Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s denial syndrome is the worst of all six Malaysian Prime Ministers when he could regard Singapore and Swiss crackdown on multibillion ringgit 1MDB embezzlement, money-laundering and corruption as “a problem of noise”.
Replying to a question on what his government was doing to re-establish the trust of investors at a panel discussion at a World Economic Forum meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Najib said the overall trajectory for Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia was positive, and he pointed to the long-term trend of rising foreign investment in his country as an expression of confidence.
He said: “The problem is a problem of perception, the problem is a problem of noise. The noise level is rather high, I admit it. But it belies the strong fundamentals and commitment [of] the Malaysian government to continued reforms.”
The Prime Minister cannot be more wrong, and he must be told in no uncertain terms that his premiership is now a liability and no more an asset to foreign investors weighing their options about their investments in Malaysia – unless he can come clean on the various financial and mismanagement scandals haunting and hounding the country for over a year.
How the two-pronged crackdown on Tuesday last week in the closure of the Singapore branch of BSI and the reference of the “top six” of BSI Singapore to the prosecutors for possible criminal action on the one hand and the commencement of criminal proceedings against the 143-year old Swiss mother bank by the Swiss authorities over “money laundering and corruption” offences relating to suspected embezzlement of US$4 billion from 1MDB and the bank’s liquidation on the other could be dismissed as “high noise level” beggars belief.
Nothing could be more surreal than the response from the Malaysian authorities, especially Bank Negara Malaysia, suggesting that while over half a dozen countries are not only investigating, but beginning to commence criminal proceedings, against institutions and individuals for money laundering and embezzlement of 1MDB funds of at least US$4 billion, these are regarded as irrelevant or non-events as far as Malaysia is concerned.
Now we see Najib’s denial syndrome, which borders on the bizarre, dismissing global crackdowns on multi-billion ringgit 1MDB embezzlement, money-laundering and corruption as “high noise level” when three months ago, the Edelman Trust Barometer Annual Global Study 2016 found that public trust in Malaysia in Putrajaya has been on a downward trajectory, with public trust in the government dipped by 7 percentage points from 46 per cent in the previous 2015 survey to 39 per cent among the general population and dropped 11 percentage points to 34 per cent among the informed public.
I dare say that public trust in Putrajaya, and particular in Najib as the Prime Minister, would have plunge further to unprecedented and precipitous depths in the last quarter, with all the clampdowns and lies in and out of Parliament.
Malaysia should not be complacent like the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Mustapah Mohamad who said at the World Economic Forum yesterday that the 1MDB scandal had no impact on medium-to-long term investments, when Malaysia’s World Competitiveness Year (WCY) 2016 ranking at No. 19 should serve as a warning, as it is the worst WCY ranking in the seven-year premiership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, with Malaysia ranked as No. 10 in 2010.
I fully agree with the former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that Najib should bear responsibility for the RM55 billion 1MDB scandal, because of his central and multiple roles in the 1MDB saga – not only as Chairman of the 1MDB Advisory Board, but the unique provision in Article 117 of the 1MDB Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A) which stipulates that no major decisions whether management, investment or monetary, could be made without the written authorisation of the Prime Minister.
As Muhuyiddin rightly pointed out yesterday, if 1MDB is unable to pay its gargantuan debts, the responsibility falls on the government to pay by utilising taxpayers’ money – in the end, the people have to bear the burden caused by the RM55 billion 1MDB scandal.
What Muhyiddin revealed yesterday is most shocking.
He said that most of the cabinet ministers whom he knew and have information on irregularities in 1MDB, particularly involving the prime minister, have chosen to remain quiet.
“Not a single minister dares to come forward to tell the truth; instead, there are those among them who feel comfortable to conspire in defending evils.
“This is the darkest episode in the history of leadership of our country. Those who choose to defend evils and protect falsehood are actually unfit to lead this country.”
Parliament and the national enforcement and investigative institutions have failed to save Malaysia from the RM55 billion global financial scandal.
This is why I am suggesting a colloquium on the RM1MDB Scandal in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar on how Malaysia had been catapulted to be among the world’s top nations notorious for global corruption and what could be done to save Malaysia from the repercussions of this global financial scandal.