AFTER writing on ‘Scandalous that AG not acting on DoJ’s 1MDB revelation’ (June 20, 2017), I really didn’t think I would have to pen this piece so soon.
However, the recent most AG’s statement was simply outlandish. The open letter by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang was surely another, purporting foreign interference in the 1MDB fiasco aided by locals. I have been particularly restrained, especially during Ramadan.
Yet, in the best interests of the nation that we all love, and of Islam – for which justice is the ultimate objective many claim to fight for, but evidently later ‘hijack’ – I very much feel compelled to engage again.
The AG has exonerated the prime minister of all wrongdoings in 1MDB, but is now seemingly ‘upping the ante’ of sorts. Hadi, in the same vein, called for four witnesses to facilitate accusations against Prime Minister Najib Razak. However, he now seems to outdo the AG in his open letter, lending backhanded credence to Najib.
They both represent the main stumbling block in the initiation of effective legal proceedings that could get to the bottom of the 1MDB’s “heist of the century”.
Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali’s argument is arguably flawed, much as it borders on dishonesty or half-truth. Apandi also alluded that “the actions of the DoJ are also believed to be based on information given by certain individuals from Malaysia”. That is outright despicable and will trigger a witch hunt.
Apandi could be accused of deliberately misleading the Malaysian public or is he truly oblivious to the fact of the matter? Yes, he could very well have not read the 251 pages of the DoJ complaint.
On page 7, it is categorically stated under the heading of the “Nature of the Action” that: “This is a civil action ‘in rem’ (Latin words in italic) to forfeit assets involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1-MDB)…”
The word ‘in rem’ is repeated in so many places as it was also noted in the earlier complaints, as to make me question its significance. Admittedly, not much has been said about it.
Simply put, judgement in rem means that the court action is meant to make judgement on the ‘category of things’ and not based on persons or individuals (judgement in personam).
The ‘category of things or property’ here are all those items or assets identified, to be forfeited by the court, purchased through the ill-gotten or embezzled money from 1MDB, that had been brought into the United States and United Kingdom, and Swiss financial institutions.
An action ‘in rem’ takes no notice of the (original) owner of the property. The object of the lawsuit is to determine the disposition of the assets (properties), regardless of who the owner is or who else might have an interest in it.
Hence, the AG should know full well that they may very well not be consulted or referred to. Apandi should be more concerned as to how 1MDB’s money was embezzled far and wide, across the globe and into these jurisdictions.
People wouldn’t disagree that it is in fact the AG that has unmistakably ‘politicised’ this legal proceeding of forfeiture of assets. Never mind him giving the Swiss AG’s Chambers the cold shoulder over mutual legal assistance on two occasions. Why is he whining now?
As to Hadi’s open letter of wanting to get the Malaysian Court to resolve the 1MDB problem and not to allow foreign meddling in our internal affairs, it is both misplaced and smacks of ignorance of the actual legal proceedings.
That the DoJ is using its kleptocracy (asset recovery initiative) procedure to recover all the money stolen from 1MDB spent in the US, should auger well for all Malaysians.
With all due respect, Hadi is apparently at a loss on this. The open letter admonishes Malaysians to remain patient and steadfast, while never allowing apparent foreign meddling. That Malaysia has become a global kleptocracy, involving foreign and international conspirators matters least to him.
To the more alert lay public, Hadi presents himself an unrelenting defender of Najib’s alleged kleptocracy. Hadi’s call for an anti-western rhetoric, coupled with Anuar Musa’s narrative of a subversion of a Muslim-led government, also finds natural traction in this already deepening racially and religiously divided society. The Malay-Muslim constituency urgently requires a new narrative on Malay-Muslim leadership. Umno-PAS is in a time warp.
That the AG and religious leaders like Hadi pose a serious threat and a stumbling block to debunking kleptocracy is surely an understatement.
The rakyat must wait for the ‘Apex Court of the People’ ie, the 14th General Election, which has to conclusively defeat the alleged defender of kleptocracy for reform and change to triumph and thrive.
Writer: Dzulkefly Ahmad is strategy diretcor of Amanah