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After two decades abroad, 1MDB forced Radzi to return

August 21, 2018

Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin

Of the many who have become part of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet, perhaps few are more unfamiliar than Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin.

Radzi has been handed the task of helping to lead the newly created ministry despite his relative lack of political experience.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, the Bersatu member admitted that he is less well-known than other Pakatan Harapan leaders.

This is mostly because Radzi had been teaching in Hobart, Australia for over 20 years.

The calm surrounding Hobart’s mountains made it easy for him to cast aside plans to return to Malaysia – until the 1MDB issue broke out.

At the time, the 41-year-old Radzi only wanted to help his then-party Umno resolve the issue.

“The 1MDB issue is why I joined politics, because that is my field and I have done a lot of research, read thousands of pages to understand it.

“When the 1MDB issue emerged, not many Umno leaders spoke up and defended it.

“As someone who knows a thing or two about accounting and auditing, I said to myself: ‘I must learn about this issue so that I could defend Umno’.”

Digging deeper

It did not occur to him at the time that digging deeper would only unearth more discrepancies.

“The more we read, the more wrongdoings that we see. It took a long time, and people still don’t care about the 1MDB issue,” he said.

The former lecturer and consultant at the University of Tasmania said he had raised the 1MDB issue to top Umno leaders, but was disappointed that his findings were summarily dismissed.

Radzi claimed that he had urged Najib Abdul Razak to relinquish is position as Umno president and prime minister, but was instead accused of disrespecting party leaders.

“Umno said 1MDB is a non-issue, the people are not affected… But in reality we can see (its impact) today.

“I’ve said many times this debt will be a burden to the people. From early on I’ve asked (Umno), how much is the revenue from 1MDB? It has tens of billions in debt but what revenue does it generate for the country?

“It is not hard to investigate because it took place in the banking system. We can trace the transactions made and we can find out whose accounts it went to,” said the former leader of the Umno Overseas Supporters Club.

Taking up the mantle

In the interview, Radzi also talked about becoming a deputy minister.

The Ketereh-born former lecturer said that for someone who had been playing with numbers and calculations almost his entire adult life, it was difficult understanding the nitty-gritty of government administration.

But he assured that practice would make perfect, and promised to do his best to help save Malaysia.

“Mahathir gave me the call on 4 Syawal (June 18). That’s the beginning of a new chapter of my life. The prime minister called me from his office and I was shocked.

“As someone who is new to politics to get appointed to a fairly important ministry where many issues need to be taken into account, is quite a difficult learning curve for me.

“There is much to learn in such a short time. I have been appointed as senator and deputy minister for nearly a month now.

“It has been a challenge since I was appointed while the Parliament was in session, so I have to keep up-to-date with issues and questions in a short time, and I still had office matters to sort out.

“It is quite a big deal for me to talk about Felda, the national economy, and it is such a short time for me to understand all these issues.

“But I’m confident that with the support of all parties, it can be done,” he said. – Mkini

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