Saturday, 16 April 2016

Is the Donation Issue Really Over?

Is the Donation Issue Really Over?

A Kadir Jasin

AS far as Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, is concerned the issue pertaining to “donation” to Prime Minister, (Datuk Seri Mappadulung Daeng Mattimung Karaeng Sanrobone), Mohd Najib Abdul Razak is closed.

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In a brief three-sentence in Istanbul quoted by Bernama on April 15 Al-Jubeir said:

“We are aware of donation and it is a genuine donation with nothing expected in return. We are also fully aware that the Attorney-General of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing.

“So, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed.”

The statement was made to Malaysian reporters and, according to reports, no follow-up questions were asked.

There are three elements in his statement namely it was a donation, it was genuine and the donor did not expect anything in return.

Because the statement was brief and the Malaysia reporters might have been instructed not to ask too many questions or believed that have got what they wanted, we still do not know for sure who the donor was, the exact amount of the donation and whether he had received the amount supposedly returned to him by Mohd Najib.

Also it is hard to accept this latest statement unconditionally because just over two months ago the same person said it was not a donation but an investment.

Either he had made a mistake with his first statement or was lying with his second.

On Mohd Najib’s part, if it was a donation and a genuine one with no string attached, why did he return a large chunk of it?

The BBC last January 27 reported that the donation was authorised from the very top - from Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah - with funds coming from both his personal finances and state funds.

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali had, on Jan 26, cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in relation to investigations into the SRC International Sdn Bhd and the RM2.6-billion alleged to have been deposited into the prime minister’s bank accounts.

Apandi said the investigations revealed that the amount deposited was RM2.08 billion, and it was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family in 2013, of which RM2.03 billion was returned to the contributor the same year.

At a glance, Al-Jubeir’s about-turn appears favourable to Mohd Najib. He was not lying about the donation. At least that is what Al-Jubeir's Istanbul statement implies. But upon closer analysis it does little to vindicate the Prime Minister.

Why did he return most of the donation from a fellow Muslim ruler no sooner after receiving it? Was it not an affront to the donor?

He could have kept the money and channel it to worthy religious causes at home and abroad.

With so many Muslims in Malaysia and the region living in poverty, the Arab donation would have come handy. There are so much welfare activities that could have been carried out with the money.

With our country sheltering tens of thousands Muslim refugees from Burma and elsewhere, the Arab donation was Allah’s blessing.

But for a very curious reason Mohd Najib returned the donation. Why did he return the money?

The case might be closed as far as Al-Jebeir is concerned, but the legality of the Prime Minister putting the money in his private account is still very much an issue.

On top of it, the April 7 report of the Public Account Committee (PAC) had raised many questions about his direct and indirect involvement in the business affairs of 1MDB.

The Saudi might have helped him to get off the hook with the new version of the donation story, but many more jurisdictions are investigating his conduct and the conduct of his associates in particular Jho Low.

They are exchanging notes, freezing accounts and interviewing people and companies implicated in the 1MDB money trail.

So it's not yet time for Mohd Najib and his supporters to celebrate and demand apologies whom the entire human race.


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