‘There’s nothing to hide and nothing to cover up’
TONY Pua has, of late, accused me of many things, being a liar, for one thing, and now, in his Facebook page, he accused me of covering up for the prime minister and also that I was trying to pull a fast one over the rakyat on the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) issue.
As we know, 1MDB began as a very noble idea — to go into a massive scale enterprise that no private sector entity would dare to venture into so that we could have an enormous push for our economy. But alas, things did not go as planned and we are now saddled with this issue.
I believe no problem should be left to resolve itself; positive and proactive steps must be taken to address it and though 1MDB is not an enviable problem to resolve, but, as they say, it came with the job. I could always just leave the job if I don’t like it; after all, no one forced me to do it, but I knew then that it would be wholly irresponsible for me to shirk this responsibility and opportunity to serve the nation, the very nation that I owe much of my success due to the many opportunities given by it.
With the experience that I have in the corporate world for the last 25 years, I intend to help resolve this issue the best way that I can, bearing in mind at all times that the support letters/guarantees issued by the government to 1MDB remain enforceable. To a certain extent, resolving the 1MDB issue is crucial to uphold our credibility as a nation in the eyes of the world.
The 1MDB issue has been extensively deliberated by all parties, and I must say I have never seen or experienced anything of the sort where almost all the agencies, from the police, MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission), Bank Negara Malaysia, the auditor general, the Public Accounts Committee (of Parliament) and the attorneygeneral, scrutinised the 1MDB issue in extensive depth and all at the same time.
Never before have I seen or experienced anything resembling the effort or the interest put into dissecting and scrutinising 1MDB, not only by Malaysians, but also by the United States, Switzerland, Singapore and other financial centres of the world.
Despite all these, we still do not have a “complete picture” of what happened to 1MDB and why, until today, none of these jurisdictions have taken specific charge against 1MDB or its employees on the criminal aspect of the case. Even the actions taken by the Singapore government were only in respect of the non-compliance with their banking laws.
Even the US’s Department of Justice (DOJ) couldn’t come up with any solid proof to prosecute any individual on criminal charges in relation to 1MDB. What the DOJ did was to freeze assets allegedly belonging to certain individuals connected to 1MDB in the hope that by freezing the assets, the owners will come forward and disclose to the DOJ how the massive assets could be accumulated without going through the US’s stringent protective laws.
As far as the government is concerned, there is nothing to hide and nothing to cover up. The fact is that, and I know Pua, being a PAC member, knows it himself. There is no clearcut evidence to bring any criminal action against anybody for the 1MDB case at the moment.
Otherwise, I am sure the police, MACC, Bank Negara Malaysia, the auditor general, the Public Accounts Committee and the attorney-general would have taken action against the responsible individuals. The only conclusions that I can make from the PAC report is that 1MDB suffered from poor corporate governance, wrong business model and weak management. I have much faith in our judicial system and I believe that if there be any proof that may be uncovered later, justice will prevail and those responsible will be taken to task. Meanwhile, let us allow these agencies to continue with their investigations, without fear or favour.
I want to ask Pua: what do you expect us to do in the meantime? Do we hold off all our development programmes and initiatives until someone is finally charged in the criminal courts for 1MDB?
Do we wait for the country to collapse and lose all of its credibility in the eyes of the world through incessant condemnations and criticisms from within and without? Will we wait for the opposition to be satisfied when they take over the country before we move forward? Do we stop everything just to live up to the opposition’s seeming wish that we become a “pariah nation” and then only pick up the pieces to rebuild the country and shape it into the mould that the opposition wants at the expense of the rakyat? Is that what the opposition or Pua wants?
We have, in the past, lost more than RM30 billion in our forex (foreign exchange market) misadventure. In fact, we were not really aware of the extent of the forex scandal until recently, when it surfaced. We also lived through the Perwaja Steel scandal, where we reportedly lost billions of ringgit and finally the operation was closed. The 1MDB issue cannot and must not be turned into a witch hunt so that we can appease certain pockets of a society. We need to be thorough and we need to be fair. We need to be patient and time will reveal the truth.
Pua, yes, I was very critical of 1MDB when I was a backbencher, but at that time, I was not privy to detailed information on 1MDB. When I became acquainted with the facts, I realised it would take more than just sentiments and perception to address the issue. You were a member of the PAC and even you know that the PAC could not recommend the charging of any particular individual with criminal conduct in the 1MDB case due to lack of evidence.
What the Finance Ministry (MoF) is doing now is exactly what was recommended by the PAC. The MoF Inc has taken over the assets of 1MDB and this could not be done without taking over the liabilities connected to the assets. We need to do justice to the two pieces of land, that is TRX land and Bandar Malaysia land, by continuing to develop them and maximise the returns to pay the loans which will be settled in due time.
As for the dispute regarding the US$3.5 billion (RM15.5 billion), which was paid to the IPIC group of companies by 1MDB, IPIC cannot continually deny that they have received the monies when 1MDB has already paid the same to them.
Even the US’s Department of Justice (DOJ) couldn’t come up with any solid proof to prosecute any individual on criminal charges in relation to 1MDB.