Motion to reopen probe into 1MDB passed by Dewan Rakyat

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 17, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan government’s motion for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the auditor-general to reopen investigations into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was approved by the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The motion, brought by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, was passed with a majority voice vote after six members of parliament (MPs) from both sides of the divide debated on it.

The six are Datuk Seri Hassan Arifin (BN-Rompin), Tony Pua (PH-Damansara), Lim Kit Siang (PH-Iskandar Puteri), Fahmi Fazil (PH-Lembah Pantai), Tan Sri Annuar Musa (BN-Ketereh) and Ahmad Marzuk Shaary (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa).

“Thank you to the MPs who participated in this debate to support the motion brought by the government to reopen investigations into the 1MDB scandal to restore the dignity of the Dewan Rakyat, and for all related information to be made public,” said Guan Eng in his winding-up speech after the debate.

“Whether we like it or not, we have to admit that whatever that took place previously doesn’t reveal the true position of the 1MDB scandal,” he said. “It is time for us to have the truth about the scandal.”

Guan Eng believes the new PAC will now conduct a thorough investigation into 1MDB which can provide closure to the issue.

The motion calls for a detailed investigation into the “embezzlement of monies and the scandal with regard to 1MDB and its related companies to restore the dignity of the Dewan Rakyat”. It also calls for all related information to be made public.

Earlier, Barisan Nasional’s Annuar said the coalition agreed to the fresh investigations, and asked that the probe be carried out openly until there is a closure to the issue. He hoped that the new PAC, which has an opposition MP as its chair, would do its job with utmost responsibility.

“Please call whomever that needs to be called. If the session needs to be opened to the public, then do so [and investigate it] until there is closure to the matter which is of national interest.

“1MDB has also got international exposure. So we want to find the truth. This motion must be supported because as MPs we want to know the truth. We should not protect or hide anything.

“[Therefore] I support the motion. I hope it (1MDB) won’t happen again,” he said.

Annuar said the government should not waste time as, according to him, the probe was initially supposed to be conducted within the first 100 days of Pakatan rule.

In the past, he said, the decision that was reached by the PAC was based on what was “thought to be the right thing” by the previous BN administration.

“Then we went through the general election where a lot was said about 1MDB and the public probably got tired of listening to the arguments from both sides. With this new government, we must give them a good opportunity to highlight this issue and find a solution,” he said.

Hassan, who was the chairman of the PAC during the previous BN administration, was accused during the debate yesterday of declining the request by other members of the committee then to summon fugitive billionaire Low Taek Jho, or more commonly known as Jho Low, in the panel’s previous investigations.

Pua, who served as a PAC member then, said Hassan had told the committee that there was no need to summon Jho Low.

“The committee had agreed to summon Jho Low before [Hassan took over as chairman], and after the first meeting with us as chairman, he said there is no need to summon Jho Low,” said Pua.

“And we have wanted to summon former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, given that he is the signatory of many documents, which makes him a key witness. But he said no need to even do that because the [former] prime minister was not related to the investigation,” he said.

Hassan yesterday did not deny Pua’s allegation, but said that under the previous government, even the police could not summon Jho Low, hence there was not any need for the PAC to summon the businessman as it was beyond the capabilities of the committee.

“Even the police could not summon him during that time, How was PAC going to summon him? And there are many international protocols involved in summoning him which the PAC was not able to do,” he said.

“It was my deputy (former PAC deputy chairman Tan Seng Giaw) who made a statement to say that the PAC investigations did not find anything traceable to Pekan [Najib],” he added.

PAS’ Ahmad Marzuk said his party supported the motion as it involves a matter of public interest. He then asked that the 1990s foreign exchange scandal be investigated by the PAC as well.

Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, however, denied the request on the grounds that it was out of topic.