Democracy and good governance are our core concerns, says Bersih 2.0


Source: The Malaysian Insight

Bersih 2.0, Maria Chin Abdullah, The Malaysian Insight file pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 27, 2017.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah urged Jasa to work with civil society organisations to recover all stolen assets that rightfully belong to Malaysians. – The Malaysian Insight file pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 27, 2017.

BERSIH 2.0 today told Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz to wake up and realise that Malaysians are not buying his “lies” that the election watchdog’s work threatens the Muslim community.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah slammed Tun Faisal for saying that the organisation’s campaigns and allegations of fraud aimed at 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) were “prime examples of social media threats to the Muslim community” at a conference yesterday.

Cleared of any wrongdoing by the Attorney-General’s Chambers last week of activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, Maria – a Muslim herself – said Jasa should not engage in fake news and irresponsibly spew hatred against civil society organisations.

She said behaviour such as this was the actual threat to democracy.

“I am totally shocked by Tun Faisal’s comment regarding Bersih 2.0’s campaigns being a threat to the Muslim community,” Maria said in a statement today.

“Tun Faisal’s allegations that Bersih makes baseless accusations about the identity of MO1 (Malaysian Official No. 1) is ludicrous in light of Barisan Nasional’s own strategic communications chief’s declaration that Prime Minister Najib Razak is MO1,” she said, referring to the confirmation made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan last year.

“Tun Faisal should come out of the rabbit hole and realise that Malaysians are not mindlessly buying into his lies. As such, Tun Faisal must retract his statement.”

She urged Jasa to work with civil society organisations to recover all stolen assets that rightfully belonged to Malaysians. This would show that the department had no malice or intention to instigate fear mongering along racial divides and hatred among Malaysians – a common tactic used by the authorities to smother dissent.

Maria said anyone who looked at the latest campaign on asset recovery by Bersih and anti-graft watchdog group Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) would see that it was a fight for good governance, accountability, transparency and distributive justice.

“(Tun Faisal) has confused the issues and made wild allegations on the good intentions of our initiative to recover assets stolen from 1MDB, 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 he has claimed.”

Laying out the facts, she said the issue began last year when Switzerland’s chief prosecutor conducted a criminal investigation into 1MDB and found that approximately US$4 billion (RM16 billion) appeared to have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies.

The Swiss A-G had 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 A-G’s office proceeded with its investigations and subsequently, the Swiss financial regulatory body Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) punished three banks for serious breaches of money laundering regulations.

The Swiss authorities also confiscated 104 million 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 Justice Department’s case as this money laundering case happened in Switzerland. Legal actions have already been taken against the banks and money has been confiscated.

“The initiative put forward by Bersih 2.0, C4 and 112 civil society organisations can only be viewed as 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 in the peace and security of the citizens,” Maria said.

She said the civil society groups had also researched assets recovery and studied how other countries handled corrupt monies.

The groups cited the BOTA Foundation in Kazakhstan as an example of best practice, and were 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,” she said. – November 27, 2017.