Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the second series of the nation-wide public protest meetings of 588,000 co-operative depositors held at Wisma Chin Woo, Ipoh on Saturday, 25th April 1987 at 8pm
Challenge to Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and MCA Ministers to deny that they opposed a ‘dollar-for-dollar’ refund in Cabinet.
For the first five months after the Bank Negara freeze on the 23 deposit-taking co-operatives on August 8, 1986, involving $1.5 billion hard-earned savings of 588,000 co-operative depositors, MCA Ministers and leaders showed utter indifference to the plight and sufferings of the depositor.
During these critical five months, when the Government was deciding on the policy approach to the $1.5 billion Co-operative Finance Scandal, MCA Ministers dare not speak up for the 588,000 depositors in Cabinet and demand that the government has the political, moral and legal responsibility to ensure that the 588,000 depositors do not suffer from the scandal, and that the government should bail out the depositors as fully as it bailed out BMF and Bank Bumiputra in the $2.5 billion BMF Scandal.
Recently, however, because of the impending Gopeng parliamentary by-election on May 16, MCA Ministers and leaders are making all sorts of promises about the Co-operative Finance Scandal, which they should have made last year and implemented by now.
Early this month, MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, attacked me and the DAP for our stand that the 588,000 cod should get ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund. When the DAP pointed out that this meant that the MCA had openly opposed the depositors’ demand for full refunds on a ‘dollar-to-dollar’ basis, other MCA leaders back-tracked and claimed that the MCA wants a ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund for the depositors.
MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, for instance, said in New Kopisan in Gopeng on Saturday, April 18, 1987, that the MCA was working towards a dollar-for-dollar refund to the depositors.
The question the Gopeng voters and the 588,000 depositors ask is whether Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the other MCA Ministers and leaders can be trusted on their statements on the Co-operative Finance Scandal, or whether they are all empty promises which are merely Gopeng by-election gimmicry and tricks.
I want to ask Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the other MCA Ministers why they did not work for a ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund to the depositors in the Cabinet when the government was taking a policy decision on its approach to the scandal, and only now, when the Gopeng by-election is around the corner?
I challenge Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, Datuk Chan Siang Sung and Ng Cheng Kiat to deny that in Cabinet, they agreed that the 588,000 co-operative depositors should not be guaranteed a ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund? Why then this hypocrisy of the MCA Ministers and leaders outside the Cabinet?
What is the use of the MCA Ministers talking about working towards a ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund for the depositors, when in Cabinet, they had given full support to the government’s position that there cannot be ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund?
MCA Ministers responsible for the $1.5 billion Co-operative Finance Scandal
The MCA Ministers and leaders cannot expect the 588,000 co-operative depositors to accept their statement with blind trust, especially as the MCA Ministers must bear a great responsibility for the $1.5 billion Co-operative Finance Scandal.
Would Datuk Lee Kim Sai deny, for instance, that on 21st June 1986, he assured the 588,000 co-operative depositors that their deposits are legally protected, and are therefore absolutely safe and involved no risks? Datuk Lee asked the people to banish all doubts about the co-operatives, and to feel sage to put their monies in the co-operatives.
Would Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik deny, for instance, that on 26th June 1986, he assured the 588,000 co-operative depositors that apart from KOSATU which had been frozen by Bank Negara, the other 23 co-operatives were not in trouble? As a result, for the two weeks before Bank Negara froze the other 23 co-operatives, on August 8, 1986, depositors who had trusted in Datuk Dr. Ling’s assurances and not taken out their deposits found they had made the greatest mistake in their life.
Now we have the spectacle of Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Lee Kim Sai who had contributed in so great a fashion to the $1.5 billion Co-operative Finance Scandal, and who refused to speak up for the 588,000 depositors in Cabinet during the important first five months of the scandal, now trying to become the ‘Saviors’ of the depositors.
588,000 co-operative depositors must make use of the Gopeng by-election to demand fair and just government solution
The Gopeng by-election is a great opportunity for the 588,000 depositors to demand fair and just government solution. Until the DAP launched the Gopeng Declaration Movement to demand fair and just government solution in the $1.5 billion Co-operative Scandal, there is the impression that the 588,000 co-operative depositors have lost all hope.
The second round of nation-wide protest meetings of co-operative depositors launched by the DAP is to make the co-operative scandal a central issue again, and although we have succeeded in re-opening the whole issue in the public limelight, more must be done before a fair and just government solution is secured.
However, whether we succeed in pressurizing the government to treat the 588,000 co-operative depositors fairly depends on whether the depositors themselves are prepared to organize themselves to make the government realize the seriousness of their demands.