Nobody takes Malaysia’s Budget seriously and here’s why

October 24, 2016

Nobody takes Malaysia’s Budget seriously and  here’s why

by T K Chua

“It is simple; the annual budget can’t instil discipline if there is no oversight. The annual budget can’t function as an instrument of control if borrowing and off-budget activities are allowed to roam free, unrestrained and unchecked.”–T K Chua

Image result for Najib's 2016-2017 Budget

When I read “Why I didn’t watch the Budget speech” as written by Kensi from Sarawak, I found my feelings were the same. For the first time in a quarter century I did not sit through the whole Budget speech. I walked off after the first hour or so.

The Budget has long lost its aura. It is just an annual pomp for fund managers to get excited and for the government to announce some goodies. Whether or not the goodies are carried out as planned is as good as anyone’s guess.

Image result for Najib's 2016-2017 Budget

Malaysia’s National Budget is Petty Cash for this First Couple. When the cash is finished, just borrow more or ask Bank Negara to print more money and then pass the burden to ordinary Malaysians by way of debt service or inflation. That is Najibonomics: Tax and Spend recklessly.–Din Merican

Why do I say our federal budget is meaningless?First, the annual budget has never capped the amount of borrowing that the federal government could incur each year. If the federal government may borrow without restraint, who bothers whether our projected revenues and expenses are adhered to? If revenues fall short, the government could borrow more to fill the gap. If expenses burst the budget, again the government could borrow more.

Where are the restraints and control that the annual budget is supposed to provide? In fact, the annual supplementary budgets are clear indications that the budget has failed to keep government financial indiscipline in check. The government will borrow and spend as it wishes, regardless of the revenue performance or actual expenditure incurred.

Second, the annual budget is just a mechanism to dish out allocations, but never to accomplish its intended outcomes. We mistakenly look at the allocation earmarked for each programme as if it is a fait accompli.

But this is far from true. For example, just look at the allocation for subsidies which the government has always bragged about. It is time for the government to list out how much of the allocation has reached the intended target groups and how much of it was siphoned off by corrupt officials, businessmen and those who could indulge in arbitrage.

Seriously, if budget spending has been constantly effective over the years, I believe there would be no more poor people in this country.

Image result for Najib's 2016-2017 Budget

Third, the annual federal budget is no longer the true representation of government financial commitment and responsibility. Off-budget agencies and activities have now overwhelmed traditional government ministries and departments.

Parliamentary oversight of government taxation and expenditure through the annual budget is at best only half correct.

When non-financial public enterprises and GLCs set up ventures, incur debt and impose contingent liabilities on the government, did they get the approval of Parliament to begin with? When government decides on privatisation projects, including guaranteeing revenues and profits of privatised entities, did it seek the approval of Parliament?

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This guy is excited about the Budget–He is the Minister of Defense: Commissions

I thought the Federal Constitution, (through Part VII – Financial Provisions), is very clear on financial oversights by Parliament – no taxation shall be levied or expenditures incurred unless with expressed authority of federal law. How then did the government spend and borrow so massively through off-budget agencies such as GLCs and Non-financial public enterprises?

It is simple; the annual budget can’t instil discipline if there is no oversight. The annual budget can’t function as an instrument of control if borrowing and off-budget activities are allowed to roam free, unrestrained and unchecked.

T.K. Chua is an FMT reader.

Dr. Teck Ghee–Lim on Thomas Piketty’s Capital

October 5, 2016

Dr T G Lim on Thomas Piketty’s Capital

We need bold solutions to our growing problem of inequality. A wealth tax on what is classified as illicit financial outflows would be a good beginning.

Image result for thomas piketty capital in the twenty-first century

The publication of the book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist, Thomas Piketty in 2013, immediately ignited a controversy among economists on both sides of the Atlantic. This debate still continues today.

The issues raised by the book touch on the forces that drive and shape the accumulation of capital. This is of special interest to many people primarily because it deals with the key dilemma of how wealth is distributed in society and what should be done to ensure its more equitable distribution. Such questions have preoccupied social scientists and scholars going back in time to Karl Marx and even before him.

In his work, Piketty analysed data from 20 countries – some going as far back as the 18th century – to uncover what are the key economic and social patterns in capital. Among some of his main findings are that the return on capital is greater than overall growth and that the rich have acquired an ever increasing proportion of the economic pie.

These findings by themselves appear to be unsurprising or controversial although some critics have faulted his data and basic assumptions. What has provoked fierce dissent are his proposals to correct this phenomenon through what is seen as a ‘soak the rich’ approach so as to bring about greater equality. This strategy proposes counter measures such as higher income and inheritance taxes as well as a progressive tax on wealth levied globally to prevent the rich from evading their contribution to the state coffers.

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Piketty’s policy proposals have mostly been dismissed as a non-starter. In the United States, for example, a wealth tax is regarded as illegal as well as unconstitutional whilst in Britain, it has been pointed out that “eating capital is the best way to impoverish a nation, reduce productivity growth and keep wages down…societies where the most successful entrepreneurs are rewarded by the state seizing their assets don’t prosper,” (Allister Heath, “Thomas Piketty’s bestselling post-crisis manifesto is horrendously flawed”, (The Daily Telegraph, 29 April 2014).

Illicit Financial Outflows

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Malaysia’s Mafioso of Illicit Money

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How these issues and proposals are finally resolved in the West should be of interest to Malaysians as we grapple with our home grown pattern of capital and wealth formation and distribution. In our case though the spotlight initially should be on the more pressing issue of what has been categorized as illicit financial outflows. This outflow of wealth is where Piketty’s proposal for a global wealth tax could be immediately applicable.

Recently, the Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a US-based anti-corruption watchdog estimated that Malaysia was fifth in the world on cumulative total illicit financial flows (‘IFF’) since 2003. For 2012 alone, this amounted to approximately U$49 billion (approximately RM170.7 billion) and over the cumulative 10 year period from 2003-2012, illicit outflows was estimated at a staggering US394.87 billion. If taxes were levied on the illegal outflows, the country’s finances could have benefitted to the tune of tens of billion US dollars .

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Read– Professor Dr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram’s Opinion Piece here

Bank Negara Malaysia has disputed the GFI figures, saying that the estimates of illicit outflow were overstated as the estimates in trade mispricing had not been taken into consideration. The central bank argued that the GFI estimates were essentially unrecorded financial flows, which were not necessarily synonymous with illicit financial outflows.

However, BNM left unanswered the key question of what part of the IFF was caused by illicit transfers. In the language of GFI, these are “cross-border transfers of funds that are illegally earned, transferred, or utilized. These kinds of illegal transactions range from corrupt public officials transferring kickbacks offshore, to tax evasion by commercial entities, to the laundered proceeds of transnational crime.”

While the GFI study has been helpful in providing some hard data on the quantum of the illicit financial outflows, it does not provide much assistance on key details such as who are responsible for the outflow; the countries of fund relocation; etc. At this stage, we can only hazard a guess as to the likely individuals or parties involved in the non-transfer pricing outflow. The most likely culprits are those who have been able to accumulate considerable wealth and who find it expedient to conceal their wealth accumulation as well as to diversify their wealth havens and assets away from Malaysia.

Names which come to mind will include, for example, Taib Mahmud, the former Chief Minister of Sarawak who together with his immediate family is reputed to have shares in more than 330 companies in Malaysia alone and more than 400 companies in total around the globe worth several billion US dollars.

Various quarters have questioned the legitimacy of the wealth accumulation engaged in by the Chief Minister and his family members. A recent article in the blogsite, Sarawak Headhunter, provides in-depth details into what is alleged to be the income stream of the Chief Minister’s financial vacuum machine. But until a proper and full study is undertaken, we will have to assume that Taib Mahmud and his family’s wealth has been legally accumulated and has been taken out of the country with the full blessing of our financial authorities. Even then, such wealth should be eligible for taxation if Piketty’s proposal of a global tax on assets is implemented.

We need bold solutions to our growing problem of inequality. A wealth tax on what is classified as illicit financial outflows would be a good beginning.    


Rosmah Mansor: Malaysia’s First Lady of Greed

September 14, 2016

Rosmah Mansor: Malaysia’s First Lady of Greed

by  Visahakha Sonawane

I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name.
Macbeth 4.3.70-3, Malcolm speaking to Macduff about Macbeth’.–William Shakespeare

Greed is Thy Name– Apt description of the qualities of Malaysia’s First Lady, Rosmah Mansor–Din Merican

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s wife Rosmah Mansor spent $6 million using credit cards in recent years, amid corruption allegations surrounding state-fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that was set up by her husband, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing newly revealed documents.

Rosmah reportedly made purchases at European and American jewelry and fashion stores in 2014, where Najib paid using credit cards that drew on 1MDB funds. The new documents show these purchases were part of at least $6 million spent by Rosmah from 2008 to 2015 on clothes, shoes and jewelry from Harrods in London, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and elsewhere, the Journal reported. The newspaper also noted she hadn’t held a regular paying job in years and Najib has been a longtime bureaucrat with an annual salary of $100,000.

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Furthermore, a source with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into 1MDB’s alleged fraud told the Journal that Rosmah introduced Najib to Jho Low. According to a lawsuit filed by U.S. officials, Low is at the center of the alleged 1MDB scandal.

The Journal pointed out that in her 2013 autobiography, Rosmah said she has a habit of saving. “I have bought some jewelry and dresses with my own money. What is wrong with that?” she wrote.

Some time last year, Najib’s office said his family’s spending was proportionate with his inheritance from his father Abdul Razak Hussein who served as Malaysian Prime Minister from 1970 to 1976. In February 2015, Najib’s four brothers reportedly said their father did not leave a big estate. Najib, without addressing the inheritance, then said that his father was as thrifty and a man of integrity.

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In the lawsuit filed late last month, the U.S. Justice Department said over $3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB in alleged fraud committed over a four-year period. It further added that it is seeking to seize more than $1 billion of assets linked to the fund.

Najib set up 1MDB in 2009 to spur economic growth in the Southeast Asian country. However, he was linked to the corruption scandal at the fund from which $681 million was traced to bank accounts allegedly owned by him. The prime minister has consistently denied corruption allegations, first made in a July 2015 report by the Journal, which said investigators tracked the money from an account at Falcon Private Bank in Singapore to accounts in Malaysia.


Fiscal Deficit and Fiscal Reform in Japan

September 13, 2016

Asia Pacific Bulletin

Number 351 | September 13, 2016

Fiscal Deficit and Fiscal Reform in Japan

by Taro Ohno

Over the past few decades, Japan has experienced a number of changes in its social and economic circumstances as its population has been aging, its birth rate has been falling, and its economic growth rate has been declining. These changes all affect central government finances: they encourage increased expenditures (especially with regard to social insurance benefits) and decrease tax revenues, thereby increasing the fiscal deficit.

Image result for Shintaro Abe

The key turning point for central government finance came around 1990 when the economic bubble burst, and since that time Japan has been grappling with the issue of fiscal reform. The first attempt to deal with the fiscal deficit was a set of fiscal reforms introduced in 1997, the goal of which was to reduce the deficit by 2003. However, this effort proved ineffective because of the domestic financial crisis that started in 1997. The second attempt came in 2006, when the government set a policy target that sought to shift the primary budget balance to a surplus by 2011. However, this target was deferred in 2008 as a result of the recession. The most recent attempt was the setting of a new policy target in 2010 to eliminate the deficit and create a surplus by 2020. Currently, the Abe cabinet is continuing to pursue that target. It raised the consumption tax rate to 8 percent in 2014 and will raise it to 10 percent in 2019 to achieve this goal. However, these reforms alone are insufficient.

The major contributor to the current negative fiscal situation is the increasing cost of social insurance, and given the country’s aging population, that trend will continue. The current fiscal reform will not be able to achieve its target by relying only on restraining the costs of social insurance, and so a further tax hike is unavoidable.

What kind of tax policy, then, would be most effective? In Japan, current fiscal policy over emphasizes inter-generational redistribution, which places a heavy burden on the younger generation to fund the benefits of social insurance for the elderly generation. In addition, the burden on the younger generation is already heavy due to pension insurance premiums. Therefore, because an income tax has the disadvantage of the burden falling predominantly on those who are younger, an income tax hike is not a feasible approach. What is desired is that both young and old alike bear the burden. A consumption tax has the advantage that the burden falls on all age groups, making it a more feasible approach. However, it also poses a problem. Namely, the consumption tax burden on lower-income households is heavier than that for higher-income households on a point-in-time basis, as the ratio of tax burden to income is disproportionate. A consumption tax is “regressive,” meaning that some measures for low-income households would be necessary.

A lower consumption tax burden on higher-income households exists because of their high savings rate. As a household’s ratio of savings to income increases, its ratio of consumption to income decreases. This in turn lowers the ratio of consumption tax burden to income. However, a household will spend down its savings in the future, and thus will eventually bear the consumption tax burden on that spending. In other words, savings only has the effect of changing the timing of consumption; it does not relieve the tax burden entirely. Therefore, it is also necessary to evaluate the tax burden on a lifetime basis. Based on the author’s estimates (Ohno et al. 2014), the consumption tax burden of higher-income households is heavier than that for lower-income households. This implies that the consumption tax is in fact “progressive.” This would imply that any measures for low-income households might be adequate if applied only to the younger age brackets.

The current policy debate in Japan emphasizes the results on a point-in-time basis. This leads to the conclusion that some measures need to be taken to protect low-income households. Several such measures exist as options. First is a reduced consumption tax rate for necessities, such as food. Second is a benefit given only to low-income households — for example cash benefits or an earned income tax credit. In September 2015, Japan’s Ministry of Finance proposed a plan for low-income households that included a combination of the reduced tax rate on food and a tax refund. Each individual’s consumption information would be recorded through a unified electronic card called the “My Number Card,” which is similar to a social security card in the United States. Low-income households could apply for a tax refund equal to the amount of the tax cut for food expenditures at the end of the fiscal year. The public, however, reacted negatively and criticized the plan for the complexity of the system and voiced concerns about the security of the identity card. The public prefers a reduced rate for the consumption tax on food rather than the plan proposed by the Ministry of Finance because it is a simpler system and free from worry about the security of personal information in the unified electronic card. As a result, the government decided to raise the general consumption tax rate to 10 percent while at the same time adopting a reduced tax rate for food. However, the reduced tax rate for food is not an optimally effective policy because higher-income households are benefiting as well.

“Given the current situation in Japan, where a further tax hike is unavoidable, a consumption tax hike is a better option than an income tax hike.”

Barring any sudden drastic changes in the country’s birth rate or immigration policy, Japan will continue to face daunting fiscal challenges in the years ahead, and thus finding the most effective and equitable fiscal policy should be a top priority for the Japanese government. We can conclude that a further consumption tax hike is desirable. Given the current situation in Japan, where a further tax hike is unavoidable, a consumption tax hike is a better option than an income tax hike. However, the policy debates in Japan today seem to emphasize the results only on a point-in-time basis. In designing the optimal policy, it is important to evaluate the current tax system not only on a point-in-time basis but also on a lifetime basis. Finally, the reduced consumption tax rate for food needs to be reconsidered. While the public prefers the reduced tax rate, this policy is less effective in terms of being a measure for lower-income households.

About the Author

Taro Ohno is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Economics and Law at Shinshu University, Japan. He can be reached at

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Top UK Politician Held Interests In A Group Funded By Jho Low

September 8, 2016

Top UK Politician Held Interests In A Group Funded By Jho Low – EXCLUSIVE

Billionaire player in the Middle East - Thomas Kaplan of Electrum Group

Billionaire player in the Middle East – Thomas Kaplan of Electrum Group

Sarawak Report has learnt that a senior UK politician who holds strong connections with the Middle East was linked to a company that received a $150,000,000 injection of money from Jho Low.

In late 2012, Jho Low’s Jynwel Capital invested $150 million into the newly formed Electrum Group run by Anglo-American billionaire Thomas Kaplan – money now suspected as having emanated from the looting of 1MDB.

The investment formed 7% of the fund’s total worth of over $1 billion, which is mainly owned by Kaplan’s private family trust, according to filings in the United States and it earned Jho Low a place on the board of Electrum.

Two other major institutions also invested in Electrum at the same time: Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Sovereign Wealth Fund and the Kuwait Investment Fund together added a further $300 million of investment, the company has said.

However, Sarawak Report has learnt from inside sources that a senior British political figure also held an interest in the company and therefore stood to benefit from these injections of hundreds of millions of dollars from Malaysia and the Middle East.

Top connections – How Jho Low used his partners as referees

Jho Low was soon utilising his connections with Kaplan and also Mubadala to promote Jynwel’s credentials as a global investor and his own image as a man of vision and integrity. A corporate video commissioned by Jynwel in 2014 features Kaplan, extensively praising his new business partner:

“What do we look for in a partner? Someone first and foremost whose word is their bond, that when they say they’re going to do something, you can bank it.” [Jynwel promotional video]

Jho Low also joined the Board of Kaplan’s wild cat charity Panthera, contributing $20 million to the fund and promoting his ‘philanthropy’ in the process.

