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Mahathir’s lawyers want to take part in RCI on forex losses

 | August 8, 2017

It is unclear if the former prime minister will be a witness as the losses occurred during his administration, says lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

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PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyers have written to the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to participate in the proceedings to investigate forex losses suffered by Bank Negara in the 1990s although it is unclear whether the former prime minister is a witness.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said a letter was sent to the RCI secretary Dr Yusof Ismail yesterday and served to his office at the finance ministry.

Yusof is the finance ministry’s strategic investment division director.

“We want to exercise the right of Tun (Mahathir) to appear throughout the RCI and if necessary examine witnesses,” he told FMT.

Haniff said a team of lawyers would attend the RCI proceeding tomorrow at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya.

He said the letter was written pursuant to Section 18 of the Enquiry Act 1950 where any person whose conduct is the subject of inquiry or who is in any way implicated or concerned shall be entitled to be represented in the proceedings.

Haniff said as of yesterday evening, there had been no communication from the RCI secretariat as to whether Mahathir would be called as a witness.

“As stated before by Dr M, he is ever ready and willing to cooperate with any lawfully-constituted RCI or a competent court,” he said.

Mahathir was prime minister when the alleged scandal took place but was not called earlier to appear before the special task force, led by former chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan.

Sidek has also been appointed RCI chairman.

Others on the panel are High Court judge Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Tajuddin Atan, Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) co-chairperson Saw Choo Boon, Malaysian Institute of Accountants member K Pushpanathan and Yusof.

This is the first time an inquiry into a public interest matter has not been led  by a retired judge or sitting judge, in the role of chairman.

On July 18, the Prime Minister’s Office said the RCI would complete its probe within three months from the date of its formation on July 15, 2017 and thereafter submit its report to the king.

Sidek was not available for comment despite calls made by FMT to get details of who would appear before the RCI.

Retired judge Haidar Mohamed Noor, who chaired the RCI into the VK Lingam video clip in 2007, had in an interview with FMT in June, said the RCI would decide on witnesses once the government determines the terms and reference.

He said the calling of witnesses was the exclusive right of the tribunal.

“The secretary of the RCI will then issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear before them,” he said.

Haidar said based on the subject matter, he believes Mahathir, former finance minister Daim Zainuddin and Ahmad Mohd Don (Bank Negara governor from 1994 to 1998) would have to be called.

He said former BNM assistant governor Abdul Murad Khalid is also a notable witness.

The task force found that the central bank had incurred forex losses of at least US$10 billion (about RM44 billion) between 1991 and 1993.

Among those who appeared before the task force were Nor Mohamed Yakcop, the man who resigned from BNM after the forex losses became public, former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, and ex-opposition leader Lim Kit Siang.

FMT also understands that lawyers for Anwar and Lim would also be there to represent their clients’ interests.

No notice for Anwar to appear for RCI on forex losses


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