It takes a Najib Razak to sink a 143-year old Swiss Bank


May 26, 2016

Malaysia Boleh: It takes a Najib Razak to sink a 143-year old Swiss Bank

http://www.malaysiakini.com

KINIGUIDE: The 1MDB saga has left a trail destruction across three continents, with key corporate and banking figures having to resign, bankers charged and accounts frozen.

However, the biggest casualty to date is BSI Bank, which faces criminal proceedings for, among others, failing to adhere to anti-money-laundering regulations in handling transfers linked to 1MDB. An international investigation, primarily led by Swiss and Singaporean authorities, has unravelled the 143-year-old bank.

Malaysiakini looks at the significance of these developments and BSI’s role in the 1MDB saga.

About BSI

Banca della Swizzera Italiana, or BSI, was founded in 1873.It began an international expansion in 1969 and spread its wings to Hong Kong in 1981 and later Singapore in 2005.

According to BSI’s 2015 annual report, it had 1,256 employees in Switzerland and 656 employees outside the country, with 310 in Asia.

It is currently owned by Grupo BTG Pactual but is in the process of being acquired by EFG International for 1.33 billion Swiss franc. The amount is expected to be lesser following regulators’ action against BSI.

The unmaking of BSI

Even before Swiss and Singapore authorities hammered the nail into BSI’s coffin, the bank was already disintegrating as the 1MDB probe gained momentum.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that several senior employees had left BSI Singapore, including committee members who vetted major clients during 1MDB’s time as well as its head of compliance.

The chief operating officer for BSI’s Asia operations, Gary Tucker, had also left the bank, while BSI’s head of Asia operations, Hanspeter Brunner, announced his retirement. But the most devastating blow came when Singapore on Tuesday ordered BSI Bank in the city state to be shut down.

It was the first such action by Singapore authorities in 32 years.Switzerland’s financial regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) also ordered similar action, approving EFG International’s complete takeover of BSI. This was on condition that BSI will be dissolved within 12 months through its integration into EFG International.

What did BSI do wrong?

Both Switzerland and Singapore authorities have released general statements on BSI’s offences, which have been short on specifics.In Switzerland, Finma concluded that BSI was in serious breach of the statutory due diligence requirements in relation to money laundering and serious violations of the principles of adequate risk management and appropriate organisation.

In Singapore, authorities found BSI to be in “serious breaches of anti-money-laundering requirements, poor management oversight of the bank’s operations and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff.” These were in context of investigations linked to 1MDB.

Connecting the dots

Prior to the investigations initiated by Swiss and Singapore authorities, whistleblower portal Sarawak Report had highlighted the role of BSI in the diversion of 1MDB’s funds.It started with the US$1.83 billion which 1MDB had channelled overseas for its joint-venture activities with PetroSaudi International between 2009 and 2011.

This is the same amount that Bank Negara later ordered 1MDB to repatriate, which the Malaysian fund had failed to do and for which it was fined. Of this sum, US$1.03 billion did not go to the joint-venture. It was instead diverted to Good Star Limited’s account at RBS Coutts in Zurich, whose beneficiary owner is Penang-born billionaire Jho Low.

Here is where BSI comes in.More than half of the diverted sum, or US$529 million, was transferred to Abu Dhabi Kuwait Malaysia Investment Corporation’s (BVI) account at BSI Singapore between June 28, 2011 and September 4, 2013. The beneficiary owner was also Jho Low.

Sarawak Report, based on leaked Singapore investigation papers, had as early as April last year reported that Jho Low controlled at least 45 bank accounts at BSI under various company names.

These revelations appeared consistent with the findings of Finma which noted: “In the context of the 1MDB case, the bank (BSI) failed to adequately monitor relationships with a client group with around 100 accounts at the bank.”

It said funds were moved within these accounts without proper justification. Coincidentally, 1MDB’s subsidiary Brazen Sky Limited also banked with BSI where its US$1.1 billion in ‘fund units’ was held.

Furthermore, Singapore court proceedings showed that SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB, also had its accounts at BSI. BSI banker Yeo Jiawei was charged for allegedly signing a fraudulent reference letter in the name of BSI to Citigroup Inc’s head of anti-money laundering to facilitate the transfer of US$11.95 million from SRC International to Equity International Partners Limited.

