Najib Razak should be the last person on the planet to be upset with a special motion, approved on July 1, compelling all MPs (Member of Parliaments), senators, their spouses, their children aged 21 years old and below, and trustees to declare their assets. Does not he want to combat corruption and promote transparency, even though he has lost power?
After all, he was the former prime minister who instructed the Inland Revenue Board (IRB or LHDN) to chase after individuals and business owners for unpaid taxes. Even though the business people had paid their taxes, they were forced to pay more during his regime, failing which they were blacklisted and had their passports impounded – effectively banning them from leaving the country.
So, it’s jaw-dropping that Mr. Najib, who believed he was the best premier the country had ever produced, cries like a baby against the government move to ask MPs to declare their wealth. He said it was “unfair”, arguing that some assets did not come from their allowances as parliamentarians. He gave the examples of lawyers or architects who had other sources of income.
Mr. Najib, who lost in the May 9 General Election last year, complained to reporters at the Parliament lobby – “For example, some of us are lawyers or architects. We will have other sources of income. So, if the other sources of income are deposited into the same account and declared as our assets, it is unfair because the declaration is based on our incomes as MP.”
Exactly what type of grass Najib Razak has been smoking lately? Was he trying to admit that tax evasion was his favourite pastime? If MPs prefer, they can choose to deposit their side incomes into different bank accounts. At the end of the day, however, they must still declare their main and miscellaneous incomes to the tax man – the Inland Revenue Board.
While it’s true that many MPs, despite being lawmakers or parliamentarians, are also practising lawyers or accountants, the issue here isn’t about their other sources of income. The issue here is about whether their wealth was derived from legitimate sources of income. It’s about whether their incomes were legally earned, and not from dubious means.
It’s funny that Najib brought up lawyers and architects as examples. His hotshot lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, faces money laundering and tax evasion charges last September. Apparently the disgraced UMNO lawyer allegedly received proceeds of unlawful activities via two cheques belonging to Najib worth RM4.3 million (Sept 13, 2013) and RM5.2 million (Feb 17, 2014).
Najib’s own brother – Nizam Razak – was exposed of having an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Nizam, an architect, was discovered among leaked documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. According to the ICIJ last June, the new documents revealed details of “swollen bank accounts and offshore assets of political figures accused of state-wide looting”.
ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) also revealed two offshore companies owned by Najib’s son – Mohd Nazifuddin. Mr. Nazifuddin was linked to a Get-Rich-Ponzi-Scheme called UFUN. In 2015, all hell broke loose when the uFun Store had allegedly swindled 120,000 people involving at least 38 billion Baht (US$1.13 billion, £720 million, RM4 billion) in Thailand.
It’s not hard to understand why Najib disagrees that every lawmaker must declare their assets, including their immediate family members. He wasn’t speaking on behalf of the opposition MPs though, but merely defending his own families, who happen to be a bunch of crooks. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, faces 20 charges of corruption and money laundering.
Najib himself is facing a whopping 42 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of power. U.S. Department of Justice revealed “Malaysian Official 1”, later identified as Najib Razak, of having received around US$681 million (popularly known by Malaysians as RM2.6 billion) of stolen 1MDB money via Falcon Bank, Singapore on 21 and 25 March 2013.
In fact, the crooked family was so wealthy that when the police raided the luxury condominiums belonging to Najib’s children at Pavilion Residences last year, the authorities found cash, 12,000 pieces of jewellery, 567 handbags (comprises luxury handbags from 37 different designers, including Chanel, Prada, Hermes and ultra-luxury Bijan), 423 watches, 234 sunglasses – worth RM680 million.
So, how possibly could Najib declare his cash and jewellery worth RM680 million as legitimate assets derived from side income? If only he had declared the RM2.6 billion found in his personal bank accounts as a political donation before he get caught. Clearly, all the opposition MPs, especially UMNO warlords, would not be able to explain their massive hidden assets if they declare them.
Of course, the former prime minister said asset declarations should be based on what MPs get from their parliamentary allowance. Was he trying to insult people’s intelligence? If every lawmaker declares their assets based only on their salary and allowance as an MP, then everyone would look as clean as a whistle. How could Rosmah afford 12,000 pieces of jewellery based on Najib’s salary and allowance?
Last year, ministers and MPs from the new ruling Pakatan Harapan government have voluntarily declared their assets to the MACC, of which were published on the commission’s website. For example, the assets of MP Ngeh Koo Ham, together with his wife and children, are valued at RM77 million, although he later clarified that his personal assets are actually RM82 million.
Ngeh’s wealth was derived from him being a lawyer for 32 years, not to mention side income from his investments. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his wife possessed assets worth RM32.3 million, while his son, MP Mukhriz, is worth RM25.1 million. There are dozens of millionaires among the MPs from the ruling government who had declared their assets.
Why is it so hard for the opposition MPs to declare their assets? If Mahathir, allegedly was the man responsible for US$100 billion lost during his 22 years of iron-fist rule from 1981 to 2003, had no issue declaring his assets, why can’t Najib? In the same breath, why did holy men from PAS Islamist party was so afraid to declare their wealth that they had to cook up some “fake hadith” to justify their refusal?
There’re basically three reasons why Najib and his minions refuse to declare their assets. First, the bulk of their assets came from suspicious sources like corruptions or kickbacks. Second, they most likely did not declare to the tax man about their ill-gotten wealth. Third, they have transferred their unexplainable fortune to their children or nominees for safekeeping.
Amusingly, Najib, like his good friends in PAS, has also flashed security card as an excuse not to reveal their assets. This may sound mind-blowing, but he and his family members can be assured – even guaranteed – of personal safety. No one wants to see them harmed in anyway. That’s because everyone is waiting for the day the crooks, Najib and Rosmah, are safely delivered to prison.
Source : Finance Twitter