RCI on forex losses is a diversion, nothing more

rais-hussin-1mdb-rci-1By Rais Hussin

The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the forex losses that occurred in the 1980s-1990s has to be completed in three months. Yes, a mere three months.

In other words, by mid-October, the RCI has to produce some critical reflection on where things went wrong, how much, and who gave the orders to dip our hands into the international currencies market.

Such zeal can only be due to politics, and nothing but the politics of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which then begs the question: should one make haste with the truth?

The obvious answer is, of course not. When investigations are rushed, especially since one of the leading decision makers i.e. the then central bank’s governor Jaafar Hussein passed on in 1998, the likelihood of a botched RCI is high.

Instead of respecting the RCI, one risks putting it in contempt for posterity. P Gunasegaram, a respected financial journalist in Malaysia, has spoken of the need for a simultaneous RCI into 1MDB.

But if the two are put together, the pressure of time, coupled with the incentives to intervene in the 1MDB process, is bound to create the same, malignant, dynamics. Instead of one, there is the risk of two flawed investigations.

The larger issue facing Malaysia now is not its past, but its future i.e. the repercussions on Malaysian democracy, the rule of law, and the ease with which the government can borrow money by the billions only to squander it.

Indeed, if the distant past has to be dredged up, why not release the recent findings of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the final Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB?

Besides, given the forum “Nothing to Hide”, why not use the public as a gauge of who is right and who is wrong? The issue, after all, will be decided by the 14th general election anyway. Either way, the truth will come out.

Better yet, there can be a special parliamentary session on 1MDB, too, just as there was a special parliamentary session on the violent excesses of Israel against Palestine in 2009.

If Najib cared so deeply about the Palestinians just prior to the 13th general election, why not show some faith in fellow Malaysians to get the facts right both within Parliament and without?

However, the truth is, the prime minister is unable to do any of the above; as truth to him comes in many shades of grey.

Sheer diversion should not be the name of the game in a democracy. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

If anything, a democracy should be based on facts and truth that can be uncovered by full debates in and out of Parliament, with the relevant scholars and economists brought into the fray – even international financial journalists, if need be.

Rais Hussin is a Supreme Council Member and head of the Policy and Strategy Bureau of PPBM.

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