Ever since the beginning of the new year, the Prime Minister and his advisers-propagandists have been hard at work to manufacture a mirage for Malaysians, that all is fine in Malaysia and the multitude of political, economic, good governance and nation-building crisis converging in the country are the mere publicity creations of Opposition politicians and anti-Barisan Nasional NGOs and electronic media which have no grounding in reality.
Hence the up-beat 2016 New Year Message by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak that his world-class twin mega scandals have been resolved and no more issues in the country, which is supposed to be solidified by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali’s exoneration of Najib earlier this week of any crime or wrongdoing in the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International scandals.
But Najib’s “house of cards” that everything is fine in Malaysia started to tumble down immediately when the response to the Attorney-General’s exoneration of Najib, both locally and internationally, was one of shock, outrage and rejection resulting in an ongoing controversy as to whether Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy and constitution permitted an Attorney-General to act like a dictator with no regard to the fundamental precept of the Rule of Law that “every legal power must have legal limits”.
In the past 24 hours, the saying “It never rains but it pours” seems to best describe Najib’s world-class twin mega scandals and the serious multi-faceted Malaysian crisis today.
There was firstly the incisive commentary by CNBC entitled “Why Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal is denting growth” which led off with the poser: “Thought the long-running political scandal over Malaysia’s deeply indebted sovereign fund was over?” and the ominous answer from Oxford Economics, one of the world’s foremost independent global economic think-tanks: “It isn’t and the festering scandal is likely to weigh on the economy and may eventually spur a ratings downgrade.”
Christine Shields, lead economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note yesterday:
“Just as it appeared that the long-running scandal over state investment company 1MDB had been satisfactorily resolved, the issue has reignited with an appeal against the ruling exonerating the prime minister. The issue is a real worry as it is eroding confidence and contributing to risk aversion about the country.”
This sombre and worrying development is followed by a Reuter report entitled “Swiss AG suspects US$4 billion (RM16.6 billion) misappropriated, seeks Malaysia’s help”, which states:
“Switzerland’s chief prosecutor said yesterday he has formally asked Malaysia for help with his probe into possible violations of Swiss law by the state-owned fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), saying suspected misappropriations amounted to about US$4 billion (RM16.6 billion).
“The office of Swiss attorney-general Michael Lauber said the request pertained to possible violations of Swiss laws related to bribery of foreign officials, misconduct in public office, money-laundering and criminal mismanagement at 1MDB.”
The Reuter report continued:
“The Swiss statement said Lauber’s investigation had already ‘revealed serious indications that funds have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies.’
“Those funds ‘would have been earmarked for investment in economic and social development projects in Malaysia,’ the Swiss official said.
“The Swiss prosecutor said the misappropriated amount was suspected to be around US$4 billion.
“He said a small portion of the money had been transferred to accounts held in Switzerland by former Malaysian public officials and current and former public officials from the United Arab Emirates.
“The statement said the prosecutor wanted legal assistance from Malaysian companies involved to try to find out whether ‘losses on this scale have been sustained.’
“The Swiss attorney-general’s office opened criminal proceedings last August against two former 1MDB officials as well as ‘persons unknown.’
“The statement yesterday said Lauber had discussed the case with his Malaysian counterpart at a meeting in Zurich in September.
“Sources familiar with the September discussion between the two law enforcement officials said that the Malaysian official strongly urged Lauber to abandon his 1MDB-related investigation.”
A prompt official response from the Malaysian government to the request by the Swiss prosecutor and the Swiss statement is warranted, in particular whether the Malaysian Government would extend fullest co-operation with the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office and whether it is true that Malaysian officials had tried to persuade the Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber to abandon his 1MDB-related investigation.
If so, who was this Malaysian official who tried to persuade the Swiss Attorney-General to drop investigations into 1MDB.