November 28, 2016
Listen to Clare Rewcastle Brown on Malaysia’s No 1 Corruption Scandal
November 28, 2016
September 28, 2016
COMMENT: We Malaysians must be a bunch of sentimental fools and free riders. It speaks volumes of who we are that we have to depend on a 92-year old politician to bring about change. In the first place, he created this situation by removing all his rivals like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Tun Musa Hitam and Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in UMNO, and second by dismantling our system of checks and balances to create a powerful Executive Branch.
It surprises me to read this piece from Mariam Mokhtar who I thought was a critic of everything Mahathir stood for. She is mistaken to think that the man will change our political landscape. He is not a Renaissance man. He is an old school politician through and through.
I hold him accountable for what he has done to our country during 22 years of his rule. Mariam mentions his Look East Policy. Well, that policy which was initiated by the LDP in Japan, and later rejected after the Asian Financial Crisis of 1988 by the Japanese people, is crony capitalism. UMNO run by Najib Razak today is a party of crony capitalists and kleptocrats.
Mahathir now advocates good governance and the Rule of Law, yet when he was in power, he destroyed our institutions including the Judiciary. The system sucks and there is no leader with the character and integrity to lead us out of the rut at this time. We are condemned to stay in a state of moral crisis for some time to come.–Din Merican
by Mariam Mokhtar
Everyone knows that former PM Mahathir Mohamad’s alignment with the opposition is the result of his failure to oust Prime Minister Najib Razak on his own steam. You may call it a desperate move, or you may call it daft. But does the rakyat have a choice?
With Malaysia in deep crisis, and the opposition’s failure to stand united, could Mahathir be our saviour?
At his recent talk in London, he said, “There is common interest between me and Anwar Ibrahim. He appreciates that the problem of the country is the PM, that he should be removed.”
He criticised Najib’s alleged lack of vision, saying, “This PM regards high income as a sign that we are developed. High income must be accompanied by high productivity. Or else we will price ourselves out of the market.
“He has revised the pay scale several times. The operating cost of the government is so big that there is not enough money left for development.
For the economy to grow, you must have the rule of law. You must have good governance.–Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
“It is not about money alone. It is about the quality of life in Malaysia – better education, a higher standard of living and people doing research work. These are what would make a developed country. If we go by income alone, then Saudi Arabia would be a developed country.”
He called on concerned Malaysians to join the opposition “if you wish to help us overthrow this government.”
On encouraging foreign investment, he said Malaysia needed to create an environment conducive to business. “For the economy to grow, you must have the rule of law. You must have good governance.”
He reminded us that under his rule, the concept of Malaysia Incorporated was used to treat the whole nation as one big company, and added, “It is important not to abuse power” and to fight corruption.
When asked if he was untouchable, he said, “My coming here to talk is not something which the government likes. Every time I say the wrong thing, the police question me. Desperate people do desperate things.”
Not everyone is a fan of Mahathir, but Malaysians are hungry for change and many are prepared to listen to his message.
One man said, “I was sceptical at first. But I have noticed that over several months, he has given major concessions. For instance, although at first he only wanted to see Najib ousted, he said at a recent talk that Umno-Baru must be destroyed.”
Another Mahathir sceptic said, “I came with an open mind. I admit that I am not his fan but when he spoke, I thought he made a lot of sense. I found myself nodding in agreement to most of the things he said.”
Addressing the question of a candidate for PM, Mahathir said, “It is for the people to decide.” Referring to his son Mukhriz, he said, “If he can be popular enough to win elections and become PM, that is his right.”
The statement was met with applause. Was it for Mukhriz or was it for Mahathir’s magnanimity?
September 17, 2016
The spat between the MCA’s Ti Lian Ker and UMNO’s Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz is not about the disparity of power between the component parties of BN but rather the continuing existential crisis of the MCA that it has been unable to overcome since losing the support of the Chinese community.
by Cmdr S, Thayaparan
Whereas the MIC has accepted its role as the water boy to UMNO, MCA desperately attempts relevance in a turbulent time of ‘Melayu’ political upheaval.
