THE latest US Department of Justice (DoJ) suit to seize assets may threaten the unofficial union between Umno and PAS, as grassroots members of the Islamist party expressed disgust at mounting accusations of corruption implicating Prime Minister Najib Razak in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
The DoJ on Thursday filed a suit to begin seizing assets worth US$540 million (RM2.3 billion), believed to have been purchased using money siphoned from the state fund. This is the third such seizure initiated by the DoJ, bringing the total amount allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB to US$4.5 billion.
PAS, which has officially severed ties with fellow opposition parties, PKR and DAP, has in the past year fostered closer ties with Umno, building an unofficial pact which would give the ruling party a much-needed bolster in the coming elections.
However, following this latest DoJ suit, several PAS grassroots leaders showed no trace of support for Najib but instead expressed outrage at the seeming inaction of Malaysian authorities in probing the explosive allegations.
Several PAS leaders The Malaysian Insight spoke to even urged the DoJ to complete their investigations into 1MDB’s dealings so that Malaysians could finally know the truth.
“This is a huge slap in the face for the Malaysian government, because the Attorney-General, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police are all doing nothing,” said Dr Sheikh Ibrahim Salleh, the state assemblyman for Sungai Abong in Johor.
“It’s shameful, because the whole world, from America to Singapore, are taking action, but we are still doing nothing.”
He praised the actions by the United States government in pursuing the case, saying they were “saving the money of the Malaysian people”.
“The whole world is aware of this issue. We should be grateful to the US government for saving 1MDB money, the Malaysian people’s money,” he said.
Another PAS grassroots leader, Meru, Selangor, state assemblyman Dr Abdul Rani Othman, said Najib must do something to clear his reputation and that of this country, or face the anger of the people in the coming elections.
“As the prime minister, he should do something. Malaysia’s reputation has been sullied.
“The prime minister has the power to bring the people responsible in this case to justice. Don’t think that just because you can get away with it on earth, you will escape judgment in the afterlife,” he said.
In this third and latest civil suit, DoJ is seeking to seize, among others, Malaysian financier Low Teck Jho, or Jho Low’s, luxury yacht called Equanimity which is worth US$165 million (RM704 million) and rights to the film “Dumb and Dumber To” produced by Red Granite, a production house co-owned by Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson.
The DoJ suit also noted that Low had purchased, using money from 1MDB, a 22-carat pink diamond necklace for the “wife of Malaysian Official No. 1” (MO1). MO1 was previously identified as the prime minister by a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. The necklace was said to have cost US$27.3 million.
Working with Umno
In Kedah, Padang Terap PAS Youth committee member Muhammad Kassim said the Islamist party would definitely respond once it was clear and proven that the government was involved in the misappropriation of public funds.
“Before this, the cooperation between PAS and Umno can be seen to be more like PAS working with the government.
“But when allegations such as the ones brought up by the DoJ surfaced, PAS needs to clearly and definitively state its outrage towards the government and towards Umno,” he said.
Muhammad said that Islamic values forbid the party to work with a government that was cruel and corrupt.
“PAS needs to make it clear that it opposes a government that is corrupt.”
PAS’s Pokok Sena MP, Mahfuz Omar, said the party should have never forged a relationship with Najib and Umno, what more after the latest DoJ suit.
“Najib has failed to clear his name in the 1MDB issue. To clear his name, he should have sued Sarawak Report, sue the DoJ,” said the former party information chief.
“How is it possible for us to work together with people who are accused of stealing?”
His views were echoed by Sungai Abong state assemblyman Shekh Ibrahim, who said he would always oppose a union between PAS and Umno.
“Even if this costs me any position in PAS, I’m still a PAS state assemblyman.
“Cooperating with Umno should never have taken place, and now more so with the whole world talking about the 1MDB corruption.”