Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary – General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siong, when introducing the $ 10 cut motion against the Director – General of Anti-Corruption Agency during the 1990 Budget Committee debate on the Prime Minister’s Department estimates in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, November 14, 1989
DAP calls for the closure of the Anti-corruption Agency as it serves no purpose when it is so ineffective against corruption in government and high political levels
Eight years after the much – vaunted slogan of the resent government for a clean efficient and trustworthy’ administration, corruption in government and high political circles have never been so rampant as today as at any time in the country’s history. In fact, corruption, breach of trust and abuse of power seem to have become so deep – rooted that it has become an integral part of the political culture of the Barisan Nasional government.
We seemed to have reached a stage that there is nothing important in the country which is not touched rather by corruption, breach of trust or abuse of power.
Tomorrow, 236,320 SPM candidates will have to go through the agony of resitting for the SPM Bahasa Malaysia Kertas II which had been locked before the candidates sat for the paper on 31st October. Those responsible and should be leak for monetary gain are highly irresponsible and should be brought to book. But what moral indignation can we summon against these reprehensible characters who are prepared to leak and sell examination papers for monetary gain, when all around us, we see corruption, breach of trust and abuse of power in government and high political circles represented the political culture and order of the day?
Privatization, for instance, has become a highly fruitful source of corruption, breach of trust and abuse of power. Yesterday, we saw the unusual spectacle during question time of the MIC MP, Siva Subramanian, expressing dissatisfaction at the privatization terms of the North – South Highway contract to UEM, I welcome the MIC MP to the ranks of the critics of the North – South Highway privatization contract to UEM and PLUS, although his unhappiness seems to begin only after the MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu, moved out from the Ministry of Works. He gives the strong impression on that his unhappiness stems from the inability of the MIC to get its share of the spoils and spin – offs of the contract, rather from any concern at any corruption, breach of trust or abuse of power involved.
The North – South Highway privatization contract is not only unusual in that it has caused the MIC to act so peculiarly. It is also most extraordinary in another sense. The government had justified the privatization of the North – South Highway on the ground that the government could not financially afford to build it or maintain it, although it had already completed about half of the highway. The suggestion is that government may go bankrupt if it has to shoulder the burden of completing and maintaining the North – South Highway.
Yet, it is this very Highway contract which could convert a virtually bankrupt company, the UEM, which had never build an inch of road or a foot of bridge, into the brightest star in the corporate firmament, set for even bigger things to come as it embarks on a corporate gobbling exercise.
The question Malaysian are entitled to ask is why the UMNO Baru leaders in Government and Cabinet cannot make the North –South Highway project a paying proposition, but yet could it make a supremely profitable proposition when they take over the project in their private and political party capacity?
Probably, the Ministry of Works and even the entire Malaysian Government should be privatized.
All this is intimately related to corruption and the effectiveness o the Anti – Corruption Agency. If the political culture is pervaded with corruption, breach of trust and abuse of power, no Anti – Corruption Agency which is answerable to the government of the day could play any effective or meaningful role to combat corruption.
In moving a motion to reduce the salary of the Director – General of the Anti – Corruption Agency, I am not casting any aspersions against his personal honor or integrity. I want to make a strong statement that under the present political culture, where corruption, breach of trust and abuse of power is so rampant at high political circles, the ACA and its Director – General cannot plat any effective or meaningful role to combat corruption in Malaysia.
This is why the ACA does not inspire the fear that it would if it is an effective agency. In fact, even government servants can hold the ACA to ransom. In early October, when the ACA detained six Customs officers at the Tanjung Puteri Customs Complex in Johor Bahru, the customs officers retaliated by staging a virtual go – slow, causing massive congestions and great public inconvenience.
The customs officers felt that they were being discriminated against, with the ACA going for the ‘ikan bilis’ but doing nothing against the political sharks!
The ACA has a miserable record against political corruption. For instance, in the budget debate on October 26, 1987 – a day before I was detained under Operation Lalang, I made a call in this House to the ACA to investigate the approval of a 2,000 – acre forest concession in Pahang to a low – cost housing resident a day before the August 3, 1986 general elections.
I had even referred to a letter dated 23rd January 1987 (Ref. PHN.PHG. 143/2/3/SK. 18(4)) which the Pengarah Perhutanan Negeri Pahang Dato Abdul Latif bin Nordin, had written to one Azmi bin Daud of 71, Rumah Kos Rendah, Lanchang, Mentekab, informing him that his application dated 21st July 1986 for about 2,000 acres of forest concession in Bentong District had been approved by the Menteri Besar of Pahang on 2nd August 1986. Azmi was given 30 days to pay $ 260,424.16 to take up the concession.
