Appearances by Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz yesterday and 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy the previous night have failed to stem the erosion of public confidence in the probe of 1MDB as the ringgit fell to 4.08 against the US dollar at noon.
Zeti’s statement yesterday seemed overly cautious and did not reveal much that wasn’t already known. What was somewhat revealing was that a report had been submitted to the attorney general.
She seemed to put the thrust of the responsibility of reporting suspicious transaction to the banks, or at least that was my impression from the news reports that emerged. She didn’t tell us if the Ambank brought the transaction to the attention of Bank Negara and if so, what the central bank’s response was. Did Ambank report the RM2.6bn to Bank Negara or not? A simple Yes or No is all that is required? If yes, what did Bank Negara do about it?
But Zeti said she couldn’t talk about specific accounts under the law. Hey, we are talking about RM2.6bn going into the bank account of the prime minister/finance minister. And she can’t say anything… How is that going to inspire confidence?
As an acquaintance pointed out, “The finance minister is her ‘boss’, so how?”
Ultimately, her appearance, breaking a long silence, wasn’t enough to stem the erosion of confidence in key institutions.
Arul’s appearance on TV3 the night before was full of PR cliches and repeated jargon like “aset yang kukuh”, “asset rationalisation” and his most frequently used “cashflow mismatch” (wah, so simple!).
He did not tell us that the “aset yang kukuh” was largely due to the cheap land it had acquired at the expense of the federal government and this helped to boost the total 1MDB asset valuation..
I watched out of curiosity without paying too much attention (after all, this was over TV3). I must say he is a smooth (too smooth, perhaps?), confident and eloquent speaker, but ultimately the substance was lacking – too much resort to the jargon that he failed to convince (me, at least).
He droned on about Edra, “asset rationalisation” and IPIC generating funds or pumping in money to repay debt without explaining in much detail why they have to pump in so much money in the first place (apart from general explanations about the “cashflow mismatch” and infrastructure spending for the TRX project).
He also seemed to take comfort in the “siasatan yang menyeluruh” by various agencies, making 1MDB the “most investigated” entity in the country and said he and his colleagues were ready to appear before the PAC – conveniently omitting to mention how some of these investigations had been disrupted in various ways.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Arul’s confidence in the ongoing investigations is shared by many. A lot of the focus is perceived to be in identifying the leaks and whistleblowers in the system.
The questions softly lobbed at Arul by the TV3 interviewers skirted around the issues, without going in for the jugular. This sort of easy questions, with no serious follow-up, wasn’t enough to wipe the smile off the 1MDB CEO’s face.
TV3-mah. Its ‘exclusive’ seemed more like a friendly chit-chat. Only the teh tarik and kuih-muih was missing.
P.S. Did Arul mention anything about the role of Jho Low, the man everyone is looking for? If he did, I must have missed it.