The revival of claims surrounding the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal and linking it to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad are attempts to divert attention from the 1MDB scandal, claims lawyer Haniff Khatri.
This “attack as the best mode of defence” tactic should not be used by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Haniff, who is Mahathir’s lawyer, said in a statement today.
“This tactic can be seen as attempts to erroneously link the BMF scandal issue with Mahathir, just because it was first exposed during his administration, even though it started before his time,” he said.
Haniff also pointed out that Mahathir himself had, in a blog post last Tuesday, outlined the differences between the BMF scandal during his tenure, and the current 1MDB imbroglio.
Among others, Mahathir said the BMF issue did not involve allegations of direct impropriety by the government in power, nor was it directly linked to him as then prime minister.
“In contrast, the 1MDB issue is directly linked to impropriety by the present government,” Mahathir had said, adding that Najib was also personally implicated by the allegations.
‘Erroneously link claims’
Commenting further, Haniff said this was followed by further attempts to “erroneously link” claims that the central bank had lost US$10 billion (RM44.33 billion at current rates) in the foreign exchange market during Mahathir’s tenure as prime minister.
Haniff cited an Utusan Malaysia report of the claims last Friday, which quoted former Bank Negara deputy governor Abdul Murad Khalid as calling upon the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to probe the matter.
In dismissing the call, Haniff also cited another Utusan Malaysia report on Nov 6, 2000, on Abdul Murad’s acquittal for failing to declare his assets according to procedures under Section 87(1)(c) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989.
“Your (Najib’s) attempt to abuse the concept of ‘pointing fingers’ at others on issues with no merit in actual fact only expresses your own admission to wrongdoings on 1MDB and a crisis of confidence in your leadership as prime minister,” Haniff said in referring to Najib’s response on the issue.
Meanwhile, former minister Zainuddin Maidin also cited the same Utusan report on Murad’s acquittal and challenged the Umno-linked daily to republish it on its front page, just like his attempts to implicate Mahathir.
“If this is not done, then it would undermine the dignity of all Utusan Melayu journalists, as a paper that is historically known for its high integrity,” Zainuddin, a former Utusan Malaysiagroup editor-in-chief, said in a blog post today.
Najib said last Friday that the cabinet would seek Bank Negara Malaysia’s opinion before taking any further action.
The MACC has reportedly advised Bank Negara Malaysia to conduct its own internal inquiry on the matter and added that it would only open an investigation if there was found to be any element of corruption.