This time last year, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail was told he had just lost his job, ostensibly on medical grounds. He protested and it took 24 hours for Prime Minister Najib Razak to get Gani out of office.
Najib, whom the Americans now describe him euphemistically as Malaysian Official 1, was quite busy exactly a year ago. He had Gani removed, worked on getting the Special Branch chief out, and then tweaked his Cabinet to remove his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin and an Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal.
The Prime Minister also made sure key members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which was looking into the 1MDB accounts and business ventures, were “promoted” to the executive branch of the government. One was made Minister, three others deputy ministers.
His victory was complete, He had a new deputy prime minister and those who made life difficult for him then were either removed or sent elsewhere to cause no harm to him.
But he left some people in their place to ensure normalcy. After all, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz was due to retire in April 2016 while anti-graft chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed was unwell and could also be removed in time on medical grounds.
The changes Najib made on July 27 and 28 last year profoundly affected Malaysian politics.
He had tightened his grip of the administration, vocal opposition politicians and activists were being harassed with sedition investigations and travel bans and 1MDB failures were insufferable insults thrown by a government that was not accountable but still being funded and re-funded by all Malaysians.
The PAC report on 1MDB was still being done, pending the Auditor-General’s twice-delayed report. Business was as usual. That was a year ago.
Today, Najib remains Prime Minister but is reeling from the fallout of the US Department of Justice suit against the Wolf of Wall Street and producers Red Granite Pictures for US$1 billion in assets allegedly from money siphoned out of the debt-laden 1MDB.
His step-son Riza Aziz and pal Jho Low have been named in the suit, together with two Abu Dhabi executives. In turn, 1MDB has insisted it has not lost any money while pro-Najib bloggers say it has nothing to do with him.
Umno leaders are in denial, echoing the same tune while whistling another. A police report was lodged yesterday against Gani, Zeti and Abu Kassim, for either single-handedly or together plotting to oust Najib by sharing confidential or doctored information with the US Federal Bureau of Investigations.
1MDB has also come out to say its audited accounts for 2013 and 2014 cannot be held reliable. Its third auditor, Deloitte, has now resigned, reflecting the change storylines through its existence since 2008.
While 1MDB says it can account for the some RM42 billion debt raised through the years, it has yet to explain why the DoJ and FBI believe otherwise. It is now in arbitration with Abu Dhabi’s IPIC over a US$3.5 billion debt repayment scheme.
However, that is nothing compared to the inaction by the Malaysian government. The PAC has named those who should be accountable for 1MDB’s financial imbroglio but no action has been taken. No one has been arrested or charged in court.
And most of all, no one can explain how a Saudi Arabia-Malaysia joint-venture can come to grief in the space of a few years with some assets now in the hands of China’s government-linked companies. Or how the government that has promised to solve it by end of 2015 is still grappling with the issue.
The reality is simple. Every dollar or ringgit borrowed for 1MDB has been lost. Malaysia now has to find more than another dollar or ringgit to replace the lost notes. In that process of replacing the lost or pilfered dollar or ringgit, we have lost valuable assets to other people.
We are poorer by cash and assets, image and respectability.
We are a kleptocracy and the greatest insult is this, we assumed these people pilfered for their political party’s success but no, they swiped the dosh to party themselves. Cash is king, isn’t it, Mr Malaysian Official 1?