KUALA LUMPUR: 1Malaysia Development Bhd CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy and the company’s main critic, Tony Pua, will meet in a debate that will be televised live.
Arul took up Pua’s challenge and withdrew his initial condition that the Petaling Jaya Utara MP should first resign as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that is probing 1MDB.
“I stand before you openly to say to Pua that I hereby withdraw my condition,” Arul said to a packed press conference yesterday.
“I will meet him for a live televised discussion or talkshow or debate – he can choose which – without any conditions,” he said.
He was grateful to RTM and the Communication and Multimedia Minister for offering to host the event.
Arul said he was looking forward to answering all of Pua’s questions because the Opposition lawmaker claimed that tough questions had not been posed to 1MDB during media interviews.
He defended his call for Pua to step down from the PAC, saying that it was “not an unreasonable” request since the MP was trying to be both prosecutor and judge in the matter.
“I said that if you have integrity – and to avoid conflict of interest – to ensure the PAC proceedings are above board and without reproach, the right thing to do – if you are a man – is to stand down from the PAC.
“But Pua, like any other Opposition member, has different rules for himself,” Arul said.
According to him, Pua had been “unsuccessfully harping about 1MDB since 2010”, despite the sovereign fund making “hundred of millions, if not billions” in profit every year until 2013.
“I think much to his disappointment, nobody has really paid any attention to him on this,” Arul claimed.
“And I think that’s why he is so gung-ho in challenging me and issuing statements, wanting me to respond, because I think he’s been ignored rightly or wrongly on this matter,” he added.
The RM665mil loss announced by 1MDB in 2014, along with a RM2bil loan repayment to a consortium of local banks, was the turning point in the perception of the company, Arul said.
However, he said, it became the “biggest issue” when former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad started alleging that RM42bil was missing from 1MDB.
“When Tun Mahathir and those who were previously aligned to the Government started with their criticisms, that was when this matter became extremely controversial,” he said.
He said the allegedly stolen information concerning 1MDB – that found its way into the newspapers – added another layer of controversy.
“People don’t want to believe us because frankly bad news sells more newspapers than good stories, and that’s a reality,” he said.
Arul said the Government had taken steps to investigate all allegations against 1MDB, including instructing the Auditor-General’s Department to begin a probe.
“I can assure you that they have been extremely thorough, as well as extremely professional and independent in their work,” he said.
The Government had instructed that the results of the AG’s investigations be presented to the bipartisan PAC, he said.
He said Bank Negara also initiated its own investigations and that 1MDB’s office had been raided by the police.
He also pointed out that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had announced that it had no reason to investigate 1MDB and that the RM2.6bil allegedly banked into Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s accounts was not from the company.
He said his focus was on solving 1MDB’s financial woes. “We must be given the leeway and breathing space to solve the problem.
“Of course, the investigations should continue, to find out whether there was anything that happened in the past,” he added.
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