More on 1MDB–Sarawak Report

April 26, 2015

More on 1MDB–Sarawak Report


Jho Low AddA US$330 million (RM1.18 billion) loan 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had issued to PetroSaudi International in 2011 was actually deposited into the account of Good Star Limited, a firm controlled by businessman Low Taek Jho, whistleblower site Sarawak Report claims.

The money was transferred in four separate tranches into Good Star Limited’s RBS Coutts, Zurich account, said Sarawak Report, citing documents from official investigators.

However, approval had only been granted by the regulators for 1MDB to lend the money to its former joint venture partner, PetroSaudi, on the basis that it was to “finance on-going overseas investment in the oil and gas sector”, said Sarawak Report.

It said the rational for the loan approval was “to pursue a strategic and global partnership in the energy sector and promoting foreign direct investment into Malaysia”.

There was no mention made of the company Good Star Limited in the loan application and neither was approval granted for the money to be sent to it, said Sarawak Report.

The investigation also revealed that the USD$330 million, which was sent to Good Star Limited, was officially reported to Bank Negara as having been paid to the PetroSaudi company 1MDB PetroSaudi, it said.

“The question now is who was responsible for providing this misleading information that Good Star Limited was a subsidiary company of PetroSaudi International,” Sarawak Report said.

“Also, why did none of the banks involved in any of these transactions ever see fit to file a suspicious transaction report?”

According to the website’s calculations, USD$1.19 billion of the USD$1.93 billion that 1MDB lent to PetroSaudi ultimately went to Good Star Limited.This included the USD$700 million Good Star allegedly siphoned from 1MDB’s now-ended joint venture with PetroSaudi, which was orchestrated by Low, who is better known as Jho Low.

Good Star Limited had also received an additional US$160 million from a Murabaha Loan agreement signed between PetroSaudi and 1MDB, which was also masterminded by Low, Sarawak Report said.

On Thursday, Sarawak Report said Good Star Limited, found to have transferred over US$500 million to one of the businessman’s bank accounts at BSI Bank Limited in Singapore in 2011 and 2012.

1MDB has come under fire for its financial mismanagement, debts, questionable investments and borrowings.

Since its inception in 2009, the strategic development fund, which is owned by the Finance Ministry, has amassed a whopping RM42 billion in debts.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who chairs 1MDB’s advisory board, has come under attack from various quarters over the firm’s massive losses and dubious dealings, especially from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former Prime Minister has repeatedly asked Najib to step down, and had said in a blog posting that unaccounted funds from 1MDB spending showed money has “disappeared”, while noting Najib’s inability to explain the matter disqualifies him from leading the country.

Dr Mahathir also hinted at corruption and theft of 1MDB’s funds, saying that money disappearing was “different from just losing”.

“Governments can lose money through bad investments. We would know where the money is lost. But when huge sums of money disappear, then those entrusted with its management must answer for the disappearance. Disappearance is about money lost which cannot be traced. This can be because of corruption or theft.” .

Payback Time for Tun Dr. Mahathir

April 25, 2015

Payback Time for Tun Dr. Mahathir

by RK

It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions…Niccolo Machiavelli, ‘The Prince

COMMENT: He (Najib Tun Razak) aspired to be different. He wanted to steer the nation along the path of moderation and inclusiveness. He hoped to transform what his predecessor had sought to reform.

This was the blueprint for his leadership and he believed that he could reverse the fortunes of the ruling coalition with the best brains from prestigious institutions of learning orchestrating his words and deeds. But alas this was not possible and now Najib Abdul Razak is sitting on the horns of dilemma.

The man who is demanding for Najib’s head is none other than the patriarch of UMNO Baru whom many regard as a father figure while the zealots consider him as the messiah.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that Najib would cause the ruling coalition, which has reigned since the birth of this nation, to be trounced in the next general election.

He wants to save UMNO Baru from defeat and destruction. He is bitter that both his successor and the successor of his successor have failed him. He is now uncertain of who can live up to his expectations.

Some believe that apart from selective amnesia, the doctor also suffers from a serious case of incurable megalomania and there is no candidate who can match his standards.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was weak and seduced by the illusions of grandeur whispered into his ear by those close to him, whereas Najib is dogged by a slew of allegations and his family is hanging like a millstone around his neck.

