A-G Apandi is an overzealous heck and should be impeached


February 7, 2016

The reluctant A-G Apandi is an overzealous heck and should be impeached

COMMENT: Malaysia’s Worst Attorney-General is unable to do what is right. Yet he claims to serve our King. Actually, he is just Najib’s apologist and henchman. He deserves to go down with our most corrupt Prime Minister. Our Parliament must move to impeach him.

I am also someone whose ancestors came from India-a mamak.But  I do not have the problem of wanting to be more Malay than the Malay. Anyway, who is a Malay? He is actually a constitutional construct. Even Ridhuan Tee Abdullah is Malay when he is a Malaysian Chinese. What is great about being a Malay who depends on UMNO’s handouts?  Only mamaks with tons of hang-ups like him, Chief Secretary Hamsa Ali, and Secretary-General to the Malaysian Treasury Irwan Sirega are prepared to sell themselves to the Malaysian political demon for status and name recognition.–Din Merican

source: http://www.malaysiakini.com

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali dismissed his predecessor Abu Talib Othman’s opinion that he did not have authority to close the RM2.6 billion case, adding that all he did was based on what he had learnt from the former A-G.

“I am just following my master’s footstep. Now he said I couldn’t do that. I am confused.I hope he can come to see me so that I can offer my explanation,” he was quoted as saying by Sin Chew Daily in an exclusive interview.

Last week, Abu Talib slammed Apandi alleging that the AG had no authority to order the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to close its investigations into the RM2.6 billion donation deposited into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s personal accounts.

“Under Article 145 (3) of the Federal constitution, the A-G has power only to institute, conduct and discontinue any (criminal) proceedings, but has no authority to order any investigation agency to close its investigation papers.

“This is a case of public importance that has attracted worldwide attention. The AG must help the MACC to collect evidence as the source of the fund is outside Malaysia,” said Abu Talib.

Didn’t request Swiss AG to close 1MDB case

In a related matter, Apandi also insisted that he never requested his Swiss counterpart to close the European nation’s own investigations into 1MDB during a meeting last September.

“I never said that… That’s a lie. I never mention any 1MDB cases. It was a courtesy call… If the Swiss needs any help, I will provide…The meeting was about mutual legal assistance. We could help at any time, that’s it.”

Apandi said the meeting between him and Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber was also attended by Deputy Solicitor-General Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah and an officer from Lauber’s office.

He said the office of the Swiss Attorney-General had requested the help of the AG’s Chambers through the Foreign Ministry, though the official request they filed only reached him on February 4.

However, Apandi said he has yet to read the Swiss document.The A-G’s Chambers, he added, will extend its help to the Swiss under the mutual legal assistance protocols, though he refused to disclose details as it is “top secret”.

Last week, Reuters reported that a Malaysian official strongly urged Lauber to drop his 1MDB-related investigation during a meeting last September.Prior to Apandi’s decision to close the cases against Najib, Lauber through his office had reportedly made a request to Malaysia for assistance in his country’s 1MDB probe into possible violations of Swiss laws related to bribery of foreign officials, misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal mismanagement.

Lauber also reportedly said that Najib was not a suspect in the Swiss probe.Apandi subsequently said he would take all possible steps to assist Swiss authorities but clarified that the investigations into the RM2.6 billion donation made to Najib were entirely separate from those into 1MDB.

Gani only worked two days a week

Apandi also said that his appointment to the nation’s top legal office is valid and constitutional.

He said the health problems afflicting his immediate predecessor, Abdul Gani Patail, is an open secret. Abdul Gani, he added, needs to have dialysis three days a week, which rendered the former A-G capable of working only two days each week, minus the weekend.

In contrast, Apandi said he has been working tirelessly since taking over from Abdul Gani.”You see, with the workload of the A-G, I could not take leave after I assume office. I work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“I even have to work from home (after office hours),” he said, adding he has to maintain communications with his officers via email at all times.For example, he said, he has to work until one in the morning if a case is urgent.

Sacrificed wealth to join public service

Apandi also said he made “financial sacrifices” when he left his private legal practice to join the public service. Nevertheless, he said he was honoured to serve the country and the Agong.”I never ask for this job (AG). I was offered to be made A-G.”

