More interesting things, especially on democracy and Malaysia, are taking place on social media and on late nights when I do have the time, I usually spent it surfing through Facebook instead of writing a post for the blog. Another is that I have gone “back to school” and I managed to get one of the certificates that I targeted to get this year. Unfortunately, it is just a start and I have another target to meet in the next few months. So, it is back to doing revisions and the dreaded homework in the coming months. Image: Pinterest
And times are tough and times are not right for one to simply sit back and take things easy. Work too has been piling up over the last few months and the expectations from both in and out of the organisation have been very, very demanding.
(A message by the first Prime Minister in 1988 that is still relevant in 2015. Dr M is feeling the same heat and frustrations that Tunku once had and this is called the law of karma. What is needed is to do the right things)
If one is reading about the history of Malaysia in the distinct future, he will note that the events that had been happening in 2nd half of this year as the most interesting ones in the history of Malaysia.
We all by now would have read about the USD700 million (RM2.6 billion) that went into Najib’s personal account – thanks to WSJ – and how some minions fought tooth and nail to deny that and say that it was a lie and is a conspiracy against a democratically elected government.
And funny things started to happen – the Deputy Prime Minister was effectively got sacked, the PAC members investigating 1MDB were promoted to be Ministers and that effectively ended the PAC investigation and MACC (interesting determined to catch the big fish this time) was much harassed by the police and then RM2.6 billion turned out to be true and with another twist.
There are many articles, news feed and even blogs that have written their’ piece of the story, analysis and accusations but I think this one from the Old Man himself somehow summarises the situation in Malaysia at the moment and nails the questions and confusion that is prevailing on everyone’s mind:-
1. I used to enjoy being asked about Malaysia when I am abroad. But not now.
2. The foreigners and Malaysians living abroad ask, “What is happening to Malaysia?”
3. “It seems to be like one of those African or Arab countries.”
4. “It is totally corrupt. The currency has depreciated”. Etc. Etc.
5. I cannot answer truthfully. I cannot lie either. It is embarrassing. And all this is because of the 1MDB and Najib.
6. I began to feel there was something wrong with the 1MDB when The Edge published that it had bought power plants above market price and borrowed money paying commissions of 10% and interest rate of 5.9%.
7. I waited for the Government to deny that what was published by The Edge was correct. The Government did not. Then I know there was something very wrong.
8. Subsequently came the stories about a JV with Petrosaudi. It was too quick. Obviously no due diligence was done. Yet 1MDB paid 1 billion U.S. (3.8billion Ringgit) for its 40% share.
9. Then 1MDB paid another US 700 million to settle debts incurred by Petro-Saudi to Petro Saudi International. Why should 1MDB pay. The JV should pay.
10. But within 6 months of setting up the JV, it was dissolved. Had a good due diligence been done, this JV would not have been set up. Clearly it was not a viable proposition!
11. The 1.7 billion US should now be returned to 1MDB. But No! It was converted into a loan (Murabahah) to Petrosaudi. This is extremely unusual. If you could not work with Petrosaudi as a JV partner how could you give it such a huge loan.
12. Then the money seems to have disappeared. It was previously reported to be deposited in banks in Hong Kong and Seychelles, invested in something or other and was supposed to end up in the Cayman Islands.
13. Concerned Malaysians demanded that the money be returned to Malaysia. An announcement was made that a portion had been returned to Malaysia but was used to pay debts and other expenses. Malaysia wanted more information especially as a 2 billion Ringgit interest on loans could not be paid. 1MDB just had no money. So where is the money from the Caymans. Why should Ananda Krishnan offer 2 billion Ringgit to help pay the interest. Government had to provide a stand-by loan of RM900 million.
14. Things did not look right. Then 1MDB announced that the rest of the money from Cayman Islands had been received in cash. Arul, the CEO, claimed he saw the money. The PM said the money was deposited in a Singapore Bank. It was not brought back to Malaysia because Bank Negara would ask too many questions.
15. That seems to be an admission that something was not right with the money.
16. But Singapore is a financial centre. As such it must be even more careful that money brought in and deposited in its banks should be investigated, especially if the sum is large, running into billions.
