Four months ago, when Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan was asked to be Barisan Nasional's Strategic Communications Director at a time of crisis over the 1MDB issue, he did not hesitate.
“In fact, I said 'What took you so long?',” he says.
He has been one of the more vocal MPS in parliament before he was appointed a minister.
“As (Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government) minister, I can't be talking on behalf of Umno where the supreme council is concerned because you have about 60 people in there. So I wanted a platform,” he admits.
For him, being Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Director is “just nice” because it allows him to touch on all issues without being confined to “just Umno issues”.
All that though comes with a cost.
Some have lambasted him for being an apologist and for his all-out defence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over the 1MDB issue.
“My father was a 'YB' and he told me 'Never abandon your friend when he is in trouble.’
“So far I have not seen a single evidence against the PM. All we are hearing are allegations and all this is being investigated. Unless I see legitimate proven evidence how do I abandon the Prime Minister?”
Q: How do you read the current sentiment on the ground?
No doubt it’s a challenging scenario for Barisan Nasional and Umno. That is something that we cannot deny. There is a lot of anger, frustration, anxiety and uncertainty over certain issues that have been circling in the minds of the people. Having said that this is not the worst crisis that the party has faced.
Q: This is not the worst crisis the party has faced but it is the worst crisis the present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has faced?
That is true but I am talking in the context of the government and the party so this is not the first. We could look at the crisis in 1987 when Umno was declared illegal or the crisis in 1998 (when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy Prime Minister and deputy Umno president ).
Those are worst. I know a lot of Malays whacked Umno when the party was declared illegal by the courts. So in terms of gravity of the problem, we are okay but it is a challenge.
Surely we should be able to recover from this, given the fact that the Prime Minister has said the 1MDB issue will be resolved within six months. That is the breathing space that he needs. 1MDB is the centre of the storm. Everything - the demeaning statements, the ridicule - all revolve around 1MDB.
1MDB is already going through a rationalisation plan and has taken a number of concrete steps to reduce the company's debt and is making good progress.
On June 8, they completed the repayment for a US$975mil loan. They have an agreement with IPIC (International Petroleum Investment Company) that will result in the reduction of about RM16bil to 1MDB's debt.
On June 30, 1MDB announced they would appoint an independent real estate consultant to help review the expressions of interest for its land parcels in Air Itam and Pulau Indah. And they have expressions of interest for their 486-acre Bandar Malaysia project. The government needs six months to turn 1MDB around.
Q: What is causing the anger among the masses over the issue?
With regards to the Cabinet reshuffle, that is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. In order to strengthen the government and the party, some changes need to happen. And of course every political decision and indeed every initiative for change has its repercussions. In this case, the masses are unhappy.
As for 1MDB, the politicians and the media are getting together to taint the name of the Prime Minister and 1MDB.
If the four bodies in the 1MDB investigation, Bank Negara, the Attorney-General, MACC and PAC find anything wrong, I am sure some heads are going to roll.
Let's just wait for the Auditor-General to conclude his investigation and prepare a report of this issue. The report will then be submitted to Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Q: In the midst of the 1MDB investigations, there was a reshuffle and the Attorney-General (AG) was changed and PAC members including the chairman was co-opted into the Cabinet. This sends signals that there is a deliberate attempt to stop, delay or interfere with the investigations on 1MDB. Comment?
There are two theories out there. One is the one you mentioned that this is a deliberate attempt to stop, delay or interfere with the investigations.
But there is also another theory that there has been a deliberate attempt to criminalise the Prime Minister.
This is what the new AG (Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali) was saying with regards to the (purported) draft charge sheet (against the Prime Minister). Apandi sent out a statement saying that the Attorney-General's chambers is very concerned that there is a deliberate attempt to criminalise the PM and force him out of the office. If you are a politician of course you would take some pre-emptive steps so that it doesn’t happen.
I am not privy to that information. I leave it to the PM and the AG who made that comment and also to the IGP whether or not there is an attempt to criminalise the PM. But it sure looked like it. Because there was an allegation of a draft charge sheet but MACC said 'Wait a minute we have not completed our investigation. So how could there be a draft charge sheet when the investigation has not been completed?'
Q: Why didn’t the PM trust the special task force investigating to finish their job? Or are you saying that there was attempt within the task force to criminalise the Prime Minister?
I don’t know. The AG Apandi mentioned the word 'criminalise the PM'.
In the first place the task force was improperly constituted. They were not supposed to be investigating the PM or any individual for that matter.
The original task force was set up to look at the overall policy of the banking system such as money laundering, the illicit flow of funds, the illegal use of money changers to move money in and out of the country, illegal money transactions involving terrorism and drug business and the loopholes in the system. That is why the AG, Bank Negara, MACC and the police were there. The four Tan Sris.
When there was an instruction to investigate the RM 2.6bil (in Najib's personal account) that task force was used. But the Attorney- General cannot be part of the task because his job is to prosecute. He cannot be involved in investigation. It is a conflict of interest.
The Attorney-General's chambers should maintain the separation of powers. Investigations should be left to the agencies responsible for investigations which is the police, MACC and Bank Negara. The AG was not supposed to be part of the task force but he was. To me that was wrong.
Q: So who is investigating 1MDB then?
Who asked for the special task force to investigate 1MDB? That is what the IGP wanted to know, I suppose. The police, MACC, and Bank Negara can conduct their own individual investigations without having that task force. That is not a problem. But the task force doesn’t have the mandate from the Cabinet. There is no executive order from the Cabinet to constitute that task force to investigate that particular issue.
Q: You spoke about public anxiety over the 1MDB which is the one big issue Malaysians are asking about. So shouldn't someone try to get to the bottom of it?
Yes. What should have been done is for MACC to go in and investigate, for the police to go and investigate and the Bank Negara to go and investigate. It is wrong if this is under one task force of which the AG is part of. But all that is water under the bridge now.
If they (the police, MACC, Bank Negara) want to investigate based on their own mandate and jurisdiction they can do it.
Q: The silence of Tan Sri Gani Patail over his removal as AG is deafening. How do you read his silence?
You can interpret the way it is but as usual there is a reason. He was not removed in that sense. He was just transferred to another position within the judiciary where he is maintaining his seniority. But that is not what you are asking.
The official response is that he was not well and on dialysis three times a week. Even in my ministry I can tell you there are noticeable delay in getting responses from the AG chambers. This is not necessarily from the AG himself but it has to do with laws pertaining to the ministry. I don’t think it is fair for me to speculate.
Q: You say it wasn’t a removal but it was a removal because he was taken away from his post two months before his contract expired.
Fair enough. You can make your conclusion. It is up to you. I have not spoken to him. But the official statement was that he was not well.
Q; Usually when someone has to leave office because of health reasons, it is common practice he would issue a statement to that effect but the fact is Gani Patail has not done that. And his choosing to remain silent speaks volumes?
My point is very simple. The investigation is still going on. No one is stopping that.
Q: Investigation on what? There is no investigation on 1MDB now that the special task force has been disbanded and PAC members have been co-opted?
As I mentioned in my previous TV appearance, the appointment of the four members was quite normal. I have given in detail the reason why each of the four should be in cabinet.
There has been allegations saying the documents obtained from ((PetroSaudi's former executive) Xavier Justo has been tampered with. Even the authorities in Thailand was saying that documents were significantly tampered with. So why should PAC rush their investigation? PAC doesn’t have an investigating team itself to look into details. They depend largely on the Auditor-General’s office and MACC. Once they get the report they decide which witnesses they should call to ask further questions.
My point is that the Thai police are saying that Justo confessed that the documents had been tampered with. To me that is an explosive confession. Given the fact that the documents have been altered, how can PAC be completely sure that when they got the report from the Auditor- General, MACC and the police whether these investigations were based on original documents which were not tampered?
So during the lull from now till Oct (when parliament reconvenes and new members are appointed in PAC to replace those co-opted) ,they can use that time to check whether the investigation was based on the tampered documents. So why rush? It is wise for PAC to wait until the dust settles and for a clearer picture to emerge. If not PAC might be coming up with the wrong conclusion based on faulty assumptions.
Q: Justo was paid 4 mil Swiss Francs to leave PetroSaudi and was allegedly blackmailing Petro Saudi for more and he demanded US$2 mil from the Edge and Sarawak Report for the documents. Doesn't that show he has something in hand that he thinks one party can be blackmailed for and another is willing to pay for?
I don’t know if he was demanding. He was offered that US$2mil. As for that 4 million that was the compensation he was given to leave. When he was blackmailing PetroSaudi, they did not pay. If I was PetroSaudi and the documents were so damaging to me. I would have paid him off because after all I paid him a huge amount of money to leave.The fact is he did not get the money and he sold it to the Edge .
Q: But the Edge did not pay?
Both are scums . If you go around asking people for documents and data and you are paying for it that’s bad enough. If you got the information and you didn’t pay, you are still a scum.
Q: They said they were doing it in the interest of the country?
Oh come on.
Q: What I am asking is does Justo have something in his hand on 1MDB that one party is 'blackmail-able' for and another willing to pay for?
If you say to me you’ve something of me and you ask for money and I refuse to pay you, your blackmailing is not validated at all. If I paid you that’s a different story. When you didn't get the money then you sold it to another interested party (The Edge).
(The Edge agreed to pay for the documents but they never paid)
If I were Justo and someone is willing to pay US$2 mil for the information, I would enter into the deal because I want the US$2 mil. Then that party who got the document tampered with it to publish it. They are scums.
(Both Sarawak Report and the Edge denied tampering with the documents.)
Q: On 1MDB, why did US$700 mil from the 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture flow to Good Star and not back to 1MDB when the joint venture was called off?
When the first deal did not go through they turned it into Islamic funding so in a way the relationship never failed because what they did was to convert the equity into a loan.
Q: Why did the US$700 mil go to Good Star?
Why not? I don’t want to be the one answering on behalf of 1MDB. I think 1MDB is willing to reveal all the details to PAC. I know the details but I feel 1MDB should be the one answering. But let me give you an overview of the deal .
Goodstar was PetroSaudi International's subsidiary so when that the deal did not go through they just converted that equity into a loan and subsequently they added up two more tranches US$500 mil and US$330 mil which amount to about US$1.9bil.
Q: But PetroSaudi never put down any money That 1 bil was put in by 1MDB and all PetroSaudi was offering was oil exploration rights which they didn’t even actually have?
What they said to us was that I got this oil and you need to spend money on it to explore it and later on we will harvest the result. 1MDB came in with cash and it was supposed to be cash flow for that oil field. When that did not happen 1MDB got back their money RM1 bil but it was converted into loan.
That RM1bil that 1MDB put in originally for that oil fields was converted into loans for the same amount. They did not lose.
Q: But didn’t two of the 1MDB board of directors (chairman Mohd Bakke Salleh and Azlan Mohd Zainol) resign over this?
The bottom line is that you can question every business decision that a company makes It doesn’t need to be 1MDB. You can pick any of the top 50 companies in Malaysia and you can give your opinion on every step of their business decision. My point is that there is an accusation that the 1MDB money was stolen. They put in US$1.9 bil and later on they got back US$2.38bil. When I look at the figures, I see that 1MDB actually made money. They made US$488 mil from the deal.
Q: There is the issue of the transfer of the two MACC directors (Datuk Bahri Mohamad Zain and Datuk Rohaizad Yaakob) and the DPP and other officers on the case were detained, why did that even happen? Why is there no confidence in MACC to let them do their job professionally?
When Tan Sri Apandi made the comment that there could be a plot to topple the Prime Minister by way of criminalising the Prime Minister what would you do?
Have that in mind first as a background to all your questions and the pieces will fall into the right places.
You have the allegation of MACC revealing information to Sarawak Report – what do you do? Under normal circumstances you will transfer officers.
In my ministry if I find an officer or the secretary-general allegedly releasing confidential information he would be removed.
Q: No you should charge them.
Yes of course, But you must remember these are very dynamic situations so God forbid if that draft charge sheet was actually served – can you imagine what would happen?
Q: Can you tell me if the draft charge was real?
I don’t know. I just look at Tan Sri Apandi ‘s statement. He said the charge sheet was not in the system of the Attorney-General's office so that is suggesting that it was done outside the system and outside the normal process. And he said this could be a plot to criminalise the Prime Minister.
Given that scenario what would you do? You would take drastic action wouldn’t you? Okay take these people out first so that things will get back to normalcy and see what will happen next. If you could appreciate that scenario then you would understand the flurry of action taken by the PM.
Q: How is it that Tan Sri Apandi comes into office as the new AG and in just a matter of days is able to say there is an attempt to criminalise the PM?
That is the plausible scenario that Tan Sri was saying, so of course, then you would have to take some drastic action. I am not too sure because I am not privy to the information whether what he said is true or not. I just based it on what AG Apandi was saying. That the charge sheet was false and that the investigation into (the former 1MDB subsidiary) SRC International (Sdn Bhd) was not even completed. When I say false it means that it did not go through the proper channel of charging an individual.
Q: So that is not to say the draft charge wasn’t there?
It could be there. By reading what Apandi said, the charge was there but it wasn’t going through the proper procedure. Obviously you need evidence first. You need to complete your investigation and if you feel the evidence is strong enough then you charge someone.
Q: The former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman said the Chief Secretary to the Government (Tan Sri Ali Hamza) and the Public Services Department director-general (Tan Sri Mohamed Zabidi) can be charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code for transferring the two MACC directors because this was an obstruction of the public officers from on their job. Comment?
I leave it to the Chief Secretary to answer that.
If you ask me with the scenario at the back of your mind that there could be a plot to topple the PM through falsification of a charge sheet then somehow the action taken is more palatable.
Q: What if something wrong was done by the PM. Shouldn't he stand trial for it?
Of course. If there is evidence then he should stand for trial. He cannnot take people’s money. But the fact of the matter is that until now all that is there is allegations. I haven’t seen any concrete proof.
Right from the beginning when (Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) said US$42bil was missing . Until now, have you found any evidence? Everything is just allegations.
Some of the investigations are still on going. As for investigation of the RM2.6bil , PM was declared innocent by MACC. (MACC said in early Aug that the RM2.6bil in Najib's account was not from 1MDB and that it came from donors.)
Q: The allegations are targetted against one individual ie Prime Minister Najib but why do Umno leaders keep saying it is an attempt to topple the government?
Yes it is targetted at the Prime Minister. If you have the Prime Minister step down for an allegation of that sort, then the entire Cabinet might have to be replaced for whatever reason. The new PM would have his own cabinet. But the Barisan government would definitely not collapse. When I say the government, I am talking about the Cabinet. It’s not to topple the Barisan government. I don’t think that is what people meant. What they meant was the present Cabinet.
Q: Is loyalty to the party and country paramount to loyalty to the leader?
In the context of Malaysia I think both. One of the things why Malaysia political landscape is very stable is because we have some degree of respect for the leadership.
We tolerate leadership because when we do that it provides long term stability to the government. In a way you have to balance it up.
You have to be loyal to the country and to the nation and at the same time you have to loyal to the leader.
Of course there is a disclaimer. If the leader is up to no good and the allegation is true that he stole money – whatever the amount – then I think he is not above the law.
Not just the PM but anyone. But there must be some amount of loyalty that we must accord to their leaders. If you look at PKR there is no sense of loyalty because they can change leaders anytime as they did with (former Selangor Mentri Besar) Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (who got booted out through the Kajang Move).
Q: But shouldn’t that be the way? Because surely a party is bigger than any individual because leaders come and go?
Yes but why do you want to change a leader who is good and who is not found guilty?
Q: So chuck him out if he is found guilty?
Yes that includes me. So far I have not seen evidence that show the PM is abusing people’s money 1MDB. A lot of the allegations are merely speculations.
Q: I'd like answers on 1MDB. When the answers do not come then you start to wonder? Which is why I would have thought it would have been good to let PAC finish the job.
You are not listening to my explanation. How can you allow the PAC to base their investigation on potential tampered information?
Q: But I have faith in the Auditor-General. Surely the Auditor- General would do its own audit on 1MDB and not base its interim report on things like the alleged tampered documents from the Sarawak Report or the Edge?
Who knows? What we need is in this two months to look back at the documents that you have. The PAC is going to resume in October after all.
Q: Was Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed removed because he was doing a good job as PAC chairman?
He never told me the reason why he was chosen.
Q: What would people expect now when the PAC inquiry resumes in Oct is for the new chairman and three new members who are picked to be MPs who would not want to stir things or rock the boat?
No that is not right. I was a member of the PAC before. And the PAC questions and answers are all public documents. You would know if the chairman was lying or trying to conceal. You would know if the chairman says 'Don’t ask that question'. It's all recorded verbatim. I was there for five years. Not a single question from me or other members from the opposition was instructed not to be asked by the chairman.He'll even ask “Are you done? Are you finished? Are you satisfied? No member from the opposition side was denied the opportunity to ask questions from any of the witnesses. Have faith.
Q: The ringgit has been plunging not because of the fundamentals of the currency or the ecnomy but because of the sentiment and political uncertainties Comment?
No I disagree. If I stack it up I would put political uncertainty as reason no 4 or no no 5.
The most fundamental reason why the ringgit has slide as much as it did is because the prices of all commodities like palm oil, rubber, crude oil have gone down so buyers do not need as much ringgit to buy these commodities which means there is less demand for the ringgit. When there is less demand for ringgit the value of the ringgit will not go up. It will go down because there is not much support for the ringgit.
The other thing is the Chinese have devalued their yuan and people have been anticipating it. Another thing is the quantitative easing in the US. People have more trust in the US economy so when you are an investor where would you like to invest your money? Would it be in the emerging markets that are neither here or here or would you put your money in the US market which is full vibrancy and creativity?
You would make more money in the US market at the moment so everyone is rushing to buy US dollars. That means the value of the US dollar would increase vis-a-vis other currencies too. In some instances our ringgit appreciated against some of the major currencies like the Japanese yen. The New Zealand dollar slide against the US dollar as much as the us. In fact they are worst and they don’t have 1MDB! So the weakening of the currencies against the US dollar is a global phenomenon.
If you ask me if the economist were right in saying that the ringgit is undervalued, I strongly believe it is. Anyone buying the ringgit now will make tons of money when the value goes up.
Q: Tony Fernandez told Putrajaya recently to fix the economy and ringgit instead of trying to shut down the internet?
I appreciate his comment. He is a good friend of mine. I would think he should be advising his board of directors because I think Air Asia is not doing that well at the moment. “This is a government Tony. We are not just talking about dollars and cents. The government is responsible for the security of the nation . As a company you might not want to be interested in the security of the nation or the unity of the people. If you are a government, you care about the economy, security and unity. It goes hand in hand.
So while I appreciate his views, he should not allow himself to be misled. The government never intended to to close down or ban the Internet. What the government wants to do is to ensure that the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia (MCMC) Act is strengthened so that it has more power to deal with lies, slanders, provocation and unfounded allegation spread by irresponsible people using the Internet or social media.
There is no plan to ban Internet or the social media. Not all social media is bad. Some are very important to us including using it to communicate with friends and families. Social media is also used by many companies to do legitimate business and by people to get news and updates.
Q: Why did PM take so long to come out explain on the RM2.6bil political funding?
It is not the culture of any political party in this country to reveal their donations, the amount and who their donors are and all that.
But remember that when the issue first came out, the accusation was that he took 1MDB money which is people's money. That was a very heavy and strong allegation and it was his main conern. From the start he consistently said the money was not from 1MDB and not people’s money and that the money was not for personal gain. It was meant for CSR (corporate social responsibility) and party activities.
Q: But he did not admit that it was political funding until after Hari Raya (which is about two weeks after the Wall Street Journal story about RM2.6bil in his personal account). When you do not explain straightaway, people tend to believe the worst?
The donor did not want his name to be mentioned. The PM was under pressure whether he reveals or not reveal. My point is that there are 58 people in the Umno supreme council if you include all the state liaison chiefs.
Almost all knew what was going on and they understood how the president, since the inception of the party, was given leeway and the latitude to manage party’s funds. My question is why is it that the overwhelming majority of the supreme council members couldn’t be bothered? Because they knew this was the system. They knew that previously the system was even worse than this where you park the money in individual’s names (as proxies) who are not even related to it.
