Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Kuching on Monday, 4th April at 1.30 p.m.
Why is Bakun HEP costing 12 times the RM1.3 billion Pergau HEP Dam when it is only four times its capacity?
The revived Bakun HEP dam project has bought back to life the environment issues which had been raised when it was first mooted in the 1980s.
This time, it has also raised other questions, like its award and its cost – as it has been described as the most expansive privatization project in Malaysia to date at RM15 billion.
The Federal Government should explain why the Bakun Dam project is costing 12 times the RM1.3billion Pergau HEP Dam when it is only four times its capacity. Bakun would generate 2,400 megawatts while Pergau’s capacity would be 600 megawatts.
In fact, serious allegations have been raised in the House of Commons investigations in Britain that the Pergau Dam, which played a central role in the British Government effort to end the Malaysian Government’s ‘Buy British Last Policy’ as well as to induce Malaysia to enter into a RM5billion Memorandum of Understanding to purchase British arms, had been overpriced.
For instance, it had been revealed in the United Kingdom that the successful contractor involved in the Pergau project, Balfour Beatty had quoted double the price as compared to its competitor, Snowy Mountains, and that both the Mahathir and Conservative Governments also allowed Balfour Beatty to raise the cost of the project by some 81million pounds sterling days after the agreement was signed by both Prime Ministers.
DAP calls on Mahathir to give a categorical assurance that he has not given full and final approval fot he Bakun HEP project
Another important question that has been raised by the revived Bajun HEP project is whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, had already given full and final approval for the project.
This pertinent question is uppermost in many minds because of the highly secretive manner in which the Bakun HEP project had been revived and public launching by Mahathir in Hanuary although no EIA approval had been given.
When Mahathir publicly declared that he would like to see the Bakun HEP project completed in eight years’ time by 2,002, although he knew that an EIA had not been done, was this a message to all departments and organizations, including the Department of Environment, that a policy decision had been taken at the highest level to give the ‘green-light’ to the project, and no obstacles would be allowed to obstruct it?
For this reason, DAP calls on Mahathir to give a categorical public assurance that he had not given full and final approval for the Bakun HEP project, and that the Department of Environment would be at full liberty to decide whether the Bakun project is environment-friendly or otherwise.
The Federal Government should declassify the 17 studies on the Bakun HEP ten years ago as well as to require a new and comprehensive EIA which should be subject to public scrutiny and objections.
Another issue raised by the revival of the Bakun project is whether there would be proper and meaningful public consultation particularly with the affected 5,000 Kenyah, Kayan, Lahanan, Ukit and Penan communities in the area, before final decisions is made on the project.
To ensure that there would be a meaningful public consultation process, the Federal Government should declassify the 17 studies on the Bakun HEP ten years ago as well as to require a new and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which should be subject to public scrutiny and objections, before EKRAN is allowed to start any work on its RM15 billion project.
DAP calls for Government White Paper giving details of the entire Bank Negara forex losses in the last two years as well as full record of its annual profits or losses from forex dealings in preceding years.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said yesterday that the Bank Negara’s RM5.7 billion foreign exchange losses last year are from profits made in foreign exchange dealings over the past years.
However, there seems to be a difference of view over the Bank Negara’s forex losses between Mahathir and Government economic adviser and former Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin.
While Mahathir claims that Bank Negara has made net profits rather than net losses from ots foreign exchange dealings over the years, Daim said yesterday that central banks must not play with fire by venturing into speculative money markets where the risks of losses are high.
As a result of Bank Negara ‘playing with fire’, Malaysians have lost about RM20billion since 1992from Bank Negara’s forex dealings, when we take the following into account:
*Loss of between RM10.1 billion to RM14 billion in 1992:
*RM5.7 foreign exchange loss in 1993;
*Contingency liability for RM1.4 billion loss for this year.
Is Mahathir or Daim right?
DAP calls on the Prime Minister to present a Government White Paper to give a full record of all its annual profits or losses from forex dealings in the preceding years, and whether the cumulative profits from Bank Negara’s forex dealings had been able to absorb the RM5.7 billion forex losses suffered last year, as well as the cumulative forex losses since 1992.
Last April, Bank Negara Governor, Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein, said that he could not give a satisfactory answer on the size and details of Bank Negara’s foreign exchange losses, as to do so, he would need to release certain details on the bank’s foreign exchange transactions, the composition of its reserves, aspects of its intervention operations, the strategy for reserves management and its forward commitments in the various currencies. Or to use Jaffar’s colourful expression, “In other words, show my hand to the market.”
Jaffar said that “There should be no problems disclosing such information if the bank is no longer in the foreign exchange business.”
Last Friday, when releasing the Bank Negara’s 1992 Annual Report , Jaffar admitted that “mistakes were made” resulting in RM5.7 billion loss incurred from the central bank’s foreign exchange transactions in 1993, and that Bank Negara had ceased all forward forex transactions and that all positions would be unwound.
If this is the case, that Bank Negara is no more in the forward foreign exchange market, then the government should have no objections in presenting a White Paper detailing the full details of Bank Negara’s transactions in the past two years, and the reasons and details for the colossal forex losses.
It is only when such details are made public that there could be an informed debate on the colossal Bank Negara forex losses to ensure that the correct lessons had been learnt by all concerned.
For this reasons, the Government White Paper on Bank Negara’s cumulative forex losses should give full details about the forex losses including composition of its reserves, aspects of its intervention operations, the strategy for reserves management and its forward commitments for each of the preceding years.