‘Remove Pua from PAC’

Salleh Keruak

(NST) – CABINET members want DAP lawmaker Tony Pua to resign from his post as a member of the Public Accounts Committee over the latest allegations with regard to strategic development company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

1MDB had on Wednesday said that a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report contained information that could only have come from the PAC, a parliamentary committee probing 1MDB.

Pua had admitted to introducing Clare Rewcastle-Brown to top executives from The Edge Media Group.

Rewcastle-Brown and financial daily The Edge are alleged to be linked in a plot to topple the government using tampered documents that allegedly show financial mismanagement in 1MDB.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said if true, this would indicate that Pua had abused his position in the PAC and demanded that he resign immediately.

He said with Pua still in the PAC, any decisions made would be seen as prejudicial and tainted.

“His continued presence in the PAC will jeopardise the reputation of the entire committee, and with the latest story from WSJ based on information that could have come from the PAC, this would render the PAC ineffective.”

On Wednesday, WSJ claimed that Abu Dhabi’s investment fund, International Petroleum Investment Company’s (IPIC) financial showed no record of the payments from 1MDB, and that IPIC’s new managers were looking into what had happened to the money.

1MDB discredited the reports, saying that it was “biased and sensationalised”, adding that the only possible source was the PAC, as it had hearings on the company’s “transcript of the proceedings” from a parliamentary committee probing 1MDB.

1MDB said that, based on the payments, it could confirm that IPIC provided, and continued to provide, guarantees for the principal and interest of 2 x US$1.75 billion bonds issued by it, with a principal and interest amounting to US$5.5 billion, adding that auditor Deloitte had made specific enquiries on the payments prior to signing off on its audited accounts.

Salleh said it was unprofessional if Pua had publicly revealed information during ceramah, information which he could only have obtained as a PAC member.

“We cannot say that PAC members are neutral. They cannot be neutral, since they represent their political parties and sit in as nominees of their political parties. But whether they can maintain ethics and professionalism is another matter.

“That depends on their maturity and whether they have principles,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Since Pua had admitted to have had dealings with Sarawak Report editor Rewcastle-Brown, a fact which he earlier denied, Salleh said this has made him unethical and unprofessional.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Pua’s behaviour in dealing with the 1MDB issue was unbecoming of a member of parliament.

He said Pua’s position as a PAC member was open to question if what former PetroSaudi International Ltd employee Xavier Andre Justo said was true.

The Barisan Nasional strategic communications director also said Pua needed to come clean as to whether he did leak the PAC documents to the WSJ, stating that if he did, it was a serious breach of parliamentary order.

1MDB, in a statement yesterday, said it was disappointed to hear of the alleged actions by Pua, including his admission to being the person who introduced Rewcastle-Brown to The Edge Media Group’s Datuk Tong Kooi Ong and Ho Kay Tat.

1MDB said Pua’s call for it to “come clean” on the bond arrangements and guarantee by IPIC was noted in 1MDB’s audited accounts, which were publicly available documents, dated March 31, 2013, and March 31 last year, respectively.

The company said it had provided detailed answers to WSJ’s report on Wednesday, where it defended its audited accounts and confirmed that it could not comment on, nor have knowledge of the accounting arrangements of third parties, such as IPIC or its subsidiary, Aabar Investments PJS.

He said Pua’s actions of responding with more questions to the detailed answers could only mean that he was not interested in the answers.

1MDB backed this up by referring to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who had said police had opened an investigation paper under Section 120 of the Penal Code to probe alleged attempts to topple the government.

Khalid was quoted saying: “Mind you, we do not investigate based on newspaper reports… (but) this was what he (Pua) had actually said. As such, we need to call him (in) again. He (Pua) himself had admitted that he had left out a few things when he was first called in. He could have forgotten then. Now he remembered. So we will call him”.

“We hope Tony Pua will ‘come clean’ with answers to the police. 1MDB has consistently maintained that the appropriate forum to share information is to the lawful authorities investigating 1MDB, including the PAC,” 1MDB said.

“It would appear that Pua, his role in the PAC notwithstanding, wants to be judge, jury and executioner for 1MDB.”

1MDB said whilst it may have differences of opinions with Pua, “we respected his tenacity and focus”.

“Now that he is under investigation by the police, we urge Pua to practise what he preaches to others and step down from the PAC while he proves his innocence on the various allegations made against him.”