Some reading materials for the weekend by avid observers of the current socio-political issues in Malaysia.
by TK Chua
I put in abridged form what we have gathered so far on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). There is nothing new here, just a catalogue to help us to stay on track. With new events emerging every day, it is easy to lose sight that the messes in 1MDB are actually much bigger than the huge sum of money going in and out of the prime minister’s personal account. We must not lose focus on all the big issues.
- There were questions asked if some of 1MDB’s excessive borrowings were sovereign guaranteed. The answer given was that the borrowing was used to buy assets and for strategic investments, including parking some money in Caymans temporarily to earn higher returns. Till today, we are not sure how “strategic” the investments have been and whether the returns earned were in US dollars or in “units”.
- When asked why 1MDB faced problems servicing these loans, the answer given was that it was a temporary cash flow hiccup. 1MDB has “assets more than liabilities” was the oft-repeated mantra and the mother of all explanations. But do the problems in 1MDB look like temporary cash flow setbacks? If they have to par down assets to reduce debts, I think the problem is more about assets not generating sufficient income to sustain their own upkeep.
- Questions were asked of the high fees and commissions incurred and why discounts were generously given when issuing 1MDB bonds. The answer given was that it was a normal practice to pay high fees and to give discounts in order to entice lenders. However they conveniently failed to explain why the desperate need to borrow.
- We asked why 1MDB bought overpriced assets. The answer was that the IPO was supposed to solve this problem, ignoring the fact that IPOs are about value, not about solving overpriced assets, unless they believe future IPO investors are nincompoops.
- We asked why government land was sold to 1MDB for a song. The answer was that 1MDB was a government strategic company, so it was just from the right pocket to the left pocket. When the government sells lands and other assets, the money goes into the Consolidated Fund of the Treasury. When 1MDB sells government lands and other assets, where does the money go?
- We asked why Tabung Haji was asked to buy a small piece of land from 1MDB at many times more than what was paid for it initially. The answer was that it was a good investment for Tabung Haji; many other investors were willing to buy over the land from Tabung Haji at an even higher price. However till today, Tabung Haji is still holding on to the land, as far as we know.
- The Auditor-General and his team were asked to do a comprehensive audit on 1MDB since there were so many unanswered questions. So far the interim report has been completed, but it was made confidential. When the final report will be ready and made public is anyone’s guess.
- We asked whether or not the accusations and allegations in Sarawak Report (SR) were true. The answer was to shut down SR and accuse white men of interfering with the leadership of this country. But are Tan Sri Muhyiddin, Tun Mahathir, Rafizi Ramli, Lim Kit Siang and Tony Pua white? Now a warrant of arrest has been issued against SR’s editor.
- When The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claimed that there were massive amounts of money going in and out of the PM’s personal bank accounts, the answer given was that the money was not for personal use. Since then, they have written to WSJ seeking clarification about the article and threatening to sue. But till today there has been no lawsuit filed although no further clarification from WSJ was forthcoming. I am not sure if the PM’s lawyers are still in the midst of seeking consultation.
- We asked what happened to the task force (consisting of Bank Negara Malaysia, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Police and the Attorney-General) formed to investigate 1MDB. The answer was “no status”. Thus far, we only know one of the members of the task force, the AG, was “retired”. The rest of the investigators are currently being investigated for “leaking” information, whatever this means. The latest news report said the task force was no longer needed. All the agencies are now supposed to investigate and act on their own.
- The Edge Weekly published an incriminating story on 1MDB based on information given to it by a “blackmailer”. So far, no clear denial or confirmation was established based on the report. However we know the former deputy prime minister who depended on that very paper for news was sacked and the paper itself suspended for three months. Gradually, some of us might have forgotten Xavier Andre Justo is still languishing in a Bangkok prison.
- The bipartisan Public Accounts Committee too wanted to ask many questions. However so far the committee has gathered very few answers. First they said the relevant people from 1MDB were busy and therefore unable to attend the hearing. Then they said some of the witnesses could not be traced. Now the entire PAC investigation is in limbo after many members were suddenly appointed to the executive branch. PAC hearings have now been postponed indefinitely.
- We asked why the draft “charge sheets” against the PM and others were circulating. The answer was that those charge sheets were fake but strangely enough, the authorities are questioning and investigating those who might have leaked the information, including the charge sheets.
- We asked whose money it was moving in and out of the PM’s personal bank accounts, which till today no one has denied or confirmed. First they answered that the money was not for personal use which by implication meant it must be for official/party/societal use then. They then implied the money was not from 1MDB. Now they have openly declared it was from a donation.
- So far they have not shed light on how the huge donation was used; what has happened to the balance, if any; who donated the bulk of it (did part of it come from SRC?); and whether or not there were any strings attached or if national interests were compromised. I guess any person with some common sense will be able to ask even more questions about this, except perhaps talented ministers from Sabah.
However do not be too optimistic that you will receive an answer. Most probably, they will insist that political donations require reform and all political parties, especially the DAP and PKR, must agree first.
I write this piece based on memory alone. You are most welcome to add if you remember anything else.
Thank you TK Chua. Next is an article which asked very pertinent questions for us to ponder.
oleh Mat Rodi
Dalam cubaan membela PM Najib Razak, YB Rahman Dahlan telah mengesahkan bahawa wang derma USD700 juta telah masuk ke akaun peribadi Presiden parti.
Maknanya, ini bukannya akaun parti yang dibuka dan didaftarkan di atas nama tiga pemegang amanah sebagaimana amalan parti dahulunya.
Sebaliknya- ini adalah akaun peribadi.
Menerima derma sebanyak itu dan dimasukkan ke akaun parti politik tidak ada salahnya. Parti boleh menerima 2.6 billion mahupun 260 billion wang derma. Malah bukan isunya. Hatta NGO yang kononnya ‘Bersih’ juga diberikan ‘derma’ dari pihak luar untuk kegiatan mereka.
Tetapi menerima derma sejumlah wang tersebut dan dimasukkan ke dalam akaun peribadi presiden boleh menimbulkan persoalan.
Persoalan pertama adalah adakah ahli Majlis Tertinggi telah berbincang dan bersetuju menjadikan akaun peribadi Presiden parti bagi tujuan menerima derma?
Jika sudah berbincang dan sepakat, mengapa terdapat ahli Majlis Tertinggi merangkap Menteri Penerangan ketika itu (Shabery Cheek) berkata “tidak logik PM ambil wang sebanyak itu masuk ke akaun peribadi.”
Bahkan, Ketua Penerangan UMNO Ahmad Maslan berkeras “Perdana Menteri bodoh mana yang akan mengambil RM2.67 bilion untuk dimasukkan ke dalam akaun peribadinya. Jika benar, ia adalah kebebalan yang terlalu amat sangat,”
Adakah ini cubaan mereka untuk menggulingkan presiden parti yang dipilih secara demokratik?
Tetapi mereka tidak pula digugurkan daripada jemaah kabinet sebagaimana nasib Timbalan dan Naibjuga mereka disoal siasat polis.
Sama ada PM Najib telah melakukan kebebalan yang teramat sangat ataupun tidak tidaklah penting.
Persoalannya yang kedua adalah, jika perkara ini tidak pernah dibincangkan di dalam mesyuarat Majlis Tertinggi, siapa pula yang memberikan kebenaran untuk menjadikan akaun peribadi beliau sebagai akaun amanah?
Tidak logik Presiden melantik diri sendiri tanpa berbincang. Perlembagaan UMNO juga tidak mempunyai peruntukan tersebut.
Persoalan ketiga- jika ahli MT UMNO tidak tahu mengenai wang derma ini dan sememangnya derma tersebut digunakan untuk tujuan politik, tujuan politik siapa?
Politik parti ataupun politik Presiden parti?
Jika politik parti, masakan ahli MT UMNO tidak tahu?
Jika politik presiden parti, tidakkah ini bermakna beliau telah menggunakan wang tersebut bagi tujuan peribadi?
Ini bercanggah dengan kenyataan beliau yang menafikan penggunaan sebarang wang bagi keuntungan peribadi. Sesungguhnya memenangi pilihanraya akan mengekalkan beliau sebagai Perdana Menteri dan ini adalah keuntungan bagi dirinya.
Pengarah Komunikasi Barisan Nasional serta barisan menteri yang baru dilantik boleh berkata apa sahaja mengenai derma politik. Mereka boleh berkata seperti adalah lebih selamat wang derma masuk ke akaun peribadi PM dan parti memerlukan lebih banyak wang.
Tetapi ini bukanlah kebenaran sebaliknya skrip/jawapan yang dibuat ‘after thought’.
Hakikat perkara ini baru disebut berminggu-minggu selepas pendedahan awal dibuat membuktikan mereka juga seperti kita semua yang tidak tahu apa-apa.
Isu mengapa wang derma ke akaun peribadi presiden penting bukan kerana kita tidak mahu wang derma bagi perjuangan parti. Ramai yang faham keperluan dana yang banyak untuk kerja-kerja politik.
Sebaliknya, kita tidak mahu ‘rasuah jadi budaya, amanah dikhianati dan parti membisu hanya untuk membela golongan tertentu atas nama kesetiaan pada parti. Atau disiplin kepartian mentaati pemimpin’ – sebagaimana yang disebut oleh MB Johor.
Let’s wait for more ridiculous statements by the powers that be in the next few days.
In the mean time, you might also want to read: