Since the arrest of the former PetroSaudi International (PSI) IT executive in Koh Samui, Thailand at around 3 pm on Monday (June 22) for attempting to blackmail his former employer on leaked information, we have seen “The Empire Strikes Back” on the six-year 1MDB scandal in Malaysia.
Suddenly, some Ministers have becoming quite articulate on the 1MDB scandal, with the Home Minister Datuk Zahid Hamidi claiming ominously that the former PSI executive Xavier Andre Justo in his interrogation by Thai police had implicated several Malaysians who had asked him to manipulate the leaked information which was passed to whistleblower site Sarawak Report.
He even said Putrajaya was prepared to extradite these individuals if there is request from Bangkok.
Zahid also threatened to act against local media that used the leaked information which had been the source of unremitting embarrassment to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak since the end of February when the Sarawak Report website and London’s Sunday Times newspaper reported in-depth investigations into the trail of the missing 1MDB missing billions after gaining 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.
PSI’s leaked information included communications with 1MDB that had embroiled the latter in controversy as it highlighted questionable transfer of funds to a company controlled by Malaysian billionaire Jho Low, who is close to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s family.
PSI and 1MDB have yet to deny these allegations but both insisted that it is based on “tampered” evidence.
Zahid appears to be unfazed when a police source from Thailand’s crime suppression division, which arrested Justo, told Malaysiakini that Interpol and the Malaysian authorities were not involved in the investigation.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek also made no mention of the blackmail and instead pledged to act against those who circulated the “tampered” information.
“We will not only work together with the police and the Thai authorities but against those who spread false information,” he said.
I do not see any zeal on Shabery’s part to take action against those who had spread not just “tampered” but downright lies and false and baseless allegations against the Opposition, like the baseless allegations that I was in Kuala Lumpur and had caused the May 13, 1969 riots when I was in fact in Kota Kinabalu and that the DAP wanted to create a Christian Malaysia.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also echoed this line of “tampered” information, calling the allegations levelled against 1MDB as being based on “distorted facts”.
Was Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, victim of this “tampered” leaked information when he told a meeting of UMNO Divisional leaders that the 1MDB scandal was the “last straw that breaks the camel’s back” (would Muhyiddin enlighten Malaysians what were the other “straws”?) and demanded that the “entire 1MDB Board” should be sacked. ( Did Muhyiddin know that this would include Najib as the final approving authority, in law and fact, for 1MDB decisions?)
Was the Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, another such victim when he protested last month against the claim that the entire Cabinet should be held responsible for the 1MDB scandal as he and his Cabinet colleagues were just as unclear as the public over the 1MDB’s controversial and opaque deals?
Now, Shafie’s lips are sealed forever as finds himself suddenly in the vortex of another fast-breaking UMNO scandal of the first order – the MARA properties acquisition corruption in Melbourne.
I have never heard of the existence of Justo until news report of his arrest in Thailand, but nobody really believes that his arrest would be able to save Najib and 1MDB.
I dare say that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians agree with former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that Justo’s arrest was “suspicious and appears planned”, and that “very clever propagandists were hard at work”, especially as Justo did not commit a crime in Thailand but in Saudi Arabia, and “Usually, other countries don’t care unless he is a terrorist.”
Mahathir should know what he is talking about as he had walked the corridors of power as the Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years!
Imagine Mahathir as a traitor hand-in-glove with Justo to tamper with leaked information?
I wonder whether Zahid was thinking of the country’s fourth Prime Minister when he toyed with the idea of “extraditing” Malaysians to Thailand to facilitate the Thai police in their interrogation of Justo.
Malaysians are not simpletons who can be easily fooled by latest turn-and-twist of the 1MDB scandal, as the question many are asking is: If 1MDB claims emails were tampered, why didn’t they lodge a report when Sarawak Report first published them?
It has also not escaped notice that in March, the police report lodged in the United Kingdom was over ‘stolen email’, not falsified information.
But most important of all, Najib and 1MDB had not been able to satisfy Parliament and the country of the thousand-and-one questions that have been raised about the viability, veracity and accountability of the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history.
Sarawak Report has responded to the offensive by Cabinet Ministers in “The Empire Strikes Back after four months”, insisting that regardless of the circumstances of how the leaked information was obtained, its content was not compromised and remained unchanged.
What is the “Empire Strikes Back”’s response to the challenge by Sarawak Report as well as concerned and patriotic Malaysians that Najib and 1MDB should show the proof how the emails were tampered with and how it clears Najib and 1MDB of responsibility for the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history?