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Rafidah should demonstrate that she is not the biggest obstacle to a policy of transparency and integrity in the Abdullah administration by making public the full list of AP holders during the 18 years she was Minister for International Trade and Industry
(Parliament, Wednesday): Although the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz said that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had phoned and informed her of the need to release the names of the AP holders when she was holidaying in London, it was clear from her confident and ebullient self on the Monday morning function when she told reporters that she was ready to answers questions about APs at the UMNO Genral Assembly that she had not known that the APs list would be released by the Prime Minister’s Office later the same evening.
In fact, in a later function the same day to launch the Mitsubishi Motors brand and its sales and services network, Rafidah was still in her confident and ebullient self and put up a vigorous defence of the AP policy. She said the number of APs approved yearly were limited to 10 per cent of the total production of cars locally, plus another 10 per cent to fulfil the liberalized market growth. For 2004, she said the real import figure was 45,580 units, less than the AP approvals given to 51,713 units for the year.
It must have come as a shock to Rafidah when the Prime Minister’s Office released the list of the holders of APs later in the evening, and not for 2004 but for 2005, involving 67,158 APs, comprising 17,526 Open APs and 49,632 Franchise APs.
This may be another reason why Rafidah’s confidence and ebullience collapsed in tears yesterday, with her invoking the Quran to declare her innocence and that she had nothing to do with any of the AP holders, open or franchise.
Many people, including myself, had initially mistaken the list of 67,158 APs released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday as being for the past 35 years, when in fact it was only for 2005, which is even more flabbergasting and mind-boggling.
This means that the four AP Kings who were collectively issued 28,283 APs stand to make some RM850 million this year alone, at the average worth of RM30,000 per AP, without taking into account the billions of ringgit worth of APs issued to them in the past years.
Rafidah first assumed responsibility for the APs portfolio more than 18 years ago when she was appointed Minister for Trade and Industry on 20th May 1987 to replace Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who left the Cabinet after losing to Tun Dr. Mahathir Mahathir by 43 votes in his bid for the post of UMNO President.
How many APs had been issued during Rafidah’s 18 years as Minister for Trade and Industry and later Minister for International Trade and Industry since May 20, 1987? Will it be in the region of 300,000 – 400,000 APs, worth tens of billions of ringgit?
Rafidah has declared that she has “nothing to hide or protect”, that she is innocent of abuse of power or corruption in the issue of APs, and if so, she should follow up on the issue of the 2005 list of AP holders by the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday with the release of the full list of all the AP holders in the past 18 years when APs was under her responsibility.
Rafidah should demonstrate that she is not the biggest obstacle to a policy of transparency and integrity under the administration of Abdullah by making public the full list of AP holders during the 18 years she was the Minister in charge of APs; and if she is not prepared to adopt such publication as among the “best practices” for transparency and integrity, she should resign as Cabinet Minister.
Abdullah has given the go-ahead to UMNO delegates to debate the AP issue at length so long as they refrain from making up stories.
UMNO delegates should not only demand full, satisfactory and acceptable answers from Rafidah as to the basis for the issue of 28,283 APs to the four “AP Kings” giving them the opportunity to amass RM850 million just for this year alone, as well as the opaque and discriminatory manner in the allocation of APs, but also call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into the issue of APs to import cars, with terms of reference including:
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman