Former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin has dismissed claims of abuses of power made by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, insisting that he was cleared of wrongdoings after two probes.
Daim confirmed that he owns a bank in Tanzania, saying that Anwar himself was aware of this fact when taking over Daim’s post as Finance Minister. Daim said he decided to open a bank in Tanzania after the head of the East African country asked him to invest there, the Malay-language daily Berita Harianreported today.
“When Anwar was the Finance Minister, he chaired a (Cabinet-level) committee against corruption… why didn’t he take action against me at the time? I have been probed twice (on that issue) in 1999, there are none (wrongdoings),” he was quoted as saying by the paper. Daim also said Anwar has failed to show evidence to back up his accusations.
Daim was finance minister from 1984 to 1991 and from 1999 to 2001. Anwar served as the country’s finance minister from 1991 to 1998.
Tun Daim Zainuddin became Malaysia’s Finance Minister in 1984. Anwar Ibrahim was the then Education Minister. Not long after that there were rumours that Daim had abused his power to get rich plus to enrich his cronies or nominees such as Tajudin Ramli, Yahaya Ahmad, Halim Saad, Samsudin Abu Hassan, Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah, and many more, names most of you would not know or not remember anyway.
Nevertheless, rumours were flying all over Kuala Lumpur, especially amongst the bankers and the corporate fraternity, that Daim, with the blessing of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was ripping off the country big-time. And we are talking about billions here — and considering that this was almost 30 years ago you could easily multiply that figure by ten to calculate today’s money value or purchasing power and you would not be wrong.
You see this was soon after the Registrar of Societies deregistered Umno and all its assets got frozen (and it took three years to unfreeze the assets after Umno Baru was formed). So Umno was broke and was facing many civil suits all over Malaysia and had no means to pay. The largest debt was the Umno headquarters, the PWTC, which was in hock for hundreds of millions.
The talk around that time was that all these nominees were not Daim’s nominees but were actually Umno’s nominees who were holding all these business interests on behalf of Umno. Umno, because it was now broke, needed to find money in a hurry so that it could solve its financial dilemma plus finance the coming general election that would cost at least RM1.5 billion. With Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s Semangat 46 making deals with DAP, PAS and PBS, Umno’s situation was most critical indeed and it needed a lot of money and in a hurry. Hence most believed these rumours to be true.
Around that same time, in 1987, the Federation of Public Listed Companies was formed. This idea was actually mooted by Dr Mahathir himself during his trip to China in 1985 and one of the first events the Federation organised was a meeting with Finance Minister Daim.
Daim stormed into the meeting and before anyone could say anything he launched his attacks. He said he had heard that people were accusing him and Dr Mahathir of corruption and abuse of power. He challenged the assembly to produce the proof to support these allegations. The assembly was stunned and the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop. Daim then walked out of the room. No one stood up or clapped like they did when Daim walked into the room. They were too shocked to do anything.
Soon after the 1990 general election, in 1991, Anwar took over as Finance Minister and we from the Malay Chamber of Commerce met Anwar a number of times to discuss various issues. One of the issues we raised was the corruption and abuse of power allegation against Daim (and Dr Mahathir as well, of course).
Anwar, however, denied these rumours and said that this was just dirty politics by the opposition parties to smear the government. We should not believe these rumours, Anwar said, because if they were true he would be the first one to take action against corrupt Ministers or ex-Ministers, even against the Prime Minister himself if these allegations were true.
Today, Anwar says that all these allegations were not mere rumours but are in fact true. Why is today Anwar telling us that the allegations are true but when we confronted him more than 20 years ago he said they were not true and were merely opposition lies? In fact, some of these allegations were not against Daim or Dr Mahathir but against Anwar himself. He, too, was alleged to be making his own cronies and family members rich, just like Daim before him.
Anwar has now done a U-turn, just like he did a U-turn regarding Hudud and about Umno being a kafir(infidel) party.
I started life as a businessman in 1974 and soon realised that you cannot succeed in business if you support the opposition and must instead support the government and rub shoulders with those who walk in the corridors of power. So I began to make friends with those in government.
Anwar, who was heading ABIM at that time, then said that Umno is a kafir party because it opposes Hudud and if we support those who are kafir then we, too, will become kafir. And he quoted verses from the Qur’an to support what he said.
This frightened me because, as I had written many times in the past, around 1977 I had ‘discovered’ Islam and was rapidly turning into a fundamentalist Muslim who believed that Malaysia should be turned into an Islamic State. I even supported the Iranian Revolution and in 1981 participated in an anti-Saudi demonstration organised by the Iranians in Mekah. You could say that I had the leanings of the Taliban although the term ‘Taliban’ was not invented yet at that time.
So I abandoned my ‘friendship’ with Umno, in spite of the fact that that would harm my business, and became a staunch PAS supporter and a believer in Hudud and the Islamic State, all because Anwar convinced us that this was the right thing to do. What is Anwar’s stand today? Is Umno still a kafir party and should we still fight to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State with the Sharia and Hudud as the laws of the country? Or has Anwar done a U-turn on this as well?
The fact that Anwar sued Umno for what he alleged was his ‘illegal sacking’ in 1998 and tried to get the court to rule that he is still legally an Umno member, plus he tried to return to Umno when he was released from jail in 2004, gives me the impression that he no longer feels that Umno is a kafir party or that Malaysia should be turned into an Islamic State with the Sharia and Hudud as the laws of the land