By Kee Thuan Chye
Jul 24, 2015
COMMENT Counter-measures to discredit the credibility of citizens and media organisations making allegations against Prime Minister Najib Razak and 1MDB are sick and getting out of hand.
And the reported latest action of limiting the movements of a few concerned citizens who have been in the thick of exposing what might be terribly wrong with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) appears to be sinister.
It also prompts the public to make connections – rightly or wrongly – between this latest measure and related incidents that have occurred in the last couple of months.
These include the arrest of former PetroSaudi International director Xavier Andre Justo in Thailand; the hoax perpetrated by the fictitious NGO Citizens for Accountable Governance Malaysia (CAGM) to entrap Malaysian online media and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); and the allegation made by former Sarawak Tribune editor Lester Melanyi of opposition leaders having colluded with Sarawak Report to tamper with 1MDB documents.
The inference one could make from all this is that some forces are doing their darnedest – and, in the process, sinking to the lowest depths – to tamper with the truth regarding 1MDB.
It begs questioning, too, that Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar appears to favour Lester’s allegation that “there are those who are attempting to overthrow the government through undemocratic means”.
Khalid has even said that the people named by Lester could be arrested.
Why would Khalid give more credence to Lester, a man who has admitted to The Malay Mail Online that he was paid to expose the so-called conspiracy, than the reports published by The Edge, Sarawak Report and WSJ alleging corruption and dirty dealings?
Are the arrests hinted at now pending?
Are the arrests, Khalid hinted at already pending, now that at least four main people who have been in the forefront of exposing 1MDB’s dubious activities are reportedly being investigated under Section 124 of the Penal Code and barred from travelling outside of Malaysia?
The four – DAP’s Tony Pua, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli, The Edge Media Group owner Tong Kooi Ong and its CEO Ho Kay Tat – are supposedly being investigated for allegedly indulging in activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy. If found guilty, they could face a maximum jail term of 20 years.
This sounds like repression, intimidation, and a sick joke. Because, when you consider what these people have stood for, borne out by their ideas, actions and words publicly expressed over the course of many years, you’d laugh at the notion that they would do anything to harm our democracy.
In fact, barring them from moving about freely, as guaranteed in the Federal Constitution is what harms parliamentary democracy.
I know Kay Tat personally, having been his colleague at the New Straits Times Group for several years, and can vouch for his professionalism as a journalist and his concern for doing the right thing for Malaysia. He sure as hell is not one to cause harm to the basic foundation of our nation.
The real people doing damage to it appear instead to be those who want to suppress the truth about 1MDB.
They, too, are the ones who would invest in efforts that incur a waste of energy, public funds, and time for the purpose of confusing the public.
If we are a democracy, let the truth come out. That’s the way it should be. That’s what those four good men are after.
All it takes is fair investigations
All it takes is for the investigations into the entire 1MDB mess and the allegations against it and Najib to be carried out fairly and impartially. And also for Najib to come out and convince us that the allegations against him are false, if they are.
He has not even said if the report by WSJ of US$700 million having been deposited into his private accounts is false. His silence implies the allegation is true, and if that is so, he could be charged with corruption and abuse of power.
But meanwhile, the manhunt is focused instead on high officials of 1MDB’s subsidiary companies and those of a company used as a conduit to transfer the alleged funds to Najib’s accounts. This appears more like going after scapegoats with the hope that prosecuting them eventually would be enough to appease the Malaysian public.
I don’t think that would be enough, though. I think the Malaysian public would not be satisfied until their prime minister is cleared of suspicion.
I also think that any attempt to kill the messengers and persecute the whistleblowers would be unjust. Any attempt to convince the public that the messengers and whistleblowers are part of a conspiracy to topple Najib would be heinous.
Pua, Rafizi, Tong and Ho should therefore not be investigated, least of all barred from leaving the country. DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang is right in calling them “patriots”. They are the real heroes in bringing us the truth about 1MDB.
We must support these heroes. They need us now, more than ever, to help them accomplish their noble quest.
When a nation persecutes its heroes – citizens who want what is good and right for the country – it is sick. It is damned. It is doomed.
We must not let our nation become that. We must speak out against repressive measures taken to intimidate citizens who mean well for the country. We must show our disapproval.
We must demand justice, decency and the truth. If we want to save our country, we have no other choice.
KEE THUAN CHYE is the author of the bestselling books No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians and Can We Save Malaysia, Please!