Keeping silent not an option for 1MDB

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1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s second sovereign wealth fund after Khazanah Nasional Bhd, has been at the centre of a major controversy in respect to the fund’s massive debts, dubious asset deals, and clandestineness over its transactions. It seemed strange why its experienced chairman, board and management, held a cloak of secrecy on its activities. But strange minds and thinking sometimes prevail.

This prompted the likes of several opposition leaders like DAP Tony Pua and PKR Rafizi Ramli to seize a political opportunity for attack. Spark interest and concern, scare and rile the public. Like they did with NFCorp. And this is exactly what happened.

Internet news portals were alerted, and soon news was all over town on its purported suspect dealings. Ultimately, into a perceived “mother of all scandals”.

From a public relations standpoint, 1MDB did indeed shoot its foot. In keeping its quiet, it allowed Tun Mahathir (Chedet.cc), A Kadir Jasin (Scribe A Kadir Jasin) and Syed Akbar Ali (OutSyed The Box) to write miles to their million followings. Now a complete Internet-savvy audience is alerted to all the allegations.

Last weekend, Batu Kawan Umno division deputy chief, Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan tipped the scales. He lodged a police report and called a news conference. Believed to be backed by powerful quarters from within the party, he set the wheels in motion for a police investigation.

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Whether there was wrong doing or not, it has provoked Tun Mahathir to utter, “Someone is going to go to jail.”

In a Malaysian Insider report, Khairuddin was quoted to have said, “The public outcry has gone on for too long. There have been many queries from the public, the opposition and even three former finance ministers. Reports in business newspaper The Edge had also pointed out these issues.

“But 1MDB just kept mum. It denied nothing and just kept quiet. Just imagine the RM41.9 billion debt recorded by the company. It is a public issue. If anything goes wrong with the board, it will affect the government and in turn, affect the people.”

The damage is done. In public relations, the old adage rings true. Keeping silent is not an option.