Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Response to Shafee's Plea for My Removal from the PAC

Is Datuk Seri Shabery Cheek so afraid that the 8 Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) can’t tackle one opposition member in the Committee?

First, we had the top UMNO lawyer, Tan Sri Mohammed Shafee Abdullah calling for me to recuse myself from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) five days ago. This call was subsequently supported by the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Chairman, Tan Sri Shahrir Samad.

Yesterday, the demands for my removal escalated when the Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek went on a rant against my position in the PAC.

"He should leave the PAC. He will not only shame the PAC, but also the parliamentary system itself… he is no longer qualified to sit in the PAC. He makes biased statements, he should be ashamed, his party should be ashamed, his supporters and those associated with him should also feel ashamed," he said.

I am very amused because I cannot for the life of me understand why I should be in anyway ashamed of the statements which I have made with regards to the monstrous RM42 billion 1MDB scandal. I am also clueless as to why my party, my supporters and “those associated” with me should feel ashamed about me bringing to light the misappropriations and mismanagement in 1MDB.

Conversely, I believe that the Malaysian public will be disgusted, and the credibility of the PAC severely jeopardised if I were to be forcefully removed from the PAC by Barisan Nasional.

Instead, those who should be “ashamed” are the Ministers and BN leaders wholeheartedly and blindly supporting the and the bailout of 1MDB taking place at the expense of tax-payers’ funds.

The Prime Minister for example, assured Malaysians only in October last year that there will be no bailout of 1MDB. But in February this year, he made a complete U-turn by extending an emergency RM950 million credit to 1MDB to keep it afloat.

The trust of public financial institutions are never lower when Lembaga Tabung Haji was called upon to rescue 1MDB with a RM188 million land purchase at RM2,774 per square feet in Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), when 1MDB purchase this same piece of land for only RM64 per square feet.

The Cabinet has even approved another “Letter of Support” to EXIM Bank to extend US$150 million of loan to 1MDB in March this year for a questionable land purchase in Pulau Indah. This is despite the fact that the wholly-owned government bank is not mandated to provide credit for domestic property purchases.

These BN Ministers and leaders are obviously afraid of being incriminated in the panel’s investigation on the troubled state-owned firm. As of two days ago, 1MDB has reiterated that President, Arul Kanda Kandasamy and former 1MDB CEO, Datuk Shahrol Halmi will attend the PAC hearing. 1MDB said that it “has every confidence in the PAC process and trust that the honourable members will carry out their role in a fair and professional manner.”

If Arul Kanda and Datuk Shahrol do not fear coming to the PAC with me as a sitting member, why are the ministers suddenly so fearful of me?

Nevertheless, I am even more surprised that these BN Ministers and leaders have absolutely no confidence that the 8 BN representatives in the PAC will not be able to perform their duties to contain or debunk any allegedly unfounded and frivolous claims I might raise in the meetings.

Therefore, let me re-emphasize the fact that there is absolutely no conflict of interest for me to sit as a member of the PAC over the 1MDB scandal. Instead, if the BN leaders are so concerned about shaming the investigation process, they should be asking Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to take leave as the Finance and Prime Minister as he is directly implicated in the RM42 billion scandal by the simple virtue of the fact that every single major transaction undertaken by 1MDB carries his explicit “written approval”.

How can Dato’ Seri Najib Razak be allowed to direct the manner, timing and mechanism of investigations over such a monstrous scandal where he is also a prime suspect?

Tony Pua

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