Crossroads of integrity — Transparency International-Malaysia

JULY 30 — Transparency International – Malaysia (TI-M) is deeply concerned that the entire 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) episode so far sadly displays a complete lack of governance, integrity and submission to the rule of law. 29 July 2015, will go down as one of the most interesting and eventful days in the leaf of Malaysian history.

The services of the Attorney-General (AG) and a few Cabinet members were terminated. Even the AG was not aware of the decision and the reason given for the termination was due to ‘health reasons’. The services of the Special Branch Chief at Bukit Aman were also not extended. Ironically, a fire broke out destroying ‘old and unimportant documents’ at the corridor of Level 10 of Menara Dua in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

The big shocking news was the sacking of the Deputy Prime Minister. This is due to him allegedly breaching the principle of collective responsibility of the Cabinet. His successor accused him of attempting to engineer a rift within the party and wanted the then DPM to have stood by the leadership.

Equally, surprising are the developments regarding the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which was in the middle of probing into scandal-ridden 1MDB and which suddenly have four of its thirteen members were appointed into the new Cabinet. Not one but four!

Now that we know who were sacked and who were rewarded, let us go to the mother of all scandals - 1MDB and the parties investigating its issues.

In March, Putrajaya announced a special task force will be set up to investigate troubled state investor 1MDB operations and its staggering RM42 billion debt. Its members comprised of the Second Finance Minister, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department; Chief Secretary to the Government and Treasury Secretary-General.

Apart from the PAC which unanimously decided to begin proceedings into 1MDB in a special meeting held on 30 April, there were other parties set up to conduct the investigation.

But later this was in addition to the earlier task force announced by the Attorney-General (A-G), comprising the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). The A-G Chambers and the police that was tasked to look into the fund’s dealings following reports made against it.

In June, Malaysia’s central bank said it had started investigations into state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. to see if it had secured the appropriate permission for offshore borrowings and foreign investments.

All these probes were in addition to a separate investigation by Auditor-General on 1MDB’s financial transactions, management and corporate governance.

The managing director of a construction firm was remanded to assist in the investigations under Section 17 (a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009. Even a dispatch clerk had been remanded in this saga.

However, various members of the Cabinet has said they were confident that no wrongdoing has been committed by 1MDB of the PM.

Given the number of parties involved in the investigations, this is truly the mother of all scandals with “so much to hide”.

High-powered task forces formed since March (four months ago) do not seem to have concluded their investigations. Is this due to the enormous scope of the investigations, incompetency or is there something to hide that we are witnessing here?

The only report that Malaysians know have been submitted after four months is the interim report of the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General revealed to the PAC that investigation was hampered because the 1MDB executives were not forthcoming in providing documents that were deemed integral. How is it then that a minister could say that no signs of misconduct were detected in the report?

Strangely, even the then DPM was not aware of its contents.  Now, we learn that the interim report has been blocked citing Parliament’s House rules.

In April 2015, the PM said, “the Auditor-General will investigate all claims and allegations on how 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) funds were spent as part of his thorough audit. I will not accept any abuse of power in 1MDB. I want people to know... if there is an abuse of power, we will not defend anybody. We have not given them (Auditor-General’s office) a timeframe but they have to investigate as soon as possible because I want the people to know”.

What has happened to date is directly opposite to the PM’s declaration – will the people now know or it is only for certain persons’ own consumption and filed in the cupboard?

We were told to remain patient and look forward to the final report by A-G and the PAC. PAC now has to be temporarily halted until the next Parliament sitting to decide on the new PAC chief. The ex-chairman of the PAC who previously declined a deputy minister’s post has now accepted such as post right at the height of the investigation and when senior 1MDB officials were to be quizzed next week from 4 – 6 August!. Is there a dearth of capable candidate/leaders in the ruling party?

Given the snail pace of the investigations and halting of PAC activities coupled with the sackings on 29 July, how will intelligent Malaysians view the whole episode? Surely they will think it is clearly a concerted effort to stop the probe into 1MDB in its tracks.

This is coupled with a newspaper which had aggressively exposed issues concerning 1MDB being muzzled with a suspension. Promise of no blockage to the internet was also broken.

As far as TI-M is concerned, the probe is as good as ‘hidup segan mati tak mahu’ or even dead while some small fish are being hauled up.

The Attorney General (AG) is the highest ranking public prosecutor in this country. With a new and inexperienced AG who was not one of the initial high-powered task force members and who is a political appointee, can the rakyat hope to see the perpetrators being brought to justice soon as the PM wanted?

Continuity has definitely been disrupted by events on 29 July 2015 and why is it happening?

In addition, there has been an allegation that one of the key members of the task force has been accused as a co-conspirator in a plot to bring down Putrajaya.

The police is said to sudden shift of attention to the allegation of conspiracy to topple the leadership and acceptance of stories from Justo shows an interest in the political rather than criminal aspect of the scandal.

We must be a nation that cares about what is right and wrong and not a nation where “might is right”. We are dangerously close to being a “failed state” and almost overnight destroying all that our nation’s forefathers sought to build with great toil and sacrifice.  We cannot let this happen - God and our future generations will not forgive us.

Akhbar Satar

President,

Transparency International Malaysia

* Transparency International-Malaysia is an independent, non-governmental and non-partisan organisation committed to the fight against corruption.

**This is the personal opinion of the organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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