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First step to review  the APs system is to revoke the  APs of  holders  who have abused their privileges by under-declaring value of imported cars which reportedly cost over RM1 billion annual  losses to the country

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Friday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reiterated in Johannesburg two days ago a wide-ranging review of the APs system to import cars. 

The first step to review the APs system is to revoke the APs of holders, whether open or franchise, who have abused their privileges by under-declaring the value of imported cars which reportedly cost over RM1 billion annual losses to the country.


The Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah told the UMNO annual general assembly last week that when she was first appointed to the Ministry in 1987, she revoked the APs given to 153 companies on grounds that the companies were not operational, no showroom, improper management of accounts and APs were sold to non-bumiputeras.  This resulted in only 76 companies currently still receiving Open APs.


Probably, the last service which Rafidah can do after 18 years as Minister for International Trade and Industry is to purge the lists of Open and Franchise APs holders by revoking the APs of companies, whether open or franchise, which  have abused their privileges such as  under-declaring the value of imported cars which reportedly cost over RM1 billion annual losses to the country.


Customs officials have confirmed that under-declaration by AP holders or their agents is very rampant, with a Subaru Impreza  with the market price of  RM201,000 imported with  a landing price of RM20,000.


The second APs list released on Tuesday under the directive of Abdullah has vindicated former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that the first APs list for 2005 was not complete and that Rafidah had misled the UMNO General Assembly, the Cabinet and the nation in her various explanations on the APs scandal.


It is a  demonstration  that although he is only a Proton Adviser, having  stepped down as Prime Minister for 21 months, Mahathir  has more comprehensive and up-to-date  information about APs than the current Prime Minister and even the Minister directly in charge of the issuance of APs.


In his media conference on 5th July 2005, Mahathir questioned why of the 67,00 APs issued last year,  only 12,000 were given to 82 companies, while 54,000 were given to 20 companies, which was “not in the spirit of nurturing Bumiputera entrepreneurship whereby the APs should benefit a big number of people rather than a few”.


The country was told that Mahathir  was wrong, with the Deputy International trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mah Siew Keong speaking on behalf of Rafidah in Parliament  that the former Prime Minister’s AP figure did not tally with the MITI statistics of 51,713 APs, exceeding by more than 15,000!


With Tuesday’s release of the 2004 APs list, showing a total allocation of 66,277 APs (both Open and Franchise), Mah had been caught red-handed as misleading Parliament and the nation!


Will Mah apologise to Mahathir, Parliament and the nation for helping his Minister to carry out a campaign of misinformation about the APs issue?


Various initial questions and observations about the second APs list released on Tuesday are in order:


Firstly, why was the Prime Minister’s Office misled to release an incomplete APs list for 2005 just before the UMNO General Assembly on 18th July, which does not reflect highly on the competence, responsibility, integrity and professionalism of the top echelons of the civil service.


MITI’s explanation –  that the 18th July list did not include two companies whose applications had just been approved, i.e. Eminent Century Sdn. Bhd for 20 Lamborghini and  Euromobil Sdn. Bhd for 1,152 Mitsubishi – is very lame and unconvincing.


As the Franchise AP for  Eminent Century Sdn. Bhd was approved on 17th June 2005 and Euromobil Sdn. Bhd.was approved on July 8, 2005, what acceptable explanation could be given as to why the Prime Minister’s Office did not receive the most updated information  for the  release of the  first APs list on 18th July and the UMNO General Assembly not notified  at its winding-up on 23rd July, while Mahathir had the information for his media conference on 26th July?


Rafidah said in her UMNO General Assembly winding-up speech that there were 35 Franchise AP holders, which was clearly wrong, as the figure should be 39, evident to anyone checking the second release of the APs list.  Is this  a full, final and complete list, or are there other companies with Franchise APs lurking somewhere which had not been brought to light? 


Secondly, both the 2004 and 2005 APs list showed that there was a company which was granted approval for Open APs in 1989 although Rafidah has claimed that she stopped the issue of Open APs in 1988.  This is BZ Motors Sdn. Bhd, with Zainudin Suut and Ratna Idawati Zainudin as shareholders, allocated 103 APs for 2004 and 124 APs for 2005.  Why is there no explanation for this glaring discrepancy?


Thirdly, the “AP King of Kings”, which have reduced from four to three, with the clarification by Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad denying that he is an AP King as he does not hold even a single AP. The three  AP Kings, Tan Sri Nasimuddin SM Amin, Datuk Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim and Datuk Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz were  collectively issued 33,218 APs for 2004 and  28,283 APs for 2005. This means they  stood to make some RM996 million for 2004 and RM850 million this year or a total of RM1.8 billion for these two years, at the average worth  of RM30,000 per AP.  Public interest of accountability and transparency demand that the total number of APs worth billions of ringgit which  have been issued to the three “AP King of Kings” since 1988 should be made public.


Fourthly,  there has still to be a satisfactory explanation with regard to the  conflict-of-interest in the APs given yearly to the Minister for Tourism, Dr. Leo Michael Toyad to a company where he has significant interest – Mega Otomobile Sdn. Bhd., which was given 86 APs in 2004 and 103 APs in 2005.


Fifthly, the failure of Rafidah so far to give any satisfactory or acceptable explanation as to the basis for the issue of 33,218 APs (or 50.1% of total of 66,277 APs) in 2004 and 28,283 APs (or 41% of total of 68,330 APs) in 2005, giving them the opportunity to amass RM1.8 billion just for these two years, as well as the opaque and discriminatory manner in the allocation of APs.


Sixthly, public confidence in government  accountability, transparency and integrity can only be restored if there is a full publication of all the APs lists for the past 35 years since the start of the AP system in 1970, including the periods when the Ministry of Trade and Industry were headed by Dr. Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah; and


Seventhly, the time has come in the review of the APs system to give serious consideration to the abolition or phasing out of APs to import cars, as Rafidah had herself said in 1997 that  APs did not conform to the open market concept and  envisioning its abolition where  CBU cars can be imported by anyone at will.    




*  Lim Kit Siang,Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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