Call on EPF to clarify whether it had been involved in the last-minute  multi-million ringgit institutional manipulation of the KLSE through TMT stocks in the past three months

Media Conference Statement 3
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The failure of the Securities Commission and the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange to  act firmly to stop and investigate market manipulations in  the stock market  through massive  institutional  purchases of  TMT stocks- Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd -  in the final minutes of trading to jack up the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange composite index (KLCI) in the last three months have greatly undermined investor and public confidence.

I had in the past two weeks given three specific instances:

  1. On 21st March 2001 when the local bourse had earlier in the day plunged to a 23-month low of 638.5 points  in early trading after investors dumped heavyweights, but  at the end of the day’s trading, the KLCI  rebounded strongly to close at 673.24 following  institutional buying of  the Big Three “TMT” stocks - Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd - especially in the last three minutes of trading. It had been conservatively estimated that RM19 million worth of purchases for the Big Three “TMT” stocks took place in the last three minutes on 21st March and that in the last 30 seconds, the KLCI  was pushed up 13.18 points from 660.06 to 673.24.
  2. On 23rd March 2001, when some RM16 million of institutional interventions through the TMT stocks in the last two minutes before the end of trading pushed  up  the KLCI by two points in the last 30 seconds from 667.26 to 669.27 at 5 p.m.
  3. On 2nd April 2001, some RM6 million institutional purchases of the TMT stocks in the last minute of trading pushed up the KLCI  by 4.77 points from 645.97 points at 4.59 p.m. to 650.74 points at 5 p.m. so that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad could present the Third Outline Perspective Plan (OPP3) to Parliament the next day with a good KLCI index.

Malaysians want two things:

Firstly, a full, independent and public inquiry into stock market manipulations through the  three government-controlled TMT stocks of Tenaga, Maybank and Telekom - which  together make up almost 40 per cent of the index's capitalisation - particularly in the last few minutes of trading in  the past three months.

Secondly, a full public accounting as to what   are the funds running into millions and even tens of millions of ringgit involved in the last-minute institutional purchases to manipulate the KLCI - were EPF, Pensions Trust Fund, Tabung Haji and other government-linked funds and agencies involved?
I call on the Employees Provident Fund Chairman, Tan Sri Halim Ali, to give a full and clear statement as to whether  EPF monies  had ever been involved in the last-minute  multi-million ringgit institutional manipulation of the KLSE through TMT stocks in the past three months.

The 9.7 million EPF contributors are very concerned about the safety and quality of their RM181 billion EPF fund, especially with the catalogue of disastrous EPF investments, like the Time dotCom IPO fiasco.

When trading opened this morning, Time dotCom plunged to  RM1.94 per share, which is RM1.36 or 41.2 per cent below its IPO price of RM3.30.  EPF, which has RM269.28 million invested in Time dotCom at RM3.30 per share, would  have lost the astronomical sum of  RM111 million for being involved in the Time dotCom IPO bailout operation.

Although the Pensions Trust Fund (KWAP) would have suffered a greater loss of RM372 million for taking up 273.86 million shares of the unsubscribed portion of Time dotCom IPO for  the total sum of RM903.74 million, this cannot mollify the 9.7 million EPF contributors about their concern about EPF accountability, transparency and integrity.

EPF acting manager of public relations, Ahmad Fauzi Kamarudin in a letter to The Sun yesterday said the EPF Board is regularly informed at board meetings of EPF investments, containing the following information: the EPF’s cashflow, its asset allocation, expected profits and returns, current loans, updates on the Treasury and equity investment portfolio.

In addition, specific reports on certain investment proposals being considered by the EPF Investment Panel were also tabled at the board’s request.

This, however, is not the impression given by workers’ representatives of the EPF Board, who have said that they had been kept in the dark about investment decisions by the EPF Investment Panel.

In view of Ahmad Fauzi’s clarification, the six workers’ representatives on the EPF Board should publicly confirm whether they have been kept fully informed of all investment decisions concerning the EPF monies, and if so, why they had approved the EPF’s bailout of the Time dotCom IPO fiasco, resulting in EPF losing over RM110 million from the investment and whether they had sought to rescind the EPF bailout of Time dotCom IPO.

The present system and mechanism of EPF accountability and transparency of its decision-making process to the 9.7 million EPF contributors is totally unsatisfactory and the EPF Board should urgently adopt a new policy on accountability and transparency to practise model good corporate governance in the country.

In view of the widespread and deep-seated nation-wide concerns over the safety of EPF, Pensions Trust Fund and other public monies in the expanding list  of government bail-outs and buy-outs, DAP will organise a public forum at the Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Monday night with the theme: “Buyouts and bailouts - are EPF, Pensions Trust Fund and public monies safe?”.

The EPF Chairman, Halim Ali and the six workers’ representatives on the EPF Board led by the MTUC President, Senator Zainal Rampak, are invited to the Monday forum to help answer queries and dispel fears about the safety of EPF monies as the first step in a new policy of EPF accountability and transparency.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman