Ministers should redeem themselves at their meeting tomorrow to prove that Cabinet is not a magic show for a David Copperfield to perform the hat-trick of producing a rabbit from an empty hat

The Malaysian Cabinet is being held in even lower esteem among Malaysians after last Friday’s Cabinet meeting for two reasons:

Firstly, for giving approval to a 1MDB Roadmap when it is clear that no Minister has any clue how 1MDB and the Malaysian Government is going to be saved from 1MDB’s RM42 billion loans scandal; and

Secondly, no resignation by any Minister although the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that Ministers can resign if they do not support him on the 1MDB issue.

It is simply incredible that the Malaysian Cabinet has degenerated into a magic show for a David Copperfield to perform the hat-trick of producing a rabbit from an empty hat, with no Minister daring to expose the illusion of the whole exercise!

The reason why the UMNO Vice President and Minister for Rural and Regional Development Minister, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal had objected to the application of the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility on the 1MDB scandal was that although Ministers had asked questions about the strategic investment firm during Cabinet meetings, Ministers are just unclear as the public over the firm’s opaque deals.

Shafie had said that Ministers wanted answers to the 1MDB scandal as they wanted to know, not for their own benefit, but to explain to the people at large.

Shafie has an important point, although his rejection of the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility is not acceptable.

The question is whether after Friday’s Cabinet meeting approving the 1MDB Roadmap presented by the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, are all Cabinet Ministers prepared to explain to the people about the 1MDB Roadmap?

Nobody thinks so, for the Ministers must be equally at sea as the Malaysian public on the many questions and controversies that have cropped up just in the past three days on the 1MDB Roadmap.

For instance, can the Ministers explain to the public what 1MDB has to give in return for Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC)’s US$1 billion so that 1MDB can settle its US$975 million syndicated loan?

Does any Minister know, and is there any Minister who dares stand up to declare that he or she knows, the answer?

Again, when 1MDB President and Group Executive Director, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, denied that IPIC’s US$1 billion mentioned by Husni was “a loan, debt or bailout”, does any Minister know what animal is this US$1 billion of IPIC which is not “a loan, debt or bailout”?

Furthermore, do the Ministers know whether 1MDB is being wound down by next year and its operations transferred to three separate companies as part of the deal with IPIC and its Aabar Investments unit to remove another RM16 billion debt from 1MDB – as reported by the government mouthpiece Bernama but subsequently denied by Husni?

Even more important, have the Ministers got answers to the most basic question: Why is IPIC’s US1 billion (not “loan, debt or bailout”) necessary in the first place?

IPIC’s US$1bil is to repay a US$975mil (RM3.5bil) loan, in advance of its due date, to a syndicate of international bank lenders because the consortium of banks led by Deutsche Bank had asked for their US$975mil loan to be repaid by 1MDB less than four months earlier ahead of its due date. The loan was due on Aug 31.

The demand by the consortium of international banks was prompted by “incomplete” documents that 1MDB provided as a form of security, rendering the terms of the loan unmet. This alleged breach allows the banks to rescind the loan ahead of the August due date.

The loan was secured via the US$1.103 billion that 1MDB said was being held by its Brazen Sky unit in BSI Singapore, originally from a tranche of offshore deposits it previously kept in the Cayman Islands.

Has the Cabinet received a full report as to whether there is any basis in the allegation of the whistleblower site Sarawak Report that BSI Singapore had informed the Singapore authorities that the document related to 1MDB’s account in BSI were in fact “false bank statements” and “did not represent a true account of the assets of the 1MDB subsidiary”, resulting in the consortium of international banks rescinding the loan to 1MDB ahead of the August due date?

And if so, what action the Cabinet has taken against such 1MDB irresponsibility and mismanagement?

Most important of all, had the Prime Minister at Friday’s Cabinet meeting explained his role not only on the 1MDB’s US$975 loan being rescinded by the consortium of international bankers ahead of the August due date, but all the important 1MDB decisions by virtue of his being the final approving authority for any 1MDB deal, transaction or investment under the 1MDB Memorandum & Articles of Association (M&A)?

Are the Ministers prepared to redeem themselves at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow for their negligence and irresponsibility last Friday by ensuring that that there is a clear-cut Save 1MDB Roadmap, which should be made public, so that there would be answers to the questions as to what IPIC’s US$1 billion lifeline to 1MDB would cost Malaysia, whether 1MDB would be wound down and why 1MDB had given incomplete security as to enable the consortium of international bankers to rescind their US$975 loan ahead of the due date?

Najib should not chair or even be present at such a Cabinet discussion on the 1MDB issue because of conflict of interest as he is the final approving authority for 1MDB deals, transactions and investments.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah