Najib’s slow death on Myanmar Times


February 21, 2018

Najib’s slow death

Living under the tawdry and sinking regime of Prime Minister Najib Razak must seem to Malaysians like death by treacle.

They are drowning in a gluey black sea of venality the likes of which has not been seen in this region since the days of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.

The mounting litany of shameful episodes that have riven that nation all appear to be traceable to the hapless PM, who is also the head of the dominant political party, the United Malays National Organisation.

Things are so bad that last week the UMNO-owned newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, carried an outrageous editorial that tried to exonerate Najib and shift the blame elsewhere. It failed, of course, because it was arguing against facts that indicate to all Malaysians that Najib is steadily sinking into the treacly pit of corruption and maladministration into which he has plunged his country.

If you think this is over the top, just consider a few of the more damning indictments against the PM and his band of gangsters, cheats and philanderers.

First, there are the missing billions of taxpayers’ money. It is hard to truly comprehend the full magnitude of this gigantic, nepotistic malfeasance, and even the illustrious New York Times took three pages to try to do it.

Suffice to say that Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, the offspring of the PM’s second wife Rosmah, is the man apparently responsible for most of the woes brought about by this debacle – otherwise known as 1MDB.

The initials stand for 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a sovereign wealth fund that has lost billions due to corruption and mismanagement, and is still weighed down by massive nonperforming loans.

The fund appears to be almost entirely controlled by Najib, Aziz and a flamboyant Penang Chinese conman called Jho Low – no relation to Jennifer Lopez, though he mixes with Paris Hilton and other Hollywood starlets.

Image result for Najib Razak is a LIar

 

Why and how? There is no clear answer, except to recall that Najib is under the sway of Rosmah Mansor, a shopaholic wrecking ball, who shrugs off ridicule and ignores how her actions thwart her husband’s premiership.

In truth, the personal damage to Najib is piffling compared to the disastrous effect the huge 1MDB losses are having on the already fragile Malaysian economy.

An opposition MP has called the fund fiasco “the mother of the mother of the mother of all scandals in the history of Malaysia”. He may be right. Certainly, there are already worries that if and when 1MDB collapses, the nation’s financial system may take a hit that will dwarf the effect of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997.

And bear in mind that Malaysia’s resource-dependent economy is already in trouble due to the depressed price of its key exports, petroleum oil and palm oil.

Last month, Najib announced US$1.5 billion in spending cuts and said Malaysia’s economic growth would fall from 6 percent to between 4.5pc and 5.5pc this year.The economic woes have been compounded by diminishing political support at home.

In the last general election two years ago, Najib vowed to reverse the drop in votes that his UMNO-led coalition had witnessed under his predecessor, PM Abdullah Badawi.

It did not happen. His government ceded even more seats and lost four state assemblies and the overall popular vote to the opposition People’s Alliance, led by Anwar Ibrahim.

Since that chastening experience, Najib has clung onto the UMNO leadership by appeasing his key support base, the nation’s Malay-Muslim majority, and marginalising the minority Chinese and Indian communities.

This shocking move was his only option, or else he would have faced the same fate as Abdullah, who was elbowed out after his election failure by UMNO party men.

Concurrently, Najib has reversed his promise to dump the colonial-era Sedition Act, and instead applied it with increasing frequency against oppositionists, lawyers, journalists and academics.

Most recently, Anwar has been jailed for five years after a dubious sodomy conviction, while one of the nation’s popular cartoonists has been detained for drawing caricatures that lampoon the farcical Anwar trial.

Not only do these actions signal a premier running scared – as would be expected after the 1MDB catastrophe and his election setback – but they are grotesquely hypocritical.

Tarring Anwar with sodomy conveniently distracts attention from the fact that Najib, a notorious philanderer in his early days like most UMNO leaders, may be complicit in the murder of a Mongolian model.

The demise of this woman, the lover of the PM’s closest adviser and many Malaysians suspect also Najib’s mistress, is under investigation due to a $155 million kickback in an intertwined submarine deal negotiated when Najib was defence minister.

All of this led Utusan to issue its absurd editorial that – wait for it – blamed America for the country’s woes. It even accused Washington, which has criticised Anwar’s jailing, of copying the opposition leader’s behaviour.

According to Utusan, “The US wants to ‘sodomise’ our legal and judicial system, even though the majority of Malaysians agree with the court’s decision.” Well, that is a moot point. Certainly the voting pattern suggests most Malaysians would happily accept Anwar as their next PM.

 

The Rebranding of Altantuya Shaariibuu’s Surrogate Lover–Dr. Abdul Razak Baginda


December 14, 2017

The Rebranding of Altantuya Shaariibuu’s Surrogate Lover–Dr. Abdul Razak Baginda

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.asiasentinel.com

Image result for perfume of arabia macbeth

“Here’s the smell of blood still. All perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”–In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Oxford-educated Dr. Abdul Razak Baginda, the one-time adviser and close confidante of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was once romantically linked to the murdered jet-setting Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu, has popped up after years of discreet absence in the UK.

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The  disheveled and frightened-looking Abdul Razak Baginda

For someone who has been out of the public eye for the past decade, Razak Baginda has wasted no time, propelling himself onto the Malaysian lecture circuit over the past six months but at the same time inadvertently reminding the public he had been a key figure in what had been the biggest scandal in the country’s history until an even bigger one blew up over the state-backed investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the subject of a US Justice Department investigation into the looting of public assets.

Razak Baginda is very different from the disheveled and frightened-looking man who emerged from jail on October 31, 2006, acquitted without trial of abetting the murder of Altantuya, who was alleged to have once been Najib’s paramour. The 28-year-old mother, who was believed to have been pregnant at the time, was shot twice in the head by one of Najib’s bodyguards and her body was blown up with military explosives in a patch of jungle outside the suburban city of Shah Alam.

The allegation that Altantuya had been Najib’s mistress was revealed by the late private investigator P Balasubramaniam, engaged by Razak Baginda to stop Altantuya from creating a scene outside his house. According to a letter found after her death, she was demanding a cut of kickbacks from a multi-billion ringgit Malaysian government deal to purchase submarines from the French.

Razak Baginda once was one of the closest advisers to Najib, then the Defense Minister and Deputy PM (2000-2008), on government arms procurement projects. The political analyst was involved in the purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines and one Agosta-class submarine from the French naval dockyard unit DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales). The deal was worth around RM5 billion.

Hasty departure for the UK

On his release and acquittal, Razak Baginda was swamped by reporters who tried to interview him, but was guarded by a wall of policemen. A month later, at a press conference, he was guarded by a team of lawyers who monitored his answers. He immediately decamped to England, ostensibly to complete a doctorate at Oxford.

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 The Rebranded Dr. Abdul Razak Baginda–Founder, Center for Global Affairs (ICON).

Seven years later, on October. 26, 2015, Razak Baginda emerged to deliver his first public talk in Kuala Lumpur at a “Special Forum” called “Reforming Malaysia: A Conversation with Razak Baginda.” The session was organized by a new think tank he had founded, called the Center for Global Affairs (ICON).

The former Malaysian PrimenMinister, Mahathir Mohamad once said, “Melayu mudah lupa” (Malays easily forget) and Razak Baginda probably thought that Malaysians would have forgotten about him and the brutal murder.

Living abroad helped Razak Baginda avoid the glare of publicity and the anger of the Malaysian public who were furious at the High Court’s handling of the trial. The motive for the murder was never established although the murderers were said to have been offered RM50,000 for the killing.

Wife Implicates Najib

Few can forget the hysterical shout of Baginda’s wife, Mazlinda Makhzan, at the time of his arrest: “Why charge my husband, he does not want to be the prime minister?” an apparent reference to Balasubramaniam’s statement that Najib had passed Altantuya on to the political analyst because it wouldn’t look good to have a foreign mistress when he was elevated to become the country’s leader.

Importantly, there were also unexplained phone texts between Najib and Razak Baginda’s lawyer, Mohamad Shafee Abdullah, which alluded to Najib’s alleged interference in the case. One message read, “Pls do not say anything to the press today. i will explain later. RB (Razak Baginda) will have to face a tentative charge but all is not lost.”

Altantuya’s father, Setev Shaariibuu, has not received any justice for the murder of his daughter and has continued to demand that the Malaysian government give him answers about her death.

Two policemen, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, were found guilty of Altantuya’s murder in a trial that critics said was carefully orchestrated to keep from answering questions who had hired them to kill her. Sirul is now languishing in the Villawood Detention Center outside Sydney, vigorously wheeling and dealing for his release and asylum. Azilah remains in a Malaysian prison.

Razak Baginda probably thought that he could lead a quiet life by relocating to England but he didn’t reckon on the persistence of SUARAM, the Malaysian Human Rights NGO, which complained to the French authorities about the Scorpene deal in November 2009. That triggered a preliminary inquiry and a judicial investigation in Paris in 2012.

Investigative stories Tell Tale of Scandal

The investigation was the subject of a multiple series of investigative stories by Asia Sentinel that won the Society of Publishers in Asia award for excellence in investigative reporting – Asia’s version of the Pulitzer Prize.

Finally, years later, on July 18, 2017, Razak Baginda was indicted in France for “complicity of bribery, acceptance of bribes and concealment of misuse of company assets.”  Two officials of a DCN subsidiary were also indicted on charges specifically of having bribed Najib Razak.

On August 4, the SUARAM adviser, Dr Kua Kia Soong said, “The first indictment of the arms maker shows that SUARAM’s suspicion of commission paid to Malaysian officials in the Scorpene deal is well founded, and we have been vindicated.”

Asia Sentinel reported that the French investigation had revealed that Terasasi HK Ltd., a company owned by Razak Baginda and his father, received €30 million in “consultancy works,” the accepted terminology for kickbacks. Terasasi existed only as the name on the wall of a Hong Kong accounting company. As Asia Sentinel reported, French investigators also uncovered evidence that a Malaysia-based shell company, Perimekar, owned by Baginda’s wife, had received another €114 million in “consultancy services.”

The money was said to have been passed on to the United Malays National Organization with the full knowledge of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, among others, according to evidence provided to Asia Sentinel.

Timely Rebranding

Baginda’s rebranding is timely, especially as Malaysia’s 14th General Election is due soon. He could have retired a rich man from his alleged kickbacks from Scorpene and lived a life of luxury in England. He could have avoided the scrutiny of the Malaysian public.

Image result for Razak Baginda With Najib Razak

Malaysia’s Infamous Couple–Prime Minister Najib Razak and his FLOM Rosmah Mansor

“He probably thinks that the Malaysian public have forgotten (and forgiven him),” said a social cynic who declined to be named. “He believes he has done nothing wrong, especially as the courts did not find him guilty of Altantuya’s murder.”

It is highly likely that Razak Baginda is repositioning himself in the Malaysian political world, according to a Kuala Lumpur-based political analyst. “Perhaps, Najib summoned him to return as his confidante,” he said. “Najib’s Washington trip was a wash-out. It was probably arranged on the advice of his foreign advisers. The Malays disapprove of Trump’s anti-Islam and anti-Muslim policies.”

A Malay, Muslim and Malaysian, the political analyst “will be in a better position to advise Najib on foreign matters. He is probably testing the waters and seeing how the Malaysian public react to him over a range of issues like education, religion and radicalization.”

However, it is more likely that the French indictment may have spurred Baginda’s return to Malaysia over a desire to remain free.  Malaysia does not have an extradition treaty with France, unlike Britain. His stay in England would be risky.

Razak Baginda dismissed the French charge and said, “The French legal process is different from the Malaysian legal process. The term ‘charged’ in the context of the inquiry means placing the said individuals under ‘formal investigation’.”

We now see the comeback kid, Razak Baginda, re-engaging with Malaysian politics. He appears to be pushing the right buttons on many subjects. More importantly, as long as Najib is around, there is money to be made. ICON has held several forums and issued press releases with alarming regularity.

Pretensions as Oracle

This is proof that he wants to be heard on a range of subjects, upon most of which many Malaysians agree. On radicalization, he has urged the Home Ministry to monitor students, who studied in the middle-east, and warned that Malaysia was losing its reputation as a moderate nation. He has warned that the prominence of religion in schools will lower the quality of education. He questioned the failure of Malaysian leaders to confront the nationalists.

Razak Baginda has defended the bloated Malaysian civil service and blasted the journalist John Pennington for an article in “Asean Today” that unfavorably compared the Malaysian civil service with its Singaporean counterpart.

He also criticized Najib for his silence on the Rohingya issue at the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, saying it was a “missed opportunity” and then, on the following day, offered a groveling apology to Najib, saying “I got it wrong.”  He praised Najib’s sincerity in helping the Rohingyas, raising the issue with the Myanmar state counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi, and with President Trump. Saying that Najib’s actions were unprecedented, Razak Baginda described him as bold and strong, willing to voice his displeasure over a matter he cared about.

“Never before has a fellow ASEAN leader brought out what could be regarded as a domestic issue of another member country,” he said. “Kudos to the prime minister, as it shows his commitment to help the Rohingya.”

Still Buddies?

So are Najib and Razak Baginda in constant contact? Or is he positioning himself and working towards a smooth transition to become Najib’s political analyst? On his re-emergence onto the Malaysian socio-political scene, Suaram’s Kua said: “He seems to have a knack of seeking publicity when he’d be better off staying out of media attention. He’s more of a liability for Najib by showing up all over the place and reminding us of Altantuya. But he seems pretty gung-ho about his ‘freedom from prosecution’. We shall see.

Both men have to tread a cautious path, said a political analyst, “but do they care? There is only so much Razak Baginda can do to help Najib, because one wrong step could make the whole Altantuya and Scorpene scandal blow up in Najib’s face, and further reduce his chances in GE-14. Even if it were true that Najib and Razak Baginda have resumed their cozy ties, it is established that they need one another to keep their secrets safe. Remember the adage about keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer still.

Perhaps Najib is willing to take that chance, especially after the warning issued by the American Attorney-General, Jeff Sessions, on Dec. 4, when he said that Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal was the worst example of kleptocracy he had ever seen. Razak Baginda may need Najib to prevent an attempt by the French to subpoena him to the Scorpene trial, but Najib has an equal need to prevent Razak Baginda from giving evidence.

Mariam Mokhtar is a Malaysia-based journalist and a regular contributor to Asia Sentinel

 

Malaysia: The Huff and Puff of Budget 2018


October 29, 2017

Malaysia: The Huff and Puff of Budget 2018

Image result for Najib and Zahid at Budget 2018Two Jokers in a Unity Pact to safeguard a kleptocratic and corrupt Malay-centric regime with 2018 Budget Proposals

 

COMMENT | Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his team should learn how to manage public perception, than recycling year after year the same huffs and puffs that will just fade away after the general election.

Right after the election, we will again see the likes of minions Jamal Md Yunos (UMNO Sungai Besar division leader) and Gerakan Merak leader Mohd Ali Baharom (known also as Ali Tinju), veteran Abdul Rani Kulup, lecturer and Muslim convert Redzuan Tee Abdullah, Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali, Isma’s Abdullah Zaik and extremists like Zakir Naik, becoming the heroes.

There will be others like the self-styled “Raja Bomoh” Ibrahim Mat Zin who hog the headlines. So far, Ibrahim has never been prosecuted despite appearing on the grounds of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and making a nuisance of himself.

Image result for Hussain Najadi murder

To date, the investigation into the protest over a cross erected by a church in Taman Medan has not proceeded any further. What about the probe into people missing in action, such as Pastor Raymond Koh and several others? What about the death of Teoh Beng Hock and former customs officer Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed and the murder of banker Hussein Najadi?

What was the motive behind the killing of former Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu? Who was behind the Scorpene submarines scandal and after Abdul Razak Baginda was charged in France, why have investigations on the Malaysian side stalled? Who was behind the death of deputy public prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais?

Instead of prosecuting people for their wrongdoings, we see the MP of Batu, Tian Chua agreeing to go to jail over a small matter which could have been solved at a personal level and coming out more as a hero of the people.

There will then be the same old issues again – the banning of use of the term “Allah” by non-Muslims; stateless Indian children; Chinese schools being threatened to be closed down; the likes of Abdullah Hussain’s book “Interlok” where Indians were called by names; and yes, a thousand and one issues that UMNO and its proponents would try to harp on.

Ordinary Malaysians like me are already fed up with all the polemics by now because the leaders have lost their credibility. A decision would have been made a long time ago.

We can only wait for the coming general election, when we will come out once again in droves like in the previous general election.

Outstanding problems

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That is why despite all the huffs and puffs of the budget, we know it will not bring the country forward. While we will take what is rightfully ours, most of us look at the 1MDB scandal as the bigger problem that Najib has failed to solve.

For a long time, the Chinese community have been harping on the need for more Chinese schools. However, the Ministry of Education has been moving snail-slow on approval of the Chinese schools.

Applications for a new school have gone into a “black hole”. When I showed the news about 10 new Chinese schools being greenlit by Putrajaya to the chairperson of the board of governors of the affected school, he merely said, “Year after year, election after election, it is nothing but empty promises”.

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Economist Ramon Navaratnam@ASLI Public Policy Studies

Chairperson of ASLI’s Centre for Public Policy Studies, Ramon Navaratnam, pointed out to me that Sekinchan has had the most productive paddy growers in the country.

“Yet, they are not given the incentives to become even more productive,” he said. “The government should focus on the strengths of each community and boost their productivity even further.”

Licenses for fishing are given to cronies when the fisherpeople themselves are unable to get more licenses. With these cronies and Ali Baba licence holders, the prices of goods rise. The real beneficiaries are not the fisherpeople themselves, but some cronies.

Likewise, I pointed out the plight of taxi drivers in this country. Although mostly Bumiputera, they too have been earning pittances. Now with Uber and Grab, who is most badly hit? Taxi licenses should not be given to a consortium, but to individual taxi drivers to motivate them to work even harder.

According to Ramon, budget proposals must address the “structural problems of low productivity, rising unemployment, inflation, the weak ringgit, the brain drain, sustainability and the fight against extremism and bigotry.”

As fellow columnist R Nadeswaran rightly put it, “The prime minister, his ministers and the government must stop treating Malaysians as fools by making all kinds of statements which more than not, appear like a page from Grimm’s Fairy Tales”.


STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

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

Donald Trump endorses Malaysia’s Top Crook and Corrupter


August 28, 2017

Donald Trump endorses Malaysia’s Top Crook and Corrupter by Invitation to The White House

by John Berthelsen@www,asiasentinel.com

Image result for Najib Razak --I am not a crook

What do two Unpopular Leaders say to each other when they meet? Secretary of State Tillerson, The US Ambassador to Malaysia and The State Department are naive and and insensitive. Really? –Din Merican

In asking Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the White House, US President Donald Trump has extended an invitation to arguably Southeast Asia’s biggest crook among the region’s current leaders and one who has jailed or threatened the country’s opposition into near irrelevance.

The White House didn’t answer a request for comment. But in a prepared statement quoted in the New York Times, the administration said the visit is intended to “strengthen and broaden our bilateral relationship and expand regional cooperation with one of America’s closest partners in Southeast Asia.”

Image result for Najib Razak --I am not a crook

After initially embracing Najib as a moderate Muslim leader of a prosperous democracy, even inviting him on a golf date in Hawaii, former President Barack Obama distanced himself from the Malaysian premier as the revelations of his corruption grew.

Basket of Deplorables headed for Washington

Among those “close partners” in Southeast Asia that the President has invited are Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, described in a recent Asia Sentinel editorial as a psychopath who has prosecuted a drug war that has taken the lives of more than 7,000 people, most of them the poorest of the country’s poor; and Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military dictator who ousted a civilian government in Thailand in 2015 and has jailed or harassed thousands of opponents, driving many out of the country.

Shortly after he was elected last November, Trump placed a 3 am phone call to Najib, engineered by a Najib associate, promising an invitation. It was widely assumed prior to that, that Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor were afraid to come to the US for fear of arrest. He is under the microscope of the US Justice Department in a civil case for the theft of at least US$1 billion, much of which was invested in a wide range of property in the United States.

Last July. Najib was identified by the Justice Department as “Malaysian Official 1” for having received US$681 million into his personal bank account in Kuala Lumpur from the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund in 2013. At least some of the money is believed to have financed the production company that produced the Hollywood blockbuster “Wolf of Wall Street.”

Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson by Rosmah, and the co-producer, is accused of receiving US$238 million in addition. At least six countries are involved in investigating the scandal. The government has sequestered millions of dollars of property identified as having been purchased in the affair. Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of the movie, has had to turn over an Oscar won by Marlon Brando to the government that was given to him by the producers.

Unsure if 1MDB probe will continue

A call to a US Justice Department spokesman in Los Angeles, which is tallying the assets allegedly stolen by Najib, his relatives and associates, asking for the status of the wide-ranging investigation into the affair wasn’t answered and it isn’t known if the investigation is continuing. When he came into office, Trump fired all the 93 US attorneys in the US and its territories.

Najib’ s visit is scheduled for September 12, according to the New York Times. It has been met with incredulity by critics, who point out that Najib has been under fire even before he became Prime Minister. He was the focus of a huge scandal in the previous decade for steering a €114.96 million bribe (US$135.7 million at current exchange rates) to the United Malays National Organization, the country’s biggest political party, on the purchase of Scorpene submarines from the French munitions maker DCN.  Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian beauty who had figured in the case, was murdered by two of Najib’s bodyguards after demanding US$500,000 from Abdul Razak Baginda, the prime minister’s close friend and confederate in the affair, who had jilted her.

Two officials of a DCN subsidiary have been indicted, specifically on charges of bribing Najib by name. Abdul Razak Baginda was indicted by the French prosecutor in June.

Looting of state fund

As Asia Sentinel reported on June 3, according to documents filed by the US Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Section in Los Angeles, as much as US$4.5 billion is said to have gone missing from 1MDB, some of it in the form of jewels now adorning Rosmah’s portly torso. The documents identified the US$681 million that mysteriously appeared in Najib’s personal accounts in 2013 as having come from 1MDB, not mysterious Saudi benefactors, as Najib has claimed.

Image result for Riza Aziz and JhLo

Others besides Riza Aziz are Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, the flamboyant Malaysian Chinese financier who convinced Najib to take over an obscure Terengganu fund and turn it into 1MDB; and several top 1MDB officials.

The suspects allegedly “conspired to divert billions of dollars through various means, including by defrauding foreign banks and by sending foreign wire communications in furtherance of the scheme, and thereafter, to launder the proceeds of that criminal conduct, including in and through US financial institutions, “ according to the justice department

The funds diverted were “used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associates, including to purchase luxury real estate in the United States and overseas, pay gambling expenses at Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than US$200 million worth of artwork, purchase lavish gifts for family members and associates, invest in a major New York real estate development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films.”

Political firings, repression

In his own country, Najib engineered the jailing of the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2015 on what are widely regarded as specious sexual perversion charges. In July of 2015, he fired the country’s Attorney General, Abdul Gain Patail, on the eve of Patail’s decision to charge him with corruption, and replaced him with Mohamed Apandi Ali, considered to be a stooge of the United Malays National Organization.

