Now that the government has finally admitted that the Prime Minister is the final approving authority for 1MDB transactions, are Cabinet meetings in March and May on 1MDP chaired by Najib valid, proper and legal because of conflict of interest?

For the first time in six years, the government, through the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Husni Hanadzlah in his TV1 interview on “1MDB: Di mana wangnya?” last night, has finally admitted that Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the Prime Minister is the final approving authority for 1MDB deals, investments and transactions.

Husni said the Prime Minister represents the Government, which is why his written approval is needed for any financial deal undertaken by the 1Malaysian Development Bhd (1MDB).

This is a very lame and poor excuse, for by this reasoning, there must be umpteenth government companies which have the same provision as 1MBD which provides under Clause 117 of its Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A) that the Prime Minister must give his written approval for any 1MHD deals, including the firm’s investments or any bid for restructuring.

If the Prime Minister has to give his “written approval” for the deals of umpteenth government companies, he would have little time to be Prime Minister proper.

As far as I know, 1MDP is the first case where the Prime Minister’s “written authority” is needed for any financial deal undertaken by a government company. I understand there is a second such case of a government company with such a provision which also happened under Najib’s tenure as Prime Minister.

I am prepared to stand corrected, but can Husni, who seems to be relishing his role in a new bout of transparency of the Najib government, clarify this matter and if I am right, explain this phenomenon as well as identify the second company which has this 1MDB Clause 117 provision requiring the Prime Minister’s “written consent” before any deal or restructuring before the country is landed with another major financial scandal.

For the past six years, Najib acted as if he was quite in the dark about 1MBD’s many controversial and opaque transactions, claiming that he was not involved in the day-to-day running of the company as he was only Chairman of the 1MDB Advisory Board.

Najib owes the country and people an explanation why he had put up a pretence in the past six years that he was quite in the dark about the 1MDB deals, transactions and investments when he fact he had been intimately involved as the final approving authority in the 1MDB deals, transactions and investments.

Parliament has been kept in the dark about Najib’s pre-eminent role in 1MDB for the past six years.

When was the Cabinet first informed that the Prime Minister was in fact the final approving authority for all the controversial and opaque 1MDB deals, transactions and investments as he was intimately involved in all of them and cannot disclaim ignorance?

I have a strong suspicion the Cabinet Ministers did not know about Najib’s final approving authority role for the 1MDB deals, transactions and investments until the past few days in June.

This not only raises the question why Najib had hidden the fact from Cabinet and Parliament that he was the final approving authority for 1MDB when for the past four years the 1MDB scandal grew to become the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history, but also the question of the propriety, validity and even legality of the Cabinet decisions on the 1MDB questionn – one on 4th of March which declared the 1MDB deals as aboveboard and second one on 29th May which approved the 1MDB Roadmap after it was presented by Husni last Friday.

On Tuesday (June 2) night, Cabinet Ministers had a secret three-hour briefing on the 1MDP at Hotel Majestic, Kuala Lumpur.

This Cabinet briefing on the 1MDB was so secretive that Husni, who gave the briefing, denied that the briefing for Ministers was about 1MDB when he was met at Hotel Majestic, and he had reason to be as secretive as possible about giving the Ministers a briefing on 1MDB on Tuesday night, for such a briefing to Cabinet should have been taken place before the Ministers met last Friday and approved the 1MDB Roadmap.

It is now very clear that when the Ministers approved the 1MDB Roadmap at the Cabinet meeting last Friday on May 29, the overwhelming majority of the Ministers did not understand the MDB issues involved and the Ministers gave “blind” support for the 1MDB Roadmap, especially after Najib had asked Ministers who do not agree with his handling of 1MDB to hand in their resignations.

Under such circumstances, it is no surprise that Ministers who did not even understand how Najib was handling the 1MDB issues gave their full support.

Why was it necessary to give Cabinet Ministers a three-hour special briefing on the 1MDB as happened at Hotel Majestic, Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (June 2) night?

Such a briefing should take place before the Cabinet was asked to adopt the 1MDB Roadmap on May 29, and not four days later on June 2.

This is really putting the cart before the horse!

It is also intriguing why it is necessary six years after the operation of 1MDB to appoint Husni as the Cabinet spokesman on 1MDB?

Is this because Najib has no confidence that his Ministers cn talk sense about the 1MDB scandal even after the three-hour briefing on 1MDB by Husni on Tuesday night?

It is clear that the 35 Ministers can be divided into three groups on the 1MDB issue:

Firstly the handful who understand the 1MDB scandal, including its impropriety especially with regard to the lack of accountability and transparency but are prepared to overlook them because of loyalty to Najib and to their Ministerial posts;

Secondly, the handful who believes that 1MDB is a disastrous scandal and can lead to the downfall of UMNO/BN government, and want even the whole 1MDB Board to be sacked.

Thirdly, the majority of the Cabinet Ministers who do not want to understand or know what is happening in the 1MDB scandal so long as they keep their Ministerial positions.

In the leaked recording of his speech to four UMNO divisions on May 16, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin maintained the view that it was unacceptable that 1MDB could pile up RM42 billion debts in a few years and he wanted the whole 1MDB Board to be sacked.

Now that Muhyiddin knows that Najib is the final approving authority for 1MDB deals, transactions investments, would Muhyiddin advocate that Najib should be sacked for allowing 1MDB to pile up RM42 billion debts in a few years?

The consequences of 1MDB scandal goes beyond the toppling of UMNO/BN government.

Husni had spelt out the costs and consequences of 1MDB scandal in his television interview last night when he said Malaysia must resolve the 1MDB debt issue or risk a negative chain of events, including a possible downgrade to the country’s credit outlook or a plunge in value of the ringgit.

Husni said if Putrajaya is forced to shoulder the 1MDB debt of RM42 billion on top of its development expenditure of RM52 billion for next year, it would cause the government to fail to meet its targeted Budget 2015 deficit of 3.2 per cent and revert to over 4 per cent instead.

He warned: “What will happen? Our ratings will drop, when our ratings drop, our companies borrow from abroad, our currency value will drop like in 1998 then, when our ringgit at one point was over RM4, how to pay debts?

“In our context, the main thing is we must solve the issue of debt so the people do not have to worry.”

Husni has cogently and eloquently summed up the case of patriotic Malaysians, like DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua and PKR MP for Pandan, Rafizi Ramli who had been blowing the whistle in the past four years about the dangers and risks of thej controversial and opaque deals in the 1MDB scandal.

The country should be honouring and paying tribute to Pua and Rafizi for repeatedly sounding the warning, although under very difficult circumstances, about the risks and dangers of the 1MDB scandal.

The person who should be in the dock for exposing the country to the risks of of a chain of economic disasters like the nosedive of the Malaysian ringgit to 1998 levels and a plunge in the country’s credit is instead on a road show to drum up public support to show that he is even more popular than the country’a longest-serving Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir during Mahathir’s 22 years as Prime Minister.

This is why Malaysia is in such shambles as this is not the way to govern and lead the country to realise Vision 2020 and join the ranks of developed nations in 2020!

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah