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Daim,  Halim Saad and Elyas Omar should offer to appear at the first public hearing  of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Feb. 13 to thrash out all questions about the integrity of the Metramac Cheras Toll Concession



Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Tuesday): New Straits Times front-page headline today “Halim vs Sri Ram” reported that “Former poster boy of corporate Malaysia Tan Sri Halim Saad has issued a nine-page statement hitting out at the ruling handed down by Court of Appeal judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram” who accused  Halim and Anuar Othman of “siphoning” RM32.5 million from the Cheras toll concessionaire, Metramac Corporation Sdn. Bhd.

Sri Ram said Halim and Anuar “had flirted with an aggravated form of criminal breach of trust, an offence carrying a maximum 20-year jail term with whipping and fine upon conviction”.

In his rebuttal, Halim made an outright denial: “Neither I nor anybody else misappropriated the money”. He said the Government had paid RM32.5 million to Metramac on the condition that the concession company pay the premium to the shareholders.  

He said: “The money was ours personally as we extended this sum earlier from our own pockets.  By no stretch of the imagination was this money belonging to Metramac.  So where is the misappropriation, criminal or otherwise?”

I do not want to touch on the legality issues of the RM32.5 million payment, as it would be adjudicated by the Federal Court during the appeal.  But Malaysians are entitled to answers on the integrity issues raised by the Court of Appeal judgment, as to why the Cabinet at the time approved such an opaque and  convoluted process for Halim and Anuar to take over Metramac after the Cheras toll public protests led by the DAP MP for Cheras Tan Kok Wai in September 1990.

In his rebuttal, Halim said his company was forced to take over Metramac after the public protests at the Cheras toll plaza and the toll collection suspension  and that it was the Cabinet itself which made the decision.

He said: “The findings by the learned Judge that Tun Daim conspired with us to rob Dato’ Fawziah of the project and that we were assisted by Tun Daim in misappropriating the RM32.5m were all unfounded and has no factual basis”.

He pointed out that Tun Daim resigned from the post of Minister of Finance on 14th March 1991, while toll collection recommenced on a reduced fee structure on 15th September 1991 (a year after suspension) and a New Revised Concession Agreement  was signed between Matramac and the Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur on 13th February 1992.

Sri Ram in his judgment said that Daim’s “patronage” for Halim and Anuar involved Federal Government and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) compensation “in one way or another” of RM756 million.

When and why  did the Cabinet make the decision for two individuals, Halim Saad and Anuar Othman, to take over Metramac.  Were Halim and Anuar acting in their personal  capacities or were they acting as agents or trustees as in the case of the United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) in the controversial privatization of the North-South Expressway, and if so, who.  Who made the decisions on the payments of RM32.5 million and RM756 million referred to in the Court of Appeal judgment – whether they were made before Daim resigned as Finance Minister on 14th March 1991.

These and many other questions affecting the integrity of the Metramac concession cry out for answer if the country is now serious about integrity issues under the premiership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Halim has had his say. It is Daim’s turn to clarify his position.  There was another major player at the time who should also speak up – the third Datuk Bandar of DBKL, Tan Sri Elyas Omar who held the post from February 1983 to November 1992, covering the whole period of the award of the Kuala Lumpur toll concession to  Syarikat Teratai K.G. Sdn. Bhd and  restructuring as Metramac Corporation Sdn. Bhd.

I wish to make a suggestion, that Daim,  Halim Saad and Elyas Omar should offer to appear at the first public hearing  of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Feb. 13 to thrash out all questions about the integrity of the Metramac Cheras Toll Concession to put all integrity queries to rest.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity is not an investigatory body and has no powers to summon witnesses  but Daim, Halim and Elyas should seriously consider voluntarily appearing at  its public hearing to set a good example of ethics and integrity concerning their public and corporate services  on a matter  which has  catapulted to become a premier national integrity issue.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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