Malaysia’s second-richest man Ananda Krishnan will lend 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) RM2 billion to settle a loan to local banks, two people familiar with the matter said, helping pave the way for a US$3 billion (RM10.85 billion) IPO by the state investor.
The people, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Ananda was currently negotiating the terms of the loan with the state firm.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Ananda was in talks with 1MDB to become a cornerstone investor in the long-delayed listing of its power assets, which is likely to take place in the first half of this year.
“It is just a plain loan for now. We don’t know for certain how this will translate into an equity stake in 1MDB’s power unit,” one of the people said.
1MDB officials declined to comment. Officials at Ananda’s investment vehicle Usaha Tegas were not immediately available to comment.
1MDB has already twice missed payments on the RM2 billion bridge loan it took from local banks Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) and RHB Capital Bhd. That hit its bonds and fuelled broader investor concerns about Malaysia’s economy.
The state investor, whose advisory board is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, has been dogged by controversy over its RM41 billion debt pile, hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue earned by Goldman Sachs for handling its bond issues and a perceived lack of transparency.
The company this month hired Abu Dhabi-based Malaysian investment banker Arul Kandasamy as its new President, replacing chief executive officer Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, who departed less than two years after his appointment amid criticism for leading the company into further debt.
1MDB has said it plans to use funds from the initial public offering of its energy assets to cut its debt and expand its business.
The government seems hell-bent on bringing Borders store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz to book for selling a publication deemed controversial by religious authorities.
On Wednesday, two days before the expiration date, the Federal Territory Islamic Department (JAWI), the Home Minister, and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, filed a leave application to take the matter all the way to the Federal Court.
All three parties are appealing against the Court of Appeal’s decision which dismissed JAWI’s challenge of a High Court ruling declaring its raid on the bookstore as unlawful.
JAWI had raided the bookstore in a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on May 23, 2012 and seized copies of the Bahasa Malaysia translation of ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ by Muslim Canadian author Irshad Manji.
At the time of the raid, the book has not been banned, but a prohibition on its sale was gazetted six days later on May 29.
On December 30, the Appeals Court, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal by the three parties.
Nik Raina and Borders had filed a judicial review to challenge the raid and seizure in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
Justice Zaleha Yusof ruled JAWI was wrong in seizing the book and taking action on Nik Raina, and ordered it to drop the charge against Nik Raina.
Nik Raina was charged under Section 13(1) of the Federal Territories Syariah Offences Act for distributing the book at Borders at The Gardens mall in Kuala Lumpur between 8.41pm and 9.45pm on March 23, 2013.
If found guilty, she faces a sentence of a RM3,000 fine and two years’ jail, or both, upon conviction.
Legal questions posed
In order to obtain leave, JAWI and the two ministers will have to pose questions of law that is to be decided by the highest court in the country.
In documents sighted by Malaysiakini, it is understood three questions are posed, namely:-
–Whether the court in exercising its civil jurisdiction can review the prosecution of criminal cases especially when the offence is against the precepts of Islam.
–whether no enforcement action can be taken against a corporate entity incapable of professing a religion for an offence under the Syariah law; and most importantly,
–whether an action by the religious authority which subsequently leads to a prosecution in the Syariah Court can be challenged and reviewed in the civil court.
No dates has been fixed yet by the Federal Court to hear the leave application.
In civil and judicial cases before the Federal Court, permission has to be obtained before the substantive part of the appeal process can be heard.
Despite the High Court decision which has been upheld by the Court of Appeal, JAWI has not withdrawn the charge against Nik Raina, resulting in this application.
‘Plea for compassion fell on deaf ears’
In an immediate reaction, Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd expressed disappointment over the government decision to appeal.
“At Berjaya Books, we are so very disappointed that our plea for JAWI to find the compassion to drop the charges against Nik Raina appear to have fallen on deaf ears,” said its chief operating officer Yau Su Peng .
Yau (right), who is also the General Manager of special projects at Berjaya Corporation Bhd, said 32 months have lapsed since the raid on their store and the susequent charge against Nik Raina at the Syariah Court.
“Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have handed down decisions in our favour.What else do we need to do in order to defend our employee’s right to work?” asked Yau.
COMMENT:It was initially a bit of a surprise to read Abdul Razak Baginda’s interview with the online news website The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
This man who was once charged with abetting the murder of the Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu and was acquitted for it suddenly popped out of oblivion to … well, talk about the murder and the final sentencing of the two Police commandos to death for killing her in 2006 and blowing up her body with C4.
What I didn’t find so surprising – but infuriating instead – were the scandalous things he said. For one, on the motive for the killing, Abdul Razak says: “Only the two Policemen know. Rogue Police do kill people, like in so many remand cases.”
What did Razak Baginda’s wife say?
How dare Abdul Razak compare the Police duo’s killing of Altantuya with the deaths of suspects held in police remand? And does he think Malaysians are so stupid that we would believe the idea that Chief Inspector Sirul and corporal Azilah killed Altantuya at their own wanton will, without being instructed by a third party?
Is the Police Force going to take his remark lying down? Do they not feel insulted by his insinuation that police go about killing people as and when they feel like it, like Azilah and Sirul must have done?
“If you just treat this as a murder and do not politicise it, then it is just a straightforward murder case,” Abdul Razak also says. A straightforward murder? Did he say a straightforward murder? Would a straightforward murder need the use of C4? Is it normal for cops to kill people and then blow up their bodies with C4? Besides, where did Azilah and Sirul get their C4 from?
And weren’t the two involved only because Abdul Razak had sought help from Deputy Superintendent Musa Safri, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s former aide-de-camp, and this help was needed because he had an affair with Altantuya and she was blackmailing him so he needed to get her off his back?
So, who is the focus of this murder? Who was the source of the problem that led to the murder? And yet Abdul Razak can say, “Shit happens”? It was his shit that happened in the first place, and now he seems to be putting the sole blame on the hapless commandos and implying that they are “rogue cops”. Is that funny?
The laughable bits
He says the case got politicised, but even without even politicising anything, we are already puzzled by several unanswered questions – apart from the one surrounding the motive.
Questions like why records of Altantuya’s going in and out of Malaysia were expunged; like why Musa introduced commandos such as Azilah and Sirul to Abdul Razak when the latter asked for protection from Altantuya’s harassment; like why Musa was not called to give evidence during the trial; like why Najib Razak SMSed lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah this unseemly message: “Pls do not say anything to the press today.I will explain later. RB (Abdul Razak) will have to face a tentative charge but all is not lost.”
So what is Abdul Razak talking about now? Oh, and here’s the laughable bit in his interview. He goes on to say, “Look at MH370, what, there was a conspiracy? Come up with the evidence. Nobody came up with the evidence. Things just happen. Bermuda Triangle. Certain things are just unexplainable. So why not this? That they (Sirul and Azilah ) just went on their own. Why not?”
Oh yeah? And this illogical comparison between the murder and MH370 or the Bermuda Triangle is coming from someone who holds a D.Phil from Oxford University? (Mind you, though, I have it on good authority that Abdul Razak’s doctoral dissertation was eminently worthy of the degree.)
Maybe it isn’t a surprise after all that Abdul Razak should speak up now. He avows that it is because the speculation about the murder has become “extremely ridiculous” and “more twisted” and it “makes me more angry”.
But he also makes it clear that “(b)ecause of my closeness with Najib, those who wanted to kill Najib (politically) at that time saw it as a golden opportunity to use it against him”. He claims this is all a political game. “We are all victims of this political game.”
He also disavows knowledge of the alleged US$500,000 commission arising from the government’s purchase of the Scorpene submarines. “Where did that come from? Honestly, the US$500,000 was news to me. I didn’t know that,” he now says.
And he makes this count: “I have said this hundreds of times, I don’t even know how to say it any more. Najib never knew the woman. Najib is innocent. If you all think there is a connection, where is the evidence?”
His parting message: “I hope the focus will be on me, rather than Najib. You know, it is my story. Poor guy. To be honest with you, words cannot express my feelings towards how he has become a victim.”
That part is true. It is Abdul Razak’s story.I repeat: It was his affair with Altantuya that began the story. She came to blackmail him. He asked for help to stop her harassment. Help was provided in the form of Azilah and Sirul. They picked up Altantuya from no place other than outside Abdul Razak’s house. She was then taken away and killed, and her body was blown to smithereens.
So, how can Abdul Razak justify that “rogue cops” Azilah and Sirul “just went on their own”? Has his coming out now to talk really accomplished its purpose? Like I said, Malaysians are not that stupid.
KEE THUAN CHYE is the author of the bestselling books ‘No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians’ and ‘Can We Save Malaysia, Please!’
Kadir Jasin likens the PM to the fictional Don Quixote, who instead of fighting the Opposition, is attacking imaginary enemies from within his own party.
Fresh from the ruckus at MIC’s headquarters yesterday that saw death threats and gangsters taking centre stage, veteran journalist Kadir Jasin took to his blog saying the country’s political coalitions, both Opposition and ruling, were falling apart at the seams much to the oblivious Prime Minister Najib Razak who was busy attacking imaginary enemies instead.
Likening Najib to the fictional Don Quixote, Kadir said, “Weak BN leadership is encouraging component parties to go their own ways” in reference to MIC’s internal strife, which he warned, if not resolved, would adversely affect Barisan Nasional, as the ruling coalition depended on the Indian vote to stay in power.
