WhyItMatters

Shedding light on 1MDB saga

The Malaysian Prime Minister's Office is set today to address questions on where the nearly US$700 million (S$987 million) that was discovered in the personal bank accounts of Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2013 came from, and how the money was used.

Questions about the funds were first raised five months ago when the Wall Street Journal reported that the money made its way into the Prime Minister's personal bank accounts just before the May 2013 general election.

For now, what we do know is that Mr Najib has not denied receiving the funds but that they were not for "personal use". The anti-corruption agency has said the money came from Middle Eastern donors.

The reply in Parliament, in response to questions from opposition lawmakers, isn't likely to be made by Mr Najib himself, and will be made on the last day of the current Parliament sitting.

Amid widespread speculation about financial misappropriation involving state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysians want to know where the huge sum came from, how the money was used, how much is left and where the remainder is now.

These answers are important, as vague government answers in the last five months have shaken confidence in the Najib administration and tainted the Prime Minister.

Still, it is not clear how much more light will be shed in this saga.

Will the minister reading the parliamentary answer give a detailed reply, or stick to a few terse sentences?

Mr Najib has another consideration in addressing the issue now - how his answers will play out in next week's Umno annual assembly as he tries to maintain his grip on Malaysia's biggest political party.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'Shedding light on 1MDB saga'. Print Edition | Subscribe