The beneficiary owner of Equity International Partners Limited was Tan Kim Loong, an associate of Jho Low and also the original beneficiary of Tanore Finance that funnelled US$681 million to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s personal bank accounts.

Singapore prosecutors described this component as a “new front” in its investigation but it is unclear how it is linked to Jho Low’s movement of US$529 million into, within and out of BSI.

Information disclosed to the public is likely just a small portion of the investigations but more details are expected as court proceedings in Switzerland and Singapore commence.

Is this the end of the 1MDB saga? On the contrary, it is just the beginning. Sarawak Report claimed that the US$529 million in Jho Low’s account in BSI was cleared out of BSI Singapore and was believed to have been moved to Hong Kong.

It is unclear which financial institution it went to. Hong Kong authorities have acknowledged an investigation but little information has been provided so far.Finma is also reportedly looking into RBS Coutts, from which the US$529 million came from before it entered BSI’s system.

Furthermore, other banking institutions are also expected to be in the line of fire.One key institution is Falcon Private Banking, which Tanore Finance used to transfer US$681 million (often referred to as RM2.6 billion) into Najib’s AmBank account.

Sarawak Report claimed that US$650 million of this money was transferred back to Tanore Finance’s account at Falcon Private Banking in Singapore on Aug 30, 2013.

Interestingly, EFG International, which is set to take over BSI, had also acquired Falcon Private Bank’s Hong Kong arm for 800 million Swiss francs from Aabar Investments PJS in 2014.

This KiniGuide was produced by Nigel Aw.

Chris Hedges Again


May 25, 2016

Chris Hedges Again–Daring and Upfront as always

Mr Hedges  is a radical thinker, dissenter, and public intellectual of our time. I have always enjoyed his books, lectures, and ideas. Political correctness is not in his lexicon. Here are two interesting lectures on contemporary issues which are of concern to all of us, except to  those who are beneficiaries of the capitalist-corporatist  system and neo-liberalism.–Din Merican

Here  is another from Chris:

Malaysia: A Tale of Hang Tuak and Hang Jebon


May 23, 2016

Malaysia:  A Tale of Hang Tuak and Hang Jebon

by Dr. Azly Rahman

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Malaysia’s : Hang Jebon-The 1MDB mastermind

When I was 10 or 11, I wanted to be either Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat or Bruce Lee. For those not familiar with the names, I will skip explaining who Bruce Lee was. One may check his Facebook page to find out who the San Francisco-born Chinese-American-Philosophy-major warrior was. Tuah and Jebat did not have Facebook accounts. Not even Linkedin profiles.

I worshipped Tuah and Jebat, I even wanted to be both heroes in one – like a Nescafe 2-in-1 sachet.

I would lock myself in my bedroom at times, put on my baju Melayu Johor, kain samping, a paper tanjak or headgear, and with my paper-made keris, I’d be Hang Tuah fighting Hang Jebat. I’d jump up and down the bed yelling words like “Cis bedebah kau! Mati kau!” (You son-of-a machine-gun you! Die you, die!)  before I plunge my kris into myself as I was playing both roles – Tuah and Jebat.  I was not sure which one was a better hero or a better moron of Malacca times.Today – I have killed both of them.

Here is the story of the re-branded heroes Hang Tuak and Hang Jebon; the former a warrior drunk with moronism and the latter a gangster and a playboy-warrior. ‘Tuak’ is a Malay word for ‘palm wine’ and ‘Jebon’ is a mongoose.

Hang Tuak was said to be the most loyal and most celebrated Malay hero of 15th century Malacca; a hero endowed with special powers to serve the king. He was said to be a polyglot as well, able to speak multiple languages while able to defeat top-notch fighters from neighbouring kingdoms, especially Majapahit.

He was also an expert kangkong eater, able to trick his way into getting a glimpse of the face of a Ming Dynasty emperor by pretending that he was swallowing the Chinese salad heads-up. I suppose the great Chinese sultan looked as pretty as a Hong Kong version of Shah Rukh Khan that no one is allowed to even look at his face.

The Hang Tuaks led by a Mr. Kulup

For Hang Tuak to gain access to that face – that was a most remarkable and celebrated achievement of the Malay warrior when it comes to fine and acrobatic dining. Had he stayed longer and ate more kangkongs, Tuak would have taken selfies with the supreme ruler of the dynasty, right there in the middle of the middle of the Middle Kingdom.

Hang Jebon was Hang Tuak’s BFF or best friend forever until one day he found out that Tuak was wrongfully sentenced to death by the sultan who loved women and would steal other people’s wife and daughters or even concubines and grandmothers if they look like Marilyn Monroe or Lady Gaga.

Yes, because the sultan was angry that his favourite warrior-terminator did not get to kidnap one Tun Teja of Pahang and instead the fool fell in love with Madam Teja.  (Note: Teja is not to be confused with Madam T, the wife of ‘Mr T’ the African-American TV hero with the mohawk.)

The gorgeous Teja perhaps looked like Katherine Hepburn in Truman Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Tuak was unlucky in that mission impossible and was sentenced to death ; maybe to death by tickling till he turned pink and red and then died.

Chosen by the Mandate of Heaven

That was a form of slow death, arguably pleasurable those day before lethal injection. And that was how sultans acted those days. If you are a sultan chosen to rule by the Mandate of Heaven by some Divine Daulat, you could do anything – do good to your slaves or ‘hamba sahaya’ as well as have as many concubines that your harem can accommodate and steal other people’s wife or daughter or steal even royal goats and orangutans.

There were some bad sultans back in the day, mind you. Some may have kept both concubines and porcupines as well.

As God-appointed rulers, you can have all the nice designer clothes you want, sit on the most exquisite diamond-studded throne till you constipate, eat caviar all day, summon the Malay court  dancers to even dance like Janet Jackson or have them do the locomotion, and even have 10 gold-plated bullock carts to bring you and your palace gang members around the village-kingdom, reminding people that a sultan can do no wrong and is above the law and that going against them will have you arrested and coconuts will be shoved down your throat, as the mildest punishment.

That was the power the sultans gave themselves. Back in the day, if you laugh at a prince who could not kick the sepak takraw ball right you could end up dead as well. Maybe stoned to death with a hundred of those hard rattan ball. Those were the days – of the Malay Harry Potter days – when sultans were also carried around the village in what looked like stretchers crafted by the best adiguru (master artisans) with chair design expertise.

One of the sultans even died on a ‘dulang-looking stretcher’ in Kota Tinggi, when he was murdered with a keris by his own laksamana. His story was told as ‘The Story of Sultan Mahmud Mangkat di Julang’. He was an evil sultan who did not like people stealing fruits from his kebun/orchard. Especially buah nangka or jackfruit. He does not care if you are a pregnant woman craving for a piece of jackfruit.

Back to the two Hang men – Tuak and Jebon.

Hang Najib’s generous friends from Saudi Arabia–USD681 million Gift

So as the legend goes, Jebon was extremely angry and, in the spirit of Che Guevara and the infidel Fidel Castro, decided to revolt and take over the kingdom. Not only the sultan had to go into hiding in some ‘batu-belah-batu-bertangkup-looking’ cave but Jebon was smart, in the tradition of womanising-smart he learned from the sultans – he took all the sultan’s concubines as well all for himself.

All those Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and even Beyonce and Kim Kardashian and Kaitlyn-Bruce-Jenner looking Malacca concubines were made his. Jebat the silat-smart Darth Vader-like warrior took them all and had a lot of fun in the process of fighting for justice. Fighting for Tuak his BFF.

It is like today’s ethos – to be a politician means to serve and to steal. And to do these big time. Tuak and Jebon were the favourite lakshamanas (‘admirals’)  entrusted to keep the sultans in power and in lust all the time. There were handsomely rewarded.

The legend and nothing more

So, that was the story of the two Malay warriors of Malacca times. That was the legend and nothing more. One cannot even do a DNA testing on those two Hangmen, There is no point spending time debating ‘cogito-ergo-sum-ness’ of the two. No point using a Descartian logic to prove their existence.

All those Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and even Beyonce and Kim Kardashian and Kaitlyn-Bruce-Jenner looking Malacca concubines were made his. Jebat the silat-smart Darth Vader-like warrior took them all and had a lot of fun in the process of fighting for justice. Fighting for Tuak his BFF.

