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Monday, March 20, 2017

Open letter to second finance minister



Dear Minister, 
Thank you so much for your open letter addressed to me which was issued yesterday. I am not sure whether I should be honoured to have received such a letter from a minister for the very first time in my nine years as a member of Parliament.
Datuk,
You are extremely unhappy apparently because I called you a “liar” and accused you of “covering up for the prime minister”. I checked my facts again and I’m more than happy to stand by my accusations.
Earlier this year, you told the media repeatedly that the Finance Ministry (MOF) would not take over any of the 1MDB’s debts. This was a specific response to my question raised in mid-January as to whether the MOF took over 1MDB’s RM800 million loan from Socso and RM2.4 billion sukuk.
It was only when I received the convoluted parliamentary reply in the current sitting, I could conclude that MOF did indeed take over these debts. The sad thing about the reply from the finance minister was that it was clearly written in a way to obfuscate the truth.
You then dug a deeper hole for yourself by arguing that the RM3.2 billion of debt was an “operating debt” belonging to 1MDB’s wholly-owned subsidiary, 1MDB Real Estate (1MDB RE) and hence was not considered as 1MDB’s debt. I then said that “no finance minister worth his salt would argue that the ‘operating debts’ of a wholly-owned subsidiary does not belong to the parent company’s accounting books”.
I also proved with facts published in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report, extracted from the Auditor-General’s Report that more than 87 percent or RM2.8 billion of the RM3.2 billion of 1MDB RE borrowings never went towards the development of 1MDB’s real estate properties. Hence I asked why did the MOF not insist that these advances to 1MDB be repaid?
Datuk,
You then went on to tell an audience at an MIDF lunch talk that the government couldn’t press charges against 1MDB personalities “without complete information”. You supported your claim by saying the the auditor-general and the PAC could not point to anything specifically wrong with 1MDB.
Again, I pointed to specific sections of the PAC Report which clearly concluded that the 1MDB top management had on dozens of occasions - lied and misled the board of directors, defied the decisions of the board or worse, acted without the board’s authority, all of which are legal offences. The PAC even asked the authorities to investigate the CEO, Shahrol Halmi, and other officers involved for the above wrongdoings. However, a year later, Shahrol Halmi remains comfortably as of today, a director of Pemandu agency in the Prime Minister’s Department.
You added in your letter that, “as far as the government is concerned, there is nothing to hide and nothing to cover up”. Then, I ask you, if so, why do you not propose for the cabinet refusing to declassify the ‘harmless’ Auditor-General’s Report?
However, instead of answering all of the above questions, you ask me to “give it a rest”.
You opined that 1MDB is the most scrutinised entity by all enforcement agencies in Malaysia. However, you fail to also disclose that every single investigating agency was hampered and disrupted.
When the PAC announced that we were summoning Jho Low for questioning, the PAC chairperson was soon replaced by Hasan Arifin who promptly reversed the decision. Hasan even responded that he has to “cari makan” when asked by the media if the prime minister would be summoned.
Despite the diligence of the Auditor-General’s Office, key documents such as 1MDB’s bank statements for its overseas subsidiaries were not handed over to the AG. Neither did Arul Kanda or Shahrol hand over many other documents they promised when requested by the PAC.
The biggest farce must be the “super-taskforce” investigating 1MDB comprising of the attorney-general, the inspector-general of police, the MACC chief commissioner and the Bank Negara governor set up by the prime minister himself. Did you forget that just as the then attorney-general discovered shenanigans relating to the prime minister, he was promptly “retired” on spurious ‘health’ reasons? As if on queue, the new attorney-general effectively dissolved the “super-taskforce” and even went to the extent of instructing the MACC to stop any further investigations on the matter.
Datuk,
You started your letter whining that you are merely working to “serve the nation” by taking “positive and proactive” steps.
Perhaps let me gently remind you that there is a difference between "serving the nation" and "serving the prime minister", by covering up the scandal so that the truth gets swept under the carpet and the crooks get away scot free.
Do you not realise that we are now a renowned kleptocracy and how damaging that is for our country? Everyone who has taken an interest in the affairs of Malaysia knows from the documents presented by the United States Department of Justice and the Singapore courts that US$731 million from 1MDB, found its way through dodgy investment funds and deceptive offshore companies into the personal bank account of Najib Abdul Razak.
Do you not think that to “serve the nation”, we must work to revive our heavily-tarnished global reputation? And do you not think that the only way we can remove the kleptocracy label from Malaysia is not by sweeping the truth under the carpet but instead ensure that the kleptocrats are charged and appropriately punished?
In fact, if you really want to take “positive and proactive steps” to help the nation, why haven’t you made a claim for the US$1 billion worth of assets being seized by the United States which were acquired with funds laundered and stolen from 1MDB? Why is the government still keeping up the pretences that 1MDB did not lose these billions of dollars?
Dear Minister,
The above are just some of the many reasons why I won’t give the 1MDB issue a rest. The issue doesn’t deserve to be rested because you and your fellow ministers have refused to answer simple questions and more importantly, the crooks who audaciously misappropriated more than US$5 billion are still at large.Any elected representative with any sense of morality and integrity, who believes in protecting the interest of the man-on-the-street and who wants justice meted out to criminals who rob the country will never let the matter rest until the truth is found.

I am sure that my voters in Petaling Jaya Utara and all right-thinking Malaysians would overwhelmingly back my dogged persistence and relentless pursuit to ensure that Malaysia’s corrupt leaders and its kleptocratic government are made accountable for their crimes.

Tony Pua is the MP for Petaling Jaya Utara and DAP national publicity secretary.-Mkini

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