July 24, 2016
1MDB is more than just about stolen money
by TK Chua
This painting by Vincent van Gogh belongs to Malaysia
So many countries are now investigating 1Malaysia Development Berhad: in the course of them doing that, I hope some are not subtly holding this country to ransom. Given our endless predicaments, it is important to ensure that our sovereignty and vital interests are not compromised when dealing with others.
It is important to keep vigilant of treaties signed, concessions made, and foreign policies promulgated during this difficult time.
How could we raise so much money through bonds and then use the proceeds for unimaginable wayward indulgences? Are reputable investment bankers and sophisticated bond investors blind or are they part of the conspiracy?
It is just too convenient to push the responsibility to the Malaysian government (present and future) and the Malaysian taxpayer. It is time investment bankers are held accountable and bond-holders take a “haircut”. I don’t care, maybe we should just default on the bonds and damn the sovereignty ratings: there is not much reputation left to protect in the first place.
Institutional failure is now pervasive. These institutions were set up under our constitution and system of government. They draw salaries and perks from our coffers; they are expected to perform specific functions and entrusted responsibility. But look at them now, none of them work.
There are investigations which lead to no outcome. They are enquiries and audits, but the results are hidden. They have the inherent power to “make a difference” but somehow they have chosen to remain silent.
How do we feel as Malaysians now? While we exchange jokes about the baloney, I think the indignation, despair and uncertainty in each of us is very real. We feel that those entrusted to govern have failed us completely. Our democratic rights are being denied and our economic wellbeing threatened.
I hope we can all see the double jeopardy here: even if we Malaysians are prepared to lose the money in 1MDB, it will not buy us the country we used to have, having now become so parochial, archaic, hypocritical, corrupt, and incompetent.
1MDB is an eye opener to many things we take for granted. We can’t assume that national leaders will do the right and proper things. We can’t assume we are a democracy simply because we hold elections every five years. We can’t assume institutions will perform their roles and protect the people. We are all very capable of indulging in fake democracy and false pretences.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.