1MDB has become a thorn in the Malaysian economy. When a company with a paid up capital of RM1 million have unnecessarily accumulated debts up to RM42 billion within the space of 5 years, the pressure it puts on the economy is felt everywhere.
This is confirmed by the Finance Minister II on 25th May when he said 1MDB is in a dire need to be restructured as any failure to pay its massive debt will pose systemic risks to the country.
He confirmed this again in a TV interview on 3rd June by saying that if 1MDB is allowed to continue operations without any rationalisation, they will default their loans and the country’s credit ratings will be downgraded.
Thus far, nobody from 1MDB has admitted that they have made a mistake in wasting billions of taxpayers money to pay needless bank interests on the loans they acquired.
Nor have the Finance Minister resigned from his post in the wake of this huge financial scandal. Everyone with a clear mind is asking, why delve into a dubious business model where investments are financed by debts and profits are used to pay loan interests?
On top of that, the Prime Minister had no gumption to sack the 1MDB board or at least suspend them as soon when the Auditor General and the PAC started their investigations.
This is due to the fact that should he ask for their resignation, in principle he must also resign from his other posts since the buck stops with him by virtue of being the Chairman of 1MDB’s Board of Advisors, the Finance Minister in charge of 1MDB as well as the Prime Minister in charge of the investigative agencies.
As soon as he announced that 1MDB will be investigated for any wrongdoings, many of his sycophants heap praises and peddled him as being sincere, transparent and a Prime Minister with nothing to hide.
But such gesture is meaningless if he still hold all the vested powers and sits supreme above these investigative agencies. It was him who ordered the AG to inspect the accounts. It was also him who ordered the PAC to investigate 1MDB.
And they will submit their reports to him. The perception is, there is no independence.
For instance, in many other companies, should any top personnel is suspected to be involved in a major corporate scandal, he or she will automatically be handed a suspension letter pending a domestic inquiry.
This is compulsory in order to avoid any misuse of power to cover up any evidence or an opportunity for the accused to rectify or erase any damning documents while investigation is in progress.
In the case of our Prime Minister, the sycophants see no need for him to step aside all his positions and are more than willing to wait for the reports.
Worse, the cabinet members see nothing wrong with him giving orders and supervising the restructuring of 1MDB while he himself is the subject of the 1MDB scandal.
This is not surprising since most members of the cabinet are career politicians with little knowledge and experience from the real working world. Of course, corporate governance and accountability is perhaps an alien concept which they are unable to grasp.
On 25th May, there was a standoff between Umno leaders and the Prime Minister, where the former were asking the Prime Minister to sack the entire board of 1MDB. But the Prime Minister did not comply as he has neither the gumption to do it, nor the honour to do the right thing.
What the cabinet ministers should have proposed is to tell the Prime Minister to temporarily resign from all positions (except the Umno presidency) and vote for the appointment of an acting Prime Minister to oversee the investigation of 1MDB.
This is the most appropriate thing to do.
A RM42 billion scandal is not something trivial, especially when due to this misadventure, the bumiputras could lose their crown jewels (the TRX and Bandar Malaysia lands) to private sectors or foreigners.
If indeed the Prime Minister is sincere and transparent, he should step aside and let the investigations of 1MDB run without any fear or favour. However, he had missed the opportunity to do so and everything that he, the Finance Ministry and 1MDB have done since the start of the investigation will be seen as a cover up.
An investigation of any kind will not fare well on a Prime Minister that controls all the authority and financial powers. Even the PAC Chairman agrees to this where he opined that the Auditor General should be independent from the Ministry of Finance.
The existence of an Acting Prime Minister is not something new as there were many precedents that have been set thoughout history. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was appointed the Acting Prime Minister in 1997 when the Prime Minister took a two-month holiday.
Tun Abdul Razak was practically the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the May 13th, 1969 racial riots, executing tasks Tunku Abdul Rahman could not do.
In this case, if the Prime Minister is cleared from any wrongdoings in his capacity as the Finance Minister or the Advisor of 1MDB, he can then resume his job.
Afterall, it is just a job. All we want is real transparency, not just the false impression of transparency and a cover-up masquerading as good governance.