Kit Siang ap­pears be­fore forex task force

DAP ad­viser tes­ti­fies be­fore task force in­ves­ti­gat­ing 1990s fi­nan­cial scan­dal

New Straits Times - - Front Page - MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING PUTRAJAYA wanie@nst.com.my

TUN Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has been put un­der the spot­light for the 1990s for­eign ex­change (forex) in­ves­ti­ga­tion by DAP ad­viser Lim Kit Siang. Lim, who yes­ter­day ap­peared be­fore the spe­cial task force prob­ing the scan­dal, stopped short of nam­ing Dr Ma­hathir when he said past min­is­ters and top civil ser­vants were the ones the task force should re­ally ques­tion.

“They (the task force) called up the wrong per­son. They should be call­ing the top civil ser­vants and the min­is­ters dur­ing that time,” he said af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore the task force at the Fi­nance Min­istry here.

Lim tip­toed a ques­tion by re­porters on whether Dr Ma­hathir, who haD sought a po­lit­i­cal al­liance with DAP, was in­volved in the scan­dal, say­ing this was “never raised” at his hear­ing.

“The key les­son of the BNM (Bank Ne­gara Malaysia) forex losses is the fail­ure of min­is­ters, top civil ser­vants, mem­bers of par­lia­ment and the press to play their re­spec­tive roles to up­hold the prin­ci­ples of ac­count­abil­ity and good gov­er­nance,” said Lim, who also wrote a book on the scan­dal.

He asked whether cabi­net min­is­ters and MPs who held gov­ern­ment po­si­tions at the time played their role in up­hold­ing good gov­er­nance or were re­spon­si­ble for any cover-up in the scan­dal in­stead.

Lim said the task force was wrong in sum­mon­ing him to tes­tify, claim­ing he was not in­volved in the scan­dal.

The scan­dal oc­curred dur­ing Dr Ma­hathir’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Tun Daim Zain­ud­din had served as fi­nance min­is­ter un­til 1991 be­fore be­ing suc­ceeded by for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Lim, who was ac­com­pa­nied by lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, had ear­lier spent 40 min­utes at the closed-door hear­ing chaired by task force chair­man Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Has­san.

Sidek, who is also for­mer chief sec­re­tary to the gov­ern­ment, was ap­pointed by the cabi­net in Fe­bru­ary to head the sev­en­mem­ber task force to con­duct a probe into the US$10 bil­lion losses in­curred by BNM through forex deal­ings be­tween 1991 and 1993.

The task force is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether there was any ac­tion to cover up the losses, and whether mis­lead­ing state­ments on the mat­ter were pre­sented to Par­lia­ment.

It will sub­mit rec­om­men­da­tions on fur­ther ac­tion to the gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, if nec­es­sary, based on the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The de­ci­sion by the cabi­net fol­lowed rev­e­la­tions by for­mer BNM as­sis­tant gov­er­nor Datuk Ab­dul Mu­rad Khalid, who told the New Straits Times in Jan­uary that the cen­tral bank suf­fered US$10 bil­lion in forex mar­ket losses in the early 1990s, far higher than it had ever ad­mit­ted.

Lim said the task force had only asked him about the state­ments he made in Par­lia­ment in 1993 and 1994 in re­la­tion to the scan­dal.

Lim added that he stood by his speech in Par­lia­ment in April 1994 call­ing for a Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the “colos­sal” forex losses.

“I find my­self in an anoma­lous po­si­tion to­day, as if I am in the dock for my speeches on the losses in Par­lia­ment in 1993 and 1994 when it should be a vin­di­ca­tion of what I said on the sub­ject,” he said, adding that all the information he had on the scan­dal was al­ready pub­lic knowl­edge.

Anwar had re­cently con­firmed that the coun­try lost be­tween RM15 and RM30 bil­lion in the forex scan­dal.

On April 26, Anwar claimed that he had, on April 20, in­formed the spe­cial task force that this was the fi­nal es­ti­mated losses.

He claimed that for­mer BNM as­sis­tant gov­er­nor Tan Sri Nor Mo­hamed Yak­cop did not pro­vide a com­plete re­port on the bil­lions of ring­git in forex losses.

Anwar had claimed the then cen­tral bank’s gov­er­nor, Tan Sri Jaa­far Hus­sein, ad­mit­ted to him that Nor Mo­hamed was iden­ti­fied as the of­fi­cer re­spon­si­ble at the time.

Anwar had claimed it was clear that in 1992 and the sub­se­quent years, the ac­tiv­ity con­tin­ued and the losses at the time were es­ti­mated to be be­tween RM9 bil­lion and RM10 bil­lion. Page 1 pic: DAP ad­viser Lim Kit Siang giv­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Fi­nance Min­istry in Putrajaya yes­ter­day.

PIC BY AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR

DAP ad­viser Lim Kit Siang (cen­tre) at the Fi­nance Min­istry in Putrajaya yes­ter­day.

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