Najib government too “economical with the truth” when it would not clarify after two weeks of Parliament whether Muhyiddin was right in his last speech as DPM three months ago that 1MDB scandal had mushroomed from RM42 billion to over RM50 billion

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his government were too “economical with the truth” when it would not clarify after two weeks of Parliament whether Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was right in his last speech as Deputy Prime Minister to the Cheras UMNO Division three months ago that the 1MDB scandal had mushroomed from RM42 billion to over RM50 billion.

There was not a single reference whatsoever to the two mega scandals which had been dominating international headlines about Malaysia for the past few months, the RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal banking accounts for the 13th General Election, in Najib’s much-awaited 2016 Budget – fully justifying Opposition MPs resorting to the unorthodox but very creative ploy of collectively displaying the placard “Mana RM2.6 billion” (Where is the RM2.6 billion) after Najib’s budget speech.

This action of Opposition MPs resonated in the hearts and minds of 30 million Malaysians, including the majority of the three million UMNO members, although there are those who excoriated such a creative ploy as “uncivilized”, as if they more Umno than Umno!

For the past two weeks, UMNO Ministers have been fighting a guerrilla war to avoid giving full and proper accountability for the two mega scandals in Parliament, with the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Azalina Othman Said, committing the ultimate contempt of Parliament by claiming that the Prime Minister had the right to choose when to answer questions about the 1MDB!

She did not seem to realise that in refusing to provide answers to questions on the two mega-scandals directed to the Prime Minister on the first day of Parliament and claiming that the Prime Minister has the “prerogative” to choose the date when to answer these questions – even if it is on the last day of the 25-day budget meeting of Parliament on December 3 – she was turning the principle of parliamentary control of the executive on its head!

What is even more alarming is that Ministers can now follow Najib’s bad parliamentary precedent and claim that they need not answer an embarrassing question on the day a Member of Parliament had placed it on the Order Paper but could choose another date of his choice to answer it!

This is not fulfilling but evading Ministerial responsibility to Parliament! So much for parliamentary reforms!

It is sad that the Malay Rulers’ concern about the 1MDB scandal had fallen on deaf ears in Cabinet and Parliament.

In an unprecedented statement on Oct 6, the Malay Rulers called on the government to complete the 1MDB investigation as soon as possible and to take “appropriate stern action” against all found to be implicated.

The Malay Rulers also called on the findings of the 1MDB investigations to be “reported comprehensively and in a transparent manner so that the people will be convinced of the sincerity of the government which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth”.

It is just not good enough for the 1MDD CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy to go on Bernama TV to claim that there is “no absolutely no cover up on 1MDB” which fly in the face of the facts of such “cover-up” which included the sackings of the Deputy Prime Minister, a Cabinet Minister and the Attorney-General; the three-month stoppage of Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigations into 1MDB; the dissolution of the multi-agency Special Task Force on 1MDB; the suspension of The Edge publications and the abuses of power in the arrest and prosecution of 1MDB whistleblowers under various sections of Section 124 of Penal Code for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” which were enacted to combat terrorism.

Arul’s claim of “absolutely no cover up on 1MDB” is proof that the Najib government and 1MDB do not take the Malay Ruler’s views as expressed in their statement of Oct. 6 seriously.

In fact, the Malay Rulers’ concerns are being belittled – in particular when the Malay Rulers said that the 1MDB scandal has resulted in a “crisis of confidence” with adverse consequences including “the plunge in the value of the Malaysian ringgit, impacting the country financial market and economic climate negative and at the same time adversely affecting the world’s view of Malaysia”.

The Malay Rulers reminded all leaders “to always adhere to the Rukun Negara principles of Upholding the Constitution and the Rule of Law” and “constantly ensure that justice is meted out equitably and transparently based on the law”.

They also urged all enforcement agencies and regulatory institutions such as the Police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Judiciary, as well as related government bodies, to be “worthy of God’s trust and the people’s faith with transparency, credibility and integrity”.

The Malay Rulers’ unprecedented concern and statement should be one of the central themes in the parliamentary debate on the 2016 Budget.

How many UMNO/BN MPs have referred to the Malay Rulers’ Statement of Oct. 6 during the 2016 budget debate?

The Malay Rulers’ unprecedented statement of Oct. 6 would have been the centrepiece of my speech if I had been able to participate in the parliamentary debate on the 2016 budget, which I am unable to do because I have been suspended for six months for saying that the Speaker has no powers to prohibit the Public Accounts Committee from continuing its 1MDB investigations for three months after the PAC Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad and three other PAC members had been promoted as Minister and Deputy Ministers.

Would Najib and his Ministers stop being “economical with the truth” about the 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” scandals, stop their guerrilla warfare in Parliament to avoid answering the many questions raised by MPs and answer directly and squarely to all issues raised in Parliament about these two mega scandals?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah