September 3, 2015
OPEN LETTER to IACC Delegates and Mr. Paul Low
by Stephen Ng
COMMENT To the delegates who attended the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), my question to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low is why bother to defend the indefensible?
Low said that he spoke up every week regarding the scandal involving 1MDB, but is Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak himself responding positively to this with plausible answers?
Giving answers that even a smart young lad would not accept is an insult to one’s intelligence. No wonder why a photograph has also been circulated where Old Boys from Najib’s own alma mater, St John’s Institution, are ashamed of their alumnus.
Why do you think the Interpol had refused Najib’s request for a ‘red notice’ on Clare Rewcastle-Brown, a journalist based in the United Kingdom, whose portal Sarawak Report was among the first to expose this scandal?
Low (photo) should tell us what the answers are that Najib has provided in the cabinet to which we are not privy. Of course, to Low these days, ‘transparency’ is akin to pornography and a taboo subject, but not revealing the truth in the name of ‘official secrets’ is doing injustice to both the people and those he represents.
Without access to the information, how would we be satisfied with the explanations? By merely listening to Low? Answers such as the RM2.6 billion came from an individual donor from the Middle East, is Low accepting that as logical? Does Low have the answers as to where the money borrowed by 1MDB has disappeared?
Just speaking up during the cabinet meetings is not sufficient, but Low should at least be able to obtain some credible answers from Najib that can be offered to hundreds of thousands of my fellow Malaysians who were at the recently concluded Bersih 4 street demonstration in the city of Kuala Lumpur.
Low’s answers appear to be very shallow for someone who always claim that he is divinely appointed to the cabinet. He has always said that he is pleased with the answers given by Najib on a number of other important issues affecting the people of this country.
Low should have answered a number of questions that have been posed to him before. If he said that Najib is sincere with what he is doing, why was the investigation into the 1MDB scandal suddenly called off by none other than Najib himself?
In the first place, can Low tell us whether the draft charge sheet existed, as alleged by Brown? If it did not, why did the present attorney-general say he would investigate into the criminal leak of the charge sheet against Najib?
If Najib were innocent, what is there for him to be afraid of giving the keynote address at the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC?) It is hard even for the ordinary man in the street to believe that Najib was innocent in the entire scandal, being the chairperson of the 1MDB advisory board, the finance minister as well as the prime minister, how does Low expect an international community comprising anti-corruption stalwarts to believe him?
How much lower can Low get? Did he think that the delegates at the IACC are all a bunch of activists with no grey matter left?
I want to give Najib the benefit of the doubt. He can decide to turn up at the IACC meeting to address the international community on the scandal, but please, use some more credible stories.
Where is the Bugis Warrior?
With disappointment, I have to say that Low’s answer given during the IACC was nothing but another true embarrassment to our country’s image as the host of the international conference on anti-corruption.
In addressing corruption, it has to begin from the top down. There is no way that Low can be effectively fighting corruption on the ground alone, when the Prime Minister himself is already in the thick of a possible scandal involving billions of ringgit.
If anything, Low is just another highly-paid apologist for Najib using taxpayers’ money, which is why I have asked him this question several times, “Why bother to defend the indefensible?”
Covering for Najib, Low has turned out to be a laughing-stock himself by saying that it was him who advised Najib not to give the keynote address due to security reasons; but, when he himself saw how civilised the anti-corruption activists were, he was lost for words.
We have heard such excuses given one time too many in this country that we no longer give it any credence at all, especially coming from someone whose integrity is now being questioned in the public domain based on his own performance as a cabinet minister in charge of integrity.
Previously, when Najib also failed to turn up for another event organised by his party member, titled ‘Nothing2Hide’, it was also at the advice of the Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar.
It was, as if the Police were unable to protect the prime minister, when the people who attended the seminar were none other than members of Najib’s own political party UMNO. In their midst was also the 90-year-old party member, who is none other than former Prime Minister (and I call him the Terminator), Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
When the ‘Terminator’ turned up, the Bugis warrior was missing in action. How then can we, ordinary people in this country, trust Najib, whom even the Crown Prince of the Southern state of Johor said apparently had “everything to hide”.
Hearing Low’s speeches in the IACC from the way it is reported in the news yesterday, it appears to me that Low was essentially saying that Najib faces security threats everywhere he went, and a hostile reception would be expected everywhere he went. A warrior should face all kinds of challenges.
