1. My attention has been drawn to a recent report pertaining to a CIA document, stated to have been recently declassified by the US Intelligence, on the 1980s BMF issue.
2. I have also just sight of that CIA document titled “DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCE”dated 5.3.1985. Certain members of the press have asked me for my comments.
3. Let me point out that, that CIA report was not a specific report or finding by the US on the BMF issue. Rather, it was a normal information paper for the US government then,
4. However, since I have been asked, the following are my comments.
5. Firstly, the CIA report itself acknowledged that the Prime Minister then was not in any way, personally or directly linked to that Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) issue. This can be found at page 4 of that report under the sub-heading “Assessing the Political Damage”, which states:
“Thus far no direct links have been established between Mahathir and the corruption at BMF…”
6. Secondly, that CIA report pointed out that as early as July 1983, I had announced my views that the BMF’s handling of its financial lending was imprudent, and that I had also pledged action to be taken upon investigations. This was in spite of the fact that the BMF issue related to the affairs of a bank, and not the government per se. That portion of the acknowledgment can be found at page 7 of that CIA report titled “APPENDIX”, in which para 5 states:
“July 1983: Mahathir breaks his silence and admits BMF’s heavy lending to a handful of Hong Kong property concerns was imprudent and pledges action if investigations disclose management malpractices.”.
7. Thirdly, the same report also pointed out that a committee of inquiry (Special Investigation Committee) was set up to look into the BMF issue. Records show that Special Investigation Committee, headed by Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin (Auditor General) had forwarded the necessary recommendations for further action. There was no cover up of that report. It was made public. It was certainly not put under OSA. The release of that Report to public, is also acknowledged by that CIA report at page 2 in para 4.
8. In fact, that Report had prompted the police to carry out the necessary investigation into the recommendations of that Special Investigation Committee. There certainly was no cover up in any way. Whether the necessary authorities brought any party to the Courts is for them to answer. The government carried out its duty as properly as it was required to do in the circumstances then.
9. Having pointed out the real contents of the CIA report, I would like to point out the clear distinction between the BMF issue then, and the 1MDB issue now, so that it is clear I did not have a 1MDB – like scandal when I was PM.
a. The BMF issue unlike the 1MDB issue, did not involve allegation of direct impropriety by the government in power. In contrast, the 1MDB issue is directly linked to impropriety by the present government.
b. The BMF issue was not directly linked to me as the Prime Minister then. Whereas, the 1MDB issue is directly linked to Najib Razak, the Prime Minister now. He is in fact at the center of the scandal.
c. On the BMF issue, that CIA report was by a US Agency, and was not a specific report or finding by the US on the BMF issue. In contrast, on the 1MDB issue, the Department of Justice (DoJ), a US Agency have released the necessary report as contained in the cause papers filed in a court of law in California, with specific findings linking the 1MDB issue to MO1 (admitted by a Minister to be referring to Najib Razak).
d. In the BMF issue, a Special Investigation Committee was set up and its Report was made public. In contrast, on the 1MDB issue, Najib’s government is yet to set up any proper independent investigation committee, free of its control. Even the existing Auditor General’s Report on 1MDB has not been made public and has been put under OSA.
e. The BMF issue resulted in various actions taken both in Hong Kong and Malaysia, against various individuals involved in the BMF issue. In contrast, in this 1MDB issue, the necessary authorities such as the police and the Bank Negara are yet to conclude their investigations despite international counterparts in the US, Switzerland and Singapore having done so to the extend of charging individuals in court. But, the SPRM investigation papers have been dismissed by the new Attorney General who himself was appointed in place of the previous Attorney General who was removed, allegedly for health reasons but without a report by a Medical Board. The report by a Special Task Force set up by the previous Attorney General on the 1MDB issue was also dismissed by the new Attorney General and put under OSA.
f. The outcome of the BMF issue was generally received well by the society including the Opposition and other political groups (see The New York Times, January 8, 1985 titled “MALAYSIA DISCLOSES DETAILS OF BANK SCANDAL”). On the 1MDB issue, the Attorney General actually stopped further investigations, which he is not empowered to do. The opposition parties are not satisfied with the outcome of the scandal involving 1MDB.