KOTA KINABALU – An Umno grassroots group has called on Dr Mahathir Mohamad to have the gumption to own up to his mistakes in relation to losses incurred by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) when he was prime minister.

Gerakan Akar Umbi Umno Malaysia (Gaum) chairman Zulkarnain Mahdar said the recently concluded Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on BNM’s foreign exchange (forex) trading losses in the 1990s had clearly implicated Mahathir, 92.

He claimed that Mahathir’s apparent indifference over the issue was perplexing, given that the losses had amounted to as much as RM31.5 billion.

“The amount involved is so huge and the people want to know why, until today, those responsible for this catastrophe are still unwilling to admit their blunder. They are still in denial over the whole fiasco,” he said.

The 524-page RCI report which was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday found that there was basis for the police to commence investigations, among others to determine whether Mahathir had condoned the actions of the then finance minister (Anwar Ibrahim) which led to the central bank incurring losses.

It stated that Mahathir helped in “deliberately concealing” the losses as BNM’s annual reports did not state the losses for the years 1992, 1993 and 1994.

Mahathir and Anwar are today chairman and de facto leader respectively of Pakatan Harapan (PH).

The RCI, which was held from Aug 21 to Sept 19, saw a total of 25 witnesses testifying. It was chaired by Sidek Hassan, former chief secretary to the government and current chairman of Petronas.

Speaking to reporters outside the Karamunsing police station here today, Zulkarnain said he had lodged a report there to support an earlier police report made by RCI secretary Yusof Ismail so that the findings of the RCI report can be investigated.

In his report Zulkarnain also asked for legal action to be taken on Mahathir’s lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla for alleged slander and sedition.

On Nov 30, Haniff said the nature of the materials referred to in the RCI proceedings were based on hearsay, conjectures, presumptions and assumptions which did not meet any legally acceptable level of credibility.

“What more when the RCI proceedings were conducted with the use of ‘the laws of the jungle’ and the ‘rules of a circus’, it would not come as a surprise if the findings do not even meet the level of a ‘pre-kindergarten product’,” Haniff had said.

“I think what Haniff said was ridiculous,” Zulkarnain said. “The RCI panel members were all professionals with no political interests. Even the Yang di-Pertuan Agong agreed to the RCI. So the decision by the panel was not politically motivated.”

Zulkarnain added that in 1993, DAP leader Lim Kit Siang proposed the setting up of a similar RCI but it was not entertained at that time.

He said Lim had already alleged then that the country was losing some RM30 billion because of the trading activities.

“This means the issue is not something that was picked out of thin air, designed to put Mahathir in bad light. Instead, this is a question that all Malaysians must know the answer to.

“Our money was lost and action must be taken against those responsible for it. They must be brought to justice. This is not something that Malaysians can just forgive and forget,” he said.