Corruption is a Serious Matter, Mr. MACC

March 12, 2018

Corruption is a Serious Matter, Mr. MACC

by R.

Image result for Corruption is a serious matter

COMMENT | In May last year, under a blaze of publicity, six police officers including an OCPD and district crime chiefs in Malacca were arrested by the MACC for running a protection racket involving gambling dens. The big news was that anti-graft officers seized RM186,000 in cash and froze the bank accounts of all the suspects, totaling more than RM459,000.

Almost a year later, there has hardly been a whimper from MACC. In July last year its Deputy Chief Commissioner (Operations) Azam Baki, in denying the files have been closed, said investigations against a few Malacca police officers “are still in progress” without interference from the “higher-ups”.

In September last year, two brothers, who hold “Datuk” titles and are top officials of a family-run group of companies, were arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over an ongoing probe into a land deal between a group of settlers and the Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco).

The suspects, who are aged 54 and 58, were picked up by MACC officers in separate operations. Also arrested was the 68-year-old accountant who, in his capacity as a liquidator, had detailed knowledge of the land deal. Five days later, they were released without charge and it was business as usual.

On March 7 – less than a week after allegations were made, the MACC cleared UMNO supreme council member Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim of allegations that he had received an RM3 million bribe to help ‘cover up’ a probe into the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Azam (photo) said the Commission’s investigation showed no evidence of Abdul Azeez’s involvement in the matter, and that the accusations were deemed as ‘baseless.’ He added that the commission had retrieved documents to assist in its investigation and its subsequent probe had cleared Abdul Azeez.

“Based on our investigations, Abdul Azeez did not have any direct links to the Penang undersea tunnel project or those closely related to the project’s construction. MACC has verified the documents gathered pertaining to the case, before arriving at the decision,” Azam said.

These three contrasting scenarios are telling indeed and offer a glimpse of how the MACC treats offences and offenders. The public exoneration of Abdul Azeez shows how efficiently and speedily it can “close” a case and why it takes sometimes months to even years to produce the offenders in court or publicly absolve them of any wrongdoing.

Gatco case: No corrupt dealing

In the Gatco case, the MACC, after holding the trio for five days, found that the sale of the land was done in accordance with the law and there was no corrupt dealing, that the land was sold in an auction. Subsequently, even the courts deemed that nothing sinister or illegal was done.

How many of those arrested by the MACC have been accorded the same treatment given to Abdul Azeez? How many people have been publicly exculpated after being arrested and detained? How many people have been photographed in the orange suit, only to be released without charges?

Our law enforcement agencies, especially the police and the MACC have often lamented that the people are not coming forward with information on criminal activities. No one should blame them because of the different rules being applied, based on the position and status of the accused person.

Why should one come forward with information when he or she knows that the case would be classified as NFA (No Further Action)? Why should one bother when some people are immune from prosecution, let alone be arrested for purposes of investigations?


Without accusing or insinuating that there has been wrongdoing on the part of Abdul Azeez (photo) or anyone else, this whole case is shrouded with an air of mystery and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. When someone sends a demand letter, what is expected is a reply. For all intent and purpose, it was a civil case, where one party is demanding the return of monies paid. There’s nothing criminal about this transaction. Instead, Abdul Azeez lodged a police report on the demand of RM3 million which Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd had supposedly paid as consultancy fees.

Abdul Azeez denied ever having any dealings with the company – the special purpose vehicle (SPV) of the mega Penang undersea tunnel project – or its Senior Executive Director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

Both Zenith and Zarul Ahmad have avoided the media and we have to take Azeez’s word that Zenith has apologised. Then, a very important question arises: “If Abdul Azeez claims someone used his name and Zenith had apologised, why in the first did the company send a demand notice without verifying facts?”

Hopefully, we don’t have to wait long. The Penang State Secretary has written to Zenith seeking explanation on the course of events that had taken place. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, too, wants the truth from the horse’s mouth. This report should be put in public domain for the rakyat to decide who was wrong and who was right. Is that asking too much?

R NADESWARAN has worked with the MACC and its predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Agency for more than 30 years. He also served on MACC’s advisory board two years ago. Comments:

Greg Lopez on Corruption

March 8, 2018

Greg Lopez on Corruption

by Greg Lopez*

Image result for Greg Lopez
*Greg Lopez is a lecturer at Murdoch University Executive Education Centre. He is interested in the links between individual agency, governance, economic growth and political stability.

The first article identified 18 different terms (from World Bank publications) that are confused or used interchangeably with corruption.

In the first instance, let us explore how corruption is linked to these other terms. It may help explain why the terms are often confused or used interchangeably.

 The Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) is an independent unit within the World Bank Group that investigates and pursues sanctions related to allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank Group-financed projects.

The INT’s scope of work is fraud and corruption but also included is collusion, coercion and obstruction (see first article for these descriptions).

Stated differently, in INT’s definition, corruption will potentially also involve fraud, collusion, coercion and obstruction.

Image result for Najib Razak and CorruptionMaybe, but you are the most corrupt Prime Minister in Malaysia’s History. Looting the National Treasury is a Breach of Trust. It is embezzlement.


In Tina Soreide’s (2014) World Bank study titled, “Drivers of Corruption — A Brief Review”, she states that ‘corruption takes a variety of forms’, and proceeds to list them as follows: crony capitalism, embezzlement, extortion/extortive corruption, facilitation payments, kickback, kleptocracy, lobbyism/campaign finance, patronage, queue corruption, regulatory capture, rent-seeing, and state capture (the descriptions are provided in the first article).

In Soreide’s (2014) approach, there are at least 13 different ways within which corruption can take place.

If there are 18 different ways to describe corruption or corrupt acts — with some of it being legal and others, not — what exactly is corruption?

Exploring the essence of corruption

The literature on corruption indicates that the concept of corruption is as old as civilisation — indicating clearly, its persistence.

Image result for Syed Hussein Al-Attas on Corruption

Syed Hussein Alatas (1999) in his book, Corruption and the Destiny of Asia provides among many analysis, an informative analysis of corruption through the ages.

Image result for Syed Hussein Al-Attas on Corruption

Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas  and Cuba’s Dr. Fidel Castro

In analysing the Chinese reformer Wang An Shih (1021-86 AD), Alatas noted that, “…in his [Wang An Shih] attempt to eliminate corruption, [he] was astounded by two ever-recurrent sources of corruption: bad laws and bad men.”

In analysing the Islamic scholar Abdul Rahman Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 AD), Alatas stated that Ibn Khaldun considered the root cause of corruption to be the passion for luxurious living within the ruling group. It was to meet the cost of luxurious living that the ruling group resorted to corrupt dealings.

Kautilya, a key advisor to Chandragupta Maurya (c 317-293 BCE) writing in his book Arthasastra, identified corruption as a human condition.

Humans, Kautilya noted, were fickle and that no virtue such as integrity and honesty would remain consistent. While not using the human condition to justify corruption, Kautilya proposed elaborate and extreme sets of measures to weed corruption out of government — referring specifically to leaders tasked with running the government such as tax collection, implementing various government regulations, etc (T. Kumar, 2012) [pdf].

Maryvonne Genaux (2004) in her exploration of corruptio, the Latin term from which the word corruption originates, concludes that, “Ultimately, [the word] ‘corruption’ can be said to have Biblical origins and a core meaning centred around injustice.”

Genaux notes that these “injustice” was perpetrated by those in power or with authority (kings, judges, magistrates, etc.) against those who relied on their leadership/judgements/decisions (e.g. subjects, citizens).

The review above suggests that the essence of corruption (which covers all different types of corrupt act), is an “unjust act” committed by those “in/with power” (the powerful) against those “with less power” (the powerless) for the benefit of the powerful because it is within human nature to act in such manner.

What do you think of this description of corruption?



The Rule of Law is a Joke in Malaysia

March 5, 2018

The Rule of Law is a Joke in Malaysia

by S.

Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.”

– Adlai Stevenson

Image result for Bullshit Najib RazakMalaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is Above the Law


COMMENT | Are Malaysians experiencing a 1MDB fatigue? I think Pakatan Harapan supporters are experiencing it but the demographic that props up UMNO is feeling crappy about a whole range of issues and 1MDB is not one of them. All these foreign reports about the ongoing case of perhaps the biggest kleptocracy incident in the world mean nothing to the people who sustain UMNO.

It goes without saying that this kind of sucks. I mean, people think it is business as usual when the Australian Police freezes the account of a high-level state security officer on suspicion of money laundering or proceeds of a crime. Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department Director Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd denies wrongdoing, but claims that it would be too expensive for a court action to retrieve the money.

Image result for r Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd

The Face of a Corrupt Malaysian Police Officer

If the monies were bribes of some kind, who paid him? What were they getting in return? Beyond his allegedly guilty actions and the non-consequences he faces here, what kind of consequences would the country face by the hands of the people who (allegedly) put money in his bank account?

Crime? Terrorism? Who knows? Certainly not our state security apparatus which considers the matter closed. Certainly not establishment politicians who probably are worried about their own accounts all over the world. I would add opposition politicians but the state seems more interested in discovering their alleged criminal wrongdoings then their overlords in Putrajaya. And while their minions are fair game, essentially the protected Umno class is safe for the time being.

Image result for Nur Jazlan

Najib Razak’s Horndog Nur Jazlan Mohamed with the Most Corrupt Prime Minister

Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed wonders why Australia is trying to “embarrass” Malaysia as if the act absolves the person from the criminality or whatever else the embarrassed party is attempting to hide. These kinds of statements want to make me vote against the Umno hegemon just for spite.

Indonesia seizes Jho Low’s superyacht, Singapore seizes Jho Low’s private jet and everyone thinks, that this is it. This is the smoking gun. However foreign powers have their own crimes to hide, their own banking institutions to protect, so small fish are roasted over the fire of international opprobrium while the game goes on. Putrajaya knows this. They understand deals can be made, which is why the old maverick bemoans the fact that we are slaves to foreign powers.

Opposition political operatives call and tell me that this 1MDB issue is not gaining traction with the demographic that sustains UMNO. “They do not understand the issues involved,” they decry. They do not understand? On the best of days, I barely understand it and I was a practicing lawyer. Going about chanting 1MDB and expecting people to choke on their outrage and decide to vote for you is not going to work.

It boggles the mind that they are politicians when they complain that certain issues distracts from the whole 1MDB scandal. Well yeah, but if the 1MDB scandal is not gaining traction maybe you should discover issues that does gain traction with the people whose votes you want. The most important thing is realising that the 1MDB scandal is not the single issue which will bring down the current regime.

1MDB is big city stuff

Do not get me wrong, corruption is a major issue but I think sometimes, the strategists within Harapan conflate online chatter with the real life. Corruption does not solely have to be about the biggest case of kleptocracy the world is witness to. There are enough cases of corruption that have a direct, profound impact on local polities that would ensure that the current regime is benched.

I absolutely love it when the opposition highlights cases that demonstrate where the government has screwed the demographic that sustains them and let us face facts, with the FELDA case for instance, there were immediate and still ongoing consequences for the UMNO establishment and the opposition has gained points with the people whose votes matters most.

Anecdotally speaking, when young Malay voters write to me, they more often than not speak to me about the FELDA fiasco and the Tabung Haji fiascos and how the opposition “did good” and rarely about the 1MDB case which just confuses them.


Get this straight. Malaysia is not made up of people with pitchforks chanting 1MDB and hoping for regime change, simply to dispose of a kleptocratic regime. Is there dissatisfaction that the opposition can capitalise on? Yes, there is but the opposition needs to recalibrate their narratives to get people to vote for them. They cannot whine and stomp their feet that people are unwilling to see that 1MDB is the baddest thing to happen to this country. While it may be the biggest case of its kind, the reality is that Malaysia was a failing state way before the current bunch of kleptocrats took over.

Some folks have asked me, why I do not care about gerrymandering and other kinds of electoral legerdemain. It is not that I do not care but rather because I know if opposition politicians grab the peoples’ interest, waves of voters supportive of them will overcome any breaches of electoral malfeasance. The more people you convince to vote for you, the less effective the dirty electoral tricks of the establishment.

My advice is always stay local. 1MDB is big city stuff. That is realpolitik. UMNO knows this, which is why they play offence when it comes to this issue. What Harapan should be doing is dredging up state-level corruption. The goal is to get UMNO to drain its war chest by attempting to put out fires started by local oppositional operatives screaming blue murder about state-level corruption. There is only so much money and the UMNO state cannot be everywhere.


If local, state-level, village-level, corruption where bandied about in concert with the 1MDB fiasco, UMNO would have no choice but to get on the ground and deviate from the standard propaganda they shovel out by the buckets loads. They would have to engage with the opposition which are relatively “clean”.

For years, UMNO has never addressed these issues because the opposition were intent on not deviating from their own scripts which plays well with urban and semi-urban audiences but is ineffective with the demographic that sustains UMNO.

As I said, “corruption” does not have to be solely about 1MDB. While foreign powers will extract their pound of flesh for the sins of 1MDB, the only people who will hold this regime accountable for corruption is the voting public of Malaysia. The trick is not thinking that 1MDB is the greatest con perpetrated on the people of Malaysia.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Malaysia: GE-14–Follow Joe Pundit and Vote for Change

March 4, 2018

Malaysia: GE-14–Follow Joe Pundit and Vote for Change

by Joe Pundit

Image result for Bullshit Najib Razak

Vote for Change. Joe Pundit explains why he has no other option but to give opposition parties a chance.

Malaysians will go to the polls soon.The 2018 general election will be a significant one in the country’s history: for the first time the Opposition will be led by a former prime minister. Like many of my fellow Malaysians, I have pondered over whom to vote for.


Image result for Bullshit Najib Razak

Join South Africans and Zimbabweans who have removed Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe (and Grace Mugabe), so why keep Najib Razak (and Rosmah Mansor) and his band of UMNO-BN thieves. Wake Up, Malays.

I have decided that I will vote for change. I will be voting for the coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the following reasons:

1. We need a fairer electoral system

That we need a change is an option-less choice for me. If Malaysia is to evolve into a mature democracy, we need to have a two-party system.

Our present electoral system has to be changed and we should adopt a more democratic system based on proportional representation. There is too much gerrymandering when parliamentary constituencies are created and boundaries redrawn.

Only under a proportionaly representation system will the majority voices of the people be heard. In the 2013 general election, the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, won 51% of the popular vote but could not form the government under the present first-past-the-post system.

Like in respected democracies, many Malaysians would like to see the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee coming from the Opposition and not the ruling party.

2. We need to overcome critical problems confronting the people

Rising cost of living

The escalating cost of living has hit the working and middle classes in Malaysia. Like many Malaysians, I am totally against the goods and services tax (GST) as it is painful towards those less well off. Taxes should always be discriminatory and not non-discriminatory.

Lagging education system and unemployment

The education system needs to be further improved and it should be free of charge for all Malaysians till university. The command of written and spoken English is abysmal among the younger generation. The education system needs to be completely revamped.

The current government is not doing enough to tackle the problem of unemployment. Thousands of graduates are unemployed and many have to resort to driving Uber and Grab for a living.

Lack of affordable housing and security

Prices of houses and apartments in many parts of the country have soared beyond the reach of the middle class and the working class.

The crime rate is still high as seen by the increase in gated communities in the country.

Ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry

Malaysians are also concerned about worsening ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry. The BN does not appear to be doing anything concrete to tackle this phenomenon, which is threatening the very fabric of our society.

Lack of consistent people-oriented measures

The government should assist the people on a daily basis – and not just occasionally through Brim. I believe genuine assistance will be provided to the people under an opposition-led government.

Many Malaysians are of the view that an opposition-led government will implement more people-oriented measures eg a RM100 season ticket providing unlimited travel for commuters.

With an opposition-led government, we have a chance of moving towards a more egalitarian society – and the more we move in this direction the better for the people.

3. We need to wipe out scandals, corruption and wastage

Many serious issues that have surfaced since the 2013 general election such as 1MDB, FELDA Global Ventures and Mara’s purchase of property in Australia have raised critical questions that remain unanswered. No satisfactory explanation has been given by the government and no one at the top has been made accountable for these financial transgressions.

The level of corruption in the country is of deep concern to many Malaysians like me. Malaysia’s ranking fell sharply from 54th to 62nd position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2017. Many feel that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is not doing enough to combat corruption: it has to be made totally independent, reporting directly to Parliament.

Many Malaysians believe we should have an independent civil service without political interference. There is so much of wastage of public funds: just look at the number of civil servants, officials and others accompanying the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers on each overseas trip.

All tenders for all public projects should be transparent, and the tender committees for all major projects should comprise top civil servants and MPs from both sides of the political divide.

4. We need fairer, more independent media

The mainstream print and electronic media are unfair to the people. Hardly impartial, they serve as propaganda machinery for the ruling coalition. While we may or we may not agree with all of Mahathir and the Opposition’s policies and views, we would like them to be given space to express their views in the mainstream print and electronic media.


Malaysians must be given the chance to listen to live debates between the government and the opposition on television and radio ahead of the election. Only after listening to both sides will Malaysians be in a better positioned to make a choice.

By denying us the right to listen to both sides of the story, the government is telling us we unable to think rationally or vote wisely – which is an insult to the intelligence of Malaysians.

5. We need sweeping institutional reforms

The BN has failed to introduce sweeping much-needed reforms in the country.

Malaysians will expect an opposition-led government to implement reforms in all major institutions such as the Electoral Commission, the civil service, the judiciary, and the armed forces so that institutions will remain independent of the government of the day. These institutions should only report to the King and Parliament.

Given the wealth and natural resources in our country, Malaysians deserve a better deal.

Image result for Bullshit Najib Razak

If opposition parties are elected to power and they fail to improve the political and socio-economic environment in the country, then I would be inclined to vote for the BN in the election after next.

Joe Pundit is the pseudonym of a keen political observer based in Kuala Lumpur.

GE-14: If Mahathir is Harapan, then we have No Harapan

February 24, 2018

Civil Society’s Return to Mahathirism: An Act of Desperation

Image result for ambiga sreenevasan and her friendsAmbiga and her  friends


Calvin Sankaran says, it is crystal clear that Pakatan and our civil liberties NGOs have lost their moral compass and failed Malaysians by prostituting their principles to political expediency.

by Calvin Sankaran

Ayn Rand, the American philosopher-novelist and a cult figure among the tech industry titans, was violently opposed to compromises.

In her Magnum Opus, “Atlas Shrugged”, she wrote,” There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.”.

Image result for Mahathir the next Malaysian Prime Minister?

In naming Tun Mahathir Mohammad as their prime ministerial candidate for the 14th General Election (14 GE), Pakatan Harapan (PH) has chosen to make exactly the kind of toxic compromise Rand so bitterly abhorred.

With this decision, PH has concluded the classic Faustian bargain by sacrificing principles of good governance, human rights and democracy on the altar of political expediency.

As someone who has lived through the administrations of all our six Prime Ministers, I believe I am well-positioned to judge and compare the performance of Tun Mahathir in a balanced perspective.

There is no question that Mahathir brought a new dynamism and vision for the nation. His contributions for the national economic and industrial developments are beyond question. In his 22 years of rule, he steered the country’s GDP from a mere US$4 billion to US$110 billion. While some of his mega projects were expensive failures, on the balance his successes clearly outweighed the failures.

Image result for ayn rand quotes on principle

However, all his contributions to the physical infrastructure of the country were completely undermined and undone by his repressive and dictatorial rule which saw severe erosion in civil liberties and loss of hundreds of billions of ringgits due to corruption and mismanagement.

After starting off brightly by invigorating Malaysians with fresh hopes with the motto of “Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah”, his reign went downhill and grew increasingly draconian.

He tore apart the walls of separation of powers between the three branches of the government – the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary, independent institutions meant to keep the government in check and accountable were shackled, muzzled and eventually neutered to serve the all-powerful Prime Minister.

When the Judiciary stood up to his bullying, he engineered the sacking of the Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and two other Supreme Court judges, a move which our first PM Tunku Abdul Rahman described as “the most shocking story in modern legal and judicial history”. Tun Salleh and the judges were replaced with less independent minded judges who acted as the tool of the Executive rather than delivering justice without fear or favor.

