By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar
No other episode in recent times has underscored the significance of that ancient adage cherished in all cultures, religions and civilizations — HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY — than the deposition of 2.6 billion ringgit into the personal bank account of Dato Sri Mohd Najib by a donor from the Middle East.
When the existence of this huge quantum of money in Mohd Najib’s personal account was first exposed by a foreign newspaper in early July 2015, he should have told the world the whole truth about the donation. He should have been honest and open with his people. Though it was his personal account, the donation was being made to an individual who is the Prime Minister of a sovereign, independent nation. That fact alone raises a number of critical moral issues.
One, did Prime Minister Najib inform others about the donation? Did he inform his wife and family, his colleagues in the Cabinet, in the UMNO-Barisan Nasional leadership, about receiving such a large sum of money from the Middle East? Was Bank Negara privy to this transaction? Was the Ministry of Finance aware of this? Was the information shared with the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) and did the LHDN impose a tax upon the recipient?
Two, since the Prime Minister has said that the money was not used for “personal gain”, who actually benefited from it? Was it used for the 13th General Election, given that the money was transferred into his account a few weeks before the Election? Or was it used for purposes of charity and for humanitarian causes? Or did people close to the Najib — as it is alleged in certain quarters — use part of the bounty for their own private interests?
Three, it is equally pertinent to ask, why did the donor — a foreigner — make the donation? Was it a mark of his friendship with Najib? Or, was there some other motive behind it, related to bilateral ties, or foreign policy, or the economy?
The Prime Minster should reveal everything in a formal statement to the people. Malaysian citizens have a right to know. It was foreign money transferred into the bank account of their Prime Minister.
A public statement will also make it easier for both the Prime Minister and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) when the latter questions the former about the money in his account . In this regard, the MACC should continue to probe the deposition of 2.6 billion ringgit into the Prime Minister’s bank account and to investigate the 4 billion ringgit involving SRC International, 1MDB’s former subsidiary. The MACC should be commended and supported by all Malaysians who value integrity and honesty in public life for trying its very best to carry out its responsibilities in an increasingly difficult situation. This is what Amanah ( fulfilling trust) is all about. It is a shame that so far seven individuals associated with the MACC have been detained by the police and their statements recorded. MACC offices have been raided. Important documents have been removed. The MACC’s Chief Commissioner, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed is on leave. The Acting Chief Commissioner, Datuk Mustafar Ali, has said that police investigations on some of MACC’s personnel in relation to the alleged leakage of classified documents could affect its probe on SRC International.
The police should realize that it is not those who reveal wrongdoings who are a threat to national security but those who commit wrongdoings and then go all out to undermine any attempt to establish the truth and to punish the culprits.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.
6 August 2015.