Zanial’s off-handed explanation that he could not attend the important EPF board meeting on the EPF dividend last year because he was attending the ILO meeting in Geneva was not good enough and he should give a more substantial and credible reason
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The off-handed explanation given by the MTUC President and EPF Board member, Senator Datuk Zanal Rampak that he could not attend the important EPF board meeting declaring the lowest dividend in 40 years of 4.25 per cent cent for last year because he was attending the International Labour Organisation governing body meeting in Geneva (Star 26.4.03) was not good enough and he should give a more substantial and credible reason.
Wasn’t Zainal aware that the EPF Board meeting was going to make the important decision on the EPF dividend for last year, and was he unaware that the 10.3 million EPF contributors were worried that they would not be getting a fair and reasonable return for their EPF savings?
Zainal has no reason to be unaware of these concerns as enough warnings had been given by Ministers and EPF officials that the EPF dividend for last year was going to be lower than the previous year. In fact, in October last year, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had already hinted that the EPF contributors would be getting a lower dividend payout for the year.
Under the circumstances, as the chief representative of the 10.3 million EPF contributors, Zainal should have ensured that there is nothing in the world which could prevent him from attending the crucial EPF board meeting deciding on the dividend for last year – not even the ILO governing body meeting in Geneva.
In any event, the ILO Governing Body does not meet for one day only, but for three weeks from March 6 – 28, 2003. Zainal owes the trade union movement and the 10.3 million EPF contributors a clear explanation as to why he could not ensure one-day attendance at the important EPF board meeting on the EPF dividend for last year when he can spend three weeks in Geneva.
It is more important that Zanial should attend the EPF Board meeting and mobilize not only the other Board members representing workers but also other sectors to convince them of the injustice of declaring the lowest dividend in 40 years of 4.25 per cent or at least to commission an independent inquiry into the mismanagement and malgovernance of EPF, whether on investments or loan disbursements, than to shout about MTUC picketing outside the EPF after the decision had been made.
In fact, what is Zainal’s credibility to call for MTUC picketing against the lowest dividend in 40 years when he was so irresponsible as to be absent from the crucial EPF Board meeting deciding on the dividend?
If Zainal cannot spare one day for the 10.3 million EPF contributors to attend the most important EPF Board meeting for the year, isn’t it time for him to resign as EPF Board member to give way to another MTUC leader who could devote time to defend the interests of the EPF contributors at EPF Board meetings?
The invitation to Zainal to the public forum “Lowest dividend in 40 years - what is the future of EPF" at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, 28th April 2003 at 8 pm remains open for him to defend his credibility as EPF Board member.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman