Sunday, August 07, 2005

APs Scandal - Rafidah cannt continue to be Minister "on the run"

Media Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP MP for Ipoh
Timor Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Saturday, August 6, 2005:

Rafidah cannot continue to be Minister  "on-the-run" whether from
media or Cabinet and must recognize that she owes an even higher
responsibility to the nation and people than to Cabinet to immediately
give full and satisfactory explanation for the APs scandal


The Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah
Aziz cannot continue to be a Minister "on-the-run" whether from the
media or the Cabinet.

Even more important, she must recognize that she owes an even higher
responsibility to the nation and people than to the Cabinet and that
she should immediately give a  full and satisfactory explanation for
the long-running  APs scandal.

For ten days since her return from South Africa with the Prime
Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on 28th July, Rafidah had
been playing either "cat-and-mouse" or "dumb and deaf"  with
the media. Initially she claimed that she needed time to study all the
media reports on the issue, as she was overseas when former Prime
Minister Tun Dr.  Mahathir Mahathir  made his comments that she  had
not told the truth  - which had no credibility whatsoever in this era
of information technology of instant communication when information
travels at the speed of light, as Rafidah would have devoured all the
relevant  media reports before she landed in Subang from Johannesburg.

Rafidah even skipped the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 3rd August 2005,
the fourth consecutive Cabinet  meeting she had missed in the past
month, although Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had given
public notice to her  the previous Saturday that she would be asked to
explain the APs scandal.

Rafidah subsequently told Utusan Malaysia that she was absent from
Wednesday's Cabinet meeting  because she was still on "leave" and
that she took the occasion of her leave to get her "swollen leg"
treated - although nobody including Najib and the Chief Secretary Tan
Sri Samsudin Osman seemed  to know beforehand that  Rafidah was on
"leave". Furthermore, Rafidah's  "cat-and-mouse" and
"playing deaf and dumb" games with the media in the past week  did
not stop her from attending public functions as Minister or UMNO Wanita

After her return from South Africa, she had attended the third Apec
Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Conference 2005 and the Asian SME
Convention 2005 as Minister and the  UMNO Wanita Shah Alam function and
the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting as UMNO Wanita leader.
Why has Rafidah relegated the Cabinet to a  lower priority and
importance to all these other functions, when she had been in the eye
of the AP storm for over two months?

I understand that Rafidah had never intended to attend the Cabinet
meeting on Wednesday but had only wanted to release her 25-page
explanation and then to fly off to Perth - but her plan was foiled
when Najib and the Cabinet refused to give approval for her  25-page
explanation and wanted her to present it to the Cabinet the following

Rafidah  must have found it most galling that among those in the
Cabinet sitting in judgment over her were not only Ministers very
junior to her, but former subordinates like the UMNO Youth leader and
Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who started
climbing up  the political ladder as her Parliamentary Secretary in the
Ministry of International Trade and Industry for 27 months from May
1995 to August 1997.

There is no hiding the fact, however,  that Rafidah's  "no show"
at the Cabinet on Wednesday, her fourth consecutive Cabinet absence,
was high contempt for Najib and her other Ministerial colleagues and an
act of gross Ministerial irresponsibility.

Although Rafidah's "no show" at Wednesday's Cabinet  meeting
was deplorable,  Rafidah should not have been barred from releasing her
25-page  explanation, especially as the Prime Minister  had repeatedly
said that Rafidah was the one to answer all the questions about the APs
scandal.  If Rafidah's explanation proved to be an embarrassment to
the Cabinet and government, the Cabinet is at liberty to  take action
including that of censure.

Rafidah cannot continue to be  a Minister  "on-the-run" whether
from media or Cabinet and must recognize that she owes an even higher
responsibility to the nation and people than to Cabinet to immediately
give full and satisfactory explanation for the APs scandal.

The Cabinet should not  insist on having an explanation which is
acceptable to both Rafidah and the rest of the Cabinet on the APs
issue, which will  smack of continued deception of the people.

Rafidah should end her "political leave" to discharge her higher
duty to the people and nation to  give her explanation of the APs
scandal even before the next Cabinet meeting on  August 10, which
should cover  the allegations by Mahathir that Rafidah had failed to
prove her claims on four issues:

·    the approval of Naza Ria being accorded national car status;
·    the number of APs issued between 2004 and 2005;
·    the terms and conditions for issuing APs; and,
·    the names of companies and individuals who received APs.

It is then left to the Cabinet next Wednesday whether to accept or to
repudiate and  dissociate itself from Rafidah's 25-page explanation.

- Lim Kit Siang
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