Raja Petra Kamarudin
Many of you still do not get it. I am talking, of course, about the Bank Negara RM30 billion foreign exchange losses of 20 years ago.
Some of you are asking me why I am targeting Anwar Ibrahim. Some of you are asking why I don’t also whack Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Some of you are asking why raise an old issue. Some of you are saying I am trying to defend Dr Mahathir. Some of you are saying I have a vendetta against Anwar.
So many questions but all the wrong questions. Why do you always force me to talk to you like I am talking to children? I thought my English is simple enough but apparently that is not so. Do I need to spell it out even simpler?
Okay, let me explain the issue again, in even simpler English this time.
Around 20 years or so ago, it was reported by the international media thatBank Negara had been identified as being the biggest foreign exchange speculator in the world. That’s right, speculator.
Apparently, Bank Negara had been gambling for some time. Initially, they were making money, big money. And because they were making big money they became bolder, or maybe greedier. So the gambling became bigger. Then, one day, their luck ran out and they started to lose big time.
George Soros, however, who was also in the game, made money, big money. And he made big money because he was a better gambler than Bank Negara. So Soros laughed all the way to the bank while Bank Negara lost its pants.
Because of what the international media had been saying about Bank Negara being the biggest foreign exchange speculator or gambler in the world, the then Opposition Leader in Parliament, Lim Kit Siang, raised the matter in Parliament and he asked the then Finance Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, to confirm whether the reports were true.
Anwar told Parliament that the reports were not true.
The following year, Lim Kit Siang, again, raised the matter in Parliament and asked Anwar Ibrahim, again, whether these reports were true.
This time Anwar admitted that it was true but told Parliament that Bank Negara did not really lose any money. It was only a ‘paper loss’, Anwar said and it was a mere few billion Ringgit, maybe RM6 billion or RM7 billion.
However, the culprit, the Bank Negara Governor, Jaffar Hussein, had been punished for the ‘crime’, said Anwar. He had been told to resign.
This was what Lim Kit Siang said on 11th April 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 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.
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.
Okay, the first point: I did not raise this matter or attempt to raise a 20-year old issue. It was the other way around. It was the opposition that raised it. The opposition held a seminar a few days ago to talk about this issue and in this seminar a man who had worked for Bank Negara fingered four people responsible for this fiasco. And the four do not include Anwar Ibrahim.
Lim Kit Siang then issued a press statement in relation to this seminar and he whacked the four guilty parties named in that seminar. However, what Lim Kit Siang said this week is different from what he said 18 years ago.
18 years ago, Lim Kit Siang said that Anwar must take responsibility and he whacked Anwar for the cover-up, disinformation, misinformation, lies, etc.
So that is my second point: why the U-turn? After demanding that Anwar’s head be removed from his shoulder 18 years ago, today, Anwar is given a clean bill of health.
I agree that in spite of this being a 20-year old issue, it is the biggest financial scandal in Malaysia’s history and, therefore, there should be no statute of limitations. But we must be consistent in what we say.
If Lim Kit Siang was wrong in what he alleged 18 years ago, then explain that to us. Is that so difficult? 18 years ago, Lim Kit Siang had very strong words to say against Anwar. Was Lim Kit Sang wrong at that time? If so then tell us so that the air can be cleared.
You can’t pretend you did not say what you said 18 years ago and act as if it did not happen. It is on record that it did happen. If that has changed since 18 years ago then tell us it has changed. You cannot ‘convict’ a person 18 years ago and then erase that ‘conviction’ from the records.
That is all I am seeking. Why is it so difficult to do a simple thing like that?
Today, the opposition holds a seminar to revisit the RM30 billion Bank Negara foreign exchange financial disaster of 20 years ago. But what they say today is opposite to what they said 18 years ago. Why? Can someone please explain that to us?
I am not saying that Dr Mahathir or the other three are innocent. According to Dr Mahathir, which Anwar agreed, Bank Negara at first made money. Towards the end it lost money. But if you take into consideration the money that Bank Negara made and lost, overall it wasn’t that big a disaster. It would not come to RM30 billion.
Is this true? Or is it false? Is that RM30 billion the amount that Bank Negara lost without taking into consideration the money it made? Dr Mahathir said that the money that Bank Negara lost was actually the money it had made. In other words Bank Negara did not lose its own money. It only lost the profits it had made.
So we have two stories here. One story is that Bank Negara lost its own money. The second story is that it merely lost the profits it had made. Which story is true?
I understand that the opposition wants to gain some political mileage out of this issue, which is a good political weapon, I must admit. But we need to be truthful to the voters. We must not do what Barisan Nasional does, and that is to lie to the voters. Let the voters have the facts, the true facts. If you lie to the voters and later they discover you have lied you will be made to suffer for that.
I know that this is a bitter pill to swallow. But swallow it we must for the sake of getting to the truth. Tell us what really happened 20 years ago. We are hearing too many contradictory stories. It is time that the truth of the matter is revealed so that the matter can be laid to rest. And let all those who are guilty of whatever it is they are guilty of apologise to the nation and then we can move on. Until then this will be hanging over our heads to come back and haunt us from time to time.
And what I also want to know is why did this Bank Negara ‘insider’ keep this secret for 20 years and then suddenly, today, come out to spill the beans? If a crime had been committed and if you knew 20 years ago that a crime had been committed why wait so long before revealing the truth? You knew all along and yet you kept silent? Why? Can we get an explanation? The voters deserve to know why.
I think it is time that the voters are no longer treated like fools. It is bad enough that Barisan Nasional is doing this. Must Pakatan Rakyat also do the same?