Monday, August 28, 2017

RCI a New Tool of Intimidation

A Kadir Jasin

UPDATE, Aug. 30 - Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) deputy governor,  Tan Sri Lin See Yan, testified that he only spoke with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim about the central bank’s currency trading losses from the 1990s, and not the prime minister then.

He also told the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s (RCI) hearing on the BNM losses today that he was never requested to discuss the matter with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Lin said that Anwar, who was then Dr Mahathir’s deputy as well as finance minister, was “most unhappy” when informed about the losses allegedly incurred and had agreed that BNM should close any open positions to limit its exposure.

I am not aware if anyone else informed the prime minister about the forex losses incurred by BNM,” he said.

Lin also described the late Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein, who was the governor of BNM when the forex losses happened, as an “honourable man”.

“I remember what he said to me was: I got this bank into this mess and I will fix it,” he said.

Lin said that Jaffar was “too trusting” with the individuals who operated the forex trading on behalf of BNM.

Original Post

THE ROYAL Commission Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police took more than a year to complete its work.

The Dzaiddin Commision took more than a year to complete
It was commissioned by (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2004, when he was Prime Minister. It was headed by the former Chief Justice of Malaya, (Tun) Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.

The Royal Commission Royal on the Bank Negara foreign exchange (forex) trading losses has three months to complete its task. It is the handiwork of the Prime Minister, (Datuk Seri) Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.

It is headed by the former Chief Secretary to the Government and the current Chairman of Petronas, (Tan Sri ) Mohd Sidek Hassan.

[REMINDER. Anonymous comments will not be published.]

One year vs three months and Dzaiddin vs Mohd Sidek. Dzaiddin took more than a year to come up with 125 recommendations and Mohd Sidek took a handful of days to conclude that someone would be charged as a result.

The Dzaiddin commission was to find the truth and fix the problems. Mohd Sidek’s commission was to dig up something that happened 30 years ago and had been attended to.

The Sidek Commission has three months to complete its task
The former was for the better good of the country. The later looks and smells like a political witch hunt to discredit the growing opposition to the Umno-BN government.

Dzaiddin spent much of his career on the bench. He was assisted in the commission by a former Lord President (Tun Salleh Abbas), the former IPG (Tun Haniff Omar), a high court judge, the Bar Council Chairman, a senior lawyer, a journalist, an academic, a former opposition MP, a social activist and head of a think tank.

Mohd Sidek on the other hand is an administrator. He is assisted by high court judge (Kamaludin Md Said), Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer (Tajuddin Atan), co-chairperson of the special task to facilitate business (Saw Choo Boon), accountant and former Ernst & Young partner (K. Pushpanathan) and Finance Ministry’s strategic investment department secretary (Yusof Ismail).

Readers and debaters of this blog can judge for themselves the vast differences between the two RCIs.

The Murad Factor

For the protagonist of the Forex commission, the former Bank Negara Assistant Governor, (Datuk) Murad Khalid, his is self preservation cloaked in the name of truth and justice.

A close friend of his, who is a good friend of mine, told me that he was seeking to “clear his name”.
But why now – 17 years later? Does he truly believe that he can ride on the gullibility of the Najib Administration to achieve his personal goals?

Murad hit the spotlight when, on 6 Nov 2000, he was fined RM500,000 or in default six months jail by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

According to an Utusan Malaysia report, he was found guilty of failing to declare shares and properties belonging to his company.

An Utusan Malaysia report about Murad being fined
He pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to provide accurate particulars of the shares of Ben Harta Sdn Bhd and 51 properties worth about RM24 million at Bank Negara Malaysia, Jalan Dato Onn, at 11.56am on Aug 20 1999.

The Ben Harta shares were held by his nominees, Gan Hong Sing @ Lan Hong Sing and Gor Sor Ting. Murad was surprisingly wealthy for a salaried person working for Bank Negara.

It is recalled that Murad had made a statutory declaration accusing (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim of corruption. It was investigated by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), the forerunner to the MACC, and was found to be baseless.

Murad had appeared before the commission and implicated Anwar once again. Anwar had responded via a press statement dated August 24 asking to appear before the commission to rebut Murad’s charges.

