Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser
In the BN Government’s on-going witch hunt against SUARAM to try to discredit us for pursuing the suspected corruption scandal over the Scorpene deal in the Paris court, they now try to suggest that there is a problem with us having received funds from George Soros’ Open Society Institute. The Domestic Trade Minister wants Bank Negara to investigate if there is “money laundering” involved. In so doing, the Minister has unwittingly put Bank Negara in an embarrassing position.
George Soros is well known as a currency speculator, philanthropist and promoter of open society. What is baffling is the BN Government’s problem with Soros. From the BN Government’s propaganda, there seem to be two problems: (i) He is a currency speculator (ii) He is Jewish.
The Jewish Question
The fact that being ethnically Jewish (rather than being a Zionist) can be the basis for derision and condemnation in Malaysia (especially in the UMNO press) is evidence of the racist nature of the governing regime. This speaks volumes about UMNO’s capacity for providing a non-racist path to progress in Malaysia. SUARAM certainly does not have a problem with Soros’ ethnicity.
Who is NOT a Currency Speculator?
Soros has a reputation as a smart currency speculator. But he has made his millions through his own means and devices. On the other hand, our own Bank Negara under Dr Mahathir’s watch speculated in the international currency markets from 1992-94 using the rakyat’s money and incurred losses cited as ranging from RM10-30 billion! It has been claimed that the maximum exposure of Malaysian taxpayers’ money in the forex market during that irresponsible fling was as much as RM270 billion. (Malaysian Business, April 1994) It was the biggest disaster ever for Bank Negara which had to be bailed out by the Finance Ministry in 1994 but the biggest heads have yet to roll!
It was after this fiasco and one of Dr Mahathir’s most humiliating performances that he, in a pique of rage, called Soros a “moron”. When the 1997 Asian financial crisis struck, Soros was again blamed. However, Mahathir eventually had to eat humble pie at a press conference with Soros on 15 December 2006 at which he accepted that Soros had not been responsible for the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Thus, after the 1992-94 forex scandal one would have thought that the BN government would think twice about denouncing currency speculators!
SUARAM’s Principled Stand on Justice, Democracy & Human Rights
Through the 23 years of SUARAM’s existence, we have never compromised our principled stand on freedom, justice, democracy and human rights. We have never been beholden to any funders, whether foreign or local, as our anti-imperialist stand and actions in the Anti-War Coalition testify.
Malaysia sliding down the slippery road to banana republicanism
From the Domestic Trade & Consumerism Minister’s irresponsible statements about charging our company while CCM is still investigating the case and this latest gaffe involving Soros, the BN Government appears to be shooting itself in the foot. On the one hand, the Prime Minister is trying so hard to present himself as a reformer by promising more democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the run-up to the 13th general election; On the other, his minister continues to violate all these principles of good governance in his haste to try to discredit SUARAM.
This seems to be the Prime Minister’s dilemma. His words do not seem to match the BN Government’s actions and with every gaffe by blundering ministers, we seem to be sliding down the slippery road to banana republicanism.