Malaysia's 1MDB chief to appear before parliamentary committee on Dec 1

Arul Kanda Kandasamy, president of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), speaks during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.
Arul Kanda Kandasamy, president of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), speaks during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.

KUALA LUMPUR - The boss of Malaysia's troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Arul Kanda Kandasamy is set to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Dec 1, as the PAC restarts its investigations into the firm five months after it was halted.

The Malaysian Insider news portal reported on Thursday (Nov 5) that Arul's predecessor, Datuk Shahrul Ibrahim Halmi, has also been called to appear before the bipartisan panel on Nov 25. 

The portal said it had knowledge that the two were sent letters informing them to attend the proceedings. 

1MDB’s struggles to reconcile a RM42 billion (S$13.8 billion) debt pile has been a lightning rod for mounting calls for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down.

Both executives had been scheduled to appear before the PAC in August. However, their appearances were delayed after the PAC's probe was suspended following the resignation of the committee’s previous chief, Nur Jazlan Mohamed. He had stepped down from his post after being appointed Deputy Home Minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle called by Datuk Seri Najib in July.

Three other PAC members were also appointed to the government in the reshuffle, in what has been widely seen as a move by Najib to slow down the PAC’s probe into 1MDB.

The newly constituted Public Accounts Committee (PAC) - now led by Barisan Nasional MP Hasan Arifin - will pick up the previous team’s probe. 

Arul had been set to square off in a debate with Malaysian opposition figure Tony Pua over controversies linked to the firm. But he said on Thursday he would not take part in any debate following the Speaker of Parliament Pandikar Amin Mulia's ruling that the 1MDB president was not allowed to participate as he was still a witness the parliamentary probe. 

The debate over the 1MDB showdown is being played at high decibels by both sides of the political divide as they try to win public opinion over to their side. 

The opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance had on Thursday nominated Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) secretary-general Rafizi Ramli as Pua's replacement after he was forced to pull out of the debate due to his role as a member of the PAC. 

The government has also withdrawn its offer to telecast the showdown live on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), the national TV network.

In response to Arul's withdrawal from the debate, Rafizi said on Thursday he would "harass" the 1MDB chief to a debate until he agrees.
"He should know that he is not a normal CEO for a normal company. He is answerable to the public and 1MDB involves public funds. At the very least, be brave to answer to the public," he was quoted saying by the Malaysian Insider.