Call for the report of the Special Task Force on Bank Negara forex losses in early 1990s to be made public

Ministers of the sixth Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, say the darndest things but Najib’s Cabinet has made the darndest decision last Wednesdy, when the Ministers glued their eyes and minds to a quarter of a century ago to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Bank Negara foreign exchanges losses scandal but were totally blind to the present and future – in particular the multi-billion dollar 1MDB world money-laundering scandal which had catapulted Malaysia to international infamy and ignominy of a global kleptocracy.

The chairman of the Special Task Force (STF) into Bank Negara’s forex losses in early nineties, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, said that the STS’ recommendation for a RCI into the Bank Negara’s forex losses a quarter of a century was to bring closure to the issue.

The question Malaysians want answer is why the former Chief Secretary to the Government and the STS members were totally unconcerned about bringing a closure to the 1MDB scandal, considering the shame and humiliation it has brought to Malaysians and the nation?

When I was summoned to appear before the STS on May 4, I reiterated that I stood by my call in Parliament 26 years ago in April 1991 for a RCI into the Bank Negara forex losses, but I asked whether the Cabinet was really interested about accountability and good governance principles?

I said that the “real lesson” of the Bank Negara forex losses was the “failure” of Ministers, top civil servants, MPs and the press at the time to “play their respective role to uphold the principles and accountability and good governance”.

I asked the STS why everybody in government is now missing the elephant in the room, the international 1MDB scandal, and whether Malaysians have to wait for another quarter of a century before a special task force would be formed to exhume the “elephant carcass” of the 1MDB scandal?

Did the STS make this important point in its report to the Cabinet?

The report of STS should be made public, if it is to be the first step to restore accountability and good governance in the country.

There appears to be three important omissions from those who were asked to appear before the STS – the Prime Minister at the time, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad; the present Prime Minister who was the Defence Minister at the time; and the Chief Secretary to the government at the relevant period, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.

Could Sidek explain the reason for these three omissions?

I am quite puzzled by Sidek’s interview implying that only an RCI could have access to documents relating to the forex losses from the Finance Ministry and Bank Negara, as the STS was “established on an administrative basis and not under any legislation”.

Sidek said that STF had no power to coerce anyone to come forward for any discussion or to give any information, adding that it only had access to documents that were available to the public, such as BNM’s annual reports and consultations between the central bank and the International Monetary Fund.

He said: “We also cannot compel anyone to come forward. Even if you ask them to come and they don’t want to come, there is no issue about it.

“And even if they came and we questioned them, and they refused to answer, we cannot do anything about it.

“And it was not under oath. Even if they answered, we don’t know if that was the truth.”

I am at a loss as to how the Ministry of Finance and Bank Negara can refuse to furnish to the STS the relevant documents required to get to the bottom of the Bank Negara forex losses a quarter of a century ago, as it is formed by the Cabinet.

Although the STS was an administrative decision of the Cabinet and not formed under any legislation, is Sidek suggesting that there had been Finance Ministry and Bank Negara officials who had refused to co-operate with STS by refusing to furnish the relevant documents and information on the Bank Negara forex losses?

Were these Finance Ministry and Bank Negara officials identified in the STS report?

This provides a fresh ground why the STS report should be made public.

Are administrative measures being taken to penalize the Finance Ministry and Bank Negara officials who had refused to co-operate with the STS by contending that the STS had no adequate legislative powers to compel them to disclose the relevant information on Bank Negara forex losses a quarter of a century ago?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah