Minister: Move on from 'PM a thief' allegations
Published:  Apr 7, 2016 11:10 AM
Updated: 11:41 AM

Being held accountable for bad management or poor business decisions is a far departure from the allegation of stealing billions of taxpayers' money for personal use, said Communication and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak.

"Perwaja, MAS, Proton, the RM30 billion Forex losses, Maminco, BMF, and much more were all cases of either bad management or bad business decisions.

"But no one was asked to be sent to jail for theft involving the taxpayers' money," he added.

The minister was responding to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on 1MDB which was tabled to Parliament this morning, which did not implicate Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

He zeroed in on DAP lawmaker and PAC member Tony Pua's remarks that "the only thing we have on Najib is the shareholders resolutions which he signed. He signed all these deals. At the very least, he should be held ministerially accountable."

This, he said summed up what the one-year of mud-slinging and unfounded accusations.

"There is no evidence of criminal activities, RM42 billion of 1MDB's money has not disappeared into thin air, and RM2.6 billion of 1MDB's money has not been transferred to the prime minister's personal bank account.

"All we have is an allegation of bad management and assumption that surely the prime minister must have been aware of this, and even if he was not, the buck still has to stop at Najib's table," he added.

Salleh said since the whole matter has been put in proper perspective, Malaysians need to move on.

"For more than a year we have been under the dark cloud of unfounded allegations that Malaysia's prime minister is a thief.

"Najib was subjected to trial by media and was convicted in the court of public opinion. This is something the opposition has been opposed to and would never tolerate but when it comes to Najib the opposition condones it," he added.

Salleh noted that PAC consisted of both government and opposition lawmakers, and its report cannot be released unless there is a consensus from all members who are unanimous in that the findings are factual and unquestionable.

He said that under Najib's watch, debates and free speech are allowed more than in the past but the minister urged Malaysians to tell the difference between freedom of speech and slander.

"People need to also be free from being slandered. So under the umbrella of free speech that does not give you the right to slander anyone.

"And in cases of slander, civil or criminal action can be taken against you. After all, the other person being slandered has as much rights as the person slandering," he added.

Salleh also said the 1MDB affair should serve as a lesson to the government.

"When dealing with the taxpayers' money we need professional, competent and experienced managers. Too many times we have seen losses due to bad decisions.

"To meet the challenges ahead of us we need to give the job to the right person. And this has to be the strategy we adopt in bringing Malaysia forward," he added.

In a media statement earlier, Salleh said the PAC report has proven that former premier Dr Mohamad's allegation about missing money from 1MDB was wrong.

As such, he said, Mahathir should be held accountable for the damage his campaign against Najib had caused to Malaysia's reputation.

"No monies are missing, misappropriated or unaccounted for," he said in a statement.

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