Will the Cabinet tomorrow discuss the violation of Malaysia’s 17-year Bill of Guarantee to the world of “No Internet censorship” in blocking access to Sarawak Report website or no Minister would dare to express disagreement?
In fact, it is not only the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is under a “cloud” with regard to his commitment to the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance (which are supposed to be the foundation principles of his highly-hyped National Transformation Programme), the integrity of the entire Cabinet is also under question.
This will be the first time in Malaysian history that the integrity of the entire Cabinet has come under a cloud.
Yesterday, I asked the newly-minted Barisan Nasional strategic communication director and Minister for Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan whether he could “declare publicly that he and UMNO Sabah had not received a single sen from Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts in AmBank for the 13th General Election campaign”, referring in particular to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report of July 2 that Malaysian government investigators have found US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) deposited into the Prime Minister’s personal bank accounts in March 2013 just before the dissolution of Parliament and the holding of the 13th General Election.
It is no surprise that there is thunderous silence from Abdul Rahman on this question.
In fact, this question should also be directed to all Ministers in the Cabinet.
Can every Cabinet Ministers declare whether or not he or she had received any funding from Najib through the Prime Minister’s personal accounts in AmBank for the 13th General Election campaigning, and if so, to state the amount and whether the Cabinet Ministers concerned would not participate in any Cabinet discussion or decision relating to the WSJ report on July 2 and 1MDB scandal, in view of their conflict-of-interest position?
Yesterday, former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir blogged about the WSJ report that RM2.6 billion deposited into Najib’s personal accounts in Marcy 2013, saying:
“ There is no denial that money was deposited in the private account. The explanation to UMNO is that it was for the elections. UMNO seems satisfied. Don’t they know that Government money cannot be used to help a political party to win elections? But the money was from donation. Who donated 2 billion Ringgit? No answer.”
What is the response of the high-powered special task force investigation into the WSJ report and 1MDB into this revelation by the former Prime Minister?
Were the funds in Najib’s personal accounts used for 13th General Election campaigning by all Barisan Nasional candidates or only for UMNO candidates?
If the former, there would not a single Cabinet Minister who would qualify to be involved in any Cabinet discussion or decision relating to the WSJ report and 1MDB as every Cabinet Minister would be tainted with “conflict-of-interest” situation.
If it is the latter where only UMNO candidates benefitted from the funding in Najib’s personal bank accounts, then all the UMNO Ministers, including the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should withdraw and not participate in any Cabinet discussion or decision relating to the WSJ report and 1MDB scandal.
In such a situation, a Minister from Sarawak or Sabah should chair the Cabinet meeting to decide what should be the appropriate government response to the WSJ report and 1MDB scandal.
Among the questions such a non-UMNO Cabinet should decide is whether the “special task force” should be replaced by a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the WSJ allegations and the 1MDB scandal.
This is because nobody really knows what are terms of reference, powers, scope or even worse, the composition of the “special task force”, whether it comprises four or only three agencies – whether the Attorney-General Chambers’ is part of the “special task force” or only Bank Negara Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
When the “special task force” was first announced, Malaysians were told that it comprised four agencies and would be headed by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail.
But this appears to be contradicted when former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman on Thursday called on Gani to dissociate himself from the special task force, as it was not desirable for Gani, as the public prosecutor, to be a member of the task force.
Abu Talib reminded Gani that the role of the public prosecutor concerning investigations was to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to charge offenders, and this was a check-and-balance principle that ensured justice for all.
In a joint statement on the same day by the other three Tan Sris on the special task force, namely, Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, they stressed that there is no issue of the Attorney-General influencing the ongoing probe into the WSJ report and 1MDB as the Attorney-General is only referred to for guidance and legal advice to ensure the investigation is done holistically and in accordance to the law.
One would therefore assume that the special task force is not a four-agency but a three-agency body, and that the Attorney-General is not head of the special task force.
But comments from Cabinet Ministers in the past few days show that as far as they are concerned, the Attorney-General is still head of the special task force.
What is the actual situation – Is the Attorney-General the head of the special task force or not, and if not, who is the head?
It does not inspire confidence that the Najib Government is serious in wanting to get to the bottom of the WSJ report and 1MDB scandal when Malaysians cannot get a quick answer to such a simple and straightforward question.
The strongest reasons why the special task force should be replaced by a Royal Commission of Inquiry of independent and credible Malaysians are firstly, the special task force comprise officers who are subordinate to the Prime Minister who is the subject of the inquiry; and secondly, all the four agencies, the Attorney-General Chambers, Bank Negara Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should themselves be the subject of investigation for their negligence and failure to act promptly to uphold the law with regard to the substance of the WSJ report and 1MDB scandal.
With such an ominous background, one should not only ask whether the Cabinet tomorrow would overrule the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for violating Malaysia’s 17-year Bill of Guarantee to the world of “No Internet censorship” and direct it to stop blocking access to Sarawak Report website, but whether all the Ministers, UMNO and non-UMNO, would declare their interests – whether they are tainted from participating in any Cabinet discussion and decision on the WSJ report and 1MDB scandal because they had received funding from Najib’s personal bank accounts for the 13th General Election campaigning.