President Barack H. Obama plays host to Malaysia’s Most Corrupt Prime Minister in Sunnylands, California


February 14, 2016

President Barack H. Obama plays  host to Malaysia’s Most Corrupt Prime Minister in Sunnylands, California

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jared-genser/asean-summit-obama_b_9221180.html

by Jared Genser, Founder, Freedom Now; International counsel to Liu Xiaobo

Maman Vatsyayana  via Getty Images

 

On February 15 in Southern California, President Obama will host the leaders of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). While the Sunnylands estate, surrounded by acres of lush green desert gardens, is no stranger to more informal diplomatic meetings, one can only imagine how many of the assembled leaders will enjoy trading stories about how to maintain their grip on power.

Among those attending will be Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled his country for 30 years with little tolerance for dissent; Thailand’s military junta leader; and the prime minister of Vietnam, president of Laos and Sultan of Brunei, all of whom rule their states with a heavy-handed authoritarian grip.

And yet, ironically, it is Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, whose country is viewed as an erstwhile and even pseudo-democratic ally of the United States, who stands alone this year among the sordid lot. He is the most scandal ridden leader in ASEAN and very unpopular among Malaysians for his crackdown on dissent and other misdemeanors.

Protestors during an anti-corruption rally in August. 2015 in Kuala Lumpur. (Charles Pertwee/Getty Images)

Najib was elected in 2009 and many Malaysians hoped he would steer the country toward moderation, tolerance and political reform. But captured by his conservative Muslim ethnic Malay base, he advanced divisive policies and oversaw a crackdown on civil society, the press and opposition politicians. As Najib ran for reelection in 2013, Anwar Ibrahim led the multi-ethnic and multi-religious opposition coalition, which won a shocking 51 percent of the vote, handing Najib’s party its worst ever loss since the country’s independence in 1957. Nevertheless, because of extreme gerrymandering, Najib retained his grip on power.

Reneging completely on all his pre-election promises to liberalize the country’s oppressive laws, Najib doubled down on repression. He resumed the politically motivated case against Anwar to remove him from the political scene, ultimately securing a conviction and sentence of five years imprisonment on bogus charges. Amnesty International labeled Anwar a prisoner of conscience. Human Rights Watch remarked that his conviction was a “travesty of justice.” And Ambassador Samantha Power recently joined the United Nations in calling for his immediate release.

Najib has also deployed the antiquated Sedition Act and other repressive laws as weapons of mass oppression. More than 150 Malaysians, including students, professors, journalists, cartoonists, activists and human-rights lawyers, who all dared to confront the government, have been arrested, charged or imprisoned.

But even worse, Najib’s government has stoked animosity between his political base and the country’s large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities as well as religious minorities. Last September, a “red shirt” rally in downtown Kuala Lumpur, addressed by government ministers, urged Malays to rally against a purported plot by the Chinese to usurp Malay political power. State-run media organizations disparage Shiite Islam. And despite his claims of moderation, Najib famously urged his ruling political party at a national convention to be “brave” like so-called Islamic State fighters.

These domestic strategies appear designed to maintain support from his shrinking political base and intimidate and silence those speaking out domestically about Najib’s twin corruption scandals — billions of dollars of unexplained losses in the state-run investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad and a”donation” of $681 million he received into a bank account in his own name from the Middle East.

To forestall Malaysian investigations into 1MDB last July, Najib sacked his Deputy Prime minister and four ministers and replaced his Attorney-Ggeneral. Meanwhile, Swiss authorities claim $4 billion is missing from 1MDB. And the FBI opened an investigation into money laundering allegations last fall. And then in late January, the new attorney general — appointed by Najib — ruled that the money deposited into Najib’s personal account had been a “gift” from the Saudi royal family but that $620 million had been “returned.” No explanation was provided about the intent of the gift or how the missing funds were spent.

Obama soiled his hand shaking with Najib in Kuala Lumpur in Nov. 2015. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The United States has courted Malaysia as a moderate Muslim country to be a key partner on counter-terrorism efforts in Southeast Asia. And no doubt Obama is grateful for Najib having signed and secured parliamentary ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he counts as a crucial achievement.

Yet, at the same time, Obama’s muted public response to Najib’s repressive ways, the failure of the administration to examine Najib’s role in fomenting radicalization through Malaysia’s state-run media and the willingness of the United States to maintain its embrace of this particularly toxic Malaysian prime minister has been deeply disheartening to Malaysia’s democrats and civil society leaders.

Conversely, strong American diplomacy in the case of the former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed — who, like Anwar, is a moderate Muslim democrat and had been sentenced to 13 years imprisonment on manufactured charges — led to Nasheed’s recent travel abroad for medical reasons. Both men are leading voices in their countries against the forces of division and radicalization. One remains in prison.

When Obama meets Najib over canapés and toasts to the vibrancy of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship, it is time for a new direction. Obama must publicly demand Anwar’s immediate release and the dismissal of politically motivated charges for sedition and other crimes facing so many activists in Malaysia. For Obama to remain silent is tantamount to giving Najib a license to act with impunity.

25 thoughts on “President Barack H. Obama plays host to Malaysia’s Most Corrupt Prime Minister in Sunnylands, California

  1. Malaysia a most moderate Muslim country.? The White House has poorly been briefed by Joe Yun, the current US Ambassador to Malaysia. But there is no doubt that we Malaysians are blessed with the most corrupt and scandal ridden Prime Minister in our country’s history. Anywhere else in the world, this man would have been in jail among thieves and felcons doing hard labour for decades. –Din Merican

  2. Why do we need anyone else to fix what is our problem? All the talk and boast of pride and Najib is essentially our problem we cannot do anything about? Najib is silver-spoon fed inheritor of Mahathir. By global standards of dictator, he is a wimp. Think about what the likes of Iraqis, Syrian, Libyan, Tunisian etc had to go through to get rid of their problem.

  3. WOW!!!…….WHAT A LABEL – “THE MOST CORRUPT PRIME MINISTER”…. A CHAMPION OF SORTS AS ALL POLITICIANS ARE ALL CORRUPT – IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF DEGREE. ONLY THE BLIND CANNOT SEE THAT.

  4. PERCEPTIONS – WORLDWIDE

    * POLITICIANS IN POWER ARE THE ‘LAW’ and CONTROL THE JUDICIARY

    * PEOPLE WITH ECONOMIC POWER ‘CONTROL THE LAW’ and JUDICIARY

    * RICH CAN ‘BUY THE LAW’ and JUDICIARY

    BUT WORLD POWER LEADERS CONTROL ALL THE ABOVE.

    # BEING ‘LEGAL’ SHOULD NOT BE EQUATED WITH ‘JUSTICE’ as
    JUSTICE MAY HAVE BECOME A VALUE WITH NO WORTH & A SLOGAN

    Similarly being ‘MORAL’ and ‘GOD FEARING’ may just be ‘LABELS’ as
    ‘GOD’ MAY ALSO BE DEEMED TO BE UNDER THE ‘CONTROL’ of those with
    POLITICAL/ECONOMIC/WEALTH POWERS AND WORLD POWERS,

  5. Foreign press and our local e-media largely highlighted the symptoms of disease in the corrupt practices reportedly on Najib, but totally missed ( intentionally or conveniently) the cause which is the deep rooted culture of Mahathir’s MACCP ( Money politics, Abuse of power, Corruption, Cronysm and Puppetry) in Umno Baru.

    That is like treating the sea sick man of ASEAN negatively without a cure.It is aggravatingly unhelpful unless the press are forthcoming in reporting a balance view of the whole picture.

    On the issue of pleading for Anwar ‘s release, Malaysians would preferred it be done through a royal pardon or a judicial review quickly, rather on Obama’s demand which, inevitably will be seen as an interference.

  6. Quote:- “Anywhere else in the world, this man would have been in jail among thieves and felcons doing hard labour for decades”

    It used to be the higher you climb the harder you fall. Here it’s the higher you climb the harder to fall.

    As for Obama, he can take comfort in agreeing with our DPM Zahid who says that all these things about Najib are Malaysia’s internal affairs.

  7. So din
    U want us to listen to Obama talk down to us on democracy and integrity
    Humbug my man humbug
    If only I am as brave as the shoe throwing journalist

  8. The USA can no longer be regarded as the beacon of political morality to shine on the world. The USA is itself fractured with failures in their right to ride the high horse to claim guardian of the rights of oppressed citizens of the corrupt nations under people like Najib and Saudi Royalty. It now falls on the citizens of each nation to fight , yes fight with whatever means and processes, to wrestle their dignity and liberty from these power crazed and wealth crazy leaders like Najib. No one is going to extend their hand to help the Malaysians unless it is in their interest. Conversely there are countries , like Singapore, in the immediate neighborhood, would prefer a chaotic disorganized Malaysia in preference to a progressive one to frame of political and economic reference to boost their own survival and image.

    This quandary calls for change of the mindset of the Malaysians for them to be made aware of their options if they value their liberty and economic well being. In the end it is in the hands of the Malays, the dominant ethnic group, who holds the torch to lead. Will they do it.

  9. The US cares only for geopolitics, and an eager-to-please Najib is going to be putty in their hands.

    Najib will not step down even if all 7 countries find him guilty to the hilt. It will just be ignored, although he may not travel as freely as before. For locals, “Komplot Yahudi” will do.

    Malaysia must face the simple fact that criminals are now in charge; they care for nothing but survival, and if they need to steal or cancel GE14, they will.

    In March onwards the Najib regime will introduce a huge slew of new laws to crack down on social media, dissent and whistleblowers, so that Umno’s theft can continue for the next few decades – the next generation of baby Umno snakes must be raised and trained to steal by their parents.

    The irrepressibly stupid urbanite chattering classes continue to flood online portals with comments about how the regime will be “buried in GE14”. It won’t. Even if the Opposition were not hopeless (they are), GE14 is not going to be a real election in any sense.

    Malaysia has very, very little hope left for the foreseeable future. GE13 was the high point, it is all downhill from now on.

    The jokes about Zimbabwe & North Korea are going to be less than funny very soon, because within 5-10 years it will be real.

  10. Your 3% chance for survival:

    The Conference of Rulers meets soon.

    If they do not intervene, the country is doomed.

    This renegade son of Razak is a criminal on the run. He is abusing laws and inventing new ones just to save himself from jail. That is the situation now. He has already sabotaged local investigations to prevent justice. His “yes man” is a further crime against the rakyat.

    The appointment of an A-G cannot legally be made via false representations to the YDPA.

    If the current A-G was replaced under false pretences, for an invalid reason, in order to prevent justice from being done, then his removal is null and void – as is the appointment of a replacement. If the replacement, in turn, obstructs justice, then the wrong is doubled.

    If the Conference of Rulers advises the Agong to revoke Apandi’s appointment and call for an RCI, then Najib will get the hint. Then there needs to be a pledge of allegiance from the armed forces to their commander in chief – the YDPA.

    At this point, Najib will negotiate for a safe exit without waiting for the results.

    That’s pretty much the only way.

    Forget elections, civil society, Bersih, or appeals for international pressure – none of these has even the slightest hope of working.

  11. “Foreign press and our local e-media largely highlighted the symptoms of disease in the corrupt practices reportedly on Najib, but totally missed ( intentionally or conveniently) the cause which is the deep rooted culture of Mahathir’s MACCP ( Money politics, Abuse of power, Corruption, Cronysm and Puppetry) in Umno Baru.”

    Incredible.

    No-one ever realised this before. Seriously.

    But nothing like a good rant about a leader who left 13 years ago, that really helps us now I guess.

    I went to a cancer specialist about my tumour, and he told me the whole history of cancer, and then left it at that. Then, I died.

  12. The US has been trying to contain China since 50s. They first tried to contain PRC using military means. With Taiwan occupying the seat of the Republic of China in the UN Security Council. Neighbours were armed and military bases surrounded PRC. With the fall of Vietnam that failed. Then and now economic muscles are being used to contain PRC.

    In this context, we have the Pivot to Asia. How do we pivot to Asia with PRC outside the pivot. The U.S. is pushing it policies vis-a-vis PRC at the expense of supporting countries that are democratic only in name. In this regard, I do not think that the U.S. has the interest of Asia. they are, true to diplomatic norms, only interested in their own interest.

    Now South East Asian Countries where democracy is at best only in the constitution are being wooed by the US with no regard for what is actually happening in these countries. They have wrecked the Middle East by supporting democratic dictators and now have elaborate plan to do the same in Asia.

    US umbrella is useful to appoint. But in the long term you will only survive as a independent nation if you have your own made roof. In the meantime PRC is watching. Do we really want to take sides in the superpower conflict to become a global power? That is the question for our elite civil servants in wismaputra to ponder in the coming decade. But in the meantime fix your roof before the tropical rain floods your home.
    _________
    TL Man,

    Just played golf with an outstanding and articulate General of the RCAF who is educated at The University of Cambodia with Phd, and The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy@NUS and Harvard’s JFK School of Government. During the few hours playing golf, he explained to me what Prime Minister Hun Sen has been doing for his people.

