THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Every government in the world has slush funds. This is part of how governments operate. And Malaysia is no exception.
Malaysia’s expenditure is supposed to be approved by Parliament, normally around November every year. If Parliament does not approve the following year’s budget, then come 1st January it would be illegal for the government to spend money and at the end of January government servants cannot get their salary.
Just to digress a bit, Pakatan Harapan is ruling Malaysia with a slim-majority. That is what prompted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad so say earlier this week that if just one party leaves the coalition the government will collapse. And it does not have to be the party with the largest number of seats.
Say, when the budget is tabled next month, less than 111 MPs vote to pass it (meaning less than 50%) whereas those who vote against it outnumber those who voted for it. What will happen?
Anwar can oust Mahathir through a back-door vote of no confidence in the budget session next month
Technically, this tantamount to a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister and he will have to step down. This means if anyone wants to oust Mahathir then next month would be the time to do it. With only 13 seats, Mahathir depends on 100 seats from others to stay in power. And that is too many ‘others’ for comfort.
DAP has 42 seats but they are with Anwar Ibrahim. Amanah has 11 and they are also with Anwar. That leaves only PKR’s 47 and Umno’s 49, totalling 96. However, 96 plus 13 is only 109, still not enough (short of 3 seats to keep the government). Furthermore, not all 100% of PKR and Umno will support Mahathir.
So, if Anwar really wants to become Malaysia’s eight prime minister, he will have to make his move next month. And he will have to make sure that PAS and the various parties from Sabah and Sarawak do not support Mahathir. And that is why Anwar has been meeting up with the leaders from Sabah and Sarawak.
Mahathir knows that this is a real and present danger which he faces and the old man is not sitting doing nothing. He has his counter-coup planned for if Anwar launches a coup. And Mahathir may win if Anwar makes his move, just like how Mahathir won 20 years ago in 1998 when the same thing happened.
With only 13 seats Mahathir needs 100 ‘others’ to stay in power
Anyway, back to the issue of slush funds. Political parties and governments all over the world have slush funds. It is how political parties and governments operate. Of late, Malaysians are beginning to see how the system works.
Of course, the latest round of charges involving a few people (and Mahathir promised today that many more people are going to be brought to court to be charged) are dressed up to appear like criminal breach of trust, embezzlement, money-laundering, tax evasion, and so on.
The government cannot charge all these people for operating slush funds — which is what it really is. In fact, these slush funds are approved by Parliament. Even in the UK and US it is the same. The only thing is the item is hidden so the people are not aware that Parliament has approved these slush funds.
The Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), the Military Intelligence, the Special Branch, all branches of the PDRM, MACC, etc., operate slush funds. And these slush funds finance covert operations.
Malaysia’s covert operations involving the Special Branch, Military Intelligence, MEIO, etc., runs into billions and is hidden under slush funds
Take the case of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi who the Saudis ‘terminated’ in Turkey. That was a clandestine operation that all governments are guilty of, the US and UK included. The only problem is the Saudis were so messy and amateurish that this time they got caught.
Do you think Khashoggi is the first person the Saudis eliminated? Over the last decade the Saudis made many people disappear and some of these people were eliminated at the behest of the US government. And that is why President Donald Trump is helping the Saudis to whitewash the Khashoggi murder.
Anyway, an operation such as the elimination of Khashoggi is expensive and it needs to be financed. But the financing needs to be done in secret through slush funds. It cannot appear in the books as, say, ‘US1 million cost to murder Jamal Khashoggi’ for the auditors to see.
Malaysia would be in trouble if Hasanah were to reveal what she does for a living and Malaysia’s role in international terrorism
Former MEIO head Hasanah Ab Hamid’s ‘embezzlement’ of RM50 million case (who was charged today) is one example. What is that RM50 million all about? Her job involves a lot of covert or clandestine work and the cost for her operation is through slush funds.
What precisely does she do? That is supposed to be a secret and if she reveals during her trial what she does (and it is not just RM50 million as charged but billions) then Malaysia will be in trouble.
The same with the Special Branch. They, too, have a huge slush fund that runs into only God knows how much. They get one lump sum and they do not need to account for the manner and how much they spend. This, of course, is also to finance covert work.
We financed the Brunei Revolt in December 1962, which was why Brunei refused to join Malaysia in September 1963. We trained, armed and financed (and gave refuge or asylum to) the Southern Thailand and Mindanao Muslim separatists.
All these costs are hidden and are hidden under the slush funds. And it is not just RM50 million, as what Hasanah was charged today. And all this money has been approved by Parliament but ‘dressed up’ so that what is covert remains covert and not overt.
In the euphoria to nail Najib Tun Razak, they are putting Malaysia at great risk. In the UK and US, sensitive state secrets would never be politicised. In Malaysia, the Minister of Finance even reveals the salary of his Secretary-General, which is a crime in England (but not for Tokong).
Can you imagine what would happen if Hasanah reveals that the money was used to finance terrorists in Thailand and the Philippines? Or if she reveals that the Special Branch has 100,000 informers all over Malaysia and the cost to finance these 100,000 informers comes to RM3 billion a year, all paid from slush funds. Considering that the ‘official’ government salaries comes to RM100 billion a year, RM3 billion in ‘unofficial’ salaries can be considered very small.
So, this is more than just about abusing your authority or embezzling money. How do you think the government has been able to pre-empt so many terrorist attacks? There have been hundreds of attempted terrorist attacks in Malaysia. The government does not tell us this for obvious reasons. But all have been thwarted and it costs a lot of money to achieve this. And this is why governments all over the world operate slush funds, so that we can sleep in our beds with no worries.
The Military Intelligence is even more critical. If I were to reveal how much they spend and what they spend it on most likely I will not live to see Christmas. Since the 1960s, Malaysia has been training, arming and financing ‘freedom fighters’ a.k.a. guerrillas a.k.a. terrorists.