Racism is a cover for corruption


November 18, 2013

Perkauman alat selindung aktiviti rasuah pemimpin, kata bekas Naib Canselor UM

 

 Isu perkauman digunakan oleh sesetengah ahli politik di Malaysia bagi melindungi kegiatan rasuah yang dilakukan pemimpin terbabit, kata bekas Naib Canselor Universiti Malaya Tan Sri Dr Ghauth Jasmon (gambar).

Beliau berkata isu perkauman juga dimainkan bagi melindungi salah laku selain mengelak mereka yang terlibat daripada dituduh atas aktiviti tidak bermoral itu.

“Jika negara dipenuhi dengan pemimpin rasuah, mereka akan menggunakan isu perkauman untuk melindungi kesalahan bagi menarik perhatian.

“Adalah penting kita memisahkan manusia dengan politik. Di Malaysia, kita selalu diingatkan oleh ahli politik tentang masalah perkauman malah terdapat juga kumpulan tertentu yang menyokong isu tersebut,” katanya semasa ucaptama Persidangan Asia Barat dan Afrika 2013 di Kuala Lumpur hari ini. – 18 November, 2013.–http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

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Malaysia’s Ruling Party Gets Desperate


From the Huffington Post

By Azeem Ibrahim

Malaysia has in reality been a one party state for over 55 years with the ruling UMNO party winning a string of elections without much opposition. However, with the stellar rise of Anwar Ibrahim, the ruling party is facing its most tightly contested election in its history. In the final days of campaigning in an election which many pollsters now believe the government will lose, it seems to be pulling a number of desperate stunts.

Firstly is the amount of money the prime minister’s office is spending on advertising. Industry experts have identified over 50 million USD in advertising buys by the prime minister’s office alone. Sources say that the amount of money being spent on advertisements exceeds one million, a virtual buy out of all ad space on Microsoft networks (which include Skype and Bing) for the last 10 days of the campaign. On Facebook the PMO’s office, again according to sources, is spending upwards of $200,000.

Last week various websites in Malaysia reported servers being blocked. The popular and independent online news portal Malaysiakini reported that its IP address was being blocked within the country in activities that could only be explained by the deliberate obstruction by local ISPs. The website forAnwarIbrahim.com which reported a ten-fold increase in traffic on Wednesday was subsequently hacked. The Digital Task Force running the website sent out an email indicating the severity of the attack, which was launched immediately after it reported a dramatic increase in online activity and support for Anwar Ibrahim.

During Malaysian elections it is nothing new for opposition sites to be targeted with DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. It appears this year is no different. With a virtual monopoly on the mainstream media, one wonders why the government feels the need to disrupt other forms of communication.

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of The Scotland Institute and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Rosmah’s Gifts and Ethics


April 28, 2013

Rosmah’s Gifts and Ethics

FLOM

Recently Caretaker FLOM, Rosmah Mansor, said that she accepted all the gifts offered to her by foreign dignitaries because it would be rude not to accept them and what was a poor FLOM supposed to do?

“When people give you something, of course it’s not nice to reject it,” Rosmah wrote in a self-titled biography launched yesterday by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“And when I’m given the gifts, I wear them. Why would you want to just keep them in a safe when the items were given sincerely, are beautiful and can be used? It’s a waste if they’re just kept in a safety deposit box,” the wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak added. (from Malaysian Insider here)

Well clearly there is another way to handle these situations. The Daily Beast is reporting that the Sarkozy’s used to lavish their friends with expensive gifts. The Obama’s received from the Sarkozy’s over $41,000 worth of bags, towels, etc. Hillary Clinton received three Hermes scarves.

How does the United States handle this? It’s simple. Sitting elected officials are not permitted to accept gifts from anyone. There are Ethics Committees in all branches of the US government that regulate what employees of the US government are allowed to receive and not receive. For example here is a snippet form the Senate Ethics Committee website:

No Member, officer, or employee shall knowingly accept a gift except as provided by the Gifts Rule.

A Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift, other than cash or cash equivalent, having a value of less than $50, provided that the source of the gift is not a registered lobbyist, foreign agent, or private entity that retains or employs such individuals.  The cumulative value of gifts that may be accepted from any one source in a calendar year must be less than $100.  Generally, gifts having a value of less than $10 do not count toward the annual limit.  See Senate Rule 35.1(a)

The White House/Executive branch has similar rules outlined in detail here. It’s clear why such rules need to be in place. When you are in the seat of power, small (or large) gifts from foreign and domestic agents can be used as leverage in any sort of negotiation that comprise the integrity of the relationship. The onus should be on the public servant to want to defend his integrity to the fullest degree.

Which takes us back to Rosmah’s absurd statement. It speaks for itself when you’re talking about a party which is propped up by patronage and corruption. Accepting a few Hermes scarves, Rolex watches etc. is practically a non-issue when you think about the billion of dollars squandered away in no-bid contracts, flawed procurements and under the table deals.

The need for greater transparency in these dealings is essential. But fundamentally, people must elect leaders who they believe have a strong ethical compass that would make them think twice about these types of transgressions.

Other Paid Malaysia Bloggers Never Registered With U.S. Authorities


The best line in this article, other than the noose slowing tightening on APCO is this:

“Have you ever had a head of state make you breakfast? I found myself in that unusual position on Sunday morning, when Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi made me his unique Malay porridge.”

Other Paid Malaysia Bloggers Never Registered With U.S. Authorities

Conservative blogger Joshua Trevino’s registration as a foreign agent raises questions about his colleagues.

Rosie Gray

BuzzFeed Staff

Two of the main players in the campaign funded by the Malaysian governmentthat placed undisclosed propaganda in the American press did not file with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), an omission that lawyers say could place them in legal jeopardy.

David All, a Republican online operative whose David All Group originally contacted conservative writer Joshua Trevino, Trevino said, to conduct a PR operation on behalf of the Malaysian government, is not listed in the records. Nor is Jerome Armstrong, a pioneering liberal blogger whose MyDD was for a time a key site, and who took a leading role alongside Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas in Matt Bai’s 2007 book on how bloggers and billionares were remaking the Democratic Party, who Trevino says was engaged by All at the same time as him to run the website MalaysiaMatters.com as part of a paid media push that backed the country’s ruling party and attacked its critics.

A defunct “about” page for Malaysia Matters listed Armstrong among the founders: “Those working on this project include David All, Jerome Armstrong and Joshua Treviño,” the page said.

Trevino, who last week belatedly filed his own foreign agent registration, told BuzzFeed on Sunday that Armstrong was hired to be his liberal counterpart on MalysiaMatters.

“David All also brought in Jerome,” Trevino said. “I stopped working with him when I stopped working with APCO. He did not transition over to FBC [Media].” APCO Worldwide was in charge of the contract with Malaysia and ultimately David All and the writers, and continued working on Malaysia projects after Trevino’s editorial pursuits transitioned under the aegis of FBC Media.

Armstrong did not reply to repeated requests for comment. In 2011, he told BuzzFeed editor (then at Politico) Ben Smith in an email:

I worked on it and blogged about it back then, iirc [if I recall correctly], it was mid 2008, and it was with the former PM, not Najib. Mine was just a temp contract, did a trip over there as a precursor for having other bloggers there; and then they had a shakeup, it never materialized, and I moved on. I didn’t work for Trevino on it (he was there before and much longer after my brief stint), but through David All and …. (I can’t remember the DC PR group, but there was a big press dust-up about it in 09 iirc).

Malaysia has a really strong blogosphere, and I subsequently got involved on my own with continued conversations with some of the activists and political groups there, but is not a country with a free press. That all changed with the internet by the middle of the decade, and there as a brief moment when it was feared that things would go the way of Singapore. In 2008, bloggers were being thrown into jail, and Badawi was hearing from many that he should outlaw blogs/online political speech. So, when I was there talking with him, it was about praising his initiative, and telling him that would be a very good legacy for him to have initiated…. and showed him how Malaysia Matters worked, and tried to get across to him that it could be used by any political party; that he should be meeting with antagonistic bloggers and try to win them over. Badawi seemed to get it, but his communications director listened in, and by the ‘online outreach’ results of the next special election, and his subsequent blogger outreach, it definitely turned out that way.

Asked to comment further, Armstrong said ” I don’t recall the contract, and ours usually have a non-disclosure type of clause in there.”

The David All Group was partly owned by APCO before he closed it in October 2012, he told BuzzFeed.

All’s status as someone working on behalf of the client would normally have been registered with FARA either as a short form registrant or listed on APCO’s filings regarding the Malaysian contract.

“It’s so long ago,” All said when reached by phone on Monday. “The David All Group was owned in part by APCO Worldwide and [Malaysia] was their client, so I just worked with APCO.”

“I’m sort of gathering more information and looking into this a little bit more,” All said. “My goal is not to hide anything. It was not a covert operation.”

All corroborated Trevino’s account of being engaged on the project at the same time as Armstrong, though Armstrong’s involvement ended earlier than Trevino’s.

Armstrong and Trevino were in Malaysia at the same time, according to Flickr photos. They met with the Prime Minister.

The photos above picture Armstrong and Trevino in Malaysia and were posted to Armstrong’s Flickr feed, picturing a trip to Malaysia in June 2008. The Prime Minister at that time, Abdullah Badawi, made his guests porridge, according to an email from Trevino passed along to BuzzFeed by a source that describes the incident and links to a now-broken MalaysiaMatters post: “Have you ever had a head of state make you breakfast? I found myself in that unusual position on Sunday morning, when Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi made me his unique Malay porridge.”

Cached versions of posts Armstrong wrote about Malaysia are still available online (see herehere, and here).

According to the FARA website, federal law requires that agents “register within ten days of agreeing to become an agent and before performing any activities for the foreign principal.”

The act specifies that “failure to register, keep accounts, mark informational materials, provide a congressional committee with a copy of the agent’s most recent registration, and agreeing to a contingent fee based on the success of political activity are violations of the Act.”

“If he’s employed by his own company he should have filed as an agent,” Joseph E. Sandler, a lawyer and FARA expert, said of All. “If he’s not an employee, if he’s a consultant, he should do his own FARA filing.”

APCO, he said, “should have shown their payments to him on their FARA filings.”

“And secondly he should have registered himself as an agent for him because he’s indirectly working for a foreign principal,” Sandler said. As for Armstrong, “if he knew they were acting indirectly on behalf of the Malaysian government, and knew that’s where the money’s coming from, he should have registered.”

Another lawyer who specializes in FARA law and who wished to speak on background said “It sounds like they’re at least close to the line.”

“Generally, you have a registration for the agent itself and for the persons who are directly providing a service for the foreign principal,” the lawyer said. “If you are writing informational materials at the direction or control of a foreign principal,” he said, registration is required.

Adam Williams, spokesman for APCO Worldwide, said the firm, which appears to have orchestrated the propaganda campaign, could not immediately commment.

“We’re looking into it so we make sure that we have all the facts straight. We want to make sure that we’re 100% honest and accurate.”

 

Karma


UMNO/BN spent 10s of millions of dollars to try and buy soft and friendly news on American media. The total effect of that expenditure of taxpayer dollars has been nil. However, as a result of its unethical activities, for absolutely no money, UMNO/BN has managed to get far more negative media in the last 24 hours than it could have ever afforded on its own. Let’s recap:

Din Merican’s blog broke the story with my post yesterday linking to Josh Trevino’s FARA statement.

Soon thereafter the very popular US news and entertainment site Buzzfeed published a lengthy investigative piece by Rosie Gray. Buzzfeed receives over 25 million unique visitors per month which is about the same as the respectable Washington Post and 10x what Malaysiakini sees per day.

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Within a few hours additional follow up stories appeared on

Talking Points Memo [here] about 1 million monthly uniques and read by many political and business insiders

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NY Magazine [here] about 1 million monthly uniques

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Salon.com [here] – about 12 million monthly uniques

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Politico [here] – about 10 million monthly uniques, including most of the influential US politicians

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Wonkette [here], another political insider site

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and to add insult to injury, Gawker, which usually focuses on celebrity gossip, carried a piece today on its FRONT PAGE to its 5 million monthly readers [here]

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Meanwhile, the even more popular Huffington Post site took down articles written by Trevino when it learned that those articles violated the Huffington Post’s on (relatively low) blogging standards.

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Although you can still read a cached version of this article from August 2010 in which Trevino tries to cozy up with the Malaysian Attorney General Gani Patail in supporting the prosecution persecution of Anwar Ibrahim in court.

On the Twitters, Josh Trevino had a bad day yesterday. While he himself maintained an upbeat and positive attitude, critics were relentless. It appears that Trevino could care less what ethical lines he crossed since he was paid handsomely for his work. But others have been less forgiving:

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and my personal favorite:

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You may be asking, SO WHAT? UMNO/BN embarrasses itself on an almost daily basis. When given the opportunity in the international community it embarrasses itself even more effectively by groping women, casting racial slurs, and mentioning investigations of allegations of murder leveled against its head of state during press conferences when no one ever asked about said allegations.

I think this matters for several reasons

  1. All of a sudden Malaysia, which is never in the international media even in the case of the carnage in Sabah, is all over US media. Which means they will be taking some note of what is happening in the country, which is good, especially with elections around the corner. I believe that the allegations of electoral fraud will garner more attention given this intense media pressure.
  2. The Malaysian government and UMNO/BN which regularly attacks Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia for being a Jewish agent has demonstrated its willingness to engage with vehemently pro-Israeli, anti-Muslim writers to do its dirty work around the world.
  3. Anwar Ibrahim is once again vindicated in his very vocal attack against APCO that started in 2009/2010. Back then many people criticized him for overreaching but pretty much everything he said back then has proven to be true.
  4. Between the Prime Minister’s office and Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s office all told perhaps over 50 million dollars was spent on paid media to prop of the image of these two figures. One has to wonder the ROI on that expenditure. In both cases the PR strategy has been exposed as fraudulent. The people and organizations involved have been fraudulent and there has been intensive blow back. So much money from public coffers was wasted on these operations.

 

 

 

 

Shameless Malaysian Government Fraud Goes Global


By Azeem Ibrahim

From the Huffington Post, February 28, 2013

Last week, a civil suit was filed at the High Court of Malaysia by a number of very disgruntled investors. They are alleging that Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd solicited their investments based on false invoices and fraudulent documents and have misappropriated funds of about $4 million. [SEE ALSO HERE]

When their support was solicited in 2008 and 2009, the investors considered that Malaysia was an emerging, secure and accountable business system and assumed that they would gain an honest return on their investment. Today however, after several years of fighting to get their funds returned, they have met with nothing but delays.

The whole affair raises serious questions whether investigation is being stalled by people in high places. This is certainly a matter which would merit investigation by the MACC and by any government concerned in its commitment to battle corruption.

The investors have had many meetings with Malaysian politicians and ministers in London and Malaysia — including Prime Minister Najib a day after he announced Part 1 of his New Economic Model which included promoting inward investment.

British political leaders are taking up the issue on behalf of these British citizens and in spite of countless reassurances that Malaysian justice can be relied upon, there has still been no definitive action from the Malaysian government.

Dato’ Seri Abdul Azim Bin Mohd ZabidiThe original funds were invested in Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd whose chairman and director is the influential Dato Seri Abdul Azim Bin Mohd Zabidi, former treasurer of the main UNMO political ruling party. The other director of Doxport Technologies is Sivalingam Thechinamoorthy, who is allegedly one of the ‘frontmen’ for many of Dato Abdul Azim’s deals, with Thechinamoorthy’s wife, Gurmeet Kaur, playing a pivotal role as well.

This is by no means the first hint of corruption within Malaysia’s political elite, despite Malaysia’s high-profile anti-corruption crusade. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government professes to be taking a lead in weeding out graft but the perception is growing that corruption under the Najib administration is flourishing.

For example, the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International reported recently that Malaysia scored worst in the world in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) began its operation officially on January 1, 2009 and according to the official website of International Association of Anti Corruption Authorities, “had focused on investigating cases involving illegal mining and sand smuggling, illegal logging, corruption at the country’s entry points as well as distribution of diesel subsidy.” An impression is given of a corrupt government hounding the small offenders and ignoring the more important cases of pervasive graft.

Abuse continues in government procurement and scandals such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Project, not to mention the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) described by Transparency International as “a black mark on the country’s history.” Another example is the Bakun Dam in Sarawak which was included in Transparency International’s ‘Monuments of corruption’ Global Corruption Report in 2005. The mandate to develop the project went to a timber contractor and a friend of Sarawak’s governor. The construction of the dam was found to be faulty and the provincial government of Sarawak is still looking for customers to consume the power to be generated by the project.

However, rather than living up to its promises, the government continues to deal with corruption by shameless blame shifting and paper shuffling. The delay in fully investigating the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud case is yet another egregious example of justice delayed and therefore justice denied. This will not rest here however, as the British victims of the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud are moving their case to a higher level.

British investors have received the support of many of their Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, many of whom have sent letters:

• 9 have written to date, to the Malaysian Prime Minister — no reply has ever been received
• 6 have written to date, to the Malaysian High Commissioner in the UK — no reply has ever been received
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Attorney General — no reply has been received to date
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Minister of Law — no reply has been received to date

However, letters to the British Foreign Secretary have ensured that the British Government is aware and active in the case and that the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud will have major repercussions.

The persistent corruption in Malaysia is destroying the country’s international reputation as a safe and equitable environment for investment and is doing immense disservice and harm to its people. Whistleblowers in Malaysia have not had a fair hearing over the years with ominous reports for example of people falling to their death following interrogation by authorities.

Opposition politicians find themselves facing trumped up charges if their accusations get too close to the truth and Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and currently the de facto leader of Keadilan, the People’s Justice Party, has already spent a number of years imprisoned for his courageous stand against government corruption.

Tackling fraud will be Anwar Ibrahim’s top priority if elected when the country goes to the ballot. Prime Minister Najib Razak must dissolve parliament by April 28th and hold the election within 60 days, but a nervous leadership is delaying the announcement to the last possible moment and is bringing the democratic process of free and fair elections into question.

Fraud and corruption in Malaysia have reached a shameless new level and might be seen as the dying efforts of a government on its way out. Certainly the people of Malaysia deserve better if trust is to be reestablished in Malaysia as an international player in global economics. Respect for the law must begin at the top. If Doxport Technologies and its directors cannot be made accountable, hopefully the government of Malaysia will receive a just verdict of defeat in the imminent election and democratic justice will prevail.

Dr Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of The Scotland Institute and a Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Follow Azeem Ibrahim on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AzeemIbrahim