COMMENT Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s alleged involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) imbroglio has dragged on for far too long, making people becoming more impatient with the ruling party.
If I may use the word, it is ‘restless’. Yes, the people are getting very restless over the way that the economy is taking a beating as a result of the 1MDB scandal. 1MDB has been headlined in nearly every newspaper and magazine overseas, whereas in Malaysia, people are allegedly still being told one lie after another.
Everywhere I go, whenever I speak to people, whether old friends or new people I meet, everyone is fully aware of the scandal that has plagued the nation for far too long.
If Umno’s own warlords do not unseat him as party president before the next general election, it would do a great injustice to the entire coalition that has ruled the country for the past 60 years.
In fact, by Aug 31 this year, it would be exactly 60 years since Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra as the country’s first prime minister, declared Independence from the British colonialists.
Since his time, Umno has morphed into something totally different from the times and era of the Father of Independence. Its alleged involvement in one scandal after another has shocked the nation, yet Malaysians at large are to be blamed for being laid back and good at criticising others whom they expect to change the world for them.
It takes people like Anwar Ibrahim, Rafizi Ramli, Tian Chua, Teresa Kok, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Lim Guan Eng, Lim Kit Siang and Tony Pua to expose the scandals.
The latest scandal exposed by PKR vice-president Rafizi allegedly involves Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) where US$505million (RM2.26 billion) was to be spent on purchasing a 37 percent stake in Indonesia’s PT Eagle High Plantations.
The price at which Felda was going to pay for a 37 percent non-controlling stake in the Indonesian plantation, according to PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, raises an alarm, as Indonesian billionaire Peter Sondakh, who owns Rajawali Group, had taken up a 68.6 percent stake in EHP at only US$570 million.
Rafizi claimed he has “given information to assist authorities so that they can commence investigation into whether or not there was interference or instructions from superiors, whether at the board level or from politicians or government to Felda to proceed with the acquisition of Eagle High.”
Felda, on the other hand, plans to purchase a 37 percent non-controlling stake in the Indonesian plantation for US$505.4 million (RM2.26 billion), for 582 rupiah per share.
He also brought up another major issue regarding the highest spending of RM25 billion last year on Felda's replanting scheme, citing that this exposed the scheme to various risks of abuse and corruption.
Najib’s personal accounts
Recently, Singaporean former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei, who was linked to the 1MDB scandal, was found guilty and sentenced to a 30-month jail term. Yeo, who is also linked to Najib’s close associate, Jho Low, will be facing other charges soon.
All that the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) could say was that Yeo’s jail sentence had nothing to do with either 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy or Najib himself.
In two other recent cases down south, both Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah are now serving jail terms because of their links to 1MDB. Yak is now serving an 18-week jail term on forgery charges and failure to disclose suspicious transactions, while Yak’s assistant, Yvonne Seah, is in prison for two weeks after she pleaded guilty to similar charges.
Two former executives of Abu Dhabi-based lnternational Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and its investment arm, Aabar Investments PJS, Khadem Al-Qubaishi and Mohamed Badawy al-Huseiny were also arrested for their links to “fraud and money-laundering on 1MDB”.
How then can Najib, through Jasa’s recent statement, deny that he had any link to the scandal, especially since he is all three - the chairperson of the 1MDB advisory board, the finance minister who came up with the brainchild, as well as the prime minister of Malaysia?
If Low was not involved, why did he not personally appear before the judiciary in the United States to claim the assets confiscated by the US Department of Justice? Why did his family members claim the assets on his behalf? I dare both the flamboyant Low and Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, to step foot on the US grounds at this juncture of their lives.
As for Najib, who claimed that RM2.6 billion that went into his personal accounts was donated by an unnamed generous Arab prince, why did he apply to intervene in the ex-parte lawsuit filed by Zaid Ibrahim to compel AmBank Islamic Berhad to disclose the details of how RM2.6 billion had been deposited into five accounts which are allegedly his?
Zaid did the right thing to pursue this matter, but hopefully, the court will uphold justice and rule in public interest. Like Zaid, we, too, want to know where the money came from and how it ended up in one man’s personal accounts, especially since the US Department of Justice had alleged that the money came from 1MDB.
It is not only RM2.6 billion, but another RM41 million which had allegedly originated from SRC International.
After all, the whole nation and the world is being told that the money was a donation from a generous Arab prince. Is there anything for Najib to hide now?