Everyone who is anyone in Malaysia these days knows about the 1MDB hype. Set up in 2009 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the sovereign wealth fund was meant to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the national economy through strategic investments in profitable ventures, things went awry in 2015 when 1MDB missed some payments to some banks and bondholders. Then, all hell broke loose.
The US Department of Justice announced a civil forfeiture of assets acquired from funds allegedly siphoned from 1MDB and the Prime Minister was accused of siphoning RM2.6 billion of 1MDB’s funds into his personal bank accounts.
Later, an enquiry led by the nations’ Attorney-General cleared the PM, stating that the money was a donation for the 2013 general election. The propriety or otherwise of that move, the fact is that the issue of money transferred into the PM’s bank account would seem to be resolved although other investigations related to 1MDB are still ongoing.
But of course, no amount of action taken or investigation undertaken can ever pacify the Democratic Action Party (DAP) who is milking the matter for its own political mileage. Laughably, party supremo Lim Kit Siang, ignoring his own past calls in the 1990s for an RCI into Tun M’s own BNM Forex scandal losses, called for an RCI into the scandal. But this man will call for an RCI into just about everything and everything.
His son and party second in command Lim Guan Eng, in a comment just before the party found itself in a quagmire of Christian proselytization claims by its Selangor evangelist Hellelujah Hannah Yeoh, even made the absurd suggestion that Najib collaborated with Hadi Awang and PAS to cover up the former’s involvement in the 1MDB scandal! As if!
He even announced a ban on transfers of land belonging to 1MDB in Penang in 2016, and reiterated the same this year. Too bad he won’t revoke his government’s decision to approve his purchase of his Jalan Pinhorn bungalow, given that the state is, after all, his personal fiefdom.
But that’s DAP for you. Hypocrisy is such a part of the party culture that it should drop the first word of its name, i.e. democratic, and replace it with hypocritical, thus making the Hypocritical Action Party (HAP).
But this HAP or DAP we talk of is born of another certain political party that exists in our neighbour to the south, the People’s Action Party (PAP) which rules Singapore. And just like its child in Malaysia, parent and teacher PAP too, hones and perfects hypocrisy into an art form, so much so it has acquired a reputation for this skill worldwide, then as well as now.
When the 1MBD saga erupted in Malaysia, Singapore’s PAP government, eager to provide its Malaysian child with some political capital, as well as please its American friends, the Clintons, announced its own investigation into the scandal. Their Monetary Authority and Commercial Affairs Department swung into action, arresting a slew of individuals connected with the money trail where the same was found in Singapore.
But amidst all the charade, a local scandal of an even bigger magnitude was developing in the island republic. In 2009, Singapore independent news blog The Online Citizen reported that Temasek Holdings, the official investment arm of their government, lost S$40 billion in bad investments! The government, which had for decades prided itself on efficient management of the city state’s economy, didn’t seem so competent anymore!
Nope. Due to the tight leash they have over their media, even online social media, the fine citizenry of Singapore hardly batted an eyelid. Those that did, of course, feared for their very existence.
Meanwhile, mismanagement at the board of Temasek Holdings continued, resulting in even more losses. Neptune Orient Lines, a loss making state shipping company was to be sold. A leaked WikiLeaks cable from the Singapore US Embassy revealed that a planned leadership transition at Temasek did not occur, because Ho Ching, wife of the Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, refused to give up her leadership role at the (state-owned, mind you) holding company! Funny. And they say our own PM’s wife, Rosmah Mansor is a control freak.
Temasek Holdings (as well as the Singapore version of 1MDB, the GIC) continued (and still continues) to bleed cash, reportedly losing S$24 billion in its latest financial year ending March 31, 2016. Some of them, such as a purported loss of S$55 million due to a 2015 investment in a children’s broadcasting company, ABC Learning Limited, went unreported by the state controlled media, i.e. SPH and MediaCorp. So far the estimated losses amount to some US$80 billion, a far, far higher amount then is alleged to be siphoned from 1MDB.
But why no outcry? No condemnations? No taking to the Singaporean streets a la Bersih?
Because the party behind the Singapore government and DAP’s parent, the PAP, is also stacked to the brim full of hypocrites!
Still, at least other patriotic Singaporeans from other, more honest political parties, such as Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) have questioned the losses and called for a parliamentary inquiry, which is being resisted by the PAP.
Meanwhile, the dastardly people behind it all have even taken the step of poking their paws into the Singaporean people’s savings in the Central Provident Fund (CPF) to cover their losses! Another independent Singapore news blog, The States Times Review, reported that S$9.78 billion of CPF money was lost bailing out lost investment in the purchase of a company’s shares in 2007. A Singapore political blog reports that GIC manages CPF funds previously managed by Temasek Holdings, which also, incidentally, still has access to the CPF!
PAP is not completely oblivious to the disquiet (and in Singapore, a disquiet is most it will ever hope to be) surrounding this issue, though. The Singapore Ministry of Finance has assured Singaporeans that CPF funds are completely safe and all debt obligations remain accounted for. In this smokescreen attempt it is aided by non-other than compliant international media such as the CNBC, who spin that the losses are due to ‘challenging market conditions’. Such media is in turn controlled by PAP’s American friends.
The truth is, they’re not, not really. As astute Singaporean blogger Andy Xian Wong points out, CPF debts aren’t being repaid. They are merely being restructured, per the increase in contribution requirements and retirement age. He cites the example of 2009, when Temasek lost S$40 billion, suddenly the minimum contribution amount was raised by 10.4 per cent. Coincidence? He thinks not. And I happen to agree.
Christopher Balding, Associate Professor at the Peking University HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, China and PhD holder in Political Economics from the University of California, agrees as well. In his own blog, he laments that money belonging to Singaporeans, no less, and held on trust by the PAP Singapore government in the CPF on their behalf, is being squandered, akin to an investor who has free licence to do as he will with another’s cash. How can this be? he basically asks.
But there won’t be any answer to that question, because Singapore is not Malaysia. In Malaysia, people are free to shout and march their asses out whenever a whiff of a scandal is murmured. In the Disneyland with the death penalty to the south, however, simple desires to know more about state investment decisions are already met with veiled legal threats, and any notion of demonstrating against the government is unthinkable.
In a 2015 blog post, DAP grandee Kit Siang repeated his mantra that Malaysia should learn from Singapore. “Fifty years ago, Malaysia expelled Singapore from the federation and the two entities went their separate ways. So distraught was Lee Kuan Yew, then Singapore’s chief minister, that he shed tears in public for the first and last time in his long and extraordinary career. Half a century later, it should be Malaysians who are crying,” he began. He then alluded to 1MDB, and falsely stated that such corruption would never be tolerated in Singapore, when it fact, it is not just tolerated, but actively happening. Clearly, DAP is smoke screening the Singapore government’s losses in Temasek and GIC on PAP’s behalf.
So following Singapore’s lead, far from making us better, would make us worse off! But does Papa Dapster know? Yes, definately. Does he care? Nope, not at all.
At the same time, his son continues to bankrupt, rape and pillage Penang, perhaps shedding tears of joy over the fact that Penangites are so stupid and gullible enough to let him do so. May this extend to the rest of Malaysia soonest, he probably yearns silently.
With such gullible Malaysians, Kit Siang & Co may well get their wish.
Will we let this father and son show run our country, like the father and son show down south? Perhaps. But one thing for certain is that we certainly won’t do so for our love of good governance or hatred of corruption.
Such a move on our part would indicate that we have finally grown to accept what both PAP and DAP have been pushing upon us all this while – hypocrisy and authoritarianism. And we do so at our own peril indeed.