The passing of Kassim Ahmad, the quiet Public Intellectual


October 16, 2017

NOTE:

This moving gut wrenching tribute to my late friend and public intellectual, Pak Kassim Ahmad who passed away October 10, 2017 escaped my attention. It is accounts for why its appearance on this blog was delayed. My sincere apologies for that.

Image result for kassim ahmad and din mericanAn Iconoclast and Quiet Revolutionist, Jebat and Rebel with a Cause but most of all a devout Muslim

 

Thayaparan is  an interesting writer who is known to say what he means in plain, very readable, and direct English. I enjoy reading his pieces in malaysiakini.com and thank him for this fitting tribute to a man who never forgot his roots from Malaysia’s Rice Bowl Kedah  with a passion for knowledge and ideas, a Malaysian who did his best to speak the truth to power. He single-handedly took on Malaysia’s bigoted religious establishment and won, and left an imprint in legal history. –Din Merican

The passing of a quiet Public Intellectual

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | For Kassim Ahmad, a discourse has no winners or losers, only people interested in discovering their faith.

“According to government data, the objectives of the NEP have yet to be achieved. But I think the Malays have this consensus… these special privileges that have made them comfortable. They have this comfort zone where they face no challenges. Because of this, they don’t see the necessity in putting in the effort to progress. So they are weak and lack competitiveness. It is better to end something that does no good to the people anymore.”

– Kassim Ahmad

There is this meme as to the kind of Muslim the late Kassim Ahmad was. To his admirers, the persecution of this public intellectual demonstrated the fear the state had to what he wrote and said, and this made him the poster child for the kind of Islam they believed was “acceptable” in a multiracial and multi-religious country like Malaysia.

To his detractors, he was a purveyor of falsity that threatened Muslim solidarity and he was a puppet of the “opposition” whose writings and speeches would cause the collapse of Malay/Muslim political and religious hegemony.

Indeed, some opposition supporters would be perplexed of some of the things he said about certain opposition politicians and the UMNO state would be perplexed at some of the positions he advocated after they had branded him a deviant and an “enemy” of Islam.

The truth was that Kassim Ahmad was a devout Muslim who believed that his faith was hijacked by interpreters who had agendas of their own that were not compatible with his own interpretation of what would lead to a liberated world.

He had many young followers of his work who often told me that what was inspiring of his interpretation of Islam was that it did not foster fear but hope and that through questioning of what they were told and taught, they would be liberated from the falsities that were all around them.

He encouraged dissent, especially on his own writings, and he was cognisant that ultimately this was a discourse that had no winners or losers, only people who were interested in discovering their faith.

 

Unfortunately for him, the world is a cruel place. Those who make the claim that theirs is really a religion of peace do not have the empirical evidence to support such a claim. Indeed, the persecution of Kassim Ahmad was evidence that thinking was verboten.

Image result for kassim ahmad and din merican

 

The duplicity, arrogance, and illegality of the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) in its persecution of this religious scholar is a matter of public record. Indeed, not only was Kassim Ahmad targeted but also his long-time advocate Rosli Dahlan.

There were things he said and wrote about that a person could disagree with. Depending on your own belief system, they were roads that Kassim Ahmad walked that you would have no desire to travel on but what separates Kassim Ahmad from the petty religious bigots that persecuted him was that he would never dream of imposing his beliefs on others.

Indeed, he welcomed discourse. He welcomed the challenges his ideas inspired. He wanted Muslims to think about their religion, but more importantly, think for themselves. His was a quiet revolution of the Muslim soul.

Blind faith

This is an example of what baffled him – “Malaysia happens to be a strong upholder of hadith(s). Sometimes the so-called experts, appearing on the Forum Perdana every Thursday night, quote the hadiths more than the Quran.

“Muslim scholars, Bukhari and five others, collected many thousands of so-called hadiths and classified them as authentic or weak 250 to 300 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad. These are collections of the Sunni sect. The Syiah have their own collections of so-called hadiths.

“To my mind, these fabricated hadiths are a major source of confusion and downfall of Islam.”

