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Grave concerns among dons and intellectuals
Published:  Aug 10, 2015 2:16 AM
Updated: 9:04 AM

We, the undersigned, note with grave concern the allegations of financial abuse and corruption against 1MDB.

We note that these allegations are directed at various forms of wrongdoing and have been raised by multiple sources, some of which have made public numerous documents to substantiate their claims.

We also note with increasing alarm that various individuals entrusted with the responsibility to investigate these allegations of wrongdoing, in particular the officials at the MACC, have now become the targets of harassment and a probable witch hunt.

Other incidents of significant concern include the sudden replacement of the attorney-general, barely a few months before he was supposed to retire, and the abrupt dismissal of the deputy prime minister.

The ensuing reshuffling of the cabinet has led to the paralysis of the Public Accounts Committee that was investigating 1MDB, further damaging the credibility of the multi-pronged investigation authorised by the prime minister himself.

Apart from these criminal allegations, we also note with alarm how 1MDB is currently burdened with a huge debt. Finance Minister II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah has estimated the amount of annual loan interests serviced by 1MDB as between RM2.4 billion and RM2.7 billion.

Millions of ringgit in daily interest repayment!

This means that its daily interest repayment amounts to millions of ringgit!

The government owes the people a clear explanation as to how a state-owned company using public funds has come to incur such an astronomical debt, which continues to drain the wealth of our nation.

The government must investigate and reveal those responsible for such gross mismanagement.

The issuance of a mere statement thus far, based on the Auditor-General’s Report that there has been no wrongdoing, is clearly unsatisfactory from the point of view of transparency and accountability.

It is equally a matter of public concern that, even though a denial of any wrongdoing has been issued by the prime minister, it has been officially revealed that there was a deposit of nearly US$700 million into his personal bank account and he, somehow, does not see the need to justify or provide further details about this massive amount.

We wish to state that, short of coming clean about the problems 1MDB is saddled with, no amount of counter-allegations of conspiracy to oust the prime minister from his office will be able to clear the air and the names of those involved.

We therefore urge:

1    The prime minister to go on leave, temporarily,  pending the investigation by the various agencies to ensure the credibility and integrity of these investigations;

2    The government and law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint and discernment and desist from carrying out repressive actions that could be construed as attempts at obstructing investigations and muzzling freedom of the press;

3    The government to make public all interim or preliminary reports produced by various agencies investigating 1MDB; and

4    For all persons exercising functions of public office and involved in the investigation to do so with impartiality and integrity.

We strongly urge the relevant authorities not to ignore the wide-ranging international and domestic implications and consequences - both in the short and long term - of a failure to address the serious allegations of corruption that arise from this series of events.

We believe the aggressive police interference with the work of the MACC, ostensibly to investigate  an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government, will have a huge negative impact on Malaysia's international anti-corruption reputation, and affect bilateral and multilateral foreign relationships in transborder anti-crime cooperation efforts.

The total disregard towards openness and transparency may deter and dissuade further foreign direct investment into Malaysia, and any resultant capital flight will seriously jeopardise the international financial rating and reputation of Malaysia. The government must be advised, and act, accordingly.

This note is signed by 87 people, ranging from students to academicians, researchers, people in various professions, social activists and retirees. It was coordinated by Professor of Media and Communication Studies Rom Nain and Associate Professor Dr Helen Ting.

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