‘There’s noth­ing to hide and noth­ing to cover up’

New Straits Times - - News - >>

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.

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