Until 18 months ago, 1MDB was a national scandal, the subject of constant parliamentary questions and badgering by DAP MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua and the PKR MP for Pandan, Rafizi Ramli the previous five years – with Pua asking his first question in Parliament about the 1MDB scandal with regard to the rationale of 1MDB investment in PertroSaudi International as far back as March 2010.
But 18 months ago, the 1MDB scandal escalated and graduated from a national into an international scandal.
I remember I was in Labis on the evening of 1st March 2015 to take part in a DAP Chinese New Year kopitiam ceramah, and just before my turn to speak, I read on the Internet the shocking expose by the Sarawak Report whistleblower website in its “Heist of the Century” article which announced that together with London Sunday Times, they had completed an in-depth investigation into the 1MDB scandal.
It claimed to have obtained access to thousands of documents and emails relating to transactions by 1MDB, including its initial joint venture with the little known oil company PetroSaudi International from 2009.
It alleged that the documents establish that, in spite of copious official denials, the entire joint venture project was conceived, managed and driven through by the Prime Minister’s associate and family friend the party-loving billionaire tycoon, Jho Low and that the documents also prove that the USD$700 million so-called “loan” that was supposedly repaid to PetroSaudi as part of the joint venture agreement, was actually a “front” to channel the money to a company controlled by Jho Low.
It was a shocking tale about the makings of the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history. At the time, the figure quoted for the 1MDB scandal was RM42 billion, which was already the greatest of all the financial scandals in the country, eclipsing even the worst and biggest of financial scandals in the country’s history, whether the RM2.5 billion BMF (Bumiputra Malaysia Finance) scandal, Bank Negara forex exchange scandal, Maminco, MAS and Perwaja scandals.
Now the 1MDB scandal would have ballooned easily from RM42 billion to RM55 billion as the RM42 billion figure was for 1MDB liabilities on March 2014 – some 30 months ago – as the audited accounts for 1MDB for the past two years remain in the realm of mystery to the public including parliamentarans!
The tragedy of the 1MDB scandal is that in retrospect, all the grave allegations whether in the Sarawak Report in the article “Heist of the Century”, or in international newspapers like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, both before and after the “Heist in the Century” article, had withstood the test of time and neither 1MDB nor the Malaysian Government had been able to puncture or cast doubt on the veracity of anyone of the serious and myriad allegations about the theft, embezzlement, misappropriation and money-laundering of billions of ringgit of 1MDB funds – with the “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” cast like a spider at the centre of the spider web.
For the past 18 months, the honour, dignity, reputation and integrity of the Malaysian Prime Minister, the Malaysian Government and the Malaysian nation had been haunted and hounded by the 1MDB international scandal, dragged through the coals, becoming ever bigger and more monstrous with the passage of time instead of being minimised or resolved.
Najib boasts of “National Transformation” programmes for the country but the greatest irony of all is his success in “transforming” 1MDB first from a national into a international scandal; and secondly, from an international scandal involving the kleptocracy of a Prime Minister into one involving the nation as to whether Malaysia has become an overnight global kleptocracy.
This happened some seven weeks ago when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its single largest kleptocracy lawsuit for the forfeiture of US$1 billion of assets resulting from the theft, embezzlement, misappropriation and money-laundering of US3.5 billion 1MDB funds in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
From July 20, Malaysia acquired a new infamy as a “global kleptocracy”, which should be an acid test of patriotism and loyalty for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or political affiliation, as every patriotic and nationalistic Malaysian must bristle and object to be regarded as a citizen of a “global kleptocracy” as “kleptocracy” is defined as rule by a thief or thieves.
The greatest disservice that the Najib administration has done to Malaysia is to take such an international indictment as a “global kleptocracy” in stride, as if it is the commonest thing for a government or nation to be named and identified not only as a “kleptocracy” but a “global kleptocracy”!
Neither the government nor the various national enforcement and investigative institutions in the country had sought the co-operation of the US authorities for information about the serious allegations of theft, embezzlement, misappropriation and money-laundering of billions and tens of billions of ringgit of 1MDB funds, although “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” which one Minister had admitted was the Prime Minister himself, had been profiled as playing a kingpin role in the “Heist of the Century”, nor had Parliament been convened in a special patriotic session to defend, purge and cleanse Malaysia of the international infamy of being identified as an overnight global kleptocracy.
It has been reported today that the former Second Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah has admitted that the 1MDB scandal was the real reason why he had left the Cabinet and dissociated himself from the 1MDB scandal.
Husni was appointed the Cabinet spokesman on 1MDB in June last year but he gave up on this role after his efforts to “defend the indefensible” proved futile and even infantile in a matter of months.
He was under heavy stress for several months as he was tasked with resolving the growing 1MDB scandal although he was never part of the debt-ridden sovereign fund when it was first set up.
The stress over the 1MDB scandal caused Husni to suffer prolonged high blood pressure.
He contemplated resigning since January this year but could not bring himself to do it.
However, on one fateful Saturday in April while he was flying to the meeting of Asean finance ministers in Laos, he fell ill in the afternoon due to rising blood pressure.
“I told the officers (with me) that I can’t attend the meeting in the evening,” Husni told Sinar Harian in an interview.
A senior Bank Negara officer then asked why Husni was being hard on himself over 1MDB even though he was not involved in the scandal.
“Those words opened my heart… I had to separate work, things that do not involve me and my condition.
“I felt relieved (after resigning). 1MDB no longer disturbs my mind and heart.”
Husni said he took the elevated blood pressure which he suffered for some five hours at the time as a sign from Allah.
Husni abruptly resigned from his position during a cabinet reshuffle in June, when he also resigned from all party positions.
In his interview, Husni lamented about “hypocrites” who dealt with corruption issues and shared that he was once criticised when he proposed efforts to improve Malaysia’s standing in Transpareny International’s corruption perception index.
The 1MDB had not only made Husni sick, but the Malaysian nation and 30 million Malaysians sick.
This is the time for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, religion or party politics, to take a common patriotic stand in a national and international campaign to defend the international good name and reputation of Malaysia and to purge and cleanse Malaysia of the international indictment and infamy of an overnight global kleptocracy.
The question is whether there are enough Malaysians to save Malaysia from the first international scandal to hit Malaysia and purge and cleanse Malaysia of the infamy of being an overnight global kleptocracy.
Is Husni prepared to lead such a national and international campaign to save Malaysia from the infamy of an overnight global kleptocracy, so that he is not the only one who would be healed but the whole country and 30 million Malaysians could be healed from the serious 1MDB sickness?
(Speech at the Gelang Patah DAP Pesta Tanglung in Gelang Patah on Sunday, 11th Sept. 2016 at 9 pm)