The Honesty Factor


July 5, 2018

The Honesty Factor

by The Sarawak Report

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Malaysia has dispensed with juries, meaning that concerns around issues of contempt and the potential for reporting to influence the outcome of trials are lessened.

Nevertheless, Malaysians are agreed former Prime Minister Najib Razak ought to receive a fair and objective hearing, which was something he and his current defence lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, spectacularly denied to others when the shoe was on the other foot. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Aside from the specific details of the charges, what the unraveling of events in recent weeks has shown is just how extensively this former Prime Minister and those around him have been prepared to blatantly lie to justify their actions and foist accusations on others in the process.

Given this record of lying, it is likely to be challenging for Najib to present himself as a reliable or trustworthy character with regard to a single thing he says. Take for a start today’s charges, which mirror the original charges against him in 2015, which were published at the time by Sarawak Report.

Dismissed as false - original charges, leaked to SR

Dismissed as false – original charges, leaked to SR

 

Back in 2015 Najib immediately announced that these charges (now confirmed by Dr Mahathir after consultation with the former Attorney General) were a complete fabrication. Not only that, Najib used the false denial to set the full force of the law onto Sarawak Report.

A raft of charges were brought, accusing the editor of scheming to bring ‘false news’ and to destabilise the government, described as ‘activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy’.

Not satisfied with issuing an arrest warrant in Malaysia on these exotic grounds, Najib even went so far as to attempt to get INTERPOL to also issue a Red Notice terror alert, all based on the same false denial about a story that has turned out to be true.

The Prime Minister went on to employ executive powers to ban online access to Sarawak Report and bully other media into not covering any of this website’s further reporting, again on the grounds of his own false denial. A campaign of online villification and defamation was then unleased to attempt to further discredit Sarawak Report.

Xavier Justo

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Xavier Justo with Prime  Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Far worse was experienced by whistleblower Xavier Justo, who was denounced and then arrested and imprisoned on false charges in Thailand as part of the same campaign to deny thefts from 1MDB.

The Swiss national was blackmailed in captivity to issue false confessions, all designed to exonerate the Malaysian Prime Minister and others on matters relating to the very charges he now seeks to deny, namely those thefts from the fund.

Najib, therefore, has not just a record of denying the truth, he has come after those who spoke the truth with a vengeance and forced others to tell lies to suit his narrative.  So what credibility will his denials hold, one wonders, against the charges themselves?  It will be for the judges, thankfully, to weigh the facts.

Lawyer Shafee Abdullah

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Tan Sri Muhammad Shafie Abdullah–The Iago of Malaysia’s Legal  Profession

This astonishing case is of course further distinguished by the fact that the leading defence lawyer has arguably almost as extensive a track record of being accused of dishonesty and abuse of process as his client himself.

He has taken on the case after several previous lawyers hired by Najib headed for the exit, however Shafee Abdullah goes way back with the Prime Minister as the world knows. There is barely a controversial case involving Najib, that has not also involved Shafee over the past decade.

The Altantuya cover-up and the now rejected and discredited prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim were both managed by Shafee. Indeed, over the past few weeks Shafee has been publicly roasted by a high court judge for having claimed to be the legal representative for Deepak Jaikashan in the Altantuya cover-up, when, in fact, Deepak complained he was being blackmailed to accept Shafee as his representative to enable Najib to control his submissions in the case.

The judge threw Shafee’s out , along with this lawyer’s cooked up defence, which Deepak complained had been constructed on behalf of his secret genuine client, Najib Razak, not the actual defendant, whom he was purporting to represent.

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Malaysia’s Attorney-General Tommy  Thomas

Last year Shafee attempted to sue fellow lawyers, including the present Attorney-General Tommy Thomas (pic above), for libel over their reporting of him to the Bar Council for improper conduct over the prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim.  Shafee’s conduct during that prosecution had indeed been the subject of much concern on many levels and his libel case was thrown out by the judge on the grounds that the reporting of the matter to the Bar Council was well justified.

So, this allegedly duplicitous pair are now to be the key players in the upcoming headline grabbing trial where Najib is defending himself against charges brought by none other, of course, than Tommy Thomas.

On the matter of payments, Sarawak Report has already revealed that Najib issued Shafee two cheques totalling RM9.5 million in late 2013 and early 2014, from one of the suspect SRC funded accounts that are at the centre of this trial.

The reason for those two payments have never been explained, although they coincided with the period during which Shafee usurped the role of the public prosecutor in the Anwar case, which he claimed he had performed for free as a public service to the nation.

He has yet to comment whether he will be taking a fee to defend Najib. However, what is certain is that any writer would be hard pressed make up a stranger set of circumstances or such a narrative of role reversals as the one about to be played out in the Malaysian High Court before the eyes of the world over coming weeks.

Copyright © 2018 Sarawak Report, All rights reserved.

Malaysia’s No. 1 Kleptocrat and Crook arrested


July 3, 2018

Malaysia’s No. 1 Kleptocrat and Crook  arrested

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/03/asia/razak-malaysia-arrest-intl/index.html

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We Malaysians rejoice at Najib’s Arrest today–Justice will be done

(CNN)Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested Tuesday, according to Malaysian state media Bernama. Bernama cites the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which has been investigating billions of state funds that went missing while Najib was in power.

Last week Malaysian Police said they had seized $225 million in luxury handbags, jewelry, cash and goods from six properties linked to the former leader.
The goods were seized as part of the investigation into the sprawling scandal related to 1MDB, a state investment vehicle from which Najib was accused of siphoning off billions of dollars.He has denied any wrongdoing.
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Najib, whose government was plagued by scandal, was soundly defeated in parliamentary elections in May. Veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad came out of retirement to lead a coalition that challenged and defeated the incredibly unpopular Najib.
According to an investigation by the US Justice Department, Malaysian financier Jho Low used $1.3 million of funds misappropriated from 1MDB to buy 27 different 18-carat gold necklaces and bracelets for the wife of someone listed in the complaint as “Malaysia Official 1.” That official has been widely reported to be Najib.
The US is currently seeking to recover around $540 million misappropriated from the 1MDB fund, with more than $1.7 billion of assets subject to forfeiture under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
Some of those assets include profits from the Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which was financed by a company associated with 1MDB, as well as properties linked to Low and others.
Mahathir, who succeeded Najib as Prime Minister in May, has promised to hold his former protege accountable.

 

Dr. Ramesh Chander Praises Malaysian Finance Minister for early statement on National Debt


July 2, 2018

Dr. Ramesh Chander Praises Malaysian Finance Minister for early statement on National Debt

https://blog.limkitsiang.com/2018/07/02/r-chander-first-malaysian-chief-statistician-1963-1977-praises-guan-eng-for-early-statement-on-national-debt-and-stresses-urgency-of-coherent-plan-to-manage-malaysias-public-sector-debt/

R. Chander, Malaysian Chief Statistician (1963-1977) praises Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for early statement on national debt and stresses urgency of coherent plan to manage Malaysia’s public sector debt.

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I  received an expert opinion on Malaysia’s public sector debt by Dr. R. Chander, the first  Chief Statistician of (1963-1977), who went on to serve as the Senior Adviser to the World Bank’s Chief Economist-Vice President from 1977 to 1996. Upon retirement from the Bank, he served as international adviser to multiple international agencies and governments.

Dr. Chander said he was encouraged by the speed with which the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had come to grips with the most pressing issues and praised the Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng for making an early statement on Malaysia’s debt situation.

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Najib Razak caught right handed by the FBI for stealing Malaysian people’s money. But he says it is a donation from the Saudi Royal Family

He said: “This was most timely indeed and most astute: it sent a strong signal to markets and had a calming effect; it told the electorate the mess that PH had inherited.

“At the same time it sent a strong message that the debt situation would impede the implementation of several of the electoral promises.

“Concurrently it provided a rationale for the cancellation/suspension of several mega projects that were to be financed by loans – terms of which were rather unfavorable to Malaysia.

“A good side effect was the call to patriotism that was brought out by the launch of the Harapan Fund!” The question now is: Where do we go from here?

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In his opinion piece, which I attached below, he stressed the urgency of coming up with a coherent and sound plan to manage Malaysia’s public sector debt.

[Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 2nd July 2018]

Najib And Rosmah – ‘Over RM100 Billion’ Stashed In Foreign Bank Accounts


July 1, 2018

 

Najib And Rosmah – ‘Over RM100 Billion’ Stashed In Foreign Bank Accounts

Malaysians have months and months of high profile news to come on the decades of kleptocracy.  The only good news being that with so much potentially retrievable from Najib and Rosmah’s global treasure troves, much of the damage can be repaired and meanwhile UMNO is busy digging its own grave.

by Sarawak Report

Image result for Corrupt Najib and Rosmah Mansor stashed billions in overseas banks

Go to sleep, Mr. Najib while you can before hell on earth comes to you and your wicked wife Rosmah Mansor. Greed and power destroyed you.

The decision of the Malaysian people to vote in Harapan with a reform agenda on May 9th in many ways seemed to close a chapter on past misdeeds.  However, as the daily headlines show, it will be some time before the true scale of kleptocratic looting from Malaysia has been revealed.

Indeed, the one billion ringgit treasure haul, garnered from the Najib residences after the election, appears to represent relative trinkets knocking around the house, compared to the real hoard, safely locked up elsewhere.

Sarawak Report has it on good authority, for example, that two privately chartered jets arrived from Saudi late on the night of the shock election result, courtesy of the good offices of a relative of an executive of PetroSaudi.  Owing to the denial of formal landing rights, they are believed to have departed without the intended primary passengers, Najib and Rosmah.

However, a stash of precious items, including a certain pink diamond, is believed to have been brought on board and accompanied out of the country by senior personnel.

A separate source, with business connections to the couple, has further told Sarawak Report that to their “certain knowledge” deals they have information on amounted to considerably over RM100 billion in profits, which were banked abroad.  The source says they were personally involved in stashing much of the money into mainstream accounts in Hong Kong.

‘We Need To Change”

The exposure that such devastating sums of hot money, travelled into what the source says included major Swiss and German banks, looks set to rock the global financial system for years to come, keeping the issues of Malaysian kleptocracy in the news for the foreseeable future.

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Yet, only for the first time this weekend, have we seen an apparent acknowledgement of at least some guilt on the part of Najib himself. In an extraordinary speech the ex-Prime Minister, after weeks of denials, admitted to the system of ‘money politics’, that he had presided over and suggested UMNO clean up its act.

Najib admitted, for example, that secret sums of cash had been sent out to division heads in advance of the election to buy votes, but complained some had purloined the cash instead:

“Maybe God wanted to teach us a lesson for our weaknesses. We must repent and correct our ways,” ….

“In the last general election, we lost to a party that did not spend much money; we did not know where their divisional offices were, their canopies were the earliest to close, but even when we flocked to our canopies, we still lost.

“There were those who sulked when they didn’t get allocations. There were those who did get money but said they didn’t. Then, there were candidates who received allocations but did not spend it.

“How are we supposed to win when our attitude is like that?’ he added. [Malaysiakni and others]

The fact that the UMNO machine failed to operate ‘as normal’ at GE-14 was one of the key identifiable factors in the loss of the election.  It is also why UMNO leaders in a recent poll blamed Najib above all as the main factor in the defeat.

Confronted with his example, as a leader who together with his wife has blatantly stolen billions, and fearful of the outcome of the elections, it appears that party officials simply opted to keep the cash handouts, instead of spending it on ceramahs and bribes to voters at the polling booths.

READ This: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2153128/malaysia-sell-millions-worth-bling-seized-ex-pm-najib-razak

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Najib has reaped what he sowed in that respect, yet he still had the brass neck to condemn the freezing of UMNO accounts as an ‘assault on democracy

The remnants of that party have just relected Najib’s appointed former Deputy as leader, a man who was not only prepared to support a kleptocrat by covering up blatant thefts and the unconsitutional sacking of his predecessor and Attorney General, but also to lie and pretend he had met the fictitious ‘prince’, who allegedly provided Najib with the 1MDB stolen cash.

The choice is hardly surprising, because only 1% of those remaining UMNO members in a recent poll considered “honesty and trustworthyness” of importance in deciding their next leader!

Malaysians have months and months of high profile news to come on the decades of kleptocracy.  The only good news being that with so much potentially retrievable from Najib and Rosmah’s global treasure troves, much of the damage can be repaired and meanwhile UMNO is busy digging its own grave.

The Confessions of Liar


June 26, 2018

The Confessions of Liar

by Thor Kah Hoong

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for najib razak i am not a crook

 

COMMENT | Not so long ago, Najib Abdul Razak was insisting that everything was fine with 1MDB.

Now the narrative is, as my Malay security guard friend put it this morning, “Sekarang buat tak tau” (Now he plays ignorant). His assertion of innocence has aroused a chorus of “liar.”

Leaving aside Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s riposte that his signature on multiple documents give the lie to his claim that he was kept in the dark about the movement of 1MDB money, the best thing I can say for his interview with Reuters is that he confessed to being a dumbass.

The management and board of 1MDB didn’t tell him.When asked if he was accusing them, throwing them under the bus, he trotted out the meaningless phrase – “as a general principle” – they should have told him.

What general principle? Did they or didn’t they tell you? What did the chairman of the financial advisory board of 1MDB do? Wait to be advised instead of advising?

To extend the analogy of the bus, I hope those shoved under it will be spilling their guts.That prospect has prompted Najib to trot out quickly an “I-said-no-such-thing” disclaimer.

So what did he say? A fuller explanation will be forthcoming… I suppose after his media team has figured out how to salvage the situation with another verbal pretzel.

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Compounding his confession of ignorance, Najib revealed an equally cavalier, blithe unconcern about the source of the millions, billions flowing into his account.

The power of attorney was in somebody’s hands. How gullibleI would advise him not to ride to the rescue of widows of ex-presidents of Nigeria who have died of cancer, or young women promising to disrobe for the camera after he did so.

Adding to his bad luck, Nik Faizal Ariff Kamil, the man in question, is on the run. Poor Najib. No witness to testify to his ignorance.

He assumed the RM2.6 billion came from the Saudi king. Didn’t think it would be from 1MDB.

What, no thank you phone call to the king? “Yo bro, thanks for the donation. Didn’t expect such a generous donation to influence the course of elections in this country. When can you come for a round of golf?”

Great, the country’s former Finance Minister confesses that he had no head for figures, that he was a clueless, gullible dumbass.And he wants absolution?

Obviously, he still has a hearing problem and can’t hear the people.The jury, much of the people, has decided on his guilt. He is lucky. It is unlikely the government will allow kangaroo courts. A bit of a shame. Would speed things up.

Now the people will just have to be patient while the wheels of justice slowly grind to a verdict, with the inevitable consequent appeals.

‘Pump and dump’

In the interview, Najib expressed pride in the film producing career of his stepson Riza Aziz.

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The Wolf of Wall Street is one Scorsese movie I didn’t take to. The arc of its narrative was predictable – conmen believing they were immune as money kept pouring in; a piling on of excess; the house of cards collapsing when the authorities come calling.

I got nothing from the predictable story, but Najib could have taken it as a warning.

The film was based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort. Losing his job as stockbroker in a Wall Street crash, he winds up in an outfit flogging cheap junk shares.

There, Belfort developed his successful scam – “pump-and-dump” – convince the gullible that the rock-bottom shares are about to take off. This pumps up the price of the share. Dump it when suckers rush in.

Instead of drawing public opprobrium, a media expose of his methods, attracted a flood of applications for jobs.

It’s party-time, in the office, on a luxury yacht – drugs, prostitutes, buy, spend, be lavish, no need to worry about money, more coming in.

Predictably, excess attracted attention, and the delusion that the law could not touch them led to insider trading which led to the SEC and FBI opening files on the company.

Belfort smuggled cash into Switzerland using his wife and the in-laws of a friend. He lost access to the money. His friends turned on him to get reduced charges and sentences for themselves, and Belfort spent three years in prison.

Fiction mirroring life.

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The Joke is on you, Mr. Najib Razak–Sungei  Buloh or Kajang is waiting for you

A divergence would be at the end of the film shows Belfort having a successful career conducting courses on selling. Najib should ask his media team to see if Belfort’s course material is available online. Might help.

There was a scene in the movie (actually two of them if my memory is correct) where Leonardo DiCaprio (Belfort) upends a prostitute, lays a line of coke, and snorts both lines.(I hope you know what I mean. I struggled to find words suitable for this family portal, and I was not sure ‘camel’s toe’ would spare me from being savaged by irate feminists, even if I made reference to National Geographic and Animal Planet.)

Wow, 1MDB money, the PM’s stepson made this movie.

If my friends in Pakatan Harapan weren’t such moral folks and would have been aghast at the idea of gutter politics, I would have suggested they contact a pirate DVD organisation (cheaper and the legal one will have the juicy scenes bit/byte out), and distribute it.

Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll – would have won Harapan a few more Malay votes.


THOR KAH HOONG is a veteran journalist.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Taming Malaysia’s GLC ‘monsters’


June 24, 2018

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1MDB Top Honcho–Arul Kanda Kandasamy

“…recent revelations show Malaysia’s debt position may be more precarious than first thought. The new government has correctly highlighted the need to include certain off-balance-sheet items and contingent liabilities such as government guarantees and public–private partnership lease payments in any complete assessment of debt outstanding, as the use of offshoot companies and special purpose vehicles in the deliberate reconfiguration of certain obligations mean that traditional debt calculations underestimate Malaysia’s actual debt.”–Jayant Menon

About a month before Malaysia’s parliamentary election in May, then-opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad raised concerns over the role that government-linked companies (GLCs) were playing in the economy, being ‘huge and rich’ enough to be considered ‘monsters’.Data support his description — GLCs account for about half of the benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index, and they constitute seven out of the top-10 listed firms in 2018. They are present in almost every sector, sometimes in a towering way. Globally, Malaysia ranks fifth-highest in terms of GLC influence on the economy.

