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Rafidah should resign or be dropped as Minister for International Trade and Industry if she cannot rebut Mahathir´┐Żs charge that she had misled the UMNO General Assembly, Cabinet  and the nation in her explanations about the APs mess


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Saturday): In the last two days, since her mid-day return to Malaysia on Thursday with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from South Africa, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz had been ´┐Żon the run´┐Ż from ´┐Żpursuing reporters´┐Ż  for her response to the allegation by former  Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that she had not told the truth on the issue of Approved Permits (APs) for importing cars.

Bernama even carried a report yesterday headlined ´┐ŻRafidah Continues To Avoid Reporters´┐Ż on the  ´┐Żwild goose´┐Żs chase´┐Ż by reporters when their efforts to interview her at her ministry ´┐Żagain met a brick wall when security personnel kept journalists away´┐Ż.

When finally caught up by the press last evening, Rafidah declined to give any comments on the ground that she needed time to study all the media reports on the issue, as she was overseas when Mahathir made his comments.

Such an explanation in an era of information technology of instant communication when information travels at the speed of light is most outrageous, coming from a senior  Cabinet Minister of a government which wants Malaysia to be at the cutting edge of the information and communications technologies revolution by making a ´┐Żgift to the world´┐Ż with the creation of the Multimedia Super Corridor..

Is Rafidah seriously suggesting that she did not have access to all the media reports about Mahathir´┐Żs Tuesday media conference and reactions instantaneously if not even faster than ordinary Malaysians, although she was  physically in South Africa, and that even before she left Johanneseburg for the return flight to Malaysia, she already had all the information necessary about Mahathir´┐Żs comments and allegations?

Any other answer from Rafidah would only portray her as an IT-illiterate, which would raise the further question about the purpose of Malaysia hosting the 9th Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) International Advisory Panel (IAP) meeting in Penang in September ´┐Ż when a senior Cabinet Minister and member of the National Information Technology Council (NITC)  is so behind-times in ICT.

I do not believe Rafidah is such an IT dinosaur.  She cannot continue to be ´┐Żon the run´┐Ż from answering fully  and truthfully Mahathir´┐Żs serious charge that she had ´┐Żlied´┐Ż to the UMNO General Assembly, the Cabinet and the nation in her explanations concerning the APs mess.

This is an issue which cannot be resolved with a belated  apology from her to Mahathir as is being suggested now by some UMNO Wanita leaders as it  is a national issue and not a private spat between the two. Nor can this issue be evaded by  her trying to ´┐Żpass the buck´┐Ż to the Prime Minister, which she unsuccessfully  tried to do when in South Africa ´┐Ż with her repeated plea to the media to  ´┐ŻAsk the PM´┐Ż but with Abdullah forcefully declining the proposition,  stating  ´┐ŻLet Rafidah deal with that by giving all the details that are needed. You are asking me. How am I to know?´┐Ż

Rafidah should resign or be dropped as Minister for International Trade and Industry if she cannot rebut Mahathir´┐Żs charge that she had misled the UMNO General Assembly, the Cabinet  and the nation in her explanations about the APs mess.

It does not help in promoting credibility  for Rafidah to get her Deputy Minister, Datuk Mah Siew Keong, to say things about APs when she herself dare not appear publicly to answer all the questions swirling around the APs scandal.

Representing Rafidah at the launching of the new corporate identity for the Malaysian Footwear Manufacturers´┐Ż Association yesterday, Mah said ´┐ŻThose who sell or abuse their Approved Permits will have their allocations withdrawn even if they are among the so-called AP kings´┐Ż and that MITI was tracking those awarded APs.

If MITI had a effective and efficient mechanism tracking AP abuses, why has Rafidah to go into ´┐Żhiding´┐Ż?

APs are not a new thing, but had been Rafidah´┐Żs responsibility for the past 18 years and  a 35-year history going back to 1970. What Malaysians want to know is not what MITI proposes to do for the future, but what MITI had done all these years  to check AP abuses especially  during the 18 years Rafidah was MITI  Minister.

For instance, why did Rafidah create the three ´┐ŻAP King of Kings´┐Ż, Tan Sri Nasimuddin SM Amin, Datuk Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim and Datuk Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz. The three  were  collectively issued 33,218 APs for 2004 and  28,283 APs for 2005.   At the average worth  of RM30,000 per AP, the  three ´┐ŻAP King of Kings´┐Ż stood to make some RM996 million for 2004 and RM850 million this year or a total of RM1.8 billion for these two years.  

What is  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 to the trio, 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.

What is the total number of APs issued to the three ´┐ŻAP King of Kings´┐Ż since 1988?

How does enabling the three ´┐ŻAP King of Kings´┐Ż to become  billionaires through liberal issuance of APs  help in creating a class of bumiputra entrepreneurs or uplifting  the economic position of the bumiputras generally?

In reply to Mahahtir´┐Żs query why so many APs were given to two former civil servants, MITI has replied that the current policy does not stop any qualified individual to apply for APs, including retired bumiputera civil servants. Is Mah able to make public a full list of bumiputeras who had applied but failed to get APs in the past 18 years?

Rafidah´┐Żs niece Annie Tajul Arus was given Franchise AP to import 850 Kleeman cars in 2004 and 199  in 2005. What is the basis for the issuance of such APs?

There are several political personalities who have been given APs. One of them,

the Minister for Tourism, Dr. Leo Michael Toyad, has been issued  Open APs through a company,  Mega Otomobile Sdn. Bhd. ´┐Ż given  86 APs in 2004 and 103 APs in 2005.   What is the total number of APs Leo Michael had received in the past 17 years as he was issued the Open AP as far back as 1988.

If Mah cannot answer these questions, and it is public knowledge that as Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry he has no powers whatsoever with regard to any aspect of APs, whatever he says about APs has no credibility whatsoever.

 

(30/07/2005)      

                                                       


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

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