As forex RCI starts, BNM requests for closed-door inquiry, cites OSA material BY KAMLES KUMAR

Abdul Murad Khalid  former central bank assistant governor 

(MMO)  – The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Malaysia’s foreign exchange losses scandal started today with a request from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) for the inquiry to be held behind closed doors due to the confidential nature of some of its reports.

Lawyer for BNM Datuk Tan Hock Chuan said several reports that were involved in the investigations have been designated as under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and might implicate the witnesses called to testify.

He also said two of the witness who were from BNM have not been granted immunity and could be charged in the future.

“Two witness from BNM have no immunity for criminal action to breach the OSA.

“We have an alternative suggestion — exclude the investigation to the press and public,” Tan said in today’s inquiry, held at the Palace of Justice court complex here.

However, the RCI panel chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan disagreed with Tan’s argument and said the inquiry will continue to be held openly.

“This is an inquiry; nobody is on trial. I’m advised [that] this is an inquiry, not a trial. We’re commissioned by the Agong to do this.

“I’m told that under the Act… commissioners have powers… therefore from now I’m going to continue without delaying the inquiry,” Mohd Sidek said.

The inquiry started with testimony from two former BNM staff: Datuk Ahmad Hizzad Baharuddin and Abdul Aziz Abdul Manap.