At that time, the Prime Minister denied that Perwaja could suffer such huge losses. However, subsequently in Parliament in May 1996, during the debate on the Seventh Malaysia Plan, the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim admitted that as at 31.12.1995, Perwaja had 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.
In November 1995, when rejecting my proposal for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry, Mahathir said the government was considering selling off Perwaja as there were "a lot of people" interested in Perwaja.
In June, the government announced its "bail-out" plan for Perwaja by a consortium, with Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd holding 51% of the equity, Lion Group 30% and the government through Khazanah Nasional Bhd. 19% and a "golden share". Lion Group has however backed out of the rescue consortium, ending up with the government holding 49% of the rescue consortium, raising the question as to whether the government may be forced to absorb a large chunk of Perwaja’s losses and liabilities - which must be regarded as a major seback for the government’s bail-out plan for Perwaja.
It is most disappointing that up to date, the government has taken no action against those responsible for the biggest financial scandal in Malaysian history. In December 1996, Mahathir said the government admitted that the various problems brought about the failure of the project but nothing could be achieved by blaming anybody.
I had warned that t the Perwaja scandal could end up like the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance scandal in the eighties - a "heinous crime without a criminal" – and my warning is now being vindicated, as after five years of Ministerial assurances and investigations by various agencies, including the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Perwaja is ending up as another unsolved scandal!
What is even more shocking is the statement by the Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Datuk Ahmad Zaki that it was difficult to determine when the Perwaja investigations, which began in 1996, would be completed and that the ACA was prepared to continue investigations "even if it took 10 or 20 years".
The police report lodged yesterday by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, (Tun H.S.Lee Police Station Report 19625/99) on the Perwaja scandal has given a completely new dimension in that he made the serious allegation concerning the involvement of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad in the Perwaja scandal.
In his police report, 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 Chia’s 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 want the people to believe that the reason why investigations into the Perwaja scandal cannot be completed was because of the difficulty of getting foreigners to co-operate with investigations into the financial irregulartiies, improprieties and corrupt practices in Perwaja as the ACA has no power to call witnesses or others involved who are overseas.
With Anwar’s police report, Malaysians are entitled to know whether the real cause why ACA investigations into the Perwaja scandal are heading nowhere 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 "usual transactions or payments" which were fully transacted in the country. One of them is the RM93 million disbursed for the Perwaja staff housing scheme in Kemaman and Gurun – 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 – 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 investigation it for over four years.
In view of the very serious allegation made by Anwar Ibrahim in his police report implicating the Prime Minister in the Perwaja scandal, I call on the Prime Minister to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Perwaja scandal and ensure that the Perwaja scandal will not become another BMF scandal of a "heinous crime without criminals" – especially as the Perwaja scandal has exceeded the BMF scandal in magnitude of the public funds lost and squandered.
I will move a motion of urgent definite public importance in Parliament on Monday on Anwar’s police report on the Prime Minister’s involvement in the Perwaja scandal and to call for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Perwaja scandal as Malaysians do not want to wait for another 10 or 20 years for the ACA to complete its investigations.