If ideology and religion is the lens through which some view the world, it is understandable (for those who know anything about Islam) as to why someone like Kassim Ahmad would find succour in this religion which has been weaponised here in Malaysia and the rest of the world. A religion he thought –  which is different from “believed” because he put in a great deal of effort and time into “thinking” about his religion – could be a salvation to the problems of the world.

Here is another snippet in his own words – “In the University of Malaya in Singapore, I joined the leftist Socialist Club and later joined the People’s Party of Ahmad Boestamam, and quickly became its leader for 18 years! Somehow or other, I did not feel real about the power and success of socialism. It was simply to identify myself with the poor to whom I belong.

“I was therefore critical of things I inherited from my ancestors. The first scholar I criticised was Imam Shafi’e for his two principal sources (Quran and Hadis). The book ‘Hadis – Satu Peniliai Semula’ in 1986 became the topic of discussion for two months, half opposed and half supporting me. After two months, it was banned.”

Anyone who has read what this scholar believed his religion was about, would understand that Kassim Ahmad’s sympathies for the marginalised were paramount in his belief structure. You could make the argument that his beliefs gave structure to what he eventually hoped rational Islam could accomplish.

Having the mindset of being critical of what you inherited from your ancestors is the most potent tool an adversary of state-sponsored repression could have. This was why they feared this quiet scholar who simply spoke of things that his interpretation of his religion inspired in him.

His intellectual contribution to Islam was anathema to people who believed that blind faith was true faith and his steadfastness in not disavowing what he said, his noncompliance to the diktats of the state was a wound that would not heal for those who wish to impose their beliefs on others.

When I read of how the state persecuted him, I understand why he posed such a threat. If Muslims realised that their interpretation mattered then the so-called scholars would lose their influence and their hegemony of the debate would vanish. Kassim Ahmad was a constant reminder of what would happen if people embraced a religion that they had thought out for themselves.

In a time when the Islamic world is suffering from a dearth of outlier voices, the passing of Kassim Ahmad is a great loss not only to Malaysians but to the other sparks in the Muslims world waiting to be ignited by people who choose not to subscribe to fear but who genuinely want to understand their religion.

I will end with this quote by Henry David Thoreau. Hopefully, it means something –

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfil the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.”

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

 

DOJ Action against 1MDB continues


October 4, 2017

DOJ Action against 1MDB continues, despite Najib’s embrace of President Donald Trump–Justice will be done

http://www.sarawakreport.org

Image result for sarawak report

When the US Dept Of Justice gained its court order to suspend various court actions over the assets it has now seized and frozen relating to 1MDB last month, it made clear that this was because it was in the middle of intensifying its criminal investigations.

In doing so federal agents for the first time described their chief targets in the investigation as criminal suspects, including the PM’s advisor Jho Low and the PM’s step-son Riza Aziz along with the ex-Chairman of Aabar, Khadem Al Qubaisi. However, they also made clear that this was by no means conclusive list:

“The FACs [First Amended Complaints] allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) . Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases. Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation.” [Declaration of FBI Special Agent Robert Heuchling – filed 9th May 2017]

In other words Jho Low and Riza can expect to face formal criminal charges sooner rather than later.

Image result for najib meets donald trump

Given that this submission by the DOJ was accepted by Judge Dale Fischer and the court order granted on September 13th, the day after Najib met with Donald Trump, it lays to rest all the recent spin about the case being dropped, thanks to supposed intervention from the President.

The wording of the joint FBI/DOJ submission also intensifies the heat on Najib himself by pointing the finger ever more directly at him.  Just in case anyone in Malaysia still believes that the prime mover and beneficiary of the heist, MO1, refers to someone other than Najib Razak, the statement spells it out even more clearly, because criminal suspect Riza Aziz is described as “the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB” – i.e. Najib and Malaysian Official One (MO1) are without any mistaking one and the same.

