Prime Minister Najib’s Economic and Financial Powerhouse–Impressive Captains

May 28, 2015

Phnom Penh

Prime Minister Najib’s Economic and Financial Powerhouse–Impressive Captains

Horse-trading, money changing hands, contracts finalising, projects reviewing and the list goes on. That’s what is happening now, as the mother of all scandal – 1MDB – about to enter another new month this year. Bets are on the table that by hook or by crook, Pprime minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor may have a smooth sailing after all.

 In fact, Najib and Auntie Rosy are ready to pull Mahathir and his family down together, if that’s what it will take to win this war. Clearly, only one team will emerge victorious, and the loser will not be able to get a “face-saving” exit this time. With the present social networking age, the loser will be remembered in a disgraceful manner.

1MDB RM42 Billion - Thank You For Your SupportWhat’s rather amazing is the fact that Bank Negara (Central Bank) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz was the only individual who had not spoken about 1MDB scandal, until today, despite the institution being dragged into the drama by Najib numerous times. First, Najib cried 1MDB money couldn’t be repatriated back home because the central bank would make a big issue out of it.

 Subsequently, Najib bitched that BRIM, a project where Santa Claus gives away free cash to people, was actually an idea from the central bank, not from his administration. Still, Zeti didn’t raise a finger but kept an elegance silence, as if she was sleeping on the job. Today, she finally opens her mouth.

Apparently, Zeti had received a report from MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) about an account linked to the debt-ridden strategic investment firm at the Swiss-based BSI Bank. As expected, she wouldn’t reveal anything, using “confidentiality” as the excuse. Governor Zeti should know better than anyone else about “helping” Najib Razak, so let’s hope she doesn’t do something stupid.

 Besides forming alliances and recruiting betrayals, this war of the century – Mahathir vs Najib – will see losers being wiped out not only from the political landscape, but also about business cronies losing everything. Hence, the stake is not merely RM42 billion of 1MDB debt alone, but billions of new business contracts.

Besides forming alliances and recruiting betrayals, this war of the century – Mahathir vs Najib – will see losers being wiped out not only from the political landscape, but also about business cronies losing everything. Hence, the stake is not merely RM42 billion of 1MDB debt alone, but billions of new business contracts.

Najib vs Mahathir - WarLike it or not, this “Clash of the Titans” does not only affect politicians and businessmen, but also small investors such as stock market traders, speculators, gamblers, punters or whatever name you wish to call yourself. If Najib wins, the status quo remains. But if he losses, which is very likely, you may want to avoid certain stocks or companies related to his cronies.

 Could that be one of the reasons why his own brother, Nazir Razak, appears to be on the enemy’s camp? Actually, it makes perfect sense to distance himself from big brother Najib. The stake is simply too high. It’s a foolish move to defend his own brother, and in the process losses everything in CIMB, the same way Rashid Hussein lost RHB because he aligned himself with Anwar Ibrahim.

Malakoff IPO - Billionaire Syed Mokhtar EmpireGet ready for a super lengthy write-up on Najib Razak’s cronies below. This is not a complete list though. But some cronies such as Vincent Tan (Berjaya Group), Quek Leng Chan (Hong Leong Group), Teh Hong Piow (Public Bank Berhad), Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, Ananda Krishnan are considered as UMNO-cronies, not Najb-cronies.

 { 1 }  Nazir Razak, 49

  • CIMB Group Holdings Berhad (KLSE:CIMB, stock-code 1023): Chairman
  • Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB): Director
  • Employees Provident Fund (EPF): Chairman of the Investment Panel Risk Committee
  • Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre: Executive Committee member

Najib Razak Cronies - Nazir RazakNazir Razak, the youngest brother, is the most well known. He obtained a Master of Philosophy at Cambridge University. He is a career banker, joining CIMB Investment Bank almost 20 years ago and rising through its executive ranks to become its CEO in 1999. Perhaps the most business-savvy within the Razak family members, Nazir is infamous for his controversial acquisition of Southern Bank from owner Tan Teong Hean.

Following the merger of CIMB and Bumiputra-Commerce Bank, to become Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd (BCHB), Nazir became CEO of the merged group and later Chairman of CIMB Group. Informed observers widely believe Nazir advises Najib on finance and economic policy issues. However, the relationships between all the Razak brothers with PM Najib are in a bad shape due to wife Rosmah Mansor.

 { 2 }  Ahmad Johari Razak, 59

  • Ancom Berhad(KLSE: ANCOM, stock-code 4758): Non-Executive Chairman
  • Hong Leong Industries Berhad(KLSE:HLIND, stock-code 3301): Non-Executive Director
  • Daiman Development Berhad(KLSE: DAIMAN, stock-code 5355): Non-Executive Chairman
  • Sumatec Resources Berhad (KLSE: SUMATEC, stock-code 1201): Non-Executive Director
  • Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (KLSE: MRCB: stock-code 1651): Independent Director
  • Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad: Director
  • Daiman Golf Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Courts Mammoth (M) Berhad (delisted-privatised): Non-Executive Chairman

Najib Razak Cronies - Ahmad Johari RazakJohari Razak, the second eldest brother and a close friend of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah. He is a lawyer and senior partner at Shearn Delamore & Co, a large law firm  located at Wisma Hamzah-Kwong Hing, Kuala Lumpur. His areas of practice include corporate and commercial joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions; corporate restructuring; and the listing of public companies.

He was believed to play a vital role during the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis, which saw the collapse of Pakatan Rakyat state government. This enabled brother Najib Razak scored important brownie points, as a great political tactician, at least in the eyes of UMNO members.

Coincidentally, 1MDB, currently in hot soup over RM42 billion debt scandal, had lendings from a consortium of six foreign banks led by Deutsche Bank. With the prospect of 1MDB declares a default over the syndicated loan amounting to US$975 million, Deutsche Bank Singapore and other banks such as BSI Singapore, RBS Coutts could seek early repayment.

 { 3 }  Mohamed Nizam Razak, 56

  • Mamee Double-Decker (M) Berhad (delisted-privatised): Non-Executive Director
  • Yeo Hiap Seng (M) Berhad (delisted-privatised): Non-Executive Director
  • Other directorship: Synergy Track Sdn. Bhd., Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Bhd., Noah Foundation, Hong Leong Foundation, National Children Welfare Foundation, Yayasan Rahah, and Yayasan Wah Seong.

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohamed Nizam RazakNizam Razak studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford University. He was a stockbroker and CEO of PB Securities Sdn Bhd in the 1990s. He is currently a non-executive director in several once-publicly listed companies including Mamee Double-Decker (M) Bhd and Yeo Hiap Seng (M) Bhd, which have since been taken private.

 He used to serve as non-executive director at Hiap Teck Venture Bhd and Delloyd Ventures Bhd, and like brother Johari, Nizam is also a director of Deutsche Bank. Together with UMNO money carrier Syed Mokhtar they were once eyeing for the 19.4% stake in DRB-Hicom held by the family trust of late Yahaya Ahmad. Today, Syed Mokhtar owns DRB.

 { 4 } Mohamed Nazim Razak, 53

  • Hong Leong Bank Berhad(KLSE: HLBANK, stock-code 5819): Non-Executive Director
  • Hong Leong Capital Berhad (KLSE:HLCAP, stock-code 5274): Non-Executive Director
  • XiDeLang Holdings Limited (KLSE: XDL, stock-code 5156): Deputy Chairman
  • 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Berhad (KLSE: SEM, stock-code 5250): Non-Executive Director
  • Hong Leong Islamic Bank Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Other directorship: The Legends Golf & Country Resort Bhd., Batu Caves Centrepoint Sdn. Bhd., BTS Land Capital Sdn. Bhd., Century Tower Industries Sdn. Bhd., Digiport (M) Sdn. Bhd., etc

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohamed Nazim RazakNazim Razak, the fourth brother  who married former host of TV3’s Nona show, Norjuma Habib Mohamed, studied architecture in the UK. He is Chairman of Meru Utama Sdn Bhd, an outdoor advertising company that received a seven-year advertising concession in 2007 to advertise the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Low-cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

 Nazim is also a director of Eng Wah Organization Limited, a Singapore-based business involved in cinema operations, film distribution and rental of retail and office space. He is a Chairman of the Governing Council of Masterskill, a private University/College (the Pro Chancellor is Raja Azureen Raja Azlan Shah, the daughter of the late Sultan of Perak) and Director of OYL Industries (a subsidiary of Hong Leong Group of Companies).

 { 5 }  Tan Kay Hock, 67

  • Johan Holdings Berhad(KLSE: JOHAN, stock-code 3441): Chairman and CEO
  • George Kent (M) Berhad(KLSE:GKENT, stock-code 3204): Chairman
  • Jacks International Limited: Chairman
  • Iskandar Regional Development Authority: Member
  • Malaysian Humanitarian Foundation: Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Tan Kay HockWhen Tan Kay Hock, a golfing buddy of Prime Minister Najib Razak, was awarded the systems work for the RM1.1 billion Ampang light rail transit (LRT) line extension project in July 2012, it raised eyebrows because the company was better known as manufacturers and suppliers of water meters. Mr Tan denied his company, George Kent, won due to political links.

Now that his golfing buddy Najib is in hot soup over 1MDB’s RM42 billion debt scandal, will the Prime Minister expedite the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project before getting the boot? Most importantly, will Tan Kay Hock’s 25-years of “friendship” with Najib helps George Kent secure the jewel of rail projects?

{ 6 }  Shahril Shamsuddin, 54

  • SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad(KLSE: SAPCRES, stock-code 8575): Executive Director and President and Group CEO
  • Sapura Industrial Berhad(KLSE: SAPIND, stock-code 7811): Deputy Chairman
  • Sapura Resources Berhad(KLSE: SAPRES, stock-code 4596): Non-Executive Director
  • Sapura Secured Technologies Sdn. Bhd. (private division of Sapura Group): President and CEO

Najib Razak Cronies - Shahril ShamsuddinShahril Shamsuddin of Sapura Group and his family is well known to have a very good relationship with Najib’s family. His father, Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir, the founder of Sapura Group, was however aligned to former premier Mahathir Mohamad. Later, the merger between Mahathir’s son (Mokhzani Mahathir) Kencana Petroleum and SapuraCrest Petroleum forming today’s SapuraKencana in 2012.

However, both Mokhzani and Shahril couldn’t see eye to eye, due to differences of opinion between both co-founders in the running of SapuraKencana, not to mention about who really has better capability helming the country’s largest oil and gas services firm. Subsequently, Mokhzani resigned as vice chairman this year (March 2015).

{ 7 }  Mohamed Azman Yahya, 51

  • SymphonyHouse Berhad (KLSE: SYMPHNY, stock-code 0016): Group CEO, Founder
  • Symphony Life Berhad(KLSE: SYMLIFE, stock-code 1538): Executive Chairman
  • Scomi Group Berhad(KLSE: SCOMI, stock-code 7158): Non-Executive Director
  • PLUS Expressway Berhad(delisted in 2012): Non-Executive Director
  • Ekuiti Nasional Berhad: Director
  • AIA Group Limited: Non-Executive Director
  • Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB): Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohamed Azman YahyaMohamed Azman Yahya, director of Khazanah, and founder and group chief executive officer of Symphony House Bhd, an outsourcing firm. He is also the ex-CEO of Pengurusan Danaharta Bhd and sits on several advisory panels for the development of the capital market, venture capital, and public service delivery system.

 Despite his supposedly wide experience in charge of national asset management, he couldn’t do anything to help the once rotting Malaysian Airline Systems. However, Azman Yahya, one of Najib’s six trusted individuals, was allegedly conspired with Nor Mohamed Yakcop and cheated Halim Saad in a UEM-Renong takeover deal back in 2001.

 { 8 }  Rohana Mahmood, 61

  • Paramount Corporation Berhad(KLSE: PARAMON, stock-code 1724): Non-Executive Director
  • AMMB Holdings Berhad(KLSE: AMBANK, stock-code 1015): Non-Executive Director
  • Sime Darby Berhad(KLSE: SIME, stock-code 4197): Non-Executive Director
  • RM Capital Partners Sdn Bhd (spin off from Ethos Capital): Chairman and Founder.
  • AmInvestment Bank Berhad: Non-Executive Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Rohana MahmoodRohana was the chairman and co-founder of Ethos Capital, a RM200 million private equity firm, which through its Ethos Consulting was involved in the National Automotive Policy that resulted in the abuse of APs to selected individuals associated to Khairy Jamaluddin, son-in-law of former prime minister Abdullah Badawi. Among all cronies, Rohana Mahmood stands out as deeply embedded in the Najib family’s commercial interests.

Together with Omar Mustapha Ong, a former special assistant to Najib Razak, they once had their eyes on EPF’s RM300 billion fund to manage. She and another close aide of Najib, Abdul Razak Baginda (linked to gruesome murder of Mongolian Altantuya), are co-founders of an independent think-tank, Malaysian Strategic Research Centre. Najib was chairman of the think-tank, now disbanded.

 { 9 }  Azman Mokhtar, 54

  • Axiata Group Berhad (KLSE: AXIATA, stock-code 6888): Chairman and Non-Executive Director
  • Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB): Managing Director and CEO
  • Iskandar Investment Berhad: Chairman

Najib Razak Cronies - Azman MokhtarAzman was Managing Director and co-founder of the infamous consulting firm BinaFikir, which proposed WAU (Wide Unbundling Asset) in 2002 to save ailing Malaysian Airline System (MAS). Amusingly, under his poor leadership, MAS made bigger losses. Azman then proposed Penerbangan Malaysia Berhad (PMB), which also lost money.

Azman Mokhtar, who is running Khazanah, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund which in effect controls CIMB along with the country’s national pension scheme, is one of six trusted individuals personally picked by Najib for ideas on issues ranging from economy, capital markets and general business soon after Najib was appointed Finance Minister.

Comically, the supposedly genius Azman Mokhtar couldn’t turn around MAS for the second time, in a MAS-AirAsia share swap exercise. He probably has the longest list of “failed” restructuring and business ventures – tuna fishing venture losses of RM120 million, Parkway Holdings’ RM935 million losses, and whatnot.

 { 10 }  Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, 61

  • Konsortium Transnasional Berhad(KLSE: KTB, stock-code 4847): Chairman and Managing Director
  • Transocean Holdings Berhad(KLSE: TOCEAN, stock-code 7218): Chairman and Managing Director
  • V.S. Industry Berhad(KLSE: VS, stock-code 6963): Non-Executive Director
  • JT International Berhad: Chairman
  • Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL): Chairman
  • Nadicorp Holdings Sdn Bhd: Chairman
  • Trisilco Folec Sdn Bhd: Chairman

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohd Nadzmi Mohd SallehMohd Nadzmi, the chairman and MD of express bus operator, Konsortium Transnational Bhd. The former Proton boss was called upon by the Government in 1996 to revive the ailing public transport company. He is one of the six trusted individuals personally picked by Najib for ideas on issues ranging from economy, capital markets and general business soon after Najib was appointed Finance Minister.

He was former PM Mahathir’s prodigy and has expertise in transportation. Nadzmi had tried bidding for Proton numerous times, when the national car maker’s profits came under pressure. German’s Volkswagen and American’s General Motors had held talks with Proton management but the sensitive issue of “over-protection” ownership hindered any further strategic alliance.

 { 11 }  Mohd Salleh Bakke, 61

  • Sime Darby Berhad(KLSE: SIME, stock-code 4197): President, Group CEO
  • Eastern & Oriental Berhad(KLSE: E&O, stock-code 3417): Non-Executive Director
  • Sime Darby Property Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Yayasan Sime Darby: Non-Executive Director
  • Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER): Director
  • Other directorship: Sime Darby Energy & Utilities Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Healthcare Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Plantation Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Industrial Holdings Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Bhd., Eastern & Oriental Bhd., Sime Darby Energy Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Motors Sdn. Bhd.

Bakke was formerly the Group President & Chief Executive Officer of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad. His previous directorship and chairmanship involvement included Permodalan Nasiona Berhad (PNB), Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional, Bank Islam Malaysia, Lembaga Tabung Haji and whatnot.

But none of the above beats his latest “involvement”, or at least his “knowledge” about the explosive 1MDB’s RM42 billion debt. Bakke was the chairman of 1MDB from 11-Aug-2009 till his resignation on 19-Oct-2009. So, was he involved in the approval of US$700 million, allegedly siphoned to Good Star Ltd, a company owned by Jho Low?

 { 12 }  Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, 61

  • Affin Holdings Berhad(KLSE: AFFIN, stock-code 5185): Deputy Chairman
  • Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Berhad (KLSE:BHIC, stock-code 8133): Chairman
  • Boustead Holdings Berhad (KLSE:BSTEAD, stock-code 2771): Deputy Chairman and Group Managing Director
  • Boustead Plantations Berhad (KLSE:BPLANT, stock-code 5254): Vice Chairman
  • Pharmaniaga Berhad (KLSE:PHARMA, stock-code 7081): Chairman
  • 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB): Chairman
  • Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT): Chief Executive
  • Other directorship: UAC Berhad, MHS Aviation Berhad, FIDE Forum, Badan Pengawas Pemegang Saham Minority Berhad, Affin Bank Berhad, Affin Islamic Bank Berhad, Affin Hwang Investment Bank Berhad and AXA Affin Life Insurance Berhad.

Najib Razak Cronies - Lodin Wok KamaruddinThe mention of LTAT and Boustead will easily give away the type of business Lodin specialises in. He’s essentially the “Chief of the Armed Forces Fund Board”, making him very powerful and super rich. His Boustead Heavy Industries was notorious for getting all the contracts building military ships for the government, but can never delivered them (*grin*). But that was just the tip of an iceberg.

 What many didn’t realise was the fact that Lodin Wok was one of the directors of Perimekar Sdn Bhd until 2010, when the explosive procurement of two French-made submarines was revealed. The Scorpene scandal, which involved RM534.8 million in commission, and later the gruesome murder of Mongolian Altantuya speaks volumes about Lodin’s relationship with Najib. He also sits on the boards of Affin Bank Bhd, one of Perimekar’s bankers.

 { 13 }  Ismee Ismail, 51

  • Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad(KLSE: TAKAFUL, stock-code 6139): Chairman
  • TH Plantations Berhad(KLSE: THPLANT, stock-code 5112): Non-Executive Director
  • BIMB Holdings Berhad(KLSE: BIMB, stock-code 5258): Non-Executive Director
  • Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Edra Global Energy Berhad (formerly known as 1MDB Energy Group Berhad): Director
  • Lembaga Tabung Haji: Group Managing Director and CEO
  • 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB): Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Ismee IsmailIsmee Ismail began his career at Arab Malaysian Development Berhad in 1987. He later joined the Shell Group of Companies in Malaysia and held various positions including the Head of Forex and Banking of Shell Malaysia Ltd and Group Accountant of Shell Malaysia Trading Sdn. Bhd.

 He is currently the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Lembaga Tabung Haji. Prior to that, he was the Chief Executive Officer of ECM Libra Securities Sdn Bhd and a Director of ECM Libra Capital Sdn Bhd. What’s in the limelight now is the prospect of Tenaga Nasional Berhad bailing Edra Global Energy Berhad, to the tune of RM16 billion. Did he also has his hand in Tabung Haji’s recent acquisition of 1MDB’s lands?

 { 14 }  Robert Kuok Hock Nien, 92

  • PPB Oil Palms Bhd (KLSE: PPB, stock-code 4065)
  • Malaysian Bulk Carriers Berhad (KLSE:MAYBULK, stock-code 5077)

Najib Razak Cronies - Robert KuokWith net worth of US$12.4 billion (Forbes, May 2015), the world’s #110 richest but Malaysia’s richest man, Robert Kuok is a legend. His empire – Kuok Group – controls a fleet of listed companies in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. PM Najib Razak used to visit “Uncle Kuok”, who was a childhood friend with second Prime Minister Tun Razak.

Together with third PM Hussein Onn, the trio’s friendship went back to their school days at Raffles School Singapore. Interestingly, Singapore’s first Prime Minister – Lee Kuan Yew – was one of their classmates. Although Robert Kuok has brilliantly diversified most of his fortune out of Malaysia, there’re still some “leftovers”.

 { 15 }  Other Public-Listed Companies / Financial Institutions

  • 1MDB - Bail Out Progress Report - EPF, KWAP, Finance Ministry, Tabung Haji, TakafulTenaga Nasional Berhad (KLSE: TENAGA, stock-code 5347):- possibility of bailing out 1MDB’s Edra Global Energy Berhad to the tune of RM16 billion
  • Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF):- RM200 million bond investment in 1MDB; RM1.5 billion investment in Panglima Power Sdn Bhd (PPSB)and Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd (JEV).
  • Retirement Fund Inc. (KWAP):- Invested RM1.4 billion in 1MDB’s various subsidiaries: Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, 1MDB Energy Limited, 1MDB Global Investment Limited, and Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd (JEV). There was also the controversial sale and leaseback of a commercial office tower with 1MDB Real Estate Bhd (1MDB RE)
  • Lembaga Tabung Haji:- has invested RM920 million bond in 1MDB’s real estate development Bandar Malaysia and last month, bought 0.63ha from the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) financial district.

‘The Daemon Knows,’ by Harold Bloom

May 27, 2015

Phnom Penh

NY TIMES Sunday Book Review

‘The Daemon Knows,’ by Harold Bloom

Read Bloom, and you may be led to suppose it so. “Walt Whitman,” he writes, “overwhelms me, possesses me, as only a few others — Dante, Shakespeare, ­Milton — consistently flood my entire being. . . . Without vision, criticism perishes.” And: “I rejoice at all strong ­transports of sublimity.” And again: “True criticism recognizes itself as a mode of memoir.” And finally, emphatically: “I believe there is no critical method except yourself.” It is through intoxicating meditations such as these that Bloom has come to his ­formulation of the American Sublime, and from this to his revelation of the daemon: the very Higgs boson of the sublime. Bloom’s beguiling daemon can be construed as the god ­within; he is sire to the exaltations of apotheosis, shamanism, Gnosticism, Orphism, Hermeticism and, closer to home, ­Emerson’s “Self-Reliance.” He is made manifest through the voice of poets and in the chants of those weavers of tales, like Melville and Faulkner, who are kin to ­poets.

Harold BloomDaemon Knows,” the enigmatic title of Bloom’s newest work of oracular criticism, is strangely intransitive. What is it that the daemon knows? We are meant to understand that the daemon is an incarnation of an intuition beyond ordinary apperception, and that this knowing lies in the halo of feeling that glows out of the language of poetry. “To ask the question concerning the daemon is to seek an origin of inspiration,” Bloom asserts, and his teacherly aim is to pose the question in close readings of 12 daemon-possessed writers whom he interrogates in pairs: Whitman with Melville, Emerson with Dickinson, Hawthorne with Henry James, Mark Twain with Frost, Stevens with T. S. Eliot, Faulkner with Hart Crane. He might well have chosen 12 others, he tells us, reciting still another blizzard of American luminaries, but dismisses the possibility “because these [chosen] writers represent our incessant effort to transcend the human without forsaking humanism.” (A question Bloom does not put — we will approach it shortly — is whether shamanism, Orphism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism and all the other mystical isms, including the idea of the daemon, do in fact cling to humanism.)

For Bloom, the origin of inspiration is dual: the daemon who ignites it from within, and the genealogical force that pursues it from without. The bloodline infusion of literary precursors has long been a ­leitmotif for Bloom, from the academic implosion of “The Anxiety of Influence” more than 40 years ago to the more recent “The Anatomy of Influence.” Here he ­invokes the primacy of Emerson as germinating ancestor:

“For me, Emerson is the fountain of the American will to know the self and its drive for sublimity. The American ­poets who (to me) matter most are all Emersonians of one kind or another: Walt ­Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, John Ashbery, A. R. Ammons, Elizabeth Bishop, May Swenson, Henri Cole. Our greatest creators of prose fiction were not Emersonians, yet the protagonists of Hawthorne, Melville and Henry James frequently are beyond our understanding if we do not see Hester Prynne, Captain Ahab and Isabel Archer as self-reliant questers.”

Though Bloom’s persuasive family trees are many-branched, the power of influential predecessors nevertheless stands apart from daemonic possession. According to Bloom, the daemon — “pure energy, free of morality” — is far more intrinsic than thematic affinity. However ­aggressively their passions invade, it is not Whitman alone who gives birth to Melville, or Emerson to Dickinson, or Hawthorne to James, or Mark Twain to Frost; and certainly it is not the lurid Faulkner, all on his own, who rivals the clay that will become Hart Crane. Literary heritage is half; the rest is the daemon. “ ‘Moby-Dick,’ ” Bloom sums up, “is at the center of this American heretical scripture, our worship of the god within, which pragmatically means of the daemon who knows how it is done.” But there is yet another pragmatic demonstration to be urged and elaborated. “Hart Crane’s daemon,” he adds, “knows how it is done and creates an epic of Pindaric odes, lyrics, meditations and supernal longings without precedent.”Without precedent: Surely this is the earliest key, in Bloom’s scheme, to the daemon’s magickings.

Theme and tone and voice may have authorial ancestors; what we call inspiration has none. Turning to one of his two commanding ­touchstones (the other is Whitman), Bloom cites Emerson: “This is that which the strong genius works upon; the region of destiny, of aspiration, of the unknown. . . . Far the best part, I repeat, of every mind is not that which he knows, but that which hovers in gleams, suggestions, tantalizing unpossessed before him.” So when Bloom tells us there can be no critical method other than the critic himself — meaning Bloom — we should not take it as blowhard hyperbole. With Emerson, he intends to pry open the unpossessed and to possess it, and to lead the reader to possess it too: a critical principle rooted in ampleness and generosity.

In this way, the illustrative excerpts Bloom selects from the work of his hallowed dozen are more than concentrated wine tastings; they are libraries in little. In considering Hawthorne, he discusses — in full — “Wakefield” and “Feathertop,” two lesser-known stories, as well as “The Blithedale Romance,”  “The Marble Faun” and the canonical “The Scarlet Letter” and “The House of the Seven Gables.” In his descant on James, Bloom supplies entire scenes from “The Portrait of a Lady,”  “The Bostonians” and “The Wings of the Dove,” in addition to long passages of “The Jolly Corner.” And in crisscrossing from Hawthorne to James and back again, he leaves nothing and no one unconnected. “Where indeed in American fiction,” he asks, “could there be a ­woman loftier, purer, as beautiful and as wise as Hester Prynne? Isabel Archer is the only likely candidate,” though he goes on to lament her choice of the “odious ­Osmond.” For Bloom, Moby-Dick consorts with Huck Finn, and Emily Dickinson with ­Shakespeare, while Whitman underlies, or agitates, Stevens, Hart Crane and, surprisingly, T. S. Eliot.

Of all Bloom’s couplings, Stevens and Eliot are the oddest and the crankiest. ­Despite the unexpected common link with Whitman, the juxtaposition is puzzling. Bloom’s veneration of Stevens, ­sometimes “moved almost to tears,” is unstinting. “From start to end, his work is a solar litany,” he confesses. “Stevens has helped me to live my life.” Yet nearly in the same breath Bloom is overt, even irascible, in his distaste for Eliot, partly in repudiation of “his virulent anti-Semitism, in the age of Hitler’s death camps,” but also because of his clericalism: “Is it my personal prejudice only that finds no aesthetic value whatsoever in the devotional verse of T. S. Eliot? . . . His dogmatism, dislike of women, debasement of ordinary human ­existence make me furious.” In the same dismissive vein, he disposes of Ezra Pound: “I at last weary of his sprawl and squalor.” Nowhere else in this celebratory volume can such a tone — of anger and disgust — be found. Not even in Bloom’s dispute with what he zealously dubs “the School of Resentment” (the politicization of literary studies) is he so vehement as here.

Still, emotive disclosures are not foreign to this critic’s temperament. He has, after all, already told us that criticism can be a form of memoir. “I am an experiential and personalizing literary critic,” he explains, “which certainly rouses up enmity, but I go on believing that poems matter only if we matter.” Out of this credo grows a confiding intimacy: “The obscure being I could call Bloom’s daemon has known how it is done, and I have not. His true name (has he one?) I cannot discover, but I am grateful to him for teaching the classes, writing the books, enduring the mishaps and illnesses, and nurturing the fictions of continuity that sustain my 85th year.” A touching reminder of the nature of the human quotidian, its riches and its vicissitudes, its ­successes and its losses: tangled mortal life itself, pulsing onward in the daylight world of reality. But is this what Bloom’s exalted 12 have taught of how the daemon, that rhapsodic creature of “pure energy, free of morality,” is purposed? The daemon who is trance, who is the mystical whiteness of the white whale, who is harp and altar of Hart Crane’s bridge, and who enters solely into seers and poets? Can the daemon’s lover — who is Bloom — harbor the daemon in himself? Or, to put it otherwise: May the professor of poetry don the poet’s mantle?

Meanwhile, the daemon knows, and Bloom knows too, who are his most ­dedicated antagonists. They are those verifiable humanists, the rabbis who repudiate the kabbalists, who refute the seductions of Orphists and Gnostics, who deny the dervishing god within and linger still in that perilous garden where mortals dare to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and daemons of the sublime are passing incantatory delusions.

Well, never mind — at least while Bloom’s enrapturing book is radiant in your hand. The daemon knows, and Bloom knows too, that in Eden, birthplace of the moral edict and the sober deed, there ­never was a poet.

Literary Greatness and the American Sublime
By Harold Bloom

524 pp. Spiegel & Grau. $35.

Cynthia Ozick’s most recent book is the novel “Foreign Bodies.” Her new collection, “Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary ­Essays,” will be published next year.

A version of this review appears in print on May 24, 2015, on page BR1 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Shared Visions.

Mr Arul Kandasamy: No Excuses for not attending PAC Meeting

May 27, 2015

Phnom Penh

 Mr Arul Kandasamy: No Excuses for not attending PAC Meeting

You are a special Malaysian born in Sitiawan, Perak. You are being engaged by the 1MDB Board of Directors to deal with the company’s massive debt problems. The first thing you must do is to respect our laws and regulations. By failing to attend the PAC meeting in Parliament, for example, you have not shown any regard for our Legislature. You should have turned up up on time to respond to  questions directed  at you by the PAC chairperson and his colleagues. In stead, you chose to give the PAC chairperson a stupid excuse. If the incompetent Treasury failed to inform you of the meeting, YB Nur Jazlan cannot be blamed.

Arul, Lodin and NajibYou are appointed to do your job diligently and with integrity as your salary and perks are being paid by the ultimate shareholders of 1MDB, who are Malaysian taxpayers. The  Prime Minister is not your boss since he himself must be accountable the people. So you have no right to lie and cheat on his behalf. As someone who is purportedly an expert on financial matters, you know what your responsibilities and duties are. But you are obviously not what you claim to be.

I hope  you and your Chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin and other Directors will bear the full brunt of the law when the time comes. Prime Minister Najib cannot protect you since he himself will likely lose power when those UMNO party members wake up from their slumber and realise that they have been lied to and cheated and abused by their President. –Din Merican.


Stephen Colbert interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson

May 27, 2015

Phnom Penh

Stephen Colbert interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson


Have a great morning. My dear friend and former Wisma Putra colleague, Dato’ Hamzah Majeed, now a respected educator at Chempaka School Group told me that I should watch this interview with the man from Bronx, New York City. I just did and Neil deGrasse Tyson is an interesting and entertaining man of science.

To know his background, please read this: –Din Merican

MACC may try to expunge ex-cop’s evidence in Rosli Dahlan’s case

May 26, 2015

Phnom Penh

MACC may try to expunge ex-cop’s evidence in Rosli Dahlan’s case

 by Ho Kit

Cecil AbrahamThe civil action commenced by prominent lawyer Rosli Dahlan against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), formerly known as the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), is expected to take a new dramatic twist when the next witness, former Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) Chief Ramli Yusoff takes the stand.

Last Friday, counsel for MACC Cecil Abraham notified the court of his intention to seek that Ramli’s Witness Statement be expunged from the Court record. Lawyers say that such a move is highly unusual and the Court will usually reserve its power to expunge matters considered scandalous, frivolous, vexatious or which are otherwise an abuse of process.

It remains to be seen which parts of Ramli’s Witness Statement are said to be liable to be expunged and MACC’s basis for doing so.

Speculation is that MACC may want to prevent certain details in the case from becoming matters of public record. Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard on Monday the evidence of lawyer Harvinderjit Singh who told the High Court that the ACA had denied him access to his then client Rosli when the latter was arrested in October 2007.

“I went to ACA’s headquarters in Putrajaya between 4pm and 5pm as I was instructed by the partners from Rosli’s firm to find out two things, which were whether I could meet him, and when Rosli would be released from questioning,” he said during examination-in-chief by Rosli’s lawyer, Chetan Jethwani.

He said an ACA officer by the name of Sok One Ehsan, who was at the information desk, told rosli-dahlan1him that the senior lawyer was being questioned at the time.“I could not meet Rosli at that time,” he added.

Harvinderjit said he then later met deputy public prosecutor Kevin Anthony Morais at the office and sought answers from him as to when Rosli would be released.“I stopped him when I saw him at the lobby. Kevin told me that he will be released later at night,” he said, adding that Kevin also said to Harvinderjit that there was no need for the lawyer to be there.“However, Rosli was not released that night,” he said.

Rosli’s wife, Misni Aryani Muhamad, also testified, saying that she had brought food and clothes to the lockup for him to break fast and pray while under detention.

“I received a call from an officer after some time of waiting at the office,” she testified. “Rosli was on the phone.We only spoke briefly. After that, an officer came and took the food from me,” she said.

Misni said she later found out that Rosli did not get the food which she had brought him. Instead, he was given ‘stall food’ by ACA officers and suffered a stomach ache as a result.

She added she was told by two lawyers after midnight that her husband would not be released that night and that he would not be allowed to meet his lawyers either. “They said that Rosli would be charged in court (the next) morning,” she said.

Misni said upon learning that he was about to be charged, she broke down and cried. “When we reached home that night, I sought solace in prayers,” she testified.“I cried some more as I began to accept the fact that my husband was going to be charged,” she said.

The case is being heard before Justice Su Geok Yam.

Asia’s Renaissance Man: Dr. Jose Rizal’s Last Farewell (Mi Ultimo Adios)

Phnom Penh

May 26, 2015

Asia’s Renaissance Man: Dr. Jose Rizal’s Last Farewell

English translation by Charles Derbyshire of Jose Rizal‘s last poem, written in Spanish and known popularly as Mi Ultimo Adios.

Dr. Jose Rizal

My Last Farewell (Mi Ultimo Adios)


dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress’d,
Pearl of the Orient seas, our Eden lost!
Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life’s best,
And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest,
Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost.

On the field of battle, ‘mid the frenzy of fight,
Others have given their lives, without doubt or heed;
The place matters not–cypress or laurel or lily white,
Scaffold of open plain, combat or martyrdom’s plight,
‘Tis ever the same, to serve our home and country’s need.

I die just when I see the dawn break,
Through the gloom of night, to herald the day;
And if color is lacking my blood thou shalt take,
Pour’d out at need for thy dear sake,
To dye with its crimson the waking ray.

My dreams, when life first opened to me,
My dreams, when the hopes of youth beat high,
Were to see thy lov’d face, O gem of the Orient sea,
From gloom and grief, from care and sorrow free;
No blush on thy brow, no tear in thine eye

Dream of my life, my living and burning desire,
All hail! cries the soul that is now to take flight;
All hail! And sweet it is for thee to expire;
To die for thy sake, that thou mayst aspire;
And sleep in thy bosom eternity’s long night.

If over my grave some day thou seest grow,
In the grassy sod, a humble flower,
Draw it to thy lips and kiss my soul so,
While I may feel on my brow in the cold tomb below
The touch of thy tenderness, thy breath’s warm power.

Let the moon beam over me soft and serene,
Let the dawn shed over me its radiant flashes,
Let the wind with sad lament over me keen;
And if on my cross a bird should be seen,
Let it trill there its hymn of peace to my ashes.

Let the sun draw the vapors up to the sky,
And heavenward in purity bear my tardy protest;
Let some kind soul o’er my untimely fate sigh,
And in the still evening a prayer be lifted on high
From thee, O my country, that in God I may rest.

Pray for all those that hapless have died,
For all who have suffered the unmeasur’d pain;
For our mothers that bitterly their woes have cried,
For widows and orphans, for captives by torture tried;
And then for thyself that redemption thou mayst gain.

And when the dark night wraps the graveyard around,
With only the dead in their vigil to see;
Break not my repose or the mystery profound,
And perchance thou mayst hear a sad hymn resound;
‘Tis I, O my country, raising a song unto thee.

When even my grave is remembered no more,
Unmark’d by never a cross nor a stone;
Let the plow sweep through it, the spade turn it o’er,
That my ashes may carpet thy earthly floor,
Before into nothingness at last they are blown.

Then will oblivion bring to me no care,
As over thy vales and plains I sweep;
Throbbing and cleansed in thy space and air,
With color and light, with song and lament I fare,
Ever repeating the faith that I keep.

My Fatherland ador’d, that sadness to my sorrow lends,
Beloved Filipinas, hear now my last good-by!
I give thee all: parents and kindred and friends;
For I go where no slave before the oppressor bends,
Where faith can never kill, and God reigns e’er on high!

Farewell to you all, from my soul torn away,
Friends of my childhood in the home dispossessed!
Give thanks that I rest from the wearisome day!
Farewell to thee, too, sweet friend that lightened my way;
Beloved creatures all, farewell! In death there is rest!

Jose Rizal: A Biographical Sketch
by Teofilo H. Monte Mayoa

JOSE RIZAL, the national hero of the Philippines and pride of the Malayan race, was born on June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna. He was the seventh child in a family of 11 children (2 boys and 9 girls). Both his parents were educated and belonged to distinguished families.His father, Francisco Mercado Rizal, an industrious farmer whom Rizal called “a model of fathers,” came from Biñan, Laguna; while his mother, Teodora Alonzo y Quintos, a highly cultured and accomplished woman whom Rizal called “loving and prudent mother,” was born in Meisic, Sta. Cruz, Manila.

At the age of 3, he learned the alphabet from his mother; at 5, while learning to read and write, he already showed inclinations to be an artist. He astounded his family and relatives by his pencil drawings and sketches and by his moldings of clay. At the age 8, he wrote a Tagalog poem, “Sa Aking Mga Kabata,” the theme of which revolves on the love of one’s language. In 1877, at the age of 16, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree with an average of “excellent” from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. In the same year, he enrolled in Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas, while at the same time took courses leading to the degree of surveyor and expert assessor at the Ateneo. He finished the latter course on March 21, 1877 and passed the Surveyor’s examination on May 21, 1878; but because of his age, 17, he was not granted license to practice the profession until December 30, 1881.

In 1878, he enrolled in Medicine at the University of Santo Tomas but had to stop in his studies when he felt that the Filipino students were being discriminated upon by their Dominican tutors. On May 3, 1882, he sailed for Spain where he continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid. On June 21, 1884, at the age of 23, he was conferred the degree of Licentiate in Medicine and on June 19,1885, at the age of 24, he finished his course in Philosophy and Letters with a grade of “excellent.”

Having traveled extensively in Europe, America and Asia, he mastered 22 languages. These include Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malayan, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tagalog, and other native dialects. A versatile genius, he was an architect, artist, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, opthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian.

He was an expert swordsman and a good shot. In the hope of securing political and social reforms for his country and at the same time educate his countrymen, Rizal, the greatest apostle of Filipino nationalism, published, while in Europe, several works with highly nationalistic and revolutionary tendencies. In March 1887, his daring book, NOLI ME TANGERE, a satirical novel exposing the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy, was published in Berlin; in 1890 he reprinted in Paris, Morga’s SUCCESSOS DE LAS ISLAS FILIPINAS with his annotations to prove that the Filipinos had a civilization worthy to be proud of even long before the Spaniards set foot on Philippine soil; on September 18, 1891, EL FILIBUSTERISMO, his second novel and a sequel to the NOLI and more revolutionary and tragic than the latter, was printed in Ghent. Because of his fearless exposures of the injustices committed by the civil and clerical officials, Rizal provoked the animosity of those in power. This led himself, his relatives and countrymen into trouble with the Spanish officials of the country. As a consequence, he and those who had contacts with him, were shadowed; the authorities were not only finding faults but even fabricating charges to pin him down. Thus, he was imprisoned in Fort Santiago from July 6, 1892 to July 15, 1892 on a charge that anti-friar pamphlets were found in the luggage of his sister Lucia who arrive with him from Hong Kong. While a political exile in Dapitan, he engaged in agriculture, fishing and business; he maintained and operated a hospital; he conducted classes- taught his pupils the English and Spanish languages, the arts.

The sciences, vocational courses including agriculture, surveying, sculpturing, and painting, as well as the art of self defense; he did some researches and collected specimens; he entered into correspondence with renowned men of letters and sciences abroad; and with the help of his pupils, he constructed water dam and a relief map of Mindanao – both considered remarkable engineering feats. His sincerity and friendliness won for him the trust and confidence of even those assigned to guard him; his good manners and warm personality were found irresistible by women of all races with whom he had personal contacts; his intelligence and humility gained for him the respect and admiration of prominent men of other nations; while his undaunted courage and determination to uplift the welfare of his people were feared by his enemies.

When the Philippine Revolution started on August 26, 1896, his enemies lost no time in pressing him down. They were able to enlist witnesses that linked him with the revolt and these were never allowed to be confronted by him. Thus, from November 3, 1986, to the date of his execution, he was again committed to Fort Santiago. In his prison cell, he wrote an untitled poem, now known as “Ultimo Adios” which is considered a masterpiece and a living document expressing not only the hero’s great love of country but also that of all Filipinos. After a mock trial, he was convicted of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal association.

In the cold morning of December 30, 1896, Rizal, a man whose 35 years of life had been packed with varied activities which proved that the Filipino has capacity to equal if not excel even those who treat him as a slave, was shot at Bagumbayan Field.

Malaysia’s Ms. Reformasi speaks her mind in OSLO

May 26, 2015

Phnom Penh

Malaysia’s Ms. Reformasi speaks her mind in OSLO

OSLO, May 26 — Five years ago my father, Anwar Ibrahim, delivered a speech right here on Nurul-Izzah-Anwarthis very stage entitled ‘Half A Century of One Party Rule’. He was talking about my country, Malaysia, which has been dominated by the same party for more than 50 years.

That same year here at the Oslo Freedom Forum my father spoke on the same stage as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who declared that: “When you meet Anwar, be careful.” During his visit to Malaysia, Julian was detained by secret police just hours after speaking to my father.

My father – a popular and unifying figure in my country’s history – is seen as a very dangerous man by the UMNO party regime. When he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the 1990s, he amended the corruption act to further strengthen it – which displeased the political elites – and by September 1998 his anti-corruption campaign led to his sacking from government, arrest, his beating under custody whilst blindfolded and handcuffed, and his eventual sentence and imprisonment in trials that were condemned by rights organisations and governments worldwide.

Initially, it was announced that at least 20 charges would be brought against my father; including treachery, being an American and Israeli agent, corruption and sodomy. They did forget to throw in the kitchen sink. They jailed him for six years, much of which he spent in solitary confinement.

Anwar’s trials earned Malaysia our own International Commission of Jurists report– the very same body that observed Nelson Mandela’s flawed trial. It was entitled: Justice in Jeopardy, Malaysia 2000.

As I speak to you today, Anwar, my father, and the former Opposition Leader of Malaysia, is behind bars again on his second trumped-up charges of sodomy.

I have been told that of the nearly 200 speakers in this conference’s history, only four are in jail right now: my father, Nayeel Rajab from Bahrain, Thulani Maseko from Swaziland, Leopoldo Lopez from Venezuela. The Malaysian regime keeps some very authoritarian company.

Malaysia without AnwarSpecifically, for my father, this is his third incarceration since 1998. He is now in urgent need of medical attention. My father was also a political prisoner in his youth; when he was about my age. Thankfully, he grew more handsome over the years but no less rebellious.

The year 1998 brought the historic Asian Financial Crisis and my father’s imprisonment to Malaysia. Equally important for me, it marked my own political awakening.

As a child I wanted to be an engineer, and I would have pursued that if it wasn’t for the events of 1998. Well, I owe the Malaysian government many thanks for getting me involved in politics. Really, I do.

If my government didn’t abuse institutions – influencing the Judiciary, rigging votes, controlling the media, if they didn’t use force to shut their opponents up – my father would be free, and I might be working for Shell or any other decent oil and gas company. Or maybe not – not with oil at 60 dollars a barrel.

Well, now it is not just Anwar who is Malaysia’s most wanted. It also includes me and the whole opposition, the movement for free and fair elections (Bersih), and many others demanding for a democratic and just Malaysia.

In our last national elections in 2013, Anwar Ibrahim led the opposition to victory, winning 52 per cent of the popular vote. But he was defeated by extreme gerrymandering, malapportionment and election fraud. The ruling coalition clung to power by holding on to 60 per cent of the seats.

The Electoral Integrity Project, based in Sydney and Harvard University recently rated Malaysia as having the worst electoral-district boundaries in the world and among the worst election rules. This places Malaysia alongside countries like Zimbabwe, Angola and Egypt.

The government’s gerrymandering was compounded by the abuse of postal votes. In fact, out of 222 seats we lost almost 30 to postal votes and early votes alone! And since those flawed elections in 2013; almost 20 Members of Parliament and state legislators have been charged, arrested, and locked up, along with 150 others including lecturers, students, journalists, even cartoonist and ordinary citizens.

So now you might be thinking, “What about you, Izzah?”

Growing up, I was a prefect, and like the rest of you here – never smoked pot in my entire life. I played by the rules. I was a model example of a compliant citizen who wanted to go along and get along.

But, mind you, thanks to the corruption, oppression and sheer injustice of the Malaysian government, this girl scout is now a second term Member of Parliament – defeating two sitting Ministers along the way – thanks to my electorate who voted in favour of reforms.

In March, I was recently arrested and locked up for a speech I made on behalf of my father in Parliament.

Yes, beautiful, sunny, twin towers-clad Malaysia. But Members of Parliament have zero parliamentary immunity and can be arrested for sedition.

The whole experience of being a political prisoner in Malaysia is quite bizarre. We have a draconian 67-year-old prison rules that forbid slippers, for example, as the government claims they could be used for suicide. The colonial British laws the Malaysian government loves to preserve.

So you spend the night sleeping on the floor only to be asked questions such as:“Who is this Devil you referred to in your speech made in parliament?”

You see, I had condemned the Federal Court judges in my father’s case for having sold their souls to the Devil. I said this because Malaysia needed judicial reform. Along with electoral reform and fighting for a multiracial Malaysia – where diversity is seen as a strength, not something that divides us.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and his wife Rosmah Mansor (R) arrive at the airport in Tokyo on May 24, 2015. Najib is on a three day visit to Japan.   AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and his wife Rosmah Mansor (R) arrive at the airport in Tokyo on May 24, 2015. Najib is on a three day visit to Japan. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Reformists in my country are the most wanted, and the most feared by our government. Why? Because we are the future – with a zeal for reforms.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those who clamour for an end to the unequal distribution of wealth and against corruption and extravagance of the men or women who govern over us.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those who despair that our children receive low international education rankings – at one point we were surpassed by Vietnam!

Malaysia’s most wanted are those, who reject the use of racial and religious extremism to scare indigenous Malays into voting for the status quo.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those, who realise anti-terrorism laws are often just guises to justify the detention of political dissenters in the name of ‘security and stability.’

Malaysia’s most wanted, who are sick to the bone with failed governance and mammoth financial scandals. Most recently is the controversial government investment fund, 1MDB has burdened Malaysia with a RM42 billion debt.

The Prime Minister also the Finance Minister is the chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisors. Dubious financial dealings now go hand in hand with the Malaysian government.

Shout out to Mr Tom Burgis – meet our very own Sam Pa.Malaysia’s most wanted are the young generation of Malaysia, who up to 88 per cent voted for my party in the recently concluded Permatang Pauh by-elections.

My father’s seat – which he lost upon his conviction – has been retained by our party, despite the enormous political and financial obstacles put in our way by the regime. Malaysia’s most wanted will not give up. Just last week, the Opposition Coalition chose my mother as Malaysia’s Opposition Leader. They can’t lock all of us up. The reformist might be behind bars but the reform agenda stays true.

We know that more of the world will see beyond the Petronas Twin Towers and give more attention to us, Malaysia’s most wanted, the rising dissidents and democrats who refuse to accept the current government.

So what of the future you ask? I’ll tell you. The future belongs and will be determined by Malaysia’s most wanted.

Long live reforms. Long live reformasi!And thank you Thor and the selfless team at Oslo Freedom Forum for allowing Malaysians to live in truth.

God bless you.

* The above is the text of the speech delivered by Nurul Izzah as the first speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway.

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