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The four-para PMO statement instead of Rafidah’s 29-page explanation on the 10-week AP saga has raised even more questions as well as casting adverse reflections on Cabinet authority and leadership

Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Thursday): The four-paragraph statement from the Prime Minister’s Office instead of the 29-page explanation of the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, on the 10-week-long AP saga some six hours after yesterday’s long-awaited Cabinet meeting has raised even more questions as well as casting adverse reflections on the Cabinet authority and leadership on the important principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

It has been reported that Rafidah was “grilled” at the Cabinet meeting yesterday by other Cabinet members, but from her smiles and demeanour after the Cabinet meeting, she probably gave more than she received.


All eyes, both national and international, were on the Cabinet meeting yesterday but the expected “showdown” has ended in a whimper, as if to vindicate the cynical  article in the Australian “The Age” yesterday, under the heading Family ties lubricate Malaysia wheels of power”, where the writer Michael Backman wrote:

“The permit system will be discussed by cabinet, several members of which are outraged by the matter. Rafidah will have a 25-page briefing paper on the system. No doubt she'll also have a file many times thicker detailing the licences, permits and contracts awarded to the families of her cabinet colleagues. She's not the world's longest-serving trade minister for nothing.”

One wonders who had arm-twisted who in the Cabinet meeting yesterday, or had Rafidah fought the entire Cabinet to a draw and stalemate – she versus the rest?


The Cabinet  cannot be faulted for setting up a special Cabinet Committee chaired by the Prime Minister to review and decide all issues related to APs, but such a Cabinet Committee takeover cannot be at the expense of the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.


In other words, Rafidah should have been directed by the Cabinet at the same time to furnish a full and satisfactory explanation to the multitude of questions which have surfaced publicly over the AP saga – as the Malaysian public are as entitled  to know these answers as the Cabinet Ministers. 


The Cabinet should not have stopped Rafidah from releasing her 25-page – or 29-page – defence of her handling of the APs scandal, unless there are things for the Cabinet or some Cabinet Ministers to hide and  protect.


Sweeping the APs scandal  under the carpet with a “gag order” from the Cabinet is not the accountable, transparent and responsible  way to handle the long-running APs saga, as it smacks of a “compromise”,  a “trade-off” or a Cabinet stalemate, with  Rafidah successfully transferring the APs liability to the Cabinet despite the disapproval by several  Cabinet Ministers!  


It  is more important that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi  protect his administration’s reputation for accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance instead of protecting Rafidah Aziz from having to give full and proper accounting for her 18-year handling of the APs.


Abdullah should not  sacrifice the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance (undoing the plaudits he deserved for the revocation of the eight-year secrecy of the API readings yesterday) just for the political expediency to protect Rafidah from having to give a full and proper AP accounting.



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

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