There has always been a disparity of power within Barisan Nasional (BN). However, parity of power was never the currency between the MCA plutocrats and UMNO potentates who shaped the national agenda and serviced the gravy train that enabled this country to remain in relative functionality for decades.
These schemers were aided by a polity willing to subscribe to the so-called social contract, as long as the people could pursue their economic agendas and live in relative harmony.
Ti’s contention that BN playing the ‘jaguh kampung’ (village champion) was causing BN to lose cosmopolitan votes is the kind of pussy-footing that that seems to be the only stratagems that the MCA these days is capable of coming up with.
I hope Pakatan supporters are not naïve enough to think that there is no nexus of connections between MCA plutocrats and DAP operatives working together for mutual benefit, which goes far beyond political profit. The same applies to UMNO and its so-called political enemies.
First off, BN is not playing the ‘jaguh kampung’, UMNO is in a ‘fight to the death’ struggle with Najib refuseniks and is attempting to keep their rural voting bases safe from the clutches of a newly revitalised Malay power group. The reality is that the rural demographic in the Peninsula and UMNO’s vote banks in Sabah and Sarawak are holding BN together, and this is because of UMNO and not because of BN.
The reality is that, unofficially, UMNO has given up on urban voters and it is the responsibility of MCA to shore up support and make the case for UMNO and not BN. I am sure the outspoken MCA operative is aware that there are many UMNO-elected officials who do not support Najib but are only interested in their political survival that translates to UMNO’s survival.
After getting a spanking from Nazri, like a chastised child the MCA central committee member claims, “Now that the ultra-Malays who destroyed Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Alliance are out of BN and in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), BN leadership must seize this opportunity to navigate BN to its rightful 1Malaysia course or the spirit of the Alliance’s founding years of Tunku Abdul Rahman,” which is again horse manure disguised as a mea culpa.
The thing that’s destroying MCA
The contradiction is obvious. First, Ti claims that UMNO’s continued use of Malay nationalism for the support of rural voters is destroying BN’s chances in the urban areas, and then he paradoxically claims that with the ejection of so-called “ultra-Malays” from the parties – the very ones who reject the Najib regime – things could get back to normal.
The problem is that the so-called ultra-Malays are the ones in charge of UMNO now. Moreover, I do not mean people like Nazri (photo above ) who has had run-ins with the ultra-Malay component of UMNO, but would rather be attacking the Najib refuseniks than trading shots with a so-called “partner”.
This is the problem with throwing in with UMNO, the very basis of power-sharing is based on communal preoccupations that either conflict with each other or are manipulated to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
If you want to survive in the game, then you have to spin the racists’ rhetorics for your partners but most importantly, have the support of the community you claim to represent. This is why Nazri has it both ways. This is why he gets to play the realpolitik card against the MCA operative, alluding to the former’s desire for political rejuvenation and the slim chance of it because of the lack of his community’s support and at the same time, slay UMNO-Melayu sacred cows.
And therein lies the problem. How does a race-based party operate when it has lost the majoritarian support of the community it claims to represent? How does a race-based party offer dissent or advice when it has to rely on the generosity of UMNO to remain politically relevant? How does a race-based party counter the supposedly race-blind propaganda of the opposition when it does not have the support it needs to offer a counter-narrative because the Chinese community it supposedly represents has abandoned it?
As I wrote in ‘MCA’s long day’s journey into night’, “What is really destroying the MCA is not the propaganda of the DAP but the acceptance by a large voting demographic of the Chinese community that no representation in the government is better than MCA representation.”
In addition, this is not the first time Ti has stirred the pot. Some time back, Ti made the claim that the Federal Constitution was not inherently racist but those with racist intent manipulated its provisions.
