By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Saturday , January 22th, 1994:
DAP calls on Government to issues white Paper as to whether there was an “aid for arms”‘ deal between Malaysia and the United Kingdom involving the RM 1.8 billion Pergau Dam project and the RM 5 billion Malaysian arms purchases from Britain
The United Kingdom press are still reverberating from the testimony at a top British civil Servant to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at the House at Commons on Tuesday that British Prime Minister John Major gave the tinal go -ahead for the aid for arms deal between Malaysia and the United Kingdom involving the RM 1.8 billion Pergau and project and the RM 5 billion Malaysian arms purchases from Britain.
This latest British Conservative government scandal is likely to further undermine the credibility and public support to the British Prime Minister , John Major who is already touching rock-bottom in British opinion polis after a series at government scandals and mishaps.
In Malaysia yesterday , the Minister for Energy , Telecommunication and posts , Datuk Seri Samy Vellu , became the second Cabinet Minister to deny that the Malaysian government ;s acceptance of financial aid from British for the Pergau hydroelectric dam project had anything to do with any arms agreement between the two countries.
Although the Detence Minister , Datuk Najib Tun Najib had earlier in the week made a similar cental , Malaysians and the Malaysian Parliament cannot simply dismiss the revelations in the British House of Commons and are entitled to a toll and detailed reply by the Malaysian Government to all the disclosures surfacing in the United Kingdom.
The permanent secretary at the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) , Sir, Tim Lankester told the British TAC on Monday that the Pergau Dam Project was a “ bad buy” and “abuse of the aid programme in that it was an uneconomic project”.
Sir George Younger , the Detence Minister at the time of the deal , had recently defented the “ aid for arms” deal with Malaysia when he said “ the British refused to make a connection but the Malaysians said there would be no military contract without the aid project.”
Did the Pergau Dam project and the RM 5 billion arms purchases benefit only a handful of person and companies?
From the point of view of Malaysians , the two most important questions are firstly , whenever there was an aid for arms” deal and it so why the Government had not sought the approval of Parliament ; and secondly whether this aid for arms deal benefitted the people and country , or whether it only benefitted a handful of persons and companies.
This question is particularly pertinent following various revelations from the PAC inquiries in UK , including:
That balfour beatty and cementation International , the British companies involved in the Pergau Dam Project ,were not asked to competitively tender for the contract;
That the price of the Pergau Dam Project jumped by 81 million pounds sterling ( or RM 324 million) within 16 days of a formal agreement being signed between British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed in April 1989;
That the Pergau Dam Project was a very bad buy and a burden on Malaysian consumers ; and
That the Enviromental Impact Assessment report on the Pergau Dam Project was most unsatisfactory , umprofessional “ cursory and imcomplete “ and that it would be an “ ecological disaster”.
Malaysians are entitled to know as to whether in the aid for arms exchange , there had been proper costing , clean , honest and professional transactions whether involving the Pergau Dam Project or the RM 5 billion arms purchases by Malaysia from Britain.
Two days ago , when asked about the British PAC inquiry and revelations , the Prime Minister , Datuk Seri Dr . Mahathir said Malaysia was not involved and what the British did was their problem , the Malaysian Government and Parliament cannot pretend that the revelations about the aid for arms deal coming out from the United Kingdom do not exist.
Ideally , the Parliamentary Accounts committee of the Malaysian Parliament should meet to inquiry into the Pergau Dam project and the RM 5 billion Malaysian arms purchases from Britain.
Unfortunately , the PAC in Malaysia is not headed by an Opposition MP , and furthermore , the PAC is at present without a Chairman as its former Chairman , Datuk Affifudin Omar , had just been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the mInistry of Finance.
This White paper should focus on four major areas:
Whether there was an ‘ aid for arms’ deal between Malaysia and British ;
Give full details about the negotiations and terms of award for the award of the Pergau Dam Project and the defence purchases from Britain;
Respond to the revelations about an ; aid for arms deal , which had been made by British Government leaders , the British National Audit Report as well as PAC inquiries ; and
Whether the Pergau hydro-electric dam project would be an ecological disaster .
This white paper should form the basis of a parliamentary debate in April .