Three days after his appointment as the new Second Finance Minister, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said he has made 1MDB one of his priorities and pledged to resolve the state investment fund’s problems transparently.
He promised that the government would address the issues raised in the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) report on 1MDB and said: “What had been raised in PAC report – whatever or whoever that caused (problems in) 1MDB – definitely action will be taken.
It speaks volumes that the new Second Finance Minister should be making such an assurance about the PAC Report on 1MDB which was submitted to Parliament on April 7, which could only mean that the Finance Ministry has yet to take seriously the recommendations of the PAC report although it had been made public for nearly three months on a financial scandal which had catapulted Malaysia to world attention for global corruption?
This is most shocking especially when the PAC Report on 1MDB only revealed the “tip of the iceberg” of the financial chicanery and fraud and global embezzlement, money-laundering and corruption which is now the subject of investigation by seven other countries, but despite its weak and minor recommendations, the Finance Ministry has yet to take full action to implement the PAC recommendations after the passage of nearly three months.
This shows that the Finance Ministry does not have the political will or capability to resolve the RM55 billion 1MDB global scandal and ensure full accountability to who is responsible, for the simple reason that the person who must bear the greatest responsibility of the nation’s first global scandal is none other than the Finance Minister himself – who happens to be the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
This single fact has undermined the capability of the PAC, under its “cari makan” chairman, Datuk Arifin Hasan, to conduct a professional and comprehensive inquiry into the 1MDB scandal or come out with a proper and commensurate report, which should at least have included the recommendation for the separation of the office of Finance Minister from the post of Prime Minister.
As far as I can remember, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Mahathir had doubled up as Finance Minister while being Prime Minister for a short period, but it had not brought about a disaster or scandal like the RM55 billion 1MDB scandal in the case of the premiership of Najib.
After Najib’s disastrous example, there should be an unwritten rule in Malaysia that a Prime Minister should not double up as Finance Minister – but such a most basic and fundamental recommendation escaped the PAC’s attention, simply because it could not be independent and professional as it has a “cari makan” Chairman.
Why is Johari playing the old record about resolving the 1MDB issue “transparently” when the Finance Minister himself is not prepared to make any such commitment or the 1MDB issue would be behind the country long ago?
Johari is no stranger in the Ministry of Finance, as he had been Deputy Finance Minister for close to a year.
What did he do to ensure discipline, responsibility and accountability as these lapses had been responsible for the 1MDB scandal.
In fact, the question should be asked whether the 1MDB scandal was the real reason Datuk Seri Husni Hanazlah had thrown in his towel and resigned as Second Finance Minister?
In his two months as Cabinet spokesman on 1MDB, Husni had never issued more misleading statements, half lies and downright falsehoods about the 1MDB and it is no exaggeration to say that in those two months, Husni virtually destroyed his reputation for credibility and integrity which he has painstakingly built up for over two decades.
If Johari is not to be the next political victim of the 1MDB scandal, he should be courageous enough to demand full government accountability for the 1MDB scandal by firstly making public the Auditor-General’s Report on the 1MDB which had been submitted to the Public Accounts Committee; secondly, support the PAC continuing 1MDB investigations so as to come out with comprehensive and in-depth recommendations; and thirdly, persuade Najib to appear before the PAC to give testimony on 1MDB.