KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today countered allegations hurled at him and the government, among them the Altantuya case.
Najib in his latest postings on his Twitter and blog NajibRazak.com said:”I have taken some time to look at various questions and issues that have been raised by certain parties and have penned down my thoughts on them.” He listed 13 allegations and claims along with his response: 1. Allegations regarding the Altantuya issue.
a. This case has been investigated, tried and concluded in the Federal Court. It is a nine year-old case without end as it continues to be “recycled” by the Opposition.
b. As it was a lengthy court case, the appellants had ample time to give their full account and tell the courts everything. So why are we listening to individuals whose testimony have already been given and who have been found guilty of the crime?
c. What is important is that the judgment brings justice to everyone, most importantly to the family of the victim, to the accused and even to me.
d. I have stated many times that I have nothing to do with this issue, and even sworn an oath on the Quran in a Mosque.
e. The people must take into account that in politics, many issues keep being played up, and this is one of them. It became hot at a time when I was PM- in-waiting and the Opposition needed a way to prevent me from advancing.
Because the two bodyguards had worked for me, and Razak Baginda was a friend and associate, they tried to connect the dots to me. Razak Baginda has openly admitted to the relationship with Altantuya but in no way did I have any knowledge of it.
Pakatan and their media have irresponsibly tried to play the psy-war game by trying to implicate me and influence perception. They even went as far as to superimpose a photo of me, dining with the victim in a restaurant. In this era of social media, these things go viral uncontrollably, including the superimposed photo.
f. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the former PM, received the full investigation report from the police and has personally confirmed that I am not involved.
g. Having established the above, it is unfair to force me to investigate this case again and demand to know who, if anyone, had ordered the killing. I am not involved and do not know anything about it. The court has determined who was guilty of the murder. That should be the end of the story.
h. I find it disturbing that this issue is being brought up once again. We all know that if veteran leaders insist on bringing it up, even in passing, it would automatically cause the issue to be resurrected once again.
i. Such influential individuals have many resources. When the issue erupted, I believe they would still have been able to verify the validity of the allegations.
If they believed this to be true, why did they not raise it when the issue erupted 8 years ago? Why now? Some have said that they are only questioning the issue now as it has turned into a matter of life and death of those who have been convicted.
But this case has been tried in the courts, with a clear verdict and punishment meted out. Are they disputing the very judicial system that they put in place?
j. Despite the court’s lengthy deliberation and judgement, the ample time given to the appellant to have their case heard and judged, my Sumpah Laknat (Swearing on the Quran), the repeated denials I have made, the public explanations provided by Razak Baginda, some people continue to question the issue and keep trying to implicate me.
2. Claims that the international media has labelled Malaysia as the ‘Most Corrupted Country’
a. I am aware of such comments. However, these headlines are derived from surveys based on perceptions. Most of us rely on more empirical measurements that are used by reliable independent groups. An example is the Transparency International Index. In the index, Malaysia is currently ranked no 50 out of 175 countries, improving 3 spots from the year before. If we are the most corrupted country, why are we nowhere near number 175?
b. I find it troubling that someone who used to continually criticise the international media as being biased now suddenly believes and takes their arguments as the truth.
c. Remember this veteran leader once went on record to describe the western media as ‘biased’ in describing their administration. So, the western media criticising that administration is biased, but when they criticise my administration, they are not? There appears to be a double standard here.
d. Recently Transparency International reiterated that Malaysia s corruption is under control, and the country s growing foreign investment is proof of it.
The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Malaysia as the 31st freest economy among 178 countries, with a score of 70.8 points. It is an increase of 1.2 points since last year, with improvements in freedom from corruption, business freedom, and trade freedom outweighing a decline in labour freedom and the management of government spending.
e. Bloomberg has rated us the 5th most promising emerging market in 2015 and the only ASEAN country in its ‘top 10’.
f. The World Bank has further upgraded us from number 20 in 2014 to number 18 in 2015 in their ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Index.
g. How is it that we have improved in these competitive world rankings and yet we are also supposed to be as corrupt as certain parties claim us to be?
h. Of course the issues raised by the Auditor General s Report must be addressed and resolved.
However, what is important here is we are making progress. In 2013, there were 418 items highlighted but in 2014, it came down to 319. We hope to continue reducing it much further in years to come.
3. Allegations that BR1M is a Bribe
a. BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) is a social safety net recommended by the National Fiscal Committee, which comprises of officials from the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Bank Negara and the Ministry of Finance. They are mostly economics experts, not politicians.Such a social security net is being implemented in many other countries. Some call it unemployment benefit , which targets the unemployed. However, BR1M targets the low income. Both, in essence, are a form of social security allowance as they target vulnerable groups.
b. We aim to rationalise our current blanket subsidy to one that targets the needy. Everyone (including the rich and foreigners) benefit from blanket subsidies. By abolishing blanket subsidies, we generate savings that will then be channelled to those in the low-income group. And we will be able to give these deserving groups more than what they would have received as a result of the blanket subsidy scheme. Hence, BR1M must be seen in the context of a targeted subsidy, and it is the belief of the Fiscal committee that it will reduce leakages and increase the efficiency of our subsidy mechanism.
c. BR1M also compensates the needy for the any additional expenditure that they might incur as a result of GST. Some quarters claim that the GST is a regressive tax as everyone including the poor are subjected to it. However, with BR1M, GST is not regressive as the low-income groups are being compensated. In addition, a large portion of GST revenue will be spent on this vulnerable community.
d. Some politicians say that in spite of BR1M, the people are not grateful. This is exactly why they believe it is bribery and are not on the same page as the fiscal committee. We see it as an economic measure, but these politicians see it purely in the context of politics. Mind you, BR1M is given to everyone regardless of his or her political inclination. BR1M is given regardless of when elections are held. My conscience is clear. BR1M is an economic measure, not bribery and I have stated the reasons why.
e. People always say, Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, he lives for a life time . But in the real world, we have to do both. Provide assistance to the needy and at the same time invest in education/skills upgrading/improving productivity. The Education Ministry receives the biggest amount allocation from our budget. On top of that, we have also created entities like TERAJU, Tekun, Genovasi, Superb, MAGiC and many other government training programmes under various ministries.
4. Allegations against 1MDB
a. It is unfair for certain politicians to convict the government in the court of public opinion way before the actual facts are laid down by lawful authorities, namely the Auditor-General and the bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
b. When concerns began to be raised, I wanted a detailed explanation, so I ordered the Auditor-General and PAC to investigate 1MDB s books. Anyone found guilty of embezzlement or misappropriation will be brought to justice.
c. We are expecting the release of the preliminary report by the Auditor-General very soon. In the mean time, please do not speculate and form conclusions without the information that will be laid out by the Auditor-General, who will provide a detailed report into 1MDB s finances.
d. We all want detailed answers but it is only proper to let the auditors do their job and tell us clearly what the situation really is. If we pre-empt it, we would be undermining them, as many others have done. This is not the proper procedure. If we are sincere in finding out the truth behind those allegations, we need to get the information from legitimate sources (like the Auditor- General) and not third-party news portals or online blogs that might have hidden agendas.
5. Allegations over the ‘Crooked bridge’
Claim: We dare not build a bridge on our own land without approval from Singapore.
a. Our Attorney General s Chambers (AGC) has advised the government regarding the legality of any modification to the Johor causeway under international law. AGC has advised that pipes within the Johor causeway are subject to the Johor-Singapore water agreement (1961, 1962), which outlines that said pipes belong to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) of Singapore, and that any modification of pipes must be approved by PUB.
b. There is no question of whether we have enough courage to go up against Singapore. The bridge was not built because Malaysia is committed to adhering to all agreements it has signed. Any such bridge, if built in place of the Johor causeway without the express permission from Singapore s PUB, would be in breach of property rights under international law.
c. We have improved relations with our southern neighbours to a point where we are now engaged in projects and ventures that are a win-win proposition for both countries. To increase the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore, we are now building a High Speed Rail and even mooting the idea of a friendship bridge that will not breach international law and see us build something that both countries want.
6. Claim: ‘Najib did worse as UMNO President compared to Pak Lah’.
a. In the last general election (GE13), BN won 11 state governments compared to 9 in the previous GE. We regained Kedah, maintained Terengganu and solidified our position in Perak.
b. UMNO won more seats in GE13 when compared to GE12.
c. To fully turn around BN, I need time. Insha-Allah, the impact of the Transformation Programme that is already happening will assure the people that the BN-led government is able to deliver on its promises.
7. Claim: (Najib is) ignoring the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), setting up a new agency to plan the development of the country.
a. I formed Pemandu as a steering body that oversees the transformation programme that covers not only economic aspects under Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), but non-economic aspects under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP), which naturally does not fall under the purview of Economic Planning Unit, which is an economic body.
b. Contrary to what some have pointed out, I put enormous importance in the EPU as they are key to ensuring the success of the ETP. I even appointed one of the most capable CEOs in the country to head the EPU.
8.Claim: The services, expertise and experience of the civil servants are no longer needed.
a. The civil service have always been and forever will be at the centre of the country s administration and operations. The civil service runs the country on a day-to-day basis. They play an integral part in our system. Just because a few individuals and parties are appointed to assist does not mean their experiences are no longer needed.
b. This is simply an unfair comment that lacks objectivity. Assist Yes, take over NO. There have been numerous programmes implemented to continuously empower civil servants, increase synergy and the quality of delivery to the people, which can be seen in the National Blue Ocean Strategy initiative.
9. Claim: To win back Chinese and Indians, Najib has ignored affirmative action.
a. This is not accurate at all. I have always prioritised the progress of the bumiputera and under my administration, I have created the Bumiputera Empowerment Programme, which is managed by TERAJU to ensure that the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda becomes a national agenda to be implemented effectively. As of today, TERAJU has provided business opportunities, business financing, development of human capital, private investment and the creation of equity exceeding RM47.95 billion.
b. Recently, the Bumiputera Economic Council certified a total of 99 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that would be used this year in all 23 ministries and the Prime Minister s Department in order to help Bumiputeras. GLCs including Petronas have special contract quotas for Bumiputera. Each GLC is also subject to a development programme for Bumiputera contractors to provide opportunities for qualified Bumiputera contractors. More scholarships are given for Bumiputera under government-linked bodies. Superb grant was formed to create more Bumiputera entrepreneurs. Ekuinas was formed to increase Bumiputera holding and as of 2014, it has met its objective of creating RM4.2 billion in Bumiputera equity value for its portfolio companies.
c. In addition, UiTM is currently being expanded significantly to increase the number of places from 174,875 in 2011 to 250,000 by 2020. UiTM has also established the Mengubah Destini Anak Bangsa programme, where they venture into remote areas to reach out to Bumiputera youths who do not have the benefits of education, orphans and the poor. They can now come to study at UiTM and this helps to completely change their future. 5,000 places are given each semester. There are more such concrete examples which can be found in the TERAJU report card.
d. Thus, to say that I ignore affirmative action, simply put, is nonsense.
e. As Prime Minister, I am also very supportive of the Chinese, Indian and all other communities that make our nation great. But it is definitely not at the expense of neglecting the Bumiputera. My primary focus is to increase the economic pie, so there is more to go around for ALL races. As long as I can ensure growth in the economy, there will be social mobility, and all races will be able to move up the economic ladder.
10. Claims that BN will lose at the next General Elections
a. If I get the support that I need to pursue the transformation programmes, we will succeed. If we are united, and stop the infighting, we will succeed. If we focus on constructive rather than destructive politics, we will succeed. If we focus on work instead of believing and spreading rumours, spins and half-truths, we will succeed.
b. A clear plan has already been set in motion. We have started to see the fruits of our efforts. Our GDP has been growing around 5-6% since I took over and we are well on our way to achieving a developed economy by 2020.
c. We are facing a setback at the moment due to the fall in crude oil price which weakened the value of the Ringgit. These factors are outside our control. Nevertheless, we have been able to persevere due to our strong fundamentals, reserves accumulated in recent years and diversified revenue streams rather than being over-reliant on oil. We have also reached our best ever independent scoring on corruption in the past 10 years based on the Transparency International Index. My administration has seen the highest ever Foreign Direct Investment. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is decelerating in growth and our budget deficit is decreasing year on year. In addition, we reached an all time high in the WEF s most competitive economy index, overtaking Australia, France, Austria and South Korea. We reached an all-time high in the World Bank s ease of doing business index. All three major credit rating agencies have maintained a favourable investment grade for Malaysia. We continue to have a surplus in trade. Our healthcare is recognised as one of the best and most affordable in the region.
d. The keys to some PR1MA affordable houses have already been given out with more to come. The second Penang bridge has been completed, the MRT s Phase 1 is almost 60% completed, the economy opened 1.5 new million jobs in the last 5 years making our unemployment rate amongst lowest in the world and economic corridors like Iskandar Malaysia have seen infrastructure, houses, factories and community areas being developed. Greater KL has taken shape, with more townships being developed and homes being built, the Bus Rapid Transit Phase 1 will be completed by mid-year with Pan Borneo highway finally taking shape and which will be a major economic catalyst for Sabah and Sarawak just like the PLUS highway is for the Peninsula. The High Speed Rail (HSR) project is underway. These are all projects, initiatives and efforts by my administration to develop this nation. As you can see, these are fruits of the Transformation Programme launched 5 years ago. It is finally happening and I am very excited that we are starting to see the impact. This is what actually matters to the people.
e. Improvements are happening before our very eyes. But I know that many would of course rather look at the bad and continue to harp on never ending rumours, half-truths and spins. They continue to believe that the “end is nigh” and that the Opposition will win. These are claims that have been made over and over again in the last five decades and yet we are still here.
f. While everyone is free to criticise me and list all my “failures”, it is also important to recognise how far we have come in the last six years, in order to have a fair view of things.
11. Claim that 1Malaysia is the same as Malaysian Malaysia
a. 1Malaysia is a call for unity. The most important difference with the “Malaysian Malaysia” concept is that 1Malaysia explicitly accepts the Malaysian Constitution in its entirety, particularly all the provisions listed under Article 153.
b.”Malaysian Malaysia” was originally a concept opposed to Article 153, and its modern use has been ambiguous at best. Had 1Malaysia been exactly like Malaysian Malaysia, there would not have been a Majlis Permerkasaan Bumiputera, TERAJU and others. Had 1Malaysia been exactly like Malaysian Malaysia, there would not have been the New Economic Model (NEM), a framework to increase inclusivity in the economy but at the same time empower the Bumiputera community to be more competitive.
c. To say that 1Malaysia is equivalent to Malaysian Malaysia is nothing short of a distortion from reality, with the sole intention of misleading the Malays.
12. Claim that Crime has increased since the ISA was abolished
a. This claim is untrue. Last year alone, the police managed to reduce crime rates in the country by 12.6%. Violent crime in the country has also dropped by 13.4%. The Royal Malaysia police have been working hard to ensure that all Malaysians are safe from all forms of crime and violence.
b. As a matter of fact, 8,868 individuals were detained and 280 weapons were seized in the recently launched Ops Cantas Khas. When the ISA was first launched, its sole purpose was to fight the communist insurgency and today it has become irrelevant.
c. To ensure that violent extremism has no place in Malaysia, the government has introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015, which has been passed by Parliament. This act will combat new challenges, including the rise of the Islamic State militant group and will not be used for political ends. Only those who raise the threat of violent extremism can be detained under this new act.
13. Allegations regarding the government aircraft
a. It is standard practice across the world for most leaders to use official jets, not for luxury, but for efficiency in carrying out their duties. The aircraft s interior is configured such that meetings and discussions can be held on board and that the work of state can continue even during the flight. Therefore the question does not arise as to whether or not a country should have an official jet.
b. We must not be taken in by the opposition propaganda that the government was wasting money on a new jet. What they failed to explain was that the jet was purchased to replace a 16-year old aircraft that was becoming a safety hazard. Moreover, it is also the official aircraft used by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, providing all the more reason for us not to compromise on safety and security. The cost of maintaining an old aircraft is high. Hence, the older aircraft is being disposed off and the money the government makes from its sale will clearly reduce the cost paid for the new aircraft.