1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)’s president and group executive director Arul Kanda Kandasamy was supposed to be overseas on an assignment making it impossible for him to attend the scheduled Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on the 1MDB scandal yesterday.
However, in the last two days, Arul had been unusually productive and accessible, making three media responses raising the question whether he is really overseas.
The first was 1MDB media statement on Monday in immediate response to the media conference by the PAC Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed that in place of the testimony by Arul and the former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Halmi, the PAC would move on to question the three firms that audited 1MDB.
In the statement, Arul reiterated that 1MDB will “extend its full co-operation” to the PAC and that both he and Shahrol “look forward to appearing before the committee and having the opportunity to clarify 1MDB’s position”.
The second was Arul’s statement yesterday refuting reports that 1MDB had only informed the PAC of the 1MDB duo’s no-show at the eleventh hour despite the notice to attend the hearing two weeks ago.
Arul said it was only on May 21 that 1MDB received a letter from the Ministry of Finance, appending the invitation sent by the PAC, raising the question why and who in the Finance Ministry who sat on the PAC requisition on May 6 summoning the 1MDB duo to the PAC hearing yesterday – and whether the Finance Ministry official concerned would be disciplined.
But it was Arul’s third media statement last evening which “cooked the goose” so to say.
Yesterday, Malaysiakini and The Malay Mail Online raised the question whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had complete control of 1MDB as all the 1MDB’s controversial deals had to be authorized and consented by him as Prime Minister.
The MMO report “Leaked documents show PM”s approval required for all deals under 1MDB precursor”, by Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, said:
The prime minister has the final say over any “financial commitment” undertaken by 1 Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) precursor, Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), according to TIA’s Memorandum and Articles of Association agreement.
1MDB was incorporated in 2009, after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the decision to turn TIA into a federal agency.
Clause 117 of the agreement inked on February 27, 2009, indicates that the prime minister must give his written approval for any of TIA’s deals, including the firm’s investments or any bid for restructuring.
The clause states that for any avoidance of doubt, none of three things can be executed “without the written prior approval of the prime minister”.
This includes “any financial commitment (including investment), restructuring or any other matter which is likely to affect the guarantee given by the Federal Government of Malaysia for the benefit of the company, national interest, national security or any policy of the Federal Government of Malaysia”.
The clause also stipulates that the government shall have the “final and conclusive” right to determine what constitutes national interest and national security.
Other matters which need the PM’s approval are amendments to the company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company and appointments and removal of directors and senior management team of TIA.
Malaysiakin in its exclusive report also highlighted the same issue, pointing out that should Clause 117 of the M&A dated Sept 2, 2009 remain at status quo until today, it would mean that the prime minister had given his consent to many of 1MDB’s controversial deals.
This would include the decision to move US$1.1 billion from Cayman Islands to a bank in Singapore, the deal with Mongolia-based company Gobi Coal & Energy Limited (GCE) and the sale of Tun Razak Exchange land to the Lembaga Tabung Haji, among others.
However, alll these doubts and queries have been put to rest by Arul’s third statement in the past two days, where he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that “the requirement to obtain the prime minister’s written approval for any financial deals undertaken by 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was never hidden from public knowledge”.
If true, Najib’s lie in his parliamentary answer about 1MDB’s US$1billion deposit from Cayman Islands in a Singapore bank pales into insignificance in comparison with the public and parliamentary charade which Najib is guilty of when he claimed that as Chairman of the 1MDB Board of Advisors, he was not responsible for the management of operation of 1MDB, when as Prime Minister, he has to give “written approval” for any of 1MDB’s deals.
This will be the first time in the nation’s history that a Prime Minister has been caught red-handed in such a charade on a grand scale.
In the circumstances, there should be an immediate halt to the parliamentary debate on the 11th Malaysia Plan for Najib to make a ministerial statement on his role in the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, followed by the two-day debate.
This would tantamount to a vote of confidence in Parliament as to whether Najib should continue as Prime Minister of Malaysia.