Friday, November 04, 2016

Ministerial replies in Parliament over the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal, when there were replies, has made a mockery of our august institution

When travelling overseas, Malaysians are now inundated with questions as to how Dato’ Seri Najib Razak remains firmly in power as the Prime Minister of Malaysia despite a few billion ringgit of funds which were misappropriated from a state owned investment firm finding its way into his personal account.

Foreigners are bewildered as to how our so-called democratic system could tolerate such unprecedented excesses.

The reason is simple.  Our parliamentary institution is a mere facade whose sole existence is to lend legitimacy to those who wield the ultimate power.  It is a pesky inconvenience which Dato’ Seri Najib Razak needs to tolerate to continue to present a semblance of a modern progressive nation.

When asked of the Prime Minister’s near total absence from Parliamentary sittings, the Honourable Speaker defended Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, claiming that the Prime Minister would have more important things to do than “to sit here and see the same face and then they (MPs) ask irrelevant questions”.

If even the Speaker of the House treats the elected Members of Parliaments with such contempt, little could be expected of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers who are left to respond to the obviously “irrelevant questions” from MPs.

Questions were asked about the actions taken by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission pursuant the charges laid out by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to seize more than US$1 billion of assets laundered by Low Taek Jho and the Prime Minister’s stepson, Riza Aziz with funds misappropriated from 1MDB.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Razali Ibrahim responded that there is no need for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to question Riza Aziz, the stepson of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, as he is not being probed for graft..

"For the MACC, Riza is not under a corruption probe so there is no need for the MACC to summon him (for questioning)", he said.

And when MP for Bayan Baru, Sim Tze Tzin asked about DOJ’s allegations that Riza had bought luxury properties overseas with 1MDB funds, Razali audaciously replied, "what's wrong if people with lots of money buy things?"

Obviously the point that these funds were stolen from funds managed by the Government did not matter to the Minister.

Separately the MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh asked about the need to re-open MACC’s investigations into the billions of ringgit found in the Prime Minister’s personal bank account in the light of the DOJ filings. Datuk Razali Ibrahim astonishingly responded that the concluded MACC probe on Dato’ Seri Najib Abdul Razak's RM2.6 billion ‘donation’ did not look into the origins of the money.

"We (the MACC) were only looking into corruption, not where the money came from,” he said.

"We can't make assumptions about 1MDB, because of things in the US and Switzerland… They may be looking at the money trail, we only look at the question of corruption," he added while wrapping up his part of the Budget 2017 debate speech, focusing on the MACC and Felda.

The answer is as bizarre as it is dumbfounding.  How can you rule out corruption if you fail to investigate the money trail?  In fact, the admission by the Minister that MACC did not bother investigating the money trail to trace the origins of the funds which ended up in the Prime Minister’s accounts only goes to justify the call for MACC to re-open investigations because they have failed to perform their duties thoroughly and competently.

However, the fact that the Ministers can get away with such nonchalant and nonsensical replies in the highest legislative body of the land epitomises the collapse of Malaysia’s democratic institutions.

With a cabinet full of Ministers that know no shame, it explains why despite the severity and credibility of the corruption and embezzlement allegations against the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak remains firmly in grip of power.

The only way to remove Dato’ Seri Najib Razak and the ruling Barisan Nasional, is via the ballot box, even if Malaysians have to overcome the unfair electoral system.
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