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Mahathir attends day 2 of RCI on forex losses

 | August 24, 2017

Former prime minister, slated to be a witness on the second day of the hearing, says he is also 'curious to know what's happening' in the RCI proceedings.

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mahathirPUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today attended the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the losses suffered by Bank Negara due to foreign exchange (forex) trading in the 1990s.

The Pakatan Harapan chairman, who was the prime minister at the time, turned up at the Palace of Justice here this morning, on the second day of the hearing. The RCI had its first day of hearing on Monday.

On June 21, the Cabinet gave its approval for an RCI to be set up following a report by the special task force set up earlier this year to investigate the losses.

The RCI, chaired by Mohd Sidek Hassan, was then set up on July 1 amid claims and denials over Mahathir’s involvement in the scandal, which saw billions of ringgit worth of losses by the central bank.

Sidek, who is a former chief secretary to the government, also headed the special task force which was set up on Feb 15.

The RCI is tasked with getting to the bottom of the forex losses of US$10 billion (about RM25 billion based on the exchange rate at the time) incurred by the central bank between 1991 and 1993.

Later, when met outside the court room, Mahathir said he “just came to see” the RCI’s proceedings which he said must adhere to rules and regulations to ensure it does not affect the image of the Agong.

“I feel the commission will always be mindful of that and the expectation is that they will not smear the image of the royalty.

“I don’t have any statements to make except that I’m curious to know what’s happening.”

He also dismissed rumours that he was unwell, stating that it was wishful thinking on the part of some quarters who perceive him as a “nuisance and danger” to the entire nation.

On Aug 16, Mahathir filed a judicial review leave application, seeking to quash the RCI’s refusal to remove Sidek and another RCI member Saw Choo Boon from the tribunal.

He also sought a mandamus order from the court to compel the government to advise the king to revoke Sidek and Saw’s appointments to the RCI.

In addition, Mahathir asked that the five-member RCI panel be suspended from sitting pending the outcome of the court decision.

He claimed the RCI composition was a breach of natural justice as Sidek and Saw were previously members of another task force that had conducted a preliminary investigation into the losses suffered by the central bank in the 1990s.

The RCI, which was set up on July 1, aims to:

  • determine the authenticity of the allegation on the forex losses suffered by BNM in the 1990s and its implications on the national economy;
  • determine whether BNM’s involvement in the forex activities which caused the losses contradicted with the Central Bank Ordinance 1958 or any relevant laws;
  • determine whether there were elements of hidden facts and information relating to forex losses suffered by BNM and misleading statements given to the cabinet, parliament and the public;
  • recommend suitable action to be taken against those found to be directly and/or indirectly involved in causing the losses and hiding the facts and information on the losses, and;
  • recommend appropriate measures to ensure the incident will not recur.

Apart from Sidek and Saw, the other members of the tribunal are High Court judge Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia Berhad chief executive officer Tajuddin Atan, and member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Pushpanathan S A Kanagarayar.

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