Barry Wain, the author of “The Malaysian Maverick”, wrote that this episode had consequences far beyond just the loss of independence among the judiciary as it also opened the door for corruption to seep into the justice system, giving rise to shocking miscarriages of justice.

Image result for Barry WainIf he is our Harapan (Hope), we have no Harapan–Din Merican


The Election Commission too lost their independence and was used as the tool to gerrymander the electoral districts to rig the election in favor of the ruling party.

The resulting electoral victories gave Mahathir an unassailable majority in the parliament enabling him to use it as a rubber stamp to pass repressive and discriminatory laws.

His own party was not spared either. He reacted with characteristic ruthlessness when faced with challenges from party members alarmed by his increasingly authoritarian rule and the rise of corruption, nepotism and cronyism.

By using all powers and tools of the incumbency he ruthlessly eliminated his rivals and went on to manipulate the party constitution so that there would be no such challenges in the future.

Political opponents and even NGOs were often targeted, harassed and thrown into jail without trial. Operasi Lalang of 1987 saw more than 100 political opponents and civil liberties leaders arrested in a massive crackdown and jailed without trial or providing reasons for their arrests.

To attain absolute power and total control, Mahathir borrowed extensively from the dictators’ playbook. One of his key strategies was to establish the culture of political patronage where his supporters and cronies were richly rewarded with government contracts and concessions. His actions ushered in and firmly embedded the culture of money politics into UMNO.

All these actions served to legitimise corruption at the top and soon this deadly cancer spread rapidly and permeated every sector of the government, public service and the society.

Despite his lamentation of corruption and money politics, the organisation responsible for fighting corruption (Anti-Corruption Agency, ACA) was made toothless and merely stood and watched while the nation was being eaten from within by this deadly parasite.

Another infamous legacy of Mahathirism was the privatisation of government where the public assets were transferred into private hands, ostensibly to improve efficiency and reduce public sector burden. Barry Wain estimates that RM 100 billion was transferred to favoured cronies under this programme.

In each and every case, privatisation proved to be a complete and utter failure due to corruption and mismanagement and Mahathir spent tens of billions more to bail out the private companies and individuals.

The list of scandals during Mahathir’s rule are too numerous to mention. One of the best chroniclers of these scandals was none other than Lim Kit Siang, who has authored numerous books detailing each of these scandals. Some of the biggest scandals and losses during this period were the Bank Negara forex loss, Proton, Perwaja, BMF, PKFZ, Maminco, MAS, etc.

The current PH chairman was also responsible for sweetheart deals that burdened the Malaysians for decades to come.

He awarded highly lopsided highway concessions to PLUS and other companies, burdening people with numerous tolls. He handed out similarly highly one-sided, lucrative contracts to cronies under the Independent Power Producers (IPP) project.

Mahathir also holds the unwanted honour as the man who contributed most damage to Malaysia’s ethnic relationship. Nazri Abdul Aziz branded Mahathir as the father of racism while Lim Kit Siang called him the “greatest enemy of multiracial Malaysia”

He authored “The Malay Dilemma”, a racially provocative book that was banned by Tunku’s government. His continual articulation of extremist racial views proved too much for Tunku who kicked him out of Umno. The ban on “The Malay Dilemma” was only lifted when Mahathir became the PM.

Islamisation of the government started with Mahathir and it was him who kickstarted the efforts to incorporate Islamic values into the government. In 2001, he even went further by declaring Malaysia as a fundamentalist Islamic country.

Even after leaving the government, he continued to take a racist stance and often created controversies by making highly divisive, hurtful statements and comments about the minorities. It was hardly a surprise that he was also the patron for Perkasa, the notorious racist far right group.

The root cause of the hardcore Indian poor today can be directly attributed to Mahathir’s policies and lack of empathy. Thousands of poor Indians living in rubber plantations were forcibly displaced and ejected from the estates when the rubber trees were replaced by palm oil plantations or developed to build houses, townships, airports, etc.

Without employable skills and education, these Indians were left to fend for themselves in the alien and unforgiving environment of the cities. Despite appeals for help from the political parties and NGOs, Mahathir refused to extend support for these Indians who ended up as the urban hardcore poor or were forced to turn to crime due to desperation.

Despite his ultra-Malay posturing, Mahathir didn’t help the ordinary bumiputeras either. When the NEP was launched in 1970, the bumiputeras held 1% of the national wealth (measured in terms of corporate ownership). The objective of the NEP was to increase it to 30% by 1990.

From 1970 to 1981, this percentage had tripled from 1% to 3%. However, during Mahathir’s 22-year old rule this wealth actually declined to 2%. Many economists hold Mahathir directly responsible for the failure of the NEP. While the NEP continued the real benefactors were the well-connected cronies while the ordinary bumiputeras were fed with crumbs.

Of all his sins, Project IC must surely rank as the most evil of it all. This episode formed the darkest and most shameful period in Malaysian history. The details of the project are still shrouded in secrecy and was allegedly carried out by a secretive arm of the government under the orders from the very top.

The objective of the project was to bring the state of Sabah under his control and the aim was realised by issuing tens of thousands of Malaysian identity cards to illegal Muslim immigrants from the southern Philippines. As a result, the population of Sabah increased by a shocking 390% between 1970 and 2010. The biggest shock was the increase of 1552% in the number of Malays.

With his aims achieved Mahathir. with ample help from Anwar Ibrahim, engineered the entry of UMNO into Sabah and subsequently managed to capture the control of the state from the local parties.

Project IC completely changed the ethnic make-up of the state and led to numerous social, political, economic and security problems that would haunt Sabah and Malaysia in the decades to come.

For years Pakatan leaders have been continuously urging and cautioning Malaysians to reject BN so that the dark days of Mahathirism would not make a return. They even promised to throw Mahathir into jail if Pakatan forms the Federal Government.

However now that Mahathir has agreed to join forces to help Pakatan in their march to Putrajaya, the PH leadership has suddenly had a change of mind and are willing to forget every sin and scandal from his iron-fisted reign.

To the ordinary Malaysians, it is evident Pakatan operates on the principle of the end justifies the means. If a political party prioritises power over principles, it is a clear sign the party will adopt the same operating principles if they were to form the Federal government. With Mahathir at helm, Malaysia will be regressing to the dark days of dictatorship and unchecked, rampant corruption.

To make matters worse, Pakatan leaders use the Bush Doctrine of “You are either with us or against us” when challenged about their acceptance of and alliance with Mahathir.

While one can expect politicians to be flexible with principles, it is most disheartening to see respected civil liberties leaders and NGOs such as Maria Chin Abdullah, Ambiga Sreenevasan, Aliran, IRF and others jump in to defend Pakatan and Mahathir by offering the same “either/or” argument.

To me it is crystal clear that Pakatan and our civil liberties NGOs have lost their moral compass and failed Malaysians by prostituting their principles for political expediency. However they have no right in demanding that Malaysians vote for PH just because we disagree with BN.

Calvin Sankaran is an FMT reader.

EU Acts against Malaysia to ensure Clean and Fair Elections (GE-14)–Curbing Palm Oil Imports

February 23, 2018

EU Acts against Malaysia to ensure Clean and Fair Elections (GE-14)–Curbing Palm Oil Imports

by Reuters

Image result for Najib Razak under Pressure from European Union

An European Union (EU) decision to curb palm oil imports was the last thing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak needed ahead of a coming election, with rural voters already aggrieved over financial scandals at state-owned palm oil agency FELDA.

Around 10 per cent of Malaysia’s 30 million people belong to families who own smallholdings dedicated to harvesting palm oil, and they account for the majority of voters in nearly a quarter of the national assembly’s 222 seats.

Image result for Najib Razak under Pressure from European Union

Putting the Heat on Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak ahead of General Election-14

Girding for a general election due by August, Najib was given a taste of the discontent rife in the countryside when hundreds of farmers flocked to Kuala Lumpur last month to protest a pending EU move to phase out the use of palm oil in biofuel.

“I will not support the government if they don’t resolve this issue,” said Abdul Rahman, a farmer who runs a smallholding in Negeri Sembilan, a state an hour’s drive south of the capital.

“The failure and inexperience of the government led to the EU’s boycott of our palm oil,” he told Reuters.

Najib can ill-afford to lose votes from Malays in rural areas that have hitherto been a rock-solid votebank for the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party that has led every multi-ethnic coalition since Malaysia emerged from British colonial rule in 1957.

Image Credit: Zainul Abiddin

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Actor Robert De Niro*

Aged 92, and having stood down in 2003 as Malaysia’s longest serving premier, Mahathir Mohamad has come out of retirement to lead the campaign against his one-time protege Najib, having forged an unlikely alliance with jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Malays’ loyalty to UMNO has been tested by the steady flow of stories over the past three years about 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a state investment firm whose funds, critics say, were used by Najib to boost his campaign for the 2013 election, which he narrowly won while losing the popular vote to an opposition bloc led by Anwar.

Najib, who chaired 1MDB’s advisory board until it was dissolved in 2016, has consistently denied any wrongdoing over the billions of dollars lost by the fund, but an ongoing kleptocracy investigation into 1MDB in the United States – the biggest mounted by Department of Justice – has kept on the frontburner.

To cement authority and protect himself, analysts say Najib needs to lead UMNO to a convincing victory.

Losing US$500 million

The 1MDB controversy has damaged Najib’s standing more among urban Malays, but over the past year rural Malays have found their own reasons to be upset.

Malaysia’s 650,000 smallholders, who cultivate 40 per cent of acreage dedicated to palm, fear they will bear the brunt of the EU ban, which William Simadiputra, an analyst at DBS Vickers, reckons could cost Malaysia about US$500 million (S$656 million) annually in export revenue.

Malaysia’s plantations minister Mah Siew Keong told Reuters the government is working on expanding export markets to other non-traditonal palm buyers like Iran, Vietnam and Japan in a bid to shore up demand.

But the government’s threat of retaliatory trade measures against the EU has been scorned by critics, who say it will lead to further loss of palm oil business to competitors.

“By saying you will ban EU imports you are just pushing away the palm oil business to Indonesia,” said Wong Chen, a lawmaker with the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) party.

Malaysia hasn’t given up trying to persuade the EU to think again, raising its objections with a visiting French defence minister last month. France is hoping to sell Malaysia fighter jets worth about US$2 billion.

FELDA Scandals

Smallholders have seen monthly incomes drop as low as RM1,000-2,000 (S$336.60-S$673.20) when palm prices were low, forcing many into debt over the years.

And when allegations of corruption surfaced last year at the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), a state plantation agency founded to alleviate rural poverty, the government came under fire in the small towns and villages that make up the Malay heartland.

Many of FELDA’s 112,000 settlers took loans to invest in Felda Global Ventures, a listed unit of Felda that raised US$3 billion when it was launched in 2012 and has since seen its share price plunge by 60 per cent.

FGV’s chairman was forced to quit last year, and its chief executive was suspended for four months during a government probe into suspicious transactions at a subsidiary. He later resumed his role.

Najib moved to appease FELDA settlers last July with cash handouts, subsidies and debt waivers totalling nearly RM 1.5 billion.

“The game is to constantly keep the palm planters happy,”said PKR’s Wong Chen. But they are far from happy. The controversies at FGV have barely abated. Critics say it overpaid buying assets, notably the US$505 million purchase of a 37 per cent stake in an Indonesian palm oil firm.

Questions have also been raised last month over a FELDA land deal in Kuala Lumpur, which allegedly points to criminal fraud.

FELDA did not reply to a request for comment. But, on this most recent land deal scandal, Najib said in a blog post that the government would “ensure the interests of FELDA and the settlers are not compromised”.

However, this core constituency’s patience with the government may have run out.

“These issues have raised anger among the settlers,” said Mazlan Aliman, president of the National FELDA Settlers’Children Society (ANAK). “They see the government is not serious in addressing these issues, but instead try to cover up.” “The damage that has been done is too big. It will influence the mood of voters in the upcoming elections, especially in FELDA areas,” said Mazlan