An unhealthy system constitutes the single most serious weakness of this country and an obstacle for its continued progress. The RCI on Bank Negara forex losses hearing has revealed the “scars” of the system.
Testimony by former assistant auditor-general P Kanason Pothinker revealed that the AGC indeed had confirmed that Bank Negara’s forex dealings in the 1990s were against Section 31 of Central Bank of Malaysia Act 1958, but when he tried to pursue the matter further, he was told orang atasan cakap jangan campur tangan.
We have no idea who the orang atasan was, but as the AGC had the prosecution power, by right it should be fully independent and should wholeheartedly defend the dignity of the law.
The fact that a simple sentence as orang atasan cakap jangan campur tangan was enough to stop the auditor-general’s office from pursuing the case shows that this whole system is severely flawed and the interest of the nations and her people are to be sacrificed.
Testimonies by other witnesses have also brought out a number of queries. Former Bank Negara deputy governor Lin See Yan pointed out that former governor Jaafar Hussein was unaware of the forex losses, while Jaafar’s special assistant Lee Siew Kuan said the governor was shocked when he learned about the losses.
The governor was the top leader at the central bank. How was it possible for the governor to be completely kept in the dark over the dealings? Could the advisor be more powerful than the governor himself?
On top of that, former BNM forex dealer Fizaman Noor Mohammad Nasir disclosed that forex trades reached as high as US$800 million in a day at the instruction of BNM advisor Nor Mohamed Yakcop, while former BNM assistant governor Abdul Murad Khalid said there wasn’t any committee in Bank Negara to oversee the forex market.
The RCI concluded that Bank Negara suffered at least RM31.516 billion in forex losses between 1991 and 1994. However, report submitted by former BNM accounts manager Abdul Aziz Abdul Manaf showed that BNM suffered up to RM34.547 billion in losses!
If the statements given by the witnesses were accurate, then who instructed such enormous forex trades? Who made the final decision? In the absence of a watchdog committee, how did BNM assess forex market risks?
The losses suffered by BNM were between RM31.516 billion and RM34.547 billion. How could such an astronomical sum get swept under the carpet with no one held accountable?
It was not just a misstep on the part of a handful of individuals but the entire cabinet should take collective responsibility too, as they had condoned the misstep.
Over RM30 billion vanished in vain, and for all these years, we have seen countless of scandals that cost the country hundreds of billions of ringgit as a result of excessively bloated executive powers in the absence of a valid checks and balances mechanism.
If the hundreds of billions of ringgit were to remain in the national coffers today, our government would not even have to impose new taxes on the rakyat or assiduously go after tax defaulters to fill the vacuum.
The RCI hearing has disclosed so many absurdities, but a more worrisome phenomenon is that our politicians are more inclined to exploit the political capital in this scandal to attack their rivals than to review and overhaul the entire system and reverse the weaknesses so that similar absurdities will not happen again in future.
The same unthinkable things happened when the AGC, MACC and BNM probed the 1MDB scandal in 2015.
All these point to the fact that the flawed system is permitted to continue until this day and, in fact, to deteriorate.
If we are really serious about reforming our system and reinforcing the checks and balances mechanism, by right we should expedite our resolution. Unfortunately this is not the case in real life.
For instance, the government set up a national consultative committee on political financing in August 2015 to draw up laws to control questionable political funding. Two years have since lapsed but the minister in the PM’s dept Paul Low said the new law would not be tabled in the Parliament before GE14.
Without the new law, GE14 will very likely be in a huge chaos again like in the last election.
Opposition parties should apply pressure on the government to rectify the weaknesses of the system and slash operating expenditures.
Nevertheless, our opposition parties are currently engrossed in forming or not forming alliances to maximize their vote counts. Little wonder Malaysians begin to lose faith in the opposition now.
With both the ruling and opposition parties showing scant regard for the real problems of this country, the deficiencies in our system will eventually get out of hand and bring inconceivable disaster to the country.