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Who Is The King Of APs? Making Public AP Holders In The National Interest

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Memorandum

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presented to the International Trade and Industry Minister on "The King Of APs"
by
DAP delegation lead by its Secretary General, Lim Guan Eng

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(Putra Jaya, Monday):

 

                                                                                                                        13 June 2005.

Y.B. Dato' Seri Rafidah Aziz

Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri

Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri

Blok 10, Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan

Jalan Duta, 50622 Kuala Lumpur

 

 

Yang Berhormat Datuk Seri,

 

Who Is The King Of APs? Making Public AP Holders In The National Interest

 

I refer to recent statements made by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed calling for the full and public disclosure of those who have been granted Approved Permits(AP) to import completely built-up(CBU) vehicles from the principal manufacturer. Tun Mahathir had alleged that the issuance of APs was so large and excessive that it had gone out of control affecting not only the sale of the national car Proton but is also a source of abuse of power and even corruption.

 

Mahathirís unhappiness with APs and the King of APs is related to the large number of APs issued to the extent of negatively affecting the sales of the national car Proton in Malaysia. Minister of International Trade and Industry(MITI) Datuk Rafidah Aziz revealed that in the year 2004, 66,277 APs were issued but only 55,713 vehicles were imported. APs can not exceed 10% of locally produced and sold cars but yet it appears that more APs were issued than the number of national cars sold.

 

With the proliferation of APs, Mahathir as the Advisor of Proton, is understandably concerned that the national carís sales in Malaysia will be affected. After all Proton would get a significant share of the 66,277 imported cars if the number of APs were reduced. However the problem with APs is not merely its impact on Proton and other national cars. For far too long, Proton has sacrificed efficiency, high tariffs on other imported cars and taxpayers funds to boost production and sales. This has resulted in Malaysians overpaying for a car that is not value for money as compared to other car models.

 

The real problem with the issuance AP is that it is a form of patronage, easily tradable and exchanged for cash without any need to work for it. In other words, an AP can be sold to another at a price hundreds of times the cost it was obtained from the government. There is no productive capacity or benefit to the country, it is a mere rent-seeking exercise for cronies of the government.

 

Tun Mahathir has asked for full and public disclosure because the arbitrary and uncontrolled issuance of APs is not in the national interest, or rather Protonís interests, but also adversely affected BNís image and undermining its efforts to overcome corruption. As a single AP can be sold up to RM 30,000/-, issuing 66,277 APs is a valuable exercise that can create tens of multi-millionaires.

 

Utusan Malaysia in its recent front-page report highlighted that the nation lost at least RM 1 billion annually as a result of the abuses inherent in the issuance of APs. National interest demands that the public has a right to know who is the King of APs. There is no single valid reason why the list of AP holders, especially the King of AP be known. If these AP holders are not ashamed to reap huge profits from being granted APs why should they be ashamed to be publicly known?

                  

In the past Tan Sri S M Nasimuddin S M Amin had been identified as the largest holders of franchise APs, which is non-transferrable, as well as open APs which is non-restrictive and can be used to import any brand of car. However latest reports point to Datuk Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, who had previously served in the army, and Datuk Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz, a former senior MITI official, as having significant numbers of  such APs.

 

Thers is a need for the criteria for the issuance of AP to be made known so that the public can understand why certain individuals were granted AP and the benefits accrued by the nation from such granting of AP. So far Datuk Seri Rafidah has refused to disclose the list of AP holders, even in Parliament. The time for such cover-up has to stop.

 

If a former Prime Minister, whose own son has also benefited from the granting of APs, is concerned about this King of APs until he calls for the list to be made known, the time has come for the government to act by releasing their names publicly. Any failure to do so would only reinforce Mahathirís recent remarks that corruption now is worse than before; when previously it was ďunder the tableĒ now it is ďabove the tableĒ.

 

We can understand Datuk Seri Rafidahís frustration and puzzlement at Tun Mahathirís call for full public disclosure when he had refused to do so as Prime Minister. Clearly Tun Mahathir has no credibility, authority nor integrity to ask for it to be public when he is now out of power.

 

But for Datuk Seri Rafidah to hit back at Tun Mahathir by revealing that his son enjoyed holding a AP without revealing other sons or son-in-laws of other top politicians holding these APs, is failing to address the real issues. Further such a cheap attempt at trying to distract attention would put Datuk Seri Rafidah in unfavourable light of showing political ingratitude to Tun Dr Mahathir now that he is out of power when she had had enjoyed his protection when he was Prime Minister.

 

By repeating calls made by opposition parties such as the DAP, Mahathir has finally found common ground with the DAP in acknowledging the importance of open disclosure and public declaration of assets and benefits to prevent abuses of power. Despite political differences and serious doubts about the sincerity of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, DAP fully supports his attempt to check rampant abuses and deviations in the granting approved permits to import vehicles (AP) by making public the AP list.

 

Whatever the reasons or motives behind his new-found zeal in exposing the King of APs, DAP is willing to put aside our past differences by fully supporting Mahathirís call for fully publicizing the list of APs. DAP hopes that the government can also do so as disclosing the names of AP holders will put the government in good light, especially in promoting transparency and accountability.

 

 

Yours faithfully,

 

LIM GUAN ENG

SECRETARY-GENERAL

 

(13/06/2005)


*  Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General