Mitsui & Co. senior executive should appear before a Parliamentary Committee on the RM10.6 million Telekom kickback scandal to table all correspondence between Mitsui and Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau on the issue

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The statutory duty of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) is to fight corruption, but in recent times, the ACA  has been used for ulterior purposes other than to declare war on graft.

It had, for instance, been used as a political weapon by the Barisan Nasional government to attack the Opposition, especially during the run-up to the recent tenth general election on November 29, 1999.  In fact, the ACA helped to make the recent general election the dirtiest in the nationís history.

Malaysians can still remember that immediately after  former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid 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",  the Anti-Corruption Agency swung into immediate action and 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  ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad Zaki Hussin had  immediately commented that "almost every paragraph" of Muradís seven-page statutory declaration contained some information on corruption or corruption practices.

He  even announced  plans to go globe-trotting to investigate Muradís allegations against Anwar in connection with  the US-based Asia-Pacific Policy Centre.

With the general election over, the ACA has also forgotten about investigations into Muradís allegations.  Up to now, the ACA had never even tried to seek an interview with Anwar Ibrahim jailed in Sungai Buloh Prison to seek explanations from the former Deputy Prime Minister about Muradís allegations in his statutory declaration, which Zaki had said contained information on corruption in "almost every paragraph".  It is clear that the ACA is more interested in playing politics than in  fighting corruption!

The  ACA had also been used not as a sword to fight corruption but as a shield to cover up corrupt practices of the high and mightly, as revealed in the four police reports which had been lodged by Anwar Ibrahim in connection with high-level corruption.

For four days, the ACA was very tight-lipped about the Asahi Shimbun revelation last Friday about Mitsuiís RM10.6 million kickback to Telekom Malaysia in connection with its syndicated contract with NEC Corp. for a 10 billion yen deal to supply switchboards with a total capacity of about 800,000 circuits, when the ACA should have welcomed it  the very same day and announced high-level investigations into  the Japanese newspaper allegations.

The ACA remained silent despite two reminders from me on Sunday and Monday, and it was only after my third statement yesterday morning dismissing ACA as in capable of  conducting an independent and professional inquiry into the Mitsui kickback that the ACA finally surfaced into the public limelight.

In my statement yesterday, I made the following three points:

Before the issue of my statement yesterday, Leo Moggie gave an unbelievably weak first response in the morning,  asking Telekom Malaysia "to submit a report to the ministry" - which Telekom Malaysia had already done a day earlier in making the ridiculous announcement that it would be conducting its own investigation into the allegations which it claimed to have no knowledge whatsoever.

What more can Leo Moggie expect Telekom to explain in the circumstances?

I am glad that Leo Moggie was aware after my statement yesterday morning that his response was grossly inadequate for the occasion, and he went to Parliament in the  evening and during the speech by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk Fadzil Noor announced that his Ministry had asked the ACA to investigate the kickback allegations.

It was only then that the press was told late yesterday that the ACA had formed a team of senior officers to investigate the Asahi Shimbun allegations, headed by the ACAís Fededral Investigations director Abdul Razak Idris - the person who headed the abortive earlier special team on Muradís allegations against Anwar about RM3 billion in 20 "Master Accounts".

The ACA cannot  inspire any public confidence  when it could only initiate action to fight corruption after it has got the "green light" by the government, showing that it has no independence or professionalism whatsoever.

The ACA should stay out of the investigations into the Telekoms kickback scandal altogether as it has lost all public confidence that it is capable to doing the job.  Malaysians do not know whether the ACA will be investigating or covering up the allegations. Let an independent commission of inquiry be established to conduct a thorough investigations into the RM10.6 million  Telekoms kickback scandal.

It has been reported that a senior executive from Japanís Mitsui & Co. Ltd will be arriving in Kuala Lumpur today to assist the ACA in its investigations into the Telekoms kickback scandal.

Malaysians are surprised at Mitsuiís instant offer of co-operation, and they want to know whether the Mitsui officer has come to Malaysia to help uncover or cover-up the kickback allegations.  Malaysians do not want Mitsui to do a P.R. job as what the people want are the whole truth about the Asahi Shimbun kickback allegations.

Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun had cited the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau as its source for its report that Mitsui had paid the RM10.6 million kickback to Telekom Malaysia via a consultant firm in Malaysia that was a dummy company.

Reuters has reported the denial of  Mitsui & Co. of  the Asahi Shimbun allegations with its spokesman saying: "We disagree with reported allegations made by the Taxation Bureau".

Asahi Shimbun reported last Friday that Mitsui registered the kickback, paid in 1997 to the Malaysian agent under a consultant contract, as "commissions" which were construed as "losses", but the tax bureau determined that the payments were rewards for the orders and were categorised as taxable "entertainment fees".

Mitsui was also found to have paid a total of 100 million yen in similarily questionable payments to South Korea, Morocco, Jordan and Qatar in the name of "agent fees" and other items.

Asahi Shimbun  also reported that the tax bureau has fined Mitsui about 900 million yen in taxes and penalties for failing to report some 2.1 billion yen in income in three years to March 1998, including the 400 million yen kickbacks which were originally booked as losses.

In another report, the Kyodo news agency quoted sources close to Mitsui as saying the company often paid "commissions" to influential local people who provided information to its overseas agencies, upon winning contracts for projects.

In view of the readiness of Japanís  Mitsui & Co to send a senior executive to Malaysia to clarify the allegations of RM10.6 million Mitsui kickback to Telekom Malaysia, this top Mitsui officer should be required to  appear before a Parliamentary Committee on the RM10.6 million Telekom kickback scandal to explain the full facts of the case.

The Mitsui officer should also make available to the Parliamentary Committee all the correspondence between Mitsui and the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau pertaining to the 300 million yen  Mitsui kickback to Telekom Malaysia.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman