Thursday, April 7, 2016

1MDB: the truth is finally revealed 

Salleh Said Keruak 

Although the Public Accounts Committee’s report on 1MDB presented to Parliament today has not implicated Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in any wrongdoing, he still must be held accountable for what happened, said DAP’s Tony Pua, who is one of the panel members. “The only thing we have on Najib is the shareholders resolutions which he signed,” Tony Pua said. “He signed all these deals. At the very least, he should be held ministerially accountable.” 

That sums up what the one-year of mud-slinging and unfounded accusations has been reduced to. There is no evidence of any criminal activities, RM42 billion of 1MDB’s money has not disappeared into thin air, and RM2.6 billion of 1MDB’s money has not been transferred to the Prime Minister’s personal bank account. All we have is an allegation of bad management and the assumption that surely the Prime Minister must have been aware of this, and even if he was not, the buck still has to stop at Najib’s table. 

Being held accountable for bad management or poor business decisions is a far departure from the allegation of stealing billions of the taxpayers’ money for personal use. Perwaja, MAS, Proton, the RM30 billion Forex losses, Maminco, BMF, and much more, were all cases of either bad management or bad business decisions. But no one was asked to be sent to jail for theft involving the taxpayers’ money. 

Now that this whole matter has been put in its proper perspective, Malaysians need to move on. For more than a year we have been under the dark cloud of unfounded allegations that Malaysia’s Prime Minister is a thief. Najib was subjected to trial by media and was convicted in the court of public opinion. This is something the opposition has been opposed to and would never tolerate but when it comes to Najib the opposition condones it. 

We must note that the PAC does not serve the government. It represents Parliament and comprises members from both the government and the opposition. And the report cannot be released unless there is a consensus from all the PAC members who are unanimous in that the findings are factual and unquestionable. 

Under Najib’s watch debates and free speech are allowed more than they were in the past. But Malaysians need to differentiate between freedom of speech and slander. People need to also be free from being slandered. So under the umbrella of free speech that does not give you the right to slander anyone. And in cases of slander, civil or criminal action can be taken against you. After all, the other person being slandered has as much rights as the person slandering. 

Let the 1MDB affair be a lesson to the government. When dealing with the taxpayers’ money we need professional, competent and experienced managers. Too many times we have seen losses due to bad decisions. To meet the challenges ahead of us we need to give the job to the right person. And this has to be the strategy we adopt in bringing Malaysia forward. 

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