The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report on the link between China and 1MDB comes long after there was already strong evidence within the government itself that China was complicit in hiding and ameliorating the 1MDB problem of the previous administration to curry favour with it.
Still, the report has unearthed new evidence, including minutes of meetings between Malaysian and China officials which clearly acknowledge that China offered to help Malaysia to bail out 1MDB in return for lucrative and overpriced contracts.
It also included the previously reported blatant and criminal overpricing of contracts, especially the RM55 billion (now RM81 billion) East Coast Rail Link or ECRL project, and the RM10 billion pipeline-to-nowhere project.
Both of these involve some RM30 billion in overpricing, which was to be used eventually to buy worthless assets from 1MDB to cover the shortfall of funds in 1MDB caused by the theft of borrowed money from the so-called national development company.
It will be interesting to find out where the WSJ sourced these minutes from, some eight months after Pakatan Harapan took over as the new government. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has said that he has no knowledge of the minutes, which is curious because 1MDB was a company wholly owned by the Finance Ministry.
How is it that the Harapan government has no knowledge of the minutes, when all the records for 1MDB were within its control from May 2018? If those responsible for 1MDB previously had secreted away these minutes, why would they hand it over on a platter for WSJ to review now?
Who are the people who are really investigating 1MDB in Malaysia, besides the actual criminal probe itself? Who has physical possession of all of 1MDB’s records? Why has there been no forensic audit involving accountants, lawyers and other professionals launched as yet?
What is the status of the report by the committee that was appointed under the Council of Eminent Persons and tasked with investigating 1MDB and making its recommendations?
Why is the finance minister yet to make public the situation audit for 1MDB, which will set out its financial position, more than five months after it has been submitted by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)? (The situation audit is not a forensic audit, which is aimed at uncovering exactly what happened and how it happened, including apportioning blame.)
Is there another cover-up at 1MDB, especially regarding China’s role and complicity in this crime? As I had written in my last column, the government, given the circumstances, should not even think about continuing with the ECRL project because it is already heavily tainted.
Further, it involves a superpower interfering in the affairs of our country and perpetuating corruption by supporting a kleptocratic government, all for its own narrow purposes of extending its hegemony over smaller countries in the region by hook or by crook. Such blatant action against our interests cannot be condoned.
Also, we need to be careful about those who were in the kleptocratic government and now want to distance themselves from what Umno/BN had previously done. Take, for instance, former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who said that he and the other ministers did not know about the deals made with China to bail out 1MDB.
“As a former cabinet member, I can categorically state that the cabinet was never informed that the China deals were linked to bailing out 1MDB. If there is evidence of that happening, it was without cabinet approval,” Khairy (photo) said on Twitter.
But did you not at least suspect? Did you not know of the kind of deals that were being done with China which were public knowledge? Did you or any other minister express concern over the strong links with China and the huge amount of deals signed and planned?
In April 2017, I had a written a column titled “Malaysia’s vexing China connection” where I had talked about the multi-billion deals that had been signed involving the two countries. I listed some major projects which had been publicly announced.
These then included the following:
- Purchase of 1MDB’s power assets for RM9.83 billion cash in November 2015;
- Purchase of IMDB land for RM7.4 billion;
- China is expected to get the high-speed rail project costing between RM40 billion and RM80 billion;
- The RM55 billion ECRL project announced in November 2016;
- A proposed RM200 billion port development in Port Klang;
- The RM42 billion Malacca Gateway project in September 2016; and
- Forest City in Johor, with its RM400 billion gross development value.
These alone account for nearly RM600 billion in deals. How come no minister was concerned? Or did they just close their eyes and let then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak carry on with his ways, not wanting to know about all the alleged wrongs that were taking place? These ministers (and in fact, all Umno/BN MPs) simply did not do their job to protect this country against kleptocracy and were therefore complicit.
They did nothing even when the US Department of Justice court filings of 2016 and 2017 established crime beyond the shadow of a doubt. Now they claim that they did not know, or were not informed.
Are people going to tell you when they are going to commit a crime? Is it not your job as a public watchdog and a public representative to look out for such crimes in government?