QUICK TAKE: What do you do when you want to bury bad news? You cover the bad news with more bad news.
In this case, the exposure of the news that Good Star Limited, is owned by Jho Low, and is not a subsidiary of PetroSaudi, was explosive.
Why did an individual, in particular a close friend of Prime Minister Najib Razak, receive taxpayers’ money meant for investment?
So what happens next? A panicky and desperate government tries to hide this bad news. Out comes the Hudud Bill, and we are distracted, because hudud will affect out lives.
Hudud is really a non-issue, but for a brief moment, we talk about hudud and forget about Good Star and the 1MDB scandal.
Why does the government do this? The reason is simple. Two by-elections are looming.
Why was the Hudud Bill fast-tracked now? A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)reported that the real owner of Good Star Limited is an Old Harrovian, Penangite and business associate of Najib. WSJ claimed that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) had written a letter to confirm that Good Star Ltd, was owned by Jho Low.
This is bad news, because 1MDB executives had testified to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that Good Star is a subsidiary of PetroSaudi. So, who is right?
Interestingly, Minister in the PM’s Department Azalina Othman Said stated in Parliament that the lines containing information about Good Star had been redacted from the PAC report on 1MDB, because the matter is under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
Azalina said that the information about Good Star was not meant for public consumption; in other words, the government has something to hide, and the OSA is a convenient tool.
Another interesting points is that the Hudud Bill was rushed through by none other than Azalina.
For seven years, Good Star operated under the radar of many Malaysians.
At the time, the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) had morphed into the government owned 1MDB and according to a report in Malaysiakini, Good Star Ltd, received USD700 million.
An apoplectic 1MDB board member, and former Felda Holdings MD, Bakke Mohd Salleh, was furious about non-compliance, the flouting of management rules and other financial irregularities. He demanded that money be returned and banked into proper accounts. He resigned.
Ever since then, the government has avoided answering questions about Good Star, or Jho Low’s relationship with 1MDB and Good Star.
In 2011, another payment of USD330 million was made to Good Star. These payments were meant for investments with PetroSaudi.
We then read reports about Jho Low’s e-mail referring to “681 American pies”, his euphemism for the money which was then allegedly deposited into Najib’s personal account.
Like a dog with a bone, DAP’s Tony Pua, continued to ask why PAC chairman Hasan Arifin had redacted the information about Bank Negara, without notifying the committee.
Questions were asked, but no answer was forthcoming.
Trouble was brewing and investigations, in several countries around the world, were conducted.
So you see, the Hudud Bill, is not about religion. It is about Good Star, or rather the suppression of information about Good Star, its links with Jho Low and his connection with Najib.
Umno Baru and Najib’s tactic won’t work this time.
-The Ant Daily