17. And sure enough the Monetary Authority of Singapore stated publicly that no 1MDB Malaysian money came into the country. The Swiss Bank which was named as the bank where the money was deposited denied 1MDB had deposited money with it.
18. So where were the billions of Ringgits or Dollars that 1MDB claimed it had brought back from the Caymans. Arul Kandasamy had openly claimed he saw the money.
19. Now the PM declared that it was not money. It was units. The bank where it was deposited was not named.
20. What units were these. Not units in Unit Trust Funds certainly. No explanation is forth coming. The billions of dollars have again disappeared.
21. Then the Wall Street Journal reported that Dato Sri Najib has USD700 million in his account in the Arab Malaysian Bank in Kuala Lumpur. That is about 2.6 billion Ringgit. How did this huge sum of money get into Najib’s Private Account. Where did the money come from!! How can the PM of Malaysia whose pay is only RM20,000 per month have so much money in his private account?
22. Unable to deny the Wall Street Journal report which included the account number and other details, Najib claimed that it was a donation.
23. Who in the world would donate USD700 million to the Malaysian Prime Minister? Even Obama could not raise this amount for his Presidential bid. It was suggested it was an Arab.
24. Arabs are generous, but not that generous. I could not raise even a single dollar from them for the Malaysian International Islamic University or for the Oxford Islamic Centre. This claim that Arabs donated billions is what people describe as hogwash or bullshit. Certainly I don’t believe it and neither can the majority of Malaysians if we go by the comments on the social media. The world had a good laugh.
25. When asked, the PM said wait for the report on 1MDB by the Auditor–General and the Public Accounts Committee.
26. To the UMNO divisional leaders and assorted bedfellows the PM in close-door meetings, claimed the billions were for the elections.
27. The 2 billion Ringgit plus for elections is absurd. I needed less than 10 million for each of the five elections I presided over and I won them all with more than 2/3 majority. Why do you need 2.6 billion plus or 2600 million Ringgit. Is it to bribe politicians and civil servants, or to rig the elections. That would not be right , much less legal.
28. Whatever, to me 2 billion plus for elections in Malaysia by any party is wrong even if no limit is put on election expenses.
29. Then there is this lavish life-style which no Malaysian Prime Minister would be able to afford on the RM20,000 per month he receives. Engagement and weddings lavishness far surpassed those of the Rulers even. Several ceremonies were held in Malaysia and also in Kazakhstan. Guests were loaded with gifts from the host. Clearly millions, tens of millions were spent, far beyond what a Malaysian PM can afford.
30. Then there is the son’s investment of hundreds of millions in producing the film The Wolf of Wall Street. It is so pornographic that it cannot be shown in Malaysia. Where did the money come from!
31. The shopping in London, Paris and elsewhere is known to be enormous.
32. Clearly the PM and his wife have more money than the salaries and allowances paid to the PM.
33. After the Wall Street Journal reported on Najib’s 2.6 billion Ringgit in his private account, it was closed. You cannot take all that money to keep with you. It had to be transferred. Apparently it was transferred to a Singapore bank. Then the Singapore authorities froze it.
34. Public clamour about the origin of the money in Najib’s account was so loud that a task force comprising the head of four government institutions was set up. The Attorney General headed this task force and the members were the IGP, the Head of Bank Negara and the Head of MACC, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
35. Najib was clearly uncomfortable with the investigations carried out by the task force. The members seemed to be too independent. Najib could not control them. The task force was apparently determined to seek the truth about the 1MDB and the 2.6 billion Ringgit in Najib’s account. Najib’s claim that it was a donation was not convincing.
36. Then Najib decided to take action to stop all the investigations on 1MDB and his private account.
37. First he announced that people should stop talking about 1MDB. It was not just a hint but an open statement that such talk would be regarded as undermining democracy and an attempt to overthrow an elected leader. This would attract police attention and investigation.
