Malaysia: Financial Scandals and Foreign Affairs


August 26, 2016

Malaysia: Financial Scandals and Foreign Affairs–Wake Up, Australia

by Amrita Malhi

If Malaysia’s political impasse breaks, the impact may be global.

najib_razak-960

Conventional wisdom says he will survive, but it is often wrong 

“I myself have never wanted foreign interference in our domestic affairs,” former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad declared in late June in his Putrajaya office. “But domestic means of redress have been closed.”

Since I spoke to him then there’s been much debate between Malaysia analysts on whether current PM Najib Razak’s position is safe, and how much longer he can hold on before the cluster of problems now assembled around him ends his political career. Today, the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs hosts the 2016 Malaysia Update largely focused on this debate.

This is an important question, not only for Malaysia but for Australia. Analysts in Asia continue to argue that Najib is unassailable, based on their analysis of formal UMNO structures and the Malaysian bureaucracy. Mahathir largely concurs in his assessment of Najib’s domestic prospects, saying “the A-G [Attorney-General] will not take up the case against him in the court.

Image result for Apandi Ali

Apandi–The Crony Ali

“The A-G simply brushes aside all reports, just like 1MDB,” the state development fund that the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) is now investigating under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. “So he will never be proven guilty because the courts are under his control,” Mahathir adds.

Nevertheless, DoJ documents have named Najib’s step-son Riza Aziz, financier Low Taek Jho (or Jho Low), his associate Eric Tan, along with two government officials in Abu Dhabi. The DoJ believes that USD $3.5 billion was siphoned out of the fund, of which it claims that $1 billion was laundered through the purchase of US-based assets or “dissipated” through lavish lifestyle expenses.

The DoJ announcement makes clear that the international reach of the Najib saga—now creating many problems for Malaysia’s trading partners—makes external jurisdictions the key arena in which Najib’s opponents are now moving to depose him. Yet precisely because the networks, relationships and Machiavellian stand-offs now operating around Najib are too numerous and diffuse, there remains no telling how long he will last, or, importantly, what change will follow if sufficient forces combine to push him.

The problem is nevertheless now affecting elites at the highest level in the United States, where the scandal has reached Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Leonardo Dicaprio, star of Wolf of Wall Street and potential beneficiary of 1MDB funds through Riza’s company Red Granite Productions, has had to drop out of hosting a Hollywood fundraiser he planned to hold for her. It has also prompted action in Switzerland and Singapore, which have acted against banks and account holders in their jurisdictions that have links with 1MDB.

Image result for Julie Bishop

Australia is relatively quiet on 1MDB–Malaysians in Australia should apply pressure on Julie Bishop

In Australia, the government has stayed relatively quiet on 1MDB, although Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has finally noted publicly that the allegations against Najib are “serious”. Mahathir, however, argues that the government is out of step with Australians’ attitudes.

“There is a dichotomy in Australia between the people and the government,” Mahathir said. “On the one hand, the people are aware of what’s happening in Malaysia. They have been here, they know Malaysia, and some of them were Malaysians.”

“But your government,” Mahathir continued, “is not willing to confront the Malaysian government.”

“Australian TV have come out with a lot of things,” Mahathir noted, “but the government is being very clinical.”

Indeed, in open forums this might be genuinely difficult. Key regional relationships are built around Malaysia’s political stability, built around a strong volume of trade, migration and regular elections that have delivered victory to Najib’s government since 1957. Now, the words “Malaysia Solution” have even returned to national public debates around refugees and asylum-seekers, and counter-terrorism and other security relationships also depend on Malaysia as a key regional partner.

Yet Najib’s opponents also have excellent international access, which, in Australia for example, has only gained them more influence since the 2013 election result, in which the opposition parties won the popular vote. For some time now in Australia, not a month has passed without representatives of the PKR, the People’s Justice Party led by Anwar Ibrahim, visiting academics, officials, politicians, community supporters, and their friends and relatives in Australian cities.

Image result for Ibrahim Ali of Malaysia

Mahathir too has allies travelling overseas. One of these allies, Ibrahim Ali, who is head of Malay nationalist organisation Perkasa, which Mahathir advises, is in Canberra today for the ANU Malaysia Update. Ibrahim has recently announced he will consider joining the new party that Mahathir is setting up, called Parti Pribumi Bersatu (PBB)—United Natives this time, as distinct from United Malays.

In Malaysia, the PBB is negotiating with the PKR and its allies over how best to collaborate electorally to oust UMNO at the 2018 election. Mahathir’s credentials as a Malay nationalist are a useful support for his pitch to disproportionately powerful rural seats dominated by Malay Muslims, and his social media channels are actively calling on UMNO members to defect to him.

