Thursday, May 26, 2016

Does Deputy Minister of Finance Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani really want to become the butt of jokes like his predecessor Datuk Ahmad Maslan?

I am stunned to hear the normally intelligent (at least while he was a backbencher) Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani respond to questions in Parliament with regards to the monster scandal 1MDB.

Yesterday, he told the Parliament that “the government has never claimed that 1MDB was a good investment”.  He added that it was the wrong business model, weak management and poor governance were the three reasons that (contributed to) 1MDB's lack of competitiveness.

For years, ever since I submitted my first question on 1MDB in Parliament on March 2010, the standard “copy and paste” replies by the Prime Minister’s Department and the Ministry of Finance was to say that 1MDB will be the “strategic enabler for new ideas and sources of growth” which will “drive sustainable economic development by forging strategic global partnerships and promoting foreign direct investment”.

In October 2014, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak himself told the Member of Parliament for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng that “1MDB had never missed its obligations to fulfill its financing schedules. 1MDB’s financial position remains strong, supported by strategic assets with proven track records as well strong growth opportunities.”

This was repeated in Datuk Ahmad Maslan’s replies in Parliament to me on 6 November 2014 which claimed that “1MDB’s financial position remains strong, supported by strategic assets with proven performance records, on top of solid growth opportunities.”

The former Deputy Finance Minister was so gung-ho as to declare that 1MDB will return to profitability for its financial year ending March 2015.  The rest is history.  Datuk Ahmad Maslan’s tenure was short-lived as he was a walking disaster defending 1MDB and the other key issue of Goods and Services Tax.

Datuk Ahmad Maslan was so bad, he had to apologise in Parliament after the Member of Parliament for Pandan, Rafizi Ramli submitted a motion to refer him to the House Committee of Rights and Privileges for misleading the house when responding to questions on 1MDB.

It appears the Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani is keen to follow Datuk Ahmad Maslan’s footsteps.  After years of gloating about 1MDB, the new Deputy Finance Minister has the cheek to come to Parliament to tell Malaysians that “the Government never claimed that 1MDB was a good investment”.

If the Government never believed that 1MDB “was a good investment”, why didn’t the Government shut it down much earlier before it incurred up to RM55 billion of debt and became the single biggest financial scandal in the history of Malaysia?  If Datuk Johari’s assertion is really true, then the BN Government must be the stupidest Government in the whole world for sticking with the 1MDB investment despite knowing that it is not a good investment.

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