Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the DAP Solidarity Dinner at Sauk, Perak on Friday, 24th October 2008 at 9pm: 

DAP to launch a nation-wide campaign to protest the RM5 billion EPF loan to ValueCap to prop up share prices and to protect the RM340 billion life savings of 12 million EPF members

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the government would inject RM5 billion from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to double the size of the highly-secretive government fund, ValueCap Sdn Bhd to RM10 billion to prop up the stock market.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) President, Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud has rightly come to the forefront to condemn the government's move to boost up ValueCap to support the local stock market using RM5 billion from EPF, as the provident fund is the custodian of the workers' money and not some sort of ‘automated teller machine' for the government.

This is the second government attempt to raid the EPF to support ValueCap to prop up the stock market since the idea of ValueCap was first mooted by the Mahathir administration at the end of 2002 to shore up the stock market and bail out ailing companies.

In response to widespread criticism and objections that EPF funds would be involved in the ValueCap operations, the EPF on 20th November 2002 came out with a strong denial clarifying that it had not appointed ValueCap Sdn Bhd to manage the EPF’s investment fund. It also denied any EPF involvement in the KLSE to shore up the stock market.

The EPF declared:

“The EPF invests in companies with sound fundamentals, long-term growth potential and competent management. The EPF is always prudent and professional in its approach when investing members' savings. The Fund ensures that the investments are safe, not exposed to high risks and gives reasonable returns to its members for their retirement.”

Why are EPF funds being used now to do what EPF had declared six years ago that it would not do – “The EPF's investments are not used to bail out ailing companies”?

Why is EPF departing from its “prudent and professional approach when investing members’ savings”?

The ValueCap operations has been in existence for some six years but it had always been shrouded in secrecy, with no accountability or transparency whatsoever to Parliament or the nation, which is totally against the principles of good governance and parliamentary responsibility.

When the new government asset management company, equally owned by government agencies Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen commenced operations on 10th January 2003, Malaysians were told that ValueCap had started with a RM10 billion cash fund allocation.

Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who was then Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister, was reported by New Straits Times of 17th January 2003 as saying that ValueCap’s three shareholders had transferred the RM10 billion to it equally “in actual cash, and not in the form of shares” when “quashing rumours that the company did not yet have the full amount available”.

Why then are Malaysians suddenly told five years later that ValueCap had only RM5 billion and not RM10 billion investment fund? Where have the balance of the RM5 billion gone to?

This is not the only instance of the totally opaque nature of ValueCap operations, avoiding accountability though managing public funds.

The Public Accounts Committee should undertake an in-depth scrutiny of the operations, management and investments of ValueCap for the past five years and table a full report before the end of the current meeting of Parliament to enable MPs to decide whether it should be allowed to raid RM5 billion from the EPF for its new tranche of operations.

EPF monies are easy government targets for bail-outs, whether for ailing companies or to recoup losses as a result of financial scandals.

The eighties provide a good example as it started the era of disastrous government intervention in the market coupled with the lack of accountability, transparency and good governance – a recipe which produced the Maminco scandal (RM600 million losses in a secretive but foolhardy and expensive foray to corner the international tin market in London), the EPF-Makuwasa scandal (multi-million ringgit EPF losses when EPF funds were hijacked unethically and illegally for stock market operations in trying to recoup losses resulting from the Maminco scandal), the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal which involved the murder in Hong Kong of a Malaysian auditor Jalil Ibrahim and the Bank Negara forex exchange market operation scandal (RM30 billion losses caused single-handedly by Nor Mohamed who was running the forex speculation operation in Bank Negara at the time).

The 12 million EPF members cannot allow their life-savings to be imperilled by stock market speculation activities using the EPF funds, which stand at some RM340 billion.

DAP will launch a nation-wide campaign to protest the RM5 billion EPF loan to ValueCap to prop up share prices and to protect the RM340 billion life savings of 12 million EPF members

The protest-cum-protection campaign will start from Ipoh next Friday and will be taken to the whole country to urge the government not to hijack the workers’ hard-earned life-savings and “coffin money” to prop up or bail out ailing companies facing bad times with a collapsing stock market with the onset of the worst global economic crisis in 80 years.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor