ACA must prove it is not  a catís-paw of the Barisan Nasional political vendetta against Anwar but  a  fearless sword to strike against corruption, coming from whatever quarter

- Budget 2000
Lim Kit Siang

(Dewan Rakyat, Monday): A day before the 2000 Budget presentation in Parliament on 29th October 1999, I had asked the  first Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, to  establish his integrity by answering the serious charges of gross improprieties and corruption which have been made against him by the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim both in his police reports as well as in his testimony in the Kuala Lumpur High Court for the past week.

I had said that Daim should not present the budget in Parliament if he was not prepared to first establish his integrity, as the 2,000 Budget would be the first casualty in terms of public confidence and credibility if Daim  continued to keep mum on Anwarís serious allegations which had received  wide national and international attention as a result of the  former Deputy Prime Ministerís court testimony.

The allegatons involving Daim  which Anwar made in open court are:

I should have stood up in Parliament last Friday before he started on his 2000 Budget presentation to demand that he first  cleared  his name by responding to Anwarís serious charges of corruption and abuses of power levelled against him, but out of respect for the office of the Finance Minister, I desisted from doing so.

I had thought that in the course of his budget speech, he would have taken the occasion to respond to Anwarís allegations of corruption and abuses of power levelled against him, but I was wrong.

Instead, Daim abused the occasion of the  budget presentation by launching into a wild and baseless political attack on the DAP, accusing the DAP of being no different from that of foreign subversives, and refusing to give way when I stood up for clarification.

Aware of my call to him to establish his integrity and respond to the serious and specific charges of corruption and abuses of power which Anwar had made against him, all he did was to  devote one paragraph of his 2000 Budget speech to corruption, as follows:

This is an empty, meaningless and inane statement showing the utter lack of commitment of both the first Finance Minister and the Barisan Nasional government to fight corruption in high political and public places, which is most outrageous as only three days earlier, Malaysia attracted adverse international publicity with her poor ranking in the latest 1999 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption coalition.

Malaysia slipped  from last yearís 29th placing back to 32nd spot out of 99 countries.

A week earlier, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA)  deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan had taken pride in the 1998  Corruption Perception Index (CPI)  by Transparency International (TI) which had placed Malaysia 29th among the 85 countries surveyed worldwide. 

ACA new mission: Malaysia among the ten least corrupt nations in the world

I was very shocked that the  ACA, an agency  responsible for ensuring the highest integrity in public life, could be so complacent as to take pride that Malaysia was placed 29th  among 85 countries as the least corrupt country, when Malaysia was  placed 23rd in 1995, 26th place in 1996,  and  32nd in 1997.

When last Tuesday (26th October 1999), Malaysiaís ranking in TIís 1999 CPI slipped from 29th placing to 32nd position, there was no sense of failure, shame or responsibility on the part of the ACA.

My call to the ACA to come out with a policy statement as to why Malaysia had slipped further in the latest TI CPI and what new strategy it proposed to adopt to give Malaysia a more respectable ranking on TIís CPI beginning next year, even suggesting a mission statement by the ACA to place Malaysia among the ten least corrupt nations in the world Ė and which is to be  reflected in future TI CPIs - was completed ignored.

May be, by the time of the 2000 budget presentation, the first Finance Minister thought that the pressure to establish oneís integrity and clear oneís name was no more on him but on Anwar Ibrahim, as a day earlier, the former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid had made public his statutory declaration  dated 26th October 1999 that former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had amassed a fortune of RM3 billion while in government through 20 "Master Accounts".

Murad alleged that he was personally involved in the payout of more than RM120 million  to Anwar Ibrahim, individuals and organisations between 1992 to 1997:-

(1) to Anwar Ibrahim         - RM50 million
(2) Dato Abdullah Ahmad (UN) - RM 5 Million
(3) Dato Nasaruddin Jalil    - RM10 Million
(4) Asia Pacific Policy Centre (APPC) & Douglas H. Paal
                             - RM 38 million (USD 10 Million)
(5) Institut Kajian Dasar    - (IKD) RM5 Million
(6) Aliran & Dr. Chandra Muzaffar - RM5 Million
(7) ABIM                     - RM 5 Million
(8) International Institute of Islamic Thoughts (IIIT) - RM 2 Million
(9) A UK-based Islamic Foundation - RM 1 Million
              TOTAL          -  RM 121 Million

What was  most  incredible was  that Murad had not produced a single shred of evidence to subtantiate his very serious allegations. Many of those named like Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, ALIRAN, ABIM, the Malaysiaís special envoy to the United Nations, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad and Anwar Ibrahim issued instant denials, and Dr. Chandra and ALIRAN announced that they would be instituting defamation proceedings against Murad.

What was also most astonishing was the alacrity with which the ACA swung into action on Muradís allegations.

Zaki has done great damage to the reputation of ACA officers on their independence, integrity and professionalism

Immediately after Muradís press conference,  the ACA announced the setting up of a special team to investigate  into Muradís allegations against Anwar headed by the agency's Investigations Division director Abdul Razak Idris.

The next day, ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad Zaki Hussin said that almost every paragraph of Muradís seven-page  statutory declaration contained some information on corruption or corruption practices.

Zaki  said: "We consider Muradís statement as information on corrupt practices and they are serious because they are in a sworn statement".

Is Zaki suggesting that based on Muradís  20-paragraph statutory declaration, Anwar could be levelled  with scores or  even hundreds of  charges of corruption?

It is most astounding that the ACA director-general is prepared to accept Muradís statutory declaration as sufficient  prima facie evidence to institute anti-corruption investigations against  Anwar, and even to plan to go globe-trotting to investigate Muradís allegations on the US-based Asia-Pacific Policy Centre.

However, the ACA is not prepared to accord the  same or  even greater weight to the four police reports lodged by Anwar on corruption and abuses of power in the highest levels of government, naming the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the first Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah and Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Gani Patail and former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, even though Anwar had backed up his police reports with documentary evidence.

While I welcome and commend Zaki and ACA for their  unwonted speed in  responding and investigating  allegations of corruption in high political places, their  independence, professionalism and integrity come under question when they seem to be playing to the tune of the Barisan Nasional government  leadership in its 13-month political vendetta against Anwar.

Malaysians are entitled to know why the ACA should act with such alacrity on Muradís statutory declaration but not on Anwarís four police reports, when legal penalties are entailed in both forms of representations should there be any false reporting or false declaration.

Once the ACA acts synchronously with the Barisan Nasional leadership, serving its pre-election  agenda to eliminate Anwar Ibrahim as a political threat, then ACA loses all its credibility and is seen only as another Barisan Nasional tool to make the next general election the "dirtiest" in the nationís history.

Malaysians are entitled to ask why the ACA is making daily statements about investigations into Anwar on the basis of Muradís statutory declaration, when the ACA had not dared to say anything about investigations into Mahathir, Daim, Rafidah Aziz and  Rahim Tamby Cik based on Anwarís police reports supported with documentary proof?

Why is the ACA showing such public zeal to pursue investigations against Anwar by making daily statements, which is completely lacking when it comes to Mahathir, Daim, Rafidah Aziz and  Rahim Tamby Cik?

The ACA is not meant to be a catís-paw of the Barisan Nasional leadership in its political vendetta against Anwar, but is mandated and entrusted by the Malaysian people to be a  fearless sword to strike against corruption, coming from whatever quarter.

If ACA has prima facie evidence to believe that it has good cause to initiate investigations against Anwar, it will have the DAPís full support; but it must act without fear or  favour and must be prepared to extend the same treatment to all the high-and-mighty in government, especially those named in Anwarís four police reports.

Zaki has done grave damage to the reputation of ACA officers on their independence, integrity and professionalism by playing to the tune of the Barisan Nasional leadership on the matter of Muradís statutory declaration.

Yesterday, the  police had publicly offered to give whatever  assistance needed by the ACA in their probe into Muradís  allegations about  Anwar amassing RM3 billion fortune through  20 "Master Accounts".

Anwarís four police reports on high corruption: What happened?

Let the ACA and Police explain what they have done with regard to the four following police reports  on high corruption which had been lodged by Anwar:

In his first police report lodged on 9th July, 1999, Anwar  referred to a document of the Prosecution Division, Attorney General's Office dated 14 March, 1995 signed by Abdul Gani Patail, which clearly stated there was prima facie basis to prosecute Dato Paduka Rafidah Aziz on five counts of corruption under Section  2(2),Ordinance 22, 1970, namely:

In his report, Anwar said the Attorney General did not proceed with the charges due to  the interference of the Prime Minister, Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Muhamad as a result of which the prosecution of Rafidah Aziz could not as yet be carried to completion. As such, the failure to do so in accordance with the provisions of the law  tantamounts to Mahathir, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah, and Abdul Gani Patail having interfered in the carrying out of justice and acted against the  provisions of the law.

In his second  police report lodged on 21st July 1999, Anwar alleged that Mahathir was implicated in the Perwaja scandal, where the steel mill chalked up RM2,985 million in accumulated losses and RM6,939 million in liabilities, making it the biggest financial scandal in the history of Malaysia.

 Anwar, who was at the relevant time the Finance Minister, said that the Ministry of Finance had to appoint Price Waterhouse as independent auditors into the Perwaja scandal in early 1996 soon after being alerted that Perwaja was almost insolvent and would require massive injection of funds from the Government.

Anwar said that the appointment of auditors had to be done because several earlier attempts to obtain detailed information from the then management, particularly its Managing Director, Tan Sri Eric Chia failed as he repeatedly claimed that his actions had the support and under the directions of the Prime Minister.  Anwar said that Eric Chiaís claim was further substantiated with letters written by the Prime Minister himself.

In the past few years, the Prime Minister,  Ministers as well as the Anti-Corruption Agency wanted  the people to believe that the reason why investigations into the Perwaja scandal could not be completed was  because of the difficulty of getting foreigners to co-operate  with investigations into the financial irregularities, improprieties and corrupt practices in  Perwaja as the ACA had no power to call witnesses or others involved who are overseas.

With Anwarís police report, Malaysians are entitled to know whether the real cause why ACA investigations into the Perwaja scandal are  heading nowhere  is because of the direct involvement of the Prime Minister in the Perwaja scandal.

Although there were "unusual transactions or payments" which involved foreigners, like the RM76.4 million allegedly paid to a fictitious company in Hong Kong, there were also "unusual transactions or payments" which were fully transacted in the country. One of them was  the RM93 million disbursed for the Perwaja staff housing scheme in Kemaman and Gurun Ė working out to an average total cost of a unit of the single storey terrace house at RM121,000 in Kemaman and RM113,000 in Gurun Ė which were excessively exorbitant costs!

Malaysians do not want the ACA to continue investigations into the Perwaja scandal  for another 10 or 20 years, when not only the Prime Minister but all the main players in the Perwaja scandal would no more be around, but to complete them within the immediate future as the ACA had been investigating it for five long years.

In his third police report on 30th July, 1999,  Anwar alleged corruption by the first Finance Minister, Tun  Daim Zainuddin, charging that  Daim had  received money and shares from three prominent corporate   figures when he was  finance minister from 1984 to 1991.

In his police report, Anwar attached letters written by Renong Bhd. chairman Halim Saad, Malaysia Airline System Bhd. chairman Tajuddin Ramli, and Land and General Bhd. chairman Wan Azmi  Wan Hamzah to Daim in 1990, showing "clearly"  that Daim  received money and corporate shares worth about RM600 million.  It is corruption if a finance minister personally receives wealth while in office.

According to the documents appended by Anwar to his police report, Halim's letter dated April 1990 stated that he was holding about 52   million shares of Faber Merlin Bhd. and 130 million Renong shares in trust for Daim.  Wan Hamzah and Tajuddin similarly confirmed in separate letters at the same  time that they were holding RM150 million and RM70 million  in cash respectively in trust for Daim. Anwar said in his police report that he was quite certain that these amounts represented only a small part of the fortune Daim had  acquired and that Daim  was acting on behalf of  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir (Mohamad) in certain cases.

In his fourth police report lodged on August 20, 1999, Anwar alleged that the Attorney-Generalís Chambers and the ACA had concluded by June 1994 that there was prima facie case to prosecute the then Chief Minister of Malacca, Rahim Tamby Cik on four charges of corruption, based on the information supplied to the ACA by the former DAP MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng.

Anwar said that based on Guan Engís information, the ACA also found that Rahim had accounts in tens of banks,  numerous business interests and properties - that as of 31st May 1993, known assets owned by Rahim totalled RM39.8 million.

What happened to ACA investigations into Ling Liong Sik and Ling Hee Leong?

