MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, August 12, 2022

And now, a sequel to 'Billion Dollar Whale'


If film producers in Hollywood are planning a sequel to ‘The Billion Dollar Whale’, there is ready-made documentation for the scriptwriters in the form of the findings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), discoveries made by politicians and statements made by the supposed perpetrators.

Meanwhile, some reports which were termed “secret” will soon be declassified despite claims that they would jeopardise the defence systems of the country.

This, like the 1MDB scandal, involved money - billions of our taxpayers’ money - and there’s little to show.

One or two characters are the same, but in the absence of an Arab prince there were royals who launched a vessel with a make-belief mast which we have been told is now in storage at the shipyard, and there are seagoing vessels but not in the class of the Equanimity.

As usual, there is the involvement of both the finance minister and the defence minister, both of whom offered nothing except token explanations of their conduct and decision-making, which are not plausible.

Then, there are bad loans paid with good money meant for the construction of the littoral combat ship (LCS) and the six ships have yet to appear although their construction was commissioned more than 10 years ago.

‘Yes’ men galore

On a more serious note, Malaysians are seeing a repeat of what happened with the 1MDB scandal. How true (at that time) were so-called patriots saying in unison: “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”

Good men? Some of them received a small fortune while head honchos of listed companies set up a pancaragam (band) to compose and sing a song of praises for their benevolent leader.

For the 1MDB case, there were plenty of “Chemical Alis” who made so many ridiculous statements reflecting blind loyalty for the crumb offerings which were dangled as a carrot.

(At the height of the US invasion of Iraq, Ali Hassan al-Majid, the notorious “Chemical Ali”, also known as “Comical Ali”, stood out with his infamous quotes after the US forces had annihilated the Iraqi army. “The American louts fled. God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis”, he infamously said.)

So many lies were invented to defend the theft, including a so-called Arab prince who could not remember making the donation although fake letters from him were made public; investments in “units”; classifying another PAC report as secret; ministers making ridiculous and incomprehensible statements; and a grandstanding that “our money is safe.”

All that could not prevent the leader and the party from being knocked off the pinnacle after waves of unhappiness and dissent emerged. The rest, as they say, is history. The man involved potentially faces a long spell in the slammer and there are other criminal charges pending in the courts.

But the LCS issue will have its usual drama. At this stage, there have been no signs of Hollywood starlets, pink diamonds, glass pianos or visits to the casino or purchases of art and real estate. Maybe more will be forthcoming when a full-blown inquiry is conducted or when the wrongdoers are produced in court.

Will the authorities step up?

In the meantime, we Malaysians have to sit back and watch the “movie” and be content with reading or listening to the many systems that had gone wrong.

The procurement system will be scrutinised; the key players will be made to answer for their decisions, their actions and inaction; the methodology in distributing and dispersing the loot; and the consequences to Malaysia’s defence systems.

Once again, the details of transactions and the ingenious and inventive routes taken will be there for all to see.

The prime minister made the best decision in his short tenure by announcing that the report of a forensic audit on the government’s procurement of the LCS will be declassified.

In a statement, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government guarantees a transparent investigation will be carried out.

Unlike one of his predecessors who got his hands sullied by covering up wrongdoings in the 1MDB affair, he stressed that those responsible for the LCS scandal will not be spared.

He has ordered the MACC to expedite its investigation and if there is evidence of wrongdoing, the attorney-general will be required to drag all those responsible to court to face the music.

But in the order is a caveat: Will the MACC act in the same urgent manner expeditiously when it investigated unsubstantiated claims of bribery by dubious parties against a judge?

Only time will tell, but the PM’s last words that “the government will not protect those responsible” should be a signal that there should be no dilly-dallying on this issue.

It can be said that PM read the “Riot Act” and the MACC has found itself being ordered to buck up. For the record, it took a good five years before someone was charged for yet another scandal – the purchase of student accommodation by Mara Holdings.

The phrase “can I advise you something” is appropriate for the MACC. Do the job, pronto!

A brave and commendable commitment, but will we see yet another senior judicial officer waving a piece of paper and declaring everything is hunky dory?

Not likely. With the hustings around the corner, there is much more at stake. This time around, only the truth will be acceptable. No frantic calls for letters, no fake sheikhs, no fake letters, and no fake accounts. - Mkini

R NADESWARAN is a veteran journalist who writes on bread-and-butter issues. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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