Pua: Why ignore 1MDB in the Budget?

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has been accused of trying to hide the 1MDB scandal, and covering up for the guilty, including himself, by not bringing up 1MDB in his Budget speech last week.

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said that a responsible finance minister would have explained how the financial scandal would be resolved.

He noted that Najib, who is also finance minister, had “happily gloated” about 1MDB projects and achievements in Budget speeches before 2013.

His silence on the matter in the 2017 Budget speech was “a clear attempt to hide the scandal and cover up for the guilty parties, including himself”, said Pua, who is also DAP national publicity secretary.

He said 1MDB’s much-hyped rationalisation exercise, supposed to be completed by June, “has already collapsed” and billions had been misappropriated from 1MDB.

Pua also contrasted the difference in attitude of the Second Finance Minister, Johari Abdul Ghani, before and after his appointment to the Cabinet.

“It’s amazing how an Umno MP speaks when he is in and out of the Cabinet,” said Pua.

Johari was one of the more vocal MPs from Umno, recalled Pua. “He asked probing questions with regards to the unravelling RM50 billion 1MDB scandal.” However, since becoming Second Finance Minister, Johari had been telling people that 1MDB had nothing to do with the federal budget.

Pua said Johari should also be ashamed of himself for failing the people of Malaysia.

He said Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Johari’s predecessor as Second Finance Minister, like other former Ministers, had asked probing questions about 1MDB in the Dewan Rakyat. “The questions were about 1MDB’s very existence,” he said.

1MDB has everything to do with the federal budget, Pua said.

The global scandal has given Malaysia the reputation of being a kleptocracy; Federal Government funds were being used to bail out 1MDB; direct and indirect federal guarantees had been given for an estimated combined RM32 billion worth of 1MDB borrowings and liabilities.

“If 1MDB fails to repay its loans and obligations, the Finance Ministry will have to foot the bill.” Pua said the RM32 billion will raise the budget deficit to 5.4 per cent of GDP, from the target of 3 per cent.