Death Railway: Ships or billions?

Lisa J. Ariffin | January 8, 2013
The Japanese embassy claims that compensation was paid in the form of two ocean-going cargo ships, but Nizar Jamaluddin says the ships were for Japanese atrocities during World War II, not the 'Death Railway'.
KUALA LUMPUR: Confusion reigns over the compensation for Japan’s Death Railway project, with the consulate saying it has reimbursed in the form of two cargo ships while PAS’ Mohamad Nizar Jamaludin continues to pursue the RM207 billion allegation.

According to Nizar, the Japanese embassy claimed it had already fully compensated some 30,000 Malaysians once recruited as forced labour in its Death Railway project – in the form of two cargo ships “and all others”.

Japanese embassy officials had made this claim when approached by the Bukit Gantang MP following allegations that RM207 billion in compensation was paid a decade ago, but neither the surviving victims nor their families had received any payment.

Nizar told FMT today that during a meeting with Nakamura, the latter claimed that compensation was paid fully in the form of two ships “and all others” in 1967 and that he (Nakamura) believed “all matters pertaining to the death railway are settled”.

However, once pointed out by Nizar that the two “blood debt” ships were presented to the Malaysian government for Japanese atrocities during World War II and had “nothing to do with the Death Railway”, Nakamura promised to consult his Tokyo counterparts to determine if the allegations are true or otherwise.
“We are now waiting for confirmation of the total amount and exact amount and who had acknowledged the acceptance of the RM207 billion,” the PAS leader told FMT today.

“I have approached the Japanese embassy to find out if the allegations are true and they are committed to find out,” he added.

Finance Ministry memo
Nizar said he had obtained internal information regarding the issue from the Finance Ministry in the form of a memorandum quoting the sum of RM207 billion.

“It was a memo from the Finance Ministry mentioning they will cooperate with the Attorney-General’s Office and the Human Resources Ministry to make a Cabinet paper to approve how the particular amount shall be dispersed,” he said.

“That’s why in parliament I tried to ask the minister of finance (Najib Tun Razak). Because from the memo, I was made to understand the amount was kept in the treasury,” he added.
However, until today, there had yet to be a response from the minister.

Nizar also believes the sum had already been paid by Japan to Malaysia as early as 2004 because Bank Negara had in that year issued a banker’s cheque for the sum of RM107 billion and another RM100 billion in the form of Maybank shares, registered on Dec 13, 2004.

“I retrieved a hand written note dated Dec 13, 2004 from a meeting with the board of directors of Bank Negara, in which it quoted – and this was verified by the governor herself with her signature – that RM100 billion was issued under a Bank Negara bankers cheque for no apparent reason and the balance of RM107 billion was made as dispersement payment for shares in Maybank,” he said.
“This surely cannot be a coincidence,” he added.

Asked when he expected a response from the Japanese consulate, Nizar said “sometime next week”, due to the ongoing festive season in Japan.

“The internal memo from the Finance Ministry had quoted RM207 billion.
“But we are waiting for the Japanese government to find out whether or not the RM207 billion mentioned holds any water,” he added.

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