In the past three days, Barisan Nasional Ministers, including the MCA President and Transport  Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and  Chief Ministers and Mentris Besar, including the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon  and organisations like MTUC and CUEPACs, had  been demanding full investigations into Murad allegations against Anwar, but none of them had said a single word in demanding investigations into Anwarís four police reports about corruption and abuses of power in high political places.

On 13th June 1997, I performed a public service and  lodged a police report with the ACA to  ask for full investigations as to how Ling Hee Leong, son of MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik could at the age of 27 embark on corporate acquisitions exceeding RM1.2 billion in a matter of months and whether there had been improper use and influence of his fatherís political and Ministerial position.

I had said at the time that if Ling Hee Leong was able at the age of 27, without any track record,  to have the prowess to embark on over RM1.2 billion corporate acquisitions in a matter of months completely on his own merit, then he should be an exemplary model for all aspiring entrepreneurs in Malaysia and ACA should show the whole country in its report how Ling Hee Leong could have catapulted into the billion-ringgit bracket of the corporate stratosphere without any improper political or Ministerial influence of his father.

More than two years have passed, and this is another high-profile file which the ACA has allowed to collect dust!

DAP calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to conduct public investigations into all the allegations of corruption, improprieties and abuses of power which had been made public, whether against Mahathir, Daim, Rafidah, Mohtar Abdullah, Gani Patail, Rahim Tamby Cik, Ling Liong Sik or against Anwar so that the truth can be out for all Malaysians and the world to see and I challenge the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs to respond positively to this proposal to show that they are not afraid of any high-level wide-ranging open inquiry into corruption and abuses in high political places.

Indonesia, which has a dismal reputation on corruption, placed on the 96th position on the TIís 1999 CPI out of 99 countries, is making a start to clean up the Augean stables.

The new Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid at the swearing-in of his 35-member Cabinet on Friday warned them to lead "honest and simple" lives. He pledged a clean Government, a key reform demand, saying that any member of the Cabinet brought to court for any reason should immediately resign.

It will take quite some time before Indonesia could catch up with Malaysiaís national integrity system, but it would be a great embarrassment for Malaysia if Indonesia manages to improve its TI CPI rankings by leaps and bounds in the next few years, while Malaysia keeps slipping down the scale - even though we are still well ahead of Indonesia.

We must admit however that it is already a great national embarrassment to have Ministers and government leaders walking around the country and visiting foreign countries with charges of corruption and abuses of power hanging over their heads, which are not cleared because the charges could not make their way to court, even though the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Attorney-Generalís Chambers have recommended prosecution.

What is even more embarrassing is that we have a senior Cabinet Minister who had been accused of serious charges of corruption and improprieties, and had done nothing to clear his name and reputation,  now trying to transform himself into a crusader against corruption.  I am referring of course to the first Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, who wanted Bank Negara to check on the integrity of its officers after Muradís statutory declaration alleging Anwarís RM3 billion fortune through 20 "Master Accounts".

Daim does not seem to realise that Murad's allegations implicate Bank Negara, not on one or two occasions, but systematically over a period of years.

Call for independent investigation and audit of Bank Negara like Bank Bali

Murad was assistant governor of the bank. By his own admission, he was engaged in shady business while assistant governor. He did it under two governors in the bank.

Is it credible he could have done so, over such a long period of time, without the knowledge, even connivance, of others in Bank Negara? At the very least, if he did it, then it is more than possible others in the bank also did so for other persons or parties.

It suggests Bank Negara to have been involved in corruption, in money laundering and as a conduit of funds through shady means for shady purposes.

It suggests that some officers in Bank Negara implemented policies detrimental to the interests of the country.

It is time for a full and independent investigation and audit of Bank Negara, similar to that conducted on Bank Bali, to clear up the veracity of  all these, however ridiculous, allegations.

I am shocked to read of the statement by the ACA Director-General Zaki Husin in yesterdayís Star quoting him as saying that civil servants no longer have any excuse to be involved in corrupt practices following the bonus and pay rise announced in the 2000 budget.

This is a gross insult to the honest and morally upright in the 800,000-strong public service.  Is Zaki suggesting that all government servants  who had taken bribes and committed corruption had good excuse before the 2,000 budget?

Corruption is the bane of society and must be wiped out without compromise or excuse.  The greatest stumbling block to a successful war against corruption which does not discriminate between the ikan yu and the ikan bilis appears to be the ACA itself!

