(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The presentation in the Dewan Rakyat of Statute Paper No. 19 of 1998 on the RM710 million loan from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to Perwaja Terengganu Sdn. Bhd. has reinforced public disquiet about the direction of EPF investment policies, accountability and transparency as well as raised anew the unresolved and uncompleted Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) investigations into the multi-billion Perwaja scandal.
The question uppermost in the minds of the nine million EPF contributors is whether the first and overriding mission of the EPF Board and Investment Panel is the prudent management of the RM130 billion EPF funds to provide the best retirement benefits to the contributors or to bail-out troubled companies.
Was the decision to provide RM710 million loan from EPF to Perwaja made by the EPF Investment Panel only, or did it have the approval of the full EPF Board, with the participation of the five trade union represenatives on the Board?
Although the EPF loan is guaranteed by the Malaysian Government, with the undertaking that the amount will be repaid to EPF within seven days in the event of a default by Perwaja Terengganu, it does not make the RM710 million loan to Perwaja less of a bail-out.
Malaysians also want to know the latest in the ACA investigations into the multi-billion Perwaja scandal as well as the progress of the latest Perwaja bailout.
In May 1996, Parliament was informed that Perwaja had chalked up RM2.9 billion in accumulated losses and RM6.9 billion in liabilities, making it the biggest corporate scandal in the history of Malaysia.
Although the government had said that it would leave no stone unturned to bring to book those responsible for the Perwaja losses, the ACA has not been able to take any action against anyone despite two years of investigation and the biggest corporate scandal in Malaysia appears to be headed to be another unresolved financial scandal in the country.
There have been disturbing reports that the latest Perwaja bail-out is not faring well. As the government, through Khazanah, holds 49% in the new consortium which had been formed by Maju Holdings Sdn. Bhd. to rescue Perwaja, Parliament should be informed of the latest progress in the most recent Perwaja bailout.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, should without ado present a Ministerial statement in Parliament on the latest position on the ACA investigations into the multi-billion Perwaja scandal as well as progress of latest Perwaja bailout.