I had asked the ACA to investigate how the then Pahang Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, could give ‘lightning’ approval within 12 days to a forest concession applications, especially when the application was submitted at a time when the Pahang State Assembly had already been dissolved for general elections to be held – nomination being July 24 and polling on August 3, 1986. Furthermore, how could the applicant, who was staying in a government low – cost housing scheme, afford to pay $ 260,424.16, unless he was a nominee for powerful and influential people? Under the circumstances of the case, I specifically asked the ACA to investigate whether Azmi was in fact nominee for Datuk Nakib himself – a case of the Menteri Besar approving 2,000 acres of forest concession to himself before leaving office 24 hours later!
The ACA sends a representative to Parliament to take notes when the ACA is mentioned, but I have not heard from the ACA as to whether it had investigated this case. In fact, I will not be surprised if a file on it had never been opened in the first place.
Who is the Godfather behind Saujana Taxi License Scandal ?
It was no surprise therefore that during the budget debate the Saujana taxi license scandal was brought up, where 200 taxi licenses were given to a mysterious company when they should have been given to the taxi drivers. It has all the mark of political corruption, although cleverly camouflaged, with the principals hidden behind proxies and nominess. The Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, is very angry that his name had been dragged into the Saujana Taxi License Scandal, claiming that there were people who claimed that he was behind the scandal.
Ghaffar Baba is right to be angry if he is not involved in the Saujana Taxi License Scandal. But he should be more angry at the Scandal itself, where taxi drivers are denied and deprived of their right to the license by a mysterious company. What is the Deputy Prime Minister doing to right this wrong? Would he use his power and position as Deputy Prime Minister to direct that these 200 taxi licenses should be re – issued to the taxi drivers?
If the giving of the 200 taxi licenses to Saujana is straight forward and above – board, why was there a need to drag in the name of the Deputy Prime Minister to smother protest? Can the ACA find out which powerful political leader or Cabinet Minister is behind the Saujana scandal? The taxi – drivers in particular and the Malaysian public as a whole are entitled to know who is the Godfather behind investigations into the Saujana scandal? Or is this more properly to be dealt with by Ministerial Committee on Corruption, headed by the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim.
The establishment o the Ministerial Committee on Corruption is a public admission by the Government that the public has lost faith and confidence in the ACA. This is unheard of in the world, where a Cabinet Committee is formed on corruption, where Ministers are to investigate their own corruption! The Inspect – General of Police might as well appoint Tan Koon Swan to catch all the political – cum- corporate crooks in all the MCA related companies and co-operatives!
Million – dollar Johore UMNO Baru Scandal
The lastest political scandal to become public is the Johore UMNO Baru Scandal. The Johore PSRM Chairman, Razak Ahmad, had on 5th November 1989 made the following report to the ACA:
Penyelewengan pemberian kawasan
balak di Hutan Simpan Ma’okil, Muar
Saya telah mendapat tahu bahawa wang berjmlah $ 1 juta riggit ($ 1,000,000) telah diberi kepada Bendahari Perhubungan UMNO Negeri Johor pada 8hb Ogos 1988 nelalui cashier’s cheque, United Malayan Banking Corporation Bhd, Cawangan Segamat yang telah di keluarkan oleh Syrikat Heng Mah Timber Trading Shn. Bhd.
Saya selanjutnya mendapat tahu bahawa wang berjumlah $ 1 jyta itu telah diberi kepada Bendahari Perhubugan UMNO Negeri Johor sebagai wang rasuah supaya Kerajaan Negeri Johor melalui Pengarah Perhutanan Negeri Johor dan juga melalui YAB Tan Sri Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd. Yassin akan meluluskan kawasan balak di Hutan Simpan Ma’okil, Mukim Lenga, Muar, compartment No. 72, 73, 74, 75 dan 76 seluas 1,500 ekar.
Kawasan balak seluas 1,500 ekar itu telah dipohon oleh syarikat POWERTAN (M) SDN. BHD. yang mempunyai pejabatnya yang berdaftar di Lot. 203, tingkat 2, Banguanan UMNO, Jalan Petrie, Muar dan juga di Tingkat 5 Wisma Selangor Dredging Bhd, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
Syarikat Powertan (M) Sdn. Bhd. telah membuat perjanjian pada 11hd Ogos 1988 dengan Heng Mah Timber Trading Sdn. Bhd. untuk memjual kawasan balak itu dengan harga $ 1,600 seekar. Mengikut perjanjian itu juga syarikat Heng Mah Timber Trading Sdn. Bhd. dikehendaki memebayar $ 1 juta kepada Bendahari Perhubungan UMNO UMNO Negeri Johor melalui Haji A Kadir Badrom (K/P No. 0261895), Pengarah Urusan, syarikat Powertan (M) Sdn. Bhd.”
Has the ACA the power to get to the bottom of this Johore UMNO Baru political corruption scandal!?
$ 2 billion KEJORA privatization of DEARU another scandal!?
I must ask here, what expertise the ACA has acquired to deal with mutli – billion dollar privatization scandals? What can the ACA do to ensure that the privatization of LLN or the national health insurance scheme would be as scandalous as the North – South Highway scandal?
For instance, the Johore Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Muhyideen, recently announced the $ 2 billion KEJORA privatization of DESARU RESORT, involving a 99 – year lease of 5,000 acres of prime resort area of State land. What was not known was that the Menteri Besar, after his appointment as Chairmen of KEJORA in Feb. 1988, rode roughshod over all established procedures for the privatization of DESARU, abandoned the evaluation guidelines and standards KEJORA had engaged Arab – Malaysian Merchant Bank (AMMB) in 1984 to formulate to evaluate privatization bids, froze and disregarded some 20 bids for privatization, and single – handedly pushed through the approval of the privatization of DESARU RESORT to a company which he introduced after he became KEJORA Chairmen as interested in the privatization – namely K & S International.
K & S International submitted its preliminary proposals to KEJORA in 1989. Knowing that the proposals would not pass the evaluation guidelines and standards formulated by the AMMB, Tan Sri Muhyideen directed KEJORA to dispense with the evaluation, and took upon himself to issue a Letter of Intent to K & S international in August 1989.
On 3rd October 1989, K & S International submitted a more comprehensive proposal, but this time through its vehicles, Desaru International Resort Sdn. Bhd. (DIRSB) , a company newly incorporated in September 1989, and the subscribers were K & S International, Kajima Corporation and Bumiputra individuals represented by one Haji Esa Mohamed, a Muar – born architect in his early 30s. On 10.10.89, the privatization contract was awarded to DIRSB through the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) .
The DESARU RESORT privatization smacks of another rip – off of public property and resources, in this case 5,000 acres of prime resort State land. In by – passing the standard tender procedures and KEJORA’s own evaluation guidelines for the privatization , as well as disregarding the 20 earlier bids for the privatization, the Johore Mentri Besar’s executive interference gives rise to the question as to whether the DESARU RESORT privatization is another major political scandal!?
I will leave for another occasion to go deeper into the DESARU RESORT privatization question, but I am only concerned here with regard to the aspect of political corruption, and the role of the ACA to combat this nefarious form of activity in Malaysia. What can ACA do to curb and combat this form of political corruption?
Corruption in Sabah
In his reply to the MP for Sandakan, Sdn, Fung Ket Wing, during the winding – up of the budget debate last Friday, the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Raja Ariffin Raja Sulaiman, said that between 1985 and September 1989, the ACA investigated 39 cases of corruption involving political leaders, out of which, two had been charged, 18 cases dropped as no evidence of corruption could be found, while 21 cases are still being investigated.
I have with me a stack of reports about corruption in Sabah, involving State Ministers and other high – level political leaders.
The ACA has also these documents, but there has been no follow – up action whatsoever by the ACA. I agree with his paragraph in this stack of documents about corruption in Sabah: “Corruption in Sabah is so open now – there is evidence everywhere for everyone to see. Ministers who were elected to power only three – and – a – half years ago and civil servants who rightly should have nothing more than their salaries are living in palatial homes and driving flashy cars. Many of them have also been awarded timber concessions. In short, all of them are living beyond their means in the eyes of the public.” But then, the ACA has the special knack of not seeing what everyone can see!
A new $ 500 million Bank Pertanian Scandal!?
Unless there is a strong political will to stamp out corruption, the ACA is only a window – dressing. There can be no political will or commitment to fight corruption when the Barisan Nasional Government is wallowing in financial scandals and political corruption. There is not only the $ 2.5 billion Bumiputras Malaysia Financial Scandal, but Bumiputra Scandal II, as if announcing that this is going to be a long – running series – except we do not know when we are going to hear about Bank bumiputra Scandal III.
I understand that the time boom for another banking scandal is ticking away, that Bank Pertanian is on the verge of collapse with $ 440 million bad loans which had to be written off – and many of these loans were given members of the Board and their friends, including one loan exceeding $ 100 million. I do not know whether the Government would confirm that Bank Pertanian is applying for a $ 500 million rescue package.
The situation has become so bad that the Barisan Nasional leaders even resort to corruption in general elections and by – elections, seeking to buy people’s votes by all forms of political bribery and inducements.
With such a political culture of political corruption, what is the purpose of ACA. In fact, I think the ACA might as well be dissolved, for it has no role or function whatsoever in fighting corruption in government and high political places under the Barisan Nasional Government.