(Penang, Saturday): Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik made the front-page headline of Utusan Malaysia today with the headline: “Jutawan Cina dibidas - Pindahkan RM20 bilion dari bank tempatan ke luar negara”.
The Utusan Malaysia report, carrying the byline of Lokman Othman, states:
“Sambil menyifatkan perbuatan itu sebagai tidak patriotik dan mahu mensabotaj ekonomi negara, beliau berkata:
“’Golongan ini lebih mementingkan keuntungan satu peratus dari segi kadar faedah simpanan di negara asing. Mereka sepatutnya sanggup berkorban ketika ini, walaupun untung sedikit, mereka tetap menyimpan di bank tempatan sendiri.’
“Menurut beliau, tindakan itu jelas menunjukkan ketidakyakinan mereka pada bank-bank tempatan walaupun ekonomi negara semakin stabil ketika ini.”
Keng Yaik made this allegation after officiating the Kelantan Gerakan Delegates Conference in Kota Bahru yesterday.
I call on Keng Yaik to name the Malaysian Chinese millionaires, whom he accused of being “unpatriotic”, for having transferred RM20 billion from local banks to foreign countries so as to do justice to all Malaysian Chinese millionaires as well as to all Malaysian Chinese.
Did these Malaysian Chinese millionaires transfer their funds from local banks to foreign countries because they are millionaires or because they are Chinese?
Furthermore, Keng Yaik should also name the Malaysian Malay and Indian millionaires who have transferred funds from local banks to foreign countries, as well as to state how many millions or billions of ringgit were involved in such transfers, so as not to reinforce the stereotype in certain quarters that the Malaysian Chinese are inherently unpatriotic to Malaysia.
There is in fact a more basic question to be asked - the truth or otherwise of the allegation by Keng Yaik. The Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, should clarify whether Keng Yaik’s allegation that Malaysian Chinese millionaires have transferred RM20 billion from local banks to foreign countries because of their lack of confidence in the local banks is confirmed by Bank Negara or not, or whether it is irresponsible sensationalism on Keng Yaik’s part.
As far as I know, it is not just Chinese millionaires, but Malay and Indian millionaires as well as ordinary Malaysians who are not millionaires who at the height of the economic and financial crisis last year transferred over RM20 billion funds from local banks to foreign banks because of the failure of the government to restore confidence.
DAP had repeatedly called on all political parties to co-operate as one team to work out a common strategy to convince Malaysians to re-deposit in the local banks the over RM20 billion funds, but I do not think Keng Yaik is helping the national cause by making sensational allegations against Malaysian Chinese millionaires for being “unpatriotic” when the focus should be on why the government had not been able to restore confidence although it is now eleven months into the economic and financial crisis.
As a Cabinet Minister, Keng Yaik has access to information which are not available to ordinary Malaysians. He should let Malaysians know whether all Ministers and political leaders have responded to the call by the Prime Minister to sell their properties in countries where currencies are higher than the ringgit and bring these funds back to place them in local banks to increase the country’s foreign reserves as well as convert their valuables like jewellery into cash and deposit them in local banks?
Can Keng Yaik declare, for instance, that all Gerakan leaders, whether national, state or local, have shown their “patriotism” and that they have all sold their foreign properties and those of their spouse and children overseas and converted valuables into cash and deposited them in local banks?
Can Keng Yaik announce a list of Gerakan leaders who have done so and those Gerakan leaders who have yet to do so?
This would be more fruitful than making sensational statements like the one he made in Kota Bahru yesterday.