He also noted the “growing discontent” within UMNO itself, and lamented that instead of fighting the Pakatan Rakyat, Najib’s “real foes”, the PM and his “UMNO psychological warfare machinery” were bent instead on attacking imaginary enemies like former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin.
Tun Daim and Tun Dr. Mahathir
He said, “They (Najib and his machinery) committed the ultimate misstep by enlisting Opposition Leader (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim and his PKR cohorts to attack Daim on prime time TV and in the UMNO-controlled newspapers,” only to run “helter-skelter” when Daim himself said he knew who was behind the campaign that was smearing his good name.
Saying point blank, “Mohd Najib should be less gullible and spend more time running the country and party,” Kadir added, “He should by now realise that not everybody in his payroll are as good as they promoted themselves to be.He should stop following his daydreaming Don Quixotes on their silly missions fighting the windmills.”
He said another sign that Najib was failing miserably in keeping his coalition intact, was the way BN parties in Sarawak were “striking out on their own”.
“The state government is surreptitiously flexing its muscle over immigration by barring many Peninsula residents from entering the state.
“Even civil servants and GLC employers are subjected to closer scrutiny now before being allowed entry,” he said, noting that the “supposedly weak and amiable” Adenan Satem was proving to be more decisive that his predecessor when it came to corruption and abuse of power.
He also had some words of advice for Opposition leaders, telling them that their future lay with the “younger and more idealistic leaders, and their youthful supporters”, not “old-timers” like Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Hadi Awang, who they should “wean” themselves off.
He, however, said that 1MDB would continue to haunt the Opposition coalition even if they came to power.“I told them that if ever they win, they can choose to banish Mohd Najib and his merry men (and women) to the mythical Laut Kalzum (Kalzum Sea) to be devoured by the Garuda, but 1MDB will not disappear.
“The debt-laden sovereign fund will become their problem. So are other issues the country is now facing.”
Saying, “At the end of the day, it’s not about politics but about the country,” Kadir added, “…the future of UMNO, the Malays and Islam is far more important than the future of any one person in UMNO.”
COMMENTWith the UMNO President under dire threat from a proven career-stopper, with his Deputy as quiescent as an extinct volcano, a No 3 impaled on a sword he helped forge, a No 4 disqualified by dynastic and graver caveats, and a No. 5 stymied by geography, who will the party or, what is more accurate, its overlords turn to as interim saviour before a new and younger cast of leaders is rung in?
The answer may be Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, provided of course he acquiesces to conditions imposed by the career-stopper. It is not that this scenario is being discussed with any great enthusiasm in political salons, but if the description of the state of the top leadership situation in UMNO is accurate, then conditions are conducive for the drafting of Ku Li, as he is popular known, to the post he has long coveted.
The Battle Royale
In August last year Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was served with an eviction notice by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a ‘stop-work order’ that is reckoned to carry greater weight than an order of mandamus our civil courts have issued in recent times in child custody fights. In short, it is an order the evictee cannot mess with.
The Prime Minister has tried to do a Houdini but the financial crisis portended by the looming failure of the sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and, now, the spiriting out of the country of one of two cops convicted of the murder of Altantuya Sharribuu bodes the direst threat to his longevity in office.
Speculation is rife as to who helped murder accused, Sirul Azhar Umar leave the country – before the Federal Court delivered final judgment in the case – for the relative safety of Australia.
Australia is bound by its opposition to the death penalty to preventing Sirul’s return to face the gallows in Malaysia for a murder for which there was no motive and where the Federal Court’s guilty verdict is a resolution that does not solve the mystery of why the victim was killed and in so brutal a manner.
The word is that if Sirul talks, this mystery of the Mongolian woman’s murder that has puzzled the country from the time it occurred in late 2006, will unravel. His mother, Piah Samat, has already intimated that her son feels betrayed at what she said he thought was something he did as duty.
She continues to haunt us
In other words, that mystery of Altantuya’s murder remains to be resolved and the tendrils radiating from Sirul’s direction hold promise of more light that may be shed on the matter. There’s no telling what names will sink with the unravelling of this mystery.
A dash for the lifeboats?
But matters of this nature tend not to arrive at catastrophic denouements; sanity would compel a dash for the lifeboats by those most threatened by Sirul’s potential disclosures.
General fatigue at the shrill partisanship that has beset the nation over many years, high anxiety at the anaemic condition of the economy, and deep foreboding over worsening racial and religious ties amongst the citizenry would combine to make the commencement of an interim premiership by Ku Li highly probable within six months.
Of course, there would be conditions imposed by the career-stopper but at 78, Ku Li would not be fazed by them, especially if it means that a way must be paved for Mukhiz Mahathir to gravitate to the top. But this trail would not entail a bar for Khairy Jamaluddin on the grounds it would be healthy for UMNO to place a younger set on an upwardly mobile trajectory.
Ku Li will be two years older than Nelson Mandela when the latter began his presidency of South Africa, perhaps the oldest start by a new leader of a country but a start nevertheless by someone who has always believed that it is his manifest destiny to lead the country.
The past five years Ku Li has spent in going around the country, furnishing audiences with reasoned disquisitions on the economy, and on the post-Independence history of the country and society, were aimed precisely at holding himself out an inclusive leader to steer the country out of the doldrums he had warned it was backing into.
His sometime adversaries and allies may now admit that in our current fraught economic and social conditions, he is the prescription that the times warrant.
Note:Razak Baginda’s Interview in the Malaysian Insider:
[Razak said, …” I have said this hundreds of times, I don’t even know how to say it anymore. Najib never knew the woman. Najib is innocent. If you all think there is a connection, where is the evidence? Let’s not forget that in any situation like this, there are a lot of opportunists out there. We have seen this so many times.”]
No-one should be surprised that Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been impeached by the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. This was one more act in a political tragedy in which elected politicians have been repeatedly defeated by the military and judiciary.
Despite rumours of a behind-the-scenes “deal” being done, when the assembly voted it was almost unanimous in impeaching Yingluck and banning her from politics for five years last week. These events were scripted, directed and produced by the military junta. Perhaps the only surprise was that Yingluck defended herself, her government and electoral democracy.
The impeachment was a show trial. An unelected assembly, packed with generals and Yingluck’s political opponents, threw out an elected politician who had already been sacked by the Constitutional Court before the May 2014 coup. That putsch – itself illegal – ejected the elected government, scrapped the 2007 constitution and set its own rules to retroactively impeach Yingluck from a position she no longer held.
The allegations against Yingluck were vague. They asserted dereliction of duty in overseeing a rice subsidy scheme, causing 500 billion baht in damages to the economy, mismanagement and corruption. Little convincing evidence was presented.
The rice subsidy scheme was part of her Pheu Thai Party’s election platform when it won a landslide election victory in 2011. Thai governments have long intervened in the rice trade. The scheme Pheu Thai promoted was a variant of a policy begun more than 30 years ago.
The policy was changed substantially in 2001 by Thaksin, Yingluck’s brother, after he was elected. Yingluck’s scheme was meant to move state funds to farmers to reduce poverty and stimulate consumption. Yingluck’s scheme was expensive but also politically popular.
But none of this matters much in a political landscape of division that sometimes resulted in violence. The failures of the scheme were simply an excuse for another political execution.
Not unlike her brother’s situation when he was ousted by a coup in 2006, it was Yingluck’s electoral popularity that brought her downfall. Thailand’s political elite is suspicious of elected politicians and fears that “populist” policies threaten its social, economic and political control.
Often referred to as a royalist elite because of its allegiance to the monarchy and the support it has from palace figures, its actions have expunged three elected administrations since 2006. In that period, there have been two military coups, five prime ministers removed by the military or judiciary, and more than 200 pro-Thaksin politicians banned.
On top of these attacks on electoral democracy, hundreds of red shirts, Thaksin supporters and democracy advocates have been jailed. More than 100 people have been killed in political violence, mostly perpetrated by the military.
Having regained total control in May 2014 and ruling with an iron fist, the obvious question is why the military feels it must punish Yingluck. There are several reasons.
First, the junta is confident that it has broken the opposition associated with the Pheu Thai Party and the red shirt movement. Second, the junta is reasserting its anti-Thaksin credentials with the royalist street movement that paved the way for the coup and which has representatives in the assembly and other appointed bodies.
Third, and related, it wants no opposition as it crafts a new constitution that will alter the political rules to prevent any popular political party winning any national poll. Finally, the military wants to continue to steer political developments. There’s a good chance that the coup leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, will stay on as Prime Minister after elections.
The punishment is not over for Yingluck. The Attorney-General’s office has brought charges against her that could mean ten years in jail. Other courts are processing charges against several senior members of her party, including two former prime ministers.
Such actions are meant to silence critics and neuter the Pheu Thai Party. Extensive purges in all government agencies have removed officials deemed sympathetic to Pheu Thai, replacing them with political allies, many from the military.
When street protests sought to bring down Yingluck in early 2014, a complaint made of the military was that, following the 2006 coup, it did not demolish the “Thaksin regime”, allowing pro-Thaksin parties to win elections in 2007 and 2011. The junta is making sure that doesn’t happen again.
The junta hopes that the final act in this political drama will be an election where the result will at least be a royalist and pro-military government and more likely a military-dominated one. Whatever the outcome, it won’t be a democratic regime.