1MDB probe set to resume as House panel gets 5 new faces

New PAC chief Hasan Arifin said the government has promised "that we will hasten the investigation and present the report to Parliament".
New PAC chief Hasan Arifin said the government has promised "that we will hasten the investigation and present the report to Parliament".

KUALA LUMPUR • The Malaysian Parliament has appointed five new members to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), setting the stage for the body to resume its investigations into a scandal involving state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) after a three-month lull.

The investigation by the bipartisan PAC stopped abruptly in July when Prime Minister Najib Razak awarded senior government posts to four committee members from his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, as part of an overhaul that included sacking then Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and removing Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.

In a move seen by critics as putting a roadblock to the PAC probe, Datuk Seri Najib had appointed then PAC chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed to the key post of deputy home minister.

A BN member of PAC was made the science, technology and innovation minister, while two others became deputy ministers.

Though the Parliament-appointed committee still had five BN and four opposition MPs without the four MPs who were promoted, Parliament Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia had suspended its work until new members were appointed.

1MDB, whose board of advisers is headed by Mr Najib, is at the centre of a multi-agency probe for amassing debts of RM42 billion (S$13.5 billion) in its first five years amid questions about its borrowings and funds allegedly missing from its coffers.

The new PAC chairman, Johor BN lawmaker Hasan Arifin, was named last week. He has said the panel will start work immediately.

Addressing views that the probe had been delayed, Datuk Hasan said it was mere "perception".

"The government has promised... the ruling party parliamentarians also, that we will hasten the investigation and present the report to Parliament," he told the media.

The five new faces appointed yesterday included three who replaced new science minister Madius Tangau and the two deputy ministers. Two others replaced MPs who had relinquished their posts.

1MDB chief Arul Kanda Kandasamy said on Sunday that he is looking forward to being questioned by the PAC.

"Yes, we look forward to the PAC hearing to provide answers to the lawful authorities of the country," he said after attending an event.

Meanwhile, 1MDB unit 1MDB Real Estate Sdn Bhd said it has received planning approval for its giant Bandar Malaysia project at the edge of downtown Kuala Lumpur, KL City Hall.

Government-owned 1MDB plans to develop a township on the 196ha land, with the terminus of the Singapore-KL high-speed rail located at the site. The Sungai Besi site, which used to be KL's main airport, is currently being used as a military airport.

1MDB Real Estate yesterday said the authorities have approved an average gross plot ratio of 4.05, across the entire site.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline '1MDB probe set to resume as House panel gets 5 new faces'. Print Edition | Subscribe