He also kicked out his Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, as well as Akhil Bulat, the head of the Police Special branch intelligence unit and others for questioning his Version of events surrounding 1MDB.  He ordered the temporary suspension of The Edge Financial Daily and its sister paper after they printed that the equivalent of U$1.83 billion was allegedly stolen by company officers and others from the troubled fund.

The Prime Minister continues in office on the strength of millions of dollars paid in bribes to cadres of the United Malays National Organization; the country’s leading political party, who are instrumental in keeping him at the head of the party.

Polls expected soon

The government must go to the polls under Malaysia’s Westminster parliamentary system by mid-2018. At the moment, the opposition, fractured by political infighting with many of its top leaders under the threat of prison for specious sedition charges, is given little chance of taking over.  The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has effectively gerrymandered the country to ensure victory in addition to denying the opposition a voice in the country’s newspapers and other media, almost all of which are owned by government-aligned political parties.

Image result for Premesh Chandran

Last May, the government charged Premesh Chandran, the publisher and CEO of the independent online news portal Malaysiakini – arguably the country’s only effective media voice — with violating he communications and multimedia act for posting footage of a press conference critical of the attorney general’s decision clearing Najib of corruption allegations.

Note: This is an encore posting. The topic is still very relevant. –Din Merican

September 12 White House Meeting (Mating) of 2 Political Deplorables


August 25, 2017

September 12 White House Meeting (Mating) of 2 Political Deplorables–What a Mess

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com

Image result for Najib and Trump

Two Unpopular Leaders–Malaysia’s Najib Razak and POTUS 45 Donald John Trump. Their news conference will be full of unadulterated lies, no doubt.

In asking Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the White House, US President Donald Trump has extended an invitation to arguably Southeast Asia’s biggest crook among the region’s current leaders and one who has jailed or threatened the country’s opposition into near irrelevance.

The White House didn’t answer a request for comment. But in a prepared statement quoted in the New York Times, the administration said the visit is intended to “strengthen and broaden our bilateral relationship and expand regional cooperation with one of America’s closest partners in Southeast Asia.”

After initially embracing Najib as a moderate Muslim leader of a prosperous democracy, even inviting him on a golf date in Hawaii, former President Barack Obama distanced himself from the Malaysian premier as the revelations of his corruption grew.

Basket of Deplorables headed for Washington

Among those “close partners” in Southeast Asia that the President has invited are Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, described in a recent Asia Sentinel editorial as a psychopath who has prosecuted a drug war that has taken the lives of more than 7,000 people, most of them the poorest of the country’s poor; and Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military dictator who ousted a civilian government in Thailand in 2015 and has jailed or harassed thousands of opponents, driving many out of the country.

Image result for Rosmah and Melania Trump

De facto Prime Minister of Malaysia Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor welcomes the arrival of South African President’s wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma. US FLOM Melania Trump is waiting to greet her.

Shortly after he was elected last November, Trump placed a 3 am phone call to Najib, engineered by a Najib associate, (Syed Azman, the AP King) promising an invitation. It was widely assumed prior to that Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor were afraid to come to the US for fear of arrest. He is under the microscope of the US Justice Department in a civil case for the theft of at least US$1 billion, much of which was invested in a wide range of property in the United States.

Last July Najib was identified by the Justice Department as “Malaysian Official 1” for having received US$681 million into his personal bank account in Kuala Lumpur from the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund in 2013. At least some of the money is believed to have financed the production company that produced the Hollywood blockbuster “Wolf of Wall Street.”

Image result for riza aziz and jho low

The 1MDB mastermind Jho Low is still on the run

Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson by Rosmah, and the co-producer, is accused of receiving US$238 million in addition. At least six countries are involved in investigating the scandal.

Image result for dicaprio and Marlon Brando's Oscar

Leonardo DiCaprio returned an Oscar originally won by Marlon Brando as part of the US Justice Department’s move  to recover $540 million in assets it says were stolen from Malaysia’s troubled wealth fund, 1MDB.

The government has sequestered millions of dollars of property identified as having been purchased in the affair. Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of the movie, has had to turn over an Oscar won by Marlon Brando to the government that was given to him by the producers.

Unsure if 1MDB probe will continue

A call to a US Justice Department spokesman in Los Angeles, which is tallying the assets allegedly stolen by Najib, his relatives and associates, asking for the status of the wide-ranging investigation into the affair wasn’t answered and it isn’t known if the investigation is continuing. When he came into office, Trump fired all the 93 US attorneys in the US and its territories.

Najib’ s visit is scheduled for September. 12, according to the New York Times. It has been met with incredulity by critics, who point out that Najib has been under fire even before he became prime minister. He was the focus of a huge scandal in the previous decade for steering a €114.96 million bribe (US$135.7 million at current exchange rates) to the United Malays National Organization, the country’s biggest political party, on the purchase of Scorpene submarines from the French munitions maker DCN. Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian beauty who had figured in the case, was murdered by two of Najib’s bodyguards after demanding US$500,000 from Abdul Razak Baginda, the Prime Minister’s close friend and confederate in the affair, who had jilted her.

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https://www.c4center.org/french-indictment-charge-and-razak-baginda-has-been-indicted

Two officials of a DCN subsidiary have been indicted, specifically on charges of bribing Najib by name. Abdul Razak Baginda was indicted by the French prosecutor in June.

Looting of state fund

As Asia Sentinel reported on June 3, according to documents filed by the US Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Section in Los Angeles, as much as US$4.5 billion is said to have gone missing from 1MDB, some of it in the form of jewels now adorning Rosmah’s portly torso. The documents identified the US$681 million that mysteriously appeared in Najib’s personal accounts in 2013 as having come from 1MDB, not mysterious Saudi benefactors, as Najib has claimed.

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Others besides Riza Aziz are Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, the flamboyant Malaysian Chinese financier who convinced Najib to take over an obscure Terengganu fund and turn it into 1MDB; and several top 1MDB officials.

The suspects allegedly “conspired to divert billions of dollars through various means, including by defrauding foreign banks and by sending foreign wire communications in furtherance of the scheme, and thereafter, to launder the proceeds of that criminal conduct, including in and through US financial institutions, “ according to the justice department

The funds diverted were “used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associates, including to purchase luxury real estate in the United States and overseas, pay gambling expenses at Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than US$200 million worth of artwork, purchase lavish gifts for family members and associates, invest in a major New York real estate development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films.”

Political firings, repression

In his own country, Najib engineered the jailing of the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2015 on what are widely regarded as specious sexual perversion charges. In July of 2015, he fired the country’s attorney general, Abdul Gain Patail, on the eve of Patail’s decision to charge him with corruption, and replaced him with Mohamed Apandi Ali, considered to be a stooge of the United Malays National Organization.

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He also kicked out his Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yasin, as well as Akhil Bulat, the Head of the Police Special Branch intelligence unit and others for questioning his version of events surrounding 1MDB. He ordered the temporary suspension of The Edge Financial Daily and its sister paper after they printed that the equivalent of U$1.83 billion was allegedly stolen by company officers and others from the troubled fund.

The Prime Minister continues in office on the strength of millions of dollars paid in bribes to cadres of the United Malays National Organization; the country’s leading political party, who are instrumental in keeping him at the head of the party.

Polls expected soon

The government must go to the polls under Malaysia’s Westminster parliamentary system by mid-2018. At the moment, the opposition, fractured by political infighting with many of its top leaders under the threat of prison for specious sedition charges, is given little chance of taking over. The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has effectively gerrymandered the country to ensure victory in addition to denying the opposition a voice in the country’s newspapers and other media, almost all of which are owned by government-aligned political parties.

Last May, the government charged Premesh Chandran, the publisher and CEO of the independent online news portal Malaysiakini – arguably the country’s only effective media voice — with violating he communications and multimedia act for posting footage of a press conference critical of the attorney general’s decision clearing Najib of corruption allegations.

French Justice Catching up With Malaysians in Sub Scandal?


August 4, 2017

French Justice Catching up With Malaysians in Sub Scandal?

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com

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Altantuya Shaariibuu– A  Mongolian model who was blown to bits. I met her dad Dr. Stev in Bangsar with Raja Petra Kamaruddin a few years ago. Pete was charged under ISA by the UMNO regime for his article “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to Hell” (April 25, 2009). –Din Merican

Although Abdul Razak Baginda, the central figure in what was previously Malaysia’s most notorious scandal, has been charged with “active and passive complicity in corruption” by French prosecutors, according to Agence France Press on Aug. 1, it is unlikely that they are going to catch up with him anytime soon.

Razak remains in Malaysia, a close friend of Prime Minister Najib Razak, with extradiction doubtful since the premier himself also figures in a case involving a €114 million bribe to the United Malays National Organization for the purchase of French submarines. It is a case that involves political corruption, murder, sex and allegations that reach high up into both the Malaysian and French governments.  Neither Najib nor Razak Baginda is likely to go touring in France anytime soon.

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Dr. Razak Baginda–A close associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak

In addition to Razak Baginda, four former Thales International Asia officials have been indicted, including one in December 2015 by a French court for allegedly bribing Najib himself, according to a January 2016 AFP story quoting French judicial sources. The matter seemed to have been stalled after that report although the case has been under investigation for seven years.

Case in 1MDB’s shadow

The affair has since paled in Malaysia in the shadow of the massive 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal, in which US$5.4 billion disappeared from a state-backed investment fund through looting and mismanagement that has spurred investigations in half a dozen countries across the world. US prosecutors have alleged that anywhere from US$681 million to US$1 billion disappeared out of 1MDB into Najib’s pockets, part of it to be used to buy a vast store of real estate, paintings and other assets in the United States, which alerted the US Justice Department’s kleptocracy unit to name him a “Public Official 1” and to seize millions of dollars’ worth of assets.

The two cases have given Malaysia an international black eye but have done nothing yet to bring Najib down as prime minister. He remains insulated from defenestration through the payment of fulsome contributions to the top UMNO cadres who might be tempted to oust him. Although the opposition has unified in recent months under the unlikely leadership of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the betting is that, insulated by gerrymandering, religious xenophobia, political repression and a kept press, he won’t be ousted in the next election, which must be called before mid-2018.

“Apparently after (the opposition Pakatan Harapan) sorted out leadership issues in their coalition, they have been gaining a lot of traction,” said a well-wired political observer in Kuala Lumpur. “The tragedy for Malaysia is that their comeback kid is 92 years old and his “successor” (imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim) is in jail.”

Prize-winning series

As Asia Sentinel reported in a prize-winning series in 2012, a two-decade campaign by DCN and its subsidiaries to sell submarines to Malaysia and other countries resulted in a tangle of blackmail, influence peddling and misuse of corporate assets that took place with the knowledge of top French officials including then-foreign Minister Alain Juppe and with the consent of Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister. The case has had far wider implications, stretching from South America to Pakistan to India to Taiwan and other countries and featuring a series of unexplained deaths as DCN sought to peddle its weapons.

At the center of the Malaysia case were Razak Baginda and Najib, then on a vast weapons acquisition spree as Minister of Defense, buying fighter jets, patrol boats and armored weapons.  The ministry spent US$2 billion for Scorpene submarines manufactured by Thales.  A store of documents from French prosecutors made available to Asia Sentinel presented a damning indictment that showed Najib’s goal was to steer the kickbacks to UMNO through a private company called Perimekar Sdn Bhd. whose principal shareholder was Razak Baginda’s wife Masjaliza.

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 Dr. Baginda with his daughter and wife

 

Another €36 million was directed to Terasasi Hong Kong Ltd., whose principal officers were listed as Razak Baginda and his father. The company only existed as a name on a wall in a Hong Kong accounting office. At the time Razak Baginda was then the highly respected head of a Malaysian think tank called Malaysian Strategic Research, which was connected with UMNO.

DCN paid for lovers’ Macau tryst

Among the documents was one that showed a DCN confederate sent Razak Baginda on a jaunt to Macau with his then-girlfriend, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian national and international party girl who was later murdered by two of Najib’s bodyguards. Altantuya was said to have also been a lover of Najib before he passed her to his best chum although Najib said he would deny knowing her by swearing on the Quran.

During negotiations at the end of the submarine contract, Altantuya was employed as a translator, according to the documents, although it is questionable how effective her language skills really were. In any case, after a whirlwind tour of Europe in his Ferrari, Razak Baginda apparently tired of Altantuya and jilted her, impelling her to fly to Kuala Lumpur to demand US$500,000 in what she described as blackmail in a letter found in her hotel room after her murder.

Altantuya was grabbed on Oct. 19, 2006 from in front of Razak Baginda’s home by Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, members of an elite police unit responsible as bodyguards for Najib, and was dragged into a car and driven to a forested spot outside the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam, where she was knocked unconscious and shot twice in the head.  The two then wrapped her body in C4 plastic explosive and blew her up, supposedly to destroy the fetus she was carrying.

Detailed confession not allowed in court

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What a ghastly murder of a Mongolian Model

Sirul gave a detailed confession to a fellow police officer in which he described in chilling fashion how the two had killed the woman, who begged for the life of her unborn child. Although Sirul had been read his rights, inexplicably the confession was never introduced in the lengthy trial that followed. At the conclusion of the trial, as he was being sentenced, Sirul broke into tears, telling the judge that he was the “black sheep who has been sacrificed to protect unnamed people.”

Although Razak Baginda was quoted in his own statement to police following the discovery of the murder as saying he had asked one of Najib’s aides to “do something” about the woman, who was harassing him, he was excused without the need to present evidence, The aide was never called to testify, nor were a long string of other Malaysian officials with connections to the case.

Ultimately, Azilah and Sirul were sentenced to death. However, the two have never been executed, Sirul, released temporarily on appeal, made tracks for Australia, where he was later detained. He remains there today after having implicated Najib in the murder and then retracted the allegation. Mahathir has repeatedly called vainly for the case to be reopened.  Nonetheless, it remains one of Malaysia’s biggest scandals, and is likely to remain so unless a new election sweeps out UMNO and its lieutenants.