Dear Mr Besser,
I must say that when it first came to light that ABC’s Four Corners was going to air “State of Fear: Murder and Money in Malaysia” last Monday, I trembled with anticipation. Your unfortunate arrest seemed only to have added to the intrigue.
First World investigative journalism was finally going to reach the shores of Malaysia, I told myself. And how we needed it.
Let me put it this way. We knew about the “money”. The Wall Street Journal had already told us that it was in the region of US$681 million. We like to call it RM2.6 billion. It’s a Malaysian thing, you see.
You have now told us that the sum was much more – in excess of US$1 billion, out of which you say US$75 million came from a Saudi prince, US$80 million from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance, US$120 million from a British Virgin Islands company and the one that started all the fuss, US$681 million in tranches of US620 million and US$61 million, respectively, from another BVI company.
Unfortunately, you seem to have missed the point.
Najib has said that these were donations from generous Saudi donors. However, everyone else, it seems, claims that these monies belonged to 1MDB. It seems to me that you have concluded, at least in part, that Najib is right.
He has said that these were donations meant for the benefit of his political party, Umno, and not for his personal gain.
Can political donations bypass official channels? Is that tantamount to corruption? You have not convinced me.
Ultimately, you teased us with the suggestion that you were capable of connecting the money mystery with not one but three murder mysteries.
And there was your ultimate failure.
As for the late DPP Kevin Morais, you claimed that he was part of the task force working on the 1MDB saga at the point of his brutal murder on September 4, 2015. Yet, Attorney-General Apandi Ali was reported on November 26 last year as saying that Morais had not been involved in the 1MDB investigations, having been transferred back from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in early July 2014, long before all this erupted. (Read this article: Claims that Kevin Morais was involved in 1MDB probe “preposterous” http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/11/113918/claims-kevin-morais-was-involv...)
In doing so, you preferred to accept without question the suggestions of his brother Charles, who was probably not the most reliable of sources. Perhaps you were unaware of what the Wall Street Journal wrote about Charles five years ago. Read here then: A Hotel Empire Unravels. Why not consider the views of Kevin’s other brother, Richard, who thought otherwise? (Read this: Richard Morais: I want to defend Kevin and PM. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/11/29/richard-mora...)
As regards the Hussain Najadi murder, you acknowledged in the course of your so-called expose that there was nothing to link the Prime Minister with it. After all, Pascal Najadi’s claim was entirely based on a particular conversation which father and son had over lunch in Kuala Lumpur five days before his murder.
“My father had been lamenting at a lunch in Kuala Lumpur about this, and he was throwing his hands up and saying, ‘My God, this Prime Minister Najib is lining his pockets. They are robbing the country,’” Najidi seemed to have told you.
You were right to ask how his father would know, having left Ambank in the 1980s. To your credit, you were especially right to dismiss the younger Najadi’s befuddled answer.
Likewise, there was absolutely nothing in your programme to suggest that Mongolian socialite Altantuya Shaariibuu’s gruesome murder had anything to do with Najib.
PI Bala may have said that it did at first, but then, the very next day, he contradicted himself.
His wife’s press conference, hosted by the comical political fixer, in which she began by apologising to Najib and then said she wasn’t, merely drives the point home. She may have been bullied into making her initial statement, but are you suggesting that the Prime Minister was behind that as well?
Finally, your conclusion that Malaysians have descended into fear is entirely without basis. Clare Rewcastle-Brown does not speak for Malaysians.
After all, aren’t we the ones still risking our liberty by drawing clown faces to mock our prime minister? And please tell Ms Brown that we do not go to jail for months without a court appearance.
At the end of the day, Mr Besser, you spent more than 45 minutes saying plenty without saying anything remotely interesting to us Malaysians. But thank you for trying.
This letter was first published in Free Malaysia Today. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2016/03/31/open-letter...