Dewan Rakyat gives greenlight to reopen 1MDB probe

Rohaniza Idris

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat passed unanimously a motion to reopen investigation into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

The lower house of Parliament also gave the green light for the findings of the probe to be made public.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng tabled the motion which calls upon the Auditor-General’s Department and the Dewan Rakyat’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to reopen a probe into the scandal and misappropriations involving 1MDB and related companies.

Lim said the probe into the scandal could provide closure on the issue as well as for the country.

He said the probe was needed as the 1MDB bribery scandal had not been thoroughly investigated and no action was taken by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government to resolve the issue.

"The re-investigation is aimed at restoring the dignity of the House and the country’s institutions which had previously failed to conduct a fair, competent, credible, and independent investigation as well as being from the interference of persons of interest.

"Previous investigations also failed to identify the real cause behind this corruption scandal and the huge losses suffered by all Malaysia and in particular, 1MDB," he said.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin (BN-Rompin) in his debate argued that government agencies such as Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) could not identify if Good Star Limited's owner was indeed the fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho.

The company allegedly received US$1.03 billion directly from 1MDB.

The former PAC chairman said a letter from BNM to the parliamentary select committee previously stated that the information was sensitive and as such cannot be publicly revealed.

Hasan said he is prepared to be hauled up by the Dewan Rakyat’s Selection Committee on the Finance Minister’s allegation, linking him of concealing information in the PAC Report.

"I directed the information regarding on the owner of Good Star to be withdrawn in the report as Bank Negara provided an information which had been categorised as intelligence information and as such cannot be disclosed to the public.

"I received information on it from BNM on April 6, a day before the PAC report was printed for public disclosure.

"I had informed the PAC Committee Members through a letter on the matter (withdrawal of information)," he said.

However, Tony Pua (PH - Damansara) in his debate on the motion alleged that other members of the then PAC were not privy on the identity information revocation.

“The revocation of the information from the PAC report was made without the PAC members being informed.

“Why were we not informed through a phone call?

“Why did we have knowledge of it, only after the information was printed in the report on April 7 (2016) ?,” Pua questioned.

“I would like to state here that Yang Berhormat Rompin is seeking to confuse the Dewan.

Hasan retorted that Pua’s allegations could be referred to the Selection Committee on whether his state was true or whether he was seeking to confuse the Dewan rakyat.

Stressing that he never missed the PAC meeting for two terms, Pua said Hasan’s attitude on the matter made him lose heart.

Meanwhile both, Fahmi Fadzil (PH - Lembah Pantai) and Lim Kit Siang (PH - Iskandar Puteri) backed the motion to reopen the probe on the 1MDB scandal.

Tan Sri Annuar Musa (BN - Ketereh) among the lawmakers who debated on the motion surprisingly also supported the motion.

The Umno secretary-general said as parliamentarians, they only wanted to seek the truth, and not hide or protect anything.

“To do so would be going against our oaths as MPs,” he said.

“Ultimately the PAC is responsible to Dewan Rakyat, and its findings must be discussed by the MPs in a proper manner,” he said.

Pas the other opposition party in the Dewan Rakyat also threw in its lot to back the motion.

Ahmad Marzuk Shaary (Pas - Pengkalan Chepa) said the party welcomes the motion as it is a matter of public interest.

Earlier, Wong Kah Woh (PH - Ipoh Timur) had proposed that the Dewan Rakyat speaker use his power to suspend Standing Order 85, which prevents the PAC proceedings from being made public prior to the publication of its report.

However, Speaker Datuk Mohd Ariff Md Yusof suggested that the new PAC convene its meeting and formally decide to bring the matter to the lower house of Parliament. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd