PAC Chairman issues gag order on Tony Pua from speaking about 1MDB
Staunch 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) critic Tony Pua can no longer talk or make any statements about the troubled firm, said Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin. He said this was based on his interpretation of speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia’s ruling earlier today that DAP’s Petaling Jaya Utara federal lawmaker must quit the bipartisan panel if he wanted to participate in the proposed debate with 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy.
“We have heard the ruling from the speaker this morning and as PAC chief, I adhere to it. This means Pua cannot talk about 1MDB outside,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.
"As a Member of Parliament, he should adhere to this.”
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia threatens to step down from his post if the debate between DAP’s Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) president Arul Kanda Kandasamy happens.
Pandikar said the job of the executive was to manage the country and to be responsible to Parliament, and he as the Speaker would observe and make sure the rules of Parliament was followed.
“I must do my job as Speaker and not allow the debate because now the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who are investigating 1MDB must follow the standing orders. If the government has the agenda, and the debate continues, I will not involve myself with it and I will quit as Speaker,” he said when making the decision in Parliament, today.
Earlier this morning, speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia ruled that Pua needed to quit PAC if he wanted to proceed with the debate with Arul Kanda as participating in the debate would make the DAP Petaling Jaya Utara MP a “prosecutor”, not “investigator”, and thus, eroded PAC’s credibility.
He added that if the debate were to go ahead, Arul Kanda should also abstain from being the star witness in the 1MDB probe by PAC.
“Why can’t this debate wait until after the PAC probe is completed?”
Meanwhile, Tony Pua has asked why should he resign from PAC to debate Arul Kanda
Commenting on a ruling by speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia earlier today, barring the debate unless Pua resigns from PAC, the Petaling Jaya Utara MP said he did not see any such conflict arising.
"Where is the conflict? I don't see it. The speaker cited Standing Order 23 and 85. I have seen both and I don't see what's the problem," he told reporters at a press conference at the Parliament lobby today.
Pua was not in the house when Pandikar made his ruling earlier today.
The DAP national publicity secretary said he would seek clarification from Pandikar in the house tomorrow and ask that the speaker revise his decision. "Where does it say that I have to resign (from PAC)?" he asked.
But Pua said it was more important to retain his seat in PAC, adding that he would rather forgo debating Arul Kanda if it meant having to quit the bipartisan panel.
"Why should I leave PAC for the sake of a debate with him. Who is he? Malaysians will be angry with me if the PAC investigation into 1MDB is jeopardised by this debate."
Pua said he had already declared the questions he meant to ask Arul, none of which were based on information obtained in PAC hearings.
"I didn't use any PAC information for my questions. If I actually used PAC information during the debate, then I can't be impeached."
These are the 10 questions Tony Pua has for 1MDB's Arul Kanda
Tony Pua has revealed 10 questions he plans to ask Arul Kanda Kandasamy during his highly-anticipated debate with the 1MDB chief.
"While we wait for the much anticipated face-off, I would like to offer Arul Kanda the heads up, so that he can prepare the necessary answers whether during replies or debate speech," the DAP national publicity secretary posted on his blog.
This, he said, would preclude any reasons for Arul Kanda not to answer as he would have ample time to prepare the necessary documents and replies. Pua said that all 10 of the questions were financial in nature and that "none of the questions are political".
"No confidential Public Accounts Committee information has been utilised to raise the above questions. All information are derived from publicly available sources. Hence, this is not a case of scoring political points but one of which is meant to expose the truth since Arul has consistently insisted that 1MDB has 'nothing to cover up'," said Pua.
The 10 questions:
1. Why did Bank Negara withdraw its approval for 1MDB to transfer more than USD1.8 billion overseas? Was it because most of the funds were transferred to an account which is unrelated to the 1MDB joint venture project with Petrosaudi International Limited as revealed in the leaked Board meeting minutes which Arul Kanda has acknowledged to be true? How much was transferred to this unrelated account? Did this unrelated account belong to Good Star Limited and who owns or controls Good Star Limited?
2. Is it true that 1MDB had invested the initial USD1 billion cash to acquire 40% of 1MDB-Petrosaudi while Petrosaudi only need to invest its rights to certain oil reserves in the Caspian Sea and in Argentina for its 60% stake? In addition, were the rights to the Caspian Sea oil reserves terminated by Petrosaudi within 2 months after the signing of the joint venture agreement, which meant that Petrosaudi secured their 60% stake without investing anything significant?
3. Is it true that 1MDB had proceeded to sign the joint venture agreement with Petrosaudi in a rush, without securing the necessary Board of Directors approval at that point of time as revealed in the same Board minutes?
4. 1MDB Financial Statements dated 31 March 2013 and 2014 stated that USD1.4 billion was held as a deposit by International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) as a condition for IPIC to guarantee 1MDB's USD3.5 billion bond issue. However, the IPIC Financial Statements dated December 2013 and 2014 audited by Ernst & Young did not disclose any such condition for the provision of the guarantee. The balance sheet of IPIC also did not reflect any such refundable deposit received or held. Why hasn't 1MDB sought IPIC to clarify where the money has gone?
5. Did 1MDB pay USD993 million from the USD1.22 billion it partially redeemed from the Cayman Islands investment fund AND another USD975 million borrowed from Deutsche Bank led consortium to terminate options 1MDB granted to Aabar Investments as part of another condition by IPIC to guarantee 1MDB's USD3.5 billion bond issue? What exactly is the total sum paid and payable to Aabar or IPIC? Why is it that IPIC disclosed in its December 2014 Financial Statements that 1MDB still owes IPIC a sum of USD481 million for the said termination? In addition, if the USD993 million from the USD1.22 billion redeemed from Cayman Islands was not paid to Aabar or IPIC, where did the money go?
6. It has been disclosed in 1MDB’s financial statements, parliamentary replies and media releases that 1MDB Global Investment Limited borrowed USD3 billion in March 2013 for the purposes in investing in a 50:50 joint venture with Aabar Investments Limited where the joint venture will invest in the development of Tun Razak Exchange. The question is, how come more than USD1.5 billion of the borrowings have been utilised for purposes other than specified as disclosed in the March 2014 Audited Accounts, particularly since the joint venture has yet to be activated to date?
7. Arul Kanda had earlier informed Malaysians and 1MDB Directors, according to the above leaked minutes, that the balance of the Cayman Islands investment amounting to USD1.108 billion was fully redeemed and was held in cash in BSI Bank Singapore. However, the 1MDB President has since admitted that the redeemed amount was not cash but they were "fund units" worth USD940 million. Why are these "fund units" which were redeemed from the Cayman Island fund still in the form of "fund units" and not in cash or, raw assets like property and shares? If they were in "fund units", doesn't it mean that the Caymans fund was never redeemed in the first place?
8. Arul Kanda announced the "debt for asset-swap" deal with IPIC where the latter assumes some RM16 billion of 1MDB's debts in exchange for 1MDB's assets. IPIC has already advanced more than USD1 billion in the deal. Where is 1MDB going to produce these RM16 billion worth of assets to transfer to IPIC by 30 June 2016? The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has also indemnified IPIC in the "debt of asset-swap" arrangement. Does it mean that if 1MDB fails to produce the necessary RM16 billion worth of assets by 30 June 2016, the MoF would have to compensate IPIC accordingly?
9. Arul had declared that the disposal of its subsidiary, Edra Energy will allow it to remove RM16-RM18 billion of 1MDB's debt. However, the total debts associated to 1MDB's energy arm amounts to approximately RM36 billion, comprising of USD3.5 billion of bonds, RM5.7 billion of direct loans and more than RM8 billion of inherited loans. Hence reducing up to RM18 billion of debt via the disposal of Edra Energy will still leave 1MDB with more that RM18 billion of outstanding debt associated with its energy acquisitions. Therefore how will the sale of Edra solve 1MDB's cash flow problem since there'll be no assets left to pay the balance of the RM18 billion debt?
.10. Did the Federal Government issue a "letter of support" in May 2015 to Bank EXIM to borrow USD150 million (RM600 million) where the funds was utilised by 1MDB to pay for its land acquisition from Tadmax Resources Bhd for approximately RM300 million? If so, what was the balance of the proceeds from the borrowing used for?
Recently, DAP MP Tony Pua, who is also a member of the PAC, challenged 1MDB President Arul Kanda Kandasamy to a LIVE talk show or debate on controversies surrounding the state fund
In response, the 1MDB President initially said that he is willing to debate Tony Pua LIVE on TV albiet with a condition if the Petaling Jaya Utara lawmaker resigns from the Public Accounts Committee
“YB Tony Pua has challenged me this morning to a ‘live talk show’ with him. I hereby accept his challenge and look forward to answering his questions,” the 1MDB chief said in a statement.
“It is a known fact that Tony Pua is a member of the PAC, which is in the midst of conducting an investigation into 1MDB. In order to maintain the integrity of the PAC’s investigation, and to avoid any conflict of interest, Tony Pua must first resign from the PAC.”
“Despite his efforts to do so, Tony Pua cannot be judge, jury and executioner. As such, I trust he will have the courage to do the right thing and resign from the PAC in order for us to have, in his words, a ‘no-holds barred’ discussion on live television.”
However, on 31 October, Arul Kanda withdrew the condition and said that he will meet Pua for a "LIVE televised discussion or talk show or debate, Tony can choose which, without any conditions"
He added that he still believed his request for Pua to step down was "reasonable", given the lawmaker's role in PAC.
"How would you feel if you were in court, and the judge presiding over you wants to meet with you on television to debate on the case? It doesn't make sense. So, I just made that request. But Pua, just like any other opposition member, has a different rule for himself, and a different rule for others."
Before going any further, we would like to point out a major flaw in the 1MDB's President Arul's argument about calling Pua a judge
Equating Tony Pua, a member of the PAC, to that of a judge is not only wrong but also misleading the general public about his role in the committee and its general nature.
Neither Pua nor PAC is the judge here.
They are an investigative body appointed by the Parliament to investigate a state fund and only the Parliament will decide what to do with the PAC's findings (if any).
If Pua has to be considered anything, it should be in the line that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is more like a police force and Pua is one of the officers, and asking questions (publicly or not) is part of his job and agenda.
Moving on, Tony Pua has welcomed the move
Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, Tony Pua said that he accepted Arul Kanda's declaration to debate on a LIVE platform.
"I accept (the challenge). We can do it anytime," Pua said.
In a statement later, Pua thanked the 1MDB president for the "gentlemanly acceptance of the invite without attaching any conditions", adding that he "would also like to thank the Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Salleh Said Keruak for offering RTM to host the LIVE talk show even before the invite was accepted."
However, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed, the former chairman of the PAC, thinks the LIVE debate should be called off as it would damage the PAC's integrity and credibility. He added that the taunting between 1MDB's Arul and DAP's Tony is "childish".
Nur Jazlan said the PAC was "a committee of Parliament at the highest level" and whatever was discussed there should stay within it.
"If this is being turned into a public debate, that will be demeaning to the PAC process and its investigation of 1MDB," said Nur Jazlan.
"So, I am suggesting to Arul and Pua to stop all this," he said. He urged Arul and Pua to step back and let the PAC proceed as planned without interference.
About the debate (as we know so far)
. It will be a LIVE talk show and NOT a debate, according to Tony Pua.
"It should be a question-and-answer session and not a debate because I am asking the questions. There's nothing for Arul to ask me," Pua told Malaysiakini.
. Salleh Keruak has offered Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) to broadcast it LIVE.
Salleh, who is the Communications and Multimedia Minister, said the readiness of RTM to broadcast the debate LIVE proves the openness of his Ministry. "We can broadcast live the debate," he told Bernama in Kuala Lumpur.
. Interestingly, Ramesh Rao has offered to act as moderator for the debate.
According to Ramesh, he was volunteering himself as the leader of a 'non-partisan' NGO which champions the interest of the rakyat. "I will render a fair moderation to both parties for the rakyat to know the real truth about 1MDB," he said.
What's interesting here is that Ramesh, who leads the Pertubuhan Minda dan Sosial Prihatin, is best known for accusing Sarawak Report's Editor-in-Chief Clare Rewcastle Brown of fabricating allegations of misappropriation against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and for his police report against her.
. The date and time of the debate have not been finalised yet.
According to Tony Pua, the details about the debate will be sorted out over the course of the following week by both parties.