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Only A Royal Commission Of Inquiry And Declassifying Cabinet Minutes Can Determine The Truth Behind The RM 756.7 Million Metramac Scandal Not Only In The Public Interest To Uphold Accountability But To Allow Justice To Prevail Without Committing Contempt Of Court.

Media Statement
by Lim Guan Eng

(Melaka, Friday): DAP calls on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his capacity as Finance Minister to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the RM 756.7 million Metramac Corporation (Metramac) scandal as exposed by the Court of Appeal judgment on 12 January 2006 involving Fawziah Holdings Sdn Bhd and Metramac Corporation Sdn Bhd read out by Datuk Gopal Sri Ram. Only by declassifying Cabinet minutes 15 years ago and establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry can determine the truth behind the RM 756.7 million Metramac scandal not only in the public interest to uphold accountability but to allow justice to prevail without having to worry about committing contempt of court.

This case involves serious issues of accountability and abuse of power at the highest levels involving Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin and how government administration is conducted involving hundreds of millions of ringgit. The judgment by the Court of Appeal has given rise to grave concern that cronyism and abuses of powers has permitted selected individuals to profit greatly at the expense of the public and also committed criminal acts with impunity by siphoning company funds without being charged for criminal breach of trust.

On the one hand, huge sums of public money are involved. Not only did the government pay out huge compensation to Metromac of RM 756.7 million after it was taken over by a company owned by Datuk Halim Saad and Anuar Othman, the company was still allowed to collect another RM 200 million in toll from the public using the Cheras toll during the 12 year period. Further, the Court of Appeal found that both Datuk Halim and Anuar had committed criminal breach of trust by siphoning off RM 32.5 million from the company but also enjoyed the patronage of Tun Daim who had abused his powers as Finance Minister in their favour.

In his reply yesterday, Tun Daim Zainuddin has asked the Government to declassify specific Cabinet minutes from 15 years ago, relating to   Metramac Corporation, to clear the air over the issue. The former finance minister had said only publicizing the relevant Cabinet papers was necessary to answer questions over the position the Government had taken on the entire deal involving the Works Ministry and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.

Tun Daim in denying any personal involvement, insisted that the termination of the concession agreement with the original owners and a fresh contract between Metramac and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur as well as payment of compensation had been a collective Cabinet decision. DAP agrees that such questions of truth can only be determined if Cabinet minutes 15 years ago are declassified. As there is no national secrecy involved and it is in the public interest that the truth of this scandal be known, DAP urges the Prime Minister to make public the Cabinet minutes outlining the decision-making process to determine the parties responsible.

To avoid any confusion about the counter-allegations made by Halim Saad and Daim against Judge Gopal Sri Ram which is seen as bordering on contempt of court, a  Royal Commission of Inquiry must be set up with terms of reference into 6 particular findings established by the Court of Appeal:

1.      This scandal revolves around paying RM 97.5 million for a company that allowed the new owners Anuar Othman and Dato Halim Saad to receive compensation of RM 756.7 million from the government. Why should public money be used to allow this two to make such huge profits of RM756.7 million from a mere RM 97.5 million investment?

2.      How is paying RM756.7 million compensation to Anuar Othman and Dato Halim Saad in the public interest when as Judge Gopal said, “taxpayers' money was channeled into the hands of two private individuals - to profit them - instead of a wider section of the general public. It is not at all clear why the Minister for Finance used his power to favour Anuar Othman and Dato Halim Saad.”? The wider section of the general public that lost out included Bank Pembangunan Malaysia and Lembaga Urusan dan Tabung Haji Malaysia.

3.      Why did the then Minister for Finance Tun Daim Zainuddin used his patronage to favour Anuar and Halim not Fawziah Holdings Bhd, the original owners of Metromac? Judge Gopal Sri Ram even used the words `magic spell’ and by `the rub of a magic lamp’ to highlight the situation of the Federal Government and DBKL who hitherto claimed to be impoverished suddenly found themselves flush with funds.  To the extent compensation to the company now owned by Halim and Anuar amounted  to a total sum of RM 756.7 million.

4.      The role played by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) is signing a new toll concession agreement to collect toll at Cheras in on 13 February 1992 after toll collection was suspended following widespread public demonstrations in September 1991.

5.      The then Public Works Minister Datuk Leo Moggie must explain why his Ministry gave the defendant an undertaking to pay it RM 32.5 million as `payment for share premium’ not `previously taken into account’ with the final conclusion by Judge Sri Ram that “you may well ask how all this could have happened without the direct involvement of Tun Daim.”

6.      RM 32.5 million mentioned earlier was siphoned out of the defendant's account by Anuar Othman and Dato Halim Saad. An international misappropriation of such a company’s property, moveable or immoveable criminal breach of trust within section 405 of the Penal Code and, if the misappropriation is done by directors, as was the case here, it is the aggravated form of criminal breach of trust under section 409. By doing so, the two businessmen could face a maximum 20-year jail term with whipping and fine upon conviction. 

These are the 6 principal questions of public interest that must be addressed. If no action is taken, then what hope is there to uphold transparency and accountability if even abuses of power and criminal wrongdoings documented at the highest level by a judge and the Court of Appeal is ignored.     


* Lim Guan Eng,  DAP Secretary General

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