Abu Dhabi connection

The same promotional video also features Mubadala’s Deputy Group CEO, Waleed al Muhairi again praising Jho Low. By late 2012 Jho Low had already stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB, according to the DOJ, in connivance with a fellow Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund manager, Aabar’s Khadem al Qubaisi:

“In Jynwel we have found a partner that not only shares the same passion for investing that we do, but also is a match for our values… we have worked hand in hand with Jynwel across multiple projects, multiple investments, across multiple geographies” explains Waleed Al Muhairi 

These joint investments have included, according to the Department of Justice seizure filing of 20th July, the purchase of EMI Publishing and also New York’s Park Lane Hotel Group, which Jho Low funded through money stolen from 1MDB.

The DOJ has already identified a record $1 billion in assets, now under seizure in the United States, as products of money laundering from 1MDB. However, it has stated that at least $3.5 billion was stolen in total from the Malaysian fund, leaving major question-marks over Jho Low’s other investments.

There is therefore considerable speculation over whether the money which flowed into Kaplan’s funds will also eventually be traced to 1MDB.

Spokesmen for Electrum (from which Low recently resigned his post) informed the Wall Street Journal that they are working with the US authorities and have ‘safeguarded and sequestered‘ any potentially tainted funds.

Potential for embarrassment

Jonathan Powell's memoir of his years working for Tony Blair

Jonathan Powell’s memoir of his years working for Tony Blair

Whether or not this turns out to be the case, Sarawak Report has been informed that the matter could cause  embarrassment for a senior UK political figure, whose involvement in the Kaplan fund was not previously known. This is particularly so, given the added investments made by the sovereign funds from the Middle East.

Kaplan, who studied at Oxford University, but is based in the United States, already has extensive links with well-known politically connected figures in the British establishment.

His former fellow undergraduate friend, Jonathan Powell, took up a position as a ‘Senior Advisor’ to Kaplan’s multi-billion dollar Tigris Financial Group in 2011. Powell has also acted as a member of Kaplan’s wild cat charity, Panthera’s Conservation Council.

At the front of his most recent book, ‘The New Machiavelle – How to Wield Power in the Modern World’, regarded as an anecdotal memoir of his 13 years serving under former UK premier Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell acknowledges the support and assistance of his ‘colleagues’ Thomas Kaplan, Ali Erfan and Aamer Sarfraz, who are all associated with Tigris Financial Group, in the writing of the book.

Jonathan Powell - Kaplan already has close business associations with the British establishement

It is well known that after Tony Blair left office Powell continued to play a senior role within his former boss’s private commercial operations, acting as a consultant to his private company Tony Blair Associates and working also with various linked PR and lobbying groups.

Blair was simultaneously Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia from 2007 until last year.

Considered a player, Powell was himself appointed as David Cameron’s personal Libyan Special Envoy in 2014, on the basis of his earlier diplomatic career and peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. His brother has long been close to the Conservative Party.

Billionaire businessman who stuck his nose into the Middle East

These links have now raised controversy, given Kaplan’s own interests and connections in the Middle East.

After years of non-disclosure, the billionaire has been revealed as the main funder of the campaigning organisation known as UANI (United Against Nuclear Iran), which has been the most vocal opponent of Obama’s recent peace initiatives with Iran, bitterly opposed by the Gulf States and also Israel, where Kaplan has strong ties.

For example, it has been pointed out that the Chief Executive of UANI, a former American Ambassador Mark Wallace, receives no current income from the non-profit group, yet has simultaneously acted as the CEO of Tigris Financial Group and also Chief Operating Officer of Electrum Group, both owned by Kaplan.

Investigative journalists have further identified at least three other staff connections between Kaplan companies and the UANI campaign group, which he funded to the tune of $843,,000 in 2013.

In this context, according to court filings against Kaplan (he was sued for defamation by a Greek businessman, Victor Restis) Jonathan Powell also featured as a board member for UANI in recent years:

“Jonathan Powell, an Advisory Board member of UANI and The Institute for Strategic Dialogue was a college classmate of Kaplan’s and serves as a Senior Advisor to Tigris Financial Group.” [How much money can these two Iran hawks make out of the Middle East?]

Powell's Powerbase resume includes Senior Advisor to Tigris and Advisory Board Member of UANI

Powell’s Powerbase resume includes Senior Advisor to Tigris and Advisory Board Member of UANI

Powell appears to have now resigned from this position, but archives show the link:

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 19.11.44

Politics or the business of instability?