I actually thought that MCA was on to something and singled out Ti, writing, “However, the MCA political operative did show some cojones when he said ‘we can consider amending or ratifying our constitution to free ourselves of racism’ but of course, he qualified this with the most overused, disingenuous, servile and obnoxious Malaysian excuse of ‘come a day when we are there – a matured and democratic nation’.”
However, Ti made the same nostalgic claim when he talked about bridge building and ‘Alliance’ cooperation when he correctly pointed out that the constitution needed to be amended, in his own waffling way. He makes the same claim in this mea culpa, alluding to the halcyon days of Alliance politics.
But as I quoted from Mavis Puthucheary’s article, ‘Malaysia’s Social Contract – Exposing the Myth Behind the Slogan’: “In the first 10 years after Independence, the balance of power between the two main parties, UMNO and the MCA, was more or less even. After 1969, however, the balance of power within the ruling coalition shifted significantly in favour of UMNO and the political system itself became less democratic.
“Although both parties fared badly in the 1969 elections, UMNO leaders who had secured control of the government concentrated their efforts on regaining Malay support while still maintaining the power-sharing structure.”
In other words, for BN there is no going back. Unfortunately for MCA, this new alliance spearheaded by the powerbrokers in Pakatan Harapan and the Najib refuseniks is the closest things we will get to the flawed Alliance strategy of yore.
The MCA’s sin is that it does not have the courage either to support its partner, UMNO or leave BN.
September 15, 2016
We the moderates must speak up now before it’s too late. We must not let the future generation say that the majority who are moderates and liberal have allowed the few who are extremists and narrow minded to destroy the country.–Tan Sri Mohd. Sheriff Kassim
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.– Edmund Burke.
We deserve the leader we get. We get Najib Razak–the incompetent, dishonest, lying and corrupt Prime Minister in our country’s history. Thank You, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for teaching and mentoring him –Din Merican
By Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim
Historians have noted that it took only a few evil men to use the ideology of hate and the promise of eternal glory to justify the atrocities that killed millions of people in Europe and in Asia during the last world war. The majority of the population were good people and totally innocent of the crimes but by their silence, they allowed the atrocities to happen on such an unprecedented scale.
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim
Years after the war, and even today, people are still asking how such state – sponsored terror could have happened in the twenty-first century. The young of today feel ashamed and disgusted that the previous generation did not do anything to stop the madness before their countries were plunged into war, with disastrous consequences. The lesson learned from what happened not so long ago is that it takes only a few to do terrible damage to the country if the majority who are good people are complacent and do not care about defending the values that make us a united Malaysian nation.
Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and in this region are seeing the same ambivalence among the moderate majority in the population, allowing the few who claim they know about religion to use it as an ideology in their violent crusade to change society and eventually the country, from secularism and democracy to Islamism and theocracy. In many of these countries, the poor, the angry unemployed youths and the social misfits are easily attracted to the call for jihad, especially those who have been indoctrinated from young in their religious education to hate everything that originates from the West, like human rights, constitutional freedoms, music, pop culture, art exhibitions, statues and sculptures, St Valentine’s Day, Christmas celebration, yoga etc. These values and artistic pleasures are denounced by extremists as liberal ideas and alien cultures which have no place in the Islamic state. The chaos and internal instability which follow the rise of religious extremism to change the value system towards religiosity create so much gloom and despair that many of the best people in Muslim countries simply give up and migrate to western countries.
In Malaysia, we have a relatively socially advanced society as a result of the country’s economic modernisation and its exposure to external influences. Further, its racial and cultural diversity, the higher level of urbanisation and the bigger size of the middle class compared to other Muslim countries make Malaysians feel at ease with modern lifestyles and social interactions among the races. Its education system is basically secular in content and there is no hate ideology in it. The young can find jobs and absolute poverty is practically non-existent. The government’s caring policies have shielded the poorer population from the difficulties of daily life. All these factors help to insulate the country from extremism.
