The government cannot make the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP)´s report public as some matters are still being negotiated, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
- Daim revealed CEP formed to calm investors after GE14 before Cabinet was formed
- Report contains recommendations on about 70 topics
- Dr M lamented the people’s indifference towards what Najib had done to the country
The prime minister said that he is also aware that the government would be accused of not being transparent due to this stand but it needed more time before making any further decision.
“I do not know what it is that that we can´t tell as we revealed almost everything, but there are some matters under consultations and we cannot reveal what we are negotiating until a decision has been reached, ” he told a press conference in Langkawi today.
Dr Mahathir was asked to comment on calls by various parties, including several Harapan lawmakers, for the government to make the report public as it is now placed under the Official Secrets Act 1972.
Authors of the report, who had previously defended the confidentiality of the report, are now also open to making it public.
Daim Zainuddin, who headed CEP, had said the report should be released but it was not his decision to make.
He, however, agreed with the government that some matters in the report were state secrets.
Daim said the report was prepared for Dr Mahathir and the purpose of forming the CEP was to calm investors and markets as the Cabinet had not been formed then.
“Before that, no one thought Barisan was going to lose – even investors. They, the investors, want continuity and suddenly this happened. The PM wanted to calm the markets,” he said.
“We were given 100 days to get all the information, which we did. We submitted (recommendations on) about 70 topics. We briefed the PM and some of it were highly technical. In the end, it is up to the government (to release the CEP report).”
The Star said Professor Jomo Kwame Sundram, a member of the CEP, had also agreed that the report should be made public.
The economist said although he had earlier voiced his reservations because there were legally and diplomatically sensitive issues involved, these were not part of the report finalised by the CEP.
“I agree to it being published.
“My earlier concerns were because of legally or diplomatically sensitive matters, which are not there anymore,” he said.
“We never wrote it with the intention of getting it published.
“Our intention was always to provide advice to the Prime Minister and we expected him to, in turn, share it with the relevant ministers – and then they will make the decisions.
“Some of the items are sensitive.
“The government must be capable of getting advice, which not everyone (is privy to).
“There are many things which are very delicate.
“Information can be abused,” Jomo explained then.
The Star also reported that the CEP 100-day report contains recommendations for the economy and is not a matter of national security, according to Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Azmin Ali.
“Those are recommendations; it doesn’t involve national security but it is purely recommendations by the CEP to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on how to move forward with all these challenges,” Azmin was quoted as saying.
He said the CEP had already finished their original objective of providing suggestions to the Dr Mahathir for his consideration.
“The role of the CEP is to put up the recommendations and to study all the proposals, that is what they have done last year and they have submitted the full report to the Prime Minister.
“From time to time, the Prime Minister tables these recommendations in the Cabinet (meeting) and we will discuss them.
“There are some recommendations that we will consider favourably and some that need further study – this is quite normal,” Azmin was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Gerakan president Dominic Lau also criticised the OSA classification and noted how Daim and DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang previously said the report should be made public.
He also questioned the reasons for the report being classified as an official secret.
Lau asked if the report contained suggestions which the Harapan government cannot implement because it lacked the political will to do so or due to political considerations.
“The report is a matter of public interest concerning all Malaysians and their daily lives. Malaysians were informed in May 2018 that the CEP was established to advise the government on economic and financial matters.
“It is believed that the report does not contain contents or information about national security or military strategy, why it is placed under OSA if not for political reasons?” he added in a statement.
Lau claimed that the Harapan government had treated CEP as a publicity gimmick to appease public expectations and cover up ministerial inexperience and incompetence.
“Harapan vowed to uphold and enhance credibility, accountability and transparency in differentiating itself from the previous government.
“Unfortunately, Harapan continues to fail the people. Harapan must not hide from public scrutiny and being accountable to the people,” he added.
Lau also claimed that Harapan had promised to abolish the OSA in its election manifesto, but this is not true.
In its manifesto, Harapan said it would make the “necessary improvements” to the OSA.
Dr Mahathir also said that he was aware that some Malaysians were not bothered by the damage done by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when the latter was in charge of the country.
He stressed that the damage done by the former UMNO president had made it difficult for the current government to repair.
“He owed so much money, money went missing and so much more, and also undertook contracts that causes huge losses to Malaysia.
“But (when) we want to end these contracts we are forced to pay compensation to the contractors, this causes costs to rise and harms the nation´s finances, ” he said.
Thus, he said, the current government could not dish out free money to the people like what Najib did.
“This is because he used stolen money. We are not kleptocrats, we are not thieves, we are not stealing money. We try to earn money as much as possible, but of course we have to reduce gradually the free gifts given by Najib, ” he added.