(Penang, Tuesday): In
London in a a dialogue with Malaysians on Sunday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made his admission of the decade when for the first time he
publicly admitted to possible misappropriation of funds and mismanagement in the
RM10 billion Perwaja scandal when in response to a question, he said:
am not denying that we have lost RM10 billion in Perwaja. It’s a very
difficult industry to go into. Most countries which want to develop must have a
steel industry but most lose money, and have to be subsidised.
went into Perwaja with our eyes wide open, we were prepared to lose
money but unfortunately, we had made too many mistakes. At first, we
thought that civil servants should run the company but they had no idea
about running a steel mill.
we brought a businessman to run it, and he too caused a lot of losses. It is
believed that he has mismanaged and taken money from the company.
had already investigated this. But unfortunately, the money that was supposed to
have been taken out, is not easily located because it is said to be in a Swiss
Bank account but the Swiss authorities are not willing to reveal who the
are very secretive about the accounts, and they are not going to co-operate. But
they do admit that there were some funds but we need
them to give evidence in our court. This, they are not willing to do.
many of the other things done are done in foreign countries, and we are not
getting the kind of co-operation that we need in our investigation. We are still
continuing with our investigation, and if there is any evidence at all, we will
bring the people to court and they have to face the
consequences of their mismanagement and misappropriation of funds.
billion is a lot of money. But we must accept that losses will be
incurred in industrialising Malaysia.” (NST 26.2.2002)
referring to the police report on MAS mismanagement of the cargo division,
Mahathir said: “We can’t
tolerate any deliberate misappropriation of funds or mismanagement, crony or
is premature however, as is being done in some quarters, to hail the Prime
Minister’s reply as a clear signal of the
end to cronyism and the protection of cronies from wrongdoings in
Malaysia - as what has happened so far are at most actions against ex-cronies
particularly of ex-UMNO leaders.
Mahathir has finally admitted that the RM10 billion losses in Perwaja “is a
lot of money” - which is more than the entire Health Ministry budget
(operating and development) for
this year, which is only RM6.3 billion or enough to wipe out all the debts owed
by the 13 State Governments to the Federal Government - the Prime Minister had
never given the public the impression that he was very concerned and diligent in
wanting to get to the bottom of the RM10 billion Perwaja scandal, for two
in July 1999, former deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim lodged a
police report alleging the Prime Minister’s involvement in
the Perwaja scandal.
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
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.
Anwar’s allegation of the Prime Minister’s involvement in the Perwaja
scandal true, and if not, why wasn’t there a full and convincing public
exoneration of Mahathir such as by way of a public inquiry?
why did the Prime Minister make a last-minute decision in March last year not to
renew the appointment of the former
Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin, shortly after
Zaki announced a breakthrough that the
Swiss government had agreed to co-operate with the ACA in its investigations
into the Perwaja Steel scandal.
had expressed the hope that with the help of the Swiss authorities, ACA
investigations could “shift into top gear” into the Perwaja scandal
in connection with the transfer of RM76.4 million to a non-existent
company in Hong Kong via another company in Japan and subsequent final transfer
to a Swiss bank account of a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands.
of giving Zaki the full support so that the breakthrough in getting the co-operation of the Swiss
government could lead to the solution of one important aspect of the RM10
billion Perwaja scandal, the Prime Minister decided to remove Zaki from the ACA
at the most critical stage of the six-year-long ACA investigations into the
Perwaja scandal and appoint instead, for the first time in the ACA’s 23-year
history, a policeman as its head - resulting in the disappearance of ACA from
the national radar and public consciousness in the past one year!
Mahathir explain why Zaki was not reappointed as ACA director-general at the
most crucial stage to crash through the six-year stonewall of ACA investigations
into the Perwaja scandal?
statement in London is rather misleading as he gave the impression that
the ACA's investigations into the RM10 billion Perwaja scandal completely
hinges on one item concerning the transfer of RM76.4 million to a non-existent
account and that the entire ACA investigations stand or fall on this item - when
the RM76.4 million item can only be the tip of an iceberg for a scandal which
has cost the country losses more than one-hundred-fold this amount.
Mahathir is serious in his London statement that the government would not
tolerate “misappropriation of funds or mismanagement, crony or otherwise”,
it is still not too late for the government to demonstrate its full commitment
to get to the bottom of the RM10 billion Perwaja scandal and discharge its responsibility of accountability and transparency to the Malaysian people.
calls on the Cabinet to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the RM10
billion Perwaja scandal with former ACA director-general Zaki Husin appointed to
assist the inquiry to ensure that Malaysia does not get into the Guinness Book
of Records in having the most
heinous mega scandals without criminals. If
the Commission of Inquiry comes up against
a “stonewall”, then let Malaysians and the world know the full facts and
whys of such a “stonewall”!
a Royal Commission of Inquiry would also afford Mahathir the opportunity to
clear himself of the serious charges of involvement in the Perwaja scandal which
had been levelled against him by Anwar Ibrahim in his police report in July