MARA Chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa should explain why he made the U-turn in 48 hours from saying at his media conference on Wednesday that the National Economic Council chaired by the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had approved the Melbourne Dudley Street property deal by MARA Inc. to his statement today that Najib had actually opposed the Melbourne purchase?
Annuar should know that this is the 21st century and Information Age and he cannot just behave like monarchs of olden days when information could be controlled and manipulated for him to wilfully and arbitrarily insist that he had never said what he had actually uttered, or that he had been misunderstood or his statements had been twisted when what he said was crystal-clear.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Annuar could complain that the latter’s statement had been “twisted” by news portals like Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider to mean that Najib had personally approved the purchase, when the decision to buy Dudley House in Melbourne was made by the National Economic Council by consensus.
Or in the subsequent words of Annuar in his Facebook: ‘There is no question of approval by any individual, including the prime minister. As I said, it was approved by the National Economic Council and done according to procedure. I hope this is clear.”
Najib and Annuar were only trying to quibble that it is wrong to say that Najib had given approval for the Dudley House purchase when it was decided by the National Economic Council by consensus although chaired by Najib.
Let Najib and Annuar understand loud and clear – that both are guilty of sophistry and even deceit, in trying to dispute that the Prime Minister had given approval for the Dudley Street purchase on the ground that it was a decision of the National Economic Council chaired by Najib.
That is sheer dishonesty and I am sure the Malaysian public will not allow Najib to escape his Prime Ministerial responsibility and pass the buck so easily.
But this is completely different from Annuar’s U-turn today to say that Najib had opposed the Dudley Street purchase, and that his statement had been twisted as clearly rebutted by video recording of Annuar’s media conference statement on Wednesday.
Annuar should have the decency and honesty to admit a mistake which he had himself committed.
But can Annuar explain how he could make such a colossal mistake, to clearly imply that Najib had approved the Dudley Street deal when chairing the National Economic Council when Najib had in fact opposed it?
Was Annuar wrongly briefed – and if so, would the MARA officer responsible for misleading him be penalised?
What is most intriguing is that Annuar did not seem to know that Najib had opposed the Dudley Street deal until today, or Annuar would have mentioned it yesterday when he claimed that the controversial Melbourne real estate deal was made before he was appointed MARA Chairman in July 2013 and that the purchase was discussed in 2012 and approved by the MARA Council on Feb. 21, 2013.
Annuar now says that Najib had initially opposed the Dudley House purchase, as was stated in a May 10 letter, which forced MARA to appeal against Najib’s decision, and the purchase was eventually approved by the National Economic Council, which was also chaired by the prime minister.
Annuar should explain whether he played any role in the appeal, whether he was already appointed MARA Chairman during MARA’s appeal against Najib’s initial opposition to the Dudley Street purchase.
Annuar said that in the appeal, the National Economic Council only approved 30 per cent of MARA funds to be used for the purchase of Dudley Street property as it involved foreign loans. Why was this condition of the National Economic Council not complied with.
Furthermore, did Najib give his approval for the other three Australian properties bought by MARA Inc, namely (i) an apartment block on Swanston Street for A$22.5 million; (ii) an office tower on Exhibition Street for A$22 million and (iii) a Queen Street property for A$20 million; whether they also violated the National Economic Council condition on limitation on foreign loans, whether they were bought through offshore companies and whether there were also multi-million ringgit “kickbacks” like the Dudley Street purchase?