Scandals shock global audience after Apandi puts lid on PM donations probe

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Transparency, integrity and good governance principles are thrown out of the window and we Malaysians are expected to simply swallow it, laments Henry Loh.

On 26 January, the Attorney General Apandi Ali announced that the MACC investigations over the transfer of a) US$681m and b) RM42m from SRC International into the personal account of PM Najib had been completed.

He said the PM had not committed any criminal offences – noting that there was no evidence of graft.

As expected, Najib moved quickly to welcome this decision, urging Malaysians to move on and not dwell on this issue any further. The PM claimed that the cases were “unnecessary distractions” reiterating that “no crime had been committed”.

Of course, it is merely wishful thinking on the part of the PM as there has been no shortage of calls for a review of the decision as the explanations provided for the donation are too simplistic and rather far-fetched.

Senior MACC members who had carried out the investigations have also highlighted that they would like to ”refer the AG’s directive to close three investigations files involving PM Najib Razak to its Operational Evaluation Panel” (theSun, 29 January 2016).

The attorney general responded to the MACCs call for a review by relying on Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution to argue that his decision was absolute and could not be challenged.

Prominent lawyer and current chairperson of human rights group Hakam Ambiga Sreenevasan clearly thinks otherwise. She says that the attorney general’s decision can be challenged in court and points out a precedent.

Former attorney general Abu Talib has also weighed in on this issue arguing that it is the attorney general’s role to assist MACC to gather more evidence for the investigations rather than order a closure of investigations seeing that the cases have received world wide attention.

Veteran politician and senior Umno member Tengku Razaleigh adds that even if Apandi’s declaration seems to clear the PM of any wrongdoing legally, the “court of public opinion” may well decide otherwise.

It is in this connection that we urge you to read this timely piece by K Haridas. The title of the piece alone highlights what many Malaysians are calling into question: “1MDB perception index and belief-practice gap.” There seems to be a huge credibility gap not least because the explanation given reeks of fantasy and wild imagination and leaves us feeling incredulous.

Imagine, a personal donation of US$681m (RM2.6bn) into the personal account of the prime minister, followed by a subsequent return of US$620m to the donor(s) because it was not used. Oh, please spare us!

Transparency, integrity and good governance principles are thrown out of the window and we Malaysians are expected to simply swallow it.

Of course, just when the PM started to think that the 1MDB nightmare would be a thing of the past, the attorney general of Switzerland called for mutual assistance from his Malaysian counterpart.

The call was made in relation to an ongoing investigation of two former 1MDB officials and persons unknownon suspicion of bribery of foreign public officials (Art. 322 Swiss Criminal Code (SCC)), misconduct in public office (Art. 314 SCC), money laundering (Art. 305bis SCC) and criminal mismanagement (Art. 158 SCC).

As if on cue, the Scorpene submarines financial commission scandal resurfaced – and that too only after six long years of investigation. The French courts have now indicted some officers involved in these deals.

Bernard Baiocco, the former president of Thales International Asia (Thint Asia) was indicted before magistrate Roger Le Loire on 15 December for “active bribery of foreign public officials” including Najib Razak, then minister of defence, and one of his advisers, Abdul Razak Baginda, according to the news agency AFP. The former boss of Thint Asia, together with the Directorate of Naval Construction (DCN) who made the submarines, was also indicted for complicity in misuse of corporate assets”.

Do visit our website to read the article in full considering the rate at which blogging sites are being blocked.

Many of us ordinary Malaysians wage earners, students, retirees and small scale business people of all ethnic groups are experiencing difficult financial times – what with the high cost of living and the much depreciated ringgit. The government announced budget cuts in view of the low ringgit value and a large drop in revenue from oil exports.

Under these difficult circumstances, many Malaysians are understandably upset and disillusioned when faced with these financial scandals that involve huge sums of money. Indeed, it would be painful and a great travesty of justice if the mismanaged funds ultimately prove to be the Rakyat’s money.

No wonder all of us would like to see an end to corruption and the abuse of power. We call for justice, integrity and good governance. We want the “democracy deficit”, the “trust deficit” and the “credibility gap” to be narrowed.

Indeed, as we reflect on all that has been happening in our country, the words of Lord Acton keep ringing, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Clearly we need to be wary to whom we will hand power when we go to the ballot box.

Aliran-discussion-on-How-can-Pakatan-win-GE14,-2-Feb-2016

Speaking of the ballot box, Aliran organised a closed-door discussion of the coming general election, ‘How can Pakatan Harapan win GE14?” The discussants were Wong Chin Huat (Penang Institute), Sim Tze Tzin (PKR), Ariffin Omar (DAP) and Mujahid Yusof Rawa (Amanah). The lively session was moderated by Aliran’s talks and forums coordinator Dr Ronnie Ooi.

Wishing all those celebrating the Lunar New Year a joyous celebration – and to everyone, hope you have a good break.

 

READ MORE:  The People v Najib Razak Ep 20: Money for nothing

Henry Loh

Co-editor, Aliran newsletter

4 February 2016

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