The Public Accounts Committee of the 14th Parliament is set to reopen investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal. It is the right thing to do as the committee under its last chairman, Datuk Seri Hassan Arifin, had watered down its report on what went wrong at the troubled entity.
Hassan has admitted he deleted a key paragraph, without the knowledge of other PAC members, from the report, which stated that Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, was the beneficial owner of Good Star Ltd — which had illegally received US$700 million that was meant to go to a joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd.
Hassan’s excuse that he deleted that information he received from Bank Negara Malaysia via a letter because it was not based on fact, but on intelligence gathered by the central bank, is a lame one. He could have used the powers he had to obtain more information but chose to remove an important piece of evidence surreptitiously.
The Edge had also published information that proved Good Star was under the control of Jho Low and had offered it to investigators, but the PAC chairman was not interested in it.
Hassan also refused to summon the then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Jho Low to appear before the committee, although they were key witnesses to what happened at 1MDB. Neither did he call anyone from Bank Negara to brief the PAC on its investigations.
We hope the fresh probe by the PAC will get to the bottom of the scandal and urge that parliament makes it an open inquiry so that Malaysians who are interested in it can witness it for themselves, instead of having to wait months for a report to be prepared.