Penang Monthly was very well received in terms of subscriptions and sales by close to 300 guests at this popular public seminar organized by Penang Institute on 2nd June at Dewan Sri Pinang. The event was officiated by YAB Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang and the speakers were YB Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, ex-Finance Minister and Opposition leader, and YBhg Dr. Rosli Yaakop, ex-Deputy governer of Bank Negara. Julian Candiah, the deputy general manager of Penang Development Council moderated the forum.
In 1992, Bank Negara (the Central Bank of Malaysia) engaged in aggressive currency trading, eventually running up losses amounting to RM30 billion in forex speculation. Despite mounting pressure from civil society groups and opposition parties demanding accountability, the government responded by dismissing the scandal as mere “paper losses” that came from “profits made in forex dealings in preceding years”.
20 years on, there has been no explanation, no accountability and no action taken on the massive losses suffered by Bank Negara from its controversial foray into forex speculation. The government has remained silent and calls for a royal commission of inquiry have gone unheeded.
Not only are the losses unaccounted for, but the way in which Bank Negara, an institution entrusted with ensuring the financial stability of the country, gambled away billions of taxpayers’ money has cast grave doubts on its credibility.
As such, this forum is an attempt to unearth the truth, educate the public as well as to highlight the need for integrity, accountability and transparency, especially where public money is concerned.
The forum will feature Opposition Leader YB Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is also a former Deputy Prime Minister and more crucially, the Finance Minister at the time of the scandal. Also speaking will be Penang Chief Minister YAB Lim Guan Eng. We have also sent an invitation to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop who played a key role behind-the-scenes in Bank Negara at the time. It is hoped that he will accept the offer in the spirit of democracy.