It is like today’s ethos – to be a politician means to serve and to steal. And to do these big time. Tuak and Jebon were the favourite lakshamanas (‘admirals’)  entrusted to keep the sultans in power and in lust all the time. There were handsomely rewarded.

The legend and nothing more

So, that was the story of the two Malay warriors of Malacca times. That was the legend and nothing more. One cannot even do a DNA testing on those two Hangmen, There is no point spending time debating ‘cogito-ergo-sum-ness’ of the two. No point using a Descartian logic to prove their existence.

But Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat were my heroes. I love them. Not anymore after they had a name-change: Hang Tuak ‘the forever drunk’ and Hang Jebon ‘the original Malacca  gangsta’.  That leaves Bruce Lee and me, myself and I as the two heroes. The Nescafe 2-in-1 me.

Malays of today do not need Tuaks and Jebons as heroes. Malays don’t need to glorify these names and confuse children what a ‘hero’ should mean. A moron is not a hero. A moron does not think. They follow the money and those with power. We have so many ‘Hang Sapu Habis’ heroes propped up in our midst.

The hero is the self – the kingdom within larger that the outside – the child that refuses to bow to authority, especially if the authority is based on the system of moronism etched, archived, and embalmed in the past.

That we call tradition and history must be integrated with Philosophy and there is nothing wrong in using the tools of today’s philosophical discourse of what is right and what is wrong in rewriting the past and killing past morons hailed as today’s heroes. That is our task in education for critical consciousness. Dare we rewrite the history of our own people – so that each of our children will triumph as hero?

Comprendo? As Che Guevara would ask.

In Memory of Adlan  Benan Omar

The Day Hang Tuah Walked Through My Door

http://therealmalay.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-day-hang-tuah-walked-through-my-door.html


This is a short story by Adlan  Benan Omar – a fellow lover of history and a dear friend who died on Thursday, 24 January 2008. He was only 35. Those of you who know him will remember Ben’s almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Malay history

There can perhaps be no fitting tribute to this remarkable young man, and no better way to remember him, than to reproduce this short story by Ben, which not only highlights the passion that he had for Malay history, but also shows a bright, intelligent mind that was a breath of fresh air and a shining light in contemporary Malay culture.

I continue to remember Ben with great fondness


The Day Hang Tuah Walked Through My Door 

by Adlan Benan Omar (1973-2008)

Everyone knows who Hang Tuah is. Everyone knows that he was a great warrior, that he was loyal to his king, that he fought and defeated Hang Jebat in a gruelling duel. But I knew more about Hang Tuah than anyone else. No… I didn’t read more than anyone else (how much more could a twelve-year-old have read anyway?). I knew more about Hang Tuah because he came to live with us a few months ago.

Yes, you heard me right. Hang Tuah did come to live with me and my family. Abah took him home one day. He had found the old man walking around the local playground one evening, while he was out jogging. It was getting dark and the old man had no place to go, so we took him in. Mak was not too happy about that, she thought the old man looked crooked. He was dirty and he didn’t wear shoes. Mak said that people might think our family has gone weird. Abah just laughed. “Kasihan …dia orang tua,” he said.

My friends didn’t believe me at first. They thought I was dreaming, or making things up, or just plain lying.

Azraai said that the old man was an alien from Mars and not Hang Tuah. Eqhwan laughed at me and said that either I or the old man must be mad. Anuar said that if Hang Tuah was still alive I wouldn’t be able to understand what he said because he spoke classic Malay like in the hikayats. Hilmi (our local school’s smart alec) tried to explain to me that the Melaka Empire was no more and that Hang Tuah was just a legend. He said that if Hang Tuah was still alive he would be at least five and a half centuries old and the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records stated that the oldest man in the world lived only to 120 years. Only Farid sympathised with me… and that was because he had an imaginary friend whom he always took along to play marbles with us.

I really didn’t care what they said. I knew that old man was Hang Tuah. I know because I asked him myself.

The morning after we took the old man in, Mak asked me to wake him up for breakfast. I went to the spare room and found that he was already awake. He was sitting on the edge of the bed with a blue batik bundle on his lap.

“Jemput makan, Tok,” I said, politely.

“Terima kasih,” he said.

I was curious, so I asked, “Apa dalam buntil tu Tok?”

“Barang Tok… barang orang miskin,” he replied.

