Investors will be spooked with harassment of 1MDB investigators, PKR MP claims

Reporters waiting outside 1Malaysia Development Berhad's office, in Kuala Lumpur, July 8, 2015. — Picture by Ida Lim
Reporters waiting outside 1Malaysia Development Berhad's office, in Kuala Lumpur, July 8, 2015. — Picture by Ida Lim

PETALING JAYA, Aug 6 — Putrajaya risks scaring away investors in an already tough economy if investigators of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case over corruption claims continue to be harassed, a PKR lawmaker said today.

Wong Chen, who chairs PKR’s investment and trade bureau, said the police’s questioning of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) officers and raids against their homes and offices, which were done on suspicion of the graft busters leaking documents, was hindering investigations on the state-owned fund.

“I hope the prime minister rethinks his policy, rethink his ideas and do the right thing. So not harass the investigators any further, let them finish their job, give them that freedom to investigate to find the truth,” the Kelana Jaya MP told reporters here.

He pointed out that the “whole world is watching”, with major international news outlets reporting on the unfolding events here that could further destroy investors’ confidence.

“He must do the right thing, he must be seen to do the right thing, so can we get a clear indication from the prime minister - what is his intention to investigate the investigators?” the opposition MP asked.

As part of measures needed to boost investor sentiments, Wong said that the police force needs to make it clear why it is probing the MACC officers and whether it was linked to the alleged leak of information.

“Some transparency in the process is important, some resemblance if due process, that is the very least you can do to tell investors — whether it is domestic or international — that they are on the right track.

“Arbitrarily going after MACC officers, that’s not good; changing the AG before his time is due, all that just spooks the markets further,” he said, referring to the discontinuation of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s services last month as Attorney-General before his compulsory retirement in October.

Gani had been providing legal advice to a special taskforce probing 1MDB, comprising the police, MACC and Bank Negara.

Wong said Datuk Seri Najib Razak — who is both the prime minister and finance minister — should prioritise economic issues like the falling ringgit value rather than his political future.

“We urge him to think about the wider impact to the economy and the rakyat who are suffering and stop neglecting the economy at the expense of his political survival,” he said and called for a stop to the “witch hunt” of 1MDB investigators.

Dr Fahmi Ngah, the director of the same PKR bureau, said urgent and decisive actions must be taken on the 1MDB controversy to restore the sliding confidence in the economy - as shown by the ringgit sliding to RM3.89 against a US dollar.

“I think we should be supportive of efforts to ensure government agencies which are doing investigations remain impartial and objective in their investigation and the true perpetrators must be brought to justice,” he said.

He pointed to the federal opposition politicians’ show of solidarity in a visit to the MACC headquarters this morning as a good start.

Fahmi also said Najib should relinquish his Finance portfolio if the ringgit weakens to RM4 against a US dollar and let an individual who can be more “proactive” in arresting the currency slide take over.

As of July 15, Malaysian Foreign Exchange reserves had fallen to US$100.5 billion (RM383.3 billion) with reports suggesting that as much as US$5 billion was spent to prop up the ringgit — which had recently fallen to a 16-year low.

During the Asian Financial crisis in 1998, Malaysia’s foreign exchange reserves bottomed to US$ 20 billion and US$1 was pegged to RM3.80 in September 1998.

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