Call on public-spirited Malaysians to save K.C. Cheah’s legal firm from being attached and auctioned by Employees’ Provident Fund Board for fighting the interests of 4.8 million EPF contributors


Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP PJ Hqrs on Thursday, 26th April 1990 at 11.30 a.m.

Call on public-spirited Malaysians to save K.C. Cheah’s legal firm from being attached and auctioned by Employees’ Provident Fund Board for fighting the interests of 4.8 million EPF contributors

I am calling this press conference to call on all public-spirited Malaysians to come forward to save K.C. Cheah’s legal firm from being attached and auctioned by the Employees’ Provident Fund Board for fighting the rights and interests of the 4.8 million EPF contributors.

If K.C. Cheah’s legal firm is to be attached and auctioned by the EPF Board because it owes dues and contributions to the EPF which it had not settled, then it would be a private matter which is no concern of the public.

If K.C. Cheah’s legal firm is to be attached and auctioned by the EPF Board because it owes dues and contributions to the EPF which it had not settled, then it would be a private matter which is no concern of the public.

But in this case, the EPF Board’s lawyers are to attach the legal firm of K. C. Cheah next Thursday, 3rd May 1990 not because K.C. Cheah owed any personal debt to EPF for failure to make EPF contribution with regard to his employees, but because of a public interest litigation taken up by K.C. Cheah on behalf of 4.8 million EPF contributors.

In 1986, the 4.8 million EPF contributors were very worried about the high-handed and arbitrary manner in which EPF Board was managing the $24,000 million E P F funds, especially as the EPF Board refused to give a full and detailed accounting as to how it had invested the EPF funds, which are meant for the social security of the EPF contributors after their retirement.

The reasons for these widespread anxiety about the security of their EPF contributions were because of the following events:

(1) The Auditor-General, in his Report on the 1985 EPF Accounts released in 1986, castigated the EPF for investing $517.52 million in the shares market and suffered a loss of $55.97 million, which exceeded 10 per cent of its total equity investments.

(2) The Auditor-General also objected to the imprudent EPF Board .investments where 65 per cent of the investments were concentrated in nine companies.

(3) The Auditor-General also alleged that the EPF had infringed Section 4(2)(b) of the 1951 EPF Act by illegally investing $18.86 million in non-trustee stocks, incurring a $10 million loss.

(4) Apart from this unlawful investment of $18.86 million in non-trustee stocks by the EPF itself in1985, the EPF’s portfolio managers also invested $31.93 million in non-trustee stocks in 1985. The Audi tor-General al commented that the EPF portfolio managers had both violated the EPF Act as well as their contracts with EPF in investing in the non-trustee stocks.

(5) A mysterious $30 million EPF contribution to a Special Treasury Fund to jack up the shares prices in Special Treasury Fund to jack up the shares prices in the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

(6) The EPF-Makuwasa Scandal where EPF invested $12.8 million in shares in 13 companies and subsequently sold 70 per cent of them to Makuwasa at $10 million below the market price.

To protect the interests of the 4.8 million EPF contributors and their $2,400 million EPF monies, K.C.Cheah and Nancy Chan AH Ah Mooi filed a legal suit in 14387 against the EPF Board and its Chairman, Tan Sri Zain Azraai Zainal Abidin, for a full accounting of the EPF investments, from 1982 to 1986.

K.C. Cheah lost the suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Sept. 1, 1987, and the then High Court Judge, Datuk Justice Harun Hashim awarded costs for EPF Board. The costs against K.C. Cheah was taxed at $22,357.

On 18th April 1990, t1- e EPF Board, through its lawyers, applied and was granted a Writ of Seizure and Sale against K.C. Cheah, and this is the background as to how the legal firm of K. C. Cheah faces the jeopardy of being attached and auctioned on 3rd May 1990.

As K. C. Cheah took up the case against the EPF Board in the public interest of the 4.8 million EPF contributors, it would be most unfair and even oppressive that K. C. Cheah should personally have to pay the cost of $22,357 to the EPF Board.

Public-spirited lawyers have chipped in to raise funds to meet the $22,357 costs, but this is still inadequate.

The threat of attachment and auction of K.C.Cheah’s legal firm should focus public attention on how prohibitive it is to take up public interest litigation in Malaysia.

DAP lawyers are prepared to institute public interest litigation and render their services free of charge, but the prospect of having to pay costs running into tens of thousands of dollars if unsuccessful will deter any such action.

This will be a great setback to the cause of public interest, for if the public are not prepared to pursue public interest litigation to protect the interest not of any one single person, but the entire public, then it will be fertile ground for arbitrary, irresponsible and even illegal government actions.

I therefore call on all public-spirited Malaysians to come forward to do their part to advance public interest litigation in Malaysia by firstly:

(l) Making donations to save K.C. Cheah’s legal firm from being attached and auctioned for championing the rights of 4.8 million EPF contributors in filing legal action against the EPF Board in 1987;

(2) Contribute to the setting up of a Trust Fund for Public Interest Litigation to protect the public interest from being encroached from arbitrary, irresponsible and illegal government actions.

For the moment, all public-spirited Malaysians who want to save K.C. Cheah’s legal firm from being attached and auctioned should send their donations to the firm of Karpal Singh & Co., who will handle these donations as lawyers for DAP. Donations can be sent to Karpal Singh & Co. either in Kuala Lumpur (Address: Karpal Singh & Co., 67 Jalan Pudu Lama, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 03-2303839/2301452) or to Penang (Address: Karpal Singh & Co., 17, First, Floor, Greenhall, 10200 Penang, Tel: 04-638543/639558). Receipts will be issued for all donations.

These donations will be given on the understanding that if they exceed the cost of $22,357 for EPF Board, the surplus will go towards a special fund specially for the purpose of public interest litigation.

I will contact the EPF Board Chairman to ask for a two-month extension for the payment of the costs by K.C. Cheah. In fact, the EPF Board should waive its costs, for it must recognise that K.C. Cheah was performing a public duty in filing the legal action against the EPF.