1MDB very much a major election issue

Opinion  |  P Gunasegaram
Published:  |  Modified:

QUESTION TIME | They say rural Malays and other deprived Malaysians don’t care about 1MDB and that their major concern is only with the higher cost of living. I say, utter rubbish.

I refuse to believe that any Malaysian, rural or urban, is unconcerned that effectively as much as over RM40 billion was stolen from 1MDB and of this, over RM30 billion was borrowed money.

The problem may be that the magnitude and significance of what has been allowed to happen by BN - that means all of them from ministers to MPs to state assemblypersons to delegates from all BN parties but particularly Umno - has not been explained to all of the Malay masses.

And the only person who seems able to explain it in an understandable manner to Malays is Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his own inimitable style.

But make no mistake about it - if 1MDB is still not an election issue it has to be made one. Essentially, 1MDB borrowed money and most of the borrowed money was allegedly stolen by transferring it out through a convoluted process into accounts controlled by an associate of the prime minister, Jho Low.

A total of US$681 million (RM2.7 billion) came into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s account before US$620 million (RM2.5 billion) was transferred back. These are facts.

It is unprecedented in the annals of Malaysian history. Never before was money “stolen” from a government-owned company (100 percent owned by the Minister of Finance Inc) in such a manner and tens of billions of ringgit at that.

It is much bigger than the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (or BMF) scandal (RM1.8 billion) and much more blatant and audacious.

There is a hole in 1MDB which at some time will show itself, despite all the denials by the government simply because one cannot hide the movement of international funds.

The government is already engaged in desperate moves to try and fill up these holes such as getting into lopsided contracts with others, including companies from China.

Such things are a double-whammy as more and more money is thrown away through overpriced contracts and the like to try and return money into 1MDB accounts and to perhaps steal some more. No matter what they do, such flows can eventually be traced through the international financial system.

It is through identification of international flows that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has managed to obtain an overwhelming amount of evidence that money was stolen and laundered for the purchase of luxury assets including a US$27 million pink diamond necklace.

If we don’t collectively get rid of this government and hold it to account for all the losses incurred at 1MDB, the future of this country is very bleak indeed.

If anybody needs a recap of what 1MDB is, and we all need one from time to time, here it is 10 points...

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