THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop Must Come Clean On The Bank Negara Foreign Exchange (Forex) Scandal And Fully Account For The Losses Of RM15.8 Billion From 1992-3 But Estimated To Reach RM30 Billion.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop must come clean on the Bank Negara forex scandal and fully account for the losses of RM15.8 billion from 1992-3 but estimated to reach RM30 billion. According to the Bank Negara’S financial report, Bank Negara recorded losses of RM10.1 billion in 1992 and RM5.7 billion in 1993.
However when replying to my question in Parliament 2 weeks ago, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Donald Lim only admitted to the RM5.7 billion in losses in 1993. This gives rise to question about the RM10.1 billion losses in 1992 or even a total loss of up to RM30 billion as former Bank Negara senior officer Dr Rosli Yakcop who had worked under Tan Sri Nor had estimated.
Tan Sri Nor was identified as the principal forex trader for Bank Negara with huge bets of hundreds of millions of US$ at single bets. So far he has refused to explain his role or why he gambled with the nation’s treasury so recklessly in the largest financial scandal in Malaysian history.
At a time when the Malaysian government is condemning forex currency speculators like George Soros, why is the Malaysian government practicing double-standards by protecting Malaysian forex currency speculators like Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop. Worse the Malaysian government is sending the wrong message by not only failing to punish those responsible for such huge losses or demanding full accountability but even promoting forex currency speculators like Tan Sri Nor to a full Cabinet Minister.
With the coming general elections, Tan Sri Nor has to fully explain this financial scandal as public interest demands that voters be fully informed what type of person or government that they are voting for when we suffered the largest financial losses in Malaysian history. Failing to do so would show that the BN government is only giving lip service to public accountability and transparency.
LIM GUAN ENG
My sources within Pakatan Rakyat tell me that in the event Barisan Nasional gets kicked out in the coming general election and Pakatan Rakyat gets to form the next government, it is not sure yet whether Anwar Ibrahim is going to become the Prime Minister in spite of all the rhetoric.
According to these people, DAP is very sore with Anwar regarding the CAT (cocky, arrogant, tok-kong) issue. It is not so much what Deputy Chief Minister Mansor Othman said but more what Anwar is NOT saying.
Anwar’s ‘elegant silence’ is deafening — as is his ‘deafening silence’ regarding what Azmin Ali said about Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and also the ‘deafening silence’ regarding the goings-on in Kedah and the attacks on Kedah Menteri Besar Azizan Abu Bakar.
Those attacking Guan Eng, Khalid and Azizan are Anwar die-hards. Hence, they ask, can’t Anwar control his boys? Or has Anwar endorsed the attacks on Guan Eng, Khalid and Azizan?
According to the PKR people, in a meeting that Azizan had with his PAS boys, he said that he believes Anwar is guilty of all the sexual misconduct allegations — even from back in the ‘Sodomy 1’ days. Mat Sabu himself, now an Anwar die-hard, used to say the same thing when Anwar was still with the ‘other side’ (and Mat Sabu does not deny saying it but only explains it as ‘that was then, when Anwar was the enemy’).
Those close to Guan Eng have told Anwar that the Penang Chief Minister believes that ‘Anwar may not be quite innocent’ of the sexual misconduct allegations. Other top leaders in PAS have said the same thing.
The DAP and PAS leaders are prepared to downplay this issue for the sake of Pakatan Rakyat solidarity. But whether they will support Anwar as the Prime Minister in the event that Pakatan Rakyat takes over is another thing altogether. That, they will have to ‘wait and see’ first.
DAP appears to be pressing the issue of the FOREX scandal of around 20 years or so ago. No doubt it appears like the target is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. But is Dr Mahathir really going to get hurt by this? We must remember that apart from the fact that Dr Mahathir was the then Prime Minister it was Anwar who was the Finance Minister and the one who misled Parliament. There is nothing to directly link Dr Mahathir to this scandal other than the fact he was the Prime Minister at that time.
In fact, Lim Kit Siang, who was the then Opposition Leader in Parliament, held Anwar personally accountable for this scandal. It was Anwar and not Dr Mahathir who Kit Siang whacked. Hence, if this matter is resurrected, is it going to be Dr Mahathir or Anwar who is going to get hurt?
Some within PKR are not too happy that DAP is pursuing this matter because it can backfire on Anwar and can open up a can or worms that many younger voters may have forgotten or may not be aware of. While they may successfully implicate Dr Mahathir in this scandal, Anwar, too, is going to get implicated. But then Anwar and not Dr Mahathir wants to become Prime Minister so is it worth going for Dr Mahathir and in the same breath bring Anwar down?
The PKR people are of the opinion that DAP is sending Anwar a message: which is, control your boys or else get embarrassed by the RM30 billion FOREX scandal. And maybe Lim Kit Siang’s speech in Parliament of 11th April 1994 can demonstrate in what way Anwar can get hurt.
Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat (Malaysian Parliament) on the Royal Address debate on Monday, April 11, 1994
Bank Negara’s forex losses in the past two years could total as high as RM30 billion, making it the biggest financial scandal in Malaysia as well as a world-class financial scandal.
There was in fact a conspiracy of disinformation and misinformation to ‘cover up’ the real nature, cause and magnitude of Bank Negara forex losses in the past two years which I will show in the course of my speech could total as high as RM30 billion. It is not only the greatest financial scandal in Malaysia, but has reached the standing to be a world-class financial scandal!
In the special DAP motion on the Bank Negara forex losses in Parliament last April, the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim strenuously denied that Bank Negara had “speculated” or “gambled” in foreign exchange.
Anwar said that as Finance Minister, he was “fully satisfied with the reasons” goven by Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein for the Bank Negara’s forex losses.
