Lim Guan Eng is doing it again.
When asked by a reporter today why he had yet to release the 2015 and 2017 agreements between IPIC and 1MDB (hereinafter referred to as “the documents”), he replied that the request to do so was made by former premier Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak “only after he was charged” of corruption (see video below). The Minister of Finance added that the act of releasing the documents would be “sub-judice” given that the matter was now under “judicial consideration” by the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
For those of you who’re not in the know, Guan Eng was referring to a Facebook posting by Najib in which the former premier claimed that the documents would prove he “always prioritised the interest of the country.” The former premier was responding to fresh claims by the IPIC that 1MDB did not owe it any money. In the 31st of October 2018 posting, Najib expressed confusion over the claims given that the Abu Dhabi fund had reached “a debt repayment agreement” with 1MDB on the 24th of April 2017.
Guan Eng telling reporters that it would be sub-judice to release the documents
In light of this, I have a couple of bones to pick with Guan Eng:
1. On the 7th of December 2016, his father, Lim Kit Siang, wrote in his blog that “the dates set for Guan Eng’s corruption trial are an important indicator for the 14th General Election as Najib would want to secure a first conviction for Guan Eng to disqualify him from standing as a candidate in the 14th general election and to stop him from continuing as Penang Chief Minister.”
2. The statement was made 160 days after Guan Eng was escorted by MACC officers to the Penang High Court to face corruption charges related to his purchase of a bungalow way below the market value (hereinafter referred to as “the Bungalow case”).
3. In the said blog posting, Kit Siang went so far as to perform some detailed calculations alleging that “if 34 days are set aside for Guan Eng’s corruption trial, then 34 x 1,500 = 52,500 days (or 143.8 years or more than two lifetimes for Najib) would have to be set aside if there is a kleptocracy trial for Najib in a Malaysian court!”
4. These statements reeked of sub-judice and a possible attempt to subvert criminal proceedings against Guan Eng by implying that the charges brought against him were fabricated by Najib himself to shift the spotlight away from the latter’s ‘crimes’.
5. But it didn’t stop there.
6. On the 4th of January 2017, the DAP published in its official site that the “prosecution and persecution of DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng… was aimed at crippling the DAP,” meaning, the charges brought against Guan Eng may have been fabricated by the Najib administration to deliver Barisan Nasional an unfair advantage during the 14th general election (GE14).
7. Being the secretary-general of the DAP, Guan Eng was just as responsible for the site’s content as the site’s admin was and can therefore be construed to have been complicit with the admin to subvert criminal proceedings related to the bungalow case.
8. The list just goes on and on.
9. Yet today, he’s claiming the moral high ground by insisting that it would be “irresponsible” for him to make public the documents on account of it being sub-judice.
10. Not only does that reek of utter hypocrisy, it seems that he has forgotten what his own father said on the 17th of August 2017.
11. On that day, the senior Lim alleged that the Official Secret Act (OSA) 1972 was being abused by the Barisan Nasional government to conceal instances of corruption and power abuse.
12. In a forum titled “OSA: Time to Renew or Repeal,” Kit Siang added that the DAP was committed to the “freedom of information” and would champion a repeal of the OSA.
13. Thus, not only was the senior Lim all for the repeal of laws that prohibited the dissemination of information, he was of the opinion that the GoM need not stamp documents as secret as the “people had the right to know.”
14. This was attested to by the MCA’s Dato’ Heng Seai Kie who, on the 28h of August 2018, called on the DAP and the ruling Pakatan Harapan to “walk the talk by repealing the OSA.”
15. Hang said this in response to an announcement by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad that the law would remain intact and not be repealed.
16. According to her, Kit Siang had repeatedly “emphasised that the OSA was outdated, obsolete in the information age and that the Act should be abolished and replaced by the Freedom of Information Act.”
17. So you see, I’m not making all this up.
18. Given that Guan Eng is the secretary-general of the very DAP Kit Siang spoke on behalf of, we can safely conclude that the junior Lim is also of the opinion that the OSA is “outdated, obsolete in the information age and that the Act should be abolished and replaced by the Freedom of Information Act.”
19. It follows, that the only way the act of releasing the documents could be construed as “sub-judice” is if the release is made to appear coincidental to the challenge Najib posed on Facebook.
20. If, however, the release is made pursuant to the DAP’s promise to champion the “freedom of information” and “the right for people to know,” the documents can easily be declassified and made public by declaring the release to be “a first stage measure towards repealing the OSA altogether.”
21. There is absolutely no need for Guan Eng to confuse the rakyat by alleging that the documents can no longer be made public on account of them being material to ongoing court proceedings.
22. If anything, he has been “disrespecting the courts of law” for a very, very long time and is the last person on earth who should be claiming the moral high ground in these matters.