Tun M, Opposition MPs & The Rakyat Have So Many Questions About Najib's RM2.6 Bil Donation

MACC's clarification that the US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) channelled into the PM's personal accounts are actually "donations" and not 1MDB funds is raising more questions than answers.

Cover image via The Malay Mail Online / SAYS

PKR files civil suit against PM Najib Razak for allegedly breaking election laws

"This suit is a follow-up action from the exposé by the Wall Street Journal...

"The facts of the case have exposed all kinds of corrupt practices that have been used by the Barisan Nasional to win the 13th general election.

"The RM2.6 billion used was 26 times more than the allowed amount of money (to be used during elections), as outlined by the country's laws," said PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah in a press conference at the party's headquarters today.

The suit, filed this morning at the Kuala Lumpur High Court through lawyer Tommy Thomas, also named Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the Election Commission (EC) as defendants.

The suit was brought by the party's jailed de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, Batu MP Tian Chua, former secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and New Hope Movement member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

4 AUG: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed on 3 August that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had been wired into PM Najib Razak's private accounts, but the funds had actually come from donors and not 1MDB. The identities of the donors, the purpose of the contribution, nor how the money was spent were not revealed.

Image via SPRM

This raised eyebrows as MACC had previously declared it was not probing the issue and its scope within the 1MDB special task force was limited to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International.

The MACC, along with the police, Bank Negara and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, is part of a special task force set up to investigate allegations made by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) last month.

MACC's findings raised more questions than answers among Najib's critics, especially since former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir had earlier explained that during his time in the government, political donations have never been directly transferred into UMNO trustees' personal accounts

Tun Dr Mahathir, who was Umno president and the country's prime minister for 22 years until 2003, said that the party's funds were held by three trustees, including its president, who were "empowered to take care of the headquarters' account and sign cheques when withdrawing money".

"Not a single sen from funds donated for elections was put into my account. Throughout my 22 years (as prime minister) I was prepared to have all my personal accounts examined by those without any vested interest to verify if my claims were true or not," Dr Mahathir wrote in his blog on 3 August.

“When I left the government, RM200 million in cash and RM1.2 billion in assets were handed to my successor Abdullah Badawi. The transfers were done by Nor Mohamad Yacob and Noordin Bachik. None of these funds were donations for elections,” he wrote.

In summing up, the former Prime Minister said that Barisan Nasional (BN) could retain its two-thirds majority in Parliament without having to spend billions on elections, saying, “This can be easily verified by checking the records of the five general elections held during my time. We never exceeded the spending limits imposed by law for elections.”

PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man had more than a few questions to ask about MACC's revelations, such as the identities of the donors and if there were strings attached, saying that it's hard to "imagine that a donation this big was made without conditions"

Is this a donation or a bribe to get something specific? Has the MACC not looked at this? What are the conditions of this RM2.6 billion donation? Are we to imagine that a donation this big was made without conditions to the prime minister? Or is this an accounting trick?” Tuan Ibrahim asked in a statement today.

“If it is true it’s not 1MDB money, then why are there delays in suing The Wall Street Journal?” Tuan Ibrahim said. He also questioned why the authorities have not explained why Ambank, where those accounts are located, did not alert Bank Negara when such a large sum was transferred.

Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching questioned the possibility of Najib obtaining such a massive amount of funds in one go when US President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney only managed to raise a total of US$715 million (RM2.75 billion) and US$446 million (RM1.7 billion) respectively to fund their campaigns during the 2012 presidential election

However, the major difference between Najib and the two Americans was that the Americans sourced their money from relatively smaller donors, with their two biggest donors being the University of California (US$1.35 million for Obama) and Goldman Sachs (US$1.05 million for Romney).

“Even Obama, the most powerful and influential person in the world, could not do the magic that Najib did in securing US$681 million (RM2.6 billion) from just one source, Tanore Finance. Another RM42 million was from a second source, SRC International,” said Teo.

"Thus, how could MACC possibly believe the explanation that US$681 million, (allegedly) from Tanore Finance, was merely political donation and nothing else?" Teo, who is the MP for Kulai asked in a statement yesterday.