38. Immediately following that the A.G. was sacked. In Malaysia’s legal system the A.G. determines whether a case would be heard in a court or not. The A.G. who seemed to be heading the task force would be in a position to take to the courts if there was evidence of criminality in Najib’s possession of the billions in his account.
39. The A.G’s removal means that he could no longer make any decision over the unprecedented wealth of Najib. A judge was made A.G. and clearly he is not interested in the task force and its investigations. He seemed determined to clear Najib.
40. Then the DPM was dismissed and replaced by the Minister of Home Affairs who unlike Muhyiddin, had never questioned Najib about 1MDB.
41. In the cabinet reshuffle four members of the Public Accounts Committee including its chairman were made deputy ministers. Effectively, the PAC was paralysed and the work of investigating 1MDB stopped.
42. Then the chief and deputy chief of MACC, a member of the task force of four were asked to go on leave. When some members of the staff of MACC continued their investigations and wanted to query Najib on the source of the money in his account, they were harassed by the police who accused them of leaking information. Then they were transferred to the PM’s department. That shut them up.
43. The Governor of the Central Bank, a member of the four-strong Task Force is now rumoured to be investigated for corruption.
44. With the PAC, and the Task Force paralysed and the A.G. sacked, investigation work on the 1MDB and the 2.6 billion in Najib’s private account grounds to a complete halt.
45. Najib is now safe from being charged with illegally amassing funds. His claim that it is to be used for the coming elections is half-true. He had always said that cash is king. With the huge funds at his disposal he would be in a position to bribe his way to victory. He may also use the money to rig the election.
46. What Najib is doing is unprecedented in Malaysia. The people are at a loss as to what to do. The prospect of Najib continuing to rule this country is utterly depressing. The Malaysia where elections can even see opposition parties winning whole states will be no more.
47. Democracy is dead. It is dead because an elected leader chooses to subvert the institutions of Government and make them his instruments for sustaining himself. There is no more democracy for anyone to undermine. Certainly talking about 1MDB will not undermine something that no longer exist. If anyone should be questioned by the police, it is Najib.
For a man who is 90 years old, he throws in some good points on democracy and asks rather stinging questions. But then again, aren’t these same questions that have been on everyone’s mind as well?
It has nothing to do with toppling a democratically elected government as some politicians have claimed it to be (that allegation is dumb and sounds very desperate) but rather because it lacks transparency and accountability. It was firstly denied that the money even existed and there were threats of lawsuits and it fizzled out.
Then there were investigations but nothing has been concluded other than the RM2.6 billion is a donation. Who donated and why? The prime minister himself is keeping silent on this and allows the questions to remain unanswered. A minister said that it is from a brotherly nation and there is nothing wrong with it.
Nothing wrong with it – doesn’t that sound very frightening?
Nothing is free in this world and if they are willing to give billions to ensure certain parties win in the general election, what do they want in return? Are they expecting Malaysia to return the favour in some other form? And on a lesser note, the donation had exceeded the allowed RM200,000 spending threshold for parliamentary seats according to electoral laws. Aren’t this obvious that laws have been broken and yet nothing can be done?
We are still far off from having the ideal Government – there are some signs of promise with the opposition but one still needs to make sure that they don’t screw up at the nation level over petty issues (they often do like the dumb Kajang Move). We need to keep the politicians on our toes and should never accept whatever flimsy excuse that may be given in place of the real reasons.
Democracy is truly dead only if we stop questioning the politicians on their dubious dealings, stop questioning when billions of ringgit are deposited into personal accounts, stop making our votes count, and fail to elect people who put the nation & service to the public first.
Democracy is not an issue of race and religion because this country needs all of us and all of us have a heavy responsibility to make sure the country doesn’t get screwed up by people who are corrupt to the core, have ulterior motives and are more worried about their personal positions than the impact on the nation as a whole.
The politicians in this country, sad to say, have become rather immune to prosecutions, hard questioning and even accountability. Those who have been found guilty of corruption and wrong-doing still roaming around freely. Things need to change.
There must be an understanding that if you screw things up, you need to take responsibility and pay for it, one way or another. And only thing then, is the country will be better and we can move forward.