As Putrajaya turns up the heat on Dr Mahathir Mohamad over Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) forex scandal in the 1980s, one question that critics have posed is why Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak – who was a cabinet member at the time – did not speak out on the matter then.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin argued that cabinet members during the period cannot be blamed for the scandal.
“Sidek task force on BNM forex losses concluded cabinet was misled, and true losses were covered up. So how to blame other ministers?” he tweeted.
He was responding to an editorial piece by The Malaysian Insight, which questioned if Najib had ever spoken out on the various scandals during his time in Mahathir’s government.
Najib’s former deputy Muhyiddin Yassin had also asked a similar question last month.
Najib’s office in a statement last month said the special task force probing the forex scandal had found elements of a “cover-up and attempts to confuse the cabinet and Parliament”.
The task force was headed by the former chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan.
Bank Negara’s dabbling in the forex market saw the central bank suffering major losses. This happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Mahathir was prime minister.
Following the task force’s report, the cabinet agreed to the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to look into the matter.
The opposition welcomed the RCI into the forex scandal, albeit being almost 30 years late, but has also demanded an RCI into the 1MDB scandal which it claims the government has ignored.
Mahathir said the matter had been brought to Parliament before and it was decided that he had not committed any wrongdoing.
He said Najib was trying to find ways to get him jailed, while the opposition claimed that the forex RCI is an attempt to deflect attention from the 1MDB scandal.