The decision of the Malaysian people to vote in Harapan with a reform agenda on May 9th in many ways seemed to close a chapter on past misdeeds. However, as the daily headlines show, it will be some time before the true scale of kleptocratic looting from Malaysia has been revealed.
Indeed, the one billion ringgit treasure haul, garnered from the Najib residences after the election, appears to represent relative trinkets knocking around the house, compared to the real hoard, safely locked up elsewhere.
Sarawak Report has it on good authority, for example, that two privately chartered jets arrived from Saudi late on the night of the shock election result, courtesy of the good offices of a relative of an executive of PetroSaudi. Owing to the denial of formal landing rights, they are believed to have departed without the intended primary passengers, Najib and Rosmah.
However, a stash of precious items, including a certain pink diamond, is believed to have been brought on board and accompanied out of the country by senior personnel.
A separate source, with business connections to the couple, has further told Sarawak Report that to their “certain knowledge” deals they have information on amounted to considerably over RM100 billion in profits, which were banked abroad. The source says they were personally involved in stashing much of the money into mainstream accounts in Hong Kong.
The exposure that such devastating sums of hot money, travelled into what the source says included major Swiss and German banks, looks set to rock the global financial system for years to come, keeping the issues of Malaysian kleptocracy in the news for the foreseeable future.
Yet, only for the first time this weekend, have we seen an apparent acknowledgement of at least some guilt on the part of Najib himself. In an extraordinary speech the ex-prime minister, after weeks of denials, admitted to the system of ‘money politics’, that he had presided over and suggested UMNO clean up its act.
Najib admitted, for example, that secret sums of cash had been sent out to division heads in advance of the election to buy votes, but complained some had purloined the cash instead:
“Maybe God wanted to teach us a lesson for our weaknesses. We must repent and correct our ways,” ….
“In the last general election, we lost to a party that did not spend much money; we did not know where their divisional offices were, their canopies were the earliest to close, but even when we flocked to our canopies, we still lost.
“There were those who sulked when they didn’t get allocations. There were those who did get money but said they didn’t. Then, there were candidates who received allocations but did not spend it.
The fact that the UMNO machine failed to operate ‘as normal’ at GE14 was one of the key identifiable factors in the loss of the election. It is also why UMNO leaders in a recent poll blamed Najib above all as the main factor in the defeat.
Confronted with his example, as a leader who together with his wife has blatantly stolen billions, and fearful of the outcome of the elections, it appears that party officials simply opted to keep the cash handouts, instead of spending it on ceramahs and bribes to voters at the polling booths.
Najib has reaped what he sowed in that respect, yet he still had the brass neck to condemn the freezing of UMNO accounts as an ‘assault on democracy‘
The remnants of that party have just relected Najib’s appointed former deputy as leader, a man who was not only prepared to support a kleptocrat by covering up blatant thefts and the unconsitutional sacking of his predecessor and attorney general, but also to lie and pretend he had met the fictitious ‘prince’, who allegedly provided Najib with the 1MDB stolen cash.
The choice is hardly surprising, because only 1% of those remaining UMNO members in a recent poll considered “honesty and trustworthyness” of importance in deciding their next leader!
Malaysians have months and months of high profile news to come on the decades of kleptocracy. The only good news being that with so much potentially retrievable from Najib and Rosmah’s global treasure troves, much of the damage can be repaired and meanwhile UMNO is busy digging its own grave.