Q: How is it that the then Deputy Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) didn’t even know about it?
Najib said that when he was DPM he did not even know how the (Umno) president looked for money.
Q: RM2.6 bil is a huge sum of money, are you not worried what promises were made in return of the funds? How do you expect people to donate money without expecting anything in return?
Prince AlWaleed bin Talal donated US$32 bil for nothng to anyone he likes. The same thing with Bill Gates and it is the same thing with billionaires in the world. They are willing to give money for causes that they believe in. There are such people out there even though we are not used to it. The RM2.6bil is only US$700 mil. It only becomes billions when you convert it into ringgit.
How big of a project do you need to repay a guy who gives you RM2.6bil? We did the calculation. You might want to earn a return of at least RM3bil maybe more RM5bil.
So if you get the project that project has to be worth at least RM100bil. Where can you find a project worth RM100 bil in this country? Or even RM50bil for that matter? It doesn’t make sense.
Q: It doesn't necessarily have to be monetary returns. Sometimes the promise could be something else like allowing the spread of (Saudi Arabia) Wahabism in the country?
Have you seen the PM change his policies after GE13? I don’t think so. He is still the old Najib, He has not changed his policy towards any country. There is no change.
Q: People liked and loved Najib when he came into office. But now when you read his Facebook posts, majority of the comments from the public are very negative.
How many people are on PM’s Facebook page? And how many commented?
Let me put things in perspective. I have about 70,000 on my fan page. Maybe those who give me really bad comments are about 50 people.They are the loudest. They ridicule, call you names and all that.
But that is not the reflection of the entire Internet community. It is some indication. As I told you at the start of the interview, there is some worry there.
But I think when things are clearer and when 1MDB finds its closure in about six months time. I think people will understand that the PM was not what he was accused of.
Q: Would Najib be leading Barisan in the next election?
What is in his mind right now is to have a closure on 1MDB. That is the central issue. Everything else revolves around 1MDB issue and if he settles that and if the debt is reduced to a manageable level. As you can see from the past few days there is some good news. The (1MDB's Tun Razak Exchange) land was worth more than what expected and Edra (Global Energy Bhd) is fetching better prices (Tenaga Nasional Bhd is looking into acquring Edra, the power arm of 1MDB). So the rationalisation plan is doing very well. Then it is up to him. If you ask me - knowing him - I think he believes he has all the strength. And he believes he can convince the people that he still has good vision and leadership and he should be leading the next general election for Umno and Barisan Nasional.
Q: Perception can be a terrible thing. Is Umno or Barisan strong enough that if you see Najib is a liability, even though he has done nothing criminally wrong, would Barisan ask him to make a graceful exit?
Umno leaders have always been rational except for one. They will not hurt the party. Whatever it is, the decision made for the party or the president is for the interest of the party. But at the same time no president of Umno should be removed from the party based on mere allegations and power play. That is just not right.
Q: You come across as the open modern sort but now there seems to be a clampdown on the media by suspending the Edge. That is so old school so 1980s. Comment?
The security is the government of the day's responsibility. So is the stability of the economy. Forget it if you also say that the opposition is also responsible because the opposition would like the economy to be ruined. I am not saying that they want it to but it would certainly benefit them politically if it did by saying to the people that the present day government is not doing well and they want it to be removed.
My point is this. No government worth its salt would allow a rampant deliberate attempt to destabilise the economy.
Remember 1MDB is a government company. and none of the allegations were proven right just yet and the investigation is still on.
What the Edge should have done is report on 1MDB a couple of times maybe for a week. You can milk it if you want to then you should wait for the investigations. But if you beat a dead horse and keep repeating the allegation and on days that you are very dry on ideas you just editorialise it as your headline with a big question mark. Putting a question mark as the headline, you are saying 'I am not saying. I am just asking'. The Edge is a very influential business paper. It moves and shapes public opinion especially the business community and because of that they should be more responsible.
You keep repeating the same thing again and again despite knowing very well that investigation is going on.
Some people are already saying that your source like Xavier Justo is not reliable.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t publish it . You milk it for a week then let the investigation go on. But that is not what you are doing. Clearly the Edge had an agenda.
Clearly they wanted to destablise the present government. You made your accusation fine. You were heard loud and clear the first time around.
Q: But the target is not the government. The target is one individual – the PM?
But if the PM falls under the dubious allegations, Barisan will have a black eye, You can’t deny, And they are aiming for GE 14 (the 14th general election). Not now. They are trying to destablise the government leading to GE14 which is about two and a half years away. And we know how close certain individuals in the Edge are to certain individuals in the opposition. How long can you milk a story?
Q: But they wouldn’t milk a story if they had the answers to the questions they have been asking?
It doesn’t matter if you have the answer or not.The investigation is still going on. When the PM and 1MDB gave the answers they didn’t want to believe the PM. That’s why the PM said ‘If you don’t believe me then investigate’. But you can t be harassing the investigation, Let it be done. Then let all of us wait for the end result.
There was a deliberate attempt by the Edge to undermine the stability of the government for six, seven and eight months with outlandish allegations. They're out for blood and will not stop until they get what they want.
Q: But the suspension is seen as being interpreted as to shut down any criticism or clampdown on the media ?
Who else is being shut down? The media suspension is only for three months and it is only the Edge. The Star, Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider, Free Malaysia Today are still there. I don’t think it is fair to accuse the government of clamping down the media just because of one incident of a suspension of three months. And remember the Edge admits they attempted to buy the stolen information.To me it goes against good journalism.
Q: It may be unethical and trickery but does it warrant closing them down?
They lied. It’s trickery. Scums. It worries me because a reputable business newspaper that can move markets can actually put down or bring up a company by just writing about them.
Q: Don’t you think if the government provided proper answers to the questions they are asking that wouldn't happen?
We did. But the opposition or media with the agenda refused to believe it for the simple reason that they just don’t want to believe. What the government did was very simple. If you don’t believe me let’s investigate this. But before the investigation is over, the Edge was incessant in their attack.
Q: What do you think of anti-Najib posters that came up in Johor and Umno members in some divisions speaking up against him?
I will not discount their displeasure towards the PM. Let’s just hear it. But to say the entire party is against the PM is also not right. There are 23,000 branches all over the country. What is one or two out of 23,000 ?
Q:There has been some heckling of the PM too recently?
It is not good. All that is the side effects. It is sad but how do you stop that? You can’t - so it will just continue thanks to all these people who say ''To hell with tradition'.
Q: Do you think Barisan is winning the PR exercise?
It is tough. The “enemies” are formidable. But given our roots - we have been around for some time - so I think we will ride this out. When Umno was declared illegal in 1987, that was slightly more than a year before the general election, so we should be able to survive this as a party, Once there is a closure to 1MDB in six months, things will get clearer. All the investigations would have been wrapped up and presented to the relevant people, then I think we should be able to work hard to regain the trust of the people.
Q: How has what you are saying as the Barisan strategic communications director in your all-out defence of the BN leader Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak affected your credibility as a young and upcoming politician?
In politics sometimes you have to swim against the tide to prove a point. In the case of 1MDB and the RM2.6 bil donation , unless irrefutable evidence against the Prime Minister is presented, I don’t see abandoning a democratically elected PM is an option. More so when there are plausible theories out there which point to some sort of conspiracy against the PM.
I am aware that I have alienated some of my young followers on Twitter and Facebook. Some have been my followers for many years. I have “mingled” with them online all those years, engaging them, debating them and listening to them. While I value their support and friendship, at times I had to make a stand as a politician even though the decision goes against their liking.
I remember what my late father used to advise me. As a former YB, he used to say to me “Rahman , if you ever made it in politics, never abandon your friends and leaders especially in their time of need.”
Yes credibility is important to all politicians. But it is also equally important not to act based on speculations, allegations, innuendoes and more so conspiracy. Let us wait for the investigation to be completed and allow the truth to prevail. Until then, standing next to my leader is a matter of principle which I can’t compromise. Unless I see legitimate proven evidence, how do I abandon the Prime Minister?