everything to bargain for life imprisonment in exchange of death sentence.

The Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee had in fact called for the re-opening of investigations into Jalil Ibrahim’s murder, but this call had so far been ignored by the Malaysian authorities.

The same irresponsible attitude towards public accountability characterized the other scandals, like the Maminco mysterious tin-buying scandal, the UMBC scandal involving Daim Zainuddin, the Finance Minister, and his family companies; the EPF-Makuwasa scandal where EPF funds were used in speculative shares transactions; the Pan El scandal; the Co-operative Finance scandal of 24 co-operatives, and the latest, the Co-operative Central Bank scandal.

Government should be serious about tabling Command Paper on Co-operative Finance Scandal in Parliament, and not disappoint 540,000 depositors

The $1.6 billion Co-operatives Finance Scandal, affecting the life-savings of 540,000 depositors, is another shameful chapter in the government of the Barisan Nasional.

The government could have taken action a few years ago to protect the interests of the 540,000 depositors, but did not do so because of its higher concern to protect the political future of MCA and Gerakan leaders in the general elections. This was why the Bank Negara took action to freeze the 23 co-operatives on August 8, after the general elections would have been even more disastrous to the MCA and Gerakan candidates, whether at parliament or state level.

This is a clear case wher the public interest and those of 540,000 depositors were sacrificed to the political interest of MCA and Gerakan leaders and their potential election candidates.

The 540,000 co-operative depositors were promised a solution within a month of the Bank Negara action to freeze the assests and activities of the 23 co-operatives, but it is now coming to three months without any sign that the government is prepared to shoulder its responsibility to come to the rescue of the 540,000 depositors.

On Thursday, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Nasional and the Rural Development, Ghaffar Baba, told reporter that the Government would present a Command Paper in Parliament on Bank Negara’s investigations into the 24 co-operatives, either later the same day or yesterday.

In the past two days, DAP MPs and offices had been flooded with anxious inquiries by the depositors about the Command Paper on the co-operatives, but no such Command Paper had been tabled in Parliament.

The Government should be more serious in handling the $1.6 billion Co-operative Finance Scandal, because the 540,000 depositors victimized are the small-people – the housewives, the hawkers, workers, petty traders. The government should not disappoint the 540,000 depositors with empty promises, and I hope that the Command Paper on the 24 co-operatives and the government’s rescue plan for the $1.6 billion depositors of the 540,000 depositors would be tabled in Parliament on Monday.

Government failed to honour its promise to give a full statement on the Maminco mysterious tin-buying in London in 1981 in Parliament

The Government has so far failed to give a satisfactory explaination of the UMBC scandals involving the Finance Minister, Daim Zanuddin, and his family companies. Nor has the Government fulfilled its promise to give a full statement on the Maminco mysterious tin-buying in London in 1981 in the Parliament.

Then I raised the London tin-buying incident during question time, Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Sabaruddin Cik, said that a full statement on the issue would be given to Parliament. Datuk Sabaruddin did not touch on the tin-buying scandal during the winding up of the debate on the Royal Address, nor did the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, refer to it in his budget speech.

I wish to give notice that unless the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, give an explanation of the 1981 London tin-buying scam during the winding-up of the debate on the 1987 budget next week, the DAP will move a motion to cut $10 from the salary of the Finance Minister for grossly misleading the Parliament and the people.

The government’s proposal to amend the Official Secrets Act to make it a mandatory minimum one-year for any offence under the Act is a clear indication that the government wants to put a blanket on all exposes of government scandals.

The 1986 Official Secret Act (Amendment0 Bill is a most pernicious piece of legislation, for it will not only give protection to all forms of government scandal, corruption, abuse of power and breach of trust, it will strike at the very basis of democratic system.

Democracy is based on the consent of the governed, underpinned by the principle of public accountability of the government to the people. If there is no public accountability, there can be no consent of the governed- for it would have been replased by the dictates of the political rulers.

All Malaysian who cherish democracy end our basic human rights must oppose the OSA (Amendment) Bill 1986, and this must be a test as to whether an MP, Deputy Minister, Minister or political party, has any credentials as a party committed to democracy.

I call on every MP, Deputy Minister and Minister in UMNO, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and the other component parties, to take a stand on the OSA (Amendment) Bill and to have to encourage to declare opposition to the OSA (Amendment) Bill because it will freeze the free flow of information, and mark a major assault on the principle of democracy in Malaysia.

The DAP will approach all the other MPs to ascertain whether there are MPS in the Barisan Nasional who have the political conviction to take a open and public stand against such a great threat to democracy and are prepared to face the consequences for such consequences stc.

The Official Secret Act (Amendment) Bill 1986 should also energise all Malaysians who feel strongly about democracy to realize that hey must have a sustaining concern and interest in political events and development, and that they cannot have the luxury of showing interest in political once every four or five years during general elections.

I hope before the OSA (Amendment) Bill 1986 is debated in Parliament on Dec 5 or 8, Malaysians from all walks of life, organizations and regions, would have started a nation-wide movement to demand the withdrawal of the OSA (Amendment) Bill 1986, the repeal of the 1972 OSA Act and its replacement by Freedom of Information Act to protect the right of free flow of information and an Aspionage Act to protect Malaysia from spies and traitors trying to sell sensitive information relating to national security, defence or other legitimate state secrets.