Last Monday, I called on every Opposition Member of Parliament to declare his or her stand during the 2019 Budget debate in Parliament next week whether the 1MDB scandal was a national catastrophe and whether Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be held responsible for Malaysia becoming a global kleptocracy or whether all the things said by the Pakatan Harapan government on the 1MDB scandal were lies and slanders.
I suggested that there was no point of UMNO President, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, in speaking although as Parliamentary Opposition Leader he would by convention open up the parliamentary debate on the 2019 Budget on Monday, if he is not prepared to declare his stand whether the 1MDB scandal was a national catastrophe and whether Najib should be held responsible for Malaysia becoming a global kleptocracy.
Yesterday, Zahid announced that the Barisan Nasional MPs have decided that instead of the traditional practice of the Parliamentary Opposition Leader opening up the 2019 Budget debate on Monday, the former Umno Youth leader, Khairy Jamaluddin will be the first speaker in the 2019 Budget debate.
Khairy is the only one of two Opposition MPs who have conceded that the 1MDB scandal was the cause of Barisan Nasional’s election defeat on May 9, 2018.
In reply to Najib’s bizarre attempt to white-wash the 1MDB as the cause of the BN election defeat in his political debut last Saturday, attributing the defeat to Pakatan Harapan’s “lies, slanders and empty promises”, Khiary had twittered: “We lost because of 1MDB. The end.”
The other Opposition MP who agreed with Khairy is former UMNO Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (Padang Rengas) who said: “I agree with YB Khairy (Khairy Jamaluddin). The scandal happened and the Cabinet only knew about all the decisions after the issue exploded in the media.”
Nazri said Cabinet members had supported Najib at the height of the controversy earlier because they were informed that the issues could be solved.
“That is why we defended it. We also did not find out until the issue was out in the news and became bigger in public.
“We lost not because people rejected us, but because of 1MDB.
“We cannot be in denial.”
Does the choice of Khairy to be the lead Opposition MP to open up the 2019 Budget debate in Parliament mean that Zahid is not prepared to declare that the 1MDB scandal was a national catastrophe and that Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be held responsible for Malaysia becoming a global kleptocracy?
Be that as it may, there is not a single Opposition MP who can escape the national imperative to require everyone of them to declare whether 1MDB scandal was a national catastrophe and whether Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be held responsible for Malaysia becoming a global kleptocracy.
In fact, the national imperative to Save Malaysia from becoming a rogue democracy, kakistocracy and a global kleptocracy requires every Opposition MP, apart from Najib himself, to declare why he or she had betrayed UMNO, the Barisan Nasional and Malaysia as they had done nothing for over three years to purge Malaysia of the infamy of a global kleptocracy as a result of the 1MDB scandal despite US Attorney-General’s condemnation of “kleptocracy at its worst”.
In fact, those who were MPs in the previous Parliament aided and abetted in turning the Malaysian Parliament into a laughing-stock in the world which prohibited any questioning or debate of the 1MDB scandal in Parliament!
Najib, however, has a heavier responsibility to acquit himself of the crime of national betrayal by plunging Malaysia in the 1MDB “kleptocracy at its worst”, apart from explaining the many mysteries about the 1MDB scandal, like what happened to the US$23.7 million 22-carat pink diamond necklace which Jho Low had paid as a gift for his wife Rosmah Mansor as well as the two subjects which he had lied in his aborted interview with Al Jazeera – the RM2.6 billion donation in his personal banking account and his stepson Riza Aziz’s film production company Red Granite Pictures and its films like The Wolf of Wall Street.
In fact, Najib has now more explaining to do as a result of the guilty plea of former Goldman Sachs banker, Tim Leissner in a court in New York to charges of conspiring to launder money and pay bribes as well as kick-backs from the proceeds raised via 1MDB.
By pleading guilty to the charges that were brought by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the United States, Leissner effectively admitted to the DoJ’s charges on how money raised by 1MDB was used to pay bribes and fund an expensive lifestyle of several high-ranking officials in Malaysia, Abu Dhabi and a particular relative of a high-ranking official in Malaysia.
Tim also admitted that several people in Goldman Sachs knew that the funds were going to be diverted but supposedly kept the information from the Compliance and Intelligence groups of Goldman Sachs to avoid jeopardising the investment bank’s dealings with 1MDB.
Leissner’s plea came together with the arrest of Roger Ng, who was also with Goldman Sachs when 1MDB raised the funds in 2012 and 2013.
The two, together with fugitive financier Jho Low, were identified as key figures in 1MDB raising US$6.5bil (RM27.3bil) in three bond issues in 2012 and 2013 and the diversion of the funds. Low is still on the run, while Ng being extradited to the United States.
Of the amount raised, a staggering US$2.7bil (RM11.34bil) was diverted to bribes, kick-backs, buying gifts and financing the luxury lifestyle of a host of people in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.
Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor are facing a host of criminal charges in Malaysia from money laundering to abuse of power in the 1MDB scandal.
From the US DOJ proceedings, it is clear that the 38 charges levelled against Najib was only scratching the surface of the 1MDB scandal.
The DoJ charge sheet does not name Najib by person. However, the description of the high-ranking “Malaysian Official No. 1” (MO1) that allegedly benefitted from the funds diverted from 1MDB fits that of the former Prime Minister and none other than Najib’s right-hand man, former senior UMNO Minister and BN strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan had openly admitted that “MO1” is none other than Najib.
Najib should explain to Parliament next week why for three years he pretended that he did not know that “MO1” was a direct reference to him, and why he had not answered the charges levelled against “”MO1”.
Even in the his recent aborted Al Jazeera interview, Najib has denied any knowledge that money which he received came from funds raised by 1MDB. He also denied knowing that a multi-million-dollar piece of jewellery “presented” to his wife was actually bought using proceeds from 1MDB’s bond issues.
He contended that it was a gift from royalty in the United Arab Emirates and that expensive gifts were common among dignitaries.
However, according to Leissner’s charge sheet, on Oct 10, 2014, the banker and a co-conspirator from Abu Dhabi transferred US$4.1mil as part payment to a jeweller in New York for jewellery meant for the wife of MO1.
The payment to the jeweller was part of a kick-back with the hope of securing the mandate to list 1MDB’s energy unit. The listing of the energy unit did not take place eventually, as it failed to meet the requirements of the authorities.
Going through Leissner’s charge sheet, the intention to defraud 1MDB was already there right from the beginning in 2009.
That was the time when the birth of 1MDB took place under the original name of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).
This called for a satisfactory explanation by Najib.
There is also the question of who was the mystery Goldman Sachs executive at the 1MDB meeting with Najib at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Time Warner Center in New York in Sept. 2013.
A federal filing unsealed on Thursday (Nov 1) places Najib and a “high-ranking executive” from Goldman Sachs in a meeting with several people the US now accuses of a massive global fraud – including a Malaysian financier who had been repeatedly flagged by the bank’s compliance teams.
Present was Jho Low, whom the US accuses of masterminding the scheme to divert billions of dollars from 1MDB to private accounts, fine art, luxury toys and high-end real estate.
Three days later Jho Low returned to the Time Warner Center, where Najib was staying at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, according to the court filing, according to an FBI special agent’s affidavit filed under seal in June.
There, Low and a jeweler presented Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, with a custom-made 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace, according to court documents. The jewels cost US$27.3mil (RM114mil).
The money came from funds that were raised by Goldman for 1MDB and then diverted into accounts controlled by Low, according to the filings.
This is a totally different account from that given by Najib in his aborted Al Jazeera interview. It is time that in his speech in Parliament, Najib should straighten out this issue.
A final note. In his latest FB live broadcast, Najib insisted that he did not lie about the RM2.6 billion donation that he had received in his personal bank account but we must thank Awang Selamat, the editorial voice of UMNO-owned newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, for highlighting one important aspect of Najib’s claim about the RM2.6 billion donation – that Najib did not take the initiative to thank the Saudi Arabia government or the King, if the money was indeed from them!
This had provoked Awang Selamat to refer to the old story which said that not all thieves are liars, but all liars will always steal!
Let Najib reply to Utusan Malaysia and every Opposition MP take a stand on the latest Utusan position on Najib when Parliament reconvenes next week