KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak says the failure of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) is due to it being politicised by the opposition in their bid to overthrow a democratically-elected government.
The prime minister said, this happened when Edra Energy, which was supposed to have been listed on Bursa Malaysia in 2015, failed to do so due to the opposition having politicised the listing.
“Had Edra successfully undergone listing then, it could have garnered between RM18 bilion-RM22 bilion. But it did not happen. So this created cash flow problems for 1MDB.
“But I have to state that the government took measures to initiate a rationalisation exercise for 1MDB, and it has been running smoothly. For example, the Tun Razak Exchange project, featuring the Mulia tower, where once completed in August, will be the tallest building in Malaysia. This area will also become an iconic development.
“The same goes for Bandar Malaysia, which will become the terminal for the High-Speed Rail (HSR). This 500-acre development project will become a great project in years to come.
“These assets will be used to settle 1MDB’s debts. In fact, we may even profit from this rationalisation programme,” he said.
Najib was speaking at a dialogue session at the launch of the National Transformation Programme (NTP) Annual Report 2017 at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) here tonight.
The session was hosted by NTP Advisor to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who had asked Najib on why the 1MDB issue remains a point of criticism despite the government’s numerous successes.
Najib noted that he had ordered for 1MDB to be investigated following criticisms and allegation hurled by certain quarters.
"I have ordered for 1MDB to be probed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Bank Negara, the police and the Auditor General.
"1MDB is the most investigated body in our country. PAC even has representatives from the opposition like Tan Seng Giaw and Tony Pua from DAP.
"The report has been provided and tabled and uploaded on the internet. It is a 106-page report and I encourage all parties to read it," said Najib.
He said firstly, nowhere in the PAC report did it state that he stole money from 1MDB.
“Secondly, in the PAC report, whether I did anything wrong, did I do wrong? No.
“The third was on whether the donation from Saudi Arabia was 1MDB’s money. The answer is absolutely no. So on this matter, I would like to clarify that the report concluded that I did nothing wrong,” he said.
The PAC, he said, had also concluded that 1MDB was a business model with an uncertain foundation.
He said 1MDB’s capital injection from the government was only RM1 million.
Commenting on claims that Malaysia is about to go bankrupt due to debts, Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the claims are baseless.
He said Malaysia’s public debt ratio to gross domestic product (GDP) is relatively low, and about half of some developed countries.
He said the only time when the ratio hit its peak or record high was in 1986 (during the tenure of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's administration), when the debt ratio stood at 103.4 per cent to GDP.
As of today, Malaysia's public debt ratio to GDP was recorded at 50.8 per cent, he added.
According to the NTP Annual Report 2017, the ratio of public debt to GDP last year was at 51 per cent, well below the government's self imposed debt limit of 55 per cent.
"If you look at other developed countries, their debt ratio to GDP is high.
"For example, Japan currently has 240 per cent public debt ratio to GDP. The United States is at 108 per cent, Singapore at 111 per cent and United Kingdom 89 per cent," Najib said
He said this is proof that the current government is prudent and accountable in managing its debt.
Meanwhile, Idris said the government under Najib's leadership has done the right thing by “taking the road less travelled".
"We found that about 90 per cent of high income countries reached the high income status by borrowing.
"Only 10 per cent took the road less travelled and we are in that 10 per cent, thanks to the current leadership," he said.
*Reports by Nazura Ngah; Veena Balbulal; Hidir Reduan; Farhana Syed Nokman; Hazwan Faisal Mohamad; Amir Hisyam Rasid; Luqman Arif Abdul Karim and Ahmad Suhael Adnan.
NOTE: In an earlier version of the article, the prime minister was erroneously quoted as saying that the government had “injected RM42 billion” into 1MDB. The actual figure is RM1 million. The article has since been corrected to reflect this.