This is why the Barisan Alternative, in its Common Manifesto "Towards a Just Malaysia" made public on 24th October 1999, called for an independent Anti-Corruption Agency protected by the Constitution,  directly responsible to Parliament and headed by a prominent Malaysian with authority as an important step  to restore transparency,  accountability  and integrity in the country.

In fact, this is a proposal which is common to all the  election appeals or demands which had been made by various sectors of society, whether it be the 17-Point Malaysian Chinese Organisations Election Appeals which has received the endorsement of over 2,000 Chinese organisations, "People Are the Boss" Declaration, "Return Governance to People" Declaration,  Demands of Indian Malaysians For a Better Future, Womenís Agenda 1999, Declaration on Workers and Trade Unions Priorities initiated by 17 Unions or  the Peopleís Manifesto.

General Election is not only a contest of political parties and candidates but also a contest of voices

Let me declare here that a general election is not only a contest of political parties and candidates, it is also a contest of voices, as the polling day would decide not only which political party and candidate wins, but also what are the voices which will prevail in policy-making for the next five years.

The approach of a general election is therefore the right and proper time for the voices of the people which had hitherto been ignored and disregarded by the government and Parliament to make themselves heard, whether in the form of appeals, wish-lists, aspirations or demands, for this is the very essence of  a democratic system based on the principle of the sovereignty of the people - and it is wrong for anyone to regard such expressions as "threats" as the Prime Minister had once referred to the Malaysian Chinese Organisations Election Appeals.

It is the fundamental democratic right of citizens in a democratic society to make appeals or demands in a general election, for this is the time when the mandate of power is returned to the people to decide who should get a new mandate to rule - whether by renewing the mandate of the previous incumbent political coalition or to a new political coalition.

Citizens who cannot make demands, by expressing their aspirations whether in the form of Election Appeals or Peopleís Manifesto, do not  enjoy the full  rights of a democratic society but are only living in the half-light of democracy.

Only those who are undemocratic or  have  feudalistic mentality will regard such appeals or demands to voice out the peopleís  aspirations during election time as "threats" to the government or try  to turn them   into political irrelevance by declaring that they are not election demands but "a list of aspirations and appeals with no time frame for them to be realised or implemented" and completely unrelated to the forthcoming 10th national general election.

It is most regrettable that the Barisan Nasional government is completely out-of-sync with general aspirations of Malaysians who want to see an independent and autonomous ACA, which carry out its anti-corruption mandate without fear and favour, answerable only to Parliament.

But the ACA is not the only institution of state whose independence had been suborned and subverted after the uninterrupted 42-year political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional, which had been made worse by the 18-year premiership of Dr.Mahathir Mohamad - ousting or outlasting three Deputy Prime Ministers.

For instance, while the ACA shouts from the rooftops that it is launching investigations into Muradís allegations of corruption against Anwar based on the formerís statutory declaration, what had the ACA done with regard to serious allegations of corruption and abuses of power made in the Asian Wall Street Journal defamation (AWSJ) case, viz:

Public confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary and the principle of rule of law is at an all-time low in the nationís history, but the other important institutions of state are not spared in the multiple crisis of confidence afflicting the country - whether it be the office of the  Attorney-General, the Auditor-General, the Election Commission, the Police, Bank Negara, etc.

For instance, I am still waiting for the Auditor-General  Datuk Mohamed Khalil to break his silence to explain why he had not responded to my proposal that he conduct a special audit to ensure that there is no misuse of public funds and abuse of government facilities in Mahathirís national pre-election  tours as Barisan Nasional and UMNO President to drum up voter support.

Or is he in  disagreement that  there must be a clear distinction between Mahathirís two positions, one as Prime Minister  of the country and the other as head of UMNO and Barisan Nasional - that  it is none of the business of the Prime Minister of Malaysia to campaign for votes for the Barisan Nasional, and when Mahathir goes round the country  in his capacity as UMNO and Barisan Nasional President to drum up voter support for these political organisations, public funds and government resources must not be involved as  it would be  a blatant  abuse of power,  misappropriation of public funds and clear conflict of interest.

I am also waiting for the Auditor-General to explain why he had not queried as to why  Barisan Nasional political gatherings, where Mahathir openly solicited the support of the voters for UMNO and Barisan Nasional, are  telecast live on government television channel without paying advertising fees.


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