However, truth cannot be concealed forever, as it would always find some way of declaring itself.
This time, it is the Economic Adviser to the Government, Tun Daim Zainuddin, who had got the ‘cat out of the bag’. On Monday, April 4, 1994, Daim Zainuddin was reported in the press as saying that “Central bank s must not play with the risks or losses are high”.
The Daim said that while those responsible for the huge forex losses of Bank Negara had accounted for their mistake by resigning, central banks should never go into such ventures.
Anwar must also bear responsibility for the colossal Bank Negara forex losses.
However, the person who must also bear responsibility for the colossal Bank Negara forex losses, apart from Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein, must be the Finance Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, himself.
As Anwar had assured Parliament last April that he was ‘satisfied’ with Tan Sri Jaffar’s explanation for the 1992 Bank Negara forex losses, why had Tan Sri Jaffar done differently in 1993 with regard to the 1993 Bank Negara forex losses to require his resignation?
In Fact, if the Prime Minister is right that the Bank Negara’s RM5.7 billion forex losses last year are from profits made in forex dealings made in preceding years, there is no need for Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein to resign at all.
Jaffar should be made a Tun instead of having to resign in ignominy if it could be shown that over the years, Bank Negara had cumulatively made more profits from forex speculation despite the colossal losses in the past two years.
If it could be shown that since it ventured into speculative forex trading under his Governorship, Bank Negara had cumulatively made more profits from such speculative forward forex trading despite the colossal losses in the past two years, Jaffar should be rewarded with a Tun instead of having to resign in ignominy!
This is why the DAP had called on the Government to present a White Paper to give full details of its annual profits or losses from forex dealings in the preceding years, so that Malaysians can know whether the cumulative profits from Bank Negara forward forex dealings are able to absorb the RM5.7 billion forex losses- let alone the RM30 billion which could be the total forex losses in the past two years!
There are two other reasons why Anwar Ibrahim must bear personal responsibility for Bank Negara’s forex losses.
Anwar Ibrahim said last week that he had directed Bank Negara to stop forward foreign exchange trading when he discovered its forex losses 18 months ago. If Bank Negara had followed his instructions to stop forward forex trading in 1992, then how could Bank Negara suffer RM5.7 billion losses in 1993, on top of the RM10.1 billion to RM13.1 billion losses in 1992?
Furthermore, Anwar Ibrahim had misled Parliament last July when I questioned him whether Bank Negara had suffered more forex losses. Anwar said that this was not true as he had been monitoring the Bank Negara’s forex dealings weekly.
On July 19, 1993, I asked Anwar Ibrahim a supplementary question during question time as to whether at that date, Bank Negara’s provision of Rm2.7 billion contingent liability for forward forex trading in the 1992 Bank Negara accounts had not only been confirmed, but even more forex losses had been incurred.
This is Anwar’s reply, from the Hansard of 19th July 1993(p. 28):
“Dato Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim: Tua Yang di-Pertua, dukacita saya memaklumkan ini satu berita yang kurang baik bagi Yang Berhormat dari Tanjong. Kerugian yang dimaksudkan itu tidak berlaku dan tidak bertambah. Yang Berhormat mahu percaya atau tidak, tetapi saya ada maklumat yang sebenar tentang keadaan tersebut. Saya juga meneliti tiap-tiap minggu perkembangan kerana masalah yang dihadapi sebelum ini…. Saya ingin member jaminan kepada Yang Berhormat bagi Tanjong bahawa perkara ini kita teliti lebih dekat dan kita lebih waspada kerana pengalaman yang lalu.”
In this one short answer, Anwar Ibrahim had misled Parliament and the nation on three matters:
* that by July 1993, the provision in the 1992 Bank Negara accounts for RM2.7 billion contingent liability for forward forex trading had not been confirmed;
* that Bank Negara had not suffered more forex losses; and
* that his weekly monitoring of Bank Negara’s forex dealings would prevent further colossal losses arising from Bank Negara’s forward forex trading.
If Anwar Ibrahim claims that he had directed Bank Negara to stop forward forex trading 18 months ago, and that “there are no new trading arrangements” last year as the central bank unwound its forward positions in the market last year (Business Times April 6, 1994), then Bank Negara should not have incurred RM5.7 billion when its contingent liability provision for such forward forex trading in end- 1992 was RM2.7 billion.
Anwar’s claim that there were no new forward forex trading by Bank Negara in 1993 had been contradicted by Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein, who said in his press conference on March 31 as well in his foreword to the 1993 Bank Negara report:
“In the Bank’s 1993 accounts, a net deficiency in foreign exchange transactions of RM5.7 billion is reported, an amount which will be written off against the Bank’s future profits. This loss reflected errors in judgement involving commitments made with the best of intentions to protect the national interest prior to the publication of the Bank’s 1992 accounts towards the end of March 1993. As these forward transactions were unwound, losses unfolded in the course of 1993. In this regard, global developments over the past year had not been easy for the Bank; indeed, they made it increasingly difficult for the Bank to unwind these positions without some losses. For the most part, time was not on the Bank’s side. Nevertheless, this exercise is now complete- there is at this time, no more contingent liability on the Bank’s forward foreign exchange transactions on this account. An unfortunate chapter in the Bank’s history is now closed. ”
This is an admission that until late March 1993, Bank Negara was still dabbling in new forward foreign exchange transactions, with the suggestion that after March, all these forward transactions were unwound.
But the provision of RM1.4 billion contingent liability for forward forex trading in the end-1993 account (Note 12) shows that new forex trading were still being entered into well after March 1993.
Clearly Datuk Seri Anwar and Tan Sri Jaffar are not telling the truth as to when Bank Negara ceased new forward forex trading.