Only just tell the truth, says Ambiga to Najib


May 22, 2015

Only just tell the truth, says Ambiga to Najib

by Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

pinnochioThe New UMNO-BN mascot for GE-14

Former Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has advised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak not to not depend totally on paid advisers to improve his image.

In mocking Najib, Ambiga, also a former Bersih 2.0 chairperson, tweeted that she was givingambiga the Prime Minister advice free of charge, and that is, for him to tell the truth. She made the comment in response to a news report in The Malaysian Insider today that advertising and public relations guru Lim Kok Wing has been appointed Najib’s special programme coordinator.

Lim is no stranger to public relations, having established the nation’s first private advertising company and the first creative arts university, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

He has also helped negotiate several explosive problems, including the MCA internal war between then President Dr Ling Liong Sik and Lim Ah Lek.

He was also one of the pioneers to help the African National Congress in its first election The Besieged Malaysia Emperorcampaign for a free South Africa, helping Nelson Mandela to win the election. Lim ran the advertising campaign with video clips and banners depicting Mandela with children of various races, thereby creating a wide appeal among the international community – which also stamped the ANC leader as the viable face of South Africa.

The Limkokwing University of Creative Technology at present has campuses in London, Botswana and Cambodia plus Cyberjaya and Kuching in Malaysia.

Felda students too

Under Lim’s stewardship, the university began accepting students from Felda settlements to do their diploma programme under Felda scholarships. Previously, Lim had also advised former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and helped UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar in his election campaign  for the Rembau constituency during the 2008 general election.

Previously, it was reported that the government had denied paying ex-Apco Malaysia boss Paul Stadlen (photo) for his services, which allegedly includes managing Najib’s media relations operations.

“Up to now, the government did not provide any remuneration to Paul Stadlen,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Shahidan Kassim said in a written parliamentary reply to Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (PAS-Sepang).

Besides Lim, it has also been reported that Najib has four official advisors namely UKM academic Prof Dr Abdullah Mohd Zin, Kubang Pasu MP Johari Baharum, and former cabinet ministers Rais Yatim and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

1MDB Financial Scandal: Malaysia’s DPM Muhyiddin breaks rank with his Boss Najib


May 21, 2015

Phnom Penh

ambrin-buangCOMMENT: It is time for DPM Muhyiddin to make his stand on 1MDB and stop playing UMNO politics. Listen to the angry voices of Malaysians  who are united in wanting answers to the 1MDB scandal. They want to know why the inept and weak Prime Minister is playing games.

They need some explanation from the Auditor-General, Tan SriAbu Kassim Ambrin Buang, why he has not released his report since he was directed  three months ago by the Prime Minister to conduct a full “no stones unturned” investigation into the affairs of 1MDB. They also expect the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to commence its investigation and stop using Tunku Abdul Aziz to give excuses via the mainstream media for failing to do so .

Both these agencies are thoroughly dysfunctional. If the Auditor-General and the MACC Chief Commissioner are unwilling to do their jobs, they should do Malaysians a favour. Just resign and go play golf for the rest of their lives.

Yes, RM42 billion–not a mean sum– is not missing, as the Prime Minister says. But Malaysians want, and have to right, to be told what happened to the funds and why this sovereign fund is now technically insolvent; they expect to be informed what plans are in place to resolve its financial woes, apart from what has been done now through garage sales of its assets to cash rich GLCs like Tabung Haji in order to pay its creditors.

Here the Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia has failed to do her duty as financial advisor to the government and protector of financial integrity of the banking system. She must resign for allowing local and international banks to lend huge amounts of money to 1MDB.

More importantly, Malaysians expect to  be advised of what will lodin-wok-kamaruddinhappen to the 1MDB Chairman and Directors who have failed to do their fiduciary duty diligently, and its management  team led by a certain Mr. Arul Kanda Kandasamy for dereliction of professional responsibility.

The Sarawak Report, The Edge Magazine disclosures, and the revelations by former Prime Minister Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad, and Parliamentarians Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli can no longer be ignored. These are not figments of their imagination.

The continued failure of 1MDB to meet its debt obligations will create ripple effects throughout the economy by undermining public and international investor confidence in Malaysia. The Deputy Prime Minister is correct in demanding an end to this hide and seek games that are being played by Prime Minister Najib Razak. But how far will Muhyiddin go. Will he demand the Prime Minister’s resignation? That is the question all Malaysians want answered.–Din Merican

1MDB Financial Scandal: DPM Muhyiddin breaks rank with his Boss Najib

by Nigel Aw@www.malaysiakini.com

The government may have repeatedly told the public to wait for the completion of the audit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) before passing judgement, but a leaked video has revealed the country’s No 2 is not on the same page.

In a leaked video depicting a closed-door meeting between Muhyiddin and UMNO grassroots in Pahang last week, the Deputy Premier said the authorities must wait no longer.

“We have to take action, we cannot be: ‘Nevermind, give a bit more time’. No!” he said exasperatedly.

The event was believed to have taken place at UMNO’s training centre in Janda Baik last Saturday, just a day after 1MDB urged the public to wait for the outcome of the Auditor-General’s Department’s audit.

“We request that no one should prejudge the matter without thorough facts, ahead of the reviews being made public,” said the company in a statement.

This was echoed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on Sunday, a day after Muhyiddin’s speech inDPM at UMNO Pahang Janda Baik, through his “frequently asked question” article posted on his blog.

“It is unfair for certain politicians to convict the government in the court of public opinion before the facts are presented by the authorities which are the auditor-general and bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee,” said Najib.

The seven-minute video was uploaded yesterday by former New Straits Times editor Firdaus Abdullah.

The video appeared to have diverted attention from Parliament today, where Najib presented the 11th Malaysia Plan, as journalists swarmed Muhyiddin about the leaked video, which he confirmed to be authentic.

“Those were views aired behind closed doors… It is my view and those of my political colleagues to better understand (the issue),” he said.

DPM moves differently behind closed doors

Muhyiddin, who is UMNO Deputy President, merely smiled when asked how Najib had reacted to the what he said in the video, replying: “It’s nothing, focus on my (present) statement”.

The video also gave a closer look at who Muhyiddin is when he speaks to UMNO leaders behind closed doors, as he spoke in a frank and Prime Minister-like manner.

Muhyiddin, who often comes across as dull and monotonous in public, displayed his ability to work the grassroots as he cracked jokes and emphasised how UUMNO needed to deal with its public image with regards to 1MDB.

In his speech, Muhyiddin joked that UMNO members were trying to act smarter than they actually were, but then continued in a firm tone declaring that his stance on matters such as 1MDB.

“On issues like this, I am convinced then if it is unresolved, it will be the straw on the camel’s back,” said Muhyiddin, who emphasised his point with uncharacteristic animated hand gestures.

Najib did not appear in the video clip, but other top UMNO leaders present clearly seen were Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan and Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob.

Former PM Mahathir in the Hunt for Najib’s Head


May 20, 2015

Phnom Penh

Commentaries like the one below by popular web-paper Asia Sentinel paint a negative picture of Malaysia and our leaders. All I can say is that Malaysia’s image in Phnom Penh among those who follow developments in our country is not good. Najib is seen as ineffective and the country is rudderless. The recent ASEAN summit was not an inspiring one, made worse by our handling of the Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugee issue. Najib has again maintained his silence. They are wondering who is in charge. Officials are perceived to be working at cross purposes. How can I be expected to speak up for our country.

Since my arrival in Phnom Penh twenty days ago, I have not bothered to meet our embassy officials. A Malaysian businessman who is staying in the service apartment where I reside told me not to waste my time to visit ” the fortress embassy” in Camcarmon. I wonder why we should have an embassy here which reflects the state of our officialdom (Wisma Putra) at home.–Din Merican

Former PM Mahathir in the Hunt for Najib’s Head

Najib and the Devil WomanThe resignation by Malaysia’s parliamentary speaker Amin Mulia, followed almost immediately by its withdrawal, is nonetheless an indication that unprecedented pressure is growing on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for an accounting on what appears to be disastrous mismanagement of a state investment fund and the eight-year-old mystery of the murdered Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

It is unsure what pressure was on Amin himself to withdraw his resignation, which he apparently tendered after meeting with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is leading an increasingly bitter crusade to drive Najib from power.  An unknown number of the United Malays National Organization’s 88 members of Parliament [out of the ruling coalition’s 133 total] are said to be growing restive over the scandals.

Many, including Deputy Prime Minister and Party Vice President Muhyiddin Yassin, have voiced concern that the scandals will end the 58-year reign of the ruling Barisan Nasional and UMNO, the longest continuing rule in the democratic world, in elections due in 2018. Mahathir has led the charge.

In March, Najib pulled 160 of the 191 UMNO division leaders into a conclave in Kuala Lumpur to get them to swear fealty and ordered the Barisan press and public relations machinery into action to protect his flanks.  He is aided by an extensive PR operation headed by Paul Stadlin, an American publicity agent.

Najib is partly protected by the fact that politically it would be almost unthinkable for a prime minister to come from any other party than UMNO, since a mid season poll that might bring the opposition to power is deeply unlikely, and there is no one in the party that would make a viable candidate. Muhyiddin reportedly made a run at Najib but backed off when he saw the Prime Minister was politically unassailable.

At the same time, the Sydney Morning Herald, in an extensive story in early May, detailed its reporter’s meetings with Sirul Azhar Umar, a former Najib bodyguard sitting in a Sydney detention center in limbo after he was declared guilty in Malaysia of acting with another bodyguard in the 2006 murder of Altantuya, a 28-year-old international party girl who had a peripheral role in a billion-dollar scandal involving the purchase of French submarines by the Malaysian Ministry of Defense when Najib  was defense minister.  Sirul told the Herald he was acting under orders when he killed the woman, but that he would not reveal the name.

“The complex web of the 1MDB scandal has placed it as one of Malaysia’s biggest financial catastrophes. The money trail has been a maze, keeping the scandal snowballing beyond control, much to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s great peril,” wrote Cynthia Gabriel,  Executive Director of the Kuala Lumpur-based Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism. “Surely we recall with the same fervor, the Scorpene submarine Deal that was another multi-billion dollar purchase, reeking of corruption that scandalized the nation just prior to the last General Elections. ”Najib has been at the center of both scandals, Gabriel wrote.

Mahathir and the opposition, particularly Parti Keadilan Rakyat Secretary-General Rafizi Ramli and Democratic Action Party shadow minister for education, have been aided in their campaign against 1MDB and Najib with a sensational series of revelations by Clare Rewcastle Brown, the crusading blogger who runs the Sarawak Report (pic below with Tun Dr. Mahathir). 

Dr Mahathir and C BrownAccording to those revelations, backed up by scores of emails that Brown somehow liberated from 1MB servers, hundreds of millions of US dollars were steered out of the fund for the personal use of Jho Low, as he is known.  That allegedly included an insider trading conspiracy in which Low, with Najib’s backing, sought to flip the sale of shares of Malaysia’s RHB Bank owned by the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), although two of Malaysia’s own banks CIMB and Maybank were in the process of seeking a merger with RHB.  According to the emails, “Jho Low and his business partners, who were the UK based investor Robert Tchenguiz and the then Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Aabar fund, Khadem Al Qubaisi, expected to profit by at least half a billion US dollars. This was to be at the expense of the Abu Dhabi public bank and the two Malaysian banks, expected to eventually buy the 25 percent share of RHB.”

As a result of another batch of emails released earlier, Brown alleged that in 2011 1MDB steered another US$330 million to a company known as Good Star Ltd, controlled by Jho Low. In all, the Sarawak Report alleged, of US$1.5 billion already invested by 1MDB in in a shadowy oil exploration firm in the Middle East called PetroSaudi a total of US$860 million was secretly siphoned into Good Star’s RBS Coutts account in Zurich. Jho Low has repeatedly maintained that he has held no role in 1MDB and made no profit from its investment dealings, a statement that appears to be at odds with the facts.

Mahathir has been having his own field day, saying that “in the case of 1MDB the presentation to the Cabinet and approval by it seems to be unclear. There seem to be attempts to hide behind official secrecy. What we do know is that 1MDB has as its advisor the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.”

He pointed out that three 1MDB CEOs have resigned without explanation. 

“The government invested RM1 million [US$276,000] in 1MDB,” he continued. “According to known records 1MDB then borrowed from various sources RM42 billion.  A company with RM1 million capital with no assets cannot borrow 42,000 times its capital with no collateral. That 1MDB is able to do so is because of government guarantees. In other words it is government which is borrowing the money. If 1MDB loses money, the government will bear the loss.” Yet 1MDB’s operations are not overseen by the government, he noted.  He finished up by asking: “So where did the money go?”

Some voices have been raised in favor of the 78-year-old Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who has been lost in the wilderness for nearly 30 years after he challenged Mahathir for the premiership in 1987 and lost.  He remains an UMNO backbencher and occasionally makes speeches demanding reform of the party and Malaysia’s disastrous racial relations, but is largely ignored, even as a temporary unity candidate.

Nonetheless, unease has spread well outside of political circles into the general public. Najib and government officials have raised the ante with a string of arrests for sedition and violations of the Official Secrets Act, among others.

It is growing difficult, if not impossible, to contain the government’s presumed liability over 1Malaysia Development Bhd, the state-owned fund that was the brainchild of Najib and his family friend, a young Penang-born Chinese named Taek Jho Low.  The fund has a pretzel palace of RM42 million in liabilities and appears to be in deep trouble in meeting its obligations, selling off bits of property and other assets to meet debt repayment.  There is widespread concern that the fund’s debts to government-owned and domestic banks are so big that they could threaten Malaysia’s entire financial system.

The original capital raising by Goldman Sachs for 1MDB was at rates that make other investment bankers gasp with envy.  The bonds were sold at 5.9 percent interest although government loans usually attract interest about half that. Goldman also charged a 10 percent commission to set up the capital raising, far in excess of what investment banks usually charge.

The 10 percent commission meant that 1MDB gets only 90 percent of the money borrowed but must pay the interest on the full amount, raising the interest rate to 6.6 percent, resulting in an average yearly interest of RM 2.5 billion. Since 2009 there has been no income from all the assets. 

With no income, 1MDB has been scrambling to sell off overpriced assets it acquired at the beginning of its operations, mostly in independent power operators.  In a controversial sale, it divested a plot of land to the Lembaga Tabung Haji, a government-operated fund to send pilgrims to Mecca, at a price far in excess of its worth, raising concerns that it was a sweetheart sale to find a temporary solution to 1MDB’s payment problems.

Najib : To Stay for UMNO and continue Tun Razak’s Legacy


May 18, 2015

Phnom Penh

Najib : To Stay for UMNO and continue Tun Razak’s Legacy

by  Akyaa Azhar@www.malaysiakini.com

Najib Vs MahathirPrime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and former premier Dr Mahathir continued to trade barbs. While Tun Dr. Mahathir reiterated that  the incumbent should step down, Najib  took a swipe at the former Premier stating that he was able to remain in power for more than two decades because of the UMNO constitution.

Speaking at an event organised  by the UMNO Veterans Club in Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur today, Najib stressed that he did not wish to tread the same path. He pointed out that he was the first UMNO President elected after the constitution was amended.

The amendment saw the total number of delegates eligible to vote increased and the quota system abolished. “Previously, only 2,600 people in Kuala Lumpur will vote for the President. (Sixty nominations) are needed to challenge the President,” said Najib. “Do you think it’s easy to do so? No way. That’s why Mahathir managed to stay for 22 years,” he added.

Dr M’s time had problems too

Najib said he too could remain as the longest-serving prime minister, but opted to be chosen through democratic means. “Since I was chosen democratically, why must I be disturbed? Why must I resign from my post? I will continue this fight for the party’s interests,” thundered Najib to the crowd of about 300 people.

As he continued to hit out at Mahathir for having “many more problems” during his tenure as Prime Minister.

“It’s not like there were no problems then. There were many, it’s just that I don’t want to mention. Too many. Why must we wash our dirty linens in public? It’s only detrimental for us. We should defend our party, not destroy it. If we have a problem, we rectify it and find a way to solve it,” he said.

Najib all for Vision 2020

Meanwhile, Najib said he had many more duties to deliver, such as realising Vision 2020. “Even though it was Mahathir who inspired Vision 2020, I don’t mind it because it was a good vision.

“But whatever that I believe is not suitable, I will not implement. Although he does not agree with (cash aid) BR1M, I think it’s good because people can use the money to buy rice, milk and sugar. At least the poor can receive assistance from the government. We shouldn’t focus on mega projects only,” he said, in an obvious dig at Mahathir who is known to have a penchant for mega projects,

Meanwhile, the Premier also said that he had joined politics to continue the struggle left by his father, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, the late  TunAbdul Razak Hussein.”If my father was the country’s father of development, I am determined to not only continue his struggle, but to bring the people to a higher level. “That’s why whatever policy I have introduced as Prime Minister, it is not far from the party’s principles,” he said, pointing out that it was he who upgraded ITM to university status when he was Education Minister and increased the university’s enrollment.

The Edge on the 1MDB Financial Mess


May 17, 2015

The Edge Report on why 1MDB Directors must be held accountable

1mdb-kgpandan-tmi-030315.jpgThe Edge has published a four-page special pullout detailing six questionable transactions that it says must be explained by the 1MDB directors. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 17, 2015.The Edge has published a four-page special pullout detailing six questionable transactions that it says must be explained by the 1MDB directors. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 17, 2015.

lodin-wok-kamaruddinThe Edge Business Weekly says in its latest issue that past and present directors of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) must be held accountable for all the decisions that have created the financial mess it is in today.

It said although controversial businessman Jho Low had a hand in certain dealings, ultimately, decisions were made by the board of directors and management.

The Edge has published a four-page special pullout detailing six questionable transactions that it said must be explained by the 1MDB directors.It added that both the Public Accounts Committee and auditor-general should refer to the report in their investigations into 1MDB. – May 17, 2015.

– See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/edge-on-why-1mdb-directors-must-be-held-accountable#sthash.pDSawJZC.dpuf

Tun Dr. Mahathir challenges Prime Minister Najib to a debate


May 16, 2015

Phnom Penh by The Mekong

Tun Dr. Mahathir challenges Prime Minister Najib to a debate

By Zulaikha Zulkifli@www.malaysiakini.com

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has voiced his readiness to debate Najib Abdul Razak on a number of burning issues.With a smirk on his face, Mahathir added that he, too, was a capable debater.

“I have some ability in debates. If you want to debate, okay lah,” said Mahathir, to loud cheers and applause from some a 2,000-member audience.He said this when asked whether he is prepared to debate with Najib during a forum in Ipoh this afternoon organised by Gopeng UMNO division.

Meanwhile, at a separate function in Klang earlier today, Najib vowed to continue as Prime Minister and party president, arguing that it was not unusual for leaders to face challenges.

“Tun Dr Mahathir faced even more tests. He was tested when Umno was banned in 1987. The Team A (and) Team B fight, remember that?” he told Selangor UMNO members and supporters at a gathering organised by the party’s former elected representatives. What did Dr Mahathir say then? ‘Even if it is by one vote, I am still Prime Minister.’

“Which means I can use the same principle… So long as I have the support of the party, I will serve as President. So long as I have the support of the people, I will continue to serve,” he was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail Online.

Najib was reportedly speaking to a full-house crowd of Selangor UMNO members and supporters at the Klang Executive Club’s ballroom, who cheered him on.

Mahathir has relentlessly attacked Najib on, among others, the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) and the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu. In his most vicious attacks yet, Mahathir last month called on Najib to step down lest he drags UMNO down with him.