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Cabinet next week must set up Royal Commission of Inquiry into RM1.8 billion Tajuddin-MAS bailout, RM30 billion Bank Negara forex losses and other mega financial scandals in the past two decades to establish transparency, accountability, integrity and good governance of Abdullah premiership
The RM13.46 billion counter-suit by one-time corporate high-flyer Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli filed on June 29 in response to the RM589 million Danaharta suit has opened a “can of worms” when it dropped a “bombshell” with shocking revelations surrounding the Tajudin’s acquisition of 32% stake in MAS in 1994 and the RM1.8 billion sell-back of the MAS shares to the government in 2000 at RM8 per share when the market price was only RM3.68 or a premium of RM4.32 or 117 per cent.
The Sun scored a scoop today with its report, “Tajudin bombshell – ‘Mahathir and Daim directed me to buy MAS shares’”, which answered many questions which had been asked in and out of Parliament for the past decade about the Tajudin MAS buy-out and sell-back – without getting any light.
As the Sun reported on its front page, the “bombshell” dropped by Tajudin Ramli’s RM13.46 billion counter-suit came from his various claims, viz:
· He was directed by former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin to buy shares in MAS to help Bank Negara recover from foreign exchange losses in 1994.
· The transaction was a national service but was disguised as an arm’s length commercial deal because the government wanted it that way to appease the investment community and the public.
· He was at all times only a nominee/agent of the government in MAS.
· He was assured repeatedly by Mahathir and Daim that he would not suffer any losses or be held liable for anything arising from his purchase of the MAS shares.
· He was asked to keep this special arrangement a secret. He is telling all now because the government did not honour the agreement.
Regardless of the outcome of the litigation between Tajudin and Danaharta and the government, Tajudin’s revelations involve fundamental governance questions and public interest issues which demand immediate and satisfactory response from the present administration, as it will directly reflect on its commitments on accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.
The Tajudin litigation has raised afresh many good governance and public interest questions which cannot continue to be avoided if the Abdullah premiership is not to be tarred with the brush of colluding and conniving in their cover-up.
The first question is whether Parliament and nation had been taken for a ride for a decade by the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and former Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin on the billion-ringgit Tajudin MAS buy-out and sell-back scandals?
In retrospect, Daim had committed parliamentary contempt when he deliberately deceived Parliament and the nation when he answered a question on the RM1.8 billion Tajudin-MAS sell-back scandal in Parliament on March 21, 2001, where he made the following false claims:
Study is being made as to whether the present Parliamentary Privileges Committee has jurisdiction to deal with gross breach of parliamentary privileges committed in the previous Parliament, as Daim was clearly guilty of in making patently false statements intended to deceive Parliament and the nation.
In retrospect, it is now clear why Daim had given such an unsatisfactory reply in Parliament on the Tajudin-MAS sell-back scandal, in particular:
Apart from the Tajudin-MAS buy-out and sell-back scandals, the time has also come to “exorcise the ghost” of the RM30 billion Bank Negara foreign exchange (forex) losses more than a decade ago, especially as the person who played such a pivotal role in the Bank Negara forex scandal is none other than Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, the second Finance Minister.
Up to now, the government has failed to “come clean” on the colossal Bank Negara forex losses as a result of speculation in the international currency markets from 1992-1994, with the losses cited as ranging from RM10 billion to RM30 billion.
In Parliament in 1994, I had given reasons as to why the Bank Negara’s forex losses as a result of its forex speculation operations could have amounted to as high as RM30 billion, which had not been seriously rebutted by any top government leader or Bank Negara official.
One question which I raised in Parliament on May 3, 1994 in my speech on the 1993 and 1994 Supplementary Estimates had remained unanswered in the past decade and continues to haunt the corridors of power – whether Bank Negara’s maximum exposure at the height of its forward foreign exchange speculation was in the region of RM270 billion, which was three times the country’s GDP and more than five times the country’s foreign reserves at the time!
But it is not just the RM1.8 billion Tajuddin-MAS bailout and RM30 billion Bank Negara forex losses where there must be proper accounting and discovery, the same applies to the other mega financial scandals in the past two decades as well.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman