Kim Jong Un — smart and strategic? by Dr. Fareed Zakaria


September 17, 2017

Kim Jong Un — smart and strategic?

by Dr. Fareed Zakaria

Kim Jong Un — smart and strategic?

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I am sometimes asked what world figure I most want to interview. For me, the answer is obvious: Kim Jong Un. The general impression around the globe continues to be that the North Korean leader is crazy, provocative and unpredictable, but I think that he might well be strategic, smart and utterly rational. Because I am unlikely to get that interview, I have decided to imagine it instead.

Q: Marshal Kim, why do you keep building and testing nuclear weapons and missiles, even though they result in massive, crippling economic sanctions?

A: My nation faces a fundamental challenge — survival. The regime is more threatened than ever before. My forefathers had it easy. The Great Leader, my grandfather, ruled with the support of the world’s other superpower at the time, the Soviet Union, as well as our gigantic neighbor, China. The Dear Leader, my father, still had Beijing’s help for the most part. But today, the Soviet Union is history and China has become more integrated with the Western system. And the sole superpower, the United States, has made it clear that it seeks regime change in my country. And yet, we have survived with our ideology and system intact. How? Because we have built a protection for ourselves in the form of nuclear weapons.

Q: But China still provides you with crucial supplies of food and fuel. Don’t you see it as an ally?

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2017 News Maker of The Year–Keeping Trump, Xi,  Putin Abe and Moon Jae-in on on their toes

A: China is ruthlessly pragmatic. It supports us for its own selfish interests. It doesn’t want millions of refugees — or a unified Korea on its border that is a larger version of what South Korea is now, with U.S. troops and a treaty alliance. But I believe that China no longer considers us an ally. It has voted to sanction us in the U.N. Security Council. The current president, Xi Jinping, cultivates close relations with South Korea. He has never met with me, the leader of North Korea, something that the leader of China has always done. Meanwhile, he has had about 10 meetings with the last two presidents of South Korea. At the grand celebrations in Beijing two years ago commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, he placed the president of Russia and the president of South Korea at his side. In North Korea, we pay a lot of attention to ceremonies and what they signal.

Q: Is that why you seem to go out of your way to embarrass China and Xi specifically?

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What does it  take for him to sit down and talk since sanctions only strengthens his resolve to pursue the nuclearisation of his country and unify his proud people?

A: We will not be pushed around. We heard that senior officials in China and the United States were discussing whether to encourage a coup in North Korea to get a more pliable ruler. So I’ve taken steps to ensure that this can’t happen. The man in our government closest to the Chinese, who could have arranged such a coup attempt, was my uncle. The man who would have been my natural replacement was my half brother. Both have been liquidated, as have more than 100 disloyal high-level officials.

Q: So will you come to the negotiating table? Will you agree to denuclearization in return for the lifting of sanctions?

A: Yes and no. We will readily come to the table. But we will never give up our arsenal. We’re not stupid. It’s all that is keeping us alive. Look at Saddam Hussein — and we never forget that North Korea was named as part of the “axis of evil” a year before the United States invaded Iraq. Look what happened to Moammar Gaddafi in Libya after he agreed to give up his nuclear weapons program. Look at what’s happening to Iran right now. After Washington signed a deal and the Iranians have been certified to be adhering to it, President Trump now says he’s going to tear it up anyway. Do you think we would be stupid enough to believe American promises after all this? We are a nuclear power. That is not negotiable. We are willing to talk about limits, test bans, freezes — but we would need to be given something in return, and not just money. We need security, in the form of diplomatic recognition by Washington and guarantees of nonaggression from China, Japan and the United States.

Q: Many Americans worry that you will soon have the capacity and the intention to launch missiles at the United States.

A: We will have the capacity. And it serves my purposes to keep you off guard. But why would I strike America and invite a retaliatory counterstrike that would put an end to my regime? Keep in mind, the whole point of this — my entire strategy, all our efforts and the hardships we have borne — is to ensure that my regime and I survive. Why would I risk that? I believe in assassination, not suicide.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

Malaysia’s Grand Poobah’s Chequebook Diplomacy in Washington DC


September 15, 2017

Malaysia’s Grand Poobah’s Chequebook Diplomacy in Washington can be strategic, admits Ambassador Emeritus Dennis Ignatius

www,malaysiakini.com

 

COMMENT | Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent White House soirée has brought Malaysia an unprecedented level of scrutiny and negative publicity. All major US newspapers, for example, unanimously panned the visit, highlighting the inappropriateness of inviting someone linked to an ongoing Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation (into 1MDB-related money-laundering charges).

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Najib’s Chequebook Diplomacy–Helping America Great Again impresses Donald J. Trump

It is a measure of just how far his reputation has fallen internationally after once having been feted everywhere as a reformist and moderate Muslim democrat. It is also a reminder of how little all of this really matters in a world dominated by realpolitik and the pursuit of strategic advantage.

Certainly, Najib himself didn’t appear to lose too much sleep over all the bad press. For him, the visit was clearly about positioning himself for the next elections and burnishing his credentials as a well-respected international leader able to run with some of the most powerful leaders in the world.

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Taken together with earlier high-profile meetings with President Xi Jinping, King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the meeting with Trump, as well as Britain’s Theresa May, lends credence to Najib’s narrative that under his stewardship, Malaysia has become “a rising star” and a “global player.”

While the urban crowd and opposition supporters will no doubt shake their heads in disbelief, it will play well with Najib’s rural base, effectively neutralising the 1MDB issue, arguably Najib’s most troublesome political challenge.

Najib’s grand strategy

Beyond the optics and the controversy over 1MDB, the visit also revealed a side to Najib that will surely drive the opposition to further despair: he is proving to be a far better strategist than he’s been given credit for.

He has parlayed the powers of his office and all the levers of state control at his disposal to successfully play off both China and the US to his advantage.

It might be recalled that he deliberately pivoted to China after his falling-out with the Obama Administration.

In Beijing, last year, he complained about foreign meddling, of being treated unfairly, of being lectured to by Western powers. In not so many words, he went on to contemptuously dismiss the US and other Western powers as has-beens with no future in Asia and hinted about a new strategic partnership with China.

It appears that Washington, already alarmed at China’s growing clout in the region, quickly got the message. Washington will now play along to get along.

Furthermore, with a more amoral (some would say unscrupulous) occupant in the White House to do business with, and with Beijing beginning to get too demanding (as witnessed by the unravelling of the Bandar Malaysia deal), Najib might have also seen the need to recalibrate the balance between the US and China.

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Playing the China-US Hedging Game

Better relations with Washington will now give Najib more room to manoeuvre. It will also allow Najib to undercut opposition criticism that he is too close to China.

He has thus put both Washington and Beijing on notice: be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you. It is, in fact, the global application of his domestic political approach: as he once told Chinese Malaysians, “If you show support [for UMNO-BN] we have no problem giving more… if not, difficult lah.”

Though it is still too early to predict how all this will turn out, no other prime minister has displayed such a flair for big power gamesmanship as he.

Buying his way to respectability

In order to demonstrate to both the US and China that they have much to gain both strategically and economically by being supportive of his administration, Najib has resorted to a form of chequebook diplomacy hitherto only used by rich and powerful countries – promising contracts, investments and big-ticket purchases in exchange for support and endorsement.

With China, Najib generously granted PRC corporations billions of ringgit in infrastructure contracts, even favouring PRC contractors over our own.

He has also earned the undying gratitude of President Xi by wholeheartedly embracing the latter’s One Belt One Road (Obor) initiative, dismissing concerns about the viability and lack of transparency of many Obor projects.

And under his watch, Malaysia made its first purchase of defence equipment from China.

In Washington, Najib opened his chequebook once again promising to buy more than RM42 billion in new aircraft for Malaysian Airlines (MAS), RM300 million in fighter jets for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), and to direct RM12 billion to RM16 billion in new investments from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Kazanah Nasional to US infrastructure projects.

He also promised to “persuade” AirAsia to switch from British-made Rolls Royce engines to American-made GE engines.

No doubt, this was all music to Trump’s ears, a small contribution to making American great again.

American officials, of course, deny the visit will have any impact on the DOJ investigations but does anybody really believe that Najib would have made all those expensive promises simply to make Trump feel good?

After this, expect European and Japanese salesmen-politicians to come knocking at our doors with hat in hand and high praise for Najib on their lips. For so long as there’s money to be made, inconvenient issues like human rights and good governance will not be allowed to get in the way.

Cost of Najib’s generosity

The downside, however, is that Malaysia’s already beleaguered opposition, as well as its human rights defenders, can now expect no sympathy or moral support from the US and other democracies.

Najib has neatly turned the tables on his detractors; far from isolating him internationally, he has now marginalised them at home.

Worse still, the nation will have to pay a heavy price for Najib’s extravagant chequebook diplomacy.  We are already heavily indebted to China; now we will be driven into even greater debt with billions of new borrowing to pay for Najib’s Washington promises.That the government of a cash-strapped developing country, which has had to impose a new tax (GST) on its own hard-pressed and long-suffering populace just to stay afloat, would offer such an extravagant economic boost to one of the richest economies in the world is both unprecedented and mind-boggling.

DENNIS IGNATIUS, a former Malaysian ambassador, firmly believes that we should put our trust not in the leadership of politicians but in the sanctity of great institutions – our secular and democratic constitution, a democratically-elected parliament, an independent judiciary, a free press and a government fully accountable to the people. He blogs here.

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Malaysian Prime Minister’s White House Visit raises ethical questions for President Trump


September 14, 2017

 

When President Trump welcomed Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, to the White House on Tuesday, he thanked him for “all the investment you’ve made in the United States.”

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Trump International Hotel in Washington DC which housed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Delegation during the visit to The White House created an ethical problem. The Malaysians knew how to play the game. In doing so, they have created a problem for President Trump.

Mr. Trump did not single out Mr. Najib’s patronage of his hotel two blocks from the White House, but he could have: the Malaysian leader was spotted entering and exiting the Trump International Hotel, with his entourage, on Monday and Tuesday.

The White House denied that Mr. Najib had picked the hotel at Mr. Trump’s behest. “We certainly don’t book their hotel accommodations,” the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “so I couldn’t speak to the personal decision they made about where to stay here in D.C.”

Whatever the motivation, the choice of lodgings added to the awkwardness of a meeting already replete with ethical questions. Mr. Najib is under investigation by the Justice Department, part of a corruption scandal that critics said he has fended off by firing investigators and dismissing negative news reports about him as “fake news.”

In these respects, he is not unlike Mr. Trump. So it was perhaps not a surprise that the two leaders skipped a news conference, kept their public remarks brief, and stayed on the safe ground of trade and counter-terrorism.

“We’re talking about trade – very large trade deals,” Mr. Trump said to Mr. Najib, during a photo opportunity before they met in the Cabinet Room. “Malaysia is a massive investor in the United States in the form of stocks and bonds.”

A grateful Mr. Najib replied, “We come here with a strong value proposition to put on the table.” He talked about buying Boeing planes and General Electric jet engines but did not mention that he had just come from the Trump hotel.

Behind closed doors, the Prime Minister urged the United States to put pressure on neighboring Myanmar — including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the elected civilian government — to stop the systematic persecution of the Rohingya, its minority Muslim population.

Mr. Trump, a senior administration official said, expressed anger over the military crackdown and discussed ways to pressure authorities in Myanmar. There are no current plans for Mr. Trump to call Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, this official said, but he did not rule out a future conversation.

American Presidents have long done an awkward dance with the leaders of Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country that is a valuable trading partner and dependable counter-terrorism ally of the United States but is ruled by a corrupt, entrenched (racist) Malay elite.

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Malaysian Ambassador to the US, Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique said Trump’s invitation to Najib in his first year as President was a recognition of Malaysia’s importance for the world’s leading superpower.

 

That tension is even more acute with Mr. Najib, who is under investigation by the United States and others for an estimated $3.5 billion that investigators believe he and his associates diverted from a Malaysian government sovereign fund that he headed. Among other things, the money was used to buy jewelry, real estate and the rights to Hollywood films.

The White House insisted that the Justice Department inquiry had no relevance to the meeting and would not figure in the conversation. “That investigation is apolitical and certainly independent of anything taking place tomorrow,” Ms. Sanders said on Monday.

But the White House did move a picture-taking session from the Oval Office, denying Mr. Najib the customary photo with the President before the fireplace, under George Washington’s portrait.

Before their meeting, Mr. Trump credited Mr. Najib with cutting off business ties between Malaysia and North Korea. The Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, has served as one of the hubs for North Koreans seeking to buy or sell nuclear-related technology or trade weapons.

Relations between the two countries ruptured after Malaysia accused the North Korean government of assassinating Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of Kim Jong-un, in a bizarre attack at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport. Each country temporarily barred the other’s nationals from leaving.

“He does not do business with North Korea any longer, and we find that to be very important,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Najib presented a detailed list of purchases and investments – with dollar signs attached – that seemed tailored to Mr. Trump’s balance-sheet emphasis in dealing with other nations. Malaysia, he said, had committed to buying 25 Boeing 737’s and eight 787 Dreamliners for its national airline.

In addition, Mr. Najib said, one of Malaysia’s largest pension funds planned to invest between $3 billion and $4 billion in the Trump administration’s effort to rebuild American infrastructure. And another sovereign wealth fund planned to increase its existing $400 million investment in Silicon Valley. “Great,” Mr. Trump interjected, each time Mr. Najib reeled off a figure.

For Mr. Najib, who faces an election and has been under unrelenting pressure at home, the meeting qualified as a major victory. It demonstrated to critics that he could travel to the United States without fear of being detained.

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“Great Honour” to welcome you, Mr Prime Minister, to The White House, so said President Donald Trump. Mr. Najib is expected to return on September 15 evening to a hero’s welcome for having won the US President to his side.

For Mr. Trump, the payoff was less obvious. Administration officials view Malaysia as a counterweight to China and say it has been steadfast in the fight against the Islamic State. But the President broke arguably the strongest bond between the two countries when he pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade pact that includes Malaysia.

Mr. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, once praised Mr. Najib as a reformer and played golf with him in Hawaii in 2014. But after the cloud of corruption allegations took hold, Mr. Obama only met the Malaysian leader at regional conferences. Last year, when the two were together at a summit meeting at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Mr. Najib did not earn a repeat invitation for golf with Mr. Obama.

Mr. Trump, however, seems comfortable with Mr. Najib, a suave figure who speaks impeccable English. In 2014, they played golf at Mr. Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J. Mr. Trump gave his guest a photo of the two of them, inscribed, “To my favorite prime minister.”

Mr. Trump has not hesitated to meet with autocratic leaders — or leaders with legal problems. He invited the Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, to the White House, despite what critics said was his record of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug dealers.

Still, human-rights advocates criticized this meeting because of the signal they said it would send. “It’s a strange meeting,” said John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Clearly, President Trump has repeatedly shown that he is willing to host authoritarian leaders. But this meeting, in some respects, marks a new low. Najib has been engaged in a broad crackdown against journalists, civil society, even cartoonists.”

Richard C. Paddock contributed reporting from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A version of this article appears in print on September 13, 2017, on Page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump Welcomes Malaysian Leader as President, and Owner of a Fine Hotel

 

Nice Mr. Najib’s “Flourishing Democracy”


September 12, 2017

Nice Mr. Najib’s “Flourishing Democracy”: Comment by Sarawak Report

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Malaysia’s Pathological Liar claims to be on a Journey of Exoneration to the United States to meet his counterpart  at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.–Who between two will be conning the other?

 

The greatest liars are the ones who set out to deceive themselves.  Najib has mocked his mentor and the former icon of UMNO, Dr Mahathir, for belatedly admitting to strong arm tactics that damaged democracy and gifted his criminal successor with far too much personal power.

On the other hand, Najib is admitting no such thing relating to himself. In an authored statement that has had the world in stitches on the eve of his great ‘journey of exoneration’ (or so he would have it) to the United States, he paints himself as a great promoter of individual rights and the rule of law in Malaysia.

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This is what UMNO has turned this person into–kissing the hand of a liar. It makes me sick.–Din Merican

Every single thing he says in this article is demonstrably untrue and it comes from the mouth of a man who has orchestrated the theft of more money from his own people than recorded in any other global investigation.  Take the United States’ revered NGO Human Rights Watch on the subject:

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Trump’s invitation was “particularly inappropriate”, given Najib’s use of repressive laws to stifle critics.

“There’s little doubt that Najib will use this White House visit to burnish his credentials going into next year’s election in Malaysia, and redouble his repression of critics using the stamp of approval from this visit,” HRW’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson told Reuters.

Najib begs to differ.  He plainly seeks to convince himself that since he is not presently putting people up against walls and shooting them publicly he runs a consensual and democratic government.

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He created a system which gave Najib Razak absolute power to inflict harm on our body politic, not Knowledge. Now he is regretting for doing so. 

Instead, in Malaysia people live under a more subtle fear that they may disappear or end up like the opposition leader in jail on cooked up crimes. People in government jobs bemoan they and all their family must vote for Najib’s UMNO party or they will be found out and lose their posts (their bosses warn UMNO monitor their votes).  This is not democracy, it is dictatorship through fear.

Far from tolerating dissent, Najib’s brave critics in Malaysia are routinely hounded in innumerable ways, under a raft of flexible laws that give him immense power to accuse and lock them up on grounds of ‘subverting the state’, ‘acting against harmony’, ‘acting against parliamentary democracy’ and so on.

If the courts eventually release these people, given the accusations are so fickle and outrageous, he then exercises the sort of arbitrary and ‘informal’ powers that people in genuine democracies can only gasp at.  Passports are removed, bank accounts are frozen – Najib’s victims are rendered penniless prisoners within his borders.

Free Speech?–No Freedom After Speech

When Najib claims that ‘freedom of speech is alive and well in Malaysia’ he appears to forget that this site has, for example, been itself arbitrarily banned in the grounds of ‘reporting falsehoods’.

Notably, he has not dared to legally challenge a single one of those supposed falsehoods, which now stand vindicated on every point by the evidence brought forward in the United States Justice Department’s own criminal investigation into 1MDB.

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Despite that vindication Sarawak Report remains banned and the editor “wanted” under a warrant issued in Malaysia for her arrest for supposed “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy”.  A false terrorism alert was even made to INTERPOL by Malaysia against Sarawak Report on Najib’s orders. Journalists inside the country face daily threats over ‘subversive reporting’, which they cannot ignore when instruments such as these are readily employed.

Suppression of Criticism Protects Rule by Criminals

There is a point to this partially legalised reppression.  Najib reckons the people’s pockets and their pensions are his to raid.  And, as this site and others have reported, he has done so without restraint, by placing often unqualified henchmen into the top positions at all the cash rich government-related funds and licencing them to raid the coffers through all manner of corrupt and self-interested investments (despite trechant warnings by the Bank of Malaysia).

And, of course, there is 1MDB, just one fully unmasked scandal amongst the many more yet to be revealed.

This rampant kleptocracy of recent years has destroyed Malaysia’s underlying economic security and wrecked hopes of advancement for the many, but it has all been terrifically good  for a certain class of foreign businessman, whose lack of moral quibbles has enabled them to make a pile of money facilitating the investment of all that loot in ventures overseas.  Such folk are ever ready to whisper in the ears of the stooping and cynical denizons of the corridors of Whitehall and the White House: “best deal with this Najib. He is a crook but he says he wants to buy our weapons and invest in our ludicrous projects when others won’t”.

‘Journey of Exoneration’?

By such means Najib has achieved his promoted ‘journey of exoneration’ to the United States. He will have Hurricane Irma to thank if the Washington press diverts its interest from this dirty little tryst.  However, the disapproval of the democratic media has already been made loud and clear.

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It has been noted that whilst Trump’s State Department personnel have been lined up for the welcoming party in this supposed strategic reach-out, designed to prize Malaysia back from China, representatives from the Department of Justice will markedly be absent.  Najib has to hope that this independent arm of state will not take advantage of her presence to interview Malaysia’s ‘First Lady’ about the $200 million of diamonds and jewellery, which she personally commissioned in the presence of Jho Low, her husband and bespoke boutique owner Lorraine Schwarz, at the Bel-Air Hotel in California over New Year in 2014.

They were bought with money stolen from 1MDB and the Department of Justice will doubtless be intrigued to know how she thought her husband would be paying for them.

864. In October 2014, $1,300,000 in funds traceable to misappropriated Deutsche Bank loan proceeds were used to purchase 27 different 18-carat gold necklaces and bracelets (“27 ASSORTED GOLD NECKLACES AND BRACELETS”) from Schwartz Inc. in New York. LOW arranged for the purchase and payment of this jewelry on behalf of the wife of MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1.

865. Schwartz was invited to show MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1 jewelry at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles on or about January 3, 2014. LOW texted Schwartz that day to confirm that she was there. At the Bel Air Hotel, Schwartz had dinner with MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1 and others, and thereafter was invited to a suite to show jewelry to her. She selected 27 different necklaces and bracelets. {DOJ Court Indictment]

Perhaps from the proceeds of GST? As money has poured out of Malaysia into Najib’s private projects he has sought to replace it with this tax on household goods.  He has also sought to counter the stench of high level corruption emanating from his own activities by setting the MACC onto everybody beneath him instead.  Over 600 arrests just this year against people who plainly reckoned that since their boss regards his job a licence to plunder it is only right they should have a piece of the action.

Meanwhile, as we all know, the mounds of evidence of corruption by Najib himself, which resulted in charges and a planned arrest by the former Attorney General, have been shelved in Malaysia, thanks to Najib’s abuse of the constitution and sacking of that AG.

All of the above qualifies Najib not as a democrat, but as a full blown dictator, as everyone who knows anything about Malaysia knows and understands – with the possible exception of himself, since self-delusion is a characteristic of all dictators.

Not Shooting People Yet, But Najib Has Made Ready To Do So

Najib buys his followers (with stolen cash) and pays others to bend the law.  He cheats and rigs elections. He persecutes critics who point out such failings.

However, in case such measures cease to work (which he plainly fears they may in the face of his flagrant sins and gross unpopularity) he has already enacted a series of unprecedented and totalitarian measures that will give him powers to shoot, burn and kill whoever and whatever he likes simply by declaring a State of Emergency in the presence of his cousin the Defence Minister and a couple of other chosen flunkeys. The Council of Rulers protested this shocking law – Najib ignored them.

The United States should note that Najib has achieved something very remarkable in Malaysia:  he has united a raft of former sworn enemies into a unprecedented coalition against him.  It is a coalition that unites religions and races into a platform calling for reform and its de facto head is the opposition leader currently in jail.  Najib has even propelled his draconian predecessor, Dr Mahathir into joining this coalition and into calling for the re-strenghtening of Malaysia’s independent institutions against the strong-man at the centre.

On his own side, meanwhile, Najib has reduced his following within UMNO to a tight core of paid-up interest groups, which has mischievously joined forces with the extremist rump of its own former political foe the PAS party, which has been campaigning for an Islamic State in Malaysia.

It is a sad thing for the United States to be seemingly allying with a criminal ethnic nationalist in bed with Islamic extremists against a reformist coalition based on broad democratic values. Yet this is what appears to be shown by this latest invitation extended on behalf of President Trump and Najib is using it to his full advantage.

After all, like all true dictators of a totalitarian mould Najib has full control of Malaysia’s mainstream media – a control he is seeking to extend into the online world as soon as possible with plans to monitor Facebook and blogs for ‘seditious’ criticism.  This media is promoting dutifully via the papers, radio and TV that Najib’s presence in the Oval Office represents ‘proof’ that the devastating and detailed proceedings of the United States Justice Department are nothing but manufactured lies.

The creeps lining the corridors of Whitehall and the White House know that isn’t so.  They also know how a continuing criminal regime will damage Malaysia and the stability of the region. They must take responsibility for their superficial cynicism in allowing this charade to have taken place.

 

DOJ 1MDB probe independent of Najib-Trump meet


September 12, 2017

DOJ 1MDB probe independent of Najib-Trump meet, says The White House

http://www.malaysiakini.com

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The US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into the 1MDB scandal is independent of the upcoming discussions between US President Donald Trump and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the White House said.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the discussions will instead focus on a wide variety of regional and security issues.

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“[They will be] talking about ways that they can strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, certainly the halt of ISIS, addressing North Korea and their continued actions, and making sure that we promote maritime security in the South China Sea.

“We’re not going to comment on an ongoing investigation being led by DOJ, and that investigation is apolitical and certainly independent of anything taking place tomorrow (which is today),” she said at a press briefing yesterday.

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No Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua agenda at Trump-Najib Meet at the White House on September 12 Meeting–The Good News

 

Sanders was asked whether Trump would address the DOJ investigation or avoid the issue, and what is expected of the meeting between Najib and Trump, which is scheduled to take place later today.

The DOJ is currently investigating the alleged misappropriation of US$4.5 billion from 1MDB on grounds that some of the funds had been routed through the US financial system.

 

It has filed multiple civil forfeiture suits since last year to seize the alleged proceeds of the misappropriation (totalling US$1.7 billion) and also revealed in a court filing last month that a criminal investigation has been underway for some time.

Its civil forfeiture filings had linked a certain “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1) in the scandal, saying that some of the funds had been routed through his bank account, and had been used to purchase diamonds for his wife.

MO1 is alleged to be referring to Najib, but he has denied allegations of misappropriating public funds for personal gain.

Myanmar: The Rohingya, Saudi Backed ISIS Militants, Aung San Suu Kyi is a US Proxy


September 10, 2017

Myanmar: The Rohingya, Saudi Backed ISIS Militants, Aung San Suu Kyi is a US Proxy

The unfolding crisis in Southeast Asia’s state of Myanmar has confounded many geopolitical analysts due to its complex history and the intentionally deceptive and now contradictory coverage provided by the Western media.

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Aung San Suu Kyi is a Creation and Proxy of US and European Interests

The current government of Myanmar is headed by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD). It has ascended into power after a decades-long struggle against the nation’s military who ruled the nation for decades.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Creation and Proxy of US and European Interests

Suu Kyi and her NLD are the recipients of tens of millions of dollars in US, British, and European aid. Entire networks of fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been created to undermine and overwrite Myanmar’s sovereign institutions.

The extent of this support and funding is covered by many of the Western organizations themselves, including the Burma Campaign UK, who in its 36 page 2006 report, “Failing the People of Burma?” (.pdf) details extensively how it and its American counterparts have built up Suu Kyi’s now impressive political domination of Myanmar.

The report states explicitly:

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED – see Appendix 1, page 27) has been at the forefront of our program efforts to promote democracy and improved human rights in Burma since 1996. We are providing $2,500,000 in FY 2003 funding from the Burma earmark in the Foreign Operations legislation. The NED will use these funds to support Burmese and ethnic minority democracy-promoting organizations through a sub-grant program. The projects funded are designed to disseminate information inside Burma supportive of Burma’s democratic development, to create democratic infrastructures and institutions, to improve the collection of information on human rights abuses by the Burmese military and to build capacity to support the restoration of democracy when the appropriate political openings occur and the exiles/refugees return.

It also reports:

Both Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) have Burmese services. VOA broadcasts a 30-minute mix of international news and information three times a day. RFA broadcasts news and information about Burma two hours a day. VOA and RFA websites also contain audio and text material in Burmese and English. For example, VOA’s October 10, 2003 editorial, “Release Aung San Suu Kyi” is prominently featured in the Burmese section of VOAnews.com. RFA’s website makes available audio versions of 16 Aung San Suu Kyi’s speeches from May 27 and 29, 2003. U.S. international broadcasting provides crucial information to a population denied the benefits of freedom of information by its government.

Regarding the indoctrination and education of future leaders of this Western proxy political bloc, it states:

The State Department provided $150,000 in FY 2001/02 funds to provide scholarships to young Burmese through Prospect Burma, a partner organization with close ties to Aung San Suu Kyi. With FY 2003/04 funds, we plan to support Prospect Burma’s work given the organization’s proven competence in managing scholarships for individuals denied educational opportunities by the continued repression of the military junta, but committed to a return to democracy in Burma.

In regards to the Open Society and its role in interfering with Myanmar’s internal politics, the report states:

Our assistance to the Open Society Institute (OSI) (until 2004) provides partial support for a program to grant scholarships to Burmese refugee students who have fled Burma and wish to continue their studies at the undergraduate, or post-graduate level. Students typically pursue degrees in social sciences, public health, medicine, anthropology, and political science. Priority is given to students who express a willingness to return to Burma or work in their refugee communities for the democratic and economic reform of the country. 

The report, written in 2006 when another US proxy – Thaksin Shinawatra – presided over Thailand as Prime Minister until his ouster later that year, would detail the role Thailand was then playing to undermine and overthrow Myanmar’s political order:

Last year the U.S. government began funding a new program of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide basic health services to Burmese migrants outside the official refugee camps in cooperation with the Thai Ministry of Public Health. This project has been supported by the Thai government and has received favorable coverage in the local press. Efforts such as this that endeavor to find positive ways to work with the Thai government in areas of common interest help build support for U.S.-funded programs that support Burmese pro-democracy groups.

Myanmar’s current minister of information, Pe Myint – for example – underwent training at the NED and Open Society-funded Indochina Media Memorial Foundation in Bangkok.

A US diplomatic cable made available via Wikileaks would reveal just how integral such training was in building up the US client state that now rules Myanmar.

Titled, “An Overview of Northern Thailand-Based Burmese Media Organizations,” the 2007 cable states (emphasis added):

Other organizations, some with a scope beyond Burma, also add to the educational opportunities for Burmese journalists. The Chiang Mai-based Indochina Media Memorial Foundation, for instance, last year completed training courses for Southeast Asian reporters that included Burmese participants. Major funders for journalism training programs in the region include the NED, Open Society Institute (OSI), and several European governments and charities….

…A number of active media training programs attract exiles and those from inside Burma to Chiang Mai for journalism courses ranging from one week to one year. These training programs identify would-be journalists who are active in communities inside Burma, as well as NGOs in Thailand, and help them secure reporting positions with Burmese media outfits in the region. The training programs help ensure that future generations will be able to succeed the founders of the current organizations.

The cable also links US funding to the very predictable “pro-American” attitude adopted by those receiving the benefits of such funding:

In a refreshing take for U.S. diplomats interacting with foreign media, the exile journalist community here remains steadfastly pro-American. Groups such as DVB and The Irrawaddy continually seek more input from U.S. officials and make frequent use of interviews, press releases and audio clips posted on USG websites. A live interview with a U.S. diplomat is a prized commodity, one even capable of stoking a healthy competition among rival news organizations to land a scoop. A 2006 Irrawaddy interview with EAP DAS Eric John multiplied into several articles and circulated widely throughout the exile community and mainstream media. 

USG funding plays some role in this goodwill…

Without doubt, Suu Kyi and those occupying top positions within her government, are the product of decades of US-UK and European backing, training, and indoctrination.

Saudi-backed “Rohingya Militants” No More Represent All Rohingya than ISIS Represents All Sunnis 

An unfortunate narrative is taking shape across the alternative media, portraying Myanmar’s Rohingya minority as “Islamists” taking up “jihad.”

In reality, Myanmar’s Rohingya minority have lived in Myanmar for generations. Until recently, they have lived in harmony with their Buddhist-majority neighbors across the country, including in Rakhine state.

Many of the talking points now being adopted against the Rohingya are quite literally copied and pasted from US-backed extremist groups in Myanmar. Claims that the term “Rohingya” is simply made-up, that the Rohingya are actually illegal Bengalis, and that they should be expelled by force from Myanmar have been the key points of Suu Kyi’s violent “Saffron monk” supporters for years.

The increasingly empowered supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi – many of whom were present during the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” – are the primary agitators of the Rohingya crisis. While the Western media has attempted to portray the military as being behind the violence, it is often the military that intervenes to separate attacking extremists from the Rohingya villages and refugee camps they seek to slash and burn.

It was the military-led government that attempted to move forward the process of granting the Rohingya citizenship, opposed vehemently by Suu Kyi’s political party and her supporters, and ended entirely once Suu Kyi came to power.

More recently, the Western media has noted the emergence of Rohingya-aligned militants who have reportedly carried out several large-scale attacks on police and military units across Rakhine state.

Of course, no militant group exists without substantial political, financial, and material support. And just as other politically-convenient conflicts have erupted in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and the Philippines, US-Saudi funding is evident among the latest outbreak of violence in Myanmar as well.

It is a combination of gasoline and fire – the tools of a single arsonist intentionally put into place to create a geopolitically convenient conflagration. 

The Wall Street Journal in a recent article titled, “Asia’s New Insurgency Burma’s abuse of the Rohingya Muslims creates violent backlash.” claims:

Now this immoral policy has created a violent backlash. The world’s newest Muslim insurgency pits Saudi-backed Rohingya militants against Burmese security forces. As government troops take revenge on civilians, they risk inspiring more Rohingya to join the fight.

The article also claims:

Called Harakah al-Yaqin, Arabic for “the Faith Movement,” the group answers to a committee of Rohingya emigres in Mecca and a cadre of local commanders with experience fighting as guerrillas overseas. Its recent campaign—which continued into November with IED attacks and raids that killed several more security agents—has been endorsed by fatwas from clerics in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the Emirates and elsewhere. 

