The Malaysian public can now see for themselves the types of challenges the opposition members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) faced when dealing with a Chairman the likes of Datuk Hasan Arifin.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Datuk Hasan Arifin made the outright denial that Good Star Limited belonged to Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low. Good Star Limited has received US$1.03 billion of direct payments from 1MDB from 2009 to 2011.
“Selaku Pengerusi PAC saya ingin menafikan bahawa pemilik Good Star Limited adalah Low Taek Jho seperti yang dinyatakan oleh akhbar Wall Street Journal dengan mengaitkan surat Bank Negara terhadap Jawatankuasa ini,” he said.
This outrageous denial was made despite the Bank Negara disclosed that 2 foreign regulatory authorities confirmed to Bank Negara that the sole beneficiary of Good Star Limited was Jho Low and the ownership status never changed since its inception in June 2009.
Instead, he chose to dismiss Bank Negara’s letter claiming that the information provided is of “intelligence grade” (bertaraf risikan). Hence, since the PAC is not an “intelligence agency”, we are unable to verify the authenticity and truth of the information.
This must be the most gravity-defying acrobatic twist of logic from the Chairman who was only appointed to lead the committee in October last year. An “intelligence grade” piece of information does not require an intelligence agency to make use of the intelligence reports.
On the contrary, the “intelligence grade” information should be taken as the likely truth unless otherwise proven because it was intelligence received from Bank Negara’s counterparts in foreign countries.
Furthermore, if “intelligence grade” information from Bank Negara cannot be believed, then why should the PAC Chairman accept at face value the letter from Petrosaudi acknowledging Good Star Limited as its subsidiary by mere assertion, unsupported by any documentary evidence? We don’t even know if the letter provided by 1MDB is genuine! Is he claiming that Bank Negara far less trustworthy than 1MDB, the very company the PAC is tasked to investigate?
Datuk Hasan Arifin then argued that because the letter was of “intelligence grade”, information contained in the letter cannot be included in any reports produced by the PAC.
However, he neglected to mention that Bank Negara specifically provided that the PAC can be allowed to use the information contained in its letter for PAC’s publications on the condition that “approval from the foreign regulatory authorities be obtained via Bank Negara in advance”. (Sekiranya PAC bercadang untuk menggunakan maklumat di dalam dokumen awam, kebenaran dari negara-negara terlibat melalui Bank perlu dipohon terlebih dahulu.)
What’s more, the letter would provide the necessary leads for the PAC to investigate further into the multi-billion dollar embezzlement which took place. For example, the PAC would then have the strong basis to summon Jho Low to testify to the Committee.
In addition, Datuk Hasan Arifin did not respond to the question as to why he refused to share the “intelligence grade” letter to the PAC members? He claimed that the letter was addressed to him confidentially, but the contents of the Bank Negara letter repeatedly made reference to the information which was “provided to the PAC”. (pendedahan maklumat pendaftaran GSL adalah terhad kepada PAC…)
Therefore Datuk Hasan Arifin’s media response yesterday did not absolve him from his role in covering up the 1MDB scandal. Instead it only confirmed that he is either a complete illiterate who could not read and understand basic Bahasa Malaysia, or more likely, he is abusing his position as the PAC Chairman to obstruct the investigations into the single largest financial scandal in the history of the country.
As such, Datuk Hasan Arifin’s response reinforced our calls for him to resign as the PAC Chairman because Malaysians can no longer trust him to carry out his role honestly, professionally and with integrity.
The top most question now which he must answer is, why is he going all out to hide Jho Low’s connections to Good Star and 1MDB, even at the cost of making him look like a complete idiot? Is it because Jho Low will be the key to unlock the mystery of how billions of ringgit might have found its way to Dato’ Seri Najib Razak and his family’s personal wealth?