Friday, October 30, 2015

In response to Arul Kanda's talkshow conditions

1. Is Arul Kanda’s motive to remove me from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to have an easier time as he is confident that the 8 BN MPs will be easy to dupe?

I had invited 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) President, Arul Kanda to a “live” talkshow where I will, as host, ask him questions with regards to 1MDB which has captured the imagination of not only Malaysians, but the international media as well.

My motive was very simple, he has had a easy time getting away with recycled answers which either never answered the core questions, or he was more than economical with the truth.

If all the allegations by various parties against 1MDB are indeed lies and concoctions as he claims, when I question him, he'll be able to turn the tables against me on live television.

Instead of jumping at such an opportunity to shame 1MDB’s most persistent critic, Arul Kanda pretended to agree to the challenge but attached the ridiculous condition that I resign from the PAC.

This is not the first time that Arul Kanda or Barisan Nasional (BN) Ministers and leaders have called for my resignation from the PAC.   It appears to be their priority to ensure that the PAC will not benefit from the knowledge and understanding I have on the shenanigans in 1MDB.

Arul Kanda must believe that if I’m removed from the PAC, the rest of the committee, particularly the 8 BN representatives will be easy to dupe, resulting in a watered down report against 1MDB.

At the same time, Arul Kanda is just running away from my invitation for a civil talkshow by attaching a condition which he knows I cannot and will never accept.  My official duties and responsibilities as a PAC member to the Malaysian public is far more important than entertaining Arul Kanda’s frivolous games.

Instead, Arul’s refusal to answer questions openly, truthfully and unconditionally to the public in itself goes to prove that the 1MDB President has plenty to hide.

2. If anyone should “resign” to avoid “conflict of interest”, it should be the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak

Tourism Minister, Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz says that to “debate” Arul Kanda, I must resign from the Public Accounts Committee to avoid a conflict of interest.

"Pua must resign because he is a member of PAC, which is investigating (1MDB)… It is conflict of interest if he does not. Simple as that. This is common sense," he said.

Where is the alleged “conflict of interest”?  A conflict of interest will arise if I’m a related party to 1MDB which is being investigated.  I’m not at all related in any way to Arul Kanda or to 1MDB, so how can there be a conflict of interest.

On the other hand, if Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz’s argument that one must “resign” to avoid a “conflict of interest”, then surely the person must be the Prime Minister himself, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.

The Prime Minister, who is also the Finance Minister, is directly implicated in the 1MDB scandal.  In particular, he personally signed off in writing all major transactions carried out by 1MDB.  Under such circumstances, there is surely a major conflict of interest when Dato’ Seri Najib Razak continue to wield direct influence of the investigation process.  Hence shouldn’t the Tourism Minister be asking for his Premier to resign, or at the very least take a leave of absence to allow for independent investigations to be carried out?

Furthermore, there are no laws or regulations preventing me as a Member of Parliament, from asking questions in the PAC, and asking the same questions outside of the PAC.  Does it mean that I cannot ask any questions to the responsible Ministers with regards to 1MDB as well?

My role as a PAC Member has never been this challenged in my 7 years in the Committee despite the many scandals which I have questioned both in and out of PAC.  I was a vocal critic who was proven right both in and out of the PAC for major controversies such as the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), the RM4 billion KLIA2 project and the National Feedlot cow scandals.  If the “conflict of interest” issue never arose then, what makes 1MDB so special that it arises now?

Is it because this time, the scandal directly involves the Prime Minister?  Hence the need for a cover up at all cost by Arul Kanda and the BN Ministers, even if the arguments raised smells more like cow sense than common sense.

3. PAC Member Liang Teck Meng should pay more attention to performing his duties in the committee than to question my place in it.

Barisan Nasional MP Datuk Liang Teck Meng said I should respect parliamentary institution and holding a "no holds barred" TV debate with the chief executive of the state investment firm would be an "insult" to the nation's highest legislative body.

"Holding a live no holds barred TV debate with one of the subjects of the parliamentary inquiry is an insult to Parliament… No respected parliament in the world would allow this," he said in reference to PAC which was probing 1MDB.

Datuk Liang obviously haven’t been to many Parliaments around the world.  Parliaments in developed nations have no problems with vocal PAC members from speaking outside of PAC meetings.

Unlike Malaysia, where the Government is trying its level best to suppress the information received within the PAC, 67% of Commonwealth parliaments, including the countries in Africa, hold their PAC hearings in full public view.  They have nothing to hide, unlike the BN Government.

Hence, how can conducting a “live” public talkshow or discussion on a matter of public interest with the person who is best placed to explain the issue be considered an “insult”?

On the contrary, it is the Gerakan Secretary-General who is insulting both Malaysia’s democratic institutions and its tax-payers by attempting to gag the Government’s critics via whatever ridiculous means or arguments.

Datuk Liang even had the cheek to ask, "what happens if Pua losses badly and holds a grudge against Arul which may subconsciously impair his fairness and judgement during the PAC inquiry?".

Well, Datuk Liang, what makes you think that I will “lose badly”?  And even if I did, and I were to bear a “grudge”, doesn’t BN have 8 MPs, including the newly elected Chairman in the Committee to keep me in check during the meeting proceedings?  Does he see me as being so powerful as to be able to take on all 8 BN MPs?

Whether I was to “win” or “lose” the talkshow should be the least of Datuk Liang’s concerns.  As an elected representative, he should be more concerned that the truth be revealed so that the 1MDB crisis can be quickly resolved and the tax-payers’ interest are fully protected.  However, that might be too much to ask from a Gerakan representative.

My honourable colleague should perhaps focus on his role as a PAC member and carry out his duties diligently to ensure that the Government rids itself of waste and abuse.  Reading the past PAC transcripts tabled in Parliament over the past 7 years when he was supposed to be a member, I sometimes would forget that he is even part of the committee.

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