March 3, 2015
Scramble for Scapegoats begins as 1MDB scandal deepens
Analyst says it looks like PMO has started trying to distance Najib from a possible scandal.
It appears that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has begun the process of trying to wash PM Najib’s hands clean of what may turn out to be the biggest political and financial scandal in recent Malaysian history, according to analyst Shahbudin Husin.
Tied to that process may be a search for a scapegoat, he writes in a blog entry that indicates his belief that the 1MDB controversy is close to reaching a climax.
He refers to a recent report in London’s Sunday Times which quoted the PMO as saying that Najib was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.
“It’s obvious that this was an attempt to distance Najib from any problems 1MDB may now be facing,” he says. “But it’s not so easy to lift the burden off Najib’s shoulders for he is the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and Chairman of the company’s board of advisors. Can we believe that funds in such large amounts can be invested or disbursed without Najib’s knowledge or consent?”
If 1MDB had been successful, he adds, there’s no doubt that the success would have been attributed to Najib’s acumen in his day-to-day involvement with the company. Shahbudin wonders who will become the scapegoat or scapegoats in the event the 1MDB affair unravels and turns out to be a major scandal or, as DAP’s Tony Pua has put it, “the heist of the century”.
“Will the scapegoat be Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, the current Chairman of 1MDB? Will the second and third scapegoats be its former CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and his successor, Arul Kanda Kandasamy? Will there be other scapegoats still?”
Shahbudin notes that the PMO’s statement to the Sunday Times came after a claim by whistleblower website Sarawak Report that it was in possession of emails and documents showing that 1MDB’s joint venture with PetroSaudi in 2009 was allegedly a front to channel funds to a company controlled by tycoon Jho Low.
Riza Aziz and his Penang born Buddy
He says it would be difficult for Najib to deny any association with Jho Low because the playboy tycoon is a close friend of his stepson, Riza Aziz.“Besides reports that Jho Low has become close to the Prime Minister’s wife through Riza, there have also been reports that Najib himself has met him several times overseas,” he says.
“With the new allegation that Jho Low tried to make off with RM2.5 billion of 1MDB’s money, the call for the truth to be revealed to the public, perhaps through a royal commission of inquiry, has grown louder.”