Saturday, August 15, 2015

48 1MDB Press Statements, but the Questions Still Remain

I have read every single one of the 48 press statements issued by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) or Arul “Open Book” Kanda, but none of them answered the pressing questions whose answers Malaysians are seeking.

The President of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) tried to wriggle his way out of a public debate or dialogue with me over the pressing issues and questions hanging over the company by claiming that 1MDB has already issued 48 press statements since his appointment.

“We note that YB Tony Pua has yet again recycled various allegations, which have in fact been answered by 1MDB since January 2015 via 48 press announcements that can be easily obtained on our website,” he said.

Unfortunately, despite having diligently read each of the 48 press statements when they were issued, 1MDB was often either evasive in its answers or didn’t bother answering them altogether. Perhaps Arul Kanda needs to be reminded that it's the quality of the reply that matters, not the quantity.

I cited a few examples in my statement yesterday. Malaysians are asking very simple questions like what is the current debt levels of 1MDB, has it reached RM50 billion? The only answer Arul Kanda has provided is, 1MDB’s debt stands at RM41.8 billion as at 31 March 2014. As the President of 1MDB would know, Malaysians do not need Arul Kanda to tell us that. It is already August 2015, Malaysians are asking what is the latest debt figure for 1MDB? Why can’t Arul “Open Book” Kanda answer that simple question?

When I asked if it is true that 1MDB has doctored its financial statements provided to the financing banks, the only reply I got from 1MDB was effectively, it was none of my business. Arul Kanda refused to deny or confirm if their statements were doctored.

When I asked how much 1MDB paid Aabar or International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) to redeem its options, there was absolutely no response from 1MDB. Malaysians got the similar cold shoulder treatment from Arul Kanda when we asked if 1MDB transferred nearly US$1.2 billion to Good Star Limited.

There list of questions to be answered is too long to be listed here in this statement. But it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because we would get the same response from Arul Kanda – they are “recycled allegations”. Well, they may be recycled, but they are recycled because they were never answered by Mr Open Book.

But even if they were indeed “answered” in the 1MDB media releases, what is wrong with a public dialogue to put these matters to rest once and for all?

Arul Kanda went on to argue that the “independent, thorough and professional investigations” by the relevant authorities “are the appropriate forum to determine the truth about 1MDB”, presumably to avoid a public dialogue or debate with me.

The excuse is rich coming from someone who just gave TV3 an one-hour interview on 1MDB. If the so-called investigations (all of which are currently in limbo), are indeed the most appropriate channels to “determine the truth”, why did Arul Kanda try to manipulate public perception with his one-sided interview?

Therefore Arul Kanda should stop being a hypocrite by claiming 1MDB to be an “open book” but fail miserably to be transparent and accountable as his job demands of him.

Why can’t Arul Kanda answer these questions to allay the fears of the public and the suspicion of gross mismanagement and misappropriation taking place in the wholly-owned Ministry of Finance subsidiary?

Let me repeat here that if Arul Kanda is truly sincere, then he must honour his offer made earlier in January this year to hold a dialogue with me over 1MDB. There’s no need to twist and turn to hide the fact that he has chickened out of the offer.

I strongly believe that if Arul Kanda is able to respond to the questions posed and successfully debunk all my allegations and criticisms, it will not only do 1MDB a whole load of good, it will go a long way towards halting the slide of the Malaysian currency, stock exchange and economy.

Tony Pua

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