Yet these negotiations are sticky and problematic. Mahathir must avoid being damaged by racially-charged allegations that he is in league with Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese, and he will also need to find a way to address the rift between him and Anwar Ibrahim, who was imprisoned for five years in 1999 on charges of corruption after a lengthy and damaging trial for sodomy.

He will also need to avoid being tainted by allegations that he is working with foreign imperialists, as Najib and his allies have begun a strong nationalist campaign at home, insinuating that Western powers like the United States carry an anti-Muslim agenda that infects the DoJ investigation.

The last thing the Australian government needs is to be confronted with similar allegations. Yet it is now finding itself inexorably drawn in to the contest, due to awkward connections enabled by this nation’s very strong ties with Malaysia.

For example, Stephen Lee, a suspect under investigation for the recent murder of Sarawak PKR leader Bill Kayong has been tracked down in Australia, a logical place to flee given Australia will not extradite people at risk of being executed for capital crimes.

Australia’s Villawood detention centre is also now host to Sirul Azhar Umar, convicted murderer of Altantuya Shaarribuu, a Mongolian interpreter who assisted Malaysian negotiations with French submarine firm DCNS in 2002.

From time to time, speculation emerges in Malaysia as to when he will go public with allegations that Najib and his wife Rosmah ordered the murder, after Altantuya threatened to expose alleged kickbacks between Malaysian officials and the firm in question.

Sirul has already been sentenced to death in Malaysia for his part in the crime, while DCNS has since won a contract to build twelve Barracuda submarines for Australia, a project which has been touted as a victory for job creation in South Australia. DCNS built Malaysia’s Scorpene submarines, whose secret combat capability has been leaked in recent days.

Image result for Matthias Chang

Meanwhile, Mahathir-linked figure Matthias Chang has filed a class action on behalf of Malaysian citizens over 1MDB funds in the United States, supported by a group of Amanah Party leaders including Husam Musa, who are also seeking support for the suit from Malaysia’s King ( HRH The Sultan of Kedah).

With every such move and countermove the Najib issue grows yet larger, and becomes yet more international in its scope. The political impasse remains in place, yet if and when a decisive shift suddenly results, it may set off a chain of events all over the world, including in Australia.

Calling a result or a timeline at this stage would involve pure speculation, and Australian researchers working on Malaysia would be better off combining forces to support Malaysians’ capacity for civic, political and institutional resilience through whatever change is about to ensue. I have made this case in more detail elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the race to internationalise the issue continues apace. “If anything can be done outside the country,” Mahathir said, “we would welcome that. We are forced to.”

“I don’t care. They can take away my passport. They can watch me as much as they like.”

Amrita Malhi is a Visiting Research Fellow in the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. Her website is www.amritamalhi.com.

This article is based on an in-depth interview between Amrita Malhi and Dr Mahathir Mohamad and is the final in a four-part series. Read the first, second and third. A shorter version of this article was also published in The Canberra Times.

http://www.newmandala.org/1mdb-malaysian-problem-reach-australia/

Is the Malaysia project a non-starter?


August 23, 2016

Is the Malaysia project a non-starter?

by Dr. KJ John

http://www.malaysiakini.com

In the Seven (7) Habits series, Stephen Covey’s central thesis is that we must grow or develop habits for growth and development in meaningful and significant ways. He argues that all human or organic systems must first grow from total dependence (and appreciate all its full meanings) to independence or human freedoms, and then, finally and fully appreciate interdependence with others of like-heart and mind. This is also the Hearts and Mind agenda of our NGO.

Full understanding and appreciation of real and true meaning of interdependence must belong to every one of the stakeholders and partners in a shared and common enterprise. It must become a shared vision for posterity; and never to be compromised.

Whether it is the UN or the EU, or even federated states like the US or Malaysia, or our simple OHMSI Sdn Bhd; interdependence properly understood and stewarded defines real and true meanings of the so-called freedom we ‘pretend to enjoy’, it then becomes real ‘merdeka’.

Covey’s 7-Habits

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergise
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw”

– Stephen R Covey, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

Malaysia-Land of Beauty

I will try to evaluate our Malaysia project, not simply from a historical perspective, but more importantly from a worldview perspective and see what Covey might be saying to us. Such a perspective puts a very high premium on human values for growth within the ethics and culture of lived life; in seeking to move organic systems from the full dependence towards voluntary and volitional inter-dependence.

The Malaysia project

Malaysia came into existence on September 16, 2016. But, that fact is not clearly taught in history. Not many of us today can change that false reality interpreted today. Before that date we had four independent states called Federation of Malaya, Singapore, and the North Borneo States of Sarawak and Sabah; each with their own unique story about the movement from dependence towards independence and now interdependence.

Rightly or wrongly, for reasons of their own, in August 1965 Singapore chose to leave Malaysia by mutual agreement and consent between the leaderships of Malaysia and the island state. I am not sure if and whether Sarawak and Sabah or the United Kingdom had any direct say in this matter.

Therefore, after a short marriage of two years, Singapore exercised their ‘move from total dependence from the United Kingdom towards independence from the new Malaysia’. They wanted to learn and grow the experience and freedom with true independence.

Sarawak and Sabah may have had views about such a move by Singapore, but I do not know those facts, but they too surely want to experience movement from full dependence towards true independence. And their growth experiences will be surely very different.

Sarawak and Sabah’s self-governance experience

Have the Sarawak and Sabah governments and their political leadership learned true independence and interdependence from their many years as a one-third partner of Malaysia; even as the Malaysia Agreement gave them some clear and separate jurisdictions?

Many of these legal rights and privileges were captured within the revised Federal Constitution of Malaysia and including recognition of their 18 and 20 point submissions. Was there ever consensus on those two documents by the political leadership of Malaysia?

But why therefore, after more than 50 years within Malaysia, do they now put their foot down about Petronas’ governance and staff recruitment strength and raise issues about employment permits? As a public policy person, I am simply wondering loudly.

What have they really learnt about independence, or interdependence, or is it still merely dependence, if anything at all? Or, do these jurisdictional governance regimes feel like, we the Malayans, have thoroughly abused them altogether?

Learning from Covey

In my Pet Theory R, relationships are an important and elemental R. Therefore, building and growing our knowledge about ‘nurturing and growing mature relationships’ using the Covey’s three-step process and applying them to his seven habits for Sarawak and Sabah relationships with Malayans may be instructional:

  • Malaya was proactive in nurturing a relationship with Sarawak and Sabah; Brunei however did not respond in the same way. Why? We still grew Malaysia. Did we ask Indonesia at all?
  • Our end in mind was always National Unity and regional stability; and more recently, we have added words like integration and integrity. I call that agenda: integration with integrity.
  • What is our First Things First? Is it Malaysia, ‘Melayusia’, or ketuanan bumiputra for now or centre versus periphery in governance of lived life and stewardship of resources; including all human beings especially citizens?
  • Do we think win-win every time we have bilateral issues in our relationships concerns? Or, can we really begin to think win-win-win to endure stewardship as the third win for the sake of all human beings?
  • Do we seek to understand before we seek to be understood? I did not understand Sarawakians until I met the Kelabits earlier and now, after I spent 10 days in Baram Valley. Maximus Ongkili, Beth Baikan and Bernard Dompok taught me to learn to understand Kadazans.
  • Have we really learnt to synergise? Why then is the Malaysian Public Service still more than 80 percent made up of peninsular Malays (non-Malays are less than 10 percent I believe)? This issue is reflective of the Petronas case story. Synergy would allow for creating new values; not simply depreciating existing values.
  • Finally, from my experience on the ground, and meeting so many smart and equally ambitious Orang Ulu Sarawak and Kadazans; these questions are my Covey test for all of Malayans to sharpen our saw or ‘tools of execution and evaluation’ so that we can see and learn the real meaning of Malaysian interdependence and not allow it to become a foolhardy project.

KJ JOHN, PhD, was in public service for 32 years having served as a researcher, trainer, and policy adviser to the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the National IT Council (NITC) of the government of Malaysia. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.

The Hyenas, Vultures and Maggots of 1MDB


August 23, 2016

The Hyenas, Vultures and Maggots of 1MDB

by Dr. M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

1MDB is not yet a bloated carcass (it is bloated only with debt) and already the hyenas, vultures and maggots are feasting with glee. In the wild, hyenas and vultures wait till their prey is dead, and maggots, rotting. Not these human hyenas, vultures and maggots.

Scavengers are vital in the ecosystem; they cleanse the environment of dead and decomposing bodies. In contrast, these human hyenas, vultures and maggots feasting on 1MDB are part of the rubbish. Perverse as it may seem, they have an exalted opinion of themselves. They view what they are doing–defending “Malaysian Official 1” who is related to one of the hyenas Riza Aziz–as honorable.

This 1MDB mess is humungous; it will burden Malaysians for generations. That is a grim and undeniable fact.Other facts, also undeniable, include these. One, 1MDB’s debt in excess of RM42 billion, and growing fast, exceeds the current budgetary allocation for education. No other entity, private or public, then or now could come even close. Those loans are ultimately the responsibility of taxpayers as well as those who do not pay tax. Those non-taxpayers, meaning the poor, are impacted because funds meant for them would be diverted to servicing those debts.

Two, 1MDB has gone through as many accounting firms as Britney Spears with boyfriends.  Its latest, Deloitte, has resigned, but not before making a most unusual declaration. That is, the US Department of Justice’s June 20, 2016 asset forfeiture lawsuit contained information that, if known at the time of the 2013 and 2014 audits “would have impacted the financial statements and affected the audit reports.”

The Carmas in the Malaysian Civil Service

“…these human hyenas, vultures and maggots feasting on 1MDB are part of the rubbish“–M. Bakri Musa

Along the same vein, the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB which the government had promised to make public is now under the Official Secrets Act. Those reports have always been public. Why keep this one secret?

Three, 1MDB has gone through as many chief executives in as many years, not the sign of a well-managed company. Four, drive by the site of the proposed Tun Razak Exchange, 1MDB’s signature development. It is empty. Last, 1MDB has yet to generate a sen of profit despite being in existence since 2009.

Meanwhile Switzerland has forced the sale of the bank involved with 1MDB and imposed an unusual and tough stipulation. Its new owner must not employ any of the existing senior managers of the sold bank. Singapore summarily closed the local branch of that bank. Its head now faces criminal charges. He was denied bail while awaiting trial, reflecting the gravity of the alleged crime. Singapore admitted to being lax in monitoring the bank’s activities with respect to 1MDB. Singapore also froze the assets of Jho Low, Najib’s financial confidant and key 1MDB player, an unprecedented as well as severe action.

There are other facts. The Attorney-General and Bank Negara have closed their investigations with no negative findings. Then there are the American DOJ’s asset forfeiture lawsuits and the class-action suit of Husam and Chang.

In America anyone can file a lawsuit. Thus you may dismiss the American lawsuits but not the actions of the Swiss and Singaporean authorities. As for the Attorney-General and Bank Negara Governor exonerating 1MDB, I let readers give that its proper weightage and relevance. Nonetheless that would still not explain 1MDB’s huge debts, changes in management and auditing firms, empty TRX lot, and the Auditor-General Report being kept secret.

For those who believe that Najib is God’s gift to Malaysians, you can’t argue with them. It would also be blasphemous to dispute Allah’s choice. For the rest of us, we need a more rational explanation, one that does not assault credibility or insult intelligence.

Back to the hyenas, they are now uncharacteristically quiet, their former flamboyance gone. Perhaps they are enjoying their morsels while they can, in their penthouses of Manhattan, mansions of Beverly Hills, and luxury yachts cruising the South China Sea. One would expect that having benefited handsomely from 1MDB they would harbor some gratitude to defend their benefactor.

The vast majority of Najib’s supporters are simple, unsophisticated Malay villagers still under the grip of feudalism. To them it is a simplistic “my leader, my race, my country, right or wrong!” Their loyalty to leaders is intense and unquestioning, up to a point. Betray that, and you pay the price. Datuk Onn was a hero for stopping Malayan Union, and Tunku Abdul Rahman for bringing merdeka. When they fell out of step with their followers, their drop from hero to villain was precipitous and merciless. Najib is nowhere near the caliber of those two giants. We must remind him and his ardent supporters of that.

Those villagers aside, only those vultures and maggots remain Najib’s supporters. The hyenas should be, but for reasons best known to themselves have chosen to remain silent. That leaves the vultures to be his noisiest and ugliest cheerleaders. Unlike the hyenas with their bounties in the millions, those vultures are satisfied with a promotion or two and a federal award (second or third class) thrown in. Satisfied because stripped of their new appointments, they would earn but a mere fraction back at their old law practices or whatever they did before prostituting themselves to Najib.

The maggots are there as long as there is a decaying carcass. A few ringgit tossed their way to fill the tanks of their used motorbikes, and they are happy parading their red shirts or polluting the social media with their inane comments. Once the carrion is gone, so will they.

Some support Najib out of inertia, buttressed by the havoc of regime change in Iraq and Libya as well as the performance of the opposition. Others reflect the forbearance of Malaysians. Najib, they rationalize, won the last election albeit without the majority of the popular votes. Nonetheless that victory was reaffirmed by the recent state elections in Sarawak as well as the two by-elections in Peninsula Malaysia.

That is a dicey defense. Winning elections is no license to steal or be corrupt. Nixon won a landslide in 1972, yet that did not stop his impeachment and subsequent resignation in disgrace for covering up the Watergate break-in.

A few would argue that Najib’s shenanigans are no different from Mahathir’s many opaque UMNO proxy companies plus London Tin, Maminco, Bank Bumiputra, and Forex debacles. To them 1MDB is merely a different crocodile, albeit much more menacing, but from the same fetid swamp. Malaysia will never progress with that attitude.

Then there is the reflected glory argument. Riza Aziz, Malaysian Official 1’s stepson, is one of the producers of the Academy Award-winning The Wolf of Wall Street. Most would miss the irony as the film is banned in Malaysia. Nonetheless Malays in particular should celebrate that achievement.

Malaysians would have, and proudly too, had the film not been tainted. Indeed, the Academy publicly demanded that Riza Aziz’s name be officially deleted. It is like winning at the Olympics, and later disqualified for doping. Instead of glory, shame.

Another aspect of Najib’s support is crude anti-American rage triggered by the DOJ’s lawsuit. That was seen as interference as well as double standards. America too is blighted with corruption, they sniff. True. But as South Korean Tongsun Park and Indonesian James Riady, as well as former Attorney-General Mitchell and President’s Counsel John Dean found out, the corrupt do get caught, convicted, and jailed. That’s the lesson Malaysians should draw from America.

As for American interference, if Najib and other corrupt Third World leaders do not want that, then next time accept only Zimbabwean dollars and use a bank in Uzbekistan. Buy properties in Bali or Cancun, not Manhattan or Beverly Hills, and bet at casinos in Macau not Las Vegas. There are no shortages of hyenas, vultures and maggots in those countries to clean up your mess.

Rosmah Mansor and her Jewellery, courtesy Jho Low


August 20, 2016

Sarawak Report: Rosmah Mansor and her Jewellery, courtesy Jho Low

Last month’s filing by the US Department of Justice confirmed the money trail, which had long been suggested by Sarawak Report, linking Jho Low’s mysterious role in funding the ‘First Lady’s’ obsessive diamond shopping with money he stole from 1MDB.

Our research in Hong Kong, a favourite jewellery haunt of Rosmah Mansor’s, revealed that by 2009 most of the money to settle Rosmah’s bills was coming via Jho Low.

Insiders from the industry explained to SR that the original ‘link man’ between traders and  Rosmah was the former Malaysian carpet trader Deepak Jaikishan, something that has been extensively exposed and admitted to by Deepak also.

However, in 2009, after Najib became Prime Minister and set about putting together 1MDB, it was Jho Low who started organising such payments, traders say.

He was the man to go to and emails seen by Sarawak Report confirm that he utilised his relationship managers at Coutts Bank Singapore for the purpose, including Yak Yew Chee, who moved on to manage the corrupt 1MDB/Jho Low accounts currently being investigated at the now closed Singapore branch of BSI Bank.

Yak organised transfers for jewellery purchases for Low

Yak organised transfers for jewellery purchases for Low in 2009

Sarawak Report earlier revealed how Jho Low’s company Batumba Investments Limited Hong Kong, which was a subsidiary of his then main business Wynton Capital, paid millions of dollars to a subsidiary of the New York jeweller Louis Glick called Rose Trading in Hong Kong to pay for Rosmah’s diamonds.

Transfer details of one of the payments sent to the relevant dealers

Transfer details of one of the payments sent to the relevant dealers

A related email from Jho Low ran ““Hi….please confirm receiving 1 million in total.. Datin is coming to Hong Kong. Do you want to show her more goods?”.

The transfers were run through Coutts as emails seen by Sarawak Report confirm:

Fwd Payment advice to Rose Trading USD1,000,000
From: Lee Julia (RBS Coutts, SG)
To:  jho.low@gmail.com

Dear Mr Low,

Thanks
Julia Lee (attachment)

Speaking to traders again last week Sarawak Report has confirmed that in late 2009 the series of purchases from Rose Trading had amounted to no less than $3 million.  They added that another $1.7 million was paid to another Hong Kong jewellery outlet called   Firestone.

DOJ confirm the 1MDB link

However, it was the DOJ filing last month which tied these purchases directly to money taken from 1MDB via the theft by Jho Low’s company Good Star Limited from the original ‘joint venture’ with the company PetroSaudi.