Nevertheless, the growing tide of religious excesses and intolerance for diversity is a cause for worry especially with the close alliance between race, religion and politics, which is creating suspicion that the national leaders are knowingly allowing the conservative ulama to dictate their strict interpretation of Islam and their social values on us Muslims. The silent majority among Malaysians are watching with concern at the Arabisation of Malay – Muslim society because if this trend accelerates, it will create divisions among the Malays, with the extremists calling themselves true followers of Islam and labelling others as infidels. When Muslims are divided along sectarian lines, the potential for conflict is very great.
Three Peas in a Disaster Pod–Malaynisation and Arabisation
As we are seeing in the Middle East today, when Muslims fight each other in their sectarian wars, they will find somebody to be the scapegoats for their failures. Usually, it’s the Jews and the Christians who get blamed. We are seeing that in Malaysia too. When a Muslim is seen in the compound of a church, the whole Christian community is accused of conspiring to subvert Islam. States compete with each other to issue fatwas to ban everything that is associated with western values, not realising that Christianity or imperialism has nothing to do with these values. Those who criticise the religious bullying are threatened with the Sedition Act. If the critics are Chinese or Indians, they are called ungrateful pendatang as an insult.
We must not allow sectarianism and intolerance to grow their tentacles in our country and therefore we must speak up for moderation in Islam and mutual respect in our race relations, as loudly as we can. We the moderates must speak up now before it’s too late. Let it not be said by the future generation that the majority who are moderates and liberal have allowed the few who are extremists and narrow-minded to destroy the country.
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff bin Mohd Kassim is the former Secretary-General of the Treasury, Ministry of Finance and Chief Executive, Khazanah Nasional and a member of the civil society group G25.
August 14, 2016
Action speaks louder than words, Mr. Dzulkifli Ahmad. Let us wait and see if you can go after corrupt UMNO Bigwigs
Stern measures including freezing, confiscating and forfeiting properties acquired by corrupt practices and abuse of power, will be enforced more aggressively to combat corruption in the country.
The new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner, Dzulkifli Ahmad, said the actions would be carried out by using its existing enforcement power and capabilities.
“We have the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama yesterday.
“In my view, the main factor driving the growing corruption is greed among those vested with power and position. The motivation for them to get involved in corruption is to acquire property and money, so MACC will ensure whatever acquisitions made illegally will be frozen, seized by and forfeited to the government, as well as bringing the guilty to court,” he said.
Dzulkifli said to ensure the action was more effective, the freezing of properties could be carried out even if the person was just a suspect and the case was still under investigation.
“While the case was under investigation, the properties owned by the individual under investigation could be frozen based on the various acts. This is because we do not want them to dispose them.”
He said based on the provisions of the MACC Act, the property of a suspect could be frozen up to 90 days and if there were reasonable grounds, it could be extended by nine months more. While under AMLA, properties believed to be acquired from corruption and abuse of power, could be frozen up to 18 months.
“If we find it is a strong criminal case, we will press charges in court and at the same time the properties would become the subject matter of the charge and if the court decides so, the properties of the accused would be forfeited,” he said.
Dzulkifli said the move to freeze properties was not limited to properties owned by the corrupt suspect but also to properties transferred to the accused’s family members, if it was believed it was acquired with income corruption and abuse of power.
At the same time, he said those who allowed their names to be used by the corruption suspect to hide assets acquired through corruption and abuse of power practices, would not be spared.
This was because he said the jail sentence was insufficient punishment if the accused had acquired thousands or even millions of ringgit, and could still own the properties after serving their jail sentence.
How about this Cowgate Scandal for starters, Mr Commissioner?
Dzulkifli said it was hoped the move to forfeit the rights of properties would be a deterrent to anyone, especially civil servants, from engaging in corruption and abuse of power based on the high risk involved.
Dzulkifli said apart from the serious action against bribe recipients, actions would also be taken against bribe givers especially the syndicated givers.
“Syndicated givers usually offer bribes so that no enforcement action is taken. So in this situation, we shall take action not only against the recipient but also the giver, through other acts including the Customs Act or the Inland Revenue Board Act (LHDN),” he said.
