July 30, 2015
This is a government whose officials have frequently publically sneered at the concept and at the need to uphold human rights (despite being a former member of the United Nations Human Rights, a sitting non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and having a National Human Rights Commission).
In the first half of 2015, the Malaysian government has liberally utilised the Sedition Act of 1948 to detain and charge critics, journalists, academics, activists, and opposition politicians who fell afoul of what the authorities vaguely consider as “seditious.” Whatever that means.
This is the same government that has time and again relented and failed to address rising conservatism and intolerant religious dogma within the country and prefers to maintain an “elegant silence” whenever controversies or debates are related to religion.
It brags setting up and showcasing platforms promoting the concept of “moderation” and tolerance at the international and global levels, yet barely practises them with its own citizens instead preferring to allow racism, religious intolerance and discrimination to begin to mushroom and solidify institutionally to gain communal populist support. This has also led to the radicalisation of individuals and allegedly added on recruits for ISIL as well as other militant groups in the region.
This is a government that has also violated its own promises and charter to “ensure no Internet censorship” (refer to 1996 Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia 10 Point Bill of Guarantees) and has curtailed freedom of the press numerous times.
The recent suspension of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily and the blocking of access to the Sarawak Report website in relation to the 1MDB scandal, are themselves in contradiction with the words of the Malaysian prime minister who back in 2009 promised a new way forward in policy and politics with a “vibrant, free and informed media” which “allows people to hold public officials accountable” and that it would not be fearful of doing so. So much for that.
Those promising sunny Canaan days are now gone. Through its actions inflicted upon the media over recent years and especially within the context of the 1MDB affair, this government appears intent on continuing in not honouring those promises. It also appears that it wants to ensure its survival to remain in power at all costs. Especially now.
It is especially telling that despite the perceived loss of billions of taxpayers’ money, nobody of responsibility and consequence has resigned.
The Malaysian people are increasingly disillusioned, frustrated and angry with this administration, especially when the media are being threatened and suppressed in a perceived effort to control access to information regarding this scandal.– Azrul Mohd Khalib
Malaysia: Open Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron
From MP Tony Pua
Dear Mr Prime Minister,
Welcome to Malaysia
Welcome back to Malaysia. It is an honour that you have decided to return to my country so soon after your last trip in April 2012.
Let me first take this opportunity to congratulate you on the recent successful re-election of your government.
For all its oft-cited shortcomings, the British democratic system remains among the most free and fair in the world, with the Westminster an institution most countries like ours look up to.
I am also extremely encouraged by the increasing assertiveness of UK’s foreign policy which seeks not only to serve the British national interest but equally to establish a minimum moral and ethical standards in a world increasingly dominated by greed and self-interest.
At a forum entitled “Building the world we want by 2030 through transparency and accountability” during the 69th UN General Assembly on September 24th 2014, you highlighted the fact that “the more corruption in your society, the poorer your people are.”
You admonished those who refused to deal with corruption. “Some people don’t want to include these issues in the goals. I say: don’t let them get away with it,” you said.
Just last month, you wrote in the Huffington Post to implore the G7 to place priority on fighting corruption, using the FIFA scandal to provide the impetus. You argued eloquently that:
…at the heart of FIFA is a lesson about tackling corruption that goes far deeper. Corruption at FIFA was not a surprise. For years it lined the pockets of those on the inside and was met with little more than a reluctant sigh.
The same is true of corruption the world over. Just as with FIFA, we know the problem is there, but there is something of an international taboo over pointing the finger and stirring up concerns… But we just don’t talk enough about corruption. This has got to change.
You have since 2013 led a mission to ensure Britain’s network of overseas territories and Crown dependencies, like Cayman and British Virgin Islands, signed up to a new clampdown on tax evasion, aimed at promoting transparency and exchange of information between tax jurisdictions.
As you said, “we need to know more about who owns which company – beneficial ownership – because that is how a lot of people and a lot of companies avoid tax, using secretive companies in secretive locations.”
Yesterday, your speech in Singapore was pointed and direct. You told the listening Singapore students that “London is not a place to stash your dodgy cash”.
“I want Britain to be the most open country in the world for investment. But I want to ensure that all this money is clean money. There is no place for dirty money in Britain. Indeed, there should be no place for dirty money anywhere.”
You rightly pointed out that “by lifting the shroud of secrecy”, we can “stop corrupt officials or organised criminals using anonymous shell companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property, without being tracked down.”
We, Malaysians need you to make the very same points in our country. Making the above points in Singapore is good, but it is like preaching to the converted as our neighbour is ranked 7th in the 2014 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.
The leaders of the Malaysian government on the other hand, are embroiled in a financial scandal of epic proportions.In particular, our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, whom you are to meet has been recently accused by The Wall Street Journal that he has received in his personal account cash deposits amounting to nearly US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) in 2013.
It was a damning but substantiated allegation which he has steadfastly refused to deny.
Some, if not all of the money could be linked to state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) which is crippled by US$11 billion of debt, requiring billions of ringgit of emergency bailout funds by the Malaysian tax-payers.
I am certain that you have been briefed on leaked documents clearly points to an incriminating trail of plunder and international money-laundering across Singapore, the Middle East, the United States, Switzerland and yes, the United Kingdom.
The New York Times and other media outfits have also raised questions about how his family owns properties, in New York, Beverly Hills and London worth tens of millions of dollars.
These properties were purchased with the same opaque “shell companies” which you have rightly censured.
The sheer scale of the sums involved makes the FIFA bribery scandal look like child’s play. This is the very reason for the drastic iron-fisted actions Najib has taken over the past two weeks.
As you would have found out by now, he has sacked the Attorney-General who was leading the investigating task force on the above scandals.
He has also sacked the Deputy Prime minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for questioning the 1MDB shenanigans in a Cabinet reshuffle designed to stifle inquiries into the subject matter.
The newly promoted Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is also the Home Minister, acted to suspend the country’s leading business papers, The Edge Weekly and The Financial Daily last week because they played a leading role in uncovering the multi-billion dollar scam to defraud Malaysians.
Can you ever imagine the UK Financial Times being suspended? I have on the other hand, been in a relentless pursuit to uncover the conspiracy to defraud the country at the very highest levels since 2010. Earlier in March this year, I became the first Member of Parliament to be sued for defamation by a prime minister in the country in a blatant attempt to muzzle my strident criticisms.
When that failed, I have found out last week that I’ve also become the first MP ever to be barred from travelling overseas, without any reasons, valid or otherwise, being provided.
The only plausible reason for such a drastic action against my right to travel is that I will soon be arrested for my troubles to expose the truth and highlight the staggering size of embezzlement, misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.
If the local media’s Police sources were to be believed, I am most ironically being investigated under the recently amended Criminal Penal Code for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy”. It is a ‘heinous’ crime which carries up to a 20-year jail sentence.
Mr Prime Minister,
You have written that you “need to find ways of giving more support and encouragement to those in business, civil society and the media who are working to fight corruption”.
Malaysians need your “support and encouragement” today. While we do not need your interference over our sovereign affairs, we also do not need any pretentious praise embedded into polite diplomatic speak which will lend any legitimacy desperately sought by Najib’s administration.
We also hope that the worthy mission to increase trade relations between our two countries with great historical links will not relegate your goals to “make the global business environment more hostile to corruption and to support the investigators and prosecutors who can help bring the perpetrators to justice.”
We pray for your wisdom to speak resolutely on Britain’s zero tolerance against corruption and money laundering. For Malaysia, the façade of a moderate Westminster-like democracy masks many ugly truths of social injustice, political oppression and extensive corruption.
Like you, I’ve had the immeasurable privilege of completing my degree in the best university in the UK, which ranks among the best in the world (if not the best). We completed the same course in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) but I was 6 years your junior.
While you received a first class honours and I missed the cut, I hope that our alma mater has embedded in us the moral fortitude to play our little roles in building a better world.
I will end my letter with a quote from our fellow alumnus and PPE graduate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who most pertinently said, “sometimes I think that a parody of democracy could be more dangerous than a blatant dictatorship, because that gives people an opportunity to avoid doing anything about it”.
Thank you for listening, Mr Prime Minister. – July 29, 2015.
* Tony Pua is DAP Selangor Chairman and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara
Note: I congratulate my MP Tony Pua for penning this Open Letter to you, Mr. Cameron. Your visit is poorly timed. One would have thought you would have postponed it to a much better time, not now because Malaysia is in a political crisis. The desperate Malaysian Prime Minister will use your visit to boost his image. However, now that you have come to our country those of us who were educated in Malaysia in 1950s and abroad have enough “British” manners to receive you and your delegation with respect. We warmly congratulate you on your recent electoral success.
During your brief stay in Kuala Lumpur, we hope you will convey a message to your idiotic and insecure Malaysian counterpart that he must listen to the voices of the Malaysian people and serve them well. Right now he cannot be trusted to do the right thing. When no one is watching, he puts his hand in the till to the tune of USD 700 million and maybe more. When he is caught, he fails to respond with dignity. He is not attempting to solve our country’s political, economic and social problems. In stead, your Malaysian counterpart is compounding them with his divisive politics.
Mr. Najib should be reminded that we put him there because we voted for his coalition in 2013, although his coalition lost the popular vote, and we intend to throw his coalition out should he decide to hold our next general elections, barring massive rigging and cheating at the polls. In a democracy, power belongs to the people, that is Democracy 101. –Din Merican