Malaysia can afford to take a firm stand to wipe out corruption precisely because of Malaysia’s strong economic growth in the last seven years


Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAPSY’s Ten Great Ceramahs on ‘Rafidah and Shares’ held in Klang at Letchumanan Hall on Monday 9th January, 1995 at 9 p.m.

Malaysia can afford to take a firm stand to wipe out corruption precisely because of Malaysia’s strong economic growth in the last seven years

Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said that ‘corruption was minimal in the country’ and asked how Malaysia could achieve an 8.5 per cent growth rate over the last seven years if Malaysia was as corrupt as made out by the Western newspapers.

A Malay scholar Rustam A. Sani in his regular column in Utusan Malaysia on 2nd January 1995, rightly commented:

“Ada sebuah negara di rantau ini yang sejak lama kadar pembangunannya telah mencapai tahap ‘naga’. Meskipun untuk beberapa tahun lamanya negara itu menikmati kadar pembangunan dua angka, namun kegiatan rasuahnya boleh dikatakan legendary – diperkata secara terbuka oleh para pedagang asing mahupun setempat.”

“Malah ada sebuah negara lain yang kadar pertumbuhan ekonominya pada waktu ini jauh lebih tinggi daripada pertumbuhan kita, sedangkan kegiatan rasuah meluas diperkatakan di mana-mana.”

I believe Mahathir should know better than anyone that Malaysia’s 8.5 per cent growth rate over the last seven years has no relationship whatsoever with the question as to the gravity of corruption in the country, as there have been countries in the past and even at present where corruption was a very serious problem although they achieved comparable or even higher growth rates.

The problem with corruption in Malaysia is not that it is ‘minimal’, but that powers of the Anti-Corruption Agency to fight corruption – particularly corruption in high political places – is ‘minimal’.

DAP calls for an all-out war to be declared against corruption, particularly corruption in high political places – precisely because with Malaysia’s strong economic growth in the past seven years, the country can afford no-nonsense approach against corruption.

Barisan Nasional leaders should not think that just because former Malacca Chief Minister, Rahim Tamby Cik has been charged for corruption, Malaysians will believe that corruption is no more an issue in the next general elections

Barisan Nasional leaders had been worried when the DAP had earlier announced that it would make corruption as one of the major issues in the next general elections.

Now, however, there are Barisan Nasional leaders who think that just because former Malacca Chief, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, has been charged with corruption, corruption is no more an issue in the next general elections.

They cannot be more wrong – for the question of corruption in high political places in Malaysia is not the question of one Rahim Tamby Cik, but also the failure and inability of the Anti-Corruption Agency to stamp out corruption in high political places.

If by charging one Rahim Tamby Cik, corruption in high political places in Malaysia has been completely rooted out, then the Anti-Corruption Agency can even be dissolved and the task of fighting ‘ikan bilis’ corruption can be left to the ordinary police force!

Last week, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said in Penang that the Opposition must back all allegations of corruption against government leaders.

As one with reputation of fighting corruption, Anwar seems to have forgotten what should be his proper order of priorities.

Anwar should not be acting as the defender of the corrupt in high political places but should create conditions for a corruption-free society by ensuring greater government accountability and transparency as well as giving more teeth to the fight against corruption, such as by enacting a new and comprehensive Anti-Corruption law as well as increasing the powers of the Anti-Corruption Agency.

At the Budget meeting of Parliament which ended last month, four MPs – two DAP and two Semangat 46 – asked questions about the government’s approval of special bumiputra shares for individual bumiputras.

The Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Rafidah Aziz in her reply said that her Ministry had approved 72 million shares in two companies, Leader Universal Holding Berhad and First Allied Corporation Berhad (FACB) to 14 individuals.

Call on Anwar Ibrahim to be as transparent and accountable as Rafidah Aziz and make public the list of bumiputeras who have been allocated special bumiputera shares by Finance Ministry, including Telekom, Tenaga Nasional, MBF Capital, MBF Holdings, Hong Leong Credit and Hong Leong Bank.

These 14 individuals became ‘instant’ millionaires, and in many cases, many times over from the ‘instant’ gains from the allocation of preferential bumiputra shares, ranging from RM1 million to RM7.5 million.

According to the list given by Rafidah Aziz to Parliament, these 14 individuals are mostly relatives of top political leaders in government or active politicians themselves, such as Mirzan Mahathir, son of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad; Marzuki Ibrahim, brother of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; Fazrin Azwar, son-in-law of the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Rafidah Aziz, Adnan Shaib, brother-in-law of Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Ayub – all of whom were given 1.5 million shares of Leader Universal.

It is because up to now, the Government has failed to give a satisfactory explanation as to why these 14 special individuals should be entitled to 72 million preferential bumiputra shares in two companies that this has become the latest financial scandal of the Barisan Nasional government.

I must commend Rafidah for being open in making public the list of individual bumiputras who had been allocated preferential shares by her Ministry.

It is significant that in her reply, she said that her Ministry is only responsible for the special allocation of bumiputra shares for companies licensed under the Industrial Coordination Act 1975 and is not responsible for companies in insurance, banking as well as government companies which have been privatised which come under the Ministry of Finance.

She said that because of this, she is unable to give information about the allocation of special bumiputra shares given to bumiputra individuals in companies like Telekom Berhad, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, MBF Holdings Berhad, Hong Leong Credit Berhad and Hong Leong Bank Berhad as they are the responsibility of the Finance Ministry.

The Finance Ministry has not denied that bumiputra individuals had been allocated special bumiputra shares in these companies, and the people are entitled to know whether relatives of top government leaders had been the sole beneficiaries.

Up to now, the Deputy Prime Minister and and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has not released the list of bumiputra individuals who have been given the approval by the Finance Ministry to receive preferential bumiputra shares in Telekom, Tenaga Nasional, MBF Capital, MBF Holdings, Hong Leong Credit and Hong Leong Bank as well as other companies.

I call on Anwar Ibrahim to be as transparent and accountable as Rafidah Aziz and to make public the list of bumiputras who have been allocated special bumiputra shares by Finance Ministry, including Telekom, Tenaga Nasional, MBF Capital, MBF Holdings, Hong Leong Credit and Hong Leong Bank.

If Anwar refuses to release this list of individual bumiputras who have been given approval by the Finance Ministry to receive special bumiputra shares, then there would be an adverse inference that the Finance Ministry has something to hide and is not as open, transparent and accountable as Rafidah Aziz.

Loading