PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s meeting with former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak was rather unfortunate and should never have taken place.
This is given the latter’s past record and conviction for offences involving SRC International Sdn Bhd’s RM42 million and his role in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd financial scandal, for which he is facing charges in court.
But what is even more disturbing is that there are reports he may be appointed economic adviser to the government. This will likely go down badly with the general public, who are well aware of the many roles he played in suppressing and aiding, as well as abetting, the losses at 1MDB, the so-called national strategic development company he set up.
The question is, why choose him as economic adviser when there are many people who are much more qualified than him and who come with clean hands? They will help formulate policies and plans without conflicts of interest to chart a path out of the current situation caused by a raging pandemic, which has slowed economic growth.
If it is a political move by Ismail Sabri to gain support when his majority in Parliament is razor-thin, it is one that is likely to backfire on him and Umno, and may even jeopardise the plan for reform he is trying to hatch with the opposition.
That plan involves implementing reforms such as a party-hopping law, limiting the PM’s term to 10 years and enabling those 18 and above to vote, which may require constitutional amendments that cannot be passed without bipartisan or even multi-partisan support.
The return of Najib may well torpedo such plans, as the opposition is likely to view him in the government as something too unpalatable, given his role in 1MDB, suppressing information related to it, making changes to institutions, downright oppression, etc. Najib is an example of why reform was necessary.
All of these were serious issues in the last general election and will, in the eyes of the public, make it look ridiculous for the opposition to work with the current government if it decides to employ Najib, given that he in the past had been a major hindrance to reforms that would have helped progress the country.
It is extremely likely that the opposition will pull support for the reforms promised by the government if Najib comes into the government in any capacity, for it indicates bad faith to let in a person who did among the greatest harms to this country by causing the 1MDB problem.
If memories are so short that politicians and others in a position to make decisions and conclusions as to the fate of the country have forgotten what Najib had done in the past, here are 10 to refresh their memories. They are damning, to say the least. There are more, of course, but these should be more than sufficient.
1. He is a convicted criminal
Najib was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million for seven offences involving RM42 million linked to SRC International. He is now out on bail pending appeal. It is unthinkable that a convicted person can hold a position – any position – in the government.
2. He faces numerous charges over 1MDB
Najib faces numerous other charges involving 1MDB, including:
– Twenty-one counts of receiving, using or sending illicit funds, as well as four counts of corruption involving US$681 million (RM2.8 billion) that appeared in his personal bank accounts;
– Jointly charged with then Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah in relation to RM6.6 billion in government payments to an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, as well as monies linked to rail and pipeline projects involving Chinese companies. Najib faces six counts of criminal breach of trust for his alleged role; and,
– One count of corruption for allegedly tampering with a state audit report on 1MDB, with former 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy accused of abetting him.
3. He was mainly responsible for over RM42 billion in 1MDB losses
Najib was more responsible than anyone else for the losses arising from 1MDB that was then wholly owned by Ministry of Finance Inc. He was the finance minister then, as well as chairman of the advisory board.
1MDB’s articles of association, in fact, have a provision that all major undertakings of 1MDB be made known to the finance minister first and receive his approval, which implies he had full knowledge of all that was done wrongly at 1MDB.
4. He repeatedly denied problems at 1MDB
Despite strong evidence of things that were wrong at 1MDB emerging as far back as 2013 and potentially billions being at risk, Najib kept insisting that the funds were safe although they had already been siphoned off, out of 1MDB.
An elaborate scheme was devised to indicate that the funds were placed in other instruments, but auditors raised red flags. Even so, investigations did not take place.
5. He deliberately hid the extent of the problems at 1MDB
Not only did Najib repeatedly deny the wrongdoings at 1MDB, but he also hampered investigations, even offering deputy ministers’ posts to members of the Public Accounts Committee investigating 1MDB. That effectively jettisoned their investigations. One of the charges he faces is tampering with an audit report on 1MDB.
6. He stopped investigations into 1MDB
Najib removed the then attorney-general to stop any charges being filed against him, replacing the attorney-general with a new one, a blatant interference into investigations. He also classified the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB as a secret under the Official Secrets Act, making it impossible for the report to be quoted by the press and others. The auditor-general’s report on 1MDB revealed that some US$7 billion in 1MDB assets could not be accounted for. He deliberately tried to suppress this piece of damning information.
7. He transferred investigators and others
Najib did not stop at this, transferring MACC investigators, even arresting them, and launching police investigations into investigators in a move that indicated that people who were honestly investigating 1MDB were being put under undue pressure.
A multi-level task force investigating 1MDB included Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) officials, who were reportedly harassed because of the duties they were engaged in. BNM had recommended a criminal probe. Eventually, the new attorney-general appointed by Najib dismantled the task force investigating 1MDB.
8. Up to RM1.1 billion was found in raids on his properties
The value of all the items seized by Malaysian police in raids conducted in June 2018 on six properties linked to Najib was estimated at RM1.1 billion. These included cash in 26 currencies amounting to RM116 million, 12,000 pieces of jewellery, 284 handbags, 423 watches and 234 sunglasses.
This is an astounding sum, and begs the question of how he managed to accumulate so much wealth.
9. He sacked his deputy
Najib sacked then Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal over their constant criticism of 1MDB, in an attempt to quell dissent within Umno and stamp his authority on the party.
10. He inked a deal with China to plug the 1MDB hole
Najib did a lousy deal on the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link with China to plug the hole in 1MDB through an overpriced contract designed to funnel RM20 billion into 1MDB and a further RM10 billion through “a pipeline to nowhere” deal. Read about it here.
These 10 points are more than sufficient to show Najib is no longer fit for any public office, and never will be. Any government that sees it fit to accord him any position, including as economic adviser, is similarly unfit to govern. – The Vibes, September 14, 2021
P. Gunasegaram says we have many other people who are more fit to be an economic adviser instead of Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Guna is chief executive of research and advocacy group Sekhar Institute and senior editorial consultant of PETRA News