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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

RCI to bring out the truth about 1MDB

By Zakiah Koya (July 7, 2015)

The talk of the town is all about the 1MDB fiasco and how billions of ringgit from the fund have been deposited into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts.
Unfortunately, this was not the only thing on Najib’s head since he became prime minister in 2009. He has allegedly been involved in other scandals which rocked the country. However, he has yet to satisfactorily explain any of them.
The allegation by New York-based Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and whistle blower site Sarawak Report that RM2.6 billion of the funds from 1MDB had been channelled into his personal accounts is, by far, the most serious accusation of impropriety against him.
The 1MDB was his brainchild as the Minister of Finance. But only after a year in operation, the company was found to be RM42 billion in debt.  It was also said to have mismanaged its funds and business dealings.
Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) likens the WSJ’s and Sarawak Report’s allegations to “a catastrophe” that has rocked the nation.
It is now pushing for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), which will investigate these allegations against Najib and restore public confidence in the government.
Proham secretary general Datuk Denison Jayasooria says we should bear in mind that Najib is innocent until proven guilty, and only an independent RCI would do well to silence the gossip and stop the trial by social media.
“As this allegation is against a leader holding the highest office in government, there is a need for an independent RCI to investigate if there have been serious wrongdoings, false allegations or any truth to the reports,” says Denison (pic).
“The Attorney General, police and the central bank are already taking action by freezing accounts and launching investigations, but these are mere internal investigations. The public wants to know the truth on the allegations against the prime minister and an RCI would allow the public to hear the evidence first hand.” 
Although there are quarters who have called on Najib to step down temporarily until investigations into the allegations are completed, Denison says this is not an ideal solution as it will not help to restore public confidence in the government.
He says the PM can continue in his position, but the roles which deal with 1MDB and the investigations would have to be relegated to other capable people. If an RCI on this does take place, it will be the first in this region dealing with a sitting prime minister.
Scandals involving a country’s top officials have been investigated by independent committees in the US but not in this region.
In the Watergate scandal that rocked US President Richard Nixon’s tenure in the 1970s, the senate established a senate committee to investigate. Nixon resigned.
Denison says Proham is interested in getting to the truth, and is not saying that the PM has to prove his innocence. “So far, he has denied (all the allegations) but an RCI would be the most transparent of investigations and it would provide greater involvement from the public,” says Denison.
He says the public’s confidence at present has been shattered, and any attempts to dismiss the allegations by Najib’s political supporters would only result in political imbroglio.
The truth, Denison says, could set Najib free of all allegations if a panel of independent and neutral personalities find they were falsely made. On the other hand, should the RCI find Najib guilty, then the existing legal system must deal with the matter.
“The public wants to know if money has been transferred, if there was criminal misdoing and if Najib had committed any wrong. The prime minister holds the highest office in the country, and an allegation such as this is a national catastrophe which should be dealt with as such,” says Denison.

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