— Koon Yew Yin
Malay Mail Online
August 31, 2015
AUGUST 31 — Two big issues have taken up the national attention during the past few weeks. One is the Bersih rally or what can be called the cleaning of Malaysia organised by civil society activists. The second is the 1MDB scandal which can be called the cleaning up of Malaysia organised by Putrajaya.
The first one cost taxpayers — or rather donors —several millions of ringgit. Though the full accounts are not in yet, we know that thousands of ordinary Malaysian dipped into their own pockets to pay for this activity. Much of the money is in small change – tens to hundreds of ringgit. The funds will be used to defray the costs of organising rallies held throughout the country to demand the cleaning up of our political system as well as to save our economy. The objectives of Bersih 4 in summary are as follows:
Clean Elections (#PilihanrayaBersih);
Clean Government (#KerajaanBersih);
Save Our Economy (#SelamatkanEkonomi); and
Right to Dissent (#HakMembantah).
That so many members of the public — in the country and wherever there are large Malaysian emigre communities including in 10 cities across the world — are willing to contribute to the Bersih cause in a transparent and accountable way as well as join in the struggle to bring about a clean Malaysia has resulted in panic in Putrajaya and completely freaked out various government leaders .
Thus we have seen the police refusing to approve the rally permit because of the alleged failure of the organisers to submit details of the rally route etc. This desperate act by the authorities was followed by the gangster-like and threatening but totally unenforceable statement by the Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican that his Ministry was gathering information on Malaysians participating in the Bersih 4 demonstrations abroad for eventual legal action against them. Finally, and this should qualify in the Guinness Book of Records as the most ludicrous, surreal and pathetic act of official repression was the gazette notice banning yellow clothing and “Bersih 4” words.
1MDB swindle cleaning out Malaysia
The second big issue relates to 1MDB, a strategic development company, wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia. 1MDB was established to drive strategic initiatives for long-term economic development for the country by forging global partnerships and promoting foreign direct investment. This activity will cost tax payers not tens or hundreds of million ringgit. At last count, 1MDB had accumulated debts to the extent of RM42 billion. This has caused bonds issued by 1MDB to be reduced to junk status by rating agencies such as Standard and Poor and Fitch .
Unlike Bersih 4 which really did not cost the ordinary Malaysian citizen a single cent and in which no money is being paid to any hidden hands or commission agents so far as known, the 1MDB money has been used to pay off various commission agents. These commission agents include the following:
*Jho Low USUS$700 million
*Goldman Sachs USUS$600 million
*Other intermediaries appear to have cashed in on 1MDB work including auditing companies such as KPMG and Ernst & Young.
When the final official accounting of 1MDB funds is in we may see other names being listed as helping to siphon off funds and commissions from 1MDB. One name that is high on the suspect list is Prime Minister Najib Razak. According to the former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir in an interview with Financial Times, the RM2.6 billion in deposits in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s personal bank accounts is linked to troubled state fund 1MDB. This is despite the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) declaring that the money was a donation and was not linked to 1MDB.
To give a better idea of what 1MDB RM42 billion can do, here is some comparison:
A. It is nine to ten times more than the entire allocation provided to Sabah and Sarawak in the 2015 budget to upgrade facilities in rural areas.
B. It is almost enough to cover the entire development expenditure allocation for the entire country for one year.
C. It is also almost enough to cover the entire salary bill for all the civil servants in the country for one year.
D. It is clear from what has emerged that the 1MDB affair is costing taxpayers a bomb and is cleaning out our treasury.
No wonder it is turning out to be the mother of all financial scandals for this decade and is rivalling the mega-financial scandals of Mahathir’s time!
No wonder this Merdeka day, all Malaysians are feeling so much poorer. No wonder Putrajaya is so desperate to use Bersih as another tool to divide the Malays and the Chinese.
No wonder this Merdeka day, we need to support Bersih and other efforts aimed at cleansing Malaysia and getting rid of a Government that is taking us the quick route to national financial bankruptcy and disaster.