Knowing the truth – through a debate?


Dr Chandra Muzaffar

A public debate on 1MDB between a Member of Parliament who has been raising a lot of questions about it and the President of that state-owned company is not going to provide the answers that the rakyat are looking for. We want to know the truth and nothing but the whole truth about the activities of 1MDB and its present and past subsidiaries and how they are related to the 2.6 billion ringgit in the Prime Minister’s personal bank account. A debate by its very nature will compel each side to defend its position however skewed it may be and will not force the parties concerned to establish the truth that we all seek. An honest discussion between Tony Pua and Arul Kanda conducted through a format that allows the two to share facts and examine the processes involved in the various financial transactions associated with 1MDB and its subsidiaries may be a better idea than resorting to a modality that requires the two to score debating points.

But even such a discussion is no substitute for a comprehensive investigation. What is so disappointing is that the various attempts at investigating the controversy are not proceeding the way they should. The former Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail, could not complete the task he had undertaken for reasons beyond his control. Bank Negara’s recommendation for action submitted to the current Attorney-General will not be acted upon though the Bank itself is convinced of the strength of its case. The previous Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was stymied in its inquiry and the new PAC has yet to resume its work. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) continues to investigate one of the crucial ex-subsidiaries of 1MDB which is now under the Ministry of Finance, fully cognizant of the fact that its work has been hampered by the disappearance of critical witnesses. The Auditor-General has done a preliminary report but his full report is only expected at the end of the year at the earliest. The Police is also supposed to be investigating activities related to 1MDB but it is unclear what it has done so far and what its remit is.