British politicians were forced to justify their attendance at an investment event hosted by the Malaysian government in London this week to promote Malaysia as an investment destination.
UK minister in the foreign office, Hugo Swire, told the Wall Street Journal he did not want to cast final judgement over corruption allegations in Malaysia.
He also said British government support for the investment conference did not contradict an anti-corruption conference in London the week before.
“What we decided there and what was discussed there has universal application but I am not aware that that should impact on anything we are discussing this afternoon,” Swire reportedly said.
“I am not setting myself up as a judge and a jury.”
Jonathan Marland, a House of Lords member and former British trade envoy told the Wall Street Journal he did not want to interfere in Malaysia’s internal matters by commenting on 1MDB.
Marland, who introduced Najib at the event, reportedly described the event as a “huge love-in”.
“When our country was on its knees you came and invested,” Marland reportedly told Najib, referring to the RM4 billion Battersea redevelopment by SP Setia, Sime Darby and the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF)
Hugo Swire might have done better to have stayed as the Minister in charge of Museums, if he hadn’t been sacked for suggesting that visitors should be charged.
It is certainly unfortunate that his present position is so directly related (as Foreign Office Minister for Far East matters) to his family’s vast business in the region (the Swire Group).
Hugo, nevertheless, made huge play of his outrage over China’s anti-democratic tendencies in Hong Kong, so one wonders why he is so willing to ignore just as outrageous, if not far worse, human rights abuses in Malaysia, where people are being imprisoned for questioning grand scale corruption?
As for the UK’s signal failure of all the countries caught up in the global 1MDB scandal to take a single action on the matter, it is plainly inadequate to say that the British Government has no ‘proof of wrong-doing’, because Sarawak Report is well aware that the PetroSaudi and other documentation has been made available to UK officials and their ministers for as long and indeed in many cases longer than other countries, where action has been taken.
It is, doubtless, unfortunate also that the government to which Mr Swire belongs, considered the virtual dismantling of the country’s white collar crime agencies to be an essential part of its so-called ‘belt-tightening’ after the 2008 financial crash, which was caused by crooked bankers, who are generally extremely friendly to their party. Sadly, as a result, not one of these crooked bankers has been properly investigated for their crimes, whilst his government has meanwhile chosen to blame “excessive welfare” given to the poorest for that financial crisis.
This government even indulged in deception last week, by informing the UK press that it would avoid any official acknowledgement of Najib’s supposedly “private” visit and then sending their Business Minister Sajeed Jarvid to meet with him anyway.
And it turns out that Swire’s Jardine & Mathesen colleague in the House of Lords, Jonathan Marland, went even so far as to say he welcomed Najib with an open arms “love-in” for so kindly investing Malaysia’s money in the Battersea Power Station development, which has now created an ugly blot on the Southern Thames. Yes, many entities with ready cash invested in the UK post 2008 and have handsomely profited from their advantage.
Yet, if this development is not riddled with corruption and theft from the Malaysian people, Mr Swire will have to accept it will be a first such venture under Najib Razak, who together with his UMNO cronies have never been known not to cut a disgusting private profit from any public venture, and the truth of the Battersea project will inevitably eventually be known to decide that point.
As for the guilt over 1MDB. Mr Swire does not need to be judge and jury in this matter. Najib has himself acknowledged taking a billion dollars into his own account, does Mr Swire need to be judge or jury over that? No, he does not.
Nor is there any question about Malaysia’s plunging human rights situation, which Swire’s betters in the United States Department of State have already properly condemned. The destruction of Malaysia’s democratic base has been conducted purely to protect the reputation of its leader, which Swire has decided to act judge and jury over, in place of the people of Malaysia (now banned from demonstrations and online criticism), by welcoming him to London.
The facts are out there, and it is purely that this UK Government wishes to ignore them. It has tarnished Britain’s reputation that it has done so and has added to the growing world opinion that the City of London is a City of Launderers, which needs instant rectification for the benefit of Britain.