Here is an abridgement of the points made in the FBI declaration by Agent Heuchling:

I am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”)....Specifically, the FACs allege that, over the course of four phases (collectively the “Criminal Phases”), billions of dollars were stolen from the Malaysian government’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MBD”), a strategic investment company...The 1MDB Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation are related because they involve the same or substantially the same parties, witnesses, facts and circumstances.  Specifically, the United States is investigating the individuals, entities, financial and monetary transactions, and investment vehicles involved in the Criminal Phases.  As alleged in the FACs, one of the Criminal Phases involved the fraudulent diversion of more than $1 billion in proceeds from 1MDB to a Swiss bank account held in the name of Good Star Ltd...The FACs allege that Taek Jho Low (“Low”), a Malaysian national, controlled the Good Star Account, and used the criminal proceeds diverted from 1MBD and deposited into the Good Star Account to purchase tens of millions of dollars of assets in the United States.  During two of the other Criminal Phases, the FACs allege that Low and his associates conspired to divert and misappropriate approximately more than $2.5 billion in proceeds that 1MDB raised through multiple bond offerings in 2012 and 2013.  Many of these funds were then used to acquire assets that are the subject of the 1MDB Actions.  Similarly, during another Criminal Phase, the FACs allege that 1MDB officials and their associates conspired to misappropriate approximately $850 million in 1MDB funds that were borrowed from a syndicate of banks led by Deutsche Bank.  Some of these funds were also used to acquire assets relating to the 1MDB Actions. The FACs allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) .  Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases.  Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation. I believe that allowing discovery or other proceedings to occur in the 1MBD Actions will have an adverse impact on the United States’ ongoing criminal investigation..... the claimant in that case propounded 358 separate document requests seeking broad discovery intothe United States’ investigation.  These requests seek “all” documents obtained by the United States during its investigation “[c]oncerning,” among other things, individuals and persons referenced in the forfeiture complaint..transactions cited in the complaint...assets acquired by persons referenced in the complaint
.. the criminal acts alleged in the complaint,including the unlawful diversion and misappropriation of 1MBD and other funds; thematerial misrepresentations and omissions discussed in the complaint; the knowledge and intent of those involved in the criminalacts; specific money laundering transactions; the involvement ofany one of more than thirty banks in the monetary transactions described in the complaint; and communications that the United States has had with various individuals, persons and their counselThe claimant’s counsel also requests that the United States produce “[a]ll Documents and Communications concerning” twenty different legal entities...“including but not limited to . . . ‘information supplied [] by other law enforcement officers, experts,and other witnesses’” (Request No. 2); between any of the over forty individuals discussed or referenced in the forfeiture complaint along with “[d]ocuments sufficient to identify the name, home address, business(es), e-mail address(es), telephone number(s) and facsimile numbers” of these individuals (Request Nos. 3 and 4);  and concerning “all subpoenas, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (‘MLAT’) requests” or documents and communications obtained by the United States pursuant to any MLAT requests (Request No. 9)....Finally, the requests ..seek, among other things, “all” documents and communications[c]oncerning” the extent to which the United States relied upon “anyother country or principality” as a source of evidence and information; “all” agreements, including cooperation or settlement agreements, the Government entered into with individuals and persons; “all” “witness statements,transcripts, memoranda of interviews,reports, notes or video or audio recordings” “[c]oncerning” the subject matter of the forfeiture complaint; “all [d]ocuments and[c]communications” between the United States and “any other country or principality . . . including Malaysia, Seychelles, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand, the British Virgin Islands, and the United Arab Emirates” or any of these countries’ agents or representatives..All or almost all of these documents are evidence of the conduct underlying the Criminal Phases of the 1MBD Actions.Providing these documents to any of the claimants in the 1MDB Actions could result in their disclosure to other third parties.  The disclosure of such information to subjects or targets of the criminal investigation could give these individuals and entities a preview of the United States’ criminal investigation as well as the opportunity to track the status of the criminal investigation.  Disclosure of such materials also will potentially identify witnesses who have provided information to the government, including their identity and location ...By obtaining discovery directly from the government or third parties about the government’s investigation, individuals and entities involved in the Criminal Phases could potentially conceal, alter, or destroy evidence, as well as intimidate and/or retaliate against potential witnesses Producing any identifying witness information could result in witness intimidation or jeopardize the safety and security of witnesses – a legitimate concern in this case, given that press reports have publicized potentially retaliatory or threatening acts linked possibly to the 1MDB investigation.
For example:On or about September 1, 2015, the media reported that Khairuddin Abu Hassan, an official in the United Malays National Organization, was arrested by Malaysian authorities after he announced that he intended to travel to New York to provide information about 1MDB to the FBI. Similarly, on or about August 1, 2015, the media reported that three Malaysian law enforcement officials, including a deputy public prosecutor, an official of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and an official from the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia, all of whom were working on a special task force in Malaysia investigating 1MDB, were arrested by Malaysia’s Special Branch, Malaysia’s intelligence service, because of news reports relating to 1MDB published in the United Kingdom. On or about April 8, 2016, Malaysian media reported that Rafizi Ramli, a member of Malaysia’s Parliament, was arrested because he was suspected of disclosing information relating to 1MDB. Just a few days ago, Malaysian local media reported that the driver of former Malaysian attorney-general, Abdul Gani Patail, who opened the initial investigation into 1MDB in that country, was shot in public by two unidentified men. (See “Driver’s Shooting a Warning to Gani Patail from ‘MO1’ Not to Assist in DOJ’s 1MDB Criminal Probe? [Abridgement of Agent Heurchling statement, which was accepted by the Court]

