When the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak sacks Tan Sri Gani Patail as Attorney-General who had served three Prime Ministers in nearly 13 years, and Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, for asking questions all Malaysians are asking about the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, and the multi-agency Special Task Force on 1MDB becomes “the hunted” instead of being the hunters in the 1MDB investigations, it is understandable that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) could only seek divine intervention to be allowed to carry out their anti-corruption duties.
The MACC often bragged that Malaysia is now the world’s model of a comprehensive systemic attack on corruption, and it is undoubtedly pioneering anti-corruption efforts in a new dimension – seeking divine help and intervention!
Najib’s reshuffled 1MDB Cabinet which meets today will not admit that Malaysia has becoming a laughing stock, not only among Malaysians, but to the world when the MACC made the astonishing admission that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was correct when its report of July 3 said that government investigators had found that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had been deposited into Najib’s personal accounts in AmBank in March 2013 just before the dissolution of Parliament for the holding of the 13th General Election, but that the RM2.6 billion was a donation and not from 1MDB funds.
This MACC statement did not come as a surprise as Najib’s new Ministerial “spin doctors” had been preparing the public for such an announcement, but it furnishes a classic example of Najib’s recent admission that he valued loyal people over smart people in Cabinet.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin had described recent Cabinets as comprising “half-past six” and “deadwood” Ministers, and I am sure they must be at a loss for words how to describe the present batch of Ministers, though they passed Najib’s criteria of being more loyal people than smart people in Cabinet.
None of these “more loyal than smart” people now dare breathe the name of Lester Melanyi which must have become anathema although it is over the body of this poor former Sarawak journalist that these new Ministerial wannabes climbed aboard Najib’s Cabinet as the new “spin doctors” or even gained “strategic” status to allegedly protect and defend Najib from the slings and torpedoes of the 1MDB scandal.
These Ministerial “spin doctors” want Malaysians to believe that they were not born yesterday, but they often acted as if they were born today!
The MACC statement on Monday, which they had strategized long and hard, that the RM2.6 billion was from donation and was not from 1MDB funds, is a real classic example of the violation of the basic do’s and don’ts in “strategic communications” – not to be regarded as a fool and the “strategy” dismissed and dissolved in general laughter, mockery and scorn.
One of the new Ministerial “spin doctors” was very annoyed and complained that the outcry over the MACC statement was a “classic case of never being able to satisfy critics”.
He asked: “So what is the issue now? Should they not be happy that the money was not stolen from 1MDB as alleged?”
He just does not understand.
It is a reflection that all these highly-paid Ministerial “spin doctors” are “more loyal than smart” to Najib that they do not realize that they have committed another strategic error, and in the process, even destroyed whatever credibility MACC had painstakingly built up as an independent and professional anti-corruption agency, carrying out its anti-corruption duties without fear or favour!
I advise the Prime Minister to listen to the genuine voices on the ground, and not the air-conditioned hubbub of the Ministerial “spin doctors” – starting by answering the questions posed by Akmal Saufi Khaled, son of Johore Mentri Besar Khaled Nordin, so as to learn about the general disbelief and incredulity over the MACC statement.
Can Najib’s credibility and trustworthiness over the 1MDB scandal and the WSJ reports be salvaged?
It will be a tall order.
But if this is Najib’s top concern, then he must make amends immediately by ensuring that his reshuffled Cabinet is not a 1MDB Cabinet to interfere and frustrate in-depth investigations but a Cabinet which would leave no stone unturned to give full, frank and immediate accounting on these issues to Malaysians by taking the following four steps:
• Order an immediate halt to the “madness” convulsing the government, with top government leaders suspected or accused of treasonous activities to topple the elected government of Malaysia, as if the Malaysian government has suddenly become so fractured that overnight top government leaders have become traitors;
• Statement by the Prime Minister where the RM2.6 billion deposited into his personal bank accounts in March 2013 came from; where and to whom they have been disbursed; what was the remainder left and where the monies have gone to.
• Cabinet should ensure that the Special Task Force into the 1MDB and WSJ reports are fully reinstated in its duties, with Tan Sri Gani Patail officially announced as head of the Special Task Force and all key officers of the multi-agency body, whether Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), MACC, Royal Malaysian Police or the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) fully reinstated in their capacities in the Special Task Force; and
• Convening of Emergency Parliament before Merdeka Day on August 31 to appoint new Chairman of Public Accounts Committee and the three others elevated as Minister or Deputy Minister.