Stop all pretences – Najib should exorcise the haunting presence of Jho Low in the 1MDB scandal by giving a full account to Parliament of the latter’s role and influence in the nation’s biggest financial scandal

In his TV1 interview on “1MDB – Where is the money?” on Wednesday night, which failed to answer the subject of the topic but piqued greater public interest and concern about the whereabouts of the 1MDB billions, the second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah coyly avoided giving answers on Jho Low and his involvement in the debt-ridden 1MDB, asking “What’s the point of glamorising his name?”

Husni should know that he is incapable of adding to Jho Low’s glamour, as the Penang-born businessman has achieved what the second Finance Minister is incapable of – being the top attraction of a five-part feature by New York Times in February on the influx of global money which had fuelled the American city’s high-end real estate boom. And this is without mention of Jho Low’s life in the high society of the West.

The issue at hand is not about Jho Low’s glamour but the government’s accountability and transparency in the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, particularly about Jho Low’s role and influence.

Until recently, the Cabinet, Parliament and nation were kept in the dark about the most important facet of the 1MDB scandal – that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had right from the beginning of the establishment of 1MDB in 2009 been the final approving authority for all 1MBD deals, transactions and investments, which means that the Save 1MDB Roadmap passed by the Cabinet on May 29 was really a Save Najib Roadmap!

Another important facet of the 1MDB scandal was Jho Low’s role and influence not only in the creation of the 1MDB, but its ballooning in six years to pile up a debt of RM42 billion.

In the past six years, there has been a Great Pretence in Malaysian government and politics by Prime Minister Najib and the government’s top financial decision-makers – as if Jho Low does not exist or does not have any role or influence in the Prime Minister’s financial decisions, particularly with regard to 1MDB.

This is illustrated by the fact that up to now, neither Najib, Husni nor any top government financial officer had acknowledged the presence, role or influence of Jho Low, although it is now clear that if there was no Jho Low, there would be no 1MDB – and of course, no RM42 billion 1MDB financial scandal.

It is fortunate that Najib did not turn up for the 1MDB “Nothing2Hide” forum on Friday, for a free-wheeling and unmanipulated forum on 1MDB (particularly with the participation of former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir) would have smoked out the “Everything2Hide” reality about the 1MDB scandal – including the role and influence of Jho Low in the 1MDB scandal.

Jho Low was in fact the first person to tell the world that Najib was the final approving authority for any 1MDB deal, transaction and investment, although this was not fully realised at the time.

In his interview with Euromoney in April, where Jho Low complained that he was being made the “scapegoat” in the 1MDB scandal, Jho Low made a very pregnant remark when he said:

“Are you telling me the prime minister doesn’t make his own decisions? That the ministry, the minister of finance, who is the prime minister – and there are only two to three people in the Finance Ministry that sign off on shareholder resolutions under law – that none of them… that they just signed without evaluating it?

“Did the people supposed to be responsible for decision-making (at 1MDB) suddenly decide to absolve all their responsibilities and then create this PR campaign with me as the focus of it?

“No one seems to ask the question who is the ultimate decision-maker on 1MDB? No one asks that. No one ever asks about the shareholder’s role.”

Jho Low was clearly hinting that it was Najib who is the final approving authority whatever his role in the scandal.

Jho Low was right. No one seems to ask who was the ultimate decision-maker on 1MDB.

The question cannot be evaded any longer.

Najib should end all pretences and own up to the truth. He should exorcise the haunting presence of Jho Low in the 1MDB scandal by giving a full account to Parliament of the latter’s role and influence in the nation’s biggest financial scandal.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah