KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — DAP lawmaker Tony Pua today slammed former Barisan Nasional (BN) ministers for feigning ignorance over allegations that China offered the previous government projects to bail out 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Pua in a statement said former ministers had no moral right to plead their innocence by claiming to be ignorant of deals made by the former administration for 1MDB as reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) yesterday.
“Certain former Cabinet ministers were very quick to distance themselves from the misdeeds of Datuk Seri Najib Razak (the former prime minister). The attempts to protest their innocence can only be described as utterly lame,” he said, highlighting a tweet by former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
After the WSJ report made headlines, Khairy had tweeted: “As a former Cabinet member, I can categorically state that Cabinet was never informed that the China deals were linked to bailing out 1MDB. If there is evidence of that happening, it was without Cabinet approval.”
Pua took to task the former ministers for not standing up when the credible allegations against Najib and 1MDB first surfaced.
He pointed out that whistleblower site, The Sarawak Report, in an exposé in July 2016, had cited leaked documents between the government and China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC) that detailed where and how excess funds from the East Coast Rail Link project (ECRL) would be distributed.
He said the leaked documents revealed that the ECRL project was to cost RM60 billion but the actual cost of construction by CCCC was only RM27 billion and after the deduction of other fees and expenses, the balance of RM29.8 billion was to be redistributed back to interested parties, including the repayment of 1MDB debts.
Pua said according to the report, the payments would be disguised as payments by a “CCCC nominated ‘credit worthy’ company A (unrelated to CCCC)” to acquire 1MDB assets.
“Did you even raise the question in Cabinet and request that the prime minister explain these extremely dodgy deals?” Pua asked.
“Or did you meekly pretend everything is A-OK, or that these unsavoury details are best left safely hidden under the lid and that the less you know, the better?”
Najib and the Chinese government have denied the claims in the WSJ article.
WSJ yesterday reported that officials from Najib’s administration were in talks with senior Chinese counterparts to develop infrastructure projects here for inflated prices.
The report, citing minutes of confidential meetings, claimed the projects would play into Beijing’s “One Belt One Road” agenda, while accesses from the inflated costings would go to shoring up 1MDB’s multi-billion Ringgit debt.
“Notes from that meeting said Malaysia was working to enhance bilateral ties, citing support Mr Najib voiced for China’s position in the South China Sea during a regional summit in Laos.
“Two months later, Najib went to Beijing and signed the deals. Together with other projects, they made Malaysia the second-biggest recipient of One Belt, One Road funding after Pakistan,” the daily wrote.
It said within months of China’s offer, Najib signed US$34 billion (RM139.8 billion) worth of rail, pipeline and other deals with Chinese state firms that were to be funded by Chinese banks and built by Chinese workers.
After Pakatan Harapan formed the federal government, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad swiftly put the Chinese projects on hold.
The Mahathir administration has also cancelled at least two such projects and is still trying to terminate the East Coast Rail Link that is seen as the flagship project of the Belt-Road initiative here.