Sunday, August 16, 2015

Arul, Must We Wait Until The Moon Falls Onto Our Laps?

It is not enough for Arul Kanda to apologise for incredulously mistaking “units” for “cash”, the 1MDB President must explain what exactly are these “units” and how much are they worth according to the Bank.

Scandal-tainted 1Malaysia Development Bhd issued a statement yesterday to rebut my request for an explanation on the US$1.103 billion redeemed from Cayman Islands in January 2015. 1MDB said that 1MDB President, Arul Kanda “has on June 10 already taken full responsibility for any past miscommunications on the matter.”

Right-thinking Malaysians will surely agree with me that dismissing such a horrendous error as “miscommunication” does not at all absolve Arul Kanda from providing us with the right answers.

First Arul Kanda had claimed that the redeemed investment was in “cash” which was subsequently found out to be untrue as they were in “assets”. Secondly, it was later revised to be in “units”, which means that no real “redemption” took place in January as announced by 1MDB.

Hence Arul Kanda must explain what exactly are these mysterious “units” parked in BSI Bank Singapore. Are they backed by listed or private company shares, or by properties or other assets? More importantly, what is the bank-assessed valuation of these so called “units”?

Without answering the above key questions, the 1MDB President’s excuse of “miscommunication” is completely hollow as the rakyat are still left clueless as to whether this so called “US$1.103 billion” (RM4.4 billion) asset previously held in the Cayman Islands fund is worth anything at all today. Did 1MDB lose practically all of its US$1.103 billion?

The fact that 1MDB refuses to address these crucial questions will only convince the people that 1MDB has lost all of these funds and is one of the key causes why the tax-payers have been forced to bailout the company.

And yet, 1MDB has the cheek to claim that I have “conveniently” forgotten the replies provided by the Finance Ministry to the Parliament. I certainly have not forgotten the parliamentary replies prepared by 1MDB, which contained no answers to the questions posed, like the one above.

If the questions have been answered, there would have been no need for me to ask again, nor will there be any need for 1MDB to deploy evasive manoeuvres to avoid answering these questions.

1MDB even accused me of attempting to undermine the various on-going investigations through his “chicken challenge” of asking Arul Kanda for a dialogue or debate. Firstly, let me remind 1MDB that it was Arul himself who made the offer to dialogue, which he subsequently refused to honour.

Secondly and more importantly, how could I possibly undermine any investigations into 1MDB where there’s hardly anyone left investigating the company? The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has been crippled. The Special Task Force investigating 1MDB and the Prime Minister has been declared “illegal” by Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan. The Attorney-General has been sacked while the Auditor-General reports directly to the Finance Minister, who also happens to be Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.

Even former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin lamented that it’s taking way too long for the 1MDB investigations. “Must we wait until the moon falls onto our laps?” he asked.

Hence the reason why the many issues surrounding the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal must continue to be raised in the public sphere is exactly because all other attempts to extract the truth have been practically stopped on their tracks.

1MDB may continue to accuse me of making “recycled allegations”. But I will continue to press and questions as long as 1MDB continues to give “recycled non-answers”. As such, I will be the proverbial monkey who will not get off 1MDB’s back as long as the state-owned company refuses to be truthful and answer simple questions like the bank-assessed worth of these “units” in Singapore.

Tony Pua

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