A public spat between former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Minister of Tourism, Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz has led to a 1MDB debate challenge which has been duly accepted by the latter.
The Tourism Minister even took a dig at his colleague, EPU Minister, Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who withdrew at the last minute after agreeing to a highly anticipated debate with the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng.
Dato’ Seri Nazri said he would not budge. "Why should I? I am Nazri Aziz, you should know me better, I am not Rahman Dahlan," he told Malaysiakini when contacted.
The Minister’s bravado has apparently put the Najib Cabinet in a panic mode as the debate on 1MDB has been a subject matter which they have taken great pains to hide and cover up.
Even 1MDB CEO, Arul Kanda withdrew from a debate with me last year, after accepting a similar challenge with much bravado – holding a press conference in a hotel to say “Bring it on!”
They are so worried about the negative fallout for the Najib administration that Finance Minister II, Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani had to declare that the proposed debate between Tun Dr Mahathir and Dato’ Seri Nazri had “nothing to do” with the Government.
How ridiculous is it for the Finance Minister II to claim that the RM50 billion corruption scandal has “nothing to do” with the Government?
The 1MDB debate has everything to do with the Government, and in particular the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak. The latter, who is also Finance Minister I, has been found to have received US$731 million which had originated from 1MDB based on the documents and evidence produced by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ). The 1MDB scandal has made Malaysia the kleptocratic capital of the world and put Malaysians to shame.
In fact, it is shocking that to date, since the US DOJ filed the suit to seize assets acquired with money laundered from 1MDB in July 2016, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has not once denied the allegations that he has received the US$731 million misappropriated from 1MDB.
Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani tried to argue that the matter had purportedly already been “debated extensively in Parliament”.
He told the reporters that “the report that (was) prepared by the auditor general, (the) public accounts committee (PAC), have been deliberated extensively in Parliament, all questions have been answered in Parliament.”
However, the Finance Minister II failed to also clarify that the Parliament Speaker has forbidden any answers on questions relating to the 1MDB US DOJ suit, preposterously claiming “subjudice”. At the same time, the then newly appointed PAC Chairman, Dato’ Hasan Arifin took pains to unilaterally make amendments to the PAC Report and refused any attempts during the meetings to investigate links between the scandal and the Prime Minister. Worse, if all questions on 1MDB has allegedly been answered, then why is the Cabinet hiding the Auditor-General’s Report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA)?
Even the Finance Minister II himself failed to answer questions raised in Parliament on the scandal during the last sitting.
Hence with the utter failure of the Parliament, the next best thing Malaysians can hope for to gain the truth is via a debate. And one between the former premier and one of the harshest critic of the Najib administration, versus one of the most senior Minister’s in Najib’s cabinet could not have come at a better time.
In fact, if the Government has nothing to hide, we call upon the Cabinet to insist that the debate be broadcast live on RTM or TV3, for there could not be a better opportunity for the Najib administration to destroy the opposition’s allegations on 1MDB and clear its tainted reputation.