 The above cites that the targets of the civil case are the same as in the criminal investigation and they are now trying to get disclosure of information involving 30 banks, 20 jurisdictions and 40 individual people who have assisted in the 1MDB investigation so far.

Image result for Riza Aziz and DOJ

The FBI and DOJ have made plain that they do not wish to provide such information to tip of their criminal suspects and enable them to intimidate witnesses, so they have frozen the assets relating to the money laundering until they have brought their formal charges. The US Court has accepted their position.

Malaysia : T K Chua says Respect the Dignity of Difference


September 28, 2017

Malaysia : T K Chua says Respect the Dignity of Difference

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

I think that as a nation, we have lost what we want to be. We have lost track of the fundamental values and have become inconsistent in our arguments. If the nation’s trajectory is wrong, it does not matter if along the way we find some beacons of light.–T K Chua

Image result for Confused Najib

The Confused Malaysian Prime Minister for Good Reason

I really think that Malaysia is in a confused state now. Sometimes we hear very enlightened views, but sometimes we hear the worst of bigotry and chauvinism.

I think that as a nation, we have lost what we want to be. We have lost track of the fundamental values and have become inconsistent in our arguments. If the nation’s trajectory is wrong, it does not matter if along the way we find some beacons of light.

Image result for The Malaysian Cabinet

The Malays of the UMNO variety no longer know the difference between what is Right and what is wrongThe Ringgit Culture

Occasionally, we get very wise counsel from our leaders highlighting the absurdity of certain religious and political ideas and practices. But I think they have to do more. They have to help set the nation’s trajectory right, not just provide beacons of light along the way.

The trajectory of Johor (I impute it as Malaysia’s too), as succinctly put forth by HRH The Sultan, is “Johor (Malaysia) belongs to people of all races and faiths, and is a progressive, modern, and moderate state (country)”.

When we say we are moderate and tolerant, we must accept that others are different. When we say we value freedom and progressiveness, we must be wary of authoritarianism, pervasive indoctrination and extremism in whatever form. When we say we are modern, we must value equality and inclusiveness and despise chauvinism, holier-than-thou attitudes and dogmas.

Trajectory is important. All leaders, be they political, royal, or religious, must help to keep the nation on the right trajectory. We must forever remain a progressive, modern, moderate and inclusive nation.

Image result for T K ChuaPublic Display of Piety –a camouflage for corruption

 

Right now, the forces of extremism are directing the nation on the wrong trajectory – a trajectory of exclusiveness, of holier-than-thou attitudes, of inequality, of religiosity, of ignorance, and of opaqueness and intolerance. Some of our political leaders, out of expediency, are too afraid to change the course set forth by extremists.

We mustn’t just look at the forms and manifestations of intolerance and absurdity that keep popping up in our midst. Instead, we must look at the forces of extremism, ignorance and authoritarianism providing the impetus behind them.

The route to any extreme ideology, be it authoritarianism, fascism, theocracy, dogmatism or ignorance, is a one-way street. There is no U-turn. Even if there were one, it would be painful. The best prevention is not to embark on it in the first place.

TK Chua is a FMT reader.

