Mahathir should direct Muhamad Taib to publicly explain the various properties and expenditures worth RM25 million which had been reported internationally

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said yesterday that money politics, corruption and abuse of power had resurfaced in UMNO in the current UMNO branch elections and that he had received information that some of the UMNO branch heads had used money, organised trips for members and had deprived members of their right to attend branch meetings.

Money politics, corruption and abuse of power, whether in UMNO or in government, cannot be checked or contained so long as the top political leaders do not set an example.

This is why the case of the Selangor Mentri Besar and UMNO Vice President, Tan Sri Muhammad Taib, is such a critical test case as to whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, are really serious and committed in their various public pledges not to compromise in the fight against corruption.

Muhamad Taib has repeatedly brought ridicule and odium to Malaysia in the international arena with the foreign mass media reports about his RM2.4 million cash caper at the Brisbane International Airport last year, resulting in his being arrested and charged in the Brisbane court, and his various expenditures and Australian properties.

Last Tuesday ( 8th April 1997), for instance, the Brisbane Courier Mail carried another report on Tan Sri Muhammad’s caper in Brisbane, under the heading "A matter of a suitcase of cash and a Malaysian minister", which reads:

The report later continued:

So far, Muhammad Taib has maintained a very extraordinary silence about these revelations by the Brisbane Courier Mail about his various properties in Australia, as he is entitled to vindicate his legal rights if there is no basis to the Brisbane Courier-Mail reports and institute defamation proceedings against the Brisbane newspaper to clear his name and reputation.

Muhammad Taib doing a great disservice to Malaysia by sullying the good name of the country and undermining national efforts to establish integrity in public life

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, should direct Muhammad Taib to publicly explain the RM25.4 million worth of various expenditures and properties which had been reported by international press and linked to him, namely (I) that the RM2.4 million cash for which he was arrested in Brisbane was intended to purchase furniture and fittings for his new Gold Coast home; (ii) that he is building a RM2 million Gold Coast home at Sovereign Islands; (iii) that he had bought a RM5 million ranch in Queensland; and (iv) that he had paid RM16 million as a divorce settlement with Tengku Puteri Zahariah Bte Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (Ku Yah).

Muhammad Taib should confirm or deny each of these four specific allegations, and to sue the Brisbane Courier-Mail if there is no basis whatsoever in these allegations; or explain how he could have expended RM25 million on these four items, the origin and source of these wealth which are clearly disproportionate to his known sources of income; what are his other unreported expenditures and properties; and to declare his total assets, including that of his wife and next of kin.

If Muhammad Taib is not prepared to be bound by the fundamental principle of accountability and is allowed to continue to defy public opinion in Malaysia that he should publicly and satisfactorily account for these international reports about his unusual wealth and extraordinary expenditures, he is doing the country a great disservice as he is sullying the good name of Malaysia in international circles as well as undermining national efforts to establish integrity in public life.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong