This week IDEAS held an event in another state on reforming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. This comes at an interesting time as the Malaysian government is currently involved in a variety of scandals which highlight the dire corruption issue in the country. Prime Minister Najib is under intense scrutiny following announcements on Jan. 26 by Swiss authorities that as much as US$4 billion has been stolen from the state-backed 1MDB investment fund, and a report in France that two officials of a state-owned defence contractor were indicted in December for bribing Najib in the 1996 US$1 billion purchase of French submarines. The Attorney General recently declared the Prime Minister free of any wrongdoing regarding the USD $700,000 million that ended up in his personal account. He claims it was a donation from the Saudi royal family. It is a vital part of IDEAS’ mission to hold the country leaders accountable to the public for their actions.
This week the IDEAS team also watched the budget announcement by the Prime Minister on television in the meeting room. One of the key aspects of the budget is that some spending plans had to be slashed due to the slump in oil prices. The state owned oil company Petronas contributes to a third of government revenue, and with oil prices dipping to as low as $30 a barrel, it is bad news for Malaysia’s fiscal position and level of public debt.
I am finishing this week with another long weekend, as Malaysia is enjoying three long weekends in a row, with a two day break for Chinese New Year next weekend.