Then he opened it up slowly. I saw him fiddle for something, then he took out a long keris with an ivory sheath. It was at least a foot long and studded with jewels.

Hang Tuah Sketch

“Ini keris Taming Sari,” said the old man.

I snickered, “He! He! He!”. I thought the old man was joking. Everyone knew that Taming Sari belonged to Hang Tuah and that it must have disappeared with its master.

The old man looked up at me. His eyes stared into mine. I felt a little queasy at that. His expression changed, he began to look angry. Suddenly his eyes drooped and he looked more hurt than angry.

“Kenapa cucu gelak?” he asked.

“Tak ada kenapa,” I answered, a little frightened.

“Tok tahu, cucu ingat Tok bergurau.” I kept quiet.

He began again, “Inilah keris Taming Sari yang sebenar. Ini keris Tok sendiri.”

“Kalau begitu Tok ni tentulah…”

“Hang Tuah,” he interjected, “nama Tok ialah Hang Tuah.”

“Tapi Hang Tuah sudah mati.”

He laughed, “Tidak, Tok belum mati. Tapi Tok sudah tua…”

“Berapa umur Tok?” I questioned.

“540 tahun.”

Mak didn’t really like Tok Tuah. But she didn’t say anything when he just stayed on and on in the house. She didn’t say a word when Abah and I took him to Hankyu Jaya to get some new clothes. She just kept quiet when Tok Tuah joined us to watch TV in the living room after dinner. I told her (and Abah) that the old man said that his name was Hang Tuah. She wrinkled her face (and Abah just laughed).

It was a Wednesday night and RTM had a slot then called “Teater P. Ramlee”. It so happened that they were showing Phani Majumdar’s “Hang Tuah”. P. Ramlee, so young and thin, acted as the hero and the late Haji Mahadi was Sultan Mansor Shah.

Hang Tuah4

When Jebat got killed, Tok Tuah pipped in, “Tidak langsung macam tu…”

Abah stared at Tok Tuah. Mak stared at Tok Tuah. I too, stared at Tok Tuah.

“Aku sudah tua masa tu, Jebat muda lagi. Jebat kuat. Dia sepak aku hingga aku tertiarap, kemudian aku berguling. Aku himpit dia. Aku kata sama dia ‘baik sajalah kau mengalah’. Apa gunanya kita dua bersaudara bergaduh?”

Mak started to look worried again.

“Jebat tak mati.”

Abah looked surprised. He said, “Habis tu, apa jadi pada dia?”

Tok Tuah said, “Aku tak mahu Sultan bunuh dia. Aku tahu Sultan zalim. Jadi, aku sorokkan dia di Ulu Melaka. Macam Tun Perak sorokkan aku masa aku difitnahkan. Lepas Melaka kalah dengan Portugis, Jebat ikut aku merantau.”

I said, “Bila Jebat mati?”

Tok Tuah laughed, “Jebat belum mati. Baru tahun lepas aku jumpa dia. Dia meniaga di Kedah.”

“Meniaga?” I said.

“Ya, Jebat duduk di Kulim. Dia meniaga kereta. Apa tu? Kereta ‘second-hand’ kata orang. Proton, Honda dan Nissan. Laku jualannya. Banyak orang beli.”

One day, I took Tok Tuah on a walk around KL. He got bored just sitting in our small bungalow in Bukit Bandar Raya. So after school, we took the mini-bus to Central Market. Tok Tuah really enjoyed the walk. “Banyaknya orang…” he wondered. We ate at McDonald’s. He  didn’t like the cheeseburger (well, he didn’t like the cheese, though he loved the burger itself). After lunch, we went to Muzium Negara.

I showed him the frieze of a young Hang Tuah which was sculpted by an Englishwoman in the 1950s. It showed a handsome Hang Tuah in ‘Baju Melayu’ and ‘samping’. He was holding Taming Sari in his hand.

“Siapa tu,” Tok Tuah asked.

“Itu Tok-lah. ltulah orang putih gambarkan sebagai Hang Tuah. Hensem, kan?”

Tok Tuah chuckled, “Apa tulisan atas tu?”

“Ta’ Melayu Hilang di-Dunia. Eh, takkan Tok tak ingat? Itu kan Tok yang cakap dulu?”

He kept quiet. Slowly he mumbled, “Ta’ Melayu Hilang di-Dunia? Tak ingat pun.”

Suddenly, he started, “Oh! Bukannya Ta’ Melayu Hilang di-Dunia. Silap tu. Tok tak pernah cakap macam tu…”

“Habis tu?” I asked.

“Masa tu Tok tengah pergi masjid untuk sembahyang Maghrib. Isteri Tok ikut sekali. Dia tengah ambil air sembahyang di tepi perigi, kemudian kakinya tergelincir. Dia terjatuh masuk. Orang ramal pun menjerit-jerit sebab perigi itu dalam. Apa lagi, Tok pun terjunlah untuk selamatkan dia. Isteri Tok bukan sebarang orang, namanya Tun Sa’odah, anak Bendahara Tun Perak.”

“Kemudian?” I urged.

“Bila Tok bawak dia naik, Temenggung Tun Mutahir ketawa. Katanya, Tok sayang betul pada isteri Tok. Tok pun jawab, “Mestilah… Ta’ Isteriku Hilang di-Telaga. Jadi, mungkin orang silap dengar…!”

Tok Tuah stayed with our family for more than six months. He stayed at home in the first few weeks but he felt guilty not doing anything to contribute. So, one morning, he followed Abah to work. Abah was manager of a factory in Sungai Buluh which made video tapes and CDs. They needed a new ‘jaga’ or watchman. Tok Tuah got the job. Abah said, “Who better to guard us than the great Malay admiral Hang Tuah?”

The workers got along well with him. Amin, Abah’s driver, said that Tok Tuah told them lots of funny jokes about Sultan Mansor of Melaka and his fifteen wives. Tok Tuah also got to know Rajalinggam, the sweeper, who he said reminded him of Mani Purindan, the father of Bendahara Tun Ali. Like Rajalinggam, Mani Purindan too came from Tamil Nadu and cooked delicious dhal curry.

One morning, my teacher at school said, “Tomorrow I want you all to bring a model of an old artefact. Then I want you all to explain its importance in front of the whole history class.”

Hilmi (always the teacher’s pet) spent days working on a matchstick model of the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. Azraai decided to build a spaceship instead. Eqhwan bought Anuar’s origami keris for fifteen dollars and brought that to school. Farid asked his imaginary friend to draw a picture of Mel Gibson as Sir William Wallace. I? Well, I just brought Tok Tuah along.

My teacher was flabbergasted. She said, “Why have you brought this ‘jaga’ along?” I smiled, “He’s not just a ‘jaga’. He’s the great warrior Hang Tuah!”

My teacher said, “I’ll call your father and tell him you’re playing jokes in class.”

“Please, Cikgu. Just listen to what he has to say,” I insisted.

Tok Tuah stood in front of the class. He coughed. My teacher sighed. I smiled. My friends sneered. “Assalamualaikum,” he said. “Wa’alaikum Salam,” we answered.

Tok Tuah began his speech. He started out by saying that the Melaka we read about in the history books was very different from the real Melaka. He explained how the Sultan used to let anyone come to the palace with any complaints at all, and he would settle it there and then. He told us that he and his four friends used to go on tours to Pahang and Terengganu and Ujung Tanah, even to Siam, on great galliards with five big sails. He described to us that Melaka had 120,000 citizens, each of whom had land and houses of their own and that no beggars were allowed to go even a day without food and shelter. He mimicked Sultan Mansor’s snarl, and Tun Perak’s twitching handlebar moustaches and Jebat’s swaggering walk. Finally, he told us how Melaka got corrupted by its wealth and warned us not to do the same now.

That day, Tok Tuah got a standing ovation. Even Teacher clapped. I got an ‘A’ for History.

Tok Tuah died seven weeks after that. He was 542 years old. It was during the Puasa month and he took the LRT from Sungai Buluh. He wanted to stop and buy some sweetmeats (he absolutely loved ‘pau kaya’). When he arrived at Chow Kit station, he collapsed on the platform with a massive stroke.

They rushed him in an ambulance to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital but he was already gone. He didn’t feel a thing.

We buried him at Ampang Cemetery, right across from the grave of Tan Sri P. Ramlee, who played him in that film. I visit the grave sometimes just to tell him that I’m now a lecturer in Malay History at Leyden University.

I still remember the day he walked through my door. It’s as if it was just yesterday. Ah, well… By the way, did I tell you I met King Henry VIII whilst I was studying in Cambridge? He worked as a night porter at my college. But that, as they say, is a different story.

Malaysia’s Aurat Air–Regulatory Incompetence


May 23, 2016

Malaysia’s Aurat Air:  Regulatory Incompetence

by Mariam Mokhtar

Did the government simply rubber-stamp Rayani Air’s license to operate, without conducting detailed checks, including its cash-flow analysis and break-even point?

Mr. A A Kaprawi

The statement by  Deputy Transport Minister Dato Abdul Aziz Kaprawi that the government will “be more stringent and impose a stricter standard operating procedure on all airlines” should set alarm bells ringing. It suggests that the government acted with haste and was extremely complacent.

So, how deeply committed is our government to safety and good management practices? Rayani Air is Malaysia’s first syariah compliant airline, but like any other airline, it must comply with rules and regulations.

Starting an airline is not merely about buying or leasing aeroplanes, then painting them in the new livery. Nor is it about finding the pilots, ground and cabin crew, engineers, and other personnel, to operate an airline.

Providing halal food, prayers before take-off and on landing, not serving alcohol, and staff who cover their aurat will not make an airline popular. Good and reliable service, efficient and friendly staff, well maintained planes, popular routes and accessible airports are part and parcel of a good airline experience.

Like any other business, Rayani Air’s owners would need funding and would have provided a business plan, to satisfy its backers or the bank. Did Rayani Air not do enough homework with regards to long-term funding? It cannot run Rayani Air for a few months, and hope that revenue from sales will enable it to continue. Even a simple home-based business does not operate like that.

When Rayani Air soared above Kuala Lumpur, in December, many people were sceptical because few people choose a certain airline, because it serves halal food. They base their judgement on the price, good safety record and reliability.

The Con-Artists of Aurat Air

Within months, the airline was dogged with delays, cancellations, a cracked cockpit windscreen and maintenance issues. Amongst other things, passengers were furious that their boarding passes were not printed.

Passengers were forced to travel on a coach service provided by the airline, although they would have preferred to be put on a later flight. Delays were common and stories about 485 employees not being paid, were leaked to the press.

Things came to a head on April 11, when Rayani Air’s Air Operation Certificate (AOC) was suspended, for three months, after it temporarily halted its operations following a pilot strike. The airline had failed to seek the Department of Civil Aviation’s (DCA) permission before ceasing operations.

Instead of dealing with the criticism of the passengers and staff, Rayani Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Ravi Alagendrran, said that the cracked windscreen was due to sabotage. He did not bother to wait for the results of an investigation. His statement attracted bad publicity, because it suggested that the airline had enemies.

He later retracted this statement, but he had introduced doubt in people’s minds about safety and security. The shattered windscreen was spotted by pilots, before the flight took off. Passengers may have wondered whether the alleged saboteur had damaged a vital piece of equipment, in a hidden part of the aeroplane and the fault was not detected in time.

The CEO’s statement about sabotage, probably infuriated the people managing Langkawi airport, as passengers wondered if security in the airport was lax.

According to The Malay Mail Online, pilots had refused to fly because the company’s two aircraft had structural faults. The airframe, which is the aircraft’s mechanical structure, that  includes its fuselage, wings and undercarriage, was unsafe.

Perhaps, the blame should not rest solely with the airline bosses. The government and the DCA are also to blame. They gave Rayani Air the go-ahead. They rubber-stamped the permit to fly, without checking the safety and viability of the aeroplanes, and funding to operate, for more than three months.

The government must tell would be business owners not to commercialise Islam. The government must stop deluding itself and thinking that a syariah compliant service need not follow normal business guidelines. It is not God’s will that makes an airline safe, but man’s endeavour. –

http://www.theheatmalaysia.com/

 

To the Malaysian Opposition: Stop your crap and arrogance


May 23, 2016

To the Malaysian Opposition: Stop your crap and arrogance

by Scott Ng

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

 

The anti-Najib forces have all but lost their war, going by the sounds from Zaid Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad these days. Barisan Nasional is perhaps as powerful as it was during Mahathir’s own time, even if does not have the same finesse.

But what the Najib administration lacks in finesse it makes up with raw power, thanks to the mechanisms put in place by Mahathir to ensure challenge to his rule would never be a serious matter.

The Master Planner who crippled Malaysia

Najib’s heavy-handed approach has civil society constantly worrying that a little push will be all it takes to make a police state a reality. Truly, it is ironical that the man who laid down the seeds of our current political situation, and who handpicked Najib to succeed Abdullah Badawi, must spend the twilight of his years fighting the very culmination of his own policies. Some might want to call it poetic justice.

However, the average Malaysian has perhaps come to a point where he doesn’t care anymore. He has for so long put up with the politicians’ maneuvering, jousting, shenanigans, misdirection and blatant unconcern of the man on the street in their pursuit for power that he is now probably more tired than angry over the whole situation.

And now, as another round of politicking begins, it is not Barisan Nasional that’s embarrassing itself, but the Opposition. The Opposition’s failure to present a united front on Save Malaysia is symptomatic of its failure to be united on any issue of concern to the rakyat.

With presumably less than two years away before they vote in a general election, Malaysians are left with less of a choice than what is available to one of those poor saps in a “Saw” movie. Voter apathy will be at its worst, barring some unforeseen revival of the Opposition or some revelation from one of the international investigations on 1MDB that will be devastating to Najib and BN.

Meanwhile, of course, Najib would like nothing better than for the rakyat to take a good hard look at the children squabbling in the Opposition’s yard.

The Prime Minister can happily concentrate on winding down 1MDB and keeping his nose out of trouble while the Opposition parties seize the headlines with their internal conflicts, which at this point is mostly within PKR.

But DAP is also under fire, especially in Penang, due to the roughshod way Lim Guan Eng has run over environmental concerns and the apparent unwillingness of his government to be as transparent as it promised.

If the Opposition is indeed serious about making a challenge in the next GE, it needs to get its act together now. There is precious little time to criss cross the country to win hearts and minds.

With Mahathir declaring that his goal is to see UMNO’s defeat in GE14, the opposition parties now have a powerful ally indeed. Instead of squabbling over whether they should be involved with a 90-year-man, they should take advantage of his experience and his intimate knowledge of BN

Larceny, lunacy and lies


May 21,2016

Larceny, lunacy and lies

by Dean Johns

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Mr. Riza Aziz

As often as I decry the fact that far too many otherwise honest and upstanding Malaysians are apathetic about the political plight they find themselves in, I can’t bring myself to altogether blame them.

Almost sixty years of misgovernment by larcenous, lunatic, lying UMNO-BN regime would be enough to break the hearts and crush the spirits of all but the most courageous and resilient of citizens.

And thus my disappointment in those who have surrendered to apathy is vastly outweighed by my admiration for those millions of Malaysians who still have the guts to keep standing up for themselves in the face of all the odds.

Odds that seem to be getting even odder by the week. As witnessed last week, for example, by the opposition parties’ competing with each other for some of the seats in Sarawak elections, thus not only rendering their defeat more inevitable, but also fatally damaging their credibility.

Even odder, of course, is collaboration of at least some of the opposition parties with former head of the UMNO-BN kleptocracy, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his self-interested efforts to save the regime from destruction at the hands of his current successor, Najib Abdul Razak.

As for Najib, the very personification of the UMNO-BN system of larceny, lunacy and lies, he’s been off in London this week on some insane mission to tout Malaysia as an investment opportunity.

The Fawning  British Lord

A proposition that struck many of us as at best highly dubious, for at least two reasons. Firstly, Najib’s personal involvement in the massive 1MDB and ‘donation’ scandals currently under investigation in several countries, and secondly Malaysia’s highly suspicious level of involvement in very expensive London real-estate.

Involvement including, according to the Wall Street Journal, a house purchased by Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, for 23 million pounds.

Most of us are hoping that US investigators will determine that this purchase by Riza, along with similarly lavish plunges on New York and Los Angeles real estate and the production of the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, were bankrolled by funds looted from 1MDB.

But meanwhile, Najib’s shameless promotion of UMNO-N’s corrupt, kleptocratic and suspiciously London-real-estate-owning Malaysia as a desirable investment right under the nose of UK PM David Cameron just the day after Cameron hosted an international anti-corruption conference might very well prove a bad move.