The thirty minutes of the live streaming of the press conference of the United States Attorney-General Loretta E. Lynch, accompanied by other top US officials including Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, FBI Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe and others at Malaysian time 11.30 pm last night on the invocation of the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative to recover more than $1 billion obtained from corruption involving the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB, had been the most shameful, humiliating and mortifying experience for me as a Malaysian, and I believe for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, who love Malaysia and wants Malaysia to be respected all over the world.
Imagine, Malaysians who have dignity and pride about their nation, having to listen the US Attorney-General Lynch telling the whole world:
“The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption.
“With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people. Instead, they were stolen, laundered through American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates. Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes. ”
Or the US Assistant Attorney-General Caldwell who said:
“According to the allegations in the complaints, this is a case where life imitated art.The associates of these corrupt 1MDB officials are alleged to have used some of the illicit proceeds of their fraud scheme to fund the production of The Wolf of Wall Street, a movie about a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven. But whether corrupt officials try to hide stolen assets across international borders – or behind the silver screen – the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that there is no safe haven.”
Or US Attorney Decker who said: “Stolen money that is subsequently used to purchase interests in music companies, artwork or high-end real estate is subject to forfeiture under U.S. law. … All of us are committed to sending a message that we will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt, a platform for money laundering or a place to hide and invest stolen riches.”
Or the FBI Deputy Director McCabe who said: “The United States will not be a safe haven for assets stolen by corrupt foreign officials. Public corruption, no matter where it occurs, is a threat to a fair and competitive global economy. The FBI is committed to working with our foreign and domestic partners to identify and return these stolen assets to their legitimate owners, the Malaysian people.”
Or Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) who said:
“Today’s announcement underscores the breadth of the alleged corruption and money laundering related to the 1MDB fund. We cannot allow the massive, brazen and blatant diversion of billions of dollars to be laundered through U.S. financial institutions without consequences.”
I believe many Malaysians share my shame and sorrow last night that the good name of the country, diligently built up generations of patriotic Malaysians in the past six decades, have been brought so low as to be equated with the most corrupt and the most heinous of global embezzlement, money-laundering and corruption, catapulting Malaysia to one of the top nations in the world in the league of global corruption.
Yesterday morning, when it was reported that the US authorities were set to seize assets linked to 1MDB “in the largest asset seizure in US history” in the war against global corruption, I asked whether yesterday’s Cabinet meeting had discussed the breaking news in the United States.
I said that if these breaking news reports were true and correct, it would be a “day of infamy” for Malaysia – a culmination of the host of global infamies which the country had suffered in the past year, from being named by the international website, foreignpolicy.com, as the host country for the world’s third “worst corruption scandal of 2015” at the end of last year, to being cited by Time Magazine in March this year as the second worst example of current global corruption and in May, rising to number two in the Economist index of crony capitalism, just behind Russia – all because of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” twin mega scandals.
It has in fact turned out into a day of infamy, a day when all Malaysians who love the nation regardless of race, religion or region, can only cringe in shame, and cry as to why their beloved country had been brought so low as to suffer such international humiliation.
The government has so far come out with very lame and tame responses.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s press secretary Tengku Sarifuddin Tengku Ahmad said that the government will fully cooperate with any lawful investigation of Malaysian companies or citizens in accordance with international protocol, and that the Malaysian authorities have led the way in investigations into 1MDB.
The facts are the very opposite, with the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB still classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), while Malaysians and the world will not forget the purges involving the Deputy Prime Minister, a senior Minister, the Attorney-General and the chiefs of key investigating and enforcement agencies who were regarded as independent or professional enough in wanting the get to the bottom of Najib’s twin global scandals.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak has urged the people not to jump to conclusions in regard to claims about 1MDB made in the United States.
Surely, the government, from the Prime Minister and new Attorney-General onwards, were not caught by surprise by the action by the US Department of Justice under the Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative?
In fact, in the past ten months since the New York Times first reported on Sept. 22 last year that a US federal grand jury was examining allegations of corruption involving 1MDB under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative 2010, I had made at least a dozen speeches or media statements on the subject.
The next day on Sept. 23, I had asked whether Malaysia had a kleptocrat as a Prime Minister?
In my speech in Johor Baru on 10th October, I had asked whether the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who was visiting Washington and had met the FBI at the time, whether he was afraid to ask FBI whether Najib was being investigated by the US Department of Justice under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative 2010 for fear of an affirmative answer?
This was what Zahid told Malaysian press in Washington at the time:
“Nothing on 1MDB was raised by the FBI or John Kerry (Secretary of State) or any party that I met when I was in Washington.
“(1MDB) is not a big issue to them at all.
“”Maybe the issue is big as it is shouted about in the country (Malaysia) because in our country it is used as a political issue.”
On 12th November, I had suggested in Sandakan that US President Obama should be asked the specific question when he visited Malaysia whether FBI and US Department of Justice were investigating Najib under the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010 in connection with the 1MDB scandal.
With the latest world-shaking developments over the action by the US authorities over the 1MDB-linked assets, Malaysians cannot continue to pretend that we can be “business as usual” on the 1MDB issue, although the mainstream Bahasa Malaysia and English media pretend that nothing has happened by “blacking” out the US developments.
I call for Special Parliament meeting before National Day to establish an International Royal Commission of Inquiry into Najib’s RM55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” mega scandals to regain world respect for Malaysia as country which upholds rule of law and serious about national integrity.
(Media Conference Statement at DAP KL Hqrs on Thursday, 21st July 2016 at 1 pm)