Kit Siang appears before forex task force
DAP adviser testifies before task force investigating 1990s financial scandal
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.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang (centre) at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya yesterday.