Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secreatry-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the first meeting of the DAP Special Task Force on MCA allegations questioning the integrity of Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik at DAP PJ Hqrs on Wednesday, 29the August 1990 at 9p.m.
Call on Dr. Mahathir to instistute a public inquiry into serious MCA allegations questioning the intergrity of Ling Liong Sik involving his dealings in MPHB, KSM-MPHB Investment Fund, Roltan Finance and Pyemas.
The Inspectors-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, said recently in his talk on white-collar crime, that among the 4.324 people found to have been involved in misappropriation of funds over the past five years, there were 82 lawyers, 450 company directors, 427 businessmen, 168 Government servants and 3,197 company employees. The financial loss in the past five years amounted to $367 million from criminal beach of trust (CBT) and $233 million from cheating.
The IGP had conspicuously omitted the white-collar crime statistics of leaders holding high political office as a result of corruption, for the simple reason that the Anti-Corruption Agency does not have the power to deal with high-level political corruption.
This is why the Anti-Corruption Agency has not been able to inspire public confidence that it has the autonomy and power to combat corruption in high political places, apart from ‘ikan bilis’ corruption.
Why has the Anti-Corruption Agency been so silent and inactive with regard to the serious allegations made by the Lee Kim Sai faction questioning the integrity of MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik during the recent MCA power struggle? The Anti-Corruption behaved as if did not read newspapers at all.
In the 13-day Ling-Lee fight for the post of MCA President last month, the Lee Kim Sai faction, including MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers aligned to it, made very serious allegations that Liong Sik is not a ‘clean’ or ‘honest’ political leader because of various business deals.
No MCA allegation questioning Liong Sik’s integrity has been withdrawn by Lee Kim Sai faction.
Up to now, none of these allegations had been withdrawn. In fact, the Lee Kim Sai faction had repeatedly told the press that they had sufficient ‘evidence’ to ‘finish off’ the political career of Liong sik, which they would reserve and use only after the next general elections.
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to institute a public inquiry into the serious allegations Sik, by other MCA leaders because of his involvement in various business deals like the Multi-purpose Holdings Bhd, the KSM-MPHB Investment Fund, the Bolton Finance and Pymemas money brokerage firm.
Based on the allegations made by the Lee Kim Sai faction in the 13-day power struggle, these are some of the issues which the Public Inquiry into allegations questioning the integrity of Ling Liong Sik should investigate:
1. Was Liong Sik serving his own interest and that of Kamunting Corporation Bhd. in the sale of the 29.8 per cent stake of Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd. (MPHB) of KSM, and in rejecting the Humebid as well as other ‘friendly offers’ – as was alleged by top MCA leaders during the Ling-Lee fight, that ‘Liong Sik had become an agent of Kamunting in MCA’?
2. Was Liong Sik similarly seving his own interest and that of Kamunting Corporation Bhd. In taking a stand opposing the enbloc sale of the 19.7 per cent stake of MPHB owned by the 50,398 KSM-MPHB Investment Fund unitholders, as alleged by the Lee Kim Sai faction?
Liong Sik’s Ratu Pahat statement should have been basis of investigation and action by Anti-Corruption Agency and Police.
3. Liong Sik said in Batu Pahat on 14th July 1990, and which was reported by all the press the next day, that he held 5 million shares of Bolton Finance in trust for businessmen Tan Sri Lim Thiam Leong to circumvent a Bank Negara regulation on ownership of financial institutions.
Liong Sik subsequently denied the statement, claiming that he was misunderstood, but his denial was self-serving and not credible. He must have been advised that his Batu Pahat statement would have made him as welll as Tan Sri Lim Thian Leong liable to prosecution for criminal offences. The reporters would be the witnesses that Liong Sik had made the incriminating Batu Pahat statement.
Liong Sik’s statement in Batu Pahat should have been the basis for police and Anti-Corruption Agency investigations and astions, nothing was done.
4. In a subsequently altered story, Liong Sik claimed that he took an $8.9 million interest-free loan from Bolton Properties to buy the 5 million shares. As Bolton Properties is a public-listed company, the giving of a $8.9 million interest-free loan to a director to buy its shares is clearly against its Memorandum of Association, the Companies Act as well as the interest of the shareholders. Why is the Registrar of Companies doing nothing about such wrongful and even criminal conduct by the directors of Bolton Properties?
5. It is interesting that when Liong Sik’s stake in Bolton Finance was first made public, Liong Sik claimed that he had the permission of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir to hold on to the shares after he returned to the Cabinet in January.
When Dr. Mahathir was asked about this, he said he could not remember. The pertinent questions are: Firstly, did Dr. Mahathir give Liong Sik permission to hold on to the Bolton Finance shares on his return to the Cabinet, and secondly, did Dr. Mahathir give him permission to hold on to the Bolton Finance shares for nearly five years until it became a public issue in the MCA power struggle?
Liong Sik knew the law and broke the law in the Bolton Finance Scandal
6. Liong Sik had at first explained that he did not sell his shares in Bolton Finance earlier because the Government did not expect its Ministers to incur huge losses by disposing of their business assets at one go, as he would have suffered a loss during the recession.
But Liong Sik subsequently explained that he was holding the shares in trust for Tan Sri Lim Thiam Leong to circumvent the law, and that the understanding was that Bolton Properties could sell off his shares and recoup the money any time.
On 17th July, Bolton Properties Bhd. announced that it was to acquire the 5.02 million shares representing 27.52 per cent of Bolton Finance Bhd’s paid-up capital held by Liong Sik for $11.06 million, and that the purchase would set off a loan to Liong Sik “which enabled him to acquire the said shares originally”.
This confirmed Liong Sik’s earlier explanation that he acquired the shares in trust or Tan Sri Lim Thiam Liang to circumvent the law. As former Deputy Finance Minister, Liong Sik knew the law and broke the law! What is worse, he continued to break the law for over four years after he returned to the Cabinet!
7. It is also interesting that after Liong Sik’s Bolton Finance shares came to public light, he was asked by reporters whether he had shares in other companies, and his reply was an evasive one of ‘I cannot remember’. This can only mean that he had a lot of shares in many companies to the extent that he could not remember them! This itself should be another cause for investigation.
Liong Sik committed the serious offence of remaining a director of Pyemas Sdn. Bhd for five months after he returned to Cabinet as Transport Minister
8. When Liong Sik’s money brokerage firm, Pyemas, came to public light, Liong Sik said there was nothing scandalous about the award of the license, as it only natural for him to seek for something “to feed my wife and family”.
He said: “I applied for the license as an ordinary MCA member and I was successful. But when I returned to the Government I sold off the company.”
Liong Sik’s explanation was studded with lies and false-hoods. Firstly, Liong Sik remained a director of Pyemas Sdn. Bhd. until 6th June 1986, five months after he had returned to the Cabinet as Transport Minister on 7th January 1986. This is clearly a criminal and even corruption offence, as a Minister cannot take part in any business during his tenure of office.
Secondly, he did not take any action to dispose of all his shares and the license of the money brokerage firm until in April this year, when he expected Lee Kim Sai to challenge him for the MCA Presidency and to make this issue public. It was reported at the end of last month that Liong Sik disposed his remaining shares in Pyemas to Inter-Pacific Industrial Group for $1.5 million.
The evasions, lies and half-truths with which Liong Sik parried the many questions raised by the Lee Kim Sai faction in the 13-day abortive MCA power struggle reinforced the MCA allegations that Liong Sik is not a clean and honest political leader.
I urge the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to have the courage to institute a public inquiry into these serious allegations questioning the integrity and probity of a Cabinet Minister and MCA President, made by the other MCA leaders themselves.
If the Prime Minister does not institute a public inquiry to establish that the Transport Minister and MCA President is a man of political honesty and integrity, then the DAP Task Force should consider what actions it could take to demand full public accountability on this question.
There are several areas on which the Task Force could act. For one, a political report could be lodged based solely on Liong Sik’s own incriminating statement in Batu Pahat, which was reported in all the press, about his holding the Bolton Finance shares in trust to help Tan Sri Lim Thiam Liang to circumvent the law.