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AWSJ: EPF Not Accountable - MTUC
By Cris Prystay
13/4/2001 7:32 pm Fri
[MTUC akan mengadakan piket besar-besaran di seluruh negara
membantah penyalahgunaan dana KWSP, pengurangan potongan, kadar
dividen yang rendah, ketidak telusan pelaburan KWSP, penglibatan
di dalam skandal time dotCom, dan macam-macam lagi. KWSP tidak
bersikap amanah dan bertanggungjawab kepada pencarum.
Tetapi Roslan Ghaffar, pengarah senior unit pelaburan KWSP menyanggah
MTUC. Katanya panel pelaburan KWSP membuat keputusan pelaburan yang
tidak perlu merujuk kepada lembaga pengarah KWSP - ia entiti yang
Tetapi panel tersebut dilantik oleh Daim dan tidak perlu memberi sebab
kepada sebarang keputusannya untuk melabur dana sebanyak RM181 bilion itu.
MTUC merungut ia tidak mampu bersuara dalam KWSP walaupun ia mempunyai 5
wakil dalam 18 lembaga pengarah KWSP. Ketidak telusan lembaga pelaburan
KWSP serta sikap bertanggungjawabnya amat dikesalkan. Sudah tiada jalan
lain melainkan membuat bantahan besar-besaran agar nasib pekerja tidak
permainkan sesuka hati. Mahathir memang tidak ingin ini berlaku kerana
bimbang ia akan menjejaskan lagi populariti beliau - apatah lagi jika ia
berbau dan merebak ke perhimpunan agung Umno. Beliau mencemuh kerajaan
kini sudah terlalu banyak masalah - piket MTUC hanya akan menambahkan
masalah itu lagi.
Apa yang dilakukan oleh MTUC bukannya masalah - sebaliknya Mahathirlah
yang menjadi punca masalah kerana tidak mahu mendengar rintihan rakyat
dan langsung tidak mahu berundur bila rakyat mempertikaikan tindak-tanduknya.
Dia mahu rakyat angguk sahaja walaupun rugi berjuta.
MTUC mempunyai 550,000 ahli banyaknya Ia mewakili 230 kesatuan akan mengadakan
piket di seluruh negara di hadapan pejabat KWSP nanti pada 12/5/2001.
The Asian Wall Street Journal
Labor Groups Say Pension Scheme
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Government officials and the biggest labor
organization escalated their confrontation over union allegations that
Kuala Lumpur has mismanaged the country's national pension fund.
At a conference Wednesday, Roslan Ghaffar, senior director for
investment and economic research for the state-run Employees Provident
Fund, contested claims by the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, or MTUC,
that the EPF panel that makes investment decisions isn't accountable
to the fund's board of directors.
"The [panel's] chairman makes reports each quarter to the board," he
said. "If there are any questions, we answer them." But Dr. Ghaffar
shed little light on the degree of control the board has over the
investment panel -- which is dominated by officials from Malaysia's
finance ministry and central bank. But he acknowledged that the EPF
board and the fund's investment panel are "two separate entities."
The EPF's investment panel reports to the finance ministry and is
appointed by Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin. The panel doesn't
publicly explain its decisions, which allocate the EPF's 181 billion
ringgit ($47.63 billion) in funds contributed by salaried Malaysians
and their employers among a variety of domestic investments, including
The MTUC has complained about the lack of transparency and
accountability of the EPF investment panel. Union representatives have
five seats on the EPF's 18-member board, but grouse that they have no
say on the fund's investment decisions. On Monday, in an unprecedented
move, the 550,000 member MTUC -- which represents 230 unions -- called
for a countrywide picket of EPF offices on May 12.
The union group cited, in particular, the EPF's investment last month
in Time dotCom Bhd.'s controversial initial public offering as an
example of the misuse of EPF funds. The EPF invested 269 million
ringgit in Time dotCom stock in an IPO that independent investors
shunned. The company's stock has slumped 40% since it began trading,
giving the EPF a paper loss of about 110 million ringgit on the
investment. Time dotCom is a subsidiary of Time Engineering Bhd, a
company controlled by the Renong Bhd. conglomerate, which has historic
links to Malaysia's dominant political party.
The MTUC also is angry over a government decision to cut employee
contributions to the EPF by two percentage points this year in a bid
to boost consumer spending. The EPF board had voted the proposal down
late last year, but was overruled by the finance ministry.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad lambasted the MTUC
for calling for a public protest. He told the labor group that it
"shouldn't raise issues' at a time when Malaysia faced tough economic
Siva Subramaniam, the head of a separate civil servants' union, agreed
with the prime minister Tuesday. He told Malaysian reporters there
were "other pressing needs," such as racial integration and economic
stability, on which the government should focus. Kumpulan Wang Amanah
Pencen, the civil servants' pension fund, bought a 10.8% stake in Time
dotCom through its IPO; Mr. Subramaniam declined to comment on that
investment, which has left the pension with a paper loss of about 365
MTUC's president, Zainal Rampak, who is a senator in Malaysia's
Parliament and a member of Dr. Mahathir's United Malays National
Organization, said the planned protest will go ahead. He added that he
would continue to push for greater transparency on investments the EPF
makes. In February, the EPF announced its lowest dividend payout in 26
years, prompting union leaders to question more closely the fund's
Dr. Ghaffar, in a speech to a debt conference Wednesday, said part of
the EPF's mandate is to serve as a source of financing for national
development. The pension fund's asset allocation has shifted in the
past decade as the EPF took a larger role in financing the
government's privatization plans, for example, he said. The proportion
of Malaysian government securities in the EPF's portfolio dropped to
34% in 2000 from 79% in 1990, while the proportion of loans and bonds
it holds rose to 20.7% in 2000 from 8.2% a decade ago.
Dr. Ghaffar said, however, the EPF will no longer take stock as
collateral for loans it makes to corporate borrowers -- a move that
could affect corporate restructuring and government privatization
plans. He said the EPF instituted the policy, which he deemed
temporary, after Asia's 1997 economic crisis "due to market
volatility." Still, the volume of loans extended to corporate
borrowers by the EPF increased in 1998 and 1999. "Most other
institutions were reluctant to lend, so that's why we increased our
loans," Dr. Ghaffar said.
Some of those loans turned sour. Last year, the EPF agreed to allow
Time Engineering -- Time dotCom's parent -- to repay half a 500
million ringgit short-term loan in cash and half in shares in Time
dotCom. Mr. Ghaffar told reporters the debt-equity swap was a separate
issue from the collateral policy. "At least we don't have the loans on
our books," he said.
Write to Cris Prystay at email@example.com.