Calls to do something about GLCs have increased since the election following the release of more damning information, although most of it relates to the GLCs’ investment arm: government-linked investment companies (GLICs). Recent reports confirm that the former government had been using Malaysia’s central bank and Khazanah (a sovereign wealth fund) to service the debt obligations of the scandal-laden 1 Malaysia Development Berhad government fund. The central bank governor has since resigned.

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The GLCs have not been immune from scandals either. The most recent relates to a massive land scandal involving Felda Global Ventures, which is the world’s largest plantation operator. There have also been a series of massive bailouts of GLCs over the years, the cumulative value of which is disputed but could be as high as RM85 billion (US$21 billion). All of this led one prominent critic to proclaim that ‘GLCs are a nest for plunderers’ and that the government should ‘sell them all’. Although this may be extreme, it does raise a critical question — what, if anything, should the government do?

Some experts have proposed the formation of an independent body with operational oversight for GLICs after institutional autonomy is established and internal managerial reforms are introduced. Unlike most GLCs, GLICs are not publicly listed and face little scrutiny. The same applies to the various funds at the constituent state level.

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For GLCs, the answer is less straightforward. Mahathir claims that GLCs have lost track of their original function. Before the Malaysian government decides on what to do, it needs to examine the role GLCs should play — as opposed to the role they currently play — and to examine their impact on the economy.

In Malaysia, GLCs were uniquely tasked to assist in the government’s affirmative action program to improve the absolute and relative position of ethnic Malays and other indigenous people (Bumiputera). The intention was to help create a new class of Bumiputera entrepreneurs — first through the GLCs themselves and then through a process of divestment.

Given the amounts of money involved and the cost of the distortions introduced, the benefits to Bumiputera were unjustifiably small and unequally distributed. The approach of using GLCs as instruments of affirmative action failed because it led to a rise in crony capitalism, state dependence, regulatory capture and grand corruption. There is also empirical evidence that GLCs have been crowding out private investment, a concern raised in the New Economic Model as early as 2011.

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Malaysia’s National Debt is said to be around 65 percent of current GDP

Additionally, recent revelations show Malaysia’s debt position may be more precarious than first thought. The new government has correctly highlighted the need to include certain off-balance-sheet items and contingent liabilities such as government guarantees and public–private partnership lease payments in any complete assessment of debt outstanding, as the use of offshoot companies and special purpose vehicles in the deliberate reconfiguration of certain obligations mean that traditional debt calculations underestimate Malaysia’s actual debt.

All these factors combine to place new impetus on reconsidering the extent of government involvement in business. Divestment will not solve Malaysia’s debt problem, but it can help if there are good reasons to pursue it. So how should the government proceed?

It is important to recognise at the outset that there is a legitimate role for government in business — providing public goods, addressing market failures or promoting social advancement. And like in most other countries, there are good and bad GLCs in Malaysia. If a GLC is not crowding out private enterprise, operates efficiently and performs a social function effectively, then there is no reason to consider divestment. But a GLC that crowds out private enterprise in a sector with no public or social function or one that is inefficiently run should be a candidate for divestment.

In assessing performance, one needs to separate results that arise from true efficiency versus preferential treatment that generates artificial rents for the GLC. The latter is a drain on public resources and a tax on consumers. Divestment in this case will likely provide more than a one-off financial injection to government coffers — it will provide ongoing benefits through fiscal savings or better allocation of public resources.

The divestment process should be carefully managed to ensure that public assets are disposed at fair market value and that the divestment process does not concentrate market power or wealth in the hands of a few. This has apparently happened before.

The new government has committed itself to addressing corruption and improving the management of public resources. As part of this process, one must re-examine just how much government is involved in business. This is one of the many tasks that the Council of Eminent Persons is undertaking in the first 100 days of the new government. If done correctly, this should rejuvenate the private sector while enabling good GLCs to thrive, and it should fortify Malaysia’s fiscal position in the process. This is what Malaysians should expect — and indeed demand — of the ‘new Malaysia’.

Jayant Menon is Lead Economist in the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department at the Asian Development Bank and Adjunct Fellow of the Arndt–Corden Department of Economics, The Australian National University.