If PAC probe into 1MDB grinds to a halt, it will be best proof that the overriding objective of the Cabinet reshuffle yesterday was to block, frustrate, sabotage or drag out investigations into biggest financial scandal in nation’s history

Any attempt to halt the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigations into the 1MDB scandal will be the best proof that the overriding objective of the Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the sacking of the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister and the Minister for Rural and Regional Development (one UMNO Deputy President and the other UMNO Vice President) for asking questions about 1MDB which all thinking Malaysians are asking, is to block, frustrate, sabotage or drag out investigations into the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history.

I am surprised at Datuk Nur Jazlan’s acceptance of the appointment as Deputy Home Minister, for it was only ten days ago that he said publicly that he would rather finish his task as PAC Chairman in the PAC investigations on 1MDB first before accepting any Cabinet appointment.

He even said that this was the first time the chair of the PAC is held by a chartered professional accountant and he wanted to use his experience in politics, accountancy and corporations to steer the PAC especially in the 1MDB issue.

I do not know what made Nur Jazlan change his mind and renege on his public undertaking, especially as he was only offered a Deputy Ministership and not a full Ministerial appointment, but he is guilty of conflict-of-interest when he said yesterday that the PAC probe into the 1MDB is now on hold until the next Parliamentary meeting which is not scheduled to meet until Oct. 19.

1MDB’s current and former chief executives like Arul Kanda, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman , former directors including Mohd Bakke Salleh and Azlan Mohd Zainol as well as the real “mover and shaker” of 1MDB, tycoon Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, have been called by PAC to testify in the next few weeks.

Is the scuttling of the current schedule of PAC investigations into 1MDB for at least another three months with these 1MDB personages called up to testify the price of Nur Jazlan’s appointment as Deputy Minister (as well as the appointment of the three other UMNO/BN members as Minister or Deputy Minister)?

It would not be right if this were so, and I believe Nur Jazlan and the other three UMNO/BN members of PAC who had been appointed Minister or Deputy Minister in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle still know what is right and wrong!

For this reason, it is downright wrong for Nur Jazlan to announce that PAC investigations on 1MDB are now on hold and that the PAC hearings next week are postponed.

As PAC Chairman, Nur Jazlan fully appreciated the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary and the importance of ensuring that there is no interference or trespass by one on the other.

Why is his first act following his appointment as Deputy Home Minister to undermine this important distinction between the Executive and the Legislature by unilaterally and arbitrarily announcing that PAC hearings on 1MDB are on hold?

If this is not Nur Jazlan’s intention, then he should make amends.

Under Parliamentary Standing Orders,, the present PAC have sufficient membership to continue its investigations into 1MDB, despite losing Nur Jazlan as PAC Chairman and three UMNO/BN MPs, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (Umno – Kepala Batas), Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (Umno – Masjid Tanah) and Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau (Upko- Tuaran) in the Cabinet reshuffle.

Although the PAC has no Chairman until a new appointment by Parliament, PAC has a Vice Chairman in the person of Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (DAP MP for Kepong) who was appointed by Parliament and sufficient working numbers to continue with its investigations into the 1MDB scandal.

Parliamentary Standing Orders 77(2) provides that the PAC shall consist of a Chairman and Vice Chairman to be appointed by Parliament, and not less than six and not more than 12 members to be appointed by the Committee of Selection.

With three MPs comprising the quorum for the PAC, there is no reason why the PAC should halt its investigations on 1MDB, as there are still nine members in the PAC, viz. with Seng Giaw as PAC Vice Chairman taking over from Nur Jazlan as Acting PAC Chairman, together with four MPs from Umno/BN, two from PKR, and one each from DAP and PAS.

Any halt and discontinuance of PAC hearings and investigations into 1MDB will not only confirm that the overriding objective of the Cabinet reshuffle yesterday was to frustrate and sabotage investigations into 1MDB, the PAC would be guilty of grave national disservice in not continuing with its investigations into 1MDB to uphold the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance as the bedrock foundations of Malaysian parliamentary democracy.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah