We all know the protracted issue of Saham Amanah Sabah (SAS) which was launched on a share value of RM1 and then got reduced to 20 sen (“Cheaper than kueh pisang,” as many people put it), causing a loss of more than RM400 million involving 55,000 investors.
The issue is still raging today among certain groups, especially BN leaders trying to point their accusing fingers at Datuk Yong Teck Lee who happened to be the Chief Minister when SAS was introduced. The strategy is to make the people believe it was all Yong’s fault, mostly because he is now no longer in the BN.
I fully support that an investigation be carried out on the SAS affair. If Yong is the culprit that caused the massive loss to the 55,000 investors, then let him be answerable, morally and legally. To me this is the only way to solve the whole issue. But isn’t it strange that the BN keeps refusing to produce a White Paper on the issue? Even as early as 2004, Yong had called for a full investigation into the messy affair, saying,
“I hope findings of any investigation conducted on SAS by the authorities, including by the Securities Commission, should be made public so that the truth would come out.”
He even welcomed the DAP’s statement that it would make a report to the police and the then ACA (now named MACC) on the matter. The Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Aman, appealed then that the issue be not politicized, to which LDP President, Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said he was not politicising the issue but was “merely clearing the air on certain facts… This is not politicising, this is telling the world what should be told. This is explaining to the people what had happened…I’m talking about responsibility. If people can stop politicizing other matters and if certain people themselves can behave then everyone else also can behave.”
In response, Yong expressed surprise that although Chong said he was telling the world what should be told, he (Chong) declined to name the culprits behind the losses suffered by SAS investors. Chong didn’t say it was Yong. Yong said then that Chong’s “comment that he does not want to reveal the identity of the culprits, shows how he is deliberately concealing information at the expense of the 55,000 investors of SAS, by saying that he wants to “give face” to the persons responsible for the losses suffered by Saham Sabah investors. The people have a right to be suspicious as to who he is protecting and why. The people of Sabah, especially the 55,000 investors of Saham Sabah, have a right to know the identity of the person whom Chong now says he wants to give face to.” To date, Chong never dared to reveal the names of those responsible.
This situation has dragged on till today. Chong clearly admitted that he knew who was responsible, but never gave any names. Last year, lawyer Joseph Ambrose Lee, whose name kept cropping up in the SAS debacle, said,
“I support the idea to have a White Paper because it will reveal the truth. But it (White Paper) will never happen.”
Lee seems to know something very sinister, by implying the White Paper is too sensitive and dangerous for certain leaders. Dr. Yee Moh Chai, Yong’s arch-enemy, had previously said that Yong should not hide behind the calls for a White Paper “because the Barisan Nasional state government has no time to waste.”
Why is a White Paper a waste of time? Is time better spent on arguing about who is right and wrong without any real answer for more than 10 years now? Even PBS vice president Herbert Timbun Lagadan had to say something on the matter: “The onus is on Yong to explain,” he said. “A White Paper cannot resolve this problem. Let the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) investigate.” Other than PBS, Upko and PBRS also rejected the idea of a white paper. Why did Lagadan say a White Paper is unable to solver the problem? Are White Papers useless in the BN system of government? Or is it because a White Paper done in Sabah will be very biased, or impossible to do, because of the involvement of certain powerful people who are guilty in the whole affair?
In the SAPP website, News that Matter, Foo Fook Ming writes: “Adolf Hitler once said that a lie being repeated for a hundred times will become a truth. Dr Yee had been using this tactic (by repeatedly) blaming Datuk Yong Teck Lee on the decline of SAS value. Datuk Yee being senior minister in the government for around 10 years and recently advanced to Deputy Chief Minister has access to the government information and he can initiate action against the people who were responsible for the fall of SAS price. When Yee was still in opposition he blamed the BN government on SAS but later only singled out Datuk Yong Teck Lee as his target. Now that Yee is in the position, it is his responsibility to disclose to the people and SAS holders the real reasons and culprits. He very well knew those responsible and yet chose to remain silent, which was why he objected strongly to the publication of White Paper on SAS.”
Even as late as last year, SAPP had again proposed the production of the White Paper at the State Legislative Assembly, but to no avail. Why is a White Paper on the debacle so frightening to the BN? Is it possible that it was some Umno leaders who were responsible? I have been made to understand that prior to the launch of SAS, some Umno leaders had already been allocated substantial free shares! And the managers of SAS were not experienced and so were not qualified to manage an investment agency.
The only party which the BN components could be really afraid of in Sabah is Umno, so is Umno or some Umno leaders the ones responsible? If not them, then who else? My question is, if it is Yong who is the real culprit it shouldn’t it have been the BN to table for a White Paper at full speed? If found guilty, BN can then crucify Yong, politically killing him and SAPP. But clearly, BN doesn’t dare to do this simply because UMNO/BN have something to hide. They prefer, as the Malay proverb says, to throw stones and hide the hands.
Since this is a matter of grave public interest which concerns the money of so many investors, the BN government should have supported the proposed White Paper if it is truly transparent, accountable and open, and practicing the principle of ‘people first and performance now’, which is endlessly being promoted by the Prime Minister.
In the same way, all local BN component parties namely PBS, UPKO, PBRS, LDP should assertively demand the government to introduce this White Paper to ascertain the real culprit on this SAS massive failure, lest they are seen as nothing more than traitors, stooges and proxies of Umno. There is no logic in them continuing to harp on Yong and yet refuse to undertake a proper investigation to reveal the truth, unless they have something very big to hide. There is still time for the white Paper before the coming 13th General Election, if BN dares to risk exposing their own guilty leaders, for the sake of the people, especially the 55,000 suffering investors.