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Monday, June 26, 2017

What Hadi Awang can learn from Nazir Razak



Most of our top politicians are nice and gentle. Be it Najib Razak, Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Muhyiddin Yassin, or Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
All have their pleasant and thoughtful sides. Thus it is a puzzle, not least, how they can go at each other's jugular at the drop of a hat.
The explanation is simple: truth and self-interest. In the case of Najib and his ilk, truth does not matter anymore. The fact that he had mismanaged and mishandled 1MDB from day one, and allowed the abuses to pile, does not matter.
That Jho Low it now a globe trotter with billions at his side, some of which will never see the light of day, despite the vigorous investigation of US Department of Justice (DOJ) and six other jurisdictions across the world, does not matter too.
The same now seems to apply to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang. On surface, he is a friendly, amiable and well-mannered religious teacher. Quranic verses and Hadith can flow seamlessly from his mouth. He can even be contradicted openly by his deputy president, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Ismail, that 1MDB is a horror and freak show that is destroying Malaysia at will.
Hadi does not mind nor care. But the dynamics change altogether, when Hadi, who carries the mantle of Islamic conscience and knowledge on his shoulder, begin to mouth nonsensical statements.
On 1MDB, he claims that there is foreign meddling - that domestic Malaysian actors had given US and other countries the files and fodder to destroy the Muslim leadership in Malaysia.
Wrong. Money laundering since the invention of the modern banking system, has always been illegal.
When one launders money, one is attempting to rig the banking system to serve one's fiduciary interest. In the 1MDB case, the goal plain and simple was to hide the money allegedly pilfered from Malaysia to be hidden in US, to which they would then withdraw at will to enjoy the high roller life in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
If all countries allow high-powered individuals to employ such underhanded means to stash away their spoils in US, or, even, Singapore, or, Hong Kong, their banking and economic systems would literally collapse.
Too much dirty money would be churning in their economy, and their economy would lose track of the ability to create and control the supply of money in any predictable manner.
Thus, even in Switzerland, where money is saved in numbered accounts to allow savers that benefit of anonymity, the authorities in Geneva did not allow 1MDB to hide their money in the system.
The money was too large, billions of US dollars, and too mysterious to permit any accountability.
When Hadi, a religious teacher, encourages his followers to believe in this narrative - a patently false one - that foreign governments are attempting to unseat and destroy the Malaysian government, he is giving the 1MDB culprits and Jho Low the immunity to walk around invincibly.
Is this what Islam is for? To protect those who commit grand larceny the world has never heard of, that is until the word 1MDB had started making their rounds in The Wall Street JournalFinancial Times, The Economist and numerous banking institutions investigative reports?
Banks have been closed down, fined and even reprimanded for the 1MDB related offences in Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and others. Scores of individuals have been charged and even found guilty. Only in Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, nothing happened.
 
‘Wolves of Wall Street’
More importantly, how can the investigation of 1MDB be equated with the loss of Andalusia to the Spanish in the 15th century as alluded by Hadi?
Andalusia was lost due to the ferociousness of Spanish conquistadors (conquerors). Yes, the Muslims in Andalusia were bickering over position and power, but they were not investigating mega scandals like 1MDB which is a living manifestation of corruption, malfeasance and abuse of power. Additionally, the Spanish conquistadors sacked Muslims and Jews from Spain on the ostensible ground that Spain was only meant for the Christians.
Thus despite the philosophers and libraries that had sprouted up in Andalusia, such as Ibnu Rush and Ibn Sina, with one of the libraries in Andalusia having a collection of more than 400,000 leather bound books, the Spanish conquistadors committed the unspeakable act of pushing non-Christians out.
Yet the DOJ is conducting its investigations on Malaysia based on concurrent and completed investigations in various global financial locations.
If the US did not act, invariably by seizing and forfeiting the assets and monies from 1MDB, how can Washington DC literally prevent the "wolves of Wall Street" in their own country from making money the good, old, and traditional way?
Had DOJ not acted, the New York Stock Exchange would have become a playground of Russian, Chinese and other financial mafias.
Thus by going for the interest of the 1MDB, the US was protecting itself, especially its own financial and systemic integrity, rather than that of Malaysia alone!
Indeed, Andalusia was described by the Chair of In Khaldun Studies, Professor Akbar Ahmed, as the epitome of where "ilm" (knowledge) should be pursued. And, the essence of "ilm," in Islamic and any terms is that it is an unending quest.
Thus Saad Ibn Al Waqaas, the friend of Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), was one of the first to make the treacherous journeys from Arabia peninsula to present-day Xi An in China in the mid-7th century.
The quest for knowledge does not mean reading only, but venturing abroad, as Saad Ibn Al Waqaas did. But his trip to China was to spread Islam and to understand China - not to beg China for money, which our beleaguered government is doing after the fiasco in 1MDB.
Misrepresenting history
Here one can see that Hadi had completely misunderstood and misrepresented history. By equating the investigation of 1MDB with the loss of Andalusia, he has planted "doubt" in the minds of his followers.
Yet any attempt where one is doubtful, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) has asked all Muslims to stay away without fail.
It will be good if Hadi finally has someone independent or impartial to brief him on 1MDB before he spews out more nonsensical statements.
1MDB is saddled with doubts and serious misdoings. Even when one does not know where Jho Low is, and how he became so close to the family of Najib, it is clear that this is a flagrant abuse of the financial system.
Indeed, Hadi should take a lesson from Nazir Razak, a veritable and verifiable banker.
Instead of calling for a stop to the investigation of 1MDB perpetrated by his elder brother Najib, the chairperson of CIMB has encouraged the investigation to continue.
Why would Nazir encourage it, if such an action would permit the US to gobble up Malaysia and the entire banking system?
Nazir encouraged it precisely because the investigation is par for the course: it is fair, transparent, with no hidden interest from the US.

Hadi is a religious teacher. But there is nothing to suggest that religious teachers cannot learn banking from experienced and senior bankers too, especially if the banking lessons can be offered by the youngest brother of the prime minister himself. It is about time Hadi learn what really the 1MDB scandal is.
Surely there is no conspiracy in that. Unless, of course, Hadi believes that even Nazir wants to unseat and dethrone his own eldest brother.

RAIS HUSSIN is a Supreme Council member of Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM). He also heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of PPBM. - Mkini

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