Dr M ready to be quizzed by task force probing BNM forex losses

AUDREY DERMAWAN


TASEK GELUGOR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he is ready to be summoned before the special task force investigating Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) forex losses in the 1990s at the Finance Ministry.


The former prime minister said yesterday that he has yet to be called to assist in the investigation.


"I welcome the task force to call me anytime.


"I am ever ready," he told newsmen after a ceramah organised by Penang Parti Pribumi Bumiputera Malaysia (PPBM) here.


The seven-member task force, headed by Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who is former chief secretary to the government, is probing the US$10 billion losses incurred by BNM through forex dealings between 1991 and 1993.


Other members of the task force are Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission deputy chief commissioner Datuk Azam Baki, Police Commercial Crimes Department director Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, Securities Commission Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh, Retirement Fund Inc chief executive officer Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad, Pemudah co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon, and lawyer Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos.


Sidek was quoted as saying last month that it would present its findings to the cabinet in three months, adding that the team would focus on three terms of reference.


The terms of reference are on conducting preliminary investigations into losses by BNM related to its speculative foreign currency transactions; on whether there was any action to cover up the losses; and, whether misleading statements on the matter were presented to Parliament.


The matter was brought to light by former BNM assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid, who said BNM’s losses were much more than the reported RM9 billion in its 1994 annual report.


Murad had also urged former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, along with two former finance ministers Anwar and Tun Daim Zainuddin, to be questioned on the issue.


Various quarters had also urged DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang to record his statement for bringing up the matter in the Dewan Rakyat in 1993 and 1994.


Meanwhile, commenting on the recent resignation of one of PPBM's founding members, Kamarulzaman Habibul Rahman, Mahathir, who is also PPBM chairman, said he was free to leave the party.


"However, I find this strange as he was against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's administration all along.


"This was why he decided on setting up PPBM," he added.


Kamarulzaman, who held several posts in PPBM including as Supreme Council member and party working committee secretary, announced his resignation, citing that the party had deviated from its original struggle.


He had said that some 820 party members from around the country will follow his footsteps and quit PPBM.


Asked on the controversy surrounding the New Generation Party (NewGen Party) which Datuk Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor is alleged to have "hijacked", Mahathir said he was in favour of one-on-one fights in GE14, and questioned the need for three-way tussles.