Was the admission by the Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Director and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan in his interview with BBC that “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” referred to in the US Department of Justice (DOJ)’s biggest kleptocratic action against 1MDB and Malaysia was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak a deliberate and intentional act, made with the knowledge, authority and approval of Najib himself and the Cabinet Ministers, or was it unauthorized, unintended and a sheer act of “hubris” infecting government leaders that they have become “untouchable” and could do no wrong or even if they are wrong, they enjoy immunity and impunity as there is nothing the Malaysian people could do about them?
The very fact that Abdul Rahman had to come out with an explanatory statement last evening on his BBC interview would indicate that his admission that “MO1” is none other than Najib had caught the government leadership and the Cabinet, by surprise – although there is no way to ascertain whether Abdul Rahman’s admission had caught Prime Minister himself by surprise.
This is one of the rare occasions where a Minister’s interview through the electronic media had to be followed by a written explanatory statement.
While hewing to the line and admission that the “MO1” is none other than Najib and that “only an idiot doesn’t know who that person was” (how many “idiots” are there in the Cabinet and was Datuk Paul Low, the Minister for “integrity” one of the “idiots”), Abdul Rahman was forced to proclaim his loyalty and fealty to Najib by declaring that “the difference between being named as the subject of a civil lawsuit and merely being referred to in an investigation, is black and white”.
Abdul Rahman cannot be wrong in claiming that the difference between being named as the subject of a civil lawsuit and merely being referred to an investigation is “black and white”, when the difference is more mundane – between a civil action “in rem” from an action “in personam”.
The difference between the five persons named in the DOJ lawsuits – Jho Low, Raja Shahrir Aziz bin Abdul Aziz, “Eric” Tan, Khadem Abdulla AL QUBAISI and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy AL-HUSSEINY – and the four persons referred by code, viz “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1”, “1MDB OFFICER 1”, “1MDB OFFICER 2” and “1MDB OFFICER 3” is a very simple and straightforward one: the DOJ filing is a “civil action in rem” (against the thing) for seizure of assets located primarily but not exclusively in the United States as a result of a series of criminal conduct amounting to an international conspiracy for theft, embezzlement, misappropriation and money-laundering of US$3.5 billion 1MDB funds and not an action “in personam” (against the person).
Before a Minister of His Majesty’s Government make a bigger fool of himself, I would advise Abdul Rahman to ask the Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali to give him an instant briefing between actions “in rem” and “in personam” as well as between civil and criminal actions.
Clearly, Abdul Rahman does not seem to be aware despite the passage of six weeks that the DOJ lawsuits do not preclude criminal action, as the forfeiture is but a first step to prevent dissipation of the specified assets.
Upon forfeiture of the assets, it is likely that there would be criminal proceedings to prosecute those responsible for the alleged misappropriation of 1MDB funds and the laundering of those funds in the United States and elsewhere.
But Malaysians must thank Abdul Rahman for his use of the language of “black and white”, for his analogy cannot be more appropriate, as he had unintentionally highlighted the most important aspect of the 1MDB scandal – the failure of the Malaysian government, led by the Prime Minister, his Cabinet and the top government leadership, to know the difference between white and black, right from wrong, as the entire Malaysian Government hierarchy has lost the moral compass to the extent that it could adopt a nonchalant attitude to the damning international indictment of Malaysia becoming an overnight global kleptocracy!
Najib has persistently denied that he had committed any wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal.
Without going into the grim disclosures about the series of criminal conduct in the international conspiracy spanning some ten countries and the shocking substance, depth and reach of the DOJ allegations of financial improprieties, the very fact that under Najib’s premiership, Malaysia has acquired the international infamy and opprobrium of being an overnight global kleptocracy is wrong enough to Malaysia – as it is wrong which represents the greatest national disservice any Prime Minister had done to Malaysia in the nation’s 59-year history!
Any other Malaysian who had committed such a grave and grievous wrong to Malaysia as to make the nation the contempt of the world and Malaysians unable to hold their heads high when abroad would deserve to be kept away for life!
The DOJ action had made two serious accusations, firstly, that “public officials and their associates” in Malaysia, some named specifically but others just referred to in code, of being active participants and co-conspirators of a multi-billion dollar international conspiracy to defraud 1MDB of billions of United States dollars; secondly, that Malaysia has overnight become a global kleptocracy.
Even if Malaysians could suspend judgment whether Najib, now that Abdul Rahman has admitted Najib is “MO1”, is guilty of as detailed in the DOJ filings of being a kingpin in the 1MDB global financial scandal, the nation’s good name and reputation warrants priority and immediate protection by purging and cleansing of the international indictment that Malaysia had become an overnight global kleptocracy.
National interests and imperatives do not allow a single day to pass without concrete and positive action to purge and cleanse Malaysia of the infamy and odium of an overnight global kleptocarcy.
This is why with the official admission by the government that “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” is Najib, an admission which the Cabinet should have the courage and conviction to admit six weeks ago when the DOJ lawsuits were first filed on July 20, it will be the height of national cowardice and irresponsibility if Cabinet dare not resolve that the Prime Minister should personally address the UN General Assembly to purge and cleanse Malaysia’s reputation as a “global kleptocracy” and convince the world community of the Malaysian government’s commitment to public integrity.
All patriotic Malaysian organizations and individuals should ask Najib whether he is capable of rising up to this greatest challenge of his premiership – to address the UN General Assembly to purge and cleanse the damning international indictment of Malaysia as a global kleptocacy?
Najib must subordinate his personal interests to national interests.
Whether Najib is “kingpin” of the 1MDB global scandal can wait as the the separate but even more important national interests of purging and cleansing Malaysia of the international indictment of an overnight global kleptocracy cannot wait and requires instant action.
After the government’s admission that “MALAYSIAN OFFICAL 1” is none other than Prime Minister Najib, what is its next step to protect and salvage Malaysia’s good name and reputation in the world?