Rohingyas have “never been a radicalized population,” ICG notes, “and the majority of the community, its elders and religious leaders have previously eschewed violence as counterproductive.” But that is changing fast. Harakah al-Yaqin was established in 2012 after ethnic riots in Rakhine killed some 200 Rohingyas and is now estimated to have hundreds of trained fighters.

While many causal observers note that the violence the Rohingya have been subjected to was bound to provoke a violent reaction, armed insurgencies do not spontaneously emerge. Isolated acts of violence, organized gangs with very limited capacity are possible, but the violence the Wall Street Journal is describing is not “backlash,” it is foreign-funded politically-motivated militancy operating under the cover of “backlash.”

Aung San Suu Kyi and “Rohingya” Militants: Gasoline and Fire, Not Good vs. Evil  

The current client regime presiding over Myanmar – created and perpetuated by American cash and support – is being intentionally pitted against a militancy funded and organized by America’s closest ally in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia.

It is a combination of gasoline and fire – the tools of a single arsonist intentionally put into place to create a geopolitically convenient conflagration.

It should be noted that Rakhine state is the starting point of one of several of China’s One Belt One Road projects – connecting Sittwe Port located there to infrastructure that leads across Myanmar to China’s southern city of Kunming.

 

This map provided by VOA accompanies stories by the US State Department-funded media platform eagerly reporting how violence is disrupting China’s OBOR projects.

Not only does the violence in Rakhine state threaten Chinese interests, it also helps set a pretext for direct US military involvement – either in the form of “counter-terror assistance” as is being offered to the Philippines to fight US-Saudi-backed militants from the Islamic State, or in the form of a “humanitarian intervention.”

In either case, the result will be US military assets placed in a nation directly on China’s border – in Southeast Asia, just as US policymakers have sought to do for decades.

For example, The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in a 2000 paper titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (PDF) would unabashedly declare its intentions to establish a wider, permanent military presence in Southeast Asia.

The report would state explicitly that: 

…it is time to increase the presence of American forces in Southeast Asia.

It would elaborate in detail, stating:

In Southeast Asia, American forces are too sparse to adequately address rising security requirements. Since its withdrawal from the Philippines in 1992, the United States has not had a significant permanent military presence in Southeast Asia. Nor can U.S. forces in Northeast Asia easily operate in or rapidly deploy to Southeast Asia – and certainly not without placing their commitments in Korea at risk. Except for routine patrols by naval and Marine forces, the security of this strategically significant and increasingly tumultuous region has suffered from American neglect. 

Noting the difficultly of placing US troops where they are not wanted, the PNAC paper notes:

This will be a difficult task requiring sensitivity to diverse national sentiments, but it is made all the more compelling by the emergence of new democratic governments in the region. By guaranteeing the security of our current allies and newly democratic nations in East Asia, the United States can help ensure that the rise of China is a peaceful one. Indeed, in time, American and allied power in the region may provide a spur to the process of democratization inside China itself.

It should be noted that the paper’s reference to “the emergence of new democratic governments in the region” is a reference to client states created by the United States on behalf of its own interests and in no way constituted actual “democratic governments” which would otherwise infer they represented the interests of the very people possessing the “national sentiments” that opposed US military presence in the region in the first place.

In 2000, the US had several prospective client regimes emerging – including Suu Kyi in Myanmar, Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand, and Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia. Since then, only Suu Kyi remains – while Shinawatra and his sister have fled abroad and Anwar Ibrahim resides in prison.

Conclusions

It is important that readers and analysts alike understand several key points regarding the crisis in Myanmar:

  1. Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party are whole-cloth creations of US and European interests;
  2. The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations; 
  3. Saudi-backed “Rohingya militants” no more represent the Rohingya people than the Islamic State represents the Sunnis of Syria and Iraq; 
  4. These “militants” are admittedly supported and directed from Saudi Arabia and do not represent a legitimate “backlash” against anti-Rohingya violence and; 
  5. The US does not seek “regime change” in Myanmar, it seeks to disrupt Chinese interests, undo Chinese-Myanmar ties, and if possible, place US military assets on China’s border. 

The further from these facts analysts start out with, the further from the truth they will find themselves as the conflict in Myanmar continues to unfold. Readers and analysts should hold in suspicion narratives based on ideological rhetoric or built upon geopolitical analogy rather than actual evidence regarding finances, logistics, and socioeconomic motivations.

In Myanmar, Suu Kyi’s movement, anti-Rohingya violence, and alleged “backlash” all come accompanied with very obvious and significant foreign-footprints. It is a testament to the scale and complexity of manipulation the West is still capable of undertaking and places in jeopardy not only the majority of the people in Myanmar – Buddhist and Rohingya alike – who wish to live in peace, but the entire region as the US attempts to continue its pursuit of regional hegemony.

This article was originally published by Land Destroyer Report.

All images in this article are from the author.