Berish wants misappropriated funds, which belong to Malaysians, to be used for the people, says Maria Chin Abdullah.
I am totally shocked at Jasa director Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz’s comment that Bersih 2.0’s campaigns related to 1MDB are examples of the threat posed by social media to the Muslim community.
However, if one takes a closer look at our latest campaign on asset recovery, which is jointly led by Bersih 2.0 and C4, it is clear that this endeavour is about good governance, accountability, transparency and distributive justice.
He has confused the issues and made wild allegations about the good intentions behind our initiative to recover assets stolen from 1 MDB, as this campaign is clearly about efforts to return this money to the people of Malaysia and not about inciting hatred against the government as Tun Faisal has claimed.
Let me put the facts clearly before Jasa: This issue began last year when Switzerland’s chief prosecutor conducted a criminal investigation into state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and found that approximately US$4bn appeared to have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies.
The Swiss attorney general has since made two requests to the government and 1MDB to seek ‘mutual legal assistance’ but failed to receive any positive response from the Malaysian government. Nevertheless, the Swiss attorney general’s office has pushed ahead with investigations and is currently gathering sufficient evidence to take appropriate action.
Subsequently, the Swiss financial regulatory body, Finma, punished three Swiss banks for serious breaches of money laundering regulations and has confiscated a total of 104m Swiss Francs in illicit gains from money laundering related to the 1MDB scandal.
Jasa has to understand that this has nothing to do with the US Department of Justice case as the above case of money laundering happened in Switzerland. Legal action has already been taken against the banks, and money has been confiscated.
The initiative put forward by Bersih 2.0, C4 and 112 non-governmental organisations can only be viewed as being in defence of good governance and carried out in the interest of our country, Malaysia. This is not about threatening the peace of the country but rather an investment din the peace and security of the citizens.
We have carried out in-depth research on asset recoveries and how affected countries have made attempts to handle corrupt funds. We have cited the Bota Foundation in Kazakhstan as an example of best practice and are lobbying the Swiss government to seek a resolution to the confiscated illicit funds.
We want those funds, which belong to Malaysians, to be used for the people. We do not want it to be returned to the present government because they are seemingly complicit in suppressing any attempts to raise questions related to the 1MDB scandal.
We have proposed for an interim trust fund to be set up and this has yet to be discussed at a higher level, such as the Swiss government.
The Malaysian attorney general’s decision to not prosecute Bersih 2.0 clearly absolves Bersih of any allegations of wrongdoing. Jasa should learn to keep up with the news and not engage in false news and irresponsibly spew hatred against civil society organisations. It is such behavior that is a threat to democracy and those working to advance democracy in Malaysia.
Tun Faisal’s allegations that Bersih is making baseless accusations about the identity of MO1 is ludicrous in the light of the BN’s strategic communications chief’s declaration that Prime Minister Najib Razak is MO1. Jasa director Tun Faisal should come out of the rabbit hole and realise that Malaysians are not mindlessly buying into his lies.
As such, Tun Faisal Aziz must retract his statement. I encourage Jasa to work with the NGOs to recover all stolen assets that rightfully belong to Malaysians as this will illustrate that they have no malice and no intention to instigate fear-mongering along the racial lines and hatred among Malaysians, a common tactic used by the authorities to smother dissent.
Maria Chin Abdullah is chairperson of Bersih 2.0.