    Prime Minister Hun Sen talks about building national resilience and engaging young Cambodians (Generation Z) so that they will remember the lessons of recent Cambodian history. His Win-Win Policy attempts to promote a culture of self reliance and hard work, discourse and dialogue, reconciliation and compromise, not adversarial democracy. He is succeeding in his efforts, although he has to deal with skeptics and opposition politicians who think that aping western democracy like a magic wand is the panacea . The Cambodian Prime Minister now uses social media (especially Facebook) to stay connected to Cambodians. In contrast, our government is increasingly disconnected with our citizens. There is no dialogue, only repression and prosecution.–Din Merican

  13. /// Wayne February 14, 2016 at 12:00 pm
    It used to be the higher you climb the harder you fall. Here it’s the higher you climb the harder to fall. ///

    Looks like Malaysia is beginning to be a melting pot.

    “America is a melting pot, the people at the bottom get burned while all the scum floats to the top.” – Charlie King

  14. Talking about what YAA Tun did is not going to address the issues of the day. In fact it actually weakens the case. What happened in the past is done. If we can draw strength from it, yes, by all means indulge in it. Other wise we should be focussed on the present because what we today will show results in ten years. In this regard it pays not to be influenced by the last person we have spoken to.
    And ps C. King may have solved the issues related to the shade of colour of the social order in the world today

  15. “I went to a cancer specialist about my tumour, and he told me the whole history of cancer, and then left it at that. Then, I died.”

    I admit, I literally laughed out aloud at this.

    Anyway right now Obama is going to stick it to some unlucky fool who will be his nominee to replace Atonin Scalia. JibRos probably has some advice on stacking the deck.

  16. Edit:

    Speaking about justice (sic) has anyone else read, S. Thayaparan’s piece yesterday for M’kini ?

    https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/330219

    “When the Seremban High Court granted custody of their two children to S Deepa, N Viran @ Izwan Abdullah was reported as saying, “If this is how it will be, do they want me to go back and drink ‘arak haram’ (liquor)?”

    Which begs the question, were the judges of the Federal Court worried that any other decision than the one they made earlier this week, would push this kidnapper over the brink and he would find solace in a bottle of whiskey?”
    ________________
    Conrad,

    The issue is not relevant for this blog as this time. I read it. Thaya writes well. But sometimes I have to make a decision with regard to the issues of concern to us for this blog. I don’t give a damn if the father chooses to go back to his boozing ways.The man is irresponsible and should see a shrink at TR, Perak.–Din Merican

  17. There are diversions all over the place. Nothing in this world happens by accident. All of us have at some point contemplated or have done something wrong. And in most of the cases the environment may have encouraged us to do it because if the environment was restricted and confined we may have opted to do the right thing.

    That is why we as citizens have to remain focused and clearly see the woods for the trees and provide the environment to encourage those in positions of leadership at all levels to do right thing.

  18. “Yet, at the same time, Obama’s muted public response to Najib’s repressive ways, the failure of the administration to examine Najib’s role in fomenting radicalization through Malaysia’s state-run media and the willingness of the United States to maintain its embrace of this particularly toxic Malaysian prime minister has been deeply disheartening to Malaysia’s democrats and civil society leaders,” Jared Genser.

    While Obama’s embrace of the prime minister may not be right, there are certain inevitable causes that make him chooses to do so. One of them is that Malaysia is the most well-managed country among the world 57 Muslim-majority nations. Even the once-high-flying Turkey is raked with suicide bombings and arm conflicting. Another cause of embracing Najib is that Obama always has a soft spot to Muslims and would love to show USA has a good relation to Muslim world so that his soft spot is not just sentimental but is vindicated by facts on the ground; no other Muslim-majority nation is better than Malaysia for show-casing the good relation.

    1MDB scandal and suppressing 150 dissidents are small problems compared to problems faced by the rest of 56 Muslim-Majority nations. For example, Turkey, a relatively “good” Muslim-majority country, arrests 10 of thousands of journalists, faces suicide bombers, bombs separatist Kurds, and almost bans Facebook because Erdogan feels insulted. Even when Malaysia is declining, Malaysia will remain the high profile Muslim-majority country as long as the rest of the 56 Muslim-majority nations decline even faster. We are the poster-child of good Muslim-majority country in the international arena.

    We are dissatisfied only when we compare our current state with our past. For addressing that dissatisfaction, we are on our own.

  19. Shiou has the right of it.

    I mean has looking to America for help ever assisted in the progression of democracy in third (sic) world countries ?

    This is not about bashing America this is about making democracy our own.

  20. Any American president would embrace Najib the s.o.b., for he is an obedient s.o.b. who serves American interests.

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