Something happened in the 17 days between January 21 and Feb. 7 that transformed the “cari makan” Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Datuk Hasan Arifin, from a laggard dragging his feet on the PAC’s 1MDB investigations and even saying that the PAC cannot keep its deadline to submits its 1MDB report to Parliament next month into to a “speedster” who want the PAC investigations to be wrapped up this month so that the PAC report could be submitted to the March meeting of Parliament.
The only thing that is relevant to the Prime Minister Datuk Najib Raza’s twin mega scandals that happened during this period were the two actions by the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali firstly, his announcement on January 26 exonerating Najib of any criminal wrongdoing and that no charges would be brought against him in both the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International scandals and secondly, his interview with Sin Chew Daily on 6th February where he made the shocking disclosure that the Official Secrets Act (OSA) would be amended to impose heavier penalties on whistleblowers and journalists to deter them from leaks of government information to combat corruption, particularly grand corruption.
In both instances, Apandi ignited two international firestorms within a fortnight and Malaysia’s international image and credibility had never been reached such a low ebb in the nation’s 59-year history.
Hasan Arifin should explain whether he had received any directive to wrap up PAC’s 1MDB investigations and submit a favourable PAC report to the March Parliament after the adverse national and international firestorms to the AG’s exoneration of Najib and announcement to make the OSA even more draconian?
Hasan’s fervor in wanting to wrap up the PAC’s investigations into 1MDB and the comments by the Deputy Foreign Minister and a former PAC member, Reezal Merican Naina Merican, that the release of the PAC report on the 1MDB in Parliament nextmonth would bring closure to the 1MDB issues are not good signs that the PAC Report on 1MDB would be an independent and credible one?
Why is Reezal so confident that the PAC report on the 1MDB would be a favourable one and would bring closure to the 1MDB issues, when the Prime Minister’s boast in his 2016 New Year Message that the 1MDB issues had been resolved and the Attorney-General’s exoneration of Najib in the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International scandals have failed to end the issues, but generated even more questions about them?
Is Reezal already privy to the PAC Report even before PAC had completed its investigations?
When Hasan was elected as Chairman of PAC at the beginning of the 2016 budget meeting last October, I had said that he should be armed with the maxim “Let justice be done though the heavens fall” in discharging his duties as he will be faced with the test whether he is prepared to lead the PAC to serve the higher national interests if this conflict with his loyalty to the party, the UMNO/BN government coalition and the Prime Minister himself.
Hasan should not have accepted his appointment as PAC Chairman if he is not prepared to rise above party interests if they conflict with national interests, such as to take a stand against the transgressions if any of the Finance Minister-cum-Prime Minister, especially as he seems to be pivotally involved in all 1MDB’s key and strategic decisions.
This is now the time of judgment for Hasan as PAC Chairman as the question foremost in public minds is how the PAC could wrap up its 1MDB investigations when the most important witnesses have not been called, including the Attorney-General Apandi, former Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the Chief Commissioner for MACC, Tan Sri Abu Kassim, the MACC director (special operations) Bahri Mohamed Zin, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and the former Special Branch deputy director Datuk Abdul Hamid Bador and of course the two most important witnesses for PAC investigations into 1MDB – the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Penang-born billionaire Jho Low.
Hasan’s insistence on wrapping up the PAC investigations into 1MDB without summoning Najib and Jho Low is not only incomprehensible but most reprehensible when the PAC under the former Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohd had earlier decided on July 24 last year that Low Taek Jho should appear before it on Sept. 8 to testify on the 1MDB scandal.
Furthermore, Nur Jazlan had said on record that he would summon the Prime Minister as witness before the PAC “if necessary”.
But these two events were before Najib’s executive and parliamentary purges which saw the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Senior Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, the dissolution of the high-powered multi-agency Special Task Force investigating the 1MDB and the four-month sabotage of PAC investigations into 1MDB, as well as the arrest, instant transfers and general intimidation of independent and conscientious officers in the major government enforcement agencies.
There can be no doubt that it would be necessary to summon Najib before the PAC as Najib is the only person, apart from Jho Low, who knows the ins-and-outs of the RM2.6 billion ‘donation’ and RM55 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals in the past six years, as Arul Kanda Kandasamy is only the latest ‘operative’ to join the ‘revolving-door’ teams of operatives who had been employed to take orders to run the 1MDB in the past six years.
What boggles the mind is Hasan’s announcement that the PAC would wrap up its 1MDB investigations this week itself, leaving the last two dates of the PAC investigations into 1MDB on Feb. 24 and 25, when the Auditor-General will present the final report on 1MDB.
It would appear that as far as Hasan is concerned, there would be no more PAC investigations into 1MDB after the submission of the Auditor-General’s final report on 1MDB.
This is a most extraordinary state of affairs, to say the least, for the very purpose of PAC is to conduct further investigations based on the Auditor-General’s Report.
What the PAC should do is to table in the March meeting of Parliament its First Report on 1MDB, accompanied by the Auditor-General’s interim and final reports on 1MDB.
The PAC should present its Second Report on 1MDB based on further investigations on 1MDB based on the Auditor-General’s Final Report.