Fund to come under Parliament spotlight

-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR: The opposition is expected to ratchet up pressure on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to answer questions about the controversial 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) when the Parliament convenes next Monday.

DAP national legal bureau secretary Gobind Singh Deo said for one, the party will raise questions about 1MDB’s joint venture with Petro Saudi International Ltd (PetroSaudi) at next week’s parliamentary sitting.

“We will raise this question in Parliament. In the sitting, we are allowed to question the government in respect of all issues including this and the relevant ministry will have to respond accordingly,” Gobind told reporters after accompanying the party’s national publicity secretary Tony Pua to lodge a police report against 1MDB over the Sarawak Report’s allegations at the Damansara police station in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

The United Kingdom-based whistleblower site Sarawak Report had recently detailed alleged financial irregularities in the state-owned strategic investment fund. Sarawak Report, citing email correspondence between Jho Low and his cohorts, had alleged that Jho Low had orchestrated the deal so he could use PetroSaudi as a front to siphon US$700 million (RM2.53 billion) from 1MDB.

“In my [police] report, I basically outlined the email documents exposed by Sarawak Report which highlighted that there was a conspiracy behind the scenes, possibly to defraud 1MDB of at least US$700 million,” said Pua.

“This is a serious crime [involving] massive amounts of money, billions of ringgit, so police need to look at this particular transaction with urgency so that the culprits can be brought to book,” he added.

This is not the first police report lodged against 1MDB. Former Umno Batu Kawan division vice-chairman Datuk Khairuddin Abu Hassan had lodged a report in December last year.

However, Khairuddin was sacked from his position in Umno last week over his bankruptcy case, despite never having been called or sent a show-cause letter to explain himself.

Political Studies for Change executive director Ong Ooi Heng, who is familiar with the operation of parliament, expects the Ministry of Finance to table another supplementary supply bill in next week’s parlimentary sitting to seek the endorsement of the Parliament on the amount that had been spent by 1MDB.

He believes that Pakatan Rakyat MPs will raise the issue of 1MDB during their debates as it is related to financial governance.

“I also expect bloc voting to be called to decide on the passing of the bill during the second reading. If the non-government MPs, the BN backbenchers, do not support the bill, or are dissatisfied with the explanation by the Finance Minister, this is tantamount to a vote of no confidence,” he told The Edge Financial Daily over the telephone yesterday.

“Then, will Najib resign from his position as the Finance Minister or Prime Minister?” Ong quipped.

According to the Parliament’s convention, a Member of Parliament (MP) can raise any issues when the MPs debate the speech by the Yang Dipertuan Agong, who officiates at the March meeting every year. Ministries mentioned in the MPs’ speeches will have to respond to the issues.

The other way is for any MP to move an emergency motion under the Standing Order to ask the Dewan Rakyat to debate and decide on any urgent matter pertaining to public interest. However, this will have to be subject to the approval of Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin.

PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said in a statement last week that he will file a motion to Parliament to debate on the RM3 billion fund injections into 1MDB for debt servicing.

 

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 5, 2015.