Those who started 1MDB problem, not critics, should be on watch list, says Umno veteran
BY KC NAZARI AND NABIHAH HAMID
Published: 4 November 2015 6:59 AM
Former Kedah menteri besar and Umno veteran Tan Sri Sanusi Junid says people are no longer afraid to speak against the government because of the number of scandals, especially 1MDB. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, November 4, 2015.Those who started 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and all its problems are worse than those who discussed the alleged scandals involving the debt-ridden government-owned investment firm, says former Kedah menteri besar Tan Sri Sanusi Junid.
Sanusi, one of seven Umno leaders the party was monitoring for possible disciplinary action, said people like him who have spoken up should not be targeted.
“If you say the people talking about the issue are causing the rift, then those who caused the problem are worse than those talking about it.
“We did not cause the problem, we merely talked about it. Certainly, talking about the problem is better those who created it,” the Umno veteran told The Malaysian Insider when asked to respond to being on the watch list.
Sanusi and a few of the seven leaders on the list have been openly critical of party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who started 1MDB as a strategic development firm and chairman of its advisory board.
He was also present at a joint press conference on October 12 by several veteran Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders, led by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who condemned Putrajaya’s use of a security law to charge two 1MDB critics.
Besides Sanusi, others targeted are Dr Mahathir, former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and former minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin, all of whom have openly criticised Najib over 1MDB.
The criticism by Umno stalwarts and the government’s prolonged investigations into 1MDB have caused a rift in the lead ruling Malay party, as well as talk of attempts by opposition lawmakers to woo the support of ruling coalition MPs for a no-confidence vote against Najib in the Dewan Rakyat.
Two more on the list are Sungai Besar Umno division chief Datuk Jamal Mohd Yunus and Cheras division chief Datuk Seri Syed Ali Alhabshee, both Najib supporters.
Jamal is now better known as a spokesman for the “red shirt” rally movement, which demonstrated on September 16 against the Bersih 4 rally for supposedly insulting the Malays after photos of a few Bersih rally goers stomping on photos of Najib and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang went viral.
The “red shirt” rally at Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur saw racial slurs used against the ethnic Chinese minority, and an attempt to break through police barricades around the Chinatown or Petaling Street shopping area.
Najib and Umno have tried to distance themselves from the “red shirt” rally, but the party president fell short of condemning it as seditious or racist, and even said Malays had to defend their dignity when their leaders were insulted.
Jamal said he “could not believe” that he was on the watch list.
“I really cannot believe it. I have never strayed from the path or objective of the party as I believe in what the president is striving for,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
He said he accepted any decision if it was the will of the Supreme Council, but adding that it would not deter him from “pursuing Umno’s struggles”.
“I have no issues, the fight must go on. I am still part of the party’s fight. My principle is that the party leaders must be defended, especially the party president.”
In contrast, Sanusi said many people have lost confidence in the country’s administration and Umno as the lead ruling Malay party.
Since this loss of faith in the leadership was so widespread, he said the watch list should be even longer.
“I’m quite excited about it. The seven includes me, I presume. These seven should not be limited to seven. We should prepare a national list of those who have dissenting opinions.
“Yes, I think we should have a longer list and I think we should also have committees, citizen committees all over the country to assess the scandals, the fraudulent activities.
“So I would expand the numbers to be investigated to more than seven,” said Sanusi who was Umno information chief while Dr Mahathir led the party.
People were no longer afraid to speak against the government, he added, because one scandal after another had turned people’s fear into hatred.
“(Those) who think that by creating fear, (then) they can threaten people, they must remember, by creating hatred they give people a lot of courage.”
Former information minister Zainuddin said he was neither sad nor offended at being monitored for disciplinary action.
“I have no issues. I have no problem if they want to suspend me or break me. I have no interests in Umno. I won’t lose anything even if I quit,” he was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini. – November 4, 2015.