Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, when launching his new booklet ‘The Bank Negara RM30 Billion Forex Losses Scandal’ at DAP PJ Hqrs on Sunday, 31st July 1994 at 12 noon.
I had supported the appointment of Datuk Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis as PAC Chairman, but I am very disappointed that he has failed so far to examine into the colossal RM30 billion Bank Negara forex losses
I am launching my new booklet, entitled ‘The Bank Negara RM30 Billion Forex Losses Scandal’, which is published in three languages, Bahasa Malaysia, English and Chinese.
The people of Malaysia have not been told the full story of the Bank Negara forex losses, which is the biggest financial and baking scandal in Malaysian history – twelve tiems the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal.
I had supported the appointment of Datuk Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis as PAC Chairman in Parliament in May, but I am very disappointed that in the past three months, the new PAC Chairman had failed so far to examine into the colossal RM30 million Bank Negara forex losses.
The DAP has decided to publish this new publication on Bank Negara’s colossal forex losses because Malaysians cannot take lightly the RM30 billion Bank Negara forex losses.
RM30 billion is a colossal sum. If a person is to strike a RM2 million lottery every day. It would take him 41 years to reach RM30 million!
If RM30 billion is divided among the 19 million Malaysians, including a new-born babe, everyone will be entitled to RM1,578!
Or alternative, it could mean a tax holiday for all Malaysians where no individual income tax need be paid by all Malaysians for eight years!
Or it could be used to build 1.2 million low-cost houses at RM25,000 per unit, which would resolve the long-standing low-cost housing problem in the country, or build 45 universities, five North-South Highways or four Kuala Lumpur International Airports like the being built in Sepang!
I expect Parliament to meet again in October before it is dissolved for general elections.
I therefore call on Dr. Jamaludin examine Bank Negara’s colossal forex losses and present a PAC report on the Bank Negara forex losses to the Dewan Rakyat meeting in October.
The PAC should in particular report to Parliament what was the maximum exposure of Bank Negara at the height of its forward foreign exchange, whether it was as high as RM270 billion at one time – which was three times the country’s GDP and more than five times the country’s foreign reserves two years ago!
If there is no PAC report on bank Negara’s colossal forex losses in October, then Jamaludin should explain the reason for his self-censorship of the PAC from inquiring into Bank Negara’s colossal forex losses.
Last week, the Economic Adviser to the Government, Tun Daim Zainuddin, said that the press in Malaysia should not be afraid to criticize the Government when necessary so that the administration would be able to get feedbacks on its policies.
Daim said the Press should do more investigative reporting and come out in the open with their accounts. He said the Local Press could be too strict on self-censorship.
It is clear that this self-censorship syndrome is not just confined to the Press in Malaysia, but also to important institutions like the Public Accounts Committee, where the new Chairman why not dare to ‘step on the toes’ of the political ‘higher-ups’ for fear of compromising his chances of political advancement in the party and government.
This is most unhealthy and undesirable.
Call on Mahathir and Anwa to endorse Daim’s call to local press to be free to criticize the government, do investigative reporting and stop ‘self-censorship’
I agree with Tun Daim that the Malaysian press suffers from too much ‘self-censorship’. However, apart from the ‘self-censorship syndrome’, the local press are also cowed by various forms tangible and intangible means of mass media control and manipulation exercised by ‘powers-that-be’, which is inimical to the development of a well-informed, intelligent and modern society.
Tun Daim should have called on the Malaysian press to be more critical of the government, do more investigative reported and not to suffer from ‘self-censorship’ when he was Finance Minister, for his call would have carried more weight and authority.
At present, Tun Daim seems alone in calling on the Malaysian press to operate as a free press.
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to publicly endorse Daim’s call on the local press to be free to criticize the government, undertake investigative reporting and stop ‘self-censorship’.
As an earnest of the government’s seriousness in wanting to introduce a new press policy, the Government should repeal the law requiring the annual licensing of newspapers.