Why blame Najib?

By equating money being illegally taken out of the country with corruption, the opposition is suggesting that by eliminating corruption this would automatically stop money from leaving Malaysia. This is a gross distortion of what is really happening.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Actually, we have discussed this matter some time ago, long before Najib Tun Razak became the Prime Minister.

The opposition wants Najib to stem the tide (to quote what they said). They also say that RM174 billion was siphoned out of the country in 2011 and, according to Rafizi Ramli, this more or less confirms the close association between corruption and money illegally leaving the country.

The opposition may have a point that money illegally gained (meaning through corruption) would be taken out of the country, as it would be dangerous to leave it in the country (since it is dirty money).

However, the opposition is oversimplifying things plus is misleading the people as to what is really going on. Not all the money that has left Malaysia is dirty money. A fair bit is clean money as well.

And, as I said, we have been discussing this matter since far back, long before Najib Tun Razak became Prime Minister. But if you want to blame Najib for it and if you demand that he stop this, you may not quite like what you will see in the end.

I remember saying, years ago, that we have too many foreign workers in Malaysia (both legal as well as illegal workers). Some have put the estimates as high as five million.

According to friends in the banking industry, every month billions are sent home by these foreign workers. And this has been going on for years. This is not something new.

If for the last 30 years (which comes to 360 months) billions every month leaves the country, just imagine what the total is by now.

Let us work the simple arithmetic. Say each of the five million foreign workers sends an average of just RM200 per person home. That comes to RM1 billion per month or RM12 billion per year. And the bankers tell me it is more than RM1 billion per month.

And the culprits are the moneychangers. Hence if Malaysia bans and closes down all moneychangers then the foreign workers would have to send their money home through the banks.

We then will have to pass a law making it illegal for foreign workers to send money home. They can make their money and spend it in Malaysia. They cannot send the money home.

We will also have to pass a law that a person can carry only RM1,000 when they leave the country. The customs will do a 100% check on all people leaving Malaysia to make sure that they do not smuggle out more than RM1,000 when they leave Malaysia.

Do you really think this is viable? Would tourists visit Malaysia when they have to leave their money in the country and not take out more than RM1,000?

My Chinese friends (some of them who are financial consultants) tell me that the Malaysian Chinese have been moving their money overseas for quite a long time now. I have met people from Tan Cheong who have been investing in China since the 1980s. I have spoken to people from Boon Siew, Genting, etc., who have said the same thing. They have been slowly moving billions out of the country over the last 30 years. And Malaysian Chinese hoteliers have been setting up hotels in China since the 1970s even before Malaysia had diplomatic relations with China.

And this is not dirty money. It is clean money. But it is money made in Malaysia and shifted to other countries.

Malaysians have been buying property all over the world (in particular in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, etc.) — Malays, Chinese, Indians and East Malaysians included. And this has been going on for a long time and comes to billions.

And this, too, is not dirty money but clean money. And a lot of this money is clean money that tax has not been paid. Hence these are tax evaders who send their money overseas because they cannot account for it. And not all these people are Umno or Barisan Nasional people. Many whom I personally know are in fact Pakatan Rakyat supporters.

So let us not oversimplify the issue. Not all the money is dirty money. Not all these people are government people or corrupt Malays.

One way Najib can solve this is to do what Zambia did. Najib can demonitise the Ringgit so that it has no value outside Malaysia. You can only spend the Ringgit in the country and not send it to another country.

Next Najib can ban foreign workers and send the ones already in the country home. Then plantations, factories, construction sites, and so on can only employ Malaysians and most likely at double the salaries.

No doubt costs would also increase but at least the money will stay in the country.

Maids will also be banned so Malaysians would no longer have the luxury of maids or domestic workers. Wives would have to stop work and stay home to look after the children, clean the house, wash clothes, cook, and so on.

With the Ringgit no longer having any value outside Malaysia and no more foreign workers in Malaysia, the problem of the outflow of money could, to some extent, be curtailed.

Can Pakatan Rakyat promise Malaysians that if it ever came to power at federal level it would do all this? Foreign workers can no longer send billions home because there would not be any foreign workers in Malaysia and Malaysians cannot invest or buy property overseas because the Ringgit would have zero value outside the country.

No doubt we would face other problems because of this but we shall have to endure that just to make sure that the Ringgit stays in Malaysia. Oh, and of course no one would invest in Malaysia because they will not be allowed to take their money home again.

By equating money being illegally taken out of the country with corruption, the opposition is suggesting that by eliminating corruption this would automatically stop money from leaving Malaysia. This is a gross distortion of what is really happening.

You can eliminate corruption but this will still not stop people from sending their money to another country because not all the money that left Malaysia is dirty money.

And tell me very honestly, are you saying that not a single Pakatan Rakyat supporter has sent his/her money overseas and/or bought property or invested overseas?


People will pay the price for Najib’s inaction on billions siphoned out of country

(The Malaysian Insider) – Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers have hit out at Putrajaya for its failure to rein in illicit money outflow, with one demanding that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak give up his Finance Minister’s post for his failure to stem the tide.

They also said the report by anti-graft watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI), which revealed that RM174 billion was siphoned out of the country in 2011, making Malaysia the fourth largest exporter of illicit capital that year after Russia, China and India, was justified given the country’s “exceptional performance as world champion of corruption”.

PKR strategic director and Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli said the GFI report confirmed their stand that there is close association between graft and illicit funds that flow out of the country.

He said the GFI report also validated the annual Auditor-General Report, which highlighted and proved that Malaysia has big incidences of graft.

“Najib’s stubborness in ignoring the findings of the reports will stagnate the country’s economy and will put further strain on the people.

“He should quit as Finance Minister because the large amount of illicit outflow is proof of his failure,” Rafizi charged.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said sarcastically that there was no doubt that on a per capita basis, Malaysia won hands down as the “world champion of corruption”, validating the new title awarded by Transparency International and Wall Street Journal over the last one year.

The Bagan MP also hit out at the central bank for being incompetent and criminally negligent in stopping the illicit outflow of funds despite setting up a task force in 2010 to implement measures to stop the outflow of dirty money.

“Perhaps Malaysia should follow the British model of creating the world’s first central public registry of corporate beneficial ownership information to stop dirty money from going out of the country,” he suggested.

His party colleague Tony Pua agreed, adding that despite Bank Negara’s meek attempt to impose stricter regulations on moneychangers, including prosecuting some of them, the real culprits behind these illicit flows have not been arrested, charged or jailed.

“The most obvious known case would be the RM10 million illegal transfer by Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Hassan to London, where Putrajaya has charged the money-changer but acquitted the MB,” said Pua, who is DAP national publicity chief.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP added that the Barisan Nasional government has continued to be dismissive of the GFI report, with Najib hardly making a whimper over the scandal.

“These massive outflows are detrimental not only because the money will not be consumed and invested to grow the local economy, but more importantly it highlights the extent of unchecked corruption and illicit activities in Malaysia.

“There is clearly no political will to contain and eliminate these illicit outflows, and more importantly, to resolve the underlying illicit and illegal activities,” he hit out.

As such, Lim called on the BN government to address “this shameful title” by punishing those responsible for huge financial scandals in the country.

He listed the scandals involving RM52 billion worth of Bumiputera shares, which he alleged that ordinary Malays missed out on as the shares disappeared presumably to BN leaders; the RM14 billion Port Klang Free Trade Zone controversy; and the annual exposes of financial malpractices highlighted in the annual Auditor-General Report, involving some RM6.5 billion in 2012.