COMMENT | I have always voted against Umno/BN since 1969. And proudly so. But it’s not me alone who’s against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Come May 9, I will be in very distinguished company voting against Umno/BN, the collective name for Najib.
I can count on Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, Muhyiddin Yassin, Shafie Apdal and Rafidah Aziz to cast their votes against the gallant Bugis warrior.
Still Najib continues to command undying support from staunch party loyalists. PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has also promised the moon. Even the army chief was persuaded to swear unprecedented loyalty to the man. Fortunately for the general, he quickly corrected himself, saying that the army is loyal only to king and country.
The 14th general election (GE14) is about Najib and the dignity of our nation, which hangs on the integrity of one man who has sat at the apex of His Majesty’s government since 2009.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has accused Malaysian Official 1 (MO1) of being linked to billions of dollars “stolen” from the country’s sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. However, the DOJ did not name Najib in the alleged theft. All they did was to say that MO1 was linked to the stolen funds.
The DOJ accused the Malaysian government of kleptocracy. Well, that’s a highly sophisticated word but in plain English it could very well mean the same thing. Mahathir has no difficulty understanding the act of looting as “pencurian”.
This is allegedly big-time robbery on the high seas as ginormous as Jho Low’s superyacht, the Equanimity. Yet DAP veteran Dr Tan Seng Giaw who co-chaired the inter-party parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to investigate the 1MDB scandal seemingly let Najib off the hook.
"That was merely my view based on the PAC report into 1MDB. I opined that you need to have proof to implicate someone. Failing which, it would be fake (allegation)," he told Malaysiakini just days ago.
It looks like the eight-term opposition parliamentarian may have been cowed by Najib’s new Anti-Fake News law which carries a penalty of fines up to RM500,000 or a six-year imprisonment or both. The legislation defines fake news as "news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false."
Well, that’s good enough for Tan not to implicate Najib since he can’t decide whether the allegations are wholly or partly false. But how can he verify if they are fake? As soon as the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB was completed, Najib locked it up under the Official Secrets Act. So there’s no way to verify whether it’s fake news.
‘Money were stolen’
Former US attorney-general Loretta E Lynch, appointed by the Obama administration, filed a civil action in 2016 seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB. This is the largest single action ever brought under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
Lynch said according to the complaints, from 2009 through 2015, more than US$3.5 billion in funds belonging to 1MDB was allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates. The US seeks to recover more than US$1 billion laundered through the US and traceable to the conspiracy.
The hunt for missing money continues under the Trump administration and according to its current attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, the multi-billion dollar corruption scandal involving the Malaysian state fund is the worst form of kleptocracy, and the DOJ is working to provide justice to the victims, i.e. the taxpayers of Malaysia who will now have the opportunity to vote Najib out of power.
It’s not only the US which is pursuing the alleged culprits. Half a dozen more countries like Singapore, Luxembourg and Switzerland are also casting their nets wide to recover the stolen funds. Assuredly, they have no reason to be anti-Najib. It’s all about the integrity of their financial systems.
As previous US attorney-general Lynch has said, “The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption. With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people.
“Instead, they were stolen, laundered through American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates. Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes.”
Like I said, it’s not me alone who’s against Najib. Mahathir, Anwar, Muhyiddin, Shafie Apdal and Rafidah are all lining up to vote against him.
So too are Khalid Samad, Mohamad Sabu, Mahfuz Omar, Raja Bahrain Shah, Anis Afida, Salahuddin Ayub, Lim Kit Siang, Teresa Kok, Liew Chin Tong, R Sivarasa, Elizabeth Wong, Sangeet Kaur, Kashturi Patto, M Kulasegaran, Jeffery Kitigan, Roland Engan, Edwin Bosi and more.
Well, that’s as close to 1Malaysia as we can get. ‘Jom buang undi dan R.A.B.U. - rakyat akan buang Umno’ (Let’s vote and R.A.B.U. - rakyat will discard Umno).
‘Bersama hebatkan negaraku’ (Together, let’s make our country great).
BOB TEOH is a long-time polls watcher, freelance writer and formerly secretary-general of the Confederation of Asean Journalists.