Low is apparently very confused between hostility and security, and between civility and public demand for good answers to the corruption issues revolving around Najib. With or without Najib’s presence, even Transparency International’s chair Jose Ugaz has demanded an explanation to the 1MDB scandal. He echoes the voices of many Malaysians.
If Low’s concerns about Najib’s security were real, then Najib should remain in his Forbidden City of Putrajaya, and live like the emperor of China, who knew nothing about the people who were suffering outside as a result of corruption at the highest level.
Personally, I am very disappointed with the quality of explanations given by both Low and the other cabinet ministers, and someone like Low should at least have more integrity to stand up, tell us the truth and leave behind the legacy of a statesman.
If Najib could not even face the snubs in the midst of a highly-charged atmosphere at the IACC, where the delegates were, in fact, civilised, how do you expect the people of this country not snub his leadership whenever he appears in public, locally or elsewhere?
Last weekend’s Bersih 4 rally was a clear statement made by some 500,000 people of this country but Najib has chosen not to listen; therefore, there is simply no excuse for him not to have turned up at the IACC and explain himself to the international community.
With all due respect to Najib as Prime Minister and to give him the benefits of the doubt, we all wait for him to avail himself to address the questions raised at the IACC or the next parliamentary session. If he passes the test with flying colours, I am prepared to trust him.
However, contrary to the excuses given by Low, it appears to me that Najib lacks the confidence to meet the people after the expose by Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal. He is afraid of the colour yellow and words that we all take it for granted that will help to further strengthen our country’s democracy.
Recently, when the daughter of a famous architect in the country, Bilqis Hijjas, distributed yellow balloons with words like ‘Justice’, ‘Democracy’ and ‘Free Media’ at a shopping mall where Najib was attending another open function, she, too, was being probed by the police under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
This simply does not make sense any more. It is a crime to distribute yellow balloons with words that uphold parliamentary democracy but it is not wrong or right to allow political funds to be funneled into one’s personal accounts.
Did Najib not say in 2012 that all political funds must be channeled into the party’s accounts instead of private accounts in an attempt to fight corruption? See for yourself what was reported in the mainstream media, The Star). After the WSJ expose, Najib said that the money was a donation from an Arab family and it was meant to help the ruling coalition to win the last general election.
This is what shocks most of us! In other words, the last general election was probably influenced by a foreigner who had such big sum of money to splash. This is the rationale behind the Bersih 4 rally last weekend which saw ordinary Malaysians going to the streets.
Going back six months ago, Najib had said that he is like the courageous Bugis warrior and I hope he is truly one, so that he will have the courage as a great Bugis leader who will take the bull by the horns.
Bersih 4’s demands
Last weekend’s Bersih 4 rally was a thumping success.Low should have been there himself to see for himself the ‘atmosphere’ on the ground. Despite being a mammoth rally, the crowd was very peaceful. Even Dr Mahathir was there without all his escorts, and he was not being mobbed by the people.
Low and other cabinet ministers could have gone down to the ground to explain to the people, but they did not, except to comment from the side that it was a mini-Arab Spring.
Najib could have easily appeared on a public screen to speak to the people, if he wanted to, but he never did. He knew Bersih’s demands were reasonable, given the current state of the country, but instead of listening to the people, Bersih 4 has been demonised in so many ways.
Low did not mention one provocateur who was a man well-connected with Umno leaders, and he was caught by the rally goers for throwing firecrackers during Bersih 4. This could have caused a stampede, and as a lawmaker had charged, this could have been an attempted murder of its worse kind.
Had there been any casualties or death, I am sure people like Maria Chin Abdullah and her team of volunteers who organised the rally would have been immediately hauled up and blamed for the stampede, but to date, has any firm actions taken against the man caught with the firecrackers?
Low made no mention of such incidents and why there were attempts to demonise Bersih 4 rally from the moment it ended. People like Low should remind Najib that the demands of Bersih 4 rally goers were simple and straightforward, and has nothing to do with dismantling parliamentary democracy.
I quote from Transparency International’s chair, Jose Ugaz who concurs with me that dealing with corruption requires a holistic approach:
“Let us recall those two words – honesty and integrity. What does that mean for Malaysia? The government has taken measures and initiatives to tackle corruption. We will surely hear that from the minister.
“We want to see more progress but that cannot happen while there are unanswered questions about the US$700 million that made its way into the Prime Minister’s personal bank account.”
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.