Kaplan has himself claimed that his activities in the Middle East through UANI have made his organisation one of the most effective actors on the political stage and a combat force against Iran:

” “Hard to know what the outcome will be but I do know that as much as United Against Nuclear Iran may not have had Tomahawk missiles and aircraft carriers at its disposal, we’ve done more to bring Iran to heel than any other private sector initiative and most public ones.” [Video of Kaplan speaking on UANI]

However, critics have suggested that his driving motivation is financial.  His billion dollar business, mining precious metals, openly trades on the profitability of instability and conflict in places like the Middle East, they say.

One investigator, who exposed Kaplan as the primary funder of UANI, says there is ample evidence that Kaplan seeks investors in his gold and silver mining ventures by directly pointing to conflicts that threaten economic stability:

The 2002 annual report for Kaplan’s Apex Silver Mines, Ltd., which has since gone bankrupt, contained an insight into his thinking. The report, issued by Kaplan and Apex’s CEO, Keith R. Hulley, asks investors to “consider the following factors: destabilization in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, tensions between India and Pakistan, the potential for nuclear confrontation with North Korea and Iran, […] religious extremism and terrorism on a global scale and corporate hooliganism.”

The solution, explained Kaplan, is that the “trend to invest in companies with real assets and exposure to the non-correlated commodities sector is likely to prove to be long-term and secular rather than cyclical.”

In other words, if you believe political instability is likely, invest in assets like those mined by Apex.

And Wallace, as CEO of Tigris, oversaw similar language in a 2011 prospectus — after his stint with UANI commenced — for the Sunshine Silver Mine Corp., an Idaho mine owned by the group, which he played an active role in acquiring. “Investment demand for silver exposure remains strong,” said the prospectus, which was filed with the SEC, “driven in part by continued U.S. dollar weakness, ongoing economic uncertainty in Europe and political unrest in the Middle East.” [Eli Clifton, Document Reveals Billionaire Backers Behind United Against Nuclear Iran]

The message must surely be that politically connected people with links to the Middle East should shun business with Thomas Kaplan, if they want to avoid embarrassment, because his business benefits from further conflict and his organisation meddles actively in the politics of the region.

Patronising Politicians like UMNO’s Nazri Aziz et. al should SHUT UP

September 3, 2016

Patronising Politicians like UMNO’s Nazri Aziz et. al should SHUT UP

by Scott Ng

Image result for Nazri Aziz

The Tengku Mahkota of Johor and Veteran UMNO Pol. Nazri–Generation Gap

The argument between Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz and Bersatu youth leader Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman brings to the fore a concern among young Malaysian activists over a tendency in their elders to treat their opinions with contempt. Often enough, that contempt is implied rather than crudely expressed in the way Nazri has done.

Called a “little boy” by the minister, Syed fired back with a statement that accused UMNO of arrogance and being anti-youth. He noted that the youngest minister from UMNO, Khairy Jamaluddin, is already 40 years old and that many so-called youth leaders in the party are above 40.

Indeed, considering UMNO’s apparently inability to refresh its leadership with young blood carrying fresh ideals, Syed’s accusation rings true enough.

Nazri may cite his own attainment of a senator’s position at the age of 36 as an example of UMNO’s recognition of youthful talent, but that was a long time ago and one of a few isolated cases. And yes, we are aware that our Prime Minister was elected to Parliament at 23 and quickly joined the Cabinet. But he is from an elite class, the son of a former Prime Minister and a member of an aristocratic family in Pahang.

Can Nazri name anyone below 40 whom UMNO has given the opportunity to wield significant power on behalf of Gen Y? No, the Youth Parliament is not a good example.

Nazri’s dismissal of the 24-year-old Syed as a “little boy” is a perfect demonstration of the hubris of age. Syed is right to assume that in Nazri’s mind all young people are little boys. Many youths do feel left out of the political process. Our concerns are not heard and our efforts unrecognised, if not criticised.

Syed is also right in saying that the people who now wield power give little stock to character when promoting someone to political leadership. It seems that the only things that matter are seniority and blind loyalty.

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Aging and Corrupt UMNO Leader and Prime Minister, Najib Razak

There will come a time when UMNO and, in fact, all other political parties in Malaysia will regret their attitude of contempt towards young activists, whether this attitude is latent or obvious. As youths get more and more disenchanted, there will be a gradual draining of the voter bases of these parties.

We young Malaysians are becoming better informed, and it has become clear to many of us that no political party currently active in the country is worthy of our trust.