First step to Save Malaysia from global kleptocracy is to end “global pretence” that 1MDB scandal has been resolved and ceased to be an issue

The first step to Save Malaysia from global kleptocracy is to end the “global pretence” that the international multi-billion dollar 1MDB money-laundering scandal had been resolved and ceased to be an issue.

This was what the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had promised more than a year ago.

In his meeting with some 1,000 UMNO divisional leaders and selected representatives of NGOs on 14th June 2015, Najib gave an assurance that the controversy surrounding the state investment arm 1MDB will be resolved by year-end.

In his 2016 New Year message on 31st December 2015, Najib told Malaysians that his RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion donation twin mega scandals had been resolved and were no more issues.

Najib could not be more wrong, as illustrated by the decision yesterday of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) ordering Coutts & Co., which is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, to surrender 6.5 million francs (RM29.1 million) in illegal profits from transactions linked to 1MDB.

This is the first 1MDB-linked world headlines for the month of February 2017 and certainly, it will not be the last whether for this month or this year.

Just in the 31 days of January 2017, a news portal carried more than 200 stories or reports linked to the 1MDB scandal.

There was a multitude of news developments related to 1MDB scandal in the past month, but the three major 1MDB news developments that stood out in January 2017 were:

Firstly, former US stockbroker, Jordan Belfort, the man whose biography the film “Wolf of Wall Street” is based on has come out with a stinging criticism of the movie’s producers in an interview with Swiss financial news site, calling them “criminals”.

The production company of “Wolf in Wall Street” is Red Granite, whose chief executive is Riza Aziz – Najib’s stepson – with billionaire Jho Low as the financier of the film.

Both of them are central figures in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) civil forfeiture suits involving 1MDB, claiming that the Red Granite received US$64 million (RM283.5 million at current rates) that was traced back to 1MDB.

Secondly, the jailing of the fourth former banker (fifth person to be prosecuted) in Singapore for crimes related to 1MDB money-laundering – Jens Fred Sturzenegger, a Swiss national and branch manager of Falcon Private Bank in Singapore.

Sturzenegger was sentenced to 28 weeks jail and fined S$128,000 after pleading guilty to six charges related to Singapore’s probe on 1MDB.

What is of particular relevance to Malaysia is that the charges Sturzenegger pleaded guilty substantiated the US DOJ case that the RM2.6 billion donation in Najib’s personal banking accounts before the 13th General Election in March 2013 came from 1MDB and not from any Arab prince as claimed by Najib and UMNO leaders.

Will the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali re-open investigations into Najib’s RM2.6 billion and 1MDB twin mega scandals?

Thirdly, for the first time in Malaysian history, the 1MDB scandal has been cited by Transparency International (TI) as the reason for Malaysia’s continued fall in both ranking and score in the TI Corruption Perception Index 2016, released ten days ago.

What better forum for Najib and his Cabinet to make a fresh start to cleanse and purge Malaysia of the infamy and ignominy of being regarded worldwide as a global kleptocracy than the Save Malaysia Roundtable of Political and Civil Society Leaders next Tuesday by ending the global pretence that 1MDB scandal has been resolved and ceased to be an issue.

At the “Save Malaysia” Roundtable, Najib can propose his strategy to liberate Malaysia from the millstone of the international appellation of a “global kleptocracy” and to listen to political and civil society leaders as to what is the best way to get out of the trajectory of a global kleptocracy and a failed and rogue state.

Invitations have been sent out by the Roundtable secretary Liew Chin Tong (MP for Kluang) to Najib, political and civil society leaders for the Save Malaysia Roundtable Conference to be held at The Club @ Bukit Utama, Persiaran Surian, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor next Tuesday, 7th February 2017 at 3 pm. (The Roundtable is brought a day earlier because of Thaipusam festivities.)

I hope Najib and the Cabinet Ministers who are invited to the Save Malaysia Roundtable will have the courage and patriotism to turn up to fully participate in the Roundtable to Save Malaysia from global kleptocracy and a failed and rogue state.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah