1MDB Restructuring via asset sale?


March 5, 2015

1MDB Restructuring via asset sale?

by Reuters–www.malaysiakini.com

Malaysia’s indebted and controversy-ridden state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) will be left as a skeletal structure and possibly dissolved under a debt repayment plan in which most of its assets will be sold, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The power and property fund, a pet project of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak with assets worth US$14 billion (RM51 billion), was hit by losses last year and nearly defaulted on a loan payment.

The near-miss drove down the ringgit currency and Malaysian government bonds and prompted calls from opposition leaders to make the fund’s accounts more transparent.The state fund’s RM42 billion debt includes a US$3 billion (RM10.96 billion) bond sale in 2013 that was one of the largest global issues from South-East Asia.

Under the aggressive restructuring plan, crafted by new boss Arul Kanda (above) and blessed by the government, the fund will sell 80 percent of its power unit Edra Energy via a stock market listing, three sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

More than RM18 billion of 1MDB’s debt linked to its power assets would go under Edra Energy ahead of the listing, which is due to be kickstarted in six to nine months time, the sources said.

Najib as 1MDB advisor
The fund, which has Najib as Chairman of its Advisory Board, will also sell the bulk of its land assets and stakes in two high-profile property projects – Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) and Bandar Malaysia – after splitting them into separate entities, as already partially indicated in a strategic review unveiled last month.

The Finance Ministry, which is headed by Najib and is the sole owner of 1MDB, did not respond to a request for comment.

Hot potato

1MDB said in an email that Edra Energy would be “monetised” in 2015 and the TRX and Bandar Malaysia projects would be ultimately owned by the Finance Ministry. This process would turn 1MDB into a skeletal structure that could eventually be dissolved completely, said one person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“It’s become a hot potato for the Malaysian government. It was just too much to handle,” said another source.

1MDB said yesterday that its plans to list Edra Energy were on track. It said the fund would re-submit an application for an initial public offering after cancelling a submission made in November. It did not elaborate.

Arul, appointed in January to revamp the fund, has carried out a strategic review of 1MDB’s finances and announced last month the fund would monetise Edra Energy this year, run real estate projects as standalone entities and sell assets to repay lenders. He did not disclose any financial details.

A respected former investment banker who was previously at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Arul was brought in to see if it was possible to salvage the fund, but decided it was best to wind down its businesses after carrying out a thorough six-week review.

A known unknown

1MDB, which analysts view as a cross between a sovereign wealth fund and a state-backed strategic fund, was established in 2008 as the Terengganu Investment Authority with RM10 billion to manage oil royalty payments to the resources-rich northern state of Terengganu. But as Najib came to power in 2009, he renamed it 1MDB and turned it into a fully-fledged investment fund.

1MDB expanded by purchasing pricey power assets from Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan and gaming-to-plantation conglomerate Genting Bhd, and large plots of land in the capital and other regions of Malaysia, racking up debt in the process until it plunged to a loss last year.

Krishnan (see above) also lent RM2 billion to 1MDB last month, pulling the fund back from the brink of the possible default on a bank loan payment, sources said. Officials at Krishnan’s investment vehicle Usaha Tegas were not immediately available to comment.

Political leaders, including former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have demanded an inquiry into 1MDB’s finances and are also calling on the government to explain transactions that they allege resulted in siphoning off public funds.

Najib said yesterday he had instructed the auditor-general to independently verify 1MDB’s accounts after the allegations. But question marks remain on whether investors would be interested in the fund’s IPO and sale plans.

“On 1MDB, it really boils down to the lack of transparency which cements it as a known unknown,” said Weiwen Ng, an ANZ analyst based in Singapore. “Greater transparency and accountability of the 1MDB issue would certainly help for future sales of assets and any such possible restructuring.”

- Reuters

Ex-top Judge KC Vohrah’s disclosure vindicates Syed Ahmad Idid


March 5, 2015

Ex-top Judge KC Vohrah’s disclosure vindicates Syed Ahmad Idid

by Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

EXCLUSIVE Following recent revelations by former Court of Appeal Judge KC KC VohrahVohrah of questionable actions by ex-Chief Justice Eusoff Chin, the man who had first revealed judicial corruption in Malaysia feels quietly vindicated.Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Idid was the High Court Judge who was forced to resign for writing an anonymous letter exposing the matter in 1996, which was sent to a select set of high officials.

Among its allegations, it revealed Eusoff had gone on a New Zealand holiday with VK Lingam, a senior lawyer who appeared before the then Chief Justice in court on a number of cases.Pictures of the duo taken together with their families underscored their close ties. It resulted in Syed Ahmad Idid being told to resign when the letter he sent mysteriously found its way into some government departments and then spread to the media.

Syed Ahmad Idid’s immediate reaction to Malaysiakini’s article on Vohrah was elation – that the former Court of Appeal Judge had written on the matter and he was certain other Judges could also tell of similar experiences.Among other transgressions, the Ayer Molek case that Vohrah referred to was filed in the Special and Appellate Powers Division whereas it should have been in the Commercial Division.

Syed Ahmad Idid (above center) also recalled a similar incident as a Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge with the Commercial Division from 1995 to 1996.

According to him, a case involving a sum of a quarter of a billion ringgit was correctly filed in the Commercial Division before him. But before it could be called in open court, the file was wrested away by Eusoff. “That matter was given to another judge who now resides, and must be enjoying life, in Europe,” he quipped.

Appalled at Corruption

Syed Ahmad Idid was a former Assistant Director with The Royal Customs and Excise Department before he left to read law in the Inner Temple London. He was legal director of a bank before being appointed a High Court Judge in 1990. In 1996, appalled at the corruption and dubious practices in the corridors of justice, he turned whistleblower.

eusoff chin and vk lingam

He remembers that his anonymous complaint over misconduct in the Judiciary, especially on the then Lord President  Eusoff Chin (above with VK Lingam), was sent to a few top government officers whose duties he hoped included enhancing the standards of performance in the government and protecting the integrity of the country.

Unfortunately someone in a department had disseminated it to the media, along with a ‘covering note’.“The aim was to frame me. The then Attorney-General (the late Mokhtar Abdullah) – a reader of English fiction – described this as a ‘poison pen’ letter.”

Somehow the letter was traced back to him and he was given two options – to resign honourably or be detained, possibly under the Internal Security Act.

A senior official, representing the A-G, had met him armed with the offer, revealed Syed Idid.He said Mokhtar was seen as overly enthusiastic to kill the ‘poison pen’ letter writer rather than investigating the allegations made against Eusoff. “He went to the press as though he was out for revenge.”Queried why he did not fight back, Syed Ahmad Idid said as a judge he could not join the political fray.

“I had no political party and so no political pull or push. The press jumped in and wrote all sorts of things against me. A reporter wrote I had escaped to London. In reality, I was eating ‘nasi lemak’ right here in Section 21, Petaling Jaya.

Even a Professor took advantage by writing about people who wrote poison-pen letters. So the lies mounted. But the newspapers which printed the lies paid dearly through their falling sales,” the former Judge said.

Threat of imprisonment

Asked as to why he did not take legal action, Syed Ahmad Idid said he was threatened with imprisonment. “I had a heart attack the previous year. Naturally I was fearful I could not survive the ordeal of a prison or even a lock-up stay. Also I had no savings to engage counsel and had no hope for the ‘justice that money can buy’.4th PM of Malaysia“So you see my predicament.

I made ‘doa’ and learned that discretion is the better part of valour.” Syed Ahmad Idid added he believed then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad relied a lot on his advisers and as Mokhtar held the reins, the PM had no alternative but to believe what the A-G told him.

“I did not contact the former A-G or the former IGP. Both knew my complaints were not investigated. On the contrary, I, the complainant, was punished. Thankfully, I have genuine friends both in the government, the courts and also the private sector who support me a lot, (and) I am grateful. Naturally I wish they can get UMNO to push for remedial action in my favour. However I guess UMNO is busy with so many issues.”

Lingam was later implicated in a video showing him having a phone conversation with then Chief Judge of Malaya (Tun) Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Halim in 2001 over the fixing of judges. This eventually led to a Royal Commission of inquiry in 2008 to investigate the issue.

The five-member panel proposed action be taken on Lingam, Eusoff and four others including Mahathir. However until today, no action has been taken against any of the six.

“After the Lingam inquiry, there should have been “korek, korek and korek” (dig, dig and dig) for more truths,” Syed Ahmad Idid sighed in dejection, playing on the now legendary Lingam’s “correct, correct, correct” quote that was caught on the video.

However in a manner of speaking, Syed Ahmad Idid had the last laugh. He received many calls and text messages congratulating him on being vindicated for the revelations he made more than a decade before the infamous video was made public.

Compensation received

He has also seen former Lord President Salleh Abas and five other Supreme Court Judges being compensated in 2008.

In 1988, following the UMNO debacle in which the party was declared illegal by the court, Salleh and other Supreme Court judges were forced to resign. Two decades later the government under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decided the Judges were hard done by, and granted compensation and returned their pensions. Syed Ahmad Idid now hopes the government will similarly look into the injustice done to him.

“I hope the government would remedy the wrong done to me…,” he said, stressing that he had sent his 1996 complaint to a few top government officials but did not however make it public. In fact, a professional forensics expert could easily confirm that the typeset, font and paper of that covering note and the attachment could not have come from me but from a department over which I had no control.”

Syed Ahmad Idid’s only regret was that he had been perceived to be an opposition sympathiser after the late Karpal Singh spoke well of him in Parliament when news of his resignation became public and again in 2006. This, he said, had resulted in some within the government branding him as an opposition supporter.

According to Syed Ahmad Idid, he was informed of this by a former cabinet minister. “I was denied any form of support. How more injudicious can the country get,” he said. Despite this, Syed Ahmad Idid is glad that current Judges, especially those appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission, are of quality, possessing experience and qualifications.

“This is essential in persons chosen to administer justice. A few may be young or ‘belum masak’ (not mature). But so long as they gather knowledge day by day and are fiercely honest and impartial, our judiciary will move a long way from the Eusoff Chin regime,” he remarked.

After his premature end in government service, Syed Ahmad Idid has kept himself busy with visits to the Inner Temple, his alma mater, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague as well as studying the plight of Muslims in Mindanao. He has written extensively on the negotiations between Manila and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and on basic law.

In addition to speaking at arbitration conferences overseas, Syed Ahmad Idid has participated in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (Uncitral) meetings in New York and Vienna. In 2012, Syed Ahmad Idid wrote a book titled ‘Writing of Judgments: A Practical Guide for Courts and Tribunals’.

Malaysians are now an endangered species


March 4, 2015

Malaysians are now an endangered species

by Hussein Hamid

http://steadyaku-steadyaku-husseinhamid.blogspot.com

Diversity accentuated. Malaysian are now an endangered    species. Politics, race and religion have made it so and politics, race and religion will ensure the extinction of that species!

MYTH-UMNO

My first memory as a child was living in a house in Jitra situated beside a road that led to a Chinese cemetery. From time to time I would be witness to Chinese funeral processions as they made their way towards the resting place of the deceased.

I also remembered my grandfather’s house in Kampong Kassippilay in Sentul. His house was surrounded by Chinese and Indians neighbors whose children became my friends in those times when we came back to KL from wherever it was my father was serving as a Police Officer to visit my grandfather and grandmother. We knew each other by sight if not by names and though our times together were fleeting it was enough for me to understand that the Chinese and Indians were part of the world I lived in.

In my first job with MNI our Managing Director was an Indian. And when I left MNI to sell burgers in Padang Brown in Penang I got my supplies from the Chinese owned Cold Storage, my gas was supplied by a Mamak who delivered them as needed and my neighbors to the left, right, center and back at where I lived in Island Glades were all Chinese.

The Alliance were in power then. UMNO was the dominant partner in the coalition but there was a Chinese Finance Minister and I remembered Sambathan as being a senior Minister  in the cabinet. There were Indians, Chinese and Malays in opposition and these were the time when decent man and women could still be found amongst those who were in politics.

We were all Malaysian then. Today in Malaysia there are still Malays, Chinese, Indians, Orang Asli,  Dayaks, Ibans, Kadazans, and a host of other races jostling with pendatangs from Indonesia, Burma and Thailand for living space and the opportunity to earn a decent living.There are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists and Muslims too.

Some like the Hindus are desperately clinging on to the last vestiges of whatever is left of their temples that have not been destroyed in the name of progress and urban sprawl to benefit commercial interest.

 The Christians are stoically enduring a losing battle against the all-conquering Islam – an Islam that have found renewed vigor from the Muslim politicians who only know too well what religion can do to advance their political agenda.

And for the other religions they take whatever morsel are thrown their way. There are gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender living amongst us  – all non-persons living unrecognized by the authorities and like all marginalized groups that has no significant electoral pull, they are at best ignored and bereft of any rights, at worse, prosecuted and persecuted without respite.

Hisham_KerisNational Integration?

Today amongst all these people living in Malaysia you will be hard pressed to find any Malaysians.You will find Indians who rightly consider themselves marginalized and ignored by the government, by the other races and even by their own political leaders.

You find that the Chinese are a race upon themselves. They are quietly confident that whatever the odds to be faced they have within themselves the ability to survive and survive well. You would not be wrong to think that amongst the Chinese there is a solidarity of purpose to ignore any limitations, overcome any hindrance and surmount any barrier impose upon  them by this UMNO-led BN government to make life for them just that more challenging.

East Malaysia is East Malaysia and never shall the East be Malaysians in any way but name. And then there are the Malays.

Legally the Malays are first amongst equals. That position is well secured in every which way by the political will of UMNO. Whether that dominance is to be used to the advantage of the Malays or to advance the cause of UMNO is moot. Suffice to say that for now both are advantaged by the dominance of the Malays over all things Malaysians.

1Malaysia1Malaysia- A Standing Joke

And so we see the gradual but relentless breakdown of the Malaysia we once knew. In short there are less Malaysian today then there were a decade ago even as our population increase.

We have lost millions of Malaysians who have migrated not to just seek a better life elsewhere but more to flee from a Malaysia that no longer wants them.More worrying for our people and our nation is that relentless process of divide and rule that his UMNO- led BN government choose to impose upon a population that once had as its rallying cry – Unity in Diversity.

Every day in every way the diversity is accentuated and everyday in every way Malaysians are becoming an endangered species.How can it not be endangered if the Malays, the most dominant of Malaysian, are now turning Malaysia into their own nation? A Malaysia only for the Malays, for Muslims and for no other? And all this is done not in the name of Ketuanan Melayu but in the name of Ketuanan UMNO! A corrupt, arrogant and irresponsible UMNO!

Today any hand of friendship extended to those not of your race, your religion , your political affiliation is suspect. Too many of us that have once lived peacefully side by side with each other now eye each other with suspicion.

Dislike now borders on hate. Suspicion of each others intent and purpose are now common as each race are focused on  self preservation in these times of racial and religious paranoia. With each passing day we become more alienated from each other and isolation becomes the norm as we retreat into our last bastion against insecurity, against real or perceived danger to our kind – retreat into the comfort of our own kind, our own race and our own religion.

But in truth it is not race or religion that is the problem.Politics is the problem.The human mind has always been moralistic, judgmental and self-righteous when left to its own devices.

Imagine what the human mind would do if this processed was helped along by government intent upon using race and religion to advance its political agenda to continue in government no matter what! Good people have now become bad because of this.

Today the social pressure from one’s peers to distance oneself from others of a different race, religion and political affiliation is enormous, difficult to ignore and most have succumb to the pressure.

There are some amongst us who try to make some sense of this madness but to date none have succeeded to any degree that could somehow arrest the headlong plunge our nation is now heading into the madness of politics that uses  race and religion as its weapon of choice to dominate the population.

That is why I say that Malaysians are now an endangered species. Politics, race and religion have made it so and politics, race and religion will ensure the extinction of that species!

The Release of Nik Raina


March 4, 2015

The Release of Nik Raina

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/azrul-mohd-khalib/article/the-release-of-nik-raina

by Azrul Mohd Khalib

Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz

To say that it had been an emotional morning would be an understatement. The Judge had just delivered his ruling and Nik Raina’s head had turned sharply to the back to glance at her boss. Everyone in that courtroom pretty much expected an application by the prosecutor for another lengthy six-month sojourn of the Nik Raina-Borders case to be granted, depriving her yet again of reprieve and justice.

Discharge of the charges was certainly not what anyone expected to hear that day in the Shariah courtroom. Just a moment before, everyone had heard the response from the prosecutor to lawyer Rosli Dahlan’s impassioned plea on behalf of Nik Raina for compassion, kindness and understanding from the court. To correct an injustice which had been inflicted and sustained for three years.

It was her problem, the prosecutor responded, if she felt that she had suffered humiliation, embarrassment and anguish as a result of this case. He continued by saying that her decision to take the case to the civil court amounted to disrespect of the Shariah court system and that her actions resulted in the prolonging of the case. Basically that it was Nik Raina’s own fault that it had come to three years since that fateful day in 2012.

JAWI was determined to continue the case to the highest court in the land. If the words and actions of the Shariah prosecutor were anything to go by, in the case of Nik Raina, they just wanted to win the case or to at least say that they had exhausted absolutely all avenues in their crusade to do so.

It is rare, for me at least, to hear words of compassion, understanding and most importantly, empathy in these settings. But I heard them that morning.

I heard the Judge, Mohd Amran Mat Zain, emphasise on the need to adhere to the spirit of fairness and justice in which the civil court and the Shariah court are grounded, as well as respecting the Federal Constitution.

The Honourable Judge emphasised that he had considered the fact that the very accusation and the charge itself have been deemed suspect and doubted. He considered that JAWI’s actions had been chastised and were found by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal to be not only illegal but unconstitutional and done in bad faith. He recognised and empathised with Nik Raina’s suffering as a result of this case and spoke of how he considered that the circumstances of injustice could cause kemudaratan.

Amidst the gasps of surprise and disbelief, sharp intakes of breath and the loud slapping of a forehead (a member of the prosecution team), the Judge ordered the charge be dropped.

Just an hour earlier, all of those present had been wondering whether the day’s outcome would be any different than others before. There had been too many disappointments. This outcome caught everyone totally off guard.

Rosli Dahlan (new)

An emotional Rosli then requested permission from the court to permit his client to step out from the dock, as she was no longer under the shadow of a criminal charge, and be allowed to address the court. In a halting voice filled with much joy and fighting back tears, Nik Raina thanked the judge for his ruling. There were very few dry eyes after that. Everyone shed tears, even the normally unflappable Rosli.

In a statement made to the press outside the courtroom, Nik Raina stated that she fought for the right of all Muslims in Malaysia to work without fear of harassment or persecution. “I stand here today not only for myself, but for all my colleagues, especially the Muslims who could face the same action by the religious authorities for merely doing our jobs.”

Because of this case, Nik Raina has become an inspirational role model for so many young women and men. I wish her the very best and I am happy for her that she is able to continue on with her life with this whole episode behind her.

I do hope that the Attorney General’s Chambers will take heed of the learned Judge’s judgement and emphasis on needing to uphold the Islamic principles of fairness and justice. There is no longer a need to defend JAWI’s unlawful actions. Let it end here.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

Anwar Ibrahim can’t be in Parliament unless pardoned–Abu Talib Othman


March 4, 2015

 Anwar Ibrahim can’t be in Parliament unless pardoned, says former Attoney-General Abu Talib

By V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor@www.themalaysianinsider.com

Abu TalibFormer A-G Tan Sri Abu Talib

Convicted Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will not be making an appearance when the Dewan Rakyat convenes next week as no one has the legal authority to direct the prison authorities to produce him in parliament, said former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman.

The government’s former Legal Adviser further said neither the Dewan Rakyat Speaker nor the Home Minister have the legal clout to order that Anwar be produced in Parliament.

“I don’t think the law has been amended to allow the Speaker and the Minister to order that a convicted MP attend proceedings,” he said.

Talib said Anwar had been sentenced by a court of law in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the applicable law.

“He has been ordered to be placed in custody after he was sentenced to five years jail,” he told The Malaysian Insider in response to allegation that Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was evading his responsibility in deciding whether Anwar could attend Parliament next week.

Anwar Ibrahim Ops Leader

He said the Speaker only presided over meetings and his powers were all provided in the constitution and the standing orders.”It is beyond the powers of the Speaker to direct the Prisons Department to produce Anwar, who is also the Permatang Pauh MP, to attend the daily parliament sittings,” he added.

Earlier in a joint statement, lawyers N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya said the law was clear that Ahmad Zahid was the final and legal authority to decide whether Anwar could attend Parliament’s first sitting which begins on March 9.

Ahmad Zahid had said on Monday that only the Pardons Board, Attorney-General and the Speaker had the final say whether Anwar could attend Parliament. “Zahid’s statement is shocking, incomprehensible and a direct contradiction of the Prisons Act 1995,” they said.

The lawyers referred to Section 13(1) of the Prisons Act which states that the Prisons Director-General “shall be responsible” to the Minister for the due observance of the provisions of the law.

Malaysian Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, pictured in 2010

The lawyers also criticised Ahmad Zahid’s suggestion that the Pardons Board be allowed to make a decision first, saying that if the Pardons Board made a decision one way or the other, the issue of bringing Anwar to Parliament from prison would not arise at all.

They also decried Ahmad Zahid’s move in responding to their request for Anwar to attend the sitting through the media instead of replying to them directly.

Anwar’s lawyer had written a letter to Zahid on February 25 to instruct the prisons department to escort Anwar to attend the sitting. Meanwhile, PKR Secretary-General Rafizi Ramli said yesterday that Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers would stage protests in the event Anwar was barred from attending the sitting.

Although he did not say what form of protests would be held, Rafizi confirmed that his party and allies DAP and PAS would take steps to address the matter.

“There are some plans specific to the unjust decision taken against Anwar that PR MPs will take. I think it is better for the parties’ whips to announce but definitely we will have some action,” he told a conference at PKR headquarters yesterday.

Talib, who was Attorney-General for 13 years until 1993, said Anwar could attend Parliament if he is given a pardon. He said in the interest of Permatang Pauh voters, the Pardons Board should sit as soon as possible to dispose of this matter.”The people of Permatang Pauh must not be deprived of an elected representative in the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.He said attending proceedings was only one of the duties of an elected representative.

“More importantly, the elected representative has to be around to serve his constituents,” he said.

Talib said since the Speaker had made a decision not to declare the seat vacant, it was only fair for the board to deliberate on the petition as soon as possible.

“The administrators should fix a suitable date which is convenient for the King to sit,” he added.

On February 24, Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia announced that Anwar remained as Permatang Pauh MP and Opposition Leader pending a decision on his petition to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Anwar’s wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar presented a petition for a royal pardon to Istana Negara just before the 14-day deadline expired.

Nurul Izzah, the PKR Vice-President and Lembah Pantai MP, said the petition for pardon was made on the basis that her father’s conviction failed to adhere to the principles of justice.

On February 10, a five-man bench led by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria found Anwar guilty of having carnal intercourse with his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.The apex court also upheld the five-year jail term imposed by a lower court. He committed the offence at a unit of the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.

Anwar’s application for pardon would be chaired by the Agong and the members of the board would consist of the Federal Territories Minister, the A-G and two others.

Scramble for Scapegoats begins as 1MDB scandal deepens


March 3, 2015

Scramble for Scapegoats begins as 1MDB scandal deepens

by FMT Reporters@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Analyst says it looks like PMO has started trying to distance Najib from a possible scandal.

1mdb-scapegoats2Lodin Wok Kamaruddin (Center)

It appears that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has begun the process of trying to wash PM Najib’s hands clean of what may turn out to be the biggest political and financial scandal in recent Malaysian history, according to analyst Shahbudin Husin.

Tied to that process may be a search for a scapegoat, he writes in a blog entry that indicates his belief that the 1MDB controversy is close to reaching a climax.

He refers to a recent report in London’s Sunday Times which quoted the PMO as saying that Najib was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

Rosmah with NajibHe needs Divine Help on 1MDB

“It’s obvious that this was an attempt to distance Najib from any problems 1MDB may now be facing,” he says. “But it’s not so easy to lift the burden off Najib’s shoulders for he is the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and Chairman of the company’s board of advisors. Can we believe that funds in such large amounts can be invested or disbursed without Najib’s knowledge or consent?”

If 1MDB had been successful, he adds, there’s no doubt that the success would have been attributed to Najib’s acumen in his day-to-day involvement with the company. Shahbudin wonders who will become the scapegoat or scapegoats in the event the 1MDB affair unravels and turns out to be a major scandal or, as DAP’s Tony Pua has put it, “the heist of the century”.

“Will the scapegoat be Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, the current Chairman of 1MDB? Will the second and third scapegoats be its former CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and his successor, Arul Kanda Kandasamy? Will there be other scapegoats still?”

Shahbudin notes that the PMO’s statement to the Sunday Times came after a claim by whistleblower website Sarawak Report that it was in possession of emails and documents showing that 1MDB’s joint venture with PetroSaudi in 2009 was allegedly a front to channel funds to a company controlled by tycoon Jho Low.

Riza and Jho Low

Riza Aziz and his Penang born Buddy

He says it would be difficult for Najib to deny any association with Jho Low because the playboy tycoon is a close friend of his stepson, Riza Aziz.“Besides reports that Jho Low has become close to the Prime Minister’s wife through Riza, there have also been reports that Najib himself has met him several times overseas,” he says.

“With the new allegation that Jho Low tried to make off with RM2.5 billion of 1MDB’s money, the call for the truth to be revealed to the public, perhaps through a royal commission of inquiry, has grown louder.”