Bersih 2.0 finds the government’s use of forex exchange losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia in the 1990s under the leadership of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to be a smokescreen behind which the issue of money laundering and 1MDB is silenced and hidden.
The selective investigation into the billions of losses from 20-odd years ago seems to be little more than an attempt by the ruling coalition, Barisan National, attempt to distract attention from corruption and money laundering related to 1MDB.
“We are surprised with the speed that the RCI took in its investigations; yet all investigations on 1MDB are closed despite ongoing investigations being carried out in seven other countries, of which the DoJ case is one example. If the government is truly sincere about transparency and economic accountability, then they should start by openly investigating 1MDB,” comments Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah.
In view that within the royal commission of inquiry’s scope is the hiding of information relating to the foreign exchange losses and recommendations of appropriate measures to prevent a repeat, it is necessary for the government to take its own advice when it comes to 1MDB, especially in investigating and persecuting the individuals responsible for stealing money that rightfully belongs to the people of Malaysia.
In Switzerland, investigations of money laundering under 1MDB have resulted in the shutting down of three banks and confiscation of CHF104m (about RM433m) and yet there is a deathly silence from the government on the recovery of the illicit funds stolen from 1MDB.
There is a crucial difference between forex losses and money laundering: while both involve losses to the economy, the latter is a criminal offence and is used to enrich the people involved at the expense of citizens.
“We are of the view that it is more important for the RCI to not make it into a political persecution to silence off 1MDB critics,” says Maria.
Bersih 2.0 strongly recommends that for the sake of transparency of the royal commission of inquiry’s findings, the panel should hold a nationwide public presentation of its findings and have it scrutinised so that the confidence of the public and their perceptions are met. Otherwise, its integrity and public confidence will remain in question.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee