Thursday 28 July 2016

Saleh Mohammed : My plea to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on 1MDB

With thanks to malaysiakini

Saleh Mohammed
28 Jul 2016, PM 1:37 (Updated 28 Jul 2016, PM 6:57)

 1MDB Letter:

I am just an ordinary citizen. Yes, I had met the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (His Majesty) for the first time, a long time ago, in a mosque when he previously served as the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The last time I saw him was a few months ago and also in a mosque near where I live now.

In October 2015, I wrote an article titled ‘1MDB: Proposals for our beloved Rulers’. This was in response to the statement by the Malay rulers who wanted the government to complete the investigation related to 1MDB as soon as possible. Their royal highnesses stressed the findings of the investigation must be reported comprehensively and in a transparent manner which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth.

If the issue is not wisely handled and allowed to drag on, it could jeopardise the country’s economy and the livelihood of the people. Their royal highnesses feared that this could also threaten public order and national security.

Enforcement agencies and regulatory institutions such as the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara Malaysia, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the judiciary, as well as related government bodies were reminded to be worthy of God’s trust and the people’s faith with transparency, credibility and integrity.

In summary, some of my proposals were:

1. The rulers to get involved by way of appointing one of the rulers to preside in a special body (SB) that is higher than a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) and will report to the Conference of Rulers through special sittings;

2. The three investigating bodies (MACC, police and Bank Negara) to come together under the body and to produce a holistic and comprehensive report and to include the past external auditors of 1MDB and the attorney-general (AG) into the SB;

3. Since there will be conflict of interest, it is advisable for people involved to go on leave;

4. Have a deadline.

Alas, Malaysia, for the wrong reasons, was in the world news last week. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed lawsuits on Wednesday seeking to seize dozens of properties tied to 1MDB, saying that over US$3.5 billion was misappropriated. It seeks to seize assets “involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1MDB”.

“Menjunjung duli”, I am now making a plea to His Majesty and the other royal highnesses to intervene and consider my earlier proposals since this issue is still not resolved and has attracted international investigations in numerous countries.

This is not a matter of politically-motivated attacks or to unseat a democratically-elected head of government. This is not a matter of one person’s political future. This is a matter of national interest and to avoid further embarrassments on how we deal with issues that are now on a global scale.

Black spot etched in our history

Facts and reasons to support my plea are:

1. The government has failed to complete the investigation related to 1MDB as soon as possible as instructed by their royal highnesses. It is close to nine months now since the strong statement was issued and there are more investigations and questions being raised.

In June last year, the government asked for a six months period to solve the 1MDB problems. Three months later, another 6 months was requested. It has been more than a year now and the problem is far from being solved. Not only the whole country but the whole world now knows about this black spot that will be etched in our history.

2. Investigations have spread not only in the USA but also to Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Switzerland, HK, Luxembourg and Seychelles. As an example, Singapore is conducting a thorough review of possible money-laundering related to 1MDB.

3. Bank Negara found inaccurate disclosures by 1MDB when it sought approvals for investments abroad. It proposed criminal proceedings against the fund but were dismissed by the attorney-general.

4. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report in April found that the practices of 1MDB management and its Board led to weak governance and the Board failed to discharge their responsibilities and safeguard the interests of the company and shareholders. It also singled out the former CEO to take responsibility for the blunders. However, more than three months have passed and no actions have been taken.

5. Disregard for urging on transparency - the auditor-general’s report into 1MDB completed in March 2016 was classified under the Officials Secrets Act, and still is, shielding it from public view.

6. The latest revelation that 1MDB board said it is replacing the current auditor and has advised against relying on its 2013 and 2014 financial statements pending findings of a court of law in the United States. If the audited financial statements showed a true and fair view of the company's affairs why the need to advise against relying on it? Further, it has yet to file the audited accounts for 2015.

7. There have been a number of high-powered task forces and committees looking at this issue. A lot of valuable time and resources have been spent by those high-powered personnel including some ‘collateral damage’ in the form of sackings, resignations and transfers of those not actually involved with 1MDB. This does not reflect well on the way we run things in our beloved country.

8. A lot of confusion has arisen - an example is some of the allegations in the civil suit filed by the US DOJ seeking to seize US$1 billion in assets bought with money stolen from a state fund are the same as those in our investigations into a US$681 million transfer to a personal bank account.

But Saudi Arabia said that the $681million transferred into the personal bank account was a “genuine donation”. Our attorney-general said the cash was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia.

9. Affects credibility of the civil service -

i) The police report by the Umno Youth wing accusing several former and world-renowned top bureaucrats who were involved in investigations into 1MDB of conspiring to topple the prime minister is akin to an attack on the credibility of the civil service.

ii) The swiftness and comprehensiveness of the civil suit filed by the US DOJ does not compare favourably with the speed and findings of some of our authorities.

iii) The admission by the Home Ministry that they and Interpol have been unsuccessful in locating the individuals linked to 1MDB to help in facilitating investigations does not reflect well on our competency.

10. Police distraction - too many police reports and also lawsuits on this issue will distract the police from their main duties. The Umno Youth wing had urged the police to expedite investigations into their report.

Discussions and murmurs are counterproductive

11. Affecting productivity - the collateral damage includes losing a deputy prime minister, a menteri besar, a minister and a few senior bureaucrats (including an attorney-general). Some may say, these do not affect productivity but discussions and murmurs at office corridors, coffee houses, raya gatherings, warungs and mamak restaurants on these issues are counterproductive.

12. Unfavourable ratings - 1MDB has an estimated US$12 billion in debt and much currently rated as junk bonds by Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. International fund managers will not put Malaysia as attractive after considering these factors.

13. Power of the AG - the power vested and decisions made suggest that the AG has a constitutional right to reject a decision or proposal or has ‘veto’ power. This runs counter to our democratic principles.

Let us 30 million Malaysians show loyalty to our rulers and our beloved country.

Hopefully, our respected rulers will “Memperkenankan” my proposals based on the above facts and reasoning.

“Menjunjung kasih” to our rulers for their deep concern on us ordinary Malaysians.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Separately, for those planning Bersih 5, I have a premonition that it will not be effective as it will be business as usual thereafter.

It would be better to think of other effective means to help solve the current saga. Yes, you will get the world to witness the frustrations and displeasures. Time, energy and efforts will be expended and would the desired wishes get fulfilled? The fact it is for the fifth time says it all.

Someone may say Thomas Edison failed a thousand times trying to refine the light bulb... but this is the digital age now. It may work in Thailand or even far-away Turkey but I think Malaysians have a different DNA.

I totally agree with Dr Chandra Muzaffar who said one must take cognisance of the danger of protests being hijacked by others with their own mischievous agenda.

Time is not on Malaysia’s side when we are chasing for developed nation status.

One of the well known hadith of the Prophet is: “Kullu kum ra’in was kullu ra’in mas’ool an rai’yatay-hi...” meaning that “Everyone of you is a caretaker, and every caretaker is responsible for what he is caretaker of.”

Justice delayed is justice denied.

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