Previously, Apandi said he could earn RM15,000 a case when he was in private practice, excluding the additional legal consultantation fees.”At that time a judicial commissioner could earn a basic salary of RM17,000. For me, that is nothing. Add on other allowances, it would only reach no more than RM20,000.”

He said he has invested money earned from his private legal practice into property, including Wisma Apandi which was build in his hometown of Kota Bahru.

The building, he said, has given him good rental income. Apandi was appointed A-G after his predecessor Abdul Gani was let go purportedly due to “health problems” last July, which coincided with a cabinet reshuffle which saw the deputy prime minister, who had been vocal on the 1MDB scandal, removed.

In late January, he cleared Najib from criminal wrongdoings in the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International cases.

Towards a New National Ethos NOW


February 6, 2016

Towards a New National Ethos NOW

by R B Bhattacharjee

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

The current generation of Malaysians have an extraordinary opportunity to chart new pathways for the country in light of the ground shift that is taking place in its political, social and economic spheres.

Currently, the multiple crises that are playing out on the national stage present a rather disturbing picture of the state of the nation – reflecting a breakdown in accountability, misallocation of resources, radicalisation of cultural norms and a growing ethical deficit. In total, the trend is distinctly downhill.

Nevertheless, while the near term will tend to be chaotic, it is important that we do not succumb to negativity but focus our energies on nurturing a vision for Malaysia that will put the country on a path towards excellence.

To achieve this, we will need to find inspiration to transcend the petty squabbles, narrow viewpoints and selfish instincts of self-serving pressure groups in our midst that have kept our nation in a constant state of anxiety.

It is clear that these divisive voices occupy a public space that is disproportionately large because opinion leaders with a more wholesome vision have not given life to a holistic worldview that all Malaysians can espouse as their own.

This then is our challenge today: can we supplant the narrative of the extremists with an ideal of a plural, tolerant and progressive society? Failure will mean condemning future generations to a dismal fate under the tyrannical control of self-appointed guardians of society.

So, it is not only vital to invest in the socialisation of a common, yet diverse value system, this generation has a solemn responsibility to succeed in that endeavour.

As societal transformation often occurs on an inter-generational time frame, a key challenge will be to plant the seeds of this new thinking in institutions that involve the young – particularly the educational system, sports organisations and youth movements.

A vital measure in this context is to reform the school environment to promote the concept of egalitarianism as a basis for a just society. This will require a mindset change at a fundamental level to create a new sense of national consciousness.

There must also be a readiness to reinterpret the intent of constitutional provisions on issues like the special rights of the Malays, among other things, to align prevalent views on the nation’s charter with universal concepts of human aspirations.

The terrain is fraught with perils including racial and religious sensitivities that can derail attempts to explore alternative pathways that are more conducive to Malaysia’s progress as a contemporary society in the era of borderless exchange and globalisation.

Yet, we must find the courage to venture into forbidding areas of our composite nationhood in order to lay to rest musty ideas about inter-ethnic relations and mutual suspicions about acculturation, hidden agendas and an assortment of other hobgoblins.

Difficult as it may seem to discard old ways of thinking about ethnicity and cultural differences, it is worth noting that many Malaysians already incorporate colour-blind practices in significant aspects of their lives.

Children who are enrolled into international schools, for example, experience diversity and multiculturalism as integral elements of their learning environment.

Similarly, employees in multinational firms imbue policies promoting equal opportunity and cultural sensitivity as part and parcel of the organisational ethos.

People working in fields like the health services, engineering, research and management benchmark their performance to international standards and protocols that are insulated from ethnic markers of any kind.

These examples show that a significant segment of Malaysians are already operating in a universal framework of values, and that the time is really overdue for a bigger swathe of the population to be co-opted into this broader paradigm.

What remains is to overcome the inertia of our current trajectory and steer the country away from its disastrous current pathway towards a national vision that is open to the best virtues of an interdependent new world.

Nothing would be more tragic for the nation than to remain shackled by its self-inflicted deficiencies instead of leveraging on its natural advantages to build a dynamic, open and forward-looking society.

To realise that potential, we must be ready to undo past mistakes and adopt a fresh ethos that all Malaysians would want to buy into.

To find our bearings again, we only need to reaffirm the best aspects of our diversity that promote our common well-being and discard those habits that divide and separate us. It really ought to be a simple choice.

Gong Xi Fa Cai to All around the World


February 5, 2016

Gong Xi Fa Cai 2016 to All

To Men and Women of Goodwill around the world, friends and associates in Malaysia, Cambodia, China (and Diaspora), ASEAN,and Australia.

Dr. Kamsiah and I wish you Gong Xi Fa Cai 2016. May you be safely united with family for your traditional dinner tonight. Drive and travel carefully.

Greetings from Us at The University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh

It is a great tradition, and may you continue this practice since the family is an important institution, particularly in today’s troubled world. It is home where we learn to respect our elders, acquire and reinforce our ethical values, engage in civilised discourse, and celebrate the dignity of difference. May we live in peace.

Traditional values are, therefore, not out of date. Why? Because peace and goodwill are what will be needed now as we face serious threats to our survival from global terrorism and our wanton disregard of our environment.

For this occasion, we have chosen to bring back music of 1950s. It was my teenage  years (Dr. Kamsiah was born 13 years later). Wow, that was decades ago.The songs you hear remind me of those years of innocence and bliss.

Growing up in Alor Setar, Kedah Darul Aman  in the ’50s together with Daim Zainuddin, Kassim Ahmad, Kamil Jaffar,  Col. Ismail, Razali Ismail, Yusof Bakar, Halim Rejab,  Mansor Ahmad, Martin Lim, S. Perumal, Veeriah, Muniandy, Rahman Rahim,  et.al, was wonderful because colour, race and religion did not matter to us. We were Malayans (and Malaysians) First.

We were 1People. We lived in peace and enjoyed all festivals–Ramadan, Christmas, Chinese New Year, Cambodian New Year, Wesak Day and others. But today, as Malaysians, we have become a divided people, conscious of our differences because our irresponsible political leaders and ulamas have chosen to use race and religion to separate us for power and influence.

There is no doubt that we made enormous economic progress. But that has led to an erosion of our rich cultural heritage and well grounded values. If that is progress, Dr. Kamsiah and I will have none of it.

So my friends,let  us work for peace and love our planet. Like it or not, we have no place else to go, at least until we can find  a livable alternative (s) in the galaxy. We wish you and family Cong xi Fai Cai and God Bless.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

UMNO: Three Down but more problems ahead for Party President


February 6, 2016

UMNO: Three Down but more problems ahead for Party President

by Scott Ng

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

muhyiddin-shafie-mukhriz

And so Mukhriz Mahathir, a son of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s greatest enemy, is no longer in the hallowed halls. All is well in the UMNO camp once again. But is that so?

As perfect as the situation may seem for Najib and his supporters, the reality is that Mukhriz’s ouster has only deepened the divide between UMNO’s leadership and its grassroots.

Mukhriz’s replacement, Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, is a proven weakness. Kedah would still be a Pakatan-held state if not for Mukhriz and the bigwigs who campaigned for him in the last general election. And while he may have preferred spending time in the big city to staying put in largely rural Kedah, he nonetheless ran the state credibly.

As a son of Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Mukhriz’s pedigree would have been unquestioned in any other period of our recent political history. But these are times when Najib holds unchallenged power.

Mukhriz nonetheless went down swinging. He told the press that the true reason UMNO wanted him gone was that he had the gall to criticise the PM over the 1MDB scandal and the issue of the RM2.6 billion donation. In doing so, he affirmed the belief of thousands of supporters, as well as many other Malaysians, that Najib Razak cares only for Najib Razak, and that there will be hell to pay if any UMNO leader dares to step out of line.

Even the opposition members of the Kedah state assembly went to bat for Mukhriz, with all 15 of them endorsing a statement calling for Najib to step down instead. They said the removal of the Menteri Besar must be done according to the law. Far from merely attempting to drive a wedge between the ruling party and the people, the opposition here voiced out what many Kedahans have been saying — if there really is a crisis of confidence, put it to a vote and show the people that Mukhriz really has lost the support of the state assembly.

Maybe this Bomoh can save UMNO

These shenanigans and ground shifts no longer confuse the people or make them fearful. They make them angry instead, and UMNO is deluding itself if it thinks that the voices that swelled in song at Stadium Darul Aman belonged only to Mukhriz’s political camp. The truth is that the rakyat in Kedah and elsewhere are fed up with the actions of the ruling party and they are no longer content to be silent about it. This certainly is not something any ruling party would want as it prepares for a general election.

UMNO must know that it may have gambled Kedah away unless it has a strikingly brilliant plan for regaining the trust of voters before GE14. But appearances thus far indicate that the party is playing a dangerous game of touch and go. If the clashes currently happening between Mukhriz’s supporters and detractors are any indication, it is likely that the Kedah situation is far from over.

The nation will be watching closely, and the Prime Minister must choose his next move wisely or bear even more open derision in the face of his efforts to turn public opinion around. Where Kedah goes from here, there too may go the rest of the country. Q.E.D

 

President Barack Obama to meet ASEAN Leaders


February 5, 2016

President Barack Obama to meet ASEAN Leaders@Sunnylands soon

by Simon Tay

ASEAN leaders will soon converge in the United States for a Summit with President Barack Obama. The Sunnylands summit, late into Obama’s last year in office, is a marker of the US pivot to the region. His administration should be credited with giving closer attention not just to giants such as China, Japan and India, but also to the 10 medium- and smaller-sized countries of the region.

It was Obama, after all, who inaugurated the US-ASEAN leaders’ meeting back in 2009 and evolved it into a series of summits. Choosing the Sunnylands venue for the upcoming US-ASEAN Summit, where China’s President Xi Jinping was recently hosted, symbolises a parity in US priorities.

If Washington can truly support ASEAN as the hub for the wider region, a greater sense of participation and less conflict can result. ASEAN’s members have inaugurated a community among themselves that, while far from perfect, shows greater economic cooperation and habits of peaceful cooperation.

Just in January, US Secretary of State John Kerry called for ASEAN unity while visiting Laos, the current chairman of the group. But reaching out to ASEAN can be read as being an effort in the context of controversies over the South China Sea, where China has claims to territories that overlap and conflict with claims by four ASEAN member states.

Very recently, US forces conducted a freedom-of-navigation exercise into waters that China claims. Military alliances in the region, especially with Japan and the Philippines, have also been re-emphasised. Many may therefore think that the US support for ASEAN unity is merely instrumental, a rallying call against Beijing.

To grow the US-ASEAN relationship on a broader and stronger foundation, there are things that can and should be done by the US, as well as things that should be avoided.

On the South China Sea, the US should support the ASEAN effort to negotiate a Code of Conduct with China, which will help to prevent tensions from escalating. But it must be a united Asean that leads on this, and the group’s position cannot be dictated by any single claimant to the disputed areas. Nor will it help if China seems confronted by the US and its allies.

Just as importantly, there are other areas in which the US should more actively promote cooperation. Climate change is one example. The Obama administration has made notable headway with Beijing and also established a dialogue with Indonesia, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in ASEAN.

Following the landmark climate-change agreement struck at the Paris summit in end-2015, further effort should be made for cooperation between the US, China and ASEAN as a whole.

Pragmatism needed

There are also things that might negatively affect the group’s relations with the US. One of these is to over-emphasise democracy – no doubt a vital part of US foreign policy, but a practice among only some ASEAN countries.

After the military coup of 2015 in Bangkok, the US has cold-shouldered its erstwhile treaty ally, Thailand. US law mandates that some measures must be taken. However, these sanctions have gone further and unhelpfully so because if the current Prayuth Chan-o-cha government feels ostracised by the US, there is every reason for the considerable influence that Beijing has over Bangkok to grow further.

The Obama administration should instead balance its approach with a dash of another US characteristic – pragmatism. Look at Kerry’s January visit to Laos and Cambodia, neither of which are bastions of democracy.

Consider especially the US’s engagement with Vietnam. The latter remains a socialist-party state and one that has just selected its leadership through its own rather arcane and secretive process, rather than an open election.

