DAP’s first-ever ceramah in a kampung in Penang on Thursday night will see the party attempting to explain the “mother of all Malaysian scandals” – 1MDB – to rural folk.
Penang is the launch pad for Pakatan Harapan’s nationwide two-month 1MDB roadshow. Themed “Sayangi Malaysia, Hapuskan Kleptokrasi” (Love Malaysia, Destroy Kleptocracy”, the roadshow’s first stop is Dewan JKKK Penaga in Kepala Batas, where the state and parliamentary seats are held by Umno.
The speakers who will dissect the 1MDB scandal are DAP national publicity secretary and Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Penang DAP vice-chairman Zairil Khir Johari, and Batu Kawan MP P. Kasthuriraani.
Also speaking at the 9pm event will be PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Amanah Youth deputy chief Faiz Fadzil, and Penang Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chief Marzuki Yahaya.
Zairil said after Penang DAP’s two full-house 1MDB ceramah in English and Mandarin in May, they were hoping to repeat the success at Thursday’s ceramah that would be in Bahasa Melayu.
He said the ceramah would be “framed slightly differently” to cater to the rural Malay audience to explain 1MDB, which was quite technical and involved huge amounts of cash.
“It is not as straight-forward case as money passed under the table. (In 1MDB’s case) it was money going through shell companies and other ways of laundering money, and then going into the personal accounts of certain individuals.
“I believe Pua and the other speakers can explain it clearly, presenting it in a way that will be easier for the layman to understand,” he told a press conference at Penang DAP’s headquarters today.
Zairil, who is Bukit Bendera MP, said flowcharts would be used to illustrate how 1MDB raised funds, channelled and spent money, which parties received the money, how it allegedly ended up in the personal account of Prime Minister Najib Razak, and how funds were used to purchase luxury assets like diamonds, a jet and yacht, paintings and real estate.
“Certain issues in the scandal can be highlighted, like the luxury assets purchases, which includes the 22-carat rare pink diamond set in a necklace. With a mix of graphics and explanations, it is not impossible for people to understand the issue,” he said.
The pink diamond necklace mentioned in the latest DoJ suit was allegedly bought for the wife of “Malaysian Official 1”, who was previously identified as Najib by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
The 1MDB roadshow was announced by opposition leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail last week, following last month’s latest civil suit by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to recover billions of ringgit worth of assets bought with money allegedly stolen from 1MDB.
Political analysts told The Malaysian Insight that 1MDB was an issue too complex for most kampung folk who were more concerned with the rising cost of living and other bread-and-butter issues, and PH had to do more than just talk at ceramah.
They also think it would be a challenge for PH to get the message to those who need the most convincing with regard to the 1MDB issue – people who support Barisan Nasional and believe everything the ruling party tells them.
Kasthuriraani said PH would simplify and “humanise the 1MDB issue”, telling people how the scandal and the loss of funds that belonged to the people of Malaysia had caused federal government projects to be stalled.
“Many projects for schools, hospitals and infrastructure upgrades are put on hold because the government lacks money. This is what we have found out through replies at Parliament.
“If the money (from the 1MDB scandal) can be recovered, the funds can be returned to the people. Rural folk should be able to understand that,” she said.
On getting the right crowd to attend Thursday’s ceramah, and not just their own supporters, Zairil said they hoped those interested in the issue, namely the Malays, could show up.
“We are having this ceramah in a kampung area ecause we don’t want the 1MDB issue to only be discussed in urban areas.
“For those who don’t attend, we will have video recordings that can be shared via social media platforms like WhatsApp. The video can be forwarded to everyone.
“Previously, we had videos of the English and Mandarin sessions. Now we will have a Malay session on video that we can also disseminate,” he said.
Zairil also said PH planned to at least hold a similar ceramah in every state until its roadshow finale in September.
He added that since Malaysian authorities had yet to take action against the perpetrators behind the scandal, unlike the authorities in the US, Switzerland and Singapore, it was up to PH to go on a national campaign to raise awareness, mobilise people and apply more pressure on the administration.