 

Bank Negara Malaysia Forex RCI – what it has, and has not, established


September 23, 2017

Bank Negara Malaysia Forex RCI – what it has, and has not, established

by P. Gunasegaram@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for nor mohamed yakcop deputy chairman, khazanah nasional berhad

No Longer Deputy Chairman, Khazanah Nasional Berhad. Finally. He may end up carrying the can. But that is purely academic; the foreign exchange loss incurred by Bank Negara Malaysia is real–some RM30 billion

QUESTION TIME | Three people collectively knew of what exactly transpired in Malaysia’s RM31.5 billion foreign exchange losses, but the demise of one of them results in a missing piece of evidence which would have provided the link in the chain of accountability as to who was ultimately responsible.

Even as the first casualty of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) foreign exchange losses occurs, it is clear that the commission has not established much going by the proceedings which ended two days ago.

If the political intention in the setting up of this inquiry, or inquisition as some have called it, is to ascribe blame to and imply benefit to some – especially the Prime Minister at the time, Dr Mahathir Mohamad – it has not been conclusive.

But the extent of the losses to the country is clear – RM31.5 billion between 1991 and 1994, given to the RCI by a BNM staff member. Even this piece of vital information was in the public realm for some time, although it is good to have clear confirmation now.

The difference between the situation at BNM (highly irregular and speculative trading by the central bank) and 1MDB (alleged theft) are quite different even if the amounts involved are of the same order of RM30 billion. No one except the counterparties to BNM’s trade, including currency trader George Soros, benefited from the massive positions taken by BNM.

It was also established that there were attempts to hide the extent of losses, widely reported at the time to be just RM5.7 billion, going by the deficiency in shareholders’ funds of BNM for 1993. In fact, the RCI was told by a BNM official that several papers involving the losses were classified under the Official Secrets Act. But it was not established who decided to classify the documents.

There were gaps in terms of the chain of command that led to the losses which the RCI was not able to fill. Former Bank Negara advisor Nor Mohamed Yakcop said he accepted his fair share of accountability over the foreign exchange (forex) losses incurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But he said he never discussed the forex transactions in the years between 1986 and 1993 with both the then Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Prime Minister Mahathir, which if true, absolves them of blame for the losses.

“The forex losses occurred, there is no denying it. There is also no denying my accountability for the forex losses. I accepted my fair share of the accountability and resigned from Bank Negara.”

Nor Mohamed became the first casualty of the RCI as he resigned his Deputy Chairman’s position at Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the government sovereign fund which he had helped nurture back into capability and trust starting in 2004 under previous Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He had been under political pressure to finger Mahathir over the forex scandal but he steadfastly refused to do so.

Lengthy document

He issued a document of nearly 4,000 words to the RCI, which makes compelling reading, outlining the events leading to BNM’s forex trading activities.

“Prior to 1985, BNM was not active in external reserves management, including forex trading, given the relative stability in the international foreign exchange market.

“The situation changed in 1985. On 22 September 1985, five OECD countries met in private at the Plaza Hotel in New York and decided among themselves, without consulting other countries, that the yen and the German Deutsche mark should be strengthened significantly against the US dollar by way of market intervention,” he said.

This was the exact same argument given by Mahathir as I explained in this article when he justified BNM’s interventions in the currency market.

Image result for mahathir mohamad

“If the political intention in the setting up of this inquiry, or inquisition as some have called it, is to ascribe blame to and imply benefit to some – especially the Prime Minister at the time, Dr Mahathir Mohamad – it has not been conclusive.”–P. Gunasegaram

Bernama reported on November 5, 1990: “Speaking to reporters after delivering a keynote address at the 17th Asian Advertising Congress here, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir said, ‘We are stabilising our own currency.

“‘When they do something it is always alright. We are trying to protect our currency. We have lost a lot of money before when they revalued their currency like the yen. We lost a lot of money because we borrowed yen, when they devalued their currency we also lost money.

“‘So what is wrong with our protecting our own interest, why is it when they can protect their interest and we cannot. I cannot understand this.’”

That’s clear indication he condoned currency trading by BNM. Of course, that does not necessarily mean Nor Mohamed would have taken instructions from Mahathir, although they were on the same page in their views.

The person who Nor Mohamed reported to was Jaffar Hussein, then BNM Governor. He quoted Jaffar’s speech which advocated active intervention in the forex markets to manage reserves, to indicate that Jaffar was the main architect of the policy. Mahathir too put the responsibility of the forex trades on Jaffar.

Said Nor Mohamed in his statement: “I need to elaborate on this point because Allahyarham Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein is no more with us, and it is important that we recognise the wisdom of this great man. The Governor believed that by active management of the external reserves, we will be able to acquire the skills, knowledge and experience required to serve the nation, when required, both in developmental activities as well as to overcome any financial crisis that the nation may face in the future. He termed this as ‘market expertise’.

“Indeed, Allahyarham Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein’s foresight regarding market expertise saved the nation during the 1997/1998 financial crisis. In a strange twist of history, the skills, knowledge and experience acquired in BNM enabled the nation to implement the Unorthodox Measures of September 1998.”

And Nor Mohamed went on to enumerate how he used this “expertise” to help rescue the country from the ravages of 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and saving the country hundreds of billions of ringgit.

Missing link

However, former Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim, now an ally of Mahathir under Pakatan Harapan, fingered Nor Mohamed as the person most responsible and had wanted him sacked.

Anwar said Nor Mohamed was found to have overstepped his boundaries following the forex losses.

“He did not report the true picture to him (Jaffar). I instructed that Nor Mohamed be sacked, if possible, by 4pm (on the day of the meeting). If he didn’t resign, I would have sacked him.”

Asked about Nor Mohamed’s comments about learning a lesson, he was scathing: “His assertions are absurd. You must be accountable. It doesn’t have to cost the country billions to learn a lesson. He should go back to business school (to learn a lesson),” said Anwar.

Mahathir similarly laid the blame on Jaffar. Citing a meeting with Jaffar, he said he was informed verbally by the then governor that BNM could strengthen the country’s reserves and currency through forex trading. Jaffar’s decision to go actively into forex trading, said Mahathir, was not made with his knowledge.

“As Prime Minister, I was never involved in Bank Negara’s administration and I believe that I was not permitted under the law to get involved in its policies and affairs.”

Mahathir, however, says this does not mean that the Governor, then, never talked about the central bank in general terms.

According to Nor Mohamed, in his written communication to the RCI, he was tasked with implementing the external reserves management policy as determined by the BNM’s board.

“…I reported both to the Governor and the External Reserves Committee (ERC). I spoke to the Governor on external reserves management regularly, and certainly whenever there was a large movement in the exchange rates. I also reported to the ERC whenever it met. The membership of the ERC comprised, amongst others, the Governor, Deputy Governor, and the Advisors. Further, there were weekly Senior Officers Meeting, where the external reserves matters were sometimes discussed.”

However, then deputy governor of BNM Lin See Yan has a different story to tell. Lin told the RCI he was first informed about the losses by the former bank Special assistant to the Governor, Lee Siew Kuan.

He also said he was then informed about the losses by “friends from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)”. “They told me ‘we know you have made open positions and you have made big losses, please stop it’.” Both Lin and Lee then went to see Jaffar whom Lin said had confirmed the losses.

“We asked how big the losses were, he said he was not sure.”

Jaffar, said Lin, had then agreed that Lee, with the help of former Bank Negara Assistant Governor Abdul Murad Khalid, were to then carry out preliminary investigations immediately. The investigations then had found that Bank Negara had large open forward positions in multiple currencies which meant that the bank would suffer more losses.

“As a central banker, (for me) the risk was not acceptable,” said Lin.

Circumstantial evidence

Meantime former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, during whose tenure from 1985 to 1991 BNM started engaging in active forex trading, denied any knowledge of forex dealings, raising the question as to who the instructions came from. Daim also said if he knew about the forex trading, he would have stopped it.

Mahathir, as explained, is likely to have known and sanctioned BNM’s orthodox foreign exchange activity. The three people who would have known for sure the chain of authority are Mahathir, Nor Mohamed and Jaffar. Mahathir and Nor Mohamed’s accounts to the RCI implicate Jaffar, who is not here to defend himself.

The RCI is expected to complete its probe within three months from the date of its setting up on July 15 and thereafter submit its report to the Agong.

