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DAP wants PM, DPM or Foreign Minister to accept full accountability and transparency and make a  Ministerial statement  in Parliament on Monday on Mahathirís timber gift to corrupt dictator Mugabe and explain  why Malaysia is dancing with dictators
 

Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): There is no need for heroics from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when he said that he was prepared to be prosecuted  for abuse of power if a gift of timber to the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was considered an offence. 

Nobody is talking about charging Mahathir in court or contemplating Malaysia emulating South Korea which had charged, convicted, jailed and pardoned two Presidents for corruption as what Malaysians want is full accountability and transparency from Mahathir as well as the Malaysian government on  the timber gift to corrupt dictator Mugabe.

 

The first question is the cost  and date of the gift to Mugabe, and whether it has the knowledge and approval of the Cabinet.  When the story first broke  in the international news agencies  last month about the admission by Mugabe to British Sky News that Malaysia and China had financed his  RM34 million 25-bedroom mansion,  the government promised to conduct an investigation.  It is now more than two weeks but there is still no official word from the government on the matter.

 

Mahathir yesterday said that the gift of timber to Mugabe was valued at RM100,000, which is a far cry from Mugabeís statement that his RM34 million mansion was funded partly by the Chinese and Malaysian governments.  Who is right? Malaysians should be told not only the total costs of gifts or contributions which the government had made towards Mugabeís 25-bedroom mansion, but also all the gifts, together with dates and value, which had been given to Mugabe and his government in the past two decades.

 

The second question is why the gift was given to a corrupt dictator. In defence, Mahathir said he could not have foreseen that foreign leaders who received gifts from Malaysia would later be considered dictators, corrupt or evil persons.

 

Mahathir is being self-serving and evasive,  as if Mugabe only became corrupt  and a dictator after receiving the gift of timber from him.  There could be no doubt that when Mahathir  gave the gift of timber to Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President was already universally recognized as a corrupt dictator! 

 

The question that Malaysians are entitled to ask is why Malaysia under Mahathir had not kept an armís length to dissociate Malaysia from Mugabeís corrupt and dictatorial ways but instead rushed in to embrace him by giving him the gift of timber for his RM34 million 25-bedroom mansion!

 

Mahathir cannot be unaware that  in December 2002,  when launching its Global Corruption Report 2003, Transparency International named Mugabe as among the most corrupt political leaders in the world Ė with tentative estimates of Mugabeís foreign assets in cash and property worth up to US$100 million. In fact, since the nineties, Mugabe had been censured for condoning endemic corruption and protecting corrupt cronies.

 

Either the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister should make a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday in accordance with the principles of accountability and transparency to make a full disclosure about all the facts and circumstances leading to the most dubious gift to corrupt dictator Robert Mugabe and explain why the Malaysian government is dancing with dictators when it should be keeping a distance from them.

(12/6/2004)


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman