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The sound of silence

Rais Hussin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | 1MDB is a four letter word that is extremely vulgar, not only to the ears of the people and the opposition but to the government. Many in the government are sick of it. Thus when investigations related to 1MDB emerge time and again, many resort to burying their proverbial heads in the sand.

As the saying goes: "Siapa makan cili akan merasa pedasnya” (Those who consume the chillies will feel the heat).

Thus, who stood up to defend Malaysia? Oddly enough, no one. At least no one of any importance. The MO1, who Abdul Rahman Dahlan, an Umno Supreme Council member and now a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had identified as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak sometime in September last year, had decided to say nothing detailed.

Granted that the latest revelation of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is another reputational hit on the good name of Malaysia, why has the PM (using Rahman Dahlan’s official declaration of MO1 as the PM) been silent? He needs to take it head-on to check the disrepute that is being associated with Malaysia due to 1MDB.

In law, ignorance cannot be used as an excuse. Well, the same goes for silence. Silence cannot be equated with freedom from guilt. Thus MO1's quiescent approach to the DOJ revelations is quaint, to the say the least.

As a public official, indeed, an elected member of parliament from Pekan, it goes without saying that the PM should be the first to respond. After all, the good name of the country is being put under scrutiny.

Yet, it was left to Mohd Puad Zarkashi to deny the allegations. Does anyone even know Puad Zakarshi at all, let alone the fact that he is a member of the Umno Supreme Council?

With due respect, if anyone should defend the PM at all, that responsibility should go to Deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

But, then again, where was Zahid Hamidi when he was badly needed to defend both the PM and the good name of Malaysia? Again, the deputy PM was silent.

Therein lies the rub: both could be ignoring the national interest of Malaysia, which goes to the heart of the reputation of the country, which in turn could affect the rating of Malaysia in the international financial system, as decided by Moody's or Standard and Poor’s, affecting the costs of capital through increased interest rates. Or, the PM and deputy PM have taken to conceding that it is pointless to defend the indefensible.

Thus, the job of defending Malaysia on 1MDB went to the third tier of wannabes.

Those old hacks who still wanted to climb the slippery pole of public office, with the goal of being made a senator, potentially a Dato Seri or Tan Sri, were the ones who continued to fend for the PM.

Thus one sees the likes of Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim and black propagandists like Lim Sian See and Raja Petra Kamarudin taking to the public gallery to support the PM. 

When the attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali himself does not take any legal action, one wonders why other jurisdictions internationally have all found the sordid dealings of 1MDB to be incriminating. Some have been charged, found guilty and sentenced. Some banks were closed or fined. In Malaysia, nothing, zilch. All kosher!

Quiet as a mouse

Now, beyond the usual suspects from Umno spinmasters and the Attorney-General’s Chambers who still support MO1 - this despite the truths that have surfaced - there are others who have chosen to defend MO1 by not defending him at all!

Instead of reviving the Public Accounts Commissions (PAC), neither the backbenchers nor the ‘cari-makan’ chairperson of the PAC has called for more investigations.

Nur Jazlan Mohamed, the deputy minister of home affairs, was quiet as a mouse too, although he was once the head of PAC, and a trained accountant to boot. He does know a lot and at one time was seen as a hero for wanting to refuse any promotions to ministerial position, to finish the PAC work on 1MDB. Hardly days later, he fell to the temptations of position and relevance and the rest is history.

If he had wanted to tear the DOJ's financial broadsheet apart, he could have done so with ease. But the son of the late Mohamed Rahmat, one of the most astute politicians in Malaysia, stayed silent.

Indeed, why the seeming silence and insouciance when the evidence of luxurious acquisitions and pink diamonds are mounting by the day, if not minutes?

Shouldn't PAC be the first to say: Let’s revisit the terms of our reference, and look into the issues anew?

Yes, they should, and they must. But they also know that the DOJ will probably do a better job of uncovering the missing billions.

Thus, by not saying a thing, they are also telling Umno, that "we are not supporting the PM cum party president anymore." This is why Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Pakatan Harapan stand a chance to be the next government. There is a simmering turmoil in Umno.

Those who defended MO1 were the wife of MO1 and his own cousin, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Other than the MO1's own kindred spirits, all have left MO1 to his own devices to face the music in Umno, and in due course, the general election too.

RAIS HUSSIN is a Bersatu supreme council member and head of the party's policy and strategy bureau.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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