Other Players

Apart from Murad, other important players from Bank Negara were (Tan Sri) Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who was in charge of the forex department during the period, and the late (Tan Sri) Jaffar Hussein, who was the governor.

But always bear in mind that although Bank Negara is a government institution, it operates independently of the government. It even determines its own salary scheme.

It was on this basis that (Tan Sri) Zeti Akhtar Aziz, when she was the governor, recommended that 1MDB be charged for flouting forex rules in relation to the transfer of billions of ringgit in and out of the country. But it was turned down twice by Najib’s Attorney General, (Tan Sri) Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Apandi holding his "infamous" charts cleared Najib of 1MDB scandal
During the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crises, its then governor (Tan Sri) Ahmad Mohd Don and deputy governor, (Datuk) Fong Weng Phak, opposed the exchange control proposal by then Prime Minister, (Datuk Seri) Dr Mahathir Mohamad. They resigned in protest.

And since currency trading, being one of the most specialised of Bank Negara’s activities, it could not have been the day-to-day concern of any Prime Minister or Finance Minister.

In the case of the 1990’s forex activities, the key player was Nor Mohamed. He was blamed for the losses and was removed from the bank. But the person who ultimately paid the price was then governor, the late Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein. He took full responsibility for the losses and resigned.

Every central bank worth its salt dabbles in currency trading to protect its national currency and, in some instance, to make profit. Bank Negara is no exception and, on occasions, it did make profit.

But there had been cases of rogue currency traders getting intoxicated on their cloak and dagger game with hedge funds that they gambled away billions of dollars of their banks’ money.

Incidentally, at about the same time that Nor Mohamed was playing up the Bank Negara forex trading, an American bank, Allfirst Bank was shifting its forex operations from a merely hedging endeavor to one that would yield profits and boost its bottom line. It hired a little known currency trader by the name of  John Rusnak.

According to reports, Rusnak seemed adept at matching options with forward contracts to hedge against risk. He bet on the yen and lost a total of US$691 million. His bank was robust enough to take the losses but he was found guilty and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison plus a fine of US$1 million.

For years before the debacle, Bank Negara was seen as an active player in the currency market mainly to protect the value of the ringgit as part of its role as the custodian of the monetary system. Monetary stability is one of two key objectives of Bank Negara.

Who Would Be Blame?

Nor Mohamed is by all account the main figure. He is the man at the centre of the storm. The most convenient way out for him is to blame Jaffar. After all Jaffar had solely accepted the blame.

But I don’t think Nor Mohamed would do that. It’s too convenient and would not go down well with the public. He’s more likely to point fingers at the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and at Anwar.

That’s what Najib wants. But that would make him an absolute traitor to the man who gave him his life back. Had it not been for Dr Mahathir, he would have remained a pariah in the financial world.

Instead, for telling Dr Mahathir how those billions were lost, he was appointed Dr Mahathir’s Special Economic Adviser and was partially credited with implementing the exchange control during the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crises.

Obviously Dr Mahathir and Anwar are very important witnesses. Both men had said they love testify. The question is would the Commission dare to call them.
I am not surprised if they are not called. The whole idea of having the commission could be blown to bits should the two men testify.

The dilemma for the Commission is, whether or not it calls Dr Mahathir and Anwar, the two men could go public with their side of the story elsewhere.

I don’t envy Mohd Sidek and his merry men. They are squeezed between a rock and a hard place.

They are professional people whereas the whole idea of the RCI is political. No matter what they come up with, their credibility and professionalism will be put to question.

Most Malaysians don't even know or care about the event when it happened 30 years ago because it did not cause them hardship nor put the country's finances in jeopardy. The losses were acknowledged and steps were taken to amortized them over a period of time.

On the contrary, Bank Negara reserves declined more drastically between June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2017 - from US$131.86 billion to US$98.92 billion - representing a drop of US$32.94 billion.

Was it due to attempts to protect the ringgit, paying debts, capital outflow or a more sinister reason? Whatever the case is, Bank Negara never sleeps. Forex activity is a 24-hour business. 


Monday, August 21, 2017

RCI Taktik Baru Melencongkan Perhatian Rakyat Jelata

A Kadir Jasin

PEMBURUAN musuh politik oleh kerajaan kleptokrasi Perdana Menteri, (Datuk Seri I Mappadulung Daeng Mattimung Karaeng Sandrobone Sultan Abdul Jalil) Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, telah bermula secara rasmi.

Banyak janji PRU 2013 tidak tertunai
[Komen "Anonymous” tidak akan disiarkan. Tolong guna nama sebenar atau samaran.]

(Kleptokrasi daripada bahasa Greek kuno yang membawa maksud pemerintahan oleh pencuri iaitu kerajaan yang dipimpin oleh ketua yang rasuah yang menggunakan kuasa mereka untuk memperalatkan rakyat jelata dan sumber alam negara demi memperkayakan diri sendiri dan membolot kuasa. Lazimnya sistem ini melibatkan penggelapan wang tanpa mempedulikan kebajikan rakyat. "Rule by thieves")[1][2] is a government with corrupt leaders (kleptocrats) that use their power to exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory in order to extend their personal wealth and political power. Typically this system involves embezzlement of funds at the expense of the wider population).

Kalau sebelum ini ia menggunakan propaganda politik dan putar-belit media terkawal, sekarang ia menggunakan kaedah   Suruhanjaya Siasatan Diraja (RCI) pula. RCI pertama adalah untuk menyiasat kerugian perniagaan mata wang (forex) Bank Negara pada tahun 1980-an.

Bank Negara rugi AS$10 bilion. Waktu itu kadar tukaran ringgit ialah sekitar RM2.5 bagi satu dolar Amerika. Perniagaan itu bertujuan mempertahankan nilai ringgit dengan menggunakan beberapa mata wang Eropah khususnya pound Inggeris dan mark Jerman.

Kecenderungan ke arah “witch hunting” (memburu ahli sihir) ini menjadi lebih nyata apabila Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, berkata kerajaan bersedia menimbangkan kemungkinan menubuhkan RCI bagi peristiwa Memali.

Saya rasa RCI Memali adalah baik untuk memahami bagaimana radikalisme, keganasan dan kultus (cult) boleh tercetus akibat dakwah songsang seperti perbuatan PAS mengkafirkan ahli dan penyokong Umno mulai PRU 1969 yang kemudiannya dimaktubkan menjadi doktrin dalam bentuk Amanat Haji Hadi tahun 1981.

Janji Tidak Ditepati

Nampaknya RCI adalah cara terbaru kerajaan kleptokrasi menakut-nakutkan rakyat jelata dan pada masa yang sama mengalih perhatian masyarakat daripada isu-isu pokok seperti kos sara hidup yang melambung akibat GST dan kejatuhan nilai ringgit, pemotongan peruntukan kesihatan dan pendidikan yang amat menyusahkan rakyat jelata, pengangguran yang semakin meningkat, khususnya di kalangan siswazah, skandal 1MDB, skandal Felda-FGV, Tabung Haji, KWSP, KWAP dan skandal-skandal lain yang menunggu untuk didedahkan.

Kerajaan kleptokrasi tajaan Umno/BN menjadi semakin terdesak dengan menjelangnya pilihan raya umum ke-14. Apa tidaknya. Boleh dikatakan semua janji utama dalam manifesto PRU 2013 bukan sahaja gagal dipenuhi sebaliknya yang bertentangan berlaku.

Misalnya janji 500,000 unit kediaman Perumahan Rakyat 1Malaysia (PRIMA) menjelang 2018. Pada 10 Ogos lepas, Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Shahidan Kassim, memberitahu Parlimen bahawa sehingga Jun lepas hanya 8,4756 unit siap dibina. Maknanya tidak sampai dua peratus atau lebih tepat hanya 1.7 peratus daripada yang dijanjikan.

Sama juga dengan janji menurunkan harga kenderaan bermotor 20 hingga 30 peratus dalam masa lima tahun, menambah bilangan Kedai 1Malaysia dan menjual satu juta barangan 1Malaysia di stesen minyak dan pasar raya hyper.

Kita lihat apa pula kelentong dan auta yang “ketua” manifesto BN, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, akan rangka untuk PRU ke-14 ini. Kerana mengesahkan bahawa MO1 adalah Najib, Abdul Rahman diberi tugas merangkan manifesto BN.

Najib sangat bangga kononnya GST menyelamatkan negara. Saya tidak berapa yakin negara selamat. Hendak bayar ansuran hutang 1MDB pun terpaksa tangguh dan mengemis sana sini.

Tetapi apa yang kita semua sudah tahu ialah GST membebankan pengguna. Tahun ini Najib menyasarkan pungutan GST sebanyak RM42 bilion. Peduli apa rakyat jelata menderita. Bagi Najib, luka hati mereka boleh diubatkan dengan gula-gula pilihan raya. Dia terus percaya bahawa duit tunai adalah raja.
PRU 2013 lwn PRU Ke-14

Tanpa skandal 1MDB, Felda-FGV dan GST pun Najib dilanyak teruk dalam PRU 2013. Pencapaian beliau lebih buruk daripada prestasi Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dalam PRU 2008 apabila BN kehilangan kawalan dua pertiga ke atas Dewan Rakyat.

Janji manis berubah menjadi skandal dan bebanan
Pertimbangkan fakta berikut:

1. Skandal 1MDB makin meruncing bagi Najib. Jabatan Kehakiman Amerika (DoJ) telah menaikkan tindakan ke atas duit curi 1MDB yang dilaburkan di Amerika daripada saman sivil kepada penyiasatan jenayah. Kedudukan Jho Low dan Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz ibarat telur di hujung tanduk.

2. Najib lakukan tawaran awam permulaan (IPO) FGV pada tahun 2012 sebagai salah satu kempen mainan pasaran (market play) menjelang PRU 2013. Akibat prestasi hambar saham FGV, Felda menderita kerugian tidak nyata RM1.2 bilion daripada pelaburannya dan skandal rasuah FGV sudah sampai ke peringkat tangkapan.

3. Janji-janji manis kepada peneroka tidak tertunai. Banyak projek rumah generasi kedua terbengkalai atau tidak dimulakan langsung. Sebaliknya beban hutang peneroka terus melambung. Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Razali Ibrahim, memberitahu Parlimen peneroka berhutang hampir RM5 bilion kepada Felda.

4. Keadaan sebenar dalam Tabung Haji terus merisaukan umat Islam yang menyimpan dan melabur dengannya. Pulangan tahun 2016 hanyalah 4.25 peratus bagi yang sudah menunaikan haji dan 5.75 peratus bagi yang belum. Ini adalah kadar paling rendah dalam masa 15 tahun.

5. KWSP rugi RM203.18 juta apabila menjual sahamnya dalam FGV dan ia juga memberi pinjaman berisiko sebanyak RM25.29 bilion kepada Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd. Anak syarikat Kementerian Kewangan itu dibebani hutang yang sangat besar. PFI atau inisiatif pelaburan persendirian (private financing initiative) adalah cetusan minda Najib. Pada tahun 2015, kerajaan mengesahkan di Parlimen yang hutang Pembinaan PFI telah melambung kepada RM27 bilion. Dividen KWSP pun merosot juga.

6. KWAP atau Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) adalah badan yang mengurus caruman kerajaan persekutuan, badan berkanun, pihak berkuasa tempatan dan agensi-agensi lain untuk pencen kakitangan awam. KWAP dilanda kontroversi apabila didedahkan yang ia memberi pinjaman RM4.4 bilion kepada sebuah lagi anak syarikat Kementerian Kewangan yang bermasalah iaitu SRC International Sdn Bhd. Seperti 1MDB, ia juga terlibat dalam siasatan rasuah yang ditamatkan oleh Peguam Negara, Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Itu hanya hanyalah sebahagian daripada krisis dan skandal yang melanda kerajaan kleptokrasi BN sejak PRU 2013. Modal PRU 2013 sudah tidak laku dan modal baru tidak ada. Jadi tidak hairanlah ia mengungkit cerita-cerita lama.

Tujuannya adalah mengalih pandangan daripada isu sebenar yang menekan hidup rakyat jelata dan mengabui mata generasi muda yang tidak tahu apa-apa mengenai peristiwa yang terjadi lebih 30 tahun lalu itu.

Fakta tidak boleh memenangkan BN lagi. Jadi terpaksalah menggunakan tipu-helah dan intimidasi.


About Me

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I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).