I would like to express my disappointment that 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda has chosen to withdraw his acceptance of the 1MDB debate challenge after gamely declaring that I should “bring it on”.
I could gloat about his withdrawal, but I won’t. However, what is most disappointing for the Malaysians at large is another missed opportunity by Arul Kanda to once-and-for-all debunk all 1MDB’s key doubters and critics face-to-face. After all, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and 1MDB repeatedly insisted that all our allegations are “without basis”, “politically-motivated” and is part of a “malicious global conspiracy”.
Arul Kanda claimed that he is now “fully focused on assisting the police, and resolving the IPIC dispute”. As such, he “cannot engage in a debate which may prejudice 1MDB’s legal position in relation to the investigation and the dispute.”
The excuse given cannot hold water because Arul Kanda first accepted my debate the first time round in October last year, with the full support given by Cabinet Members despite all forms of investigations by the Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which were also on-going.
In addition, I have personally filed a police report on 1MDB since March 2015 and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has repeatedly claimed that police investigations were on-going since last year.
If it was OK to “debate” then, surely the excuse cannot apply today?
What is perhaps the real reason for the last minute withdrawal to accepting the debate since the tabling of the PAC Report last month is that all the pretence that 1MDB has undergone a successful “rationalisation exercise” has collapsed, probably irrecoverably.
More specifically, it has now been proven that 1MDB has paid US$3.51 billion, a figure provided by 1MDB themselves to the Auditor-General, to a fraudulent “Aabar Investment PJS Limited”, a company set up in the British Virgin Islands, which is completely unrelated to Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investment PJS, the subsidiary to International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC).
Even Arul Kanda admitted that “a massive fraud” might have taken place with collaborators from within 1MDB. The Auditor-General has also stated that he is unable to confirm the whereabouts and veracity of 1MDB’s US$7 billion of cash, assets and transactions overseas.
Despite the seriousness of the misappropriation, whether intentional or otherwise, which has taken place, both the Government and 1MDB has failed to shed light on what has actually taken place.
Hence, the cancellation of the debate will not stop our mission to uncover the truth behind the heinous 1MDB scandal. Instead, the cancellation of the debate shows that we, the critics, are on the right track and gives us greater impetus dig harder to expose the real crooks who have embezzled billions of dollars of tax-payers funds.