RCI on BNM forex losses rejects bid to discharge 2 members of panel

The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the foreign-exchange (forex) losses by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in the 1990s began its proceeding yesterday with the dismissal of the application for two of the members of the panel to be discharged.

Chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan of the five-man panel said the commission took cognisance that the RCI had been constituted and consented by the Yang diPertuan Agong and, therefore, they were in the position to continue with the proceedings.

On the counsel’s request for active participation in the proceeding Mohd Sidek said the panel did not have issues with the right to representation by counsel of the parties with interest in the inquiry, but the issues raised in the proceeding must be relevant to the

RCI’s terms of reference. Assisting Mohd Sidek, who is Petroliam Nasional Bhd chairman, are High Court Judge Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia Bhd CEO Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan, Special Task Force to facilitate Business (Pemudah) co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon and the Malaysian Institute of Accountants member K Puspanathan.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who is holding a watching brief for former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, raised a preliminary objection on the validity of composition of the RCI on grounds that two of them — Mohd Sidek and Saw — should be discharged from sitting on the panel, as they were members of the special task force recommending the establishment of the RCI.

Mohamed Haniff sought to make a written application on the issue for the panel to decide as he said the issue of composition of the panel was important to ensure a fair hearing.

“The members of the recommending body should not be a panel to decide on the outcome,” he said.

He also applied for an active participation in the proceedings under Section 18 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950 (Revised 1973), saying that the interest of the parties would be best served if counsel were allowed to have active participation in the proceedings.

Lawyer R Sivarasa, who is holding a watching brief for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was the deputy prime minister and finance minister in the 1990s, also made similar applications. — Bernama