I commend the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Datuk Hasan Arifin for realizing his folly in unilaterally and arbitrarily announcing a ban on all PAC media conferences, in retaliation to honest media reporting of his faux pax last Wednesday that the reason PAC would not summon Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to PAC investigations into the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal was because he needed to “cari makan”.
Hasan did a U-turn yesterday when he belatedly realized that the PAC is not a “kingdom of its own” but responsible to Parliament and answerable to the public, and it is just outrageous and completely unacceptable for Malaysia to have a PAC Chairman who has a phobia of the media.
But Hasan has not completely undone the damage he has committed to undermine public confidence in the institution of Parliament, which includes the PAC.
I had on Saturday listed five ways to wipe out the shame and stain which Parliament had suffered as a result of Hasan’s twin faux pax on “cari makan” and the outrageous ban on PAC media conferences, and Hasan had only met one of the five requirements – to rescind to ban on PAC media conferences.
The least Hasan should do is to be honest and apologise for his “cari makan” remark and table the issue of whether to summon Najib to the PAC in its investigations into the 1MDB scandal to the full meeting of PAC for a decision, and not for him to unilaterally and arbitrarily decide on behalf of the bipartisan PAC.
It the PAC decides not to summon Najib to PAC investigations into 1MDB, although Najib is the only person who knows the ins-and-outs of the 1MDB scandal (current 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is only the latest highly-paid “operative” who joined the “revolving-door” teams of 1MDB operatives in January this year and would have no personal knowledge of what happened in 1MDB in the past five years), then it is the entire PAC and not just Hasan who must answer for this major dereliction of parliamentary duty.
In fact, if the PAC meeting decides not to summon Najib to appear before it, then the issue of whether the UMNO/BN members of PAC have any pecuniary interests in the 1MDB issue becomes a central question.
This is because former MCA President Datuk Chua Soi Lek had admitted that the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal banking accounts scandal was related to UMNO/BN expenditures in the 13th General Elections campaign, and all UMNO/BN MPs members of the PAC should declare whether they have any pecuniary interest in the matter, and if so, what amounts each had received as UMNO/BN candidate for the 13th general election campaign from Najib’s RM2.6 billion personal banking accounts.
Arifin’s twin faux pas on “cari makan” and media-phobia leading to ban all PAC press conferences last Thursday helped to keep Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals in the limelight during the ASEAN and Post-ASEAN Summits last weekend.
Najib’s twin mega scandals are issues which every ASEAN and Asian-Pacific leader in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend would have given personal attention and received special briefing from their officials, and although not a single one of the ASEAN and Asian-Pacific leaders had even breathed a word of Najib’s twin mega scandals in public, even in the direct meeting between Najib and US President Barack Obama, there is not doubt that they had an haunting and hounding effect on the series of ASEAN and post-ASEAN Summits in the Malaysian capital.
The headline “ASEAN summit tarnished by Malaysian corruption scandal involving PM” by a commentator in an international publication aptly captures the mood and spirit of the international gathering of ASEAN and Asia-Pacific leaders in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend.
This is not something for Malaysians to be proud – as we should be very ashamed that Najib’s twin mega scandals are corrupting and contaminating every aspect of our national life.
This is the second last week of the current 25-day budget meeting and there are still no signs that Najib is ready to stand up in Parliament to clear his name and give a full and satisfactory accounting of his role in his twin mega scandals.
Is Najib going to flout all parliamentary tradition, conventions and practices to just continue to duck the issue of the twin mega scandals by refusing to personally answer the thousand-and-one questions from MPs in the entire 25-day budget meeting?
The Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has been publicly toying with proposals of parliamentary reforms, including the Prime Minister’s Question Day every week in Parliament, as is common in progressive Parliaments.
How can such a proposal of a Prime Minister’s Question Day has any chance of success when it is impossible to get Najib to be in Parliament to personally answer questions about his twin major scandals?
MPs and Malaysians are entitled to know whether Najib will personally answer in the current Parliament to give full and satisfactory accounting about his role in the twin mega scandals, or he will continue to duck to pass the buck to his Ministers and minions.