Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the second national ground of public protest meeting of the 588,000 co-operative depositors in Kuala Lumpur held at Federal Hotel, KL on Sunday, 29th March 1987 at 8p.m.
DAP calls on Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik to get Cabinet directive next week to issue the full list of borrowers whose total loan portfolio of $101.8 million had already been written off by Bank Negara as bad debts and irrecoverable
This is the third public meeting of the 588,000 co-operative depositors in the second round of nation-wide protests against the government’s indifference to their suffering and plight. The first meeting was held in Gopeng on Thursday, 26th March 1987 and the second in Panglima Garang, Jenjarom, Selangor last night.
This second series of nation-wide public protest meetings of the 588,000 co-operative depositors is being organized at the request of the depositors who are worried that they had been forgotten by the various Government authorities after the first nominal payment of 10 per cent for the majority of the depositors just before the Chinese New Year at the end of January.
In the past two months, co-operative depositors had been asking DAP MPs, Assemblymen and leaders what could be done to ensure they get a fair and just solution to the $1.5 billion co-operative finance scandal, where depositors get a ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund. There is no doubt that if the 588,000 depositors just wait and accept the repeated advice of MCA President Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik ‘to be calm’, eventually the depositors would be left in the lurch. This is because the $1.5 billion co-operative finance calamity of the 588,000 depositors rank very low down in the government order of priority of issues, and secondly, the government has many more other big financial scandals which it regards as more important to deal with, like the $740 million it had used in the past few months to bail out Co-operative Central Bank, United Asian Bank and the Perwira Habib Bank.
Whether the government could be made to concede that the 588,000 depositors had a powerful case to be given urgency and priority attention, will depend solely on the 588,000 depositors themselves. If the 588,000 depositors, for instance, up and down the country, every other week, protest and even demonstrate against the indifference, irresponsibility and discrimination of government to their problems, the likelihood that the government would have to give more serious attention to their problems would be greater. If the 588,000 depositors just keep quiet and act on Datuk Dr. Ling’s advice ‘to be calm’, then the Government will concentrate on other more pressing issues.
Bank Negara Governor, Datuk Jaffar Hussein, is siding the Tan Sri-Tan Sri, Datuk Datuk or full or Deputy Ministers who are borrowers of co-operative against the interest of the depositors.
The 588,000 depositors must organize themselves to ensure that the various government authorities are diligent in looking after their interest. Depositors have complained for instance that they find the Bank Negara Governor, Datuk Jaffar Hussein, suddenly siding the Tan Sri-Tan Sri, Datuk-datuk, and full or Deputy Ministers who are major borrowers of the co-operative against the interest of the depositors, and want to know why.
In January, Datuk Jaffar Hussein had suggested ‘public pressure’ to get the co-operative borrowers to repay their loans, and also those who had ‘taken’ from the DTCs and ‘profited’ from their position of trust to make restitution and pay back was rightfully belongs to depositors.
The Bank Negara Governor had also said that the government would release the names of the major borrowers of the 23 co-operatives if given the approval by the Finance Minister. When Daim Zainuddin, the Finance Minister, said he authorized such release as the government ‘had nothing to hide’, the Bank Negara suddenly backed out of public release of the list of major borrowers of co-operatives.
The 588,000 depositors are entitled to wonder as to what game the Bank Negara Governor, Datuk Jaffar Hussein and the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, are playing.
Last Thursday, Datuk Jaffar Hussein said that the public would automatically know the names of the major borrowers when the receivers of the co-operatives sue them when they fail in their attempt to collect debts from the major borrowers.
This is most unsatisfactory.
The Government announced in the White Paper on the Deposit-Taking Co-operatives tabled in Parliament in November 1986 that Bank Negara had written off $101.8 million or 29 per cent of the total loans portfolios of $351 million of the 23 co-operatives as bad debt and irrecoverable. It was also because of such writing-off that the net-asset backing of the 23 co-operatives were calculated, with KOSATU having only 30 cents, SAKAPP 37 cents, Fortiss 39 cents, etc.
There can be no acceptable reason why Bank Negara should continue withhold from the public, and in particular the 588,000 depositors, the identify of the borrowers who collectively were responsible for $101.8 million loans from the co-operatives which had been written off by Bank Negara as bad debts and irrecoverable.
The 588,000 depositors have lost confidence that the Bank Negara has the full powers and freedom to do what is right and fair for the depositors, and the co-operative finance issue must be re-opened in the Cabinet, where it really belongs.
In this connection, the DAP calls on the MCA President Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik to get a Cabinet decision and directive next week to make public the fdebts and full list of borrowers whose total loan portfolios of $101.8 million had already been written off by Bank Negara as bad debts and irrecoverable
The Government should stop protecting the big shots, whether Tan-Sri Tan-Sri, Datuk-Datuk, or even if full or Deputy Minister, who are the borrowers of in this $101.8 million bad debt list, and reveal their full identify to the 588,000 co-operative depositors.
Call on MCA Ministers to endorse the seven-point demand of the Gopeng Declaration of Co-operative Depositors
In the second series of nation-wide public protest meetings of the 588,000 depositors, the co-operative depositors must reach agreement as to their demands on the co-operative finance scandal to be the rallying cry of the struggle of the depositors, whether for one, two or more years.
These demands had been spelt out in the Gopeng Declaration of Co-operative Depositors adopted by the public protest meeting of co-operative depositors in Gopeng on Thursday, 26th March 1987, and which we are asking co-operative depositors throughout the country to give their support.