Dzulkifli said in implementing the move, MACC would be more proactive and not wait for a report to be lodged against the corrupt offender to enforce its preventive measures.
In fact, he said, MACC also kept profiles of individuals convicted of corruption and had served their jail sentences.
What about this Guy and his kleptocrats in UMNO?
On the level of corruption in the country, Dzulkifli described Malaysia as not as bad as other countries (what crap is this?) but he was worried corruption could become accepted as a norm which the country could ill afford.
July 23, 2016
by John Berthelsen
Kuala Lumpur insiders say massive US probe could bring him down
For the first time since he began life of theft of vast amounts of Malaysian government funds that began at least in 1999 when he was named Ddefense minister for the second time by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s kleptocratic career may finally be in danger.
It is rare, if ever, that a foreign Head of State and an ally of the United States government has been hit with charges as devastating as those released on July 20 by US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch against suspects in what she called an “an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.”
Malangnya Obama tak boleh campur tangan ( Sadly Obama cannot interfere)
Although he is identified only as “Malaysian Public Official No. 1,” it is clear that Najib is the target of what Lynch called “the largest single action ever brought” under the US’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
The US Justice Department investigation is a damning indictment of the entire structure surrounding 1MDB. It found that from 2009 through 2015, more than US$3.5 billion in funds belonging to 1MDB were misappropriated from an entity ostensibly created by the Malaysian government to promote economic development in Malaysia through global partnerships and foreign direct investment, and intended to be used for improving the well-being of the Malaysian people.
“Instead, as detailed in the complaints, 1MDB officials and their associates allegedly misappropriated more than $3 billion,” Lynch said.
Where Najib goes from here is anybody’s question. He has done what might be called a brilliant job so far of maneuvering to stay out of the law’s clutches after more than a year and a half of deeply detailed allegations of corruption by opposition figures and particularly by Clare Rewcastle Brown, the editor of Sarawak Report. He might pull it off again, although doubts are growing.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya issued an astonishing statement saying that “Malaysian authorities have led the way in investigations into 1MDB. The company has been the subject of multiple investigations within Malaysia, including by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Auditor General and bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee.”
In fact, as has been universally reported everywhere but in Malaysia’s kept press, officials have sought to thwart every single domestic attempt to bring an investigation into activities surrounding 1MDB, including firing Attorney General Abdul Gani Patel when his office was on the eve of writing an indictment of Najib and replacing him with Mohamed Apandi Ali, a United Malays National Organization lawyer and lackey who, according to the Prime Minister’s office statement, “after a comprehensive review…found that that no crime was committed.”
One extremely well-wired analyst in Kuala Lumpur called the Justice Department’s statement a “game-changer.” Another said he had conversations overnight with some of UMNO’s most powerful mandarins, including senior supreme council members and members of the administration, who think Najib will be unable to twist his way out of this, as he has so often in the past.
“They are realistic and said they were already getting calls and messages from colleagues looking for escape routes from the sinking ship Rosmah,” he said, referring to Najib’s imperious wife Rosmah Mansor. “Once the exodus begins, it will come to a crescendo fast. That’s how UMNO works. The question is, who will be the first Brutus? Mark my words – they will soon be scrambling to outdo each other in distancing themselves from both Najib and Rosmah.”
What is wrong prayers can’t help
Soon, it will be time to cry
If it happens, it will be a long and excruciating fall for a man who as recently as last November was playing golf in Hawaii with US President Barack Obama and who reveled in speaking at the United Nations as the head of a moderate Muslim nation that was supposedly a democratic bulwark in Southeast Asia.
But Najib began a career of deep corruption almost as soon as he became defense minister for the second time in 1999 under then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He set out to modernize the Malaysian military, reportedly suborning bribes all the way along, with much of the money being poured into the coffers of the United Malays National Organization, buying him loyalty from the cadres that has endured to this day.
As Asia Sentinel reported in 2007, “if three separate contracts over the past several years are any yardstick, Najib Razak, who became Defense Minister in 1999 and kept the portfolio when he became Deputy Prime Minister, appears to have mastered the game [of profiting off of defense contracts] far beyond the expectations of any previous defense leaders. Opposition figures say three contracts, one for Russian Sukhoi jet fighters, a second for French submarines and a third for navy patrol boats, appear to have produced at least US$300 million for UMNO cronies, Najib’s friends and others.
The biggest of those was a US$1 billion contract with the French munitions giant DCN for two Scorpene submarines that produced US$141 million in bribes that were funneled to UMNO, and another €36 million (US$39.6 million at current exchange rates) routed through a shell company in Hong Kong that went to a close friend of Najib.
As Asia Sentinel detailed in a prize winning series of articles in 2012, that contract resulted in what had been the biggest scandal in Malaysian history until this one came along. It featured the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian translator and party girl who reportedly had been passed from Najib to Abdul Razak Baginda, the agent on the submarine purchase. Altantuya, who by her own admission was asking for US$500,000 in blackmail funds, was shot in the head on October 19, 2006, and then blown up with C4 explosives available only from Malaysia’s military. Two of Najib’s bodyguards were convicted of the killing.
The current scandal began in 2009, when Jho Taek Low, a Penang-born wunderkind and friend of Najib’s family, created the mechanism by which 1MDB was born. According to the US Justice Department complaint, it grew into a hydra-headed monster that resulted in money laundering over much of the planet as Jho Low and his friends looted hundreds of millions of dollars of funds to pay gambling debts and blaze a trail across Broadway marked with the purchase of magnums of Cristal champagne lavished on blondes.
The complaint spelled out in detail what had long been suspected, that US$681 million that mysteriously turned up in Najib’s personal bank accounts in Kuala Lumpur’s Ambank in March of 2013 was not a donation from a mysterious Saudi prince to defend Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation in a war with extremism but rather was stolen from 1MDB through a series of shell transactions. Hussain Najadi, the founder of Arab-Malaysian Bank Bhd. which became Ambank, was gunned down on the street in July of that year. His son, Pascal Najadi, has repeatedly accused unknown figures of assassinating his father because he was complaining loudly about UMNO corruption and the movement of money through Ambank.
“The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption,” Lynch said. “With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people. Instead, they were stolen, laundered through American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates. Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes. ”
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Caldwell called it case that imitated art, with stolen money being poured into the production of The Wolf of Wall Street, “a movie about a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven. But whether corrupt officials try to hide stolen assets across international borders – or behind the silver screen – the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that there is no safe haven.”
Stolen money that is subsequently used to purchase interests in music companies, artwork or high-end real estate is subject to forfeiture under U.S. law,” said U.S. Attorney Decker. “Today’s actions are the result of the tremendous dedication of attorneys in my office and the Department of Justice, as well as law enforcement agents across the country. All of us are committed to sending a message that we will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt, a platform for money laundering or a place to hide and invest stolen riches.”
The complaints alleged that the members of the conspiracy diverted more than $3.5 billion in 1MDB funds. “Using fraudulent documents and representations, the co-conspirators allegedly laundered the funds through a series of complex transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts located in the Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States,” according to Lynch’s statement. “These transactions were allegedly intended to conceal the origin, source and ownership of the funds, and were ultimately processed through U.S. financial institutions and were used to acquire and invest in assets located in the United States.”
In seeking recovery of more than $1 billion, the complaints detail the alleged misappropriation of 1MDB’s assets as it occurred over the course of at least three schemes, the statement said. In 2009, the complaints allege that 1MDB officials and their associates embezzled approximately $1 billion that was intended to be invested to exploit energy concessions purportedly owned by a foreign partner.
Instead, the funds were transferred through shell companies and were used to acquire a number of assets including high-end real estate and hotel properties in New York and Los Angeles, a $35 million jet aircraft, works of art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, an interest in the music publishing rights of EMI Music and the production of The Wolf of Wall Street.