Teo, who is DAP's Assistant National Publicity Secretary, also asked why former deputy PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin were not aware of the donations if Najib was holding onto the money in a 'secret' trust for BN or UMNO

On 1 August, news agency Bernama reported that Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan (Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister) said, “It is not impossible or surprising if the [current] Umno president and previous presidents have a trust account for the party.

Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching acknowledged Umno minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s claim last weekend that party rules dictate that Najib can keep a trust account for Umno, but pointed out that even the latter’s deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had not known about the RM2.6 billion contribution.

"Does the Umno party constitution allow its president to have a secret trust account on behalf of the party?" she asked.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is also DAP's Secretary General, said that there are several questions that Najib has yet to explain despite MACC's clarification

"Number one, where are his money sources?

Number two, the quantum is shocking. The amount is not chicken feed. It is huge.

"Number three, (former prime minister Tun Dr) Mahathir Mohamad has said he never put (political funds) in his own accounts, so why did he (Najib) put in his? That is not right," Lim said when asked to comment on the issue.

Lim also clarified that DAP had "nothing to hide" when it comes to political funding, adding that it's impossible to disclose every donor who has bought tickets to fundraising events.

In a separate occasion, PKR's Secretary-General Rafizi Ramli said that the party's operations were funded by salary deductions and donation drives.

Image via The Mole

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, today said the party "had nothing to hide" regarding political funding reforms, following recent accusations by Putrajaya that the opposition party was a stumbling block to such initiatives by not wanting to disclose who its donors are.

"Nothing to hide. No problem. But don't tell me people buy tickets at RM20, RM50, RM100 (at fundraising events) and you want us to tell you who they are. We are not going to do that. Come on, that is not fair," Lim said.

In his answer to BN’s challenge on political funding, Rafizi said PKR’s daily operations were funded by deductions from the monthly salaries of its 29 MPs and 40 state assemblypersons. The state assemblypersons and MPs in Penang and Selangor, which are governed by opposition parties, give 20% of their salaries to the party. Those in other states deduct 10%. For other expenses, PKR holds donation drives from time to time, especially before an election.

“The collection from these events depends on attendance. Some can collect between RM50,000 and RM500,000 depending on how many tickets are sold,” Rafizi said.

Pandan MP Rafizi had earlier predicted that the money channelled into Najib's personal accounts will be written off as donations as part of a "script" to justify the eventual closure of 1MDB investigations, adding that the next agenda would be to reveal that the money came from "rich individuals in the Middle-Eastern"

Rafizi said that the so-called proof would be part of a “script” by BN’s new communications team to convince the public that there was nothing corrupt about the funds going into Najib’s bank accounts.

The script would also give the impression that the funds did not originate from troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as has been claimed all this while and to prepare the public for the eventuality that the investigation into the transfer of those funds will be closed after discoveries that there is nothing corrupt about them, he added.

"I won't be surprised if it is claimed the RM2.6 billion was personal donation to Najib from rich individuals in the Middle East. The donation was used to fund the Umno and BN election campaign in the last national election," Rafizi said.

Rafizi said 'evidence' in the form of documents would be produced to show the RM2.6 billion was purportedly donated to the prime minister. Based on these documents, he added, it would be argued the transfer of RM2.6 billion was not a form of corruption but political contribution, similar to the RM40 million deposited into the personal account of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman at one point of time.

Rafizi also questioned why the rest of the 1MDB task force were absent in MACC's "suspicious" declaration, while also asking why Najib had not come forward with an explanation and sue WSJ immediately when the allegations first came out

He said the special task force comprising the police, MACC and Bank Negara, with the Attorney-General's Chambers providing legal advice, had always acted as one unit on matters concerning 1MDB. Previously, MACC reiterated several times that it was not involved in probing 1MDB or the RM2.6 billion issue as its focus is only on SRC International.

"It is therefore suspect that for the first time, one component of the task force unilaterally clears the prime minister in relation to the RM2.6 billion. What is the stand of the task force collectively, or is this just the stand of MACC?" he asked when contacted.

Rafizi said it was also suspicious that MACC's position on the matter came one month after Najib's refusal to address the allegation that he received the fund.

"If it indeed was a personal donation and Najib had documents to prove it all along, why didn't he come out immediately when the allegation first came out? Why didn't he sue the WSJ immediately because he supposedly had proof their stories were not accurate? Why did Najib go through three changes of narratives before he could admit it was political donation into his account? The more Najib spins, the more he loses the faith and trust of the Malaysian public," he added.

Veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin also asked why Najib had not explained about the RM2.6 billion from the beginning, remarking that there have been rumours of "generous Arab benefactors" admitting to donating money to the PM

Image via

"Why did Najib and his entire brigade of spin masters have to beat around the bush? Why couldn't they have flogged this donation story from the start? Days before the MACC announcement, talk was rife that one or several super-rich Arab princes and sheikhs had 'admitted' to donating a huge sum of money to Najib," Kadir wrote in his blog Monday night.

"With the benefit of hindsight, the donations story and the talk about the generous Arab benefactor/s could be wholly possible. It has been publicly announced that Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, is very close to the wealthy Arabs, including members of royal families," he wrote.

Defending the site's reports on 1MDB, Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown also remarked on Najib's failure to provide an explanation from "Day 1". She also questioned the purpose of the donation, saying that the amount would have exceeded the legal limit for political funding, an aspect which has also been pointed out by Tun Dr. Mahathir.

“Gosh! How come the PM didn’t clear all that up immediately on Day 1 then? What we said was that the information had come from the investigation, because it was believed by investigators to be linked. How else would we have obtained it?” she wrote in an email reply to Malay Mail Online yesterday (Aug 3). Rewcastle-Brown also suggested that these donors come forward and reveal their identities.

She went on to question the purpose of the donation, saying that if it had been used as suspected for Barisan Nasional’s Election 2013 campaign, the ruling pact would have broken election laws by exceeding the legal limit for political funding. Yesterday, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had made a similar point in his blog.
Image via The Rakyat Post

The former Prime Minister said that Barisan Nasional (BN) could retain its two-thirds majority in Parliament without having to spend billions on elections.

“This can be easily verified by checking the records of the five general elections held during my time. We never exceeded the spending limits imposed by law for elections.

Urging the PM to reveal details of the donation publicly, BERSIH 2.0 asked if the fund were received in Najib's capacity as PM or UMNO president, alleging that the funds should be considered public money if it's the former

“They have to tell us who are the donors? Was the money given to Najib as the party president or was it given to him as the prime minister?” she asked.

“Show us who the “donors” are,” the activist added. “There are now so many grey areas and questions on 1MDB. They can’t just say the money come from donors and expect us to swallow it.

Questioning the donors' agenda, political activist and prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan pointed out that if the donations had come from a foreign source, it is likely to have breached several laws, particularly those covering money laundering

“RM2.6 billion has many zeros. In my view, the statement by MACC still causes me concern as it means whoever donated such large sums is likely to expect benefit. Whoever donated such large sums would have an agenda. What is that agenda?” said the former Bar Council president, using the acronym for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

In reply, Ambiga asked whether the statement issued by MACC - which was unsigned - had been vetted by chairman Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed. She also asked who from MACC had authorised it.

The timing of the statement and the contents are questionable given all the other actions of the government to suppress and intimidate the MACC,” said Ambiga, who is also the president of the National Human Rights Society (Hakam). “If there has been an interference in the work of MACC, then those who have played any part in it would have acted against the law and illegally.”

The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) urged Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to look into the RM2.6 billion donations, alleging that it could be a form of money laundering

The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) director Cynthia Gabriel also said the MACC should divulge more information on the source of the funds, which the commission had earlier confirmed was from “donors” and not from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as previously claimed.

“The Anti-Money Laundering Act needs to be invoked immediately to examine if it was laundered money and illicit money that was transferred in the prime minister’s account. We urge Bank Negara to zero in on the issue,” she told Malay Mail Online over the phone.

Gabriel also today joined calls for fresh legislation to be enacted to regulate political financing, saying, "Without a law governing political financing, we will continue to discover dubious donations to political parties."

On social media, the rakyat have taken to flooding Twitter and Facebook with the #DearNajib hashtag to air their grievances about Najib as well as to mock MACC's statement by asking Najib for donations and posting satirical cartoons

But take caution, freedom on social media may soon be curbed if Najib has his way...

The 1MDB controversy has extended beyond the local eye as global attention is trained on how Najib and the Malaysian government are handling the issue:

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