Amongst a bacchanal of expenditures towards Jho Low’s gambling and partying was listed that telling payment to Rose Trading:

“between October 2009 and October 2010, misappropriated 1MDB funds sent from the Good Star Account into the Shearman IOLA Account were transferred as follows: (i) approximately $12,000,000 in wires to Caesars Palace, a Las Vegas casino; (ii) approximately $13,400,000 in wires to the Las Vegas Sands Corp., the owner of the Venetian Las Vegas, another casino; (iii) a wire for approximately $11,000,000 to “Eric” TAN Kim Loong, an associate of LOW; (iv) approximately $4,000,000 in wires to Jet Logic Ltd., a luxury jet rental service; (v) a wire for approximately $3,500,000 to LOW’s sister; (vi) a wire for approximately $3,080,000 to Rose Trading, a Hong Kong jeweler; (vii) approximately $2,698,000 in wires to Yachtzoo, a luxury yacht rental service; (viii) approximately $2,288,000 in wires to Argent Design Ltd., a United Kingdom-based interior designer; (ix) a wire for approximately $670,000 to Excel Air, a jet rental company; (x) approximately $460,000 in wires to Skyline Private Air, an aircraft rental company; and (xi) a wire for approximately $155,000 to Billiyon Air, a jet rental company. [Section 108 DOJ Report]

From this information we can now join up how the 1MDB ‘investment’ went from Good Star Limited, first to Low’s US lawyer’s client account at Shearman, then eventually to Batumba Investments Limited and then on to Rose Trading.

“He should remember it’s my money too!”

The confirmation that Rosmah’s diamonds were bought using 1MDB cash, follows hard on the heels of ourearlier story that she paid for millions of ringgit of beauty treatments also from public money stolen from the 1MDB subsidiary SRC International, which had been funded from a loan from the public pension fund KWAP.

At the time stories about Jho Low’s gargantuan spending were hitting the news in the US and Malaysia. One confidante of the time has related that Rosmah had exploded on reading some of the coverage:

“He should remember its my money also!”

the First Lady angrily exclaimed.  At the time her listeners were not certain as to what she had meant.  But, now everyone knows!

$600 million yacht for sale – discounts likely

Major re-fit before sale in Hong Kong?

Major re-fit before sale in Hong Kong?

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong press have taken up Sarawak Report’s information that the yacht Equanimity is in the port and on offer for sale.

The South China Morning Post confirms that the boat has had a major re-fit in their docks and that a local agent has been engaged with a view to an apparent sale.

All parties say they have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, but have indicated that the ‘mystery owner’ of the yacht is eager for a quick sale.

Although Jho Low has treated the yacht as his own ever since he acquired it in 2013, hosting a massive party to celebrate his own birthday back in November together with a fundraiser for the UN foundation, Sarawak Report asks if perhaps the actual ownership of the boat is also a little more complex than might first appear?

That the money came from funds stolen from Malaysia can be of little doubt however and the boat ought by rights to be seized and sold by investigators in Hong Kong, who have stated that they are working together with the DOJ and other global agencies who have been working to retrieve 1MDB’s stolen assets on behalf of the Malaysian people.

It’s a job that Malaysia’s own government has been notably failing to undertake itself.

Off the coast in Hong Kong

Off the coast in Hong Kong

SARAWAK REPORT

 

Malaysia: No end to discrimination of the Other


August 19, 2016

Malaysia: No end to discrimination of the Other

by Farouk A. Peru

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

One of the most despairing things I dread reading every year is news on how members of the rakyat are denied their rightful places at local universities.

They do everything right, tick all the boxes but when it comes to reaping the fruits of their labour, they are short changed. Instead, their rightful places are given to Bumiputera students. Those whose grades are good but not comparable to those who score stellar grades but are not of Bumiputera status. My question to my fellow Bumis is this: Can we live with ourselves while supporting this policy?

I was moved last Saturday when I read the plight of a young Indian woman. She scored straight As in her UPSR and PMR. In her SPM, she did equally well and she was also a high achiever in her extracurricular activities. Yet she was denied a place to do dentistry and was offered a place to do bio-medical engineering.

Some may say she has a lot to be grateful for and I would agree but that is hardly the point. The point is rather to ask the question: “Is she getting what she deserves?” Would she get the same offer if she was a Bumiputera?

If we are indeed practising pure meritocracy, then the only way this young woman would be denied her place is if there were other candidates with equally perfect scores and who did equally well in extracurricular activities. This is highly doubtful. What is probably the case here is that she is the victim of the racially segregating quota system. Her non-Bumi status had put her at a disadvantage.

As a Malay-Muslim, I am appalled by such policies. It is not because I do not want people of my own socio-culture to progress. Of course I do and we have over the decades. There is now a clear strata in Malay-Muslim society who are highly educated professionals and clearly above and beyond the abysmal politics of UMNO and PAS.

However, the majority of us are still clinging to the crutches to which we have acclimatised ourselves over this time. Remember the protest by UITM students when it was suggested non-Bumis be allowed entry? It is that kind of mentality that impedes Malay-Muslims from achieving further progress.

Then there is the matter of religion. As Malay-Muslims, our Islamic identity is becoming increasingly important to us.

In Malaysia, we are proud of our high place in the Islamic index. We have grand mosques and our lifestyles are becoming more and more Arabicised (or Islamised, as the priesthood would have us believe). But are segregating Bumiputera policies actually Islamic?

Let us consider the following: The Quran is replete with commands to believers to perform acts of goodness. In no less than four places (Chapter 2 Verse 83, 4/36, 6/151 and 17/23), this command is connected with the actual worship of Allah which is the main point of the Quran.

Yet, in not a single of these commands is there a pre-condition that good deeds be towards believers or even Muslims. Rather, good deeds are generally to parents (not one’s own necessarily but parents in general), near neighbours, orphans, the socially stagnant and travellers.

Not only that, there is an entire chapter of the Quran (Chapter 83, Al-Muthaffifeen) which is dedicated to the event in which all our deeds is accounted for. The eponymous “muthaffifeen” is a unique word used only once in the first verse of this chapter.

It refers to people who extract a particular measure of benefit but refuse to give the full measure of effort required. Needless to say, the Quran is against such an act. It tells us that we will made to pay for this sin on Judgement Day.

So while we expect non-Muslim Malaysians to contribute to the development of the nation, we refuse to give them equal rights. We will have to answer for this disparity on the day of reckoning, according to the Quran.

It is very clear from these and numerous other principles from the Quran that there is simply no justification for racialised policies. Yet, we have not even heard a peep from the Islamic priesthood about them.

While they are busy pronouncing Pokemon Go as forbidden and making sure wives submit to their husbands even while riding on camels, they are deafeningly silent on this very fundamental teaching of the Quran. I urge Malay Muslims to ask these priests at every opportunity.

Malay Muslims need to realise that these preferential policies not only hurt our relationship with the rakyat, they also compromise our religion as well as our capacity for competition. The sooner we let go of these policies, the sooner we can take our place as members of the rakyat alongside the others.

Who’s afraid of Dr M?


August 18, 2016

Who’s afraid of Dr M?

Cmdr(rtd) S.Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve.”

– Ray Velcoro in ‘True Detective’

In my last article, I made three points. The first, that the creation of another Malay power structure was unproductive and what the Najib refuseniks “need to do is work with the opposition without causing any more political fissures”.

The second was that “having the same interests [in removing Najib] and ‘not repeating the mistakes of the past’ are mutually exclusive”. The third, to “radicalise the Malay community by advocating ideas that would make any red shirt-clad Malay nationalist quiver with rage because it comes from former UMNO power brokers.”

I would like to elaborate on these three points because I am an outlier “keling” and sometimes, something more is needed than just “podah”. By registering this new ‘Malay’ political party, former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is attempting to do what political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim failed to do.

Do not get me wrong, Anwar had much success in changing the political landscape of this country but he did not manage to galvanise the Malay vote to the point where PKR alone, up to a point until Anwar landed in Sungei Buloh, was a credible alternative to UMNO.

This is why PKR’s over reliance on PAS has resulted in the neutering of the oppositional front. However, the charges that this is “just another racist party” are disingenuous considering the ethos of the so-called alternative pact. From a purely descriptive stance, there are only multiracial opposition parties in Malaysia. In substance, these parties are either pandering to the Malay vote or outright concerning themselves with furthering the agenda of the ‘Malay’ polity to sustain political survival.

Therefore, what we have in the Peninsular are mainstream Malay power structures like UMNO and PAS, a political party like PKR whose leadership has publicly stated that the Malay vote is paramount to their survival hence political rhetoric and policy decisions are based on the sensitivities and preoccupations of this particular community.

Meanwhile, DAP continues to seek ways to increase its Malay membership in an effort to shed its so-called Chinese chauvinistic image, only to be hampered by operatives suffering from foot-in-mouth disease, an epidemic that the DAP leadership seems reluctant to confront.

The idea that this new Malay political party could galvanise the rural Malay vote is misguided. About the so-called “rural vote”, I said this in a piece on the recently concluded by-elections – “So if UMNO delivers everything it says it will deliver, the cycle of complicity will continue. Disenfranchised people will continue voting for a regime which puts rice in their bowls. I am not talking about the urban class but rather those people who have depended on real power, federal power exercised corruptly for their benefit. That is the culture some people forget that we are dealing with. We nurtured this culture.”

The only way this new party is going to get the rural Malay vote is to outspend UMNO or to destabilise the UMNO state level machinery. The latter is possible considering the Mahathir sympathisers within UMNO but unless this new party is willing to commit massive sums, the idea of outspending the King of Cash is ludicrous.

A shared goal

My second point is where it gets messy. The agenda of removing the current UMNO Prime Minister, which no doubt is a shared goal, and with reforming the system, are unfortunately (in my book) mutually exclusive. Many of my friends have taken exception to this statement arguing that they are not mutually exclusive. I sympathise with their argument and indeed in the past have put forward the same argument.

An Indian opposition supporter sent me an email, questioning how I could advocate the opposition working with Mahathir after he used the “keling” word. The first thing I did was send him links of every racist or bigoted utterings of oppositional political figures and asked how could I sincerely advocate for the opposition?

This is not meant as some sort of apologia on behalf of the former prime minster but rather that nobody in Malaysia get to ride on his or her high horse. Political adversaries working together is unfortunately what democracy is all about and this has nothing to with having a saviour – an unfortunate straw man – but capitalising on political and resources to overcome a political foe who is turning this country into another failed Islamic state.

Concerning ideas that “correct past mistakes”, what new ideas have the opposition actually advocated? The New Economic Policy (NEP) is redefined as class-based with the provision that the ‘Malay’ community as the majority will benefit the most. Supposedly secular parties fund Islamic organisations in an effort to get more ‘Malay’ votes.

Academics that propose equal opportunity laws or advocate ideas that slay communal scared cows are vilified as “idealists” and lectured on the “reality of our political system” or reminded that UMNO is the biggest racist party ever when in substance; their preferred political alliance operates in the same if subtle manner.

In one of my numerous pieces about the racial game here in Malaysia, I wrote, “In addition, this idea that voting across racial lines as some sort of evidence of burgeoning multiracial solidarity is complete bunkum. The real test is when people vote across ethnic and religious lines in support of ideologies that run counter to the interests of their communities and by this I mean egalitarian ideas that run afoul of constitutional sacred cows and social and religious dogma.”

Indeed, opposition parties like to promote the idea that they have dropped their racial and cultural baggage but the reality is that political expediency wins out every single time because people say one thing but do and mean another. I am referring to the voting public and not only politicians.

With regards to PAS and DAP, I wrote this: “The old PAS and the old DAP were offering up ideological alternatives to Barisan National that the voting public rejected for various reasons. I would argue that the DAP and PAS of old were more ideologically pure than they are now but that is a story for another time.”

This brings me to my final point, radicalising the Malay community. I have written how the non-Malay community played a big part in the mess we find ourselves by sustaining Umno all these years. I also concede that the opposition for whatever reasons is chasing the Malay vote at the expense of egalitarian ideas, therefore offering no real alternative for Malaysians to take refuge in, intellectually and spiritually.

In a piece praising PKR operative Wan Ji Wan Hussin, I wrote, “I have always been sceptical of the opposition and downright scornful of the UMNO establishment. While UMNO during elections season attempts to bribe non-Muslims with goodies – and it is open season on non-Muslims when votes need not be counted – the religious politics of the opposition has been a mess of political opportunism and homages to political correctness. Neither approach is suitable for the long-term social and political stability of Malaysia.”

We have had many Malaysians who champion egalitarian ideas. PSM for instance is one such political organisation that states their ideas and goals clearly but observe how they are treated by the average opposition supporter and intelligentsia.

Therefore, I know where I stand politically and hopefully some readers do too. In one of my earlier pieces, I wrote about how the Indian community should slay some of their scared cows. I also wrote of the DAP and the Chinese community, which was met with howls of racist indignation.

I will not be held responsible for whatever problems facing the ‘Malay’ community using the “we are all Malaysians” argument. Malays should speak up for themselves, demand leadership from their own community much like how minorities everywhere in the world demand it. Do not blame the existential crisis of the Malay community on the non-Malays and use the idea of a Malaysian identity as short hand to circumvent hard questions about one’s own community.

I would argue that every minority community in this country has done its share of soul searching and even though we may find fault in what they have discovered or are discovering, this idea – actually, I would use the term propaganda that being “Malaysian” means ignoring race and culture in favour of bromides – is the kool aid Malaysia does not need.