But unfortunately, there are not many conclusions that it can make considering that the RCI comes 25 years too late. What is clear is RM31.5 billion in losses were made.

What is not clear is how they were made and why certain people were given so much authority to trade way beyond the normal acceptable limits for a central bank. No central bank has before or since lost more money on trading than BNM.

The answers will continue to be in the realm of conjecture and circumstantial evidence. There can be little doubt that Nor Mohamed was doing what he thought was best for the country. But it should have been very clear to him that he was taking a large risk because the losses would have been massive – and turned out to be so – if his bet was wrong.

Was he acting entirely on his own when he took that bet? Is it likely he consulted no one before he made his bets? Who gave him the go-ahead to make such unprecedentedly large bets? Did he exceed the limits set by BNM? Were there any limits?

Was Jaffar indeed the architect of BNM’s forex policy? Remember, his background was accountancy  – he was a partner at PwC. He was known to be conservative when he was CEO of Malayan Banking. Was he protecting someone when he took the rap?

This hastily convened RCI, which has a couple of months to complete its report and recommendations, is not going to answer all these questions satisfactorily.

 

Trump’s meeting at The White House with Malaysian crook Najib reeks of the swamp


September 19, 2017

Trump’s meeting at The White House with Malaysian crook Najib reeks of the swamp

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | It’s hard to imagine why Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak thought it was a good idea to try ‘cleansing’ himself of suspicions of involvement in the alleged laundering of billions from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) by staging a meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Image result for The White House

The Venue of President Donald Trump’s Meet with the Malaysian Crook, Najib Razak–The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC

Considering his well-known penchant for unconsciously employing truth-revealing puns in his proclamations, perhaps he suddenly perceived the word “washing” in “Washing-ton” and the connotation of “white-wash” in “White House” as signs that he should take his personal dirty laundry there.

Or else it occurred to him that by appealing to the White House incumbent as not only a fellow golfer but even more so as fawning golfer in support of the President’s trumped-up crusade to “make America great again,” he could create the kind of mutual admiration and assistance situation in which, as Najib never tires of repeating, “I help you, you help me.”

In other words, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, or more appropriately to the Washington and White House context, the classically proverbial “one hand washes the other.”

Related image

Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua Value Proposition

The trouble being, in the case of Trump and Najib, both hands were dirty, or at least allegedly so. In fact, the very same US Department of Justice (DOJ) that is investigating alleged dirty electoral deeds in cahoots with Russia by supporters of Trump, if not yet specifically the man himself, is also hot on the trail of the alleged Najib’s 1MDB gang of money-launderers.

And, as gleefully told and re-told by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CNN and other US media so inconveniently truthful and accurate about Trump’s wash-out of a presidency that he’s resorted to falsely slandering them as ‘fake news’, Najib has a whole laundry-list of scandals to his name.

As a member of the Malaysia’s ruling UMNO-BN for 40 years or so, he’s allegedly implicated in all of the regime’s countless dirty deeds, from its systematic corruption of the nation’s judicial, electoral and other institutions and ceaseless plundering of public funds, to the still-unresolved Scorpene submarines scandal and associated murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu under his watch as Defence Minister, in addition to the 1MDB swindle.

In short, Najib is even more of a wash-out as Prime Minister of Malaysia than Trump is proving to be as President of the US, and has been a total wash-out for far, far longer than Trump has been or can ever be.

As Josh Rogin of the Washington Post wrote in advance of Najib’s arrival to try and treat the White House as his personal laundromat, his ‘authoritarian power grab’ is worse than anything Trump has done.

Image result for John Malott

As former US Ambassador to Malaysia John Malott noted in a similarly hard-hitting article, Rogin pointed out that, while Trump has made empty threats to jail political opponents, “critics of the Malaysian government have been routinely imprisoned”.

“While Trump uses mere rhetoric to undermine the credibility of the free media, Najib uses criminal law to silence them,” Rogin continued.

“While Trump may wish for more compliant judicial and legislative branches, in Malaysia all checks and balances on executive power have been essentially stamped out.”

Now, with an election looming, having lost the popular vote in the previous one, and “engulfed by allegations (that) he pilfered billions from his own country’s sovereign wealth fund,” Rogin further wrote, Najib “craves international legitimacy.”

As it turns out, Najib craves “international legitimacy” so desperately that he’s happy to buy it.

Though by promising Trump that his UMN0-BN regime will buy more US aircraft and invest more Employees Provident Fund (EPF) money in US infrastructure, as if he was somehow offering aid to the world’s richest nation, he has arguably made himself look even less internationally legitimate and more internationally laughable than ever.

Image result for Wolfowitz'article on Najib in Newsweek
Image result for Wolfowitz'article on Najib in Newsweek

 

Certainly former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz thinks so, according to an article he has written for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and that Newsweek has re-published under the heading ‘Trump’s meeting with Malaysian crook Najib reeks of the swamp’.

A great many Malaysians find Najib’s Washington antics laughable too, to judge by the general run of comments that I’ve seen on Malaysiakini accounts of announcements by the man himself and his UMNO-BN minions that his image-washing and spinning Trump trip has positioned him as a ‘player on the global stage’.

What a dismal joke. What a total wash-out. And what a great day it will be for Malaysia and indeed the entire planet, when both Najib and his bosom buddy Trump, not to mention the countless other grubby heads of state devoted to doing the dirty on their citizens, from Russia, Syria, China and North Korea, through the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia, to South Africa and Nigeria and on and on, will finally find themselves all washed-up and down the drain.

 

1MDB Scandal –Potential Witnesses for DOJ fear retaliation if they talk to US Investigators


September 7, 2017

1MDB Scandal –Potential Witnesses for DOJ fear retaliation if they talk to US Investigators

by Bloomberg

Image result for 1mdb

Possible witnesses to the alleged looting of billions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Bhd are too scared to talk to U.S. investigators because they fear retaliation, according the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Some people in “certain foreign countries” already assisting the criminal probe are concerned for their safety, while others say it’s too dangerous to cooperate, according to an FBI request to keep the names of its informants secret from the alleged masterminds of the 1MDB conspiracy.

Individuals who would otherwise be willing to provide information have told the government they’re worried about putting “the safety and security of both themselves and their families at serious risk,” the FBI said Tuesday in a federal court filing in Los Angeles.

Image result for jho low
Will he squeal to save his family fortune in exchange for immunity from prosecution?

The trusts holding the assets on behalf of Low, Aziz, al Qubaisi and their families are contesting the forfeiture actions and oppose the request to put the civil cases on hold. The Low trusts have asked the U.S. to supply it with the identities of witnesses, sources of evidence, and thousands of documents that are relevant to the criminal investigation, according to the FBI.

Image result for Kevin Morais

Kevin Morais was threatened when he did not want to accept the bribes”

The FBI cited Malaysian news reports of local officials who have been arrested because of their purported role in investigating the 1MDB embezzlement. As recently as August 30, Malaysian media reported that the driver of former Malaysian Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail was shot and wounded as a possible warning to the former prosecutor not to cooperate with the U.S., the FBI said.

Abdul Gani opened the initial 1MDB investigation, according to the FBI’s filing. He was replaced as attorney general in 2015.

Image result for Trump and Najib

Najib Razak and Donald Trump–The Art of the Deal–Lu Tolong Gua, Gua Tolong Gua, senang saja ma

The U.S. investigation is part of a global effort to track how much of the $6 billion that 1MDB raised for development projects was embezzled or involved in money laundering. Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg are among the countries also investigating the roles played by banks and individuals.

Najib, who until last year was the chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board, has denied any wrongdoing and was cleared by Malaysia’s attorney general. Low issued a statement in June, in response to a second round of forfeiture lawsuits, saying the U.S. government was continuing “inappropriate efforts to seize assets despite not having proven that any improprieties have occurred.”

In those cases, the Justice Department alleged that a $1.29 million heart-shaped diamond and a $3.8 million diamond pendant Low gave in 2014 to his then-girlfriend, actress Miranda Kerr, were bought with stolen money.

Image result for Riza Aziz and Rakan, ma

Low allegedly also gave a $3.2 million Picasso painting to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who played the lead in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a movie the U.S. says was financed Aziz using misappropriated 1MDB funds.

The case is U.S. v. “The Wolf of Wall Street,” 16-cv-05362, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

by BLOOMBERG