LKS fully supports Mahathir’s  call for transparency and integrity  by making public the names of those who have been  given  approved permits (APs) for the import of foreign cars

Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament, Wednesday): I fully support the call by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for transparency and integrity by making public the names of those who have been given approved permits (APs) for the import of foreign cars.

Dr. Mahathir said on Monday that “the best way to silence any accusation of unfairness is to publish the names of all who have been given APs, how many permits they have received and what cars they are bringing in”.

He said he adopted this approach after being accused of cronyism in 1998 when he was prime minister. He displayed a list of names of all who had received Government contracts.  

The swift but  confused response of the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, rejecting the proposal of her former boss is most disappointing,  unconvincing and even unbelievable.

On the one hand, Rafidah claims:  “It is not our policy to disclose who got the APs. In fact, we have never done this before, even before I became minister." Yet in the same breath, she said:  “These people are in business and I do not see any reason why we should make this public especially when we have been mentioning their names in Parliament very often.”

If Rafidah had “very often” revealed the  AP beneficiaries in Parliament, then she cannot claim that it is not government policy to disclose who got the APs!

However, I am not aware that Rafidah had even once mentioned in Parliament the persons who had been given the APs.

Rafidah should not have resorted to the knee-jerk reaction of unthinkingly rejecting Dr. Mahathir’s call for the names of the APs beneficiaries to be made public in the interests of transparency and integrity, as this call had not come from a gadfly or an irresponsible critic who had  no notions or experience in affairs of state or burden of office.

After all, Dr. Mahathir was the longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia for over 22 years, during which entire period Rafidah served as Cabinet Minister, for over 16 years as the Minister for International Trade and Industry.

Could it be that Dr. Mahathir had become so marginalised, senile or irresponsible as to make ridiculous  proposals which could be positively harmful to the government and nation?  Or what is Rafidah afraid of if Dr. Mahathir’s proposal for transparency and integrity by making public the names of persons given the APs is implemented?

Rafidah has confused, whether deliberately or otherwise,  the issue of the need for APs to protect the Proton car industry with transparency and integrity in the issue of APs.

Whatever my long-standing differences with Dr. Mahathir, I do not believe his call for the names of those given APs to be made public had been made with an ulterior motive, such as to undermine the premiership and administration of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or to  cause trouble to Rafidah, who had been Dr. Mahathir’s most loyal lieutenant. On the contrary, Dr. Mahathir’s proposal could strengthen Abdullah’s premiership in giving credibility to the new Prime Minister’s call for accountability, transparency and integrity particularly of political leaders and public officials.

I have always adopted the attitude of praising and supporting what is good for the people and country while criticising and opposing what is harmful – regardless of the personality or political party concerned. For this reason, I fully support Dr. Mahathir’s call for the names of persons given APs to be made public as it will be a big stride forward for accountability, transparency and good governance in Malaysia.  I call on all Ministers and MPs, regardless of political party, to support Dr. Mahathir’s call in the interests of transparency, integrity and good governance.



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