PETALING JAYA: If the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue was tackled years ago, it would not be as severe as it is now, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The PKR president said he brought this up during a Parliament session back in 2010, based on an audited account.
"The fact that sovereign funds were placed in the Cayman Islands is absurd, in my (previous) experience as finance minister. You don't do that," he said this during an interview on Hot Ones, a chat show by streaming service iFlix.
He added that the-then Barisan Nasional government viciously attacked him for bringing up the 1MDB issue. He also claimed this was the reason why he was persecuted and sent to prison in 2015.
"When I went back into prison, I was sure, you can't hide (the issue). At that time, the funds at Cayman Island was RM8bil," he said.
"Had (then-prime minister Datuk Seri) Najib Razak been more responsible, he could have tried to resolve it at that stage – but he did not," Anwar said, noting that he was shocked how the money was spent, in reference to the valuables seized from Najib's residences last year.
Anwar also pointed out that even during and after the 13th General Election in 2013, Barisan leaders continued to defend Najib over 1MDB issues.
However, Anwar noted that in 2014, the issue was later exposed by international media, including the Wall Street Journal, and was read by everyone outside of Malaysia.
"If Najib was humble enough to acknowledge or at least taken adequate measures, he could have saved not only himself, but also the country," said Anwar.
Anwar thought that with all the media coverage about 1MDB, Najib, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and others involved in the matter, would have realised were in the public spotlight – both locally and internationally.
"We are not dealing with mediocre guys – they are smart.
"But the problem with leaders is when they are arrogant, they consider themselves invincible – (thinking) they will not lose, they will remain in power forever.
"Let this be a lesson to us," he added.
Najib is currently facing trial to one charge of abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust, plus three counts of money laundering involving RM42mil in the SRC International case.
He has also been charged with in excess of 30 other charges for money-laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in relation to 1MDB.
The Hot Ones chat show, hosted by local artist Maya Karin, saw Anwar as the inaugural guest of the series. It features a guest being interviewed while consuming progressively spicier hot sauces with satay after each question.
The full interview can be viewed here.