(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): I thank the CUEPACS Secretary-General, N. Siva Subramaniam, who is also a member of the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Board, for consenting to be a member of the panel at today’s conference. What he revealed just now was most shocking and outrageous, when he said that the EPF Board knows nothing about the shares which the EPF Investment Panel had invested with EPF monies, and had never been provided with a list of the shares bought or sold by the EPF Investment Panel.
In Parliament in April, I had asked the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to ensure that the EPF periodically issue public reports of its sales and purchase of shares in the stock market, giving a list of the shares concerned.
Anwar had at first said that EPF did not give details of its purchase or sale of shares so as to avoid influencing the stock market as EPF investments are very substantial, but I had pointed out that nobody was asking for immediate report of proposed individual shares dealings, but periodic reports in keeping with the principles of accountability and transparency, and which would not influence the stock market at all.
Anwar had promised to look into the possibility of directing the EPF Board to make periodic reports to the nine million EPF contributors on its shares dealings and I propose to pursue this question in next month’s Parliament.
This morning, we are told by Siva Subramaniam that even the EPF Board does not get any report of the shares dealings by the EPF Investment Panel, which is not only outrageous, but a most illegal and unlawful way of operating the EPF Investment Panel.
When enacting the EPF Act 1991, Parliament never intended to establish an EPF Investment Panel which is completely independent and not answerable to the EPF Board.
This is why Section 18(2) of the EPF Board clearly stipulates: "The Investment Panel shall be subject to such directions issued by the Board and approved by the Minister, from time to time."
During the debate on the EPF Act 1991, DAP Members of Parliament objected to the omission of having no worker representatives on the seven-man Investment Panel, but the then Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Ghani Othman assured Parliament that the workers’ interests would be protected as the Investment Panel is finally answerable to the EPF Board.
Now, we find that it is not only the nine million EPF contributors who are kept in the dark about the RM25 billion EPF shares dealings, even the EPF Board does not know what are the counters which had been bought or sold by the Investment Panel.
The EPF Investment Panel has acted illegally and unlawfully in refusing to report to the EPF Board its RM25 billion shares dealings and the EPF Board, which is meeting tomorrow, should insist on its right to get a full list of all shares dealings by the EPF Investment Panel as well as to give directions to the Investment Panel.
The EPF Board should be aware that there is increasing public disquiet about the investment policy and decisions on the RM160 billion EPF monies, and it must ensure that not a single sen is used for bail-out operations or any mega-projects.
In the cover story of the latest issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad gave a long interview, the full text of which run into 14 pages.
In the online version of the Far Eastern Economic Review, Mahathir was
asked about mega-projects, and the questions and answers are as follows:
A: It is good for the ego.
Q: Why is that important?
I am aghast with Mahathir’s answers to justify mega-projects and the nine million EPF contributors do not want a single sen of their monies in the EPF to be used in any mega-project just to satisfy the ego of any one person, however important he is.
The EPF contributors’ concern about the RM160 billion EPF monies have been intensified in the past few days with the appointment of Tun Daim Zainuddin as Minister with Special Functions in charge of economic affairs, which is as good as being another Finance Minister.
It was Daim, who as Finance Minister during the recession in the 1980s, set the precedent of using EPF monies to salvage dubious transactions, resulting in the EPF-Makuwasa scandals, which caused huge losses to the EPF.
The EPF Board should ensure that Daim does not use his new powers to again use the EPF monies to bail-out troubled companies of cronies in the country.
This is why the nine million EPF contributors should organise themselves to demand that the EPF develop a new culture of responsibility, accountability and transparency where EPF monies are not used for mega-projects meant to satisfy anyone’s ego or to bail out any companies of cronies in Malaysia.