Yet, rather than criticism, Vietnam has been brought into the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the largest regional-trade accord in history that the Obama administration has pushed as the main economic pillar in its engagement with Asia. The TPPA illustrates how US initiatives can sometimes inadvertently undercut ASEAN unity.

The TPPA includes 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific, but only four ASEAN members – Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. The trade pact has been heralded as a “new age” treaty that creates stricter requirements for deeper integration among nations. There are concerns, therefore, that the economic and trade effects fostered by the TPPA will be inconsistent with ASEAN’s own effort at developing an economic community with an integrated production base.

This is especially as the TPPA will connect those four ASEAN members more deeply with the US and Japan, while leaving others out. It would help if the US actively supports the ASEAN Economic Community, and encourages more Asean members to enter into the TPPA.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has already made this point publicly after his bilateral meeting with Obama late in 2015. There are signs, too, that the Philippines is keen on joining the TPPA.

A more important TPPA entrant would be Thailand. Even if a military-backed government is in charge, there is clear economic logic to support this. Of the three, Thailand’s economy is the most integrated with the rest of ASEAN and Japan.

Of course, joining the TPPA will not be easy. Even for the 12 governments already in the TPPA, the coming months will see if their domestic lawmakers are willing to ratify what has been negotiated. But discussions on new members can start in parallel as a key economic engagement with the ASEAN countries not already part of the trade pact.

To secure Congress support for the TPPA within the US itself, the Obama administration will no doubt argue that agreement is essential to the US’s pivot and widens its circle of friends in the region. Support for ASEAN unity, which the upcoming summit signifies, can and should be another reason.

To make US-ASEAN engagement work, the Obama administration must look not only at the South China Sea. US-ASEAN engagement must be built on a broader foundation on issues that are intrinsic to the group itself, and much will depend on whether the US can truly and pragmatically engage ASEAN’s diverse membership. – Today online, February 5, 2016.

* Simon Tay is chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, an independent and globally ranked think tank, and Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal: You Couldn’t Make It Up


February 5, 2016

COMMENT: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak can use all the power he has at home to muzzle his officials in Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency, the Auditor-General, Bank Negara Malaysia and threaten or charge his detractors and critics Din Merican @UCusing the Sedition Act and the Multimedia and Communications Commission.  But there is one thing he should know and that is, he has no influence whatsoever with the Swiss and Singapore authorities.

Switzerland and Singapore are global financial centers with solid reputation for  their commitment to the Rule of Law, integrity and probity, good governance, and professionalism. It is immaterial whether our authorities will cooperate with their regulators, they will proceed with their investigations.–Din Merican

Up & Down Asia

Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal: You Couldn’t Make It Up

While Swiss and Singapore officials turn up the heat, Prime Minister Najib Razak hides his head in the sand.

I don’t know who Najib Razak’s friends are in Saudi Arabia, but I sure want a few.

Who wouldn’t covet a pal or two willing to toss you $700 million as a “gift,” no strings attached? That’s at least the Malaysian prime minister’s story, and he’s sticking to it. Politicians overseas, meanwhile, would sure love to have Najib’s electorate. Since the Wall Street Journal broke news of his good fortune, Najib has displayed a fatalistic willingness to take an entire economy down so he can stay in office. And his party harbors little fear of losing power.

There’s the “Twilight Zone” and there’s the “Malaysia Zone,” and just try discerning the difference. Najib-gate grew even more surreal last week when Malaysia’s attorney general suddenly cleared him of criminal or corruption charges. In a hastily-arranged press conference, Mohamed Apandi Ali said Najib had returned all but $61 million of that “donation” from the Saudi royal family. Somehow, Apandi kept a straight face as he declared the matter closed.

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, was cleared of any wrongdoing by Malaysia’s attorney general in relation to almost $700 million entering his personal bank account via entities linked to 1MDB, the state fund set up by Mr. Najib in 2009.– Photographer: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg

 

But Swiss authorities couldn’t. On Monday, they detailed allegations that a state fund Najib controls may have misappropriated about $4 billion from state companies. Malaysia responded with outrage – outrage the Swiss dared bring transparency into the Malaysia Zone. “By making a public statement, in my opinion, it is not good because it not only strains ties between the two countries, but also creates bias in media reports,” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamid said and, yes, with a straight face.

Respect, Switzerland. Respect. It’s never easy to be a whistleblower, but that’s especially so when your main industry is helping the rich camouflage wealth. Reputational risk couldn’t stop Bern from shaming a Malaysian government used to pulling the wool over the eyes of its 30 million people. Not all Malaysians, of course, but those keeping Najib’s United Malays National Organisation in business.

Yet Malaysia Inc. went too far in the camouflage department for Swiss officials. Ditto for the U.S. and Singapore. U.S. officials are probing Goldman Sachs’s role as an advisor; Singapore seized a series of accounts amid investigations into money laundering and other alleged offenses related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the fund Najib created in 2009. Ostensibly, 1MDB was set up to spur economic growth. Instead, it’s emblematic of why Malaysia is becoming a smaller blip on investors’ radar screens.

The $700 million scandal is merely a symptom, albeit a gargantuan one, of a more important number: 54. That’s Malaysia’s ranking in Transparency International’s 2015 corruption perceptions index, and it’s down four levels from a year earlier. In 2014, Saudi Arabia trailed Malaysia five places. By 2015, Najib’s supposed benefactor leapfrogged ahead of Malaysia, ranking in the 48th percentile. The perception corruption has worsened on Najib’s watch (a Swiss one, perhaps?) can be found in everything from stock and currency gyrations to foreign-direct-investment trends to divergent political dynamics in Asia.

Indonesia, for example, jumped 19 places on Transparency International’s tables since 2014, even besting the Philippines (another nation cleaning up its act). The difference between Jakarta and Putrajaya? Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s methodical focus on eradicating graft, putting more government functions and services online and recruiting credible deputies is paying off. As Jakarta reduces opacity, Putrajaya is increasingly shrouding itself from the global media, local activists and its people.

THE TIDBITS THAT DO ESCAPE NAJIB’S FIREWALL are of the you-couldn’t-make-this-stuff-up-if-you-tried variety. In December, we learned the Federal Bureau of Investigation is eyeing Najib family assets in connection with Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Wolf of Wall Street” film (a company set up by his stepson produced it). Don’t forget perpetual efforts to imprison opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges from the late 1990s. Hence jokes that CBS’s next crime-scene investigation series should be “CSI: Malaysia.” Or about the irony of a government that can’t find a Boeing 777 having no trouble locating Anwar’s body fluids two decades later.

The controversy surrounding MH370, missing since March 2014, and 1MDB stem from the same problem: a political elite that cares about staying in power, not the people. That charge could be lobbed at the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan or America’s Republicans. But neither has held power continuously for six decades, as UMNO has. When the world looked Malaysia’s way amid the greatest aviation mystery since Amelia Earhart, the government was woefully unprepared for primetime. It should’ve learned then that circling the wagons and shutting the world out is a losing strategy.

Only, it didn’t. Najib’s team repeated similar mistakes with 1MDB. First, it dismissed the Journal’s July 2015 report following 1MDB money into Najib’s account personal accounts as some conspiracy to undermine Malaysia. Then, after Putrajaya could no longer ignore the storm, it effectively said “Oh yeah, that. It was a gift. Trust us.” Then, awkwardly, the attorney general whitewashed the crisis. The matter, Najib declared after the ruling, “has been comprehensively put to rest.”

Hardly, Swiss prosecutors retorted this week. Burying such a global scandal is no longer possible in a globalized world in which Malaysia competes for investment. The growing number of foreign probes -– and escalating ones at that –- risk denting Malaysia’s standing. They’re also as clear an explanation as any for why Malaysia is being left behind as Indonesia, the Philippines and other neighbors zoom ahead.

Thing is, Malaysia is an amazing and unique place and I urge anyone who hasn’t visited to check it out. Its breathtaking physical beauty is only rivaled by the energy of its multiethnic population, a thriving culinary scene second to few and enviable geographical placement as China, India and Southeast Asia blossom and change the world. Sadly, it’s run by a government that claims all’s well when the rest of the world knows something’s rotten in Najib’s Malaysia. And with a straight face.