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Cabinet tomorrow must censure Rafidah if she cannot give satisfactory explanation as to why there had been a triple jump in the issuance of APs from 20,000 in 2003 to over 60,000 in 2004 and 2005

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Tuesday): The meeting between the Backbenchers Club (BBC) delegation and former Prime Minister and Proton Adviser Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yesterday over the APs controversy produced one vital information which urgently called for immediate clarification and justification by the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, viz: the  sudden jump of APs issued from 20,000 in 2003 to over 60,000 in 2004 and 2005.

The Cabinet tomorrow must find out the reason why MITI had suddenly tripled the issuance of APs from 20,000 in 2003 to over 60,000 in 2004 and 2005. If Rafidah continues to be recalcitrant and refuses to be accountable and transparent to the public over  her Ministerial responsibilities, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who would be chairing the Cabinet meeting in the absence of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, should give the explanation in a post-Cabinet media conference.

If  Rafidah cannot give a satisfactory explanation as to why there had been a triple jump in the issuance of APs from 20,000 in 2003 to over 60,000 in 2004 and 2005, the Cabinet should censure the Minister for International Trade and Industry.

Rafidah “running from the media” since her return from South Africa last Thursday is no way for her to discharge her MITI Ministerial responsibilities or to be a model Minister of the Abdullah administration  which is committed to accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

Rafidah must be reminded of her statement on the eve of  the UMNO General Assembly last month  that she was prepared for attacks from anyone at the assembly on the APs issue, when she said:

“Of course I am prepared. We are a responsible Government and I am a responsible minister. There is nothing to hide.”

Declaring that she would “answer exactly as it is” anyone who raised the issue, she said: “It does not matter because when you have the facts in your hand, when you are right, what does it matter?

“When they raise it, very good. It will give me the opportunity to explain.” (New Straits Times 19.7.05)

Rafidah’s confident and even arrogant reply  had reinforced her claim that she was the one who had been “wronged” in the APs controversy.

However, since her return from South Africa last Thursday, Rafidah has been acting as if she has something to hide, making daily news with her running from the press and evading the multitudinous questions which have cropped up over the APs controversy.

The Cabinet tomorrow should take over the role which the media had not been able to play in the past week, which is to get to the bottom of the APs scandal and to get Rafidah  to explain the many contradictions and new queries which have surfaced over  her  various explanations about the APs scandal.

Apart from the triple jump in the issuance of APs from 2003 to 2004 and 2005, other matters awaiting Rafidah’s elucidation include:

  • On 19th July  2005,  after chairing the Wanita Umno exco meeting in the morning (before she knew that the first APs list would be released  by the Prime Minister’s Office in the evening), Rafidah denied any wrongdoing in issuing APs to import cars and dismissed talk that she was connected to any AP holder.  (New Straits Times 20.7.05).   She even invoked  the Quran with the declaration: “I have no connection with any of the AP holders in terms of being related or in other aspects”! Why did Rafidah hide the fact that her niece, Annie Tajul Arus was given the Franchise AP in 2004 to import 850 Kleemann cars and 199 for 2005? Is the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) investigating whether any conflict-of-interest or corruption offence had been committed?
  • UMNO Youth Exco member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir has said  that Rafidah had not given to Mahathir the list of AP holders  in her July 8 written explanation to the former Prime Minister  as directed by the Cabinet, although she had given Parliament and the country the clear impression that she had done so in her “pretty long” letter to Mahathir, with “about 10 indices attached on every issue that was raised”.
  • Why the APs list, whether for 2004 or 2005, were  incomplete when released. Mahathir had pointed out that the 2005 APs list was incomplete. As for the 2004 APs list, Rafidah had said  in South Africa that the list would be released “in its entirety”, including the list of showrooms of the AP holders. (Star 28.7.05) This had not been done.
  • Rafidah told the UMNO annual general assembly that when she was first appointed MITI Minister  in 1987, she revoked the APs given to 153 companies on grounds that the companies were not operational, no showroom, improper management of accounts and APs were sold to non-bumiputeras – resulting in only 76 companies currently still receiving Open APs.  Why is Rafidah so coy in listing the number of showrooms owned by each Open AP holder since 1988?
  • Why Rafidah did not revoke a single AP in the past 17 years after the 1988 revocation, despite rampant AP abuses, including under-declaration of the value of cars imported under the AP system, resulting in the country losing over RM1 billion a year in revenue? 
  • The shocking revelation by Mahathir that  there was no official announcement of the new category of APs, the Franchise APs, when Rafidah introduced it in 1997, and that he had not known about it although he was the Prime Minister.
  • The reluctance of Rafidah to make public all the  APs lists for the past 35 years since the introduction of APs in 1970, including during the period Mahathir was Minister for Trade and Industry from January 1978  to July 1981,  in line with Abdullah’s  pledge for accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

The Cabinet should direct Rafidah to give full and satisfactory response  to all these questions in a “Tell All” media conference. If Rafidah remains stubborn and recalcitrant in refusing to do so, the Cabinet should appoint another Minister to publicly answer these questions whether from the press, MPs or the general public so that the  pledge by Abdullah on accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance will  not be reduced into an utter mockery by the UMNO Wanita leader.



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

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