Mahathir often mentions how Abdullah was responsible for BN’s 2008 electoral debacle but ignores the results of the polls prior to that. A year after Mahathir bade farewell to the top post, Abdullah secured the biggest ever mandate for BN as the nation rejoiced over the departure of a man who had governed with an iron fist for more than two decades.

The lion’s share of the blame for BN’s predicament goes to Mahathir and those who came after him are struggling to repair the extensive damage done.His successors are forced to reap the poisonous fruits of negative perception born from the seeds that Mahathir had sowed, both when he was in power and even after stepping down.

Authoritarian regime

It was the authoritarian regime of Mahathir that created a nation with first world infrastructure but third world mindset as exhibited in last Sunday’s protest against a church for placing a cross at a vantage point that was considered disturbing and hurtful to Muslims.

It was during his tenure that the dimmest of bulbs rose to become the brightest of stars in the political constellation by merely pledging their unwavering allegiance to the supreme leader.

The culture of corruption and cronyism as well as the rigor mortis in the civil service peaked in his era, while the police and other enforcement agencies as well as the judiciary and media were castrated and kept on a short leash.

The man who was responsible for the incarceration of more than 100 opposition politicians, dissidents and activists now laments that Malaysia is turning into a police state.It is also argued that Islamism thrived under his leadership and thus polarising the citizens of various races and faiths.

Mahathir himself is no stranger to stoking the flames of racial and religious sentiments. Following his retirement, he made numerous racist remarks and lent his support to Malay right-wing movements that seem hell-bent on dividing the nation.

During the probe on the granting of citizenship to foreigners in Sabah, Mahathir attacked the country’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

“One should also look back and remember that Tunku Abdul Rahman was worse than me, he gave one million citizenships to people who are not qualified and not even tested?” he had said in reference to the Chinese and Indian immigrants.

And this remark came from a man whose paternal roots can be traced back to India .Mahathir had also defended PERKASA President Ibrahim Ali when the latter had called for copies of the Malay-language Bible with the word “Allah” to be torched.

Despite the overwhelming outrage, the former premier felt that the statement was not seditious or provocative. He then offered a bizarre justification, saying it was a Muslim practice to burn unusable copies of the Quran.

“We always burn the Quran, when it is old and no longer in use. What is sure is that we cannot throw it around. So, burning the Quran with good intentions is not a problem.”

He had argued that Ibrahim was showing respect for copies of the Bible that he felt should be discarded because it contained the word “Allah”.

Tunku’s take on Mahathir

Perhaps the best description of Mahathir and his 22-year administration can be found in the ‘Tunku Tapes’ where the late founding father states:

“There is no law, no justice, no freedom of speech. Anybody who speaks out goes to prison. So he has got all the members of the opposition in prison… This is what worries me and all the responsible citizens of this country, no matter what race they come from. We are all worried. The country is drained, dry, no more capital. People are saying in this country today, there are three big robbers – Umno robs the bank, MCA robs the co-operative societies and MIC robs the highway…

“…There is no more democracy. You say anything, you are put in (jail) and you are not allowed to reply nor allowed to hold rallies to defend yourself. Only Mahathir can go from place to place to attack us…

“The television every night broadcasts what the government is doing, what this minister is doing, what that minister is doing and so on but never about how the people are suffering, never about what the people want, only what the government is doing. We see so much of this that I don’t turn on the news anymore. There is nothing to listen to, only this self-opinionated government doing work for the people. You cannot talk, you cannot hold seminars and you cannot write…

“…They don’t know any rule of law, they don’t care about the law, they suspend and amend the law to suit their plans. So they rule by the law which they know to keep themselves in power. If you disagree with them or criticise them, you go to prison…”

“… Those who love sport can understand. They compete with a sporting instinct but this man has never liked that, he is a real spoilsport.

“The time will come. We will have to find a way to put this man in his place. We cannot at the moment because he controls the law – what do you do with a man like that? But the time will come…”

Mahathir can look far and wide for a knight in shining armour. Be it north or south or east or west. The hard truth is that nobody can save UMNO Baru because it is paying for the sins of the father. The time has come.

RK ANAND is a member of the Malaysiakini team.

Daunting times for Malaysia

April 24, 2015

Daunting times for Malaysia

By Leslie Lopez / Kuala Lumpur of The Edge Review

Najib Vs MahathirMalaysia’s risk profile is rising fast as controversy over the government’s debt-freighted sovereign wealth fund continues to snowball. Stability fears are growing amid concerns over Prime Minister Najib Razak’s hold on power, fragility in the economy and tensions among Malaysia’s multi-racial population over religious issues.

The problems combine to make the country Southeast Asia’s biggest trouble spot after post-coup Thailand, struggling under draconian military rule.  But the main focus remains the months-old controversy swirling around 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a brainchild of Najib that is saddled with a debt of more than RM42 billion (US$11.62 billion).

The fund is struggling to service this huge debt load and analysts say any default on its borrowings, raised through international bond issues over the last six years, could undermine the country’s international ratings.

Most ratings agency have so far resisted openly voicing concerns, although Fitch warned in March that Malaysia had a more than 50 per cent chance of a downgrade from A- status, which would mean an added burden on government finances from an increased cost of borrowing.

The crisis surrounding 1MDB deepened this week with news that Malaysians may face hikes in their electricity bills of up to 20 per cent to raise funds to bail out the fund. Calls for an inquiry were also prompted on Wednesday amid media reports alleging that bank documents given by a 1MDB subsidiary, showing it had US$1.1 billion in assets, may have been faked.

1MDB has become a lightning rod in the campaign to remove Najib from office. Most notably, in recent weeks, former Prime inister Mahathir Mohamad has harangued Najib for the growing mess in the sovereign fund and describing Najib as unfit to lead the country.

Dr Mahathir has also piled on the pressure by reopening public debate into a number of personal scandals directly involving the Premier, including the unexplained murder of a Mongolian woman by two members of his private security detail and the lavish lifestyles of members of his family.

Najib has responded to criticism by saying he is judged by the country, not by his predecessor, and so far appears secure. But the political crisis is starting to spotlight deeper structural problems besetting the country.

“Malaysia’s troubles go beyond the personalities. The economy, its political system and its institutions need urgent reform, and, without all of this, Malaysia will continue to under-perform,” says Manu Bhaskaran, Chief Regional Strategist at Centennial Partners in Singapore.

The malaise is a product of more than three decades of policy missteps that began during Dr Mahathir’s 22 years in office. In that time, he pursued his own brand of command capitalism, with the government pouring billions of dollars into heavy industries and costly infrastructure projects that largely benefited cronies of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

He also put a check on dissent by cowing important institutions – such as the Judiciary and other regulatory agencies and the civil service – that largely became subservient to the National Front coalition government headed by UMNO.

That ambitious economic agenda is today in tatters. Over the years, the government has had to bail out many of the companies entrusted to carry out the big-ticket projects, while the push into heavy industries has been a major failure, with the collapse of the state-owned steel company, cement plants and ship-building facilities.

The limping national car project, Proton, is the sole vestige of Dr Mahathir’s ambitious economic blueprint and that too is struggling to stay afloat.

Economists and bankers say that the crisis unfolding at 1MDB is symptomatic of many economic fiascos that tarred the Mahathir administration: poorly conceived state-led ventures, often with questionable commercial merits, pushed through in a system bereft of proper checks and balances.

All of this has put the country’s US$303 billion economy on shaky ground. Even as it struggles with mounting household and government debt, Malaysia is one of the region’s biggest oil exporters and a recent downturn in prices has stripped the economy of a key growth driver. This is placing further strains on government finances, adding to fears of potential downgrades by international rating agencies.

The ringgit has also been battered to six-year lows against the US dollar and prospects of a further depreciation looms large as foreigners own nearly 40 per cent of the country’s ringgit-denominated debt.

The economic troubles have bred widespread public discontent towards UMNO, which dominates the coalition government that has held uninterrupted power since independence in 1957.

Independent polling outfit Merdeka Center recently reported that more than 60 per cent of Malaysians feel that Najib’s government is on the wrong track, compared with an approval rating of just 32 per cent.

This slump is the lowest since Najib took over the premiership six years ago and is largely due to sharp spikes in the cost of living, made worse with this month’s introduction of a goods and services tax – and by the attacks by his former mentor.

“The unrelenting Mahathir bashing of Najib is seriously damaging the National Front brand,” says Merdeka Center’s Ibrahim Suffian.

Dr Mahathir insists that his distaste for the Najib administration stems from the financial wrongdoings at 1MDB. But several politicians close to the premier argue that the animosity has more to do with Najib refusing to back several pet projects of Dr Mahathir, who is still revered within UMNO.

They include Najib’s refusal to build a new bridge to replace the causeway linking Malaysia and Singapore and the government’s refusal to provide Proton with a RM1.4 billion grant.There is also a strong political dimension to Dr Mahathir’s anger towards Najib. Close associates say that he believes the National Front, which suffered serious electoral setbacks in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, could be kicked out of power in the next elections, which must be held before mid-2018.

Dr Mahathir has genuine reasons to worry. The National Front’s stranglehold over Malaysian politics has sharply diminished. The coalition lost its long-held two-thirds parliamentary majority in 2008. Then at the 2013 election it lost the popular vote, securing only 47 per cent compared with the opposition’s 51 per cent.<

To restore its political clout, particularly among the country’s dominant Muslim Malay community, Najib has been pandering to rightist elements within UMNO, who have been pushing for greater cooperation with Islamic opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which is determined to establish shariah law.

But Dr Mahathir believes UMNO’s dalliance with PAS could trigger a backlash from its coalition partners, particularly those in the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, which together hold a crucial block of votes in parliament that could make or break the National Front at the next election.

The majority-Christian states are rich in resources and remain the country’s biggest producers of oil and gas. Now voters’ sentiments there are changing, with growing demands for more autonomy and a bigger share of natural resource revenues for the respective state governments.

Understanding China

April 24, 2015

Understanding China

by President of China Xi Jinping

[This speech was delivered at College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium ( April 1, 2014). The Chinese President’s observations about China and its history and traditions give us an insight into what China is today. China is a major economic power with a dominant role in Asia. It never claims to be a democracy but it is proud to be is a socialist country with Chinese characteristics.]

CHINA-RUSSIA-UN-DIPLOMACY...For any country in the world, the past always holds the key to the present and the present is always rooted in the past. Only when we know where a country has come from, could we possibly understand why the country is what it is today, and only then could we realize in which direction it is heading.

So let me use this opportunity to describe to you what a country China is. I hope it will be helpful to you as you try to observe, understand and study China. Of course, a thorough account of the country would be too big a topic for today, so I will just focus on the following few features of China.

First, China has a time-honored civilization. Of the world’s ancient civilizations, the Chinese civilization has continued uninterrupted to this day. In fact, it has spanned over 5,000 years. The Chinese characters, invented by our ancestors several millennia ago, are still used today. Over 2,000 years ago, there was an era of great intellectual accomplishments in China, which is referred to as “the period of one hundred masters and schools of thought”. Great thinkers such as Laozi, Confucius and Mozi, to name just a few, explored a wide range of topics from the universe to the Earth, and from man’s relations with nature to relations amongst human beings and to that between the individual and society. The extensive and profound schools of thought they established covered many important ideas, such as the moral injunction of fidelity to one’s parents and brothers and to the monarch and friends, the sense of propriety, justice, integrity and honor, the emphasis on benevolence and kindness towards fellow human beings and the belief that man should be in harmony with nature, follow nature’s course and unremittingly pursue self-renewal. These values and teachings still carry a profound impact on Chinese people’s way of life today, underpinning the unique value system in the Chinese outlook of the world, of society and of life itself. And this unique and time-honored intellectual legacy has instilled a strong sense of national confidence in the Chinese people and nurtured a national spirit with patriotism at the very core.

Second, China has gone through many vicissitudes. For several thousand years before the industrial revolution, China had been leading the world in economic, technological and cultural development. However, feudal rulers of the 18th and 19th centuries closed the door of China in boastful ignorance and China was since left behind in the trend of development. The country was subdued to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. As a result of incessant foreign invasions thereafter, China experienced great social turmoil and its people had to lead a life of extreme destitution. Poverty prompted the call for change and people experiencing turmoil aspired for stability. After a hundred years of persistent and unyielding struggle, the Chinese people, sacrificing tens of millions of lives, ultimately took their destiny back into their own hands. Nevertheless, the memory of foreign invasion and bullying has never been erased from the minds of the Chinese people, and that explains why we cherish so dearly the life we lead today. The Chinese people want peace; we do not want war. This is the reason why China follows an independent foreign policy of peace. China is committed to non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and China will not allow others to interfere in its own affairs. This is the position we have upheld in the past. It is what we will continue to uphold in the future.

Third, China is a socialist country with Chinese characteristics. In 1911, the revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen overthrew the autocratic monarchy that had ruled China for several thousand years. But once the old system was gone, where China would go became the question. The Chinese people then started exploring long and hard for a path that would suit China’s national conditions. They experimented with constitutional monarchy, imperial restoration, parliamentarism, multi-party system and presidential government, yet nothing really worked. Finally, China took on the path of socialism. Admittedly, in the process of building socialism, we have had successful experience and also made mistakes. We have even suffered serious setbacks. After the “reform and opening-up” was launched under the leadership of Mr. Deng Xiaoping, we have, acting in line with China’s national conditions and the trend of the times, explored and blazed a trail of development and established socialism with Chinese characteristics. Our aim is to build a socialist market economy, democracy, an advanced culture, a harmonious society and a sound eco-system, uphold social equity and justice, promote all-round development of the people, pursue peaceful development, complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and eventually achieve modernization and ensure prosperity for all. The uniqueness of China’s cultural tradition, history and circumstances determines that China needs to follow a development path that suits its own reality. In fact, we have found such a path and achieved success along this path.

Fourth, China is the world’s biggest developing country. China has made historic progress in development. It is now the second largest economy in the world. It has achieved in several decades what took developed countries several centuries to achieve. This is, without doubt, a proud achievement for a country whose population exceeds 1.3 billion. In the meantime, we are clearly aware that the large size of the Chinese economy, when divided by 1.3 billion, sends China to around the 80th place in terms of per capita GDP. In China, over 74 million people rely on basic living allowances; each year, more than 10 million urban people would join the job market and several hundred million rural people need to be transferred to non-agricultural jobs and settle down in urban areas; more than 85 million people are with disabilities; and more than 200 million people are still living under the poverty line set by the World Bank, and that is roughly the population of France, Germany and the UK combined. In the 40-day-long season of the last Chinese New Year, China’s airlines, railroads and highways transported 3.6 billion passengers, which means 90 million people were on the move each day. Therefore, to make the lives of the 1.3 billion Chinese people more comfortable requires still arduous efforts for years to come. Economic development remains the top priority for China, and we still need to work on that basis to achieve social progress in all areas.

Fifth, China is a country undergoing profound changes. Our ancestors taught us that “as heaven maintains vigor through movement, a gentleman should constantly strive for self-perfection”, and that “if one can make things better for one day, he should make them better every day”. Being faced with fierce international competition is like sailing against the current. One either forges ahead or falls behind. Reform, which was first forced upon us by problems, goes deeper in addressing the problems. We know keenly that reform and opening-up is an ongoing process that will never stop. China’s reform has entered a deep water zone, where problems crying to be resolved are all difficult ones. What we need is the courage to move the reform forward. To use a Chinese saying, we must “get ready to go into the mountain, being fully aware that there may be tigers to encounter”. The principle we have laid down for reform is to act with courage while moving forward with steady steps. As we say in China, he who wants to accomplish a big and difficult undertaking should start with easier things first and make sure that all details are attended to. With the deepening of reform, China will continue to undergo profound changes. I believe that our efforts of deepening reform comprehensively will not only provide strong momentum for China’s modernization drive, but also bring new development opportunities to the world.

To observe and understand China properly, one needs to bear in mind both China’s past and present and draw reference from both China’s accomplishments and the Chinese way of thinking. The 5,000-year-long Chinese civilization, the 170-year struggle by the Chinese people since modern times, the 90-year-plus journey of the Communist Party of China, the 60-year-plus development of the People’s Republic and the 30-year-plus reform and opening-up should all be taken into account. They each make an integral part of China’s history, and none should be taken out of the historical context. One can hardly understand China well without a proper understanding of China’s history, culture, the Chinese people’s way of thinking and the profound changes taking place in China today.

The world’s development is multi-dimensional, and its history is never a linear movement. China cannot copy the political system or development model of other countries, because it would not fit us and it might even lead to catastrophic consequences. The Chinese people, over 2,000 year ago, had come to understand this from a simple fact that the tasty orange, grown in southern China, would turn sour once it is grown in the north. The leaves may look the same, but the fruits taste quite different, because the north means different location and different climate.

A French writer once said that friends are transparent to friends because they exchange life. I hope what I just shared with you could draw for you a more transparent picture of China. I also sincerely hope that the College of Europe will produce a large number of talents who know and understand China well so as to provide a constant source of talent and intellectual support for the growth of China-Europe relations.

China and Europe may seem far apart geographically, but we are in fact in the same time and the same space. I even feel that we are close to each other, as if in the same neighborhood. Both China and Europe are in a crucial stage of development and facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges. As I just said, we hope to work with our European friends to build a bridge of friendship and cooperation across the Eurasian continent. For that, we need to build four bridges for peace, growth, reform and progress of civilization, so that the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership will take on even greater global significance.

We need to build a bridge of peace and stability linking the two strong forces of China and the EU. China and the EU take up one tenth of the total area on Earth and one fourth of the world’s population. Together, we take three permanent seats on the Security Council of the United Nations. We all need peace, multilateralism and dialogue, instead of war, unilateralism and confrontation. We need to enhance communication and coordination on global issues and play a key role in safeguarding world peace and stability. Civilization and culture can spread, so can peace and development. China stands ready to work with the EU to let the sunlight of peace drive away the shadow of war and the bonfire of prosperity warm up the global economy in the cold early spring, and enable the whole mankind to embark on the path of peaceful development and win-win cooperation.

We need to build a bridge of growth and prosperity linking the two big markets of China and the EU. China and the EU are the two most important major economies in the world with our combined economy accounting for one third of the global economy. We must uphold open market, speed up negotiations on the investment agreement, actively explore the possibility of a free trade area, and strive to achieve the ambitious goal of bringing two-way trade to one trillion US dollars by 2020. We should also study how to dovetail China-EU cooperation with the initiative of developing the Silk Road economic belt so as to integrate the markets of Asia and Europe, energize the people, businesses, capital and technologies of Asia and Europe, and make China and the EU the twin engines for global economic growth.

We need to build a bridge of reform and progress linking the reform processes in China and the EU. Both China and the EU are pursuing reforms that are unprecedented in human history, and both are sailing uncharted waters. We may enhance dialogue and cooperation on macro-economy, public policy, regional development, rural development, social welfare and other fields. We need to respect each other’s path of reform and draw upon each other’s reform experience. And we need to promote world development and progress through our reform efforts.

We need to build a bridge of common cultural prosperity linking the two major civilizations of China and Europe. China represents in an important way the Eastern civilization, while Europe is the birthplace of the Western civilization. The Chinese people are fond of tea and the Belgians love beer. To me, the moderate tea drinker and the passionate beer lover represent two ways of understanding life and knowing the world, and I find them equally rewarding. When good friends get together, they may want to drink to their heart’s content to show their friendship. They may also choose to sit down quietly and drink tea while chatting about their life. In China, we value the idea of preserving “harmony without uniformity”, and here in the EU people stress the need to be “united in diversity”. Let us work together for all flowers of human civilizations to blossom together.

In spite of changes in the international landscape, China has always supported European integration and a bigger role in international affairs by a united, stable and prosperous EU. China will soon release its second EU policy paper to reiterate the high importance it places on the EU and on its relations with the EU. Last year, China and the EU jointly formulated the Strategic Agenda 2020 for China-EU Cooperation, setting out a host of ambitious goals for China-EU cooperation in nearly 100 areas. The two sides should work in concert to turn the blueprint into reality at an early date and strive for greater progress in China-EU relations in the coming decade.

The College of Europe has, in recent years, placed increasing importance on China. It has opened courses on Europe-China relations. It is also busy preparing for the launch of a Europe-China research center devoted to studies of Europe-China relations. China has decided to work with the College of Europe to build a “Chinese Library”, the first of its kind in an EU member country, and will provide, for the purpose of academic research, 10,000 books, videos and films on Chinese history, culture and the achievements China has made in various fields.

As we Chinese believe, one needs to not only read 10,000 books, but also travel 10,000 miles to know the world around us. I suggest that you go to China more often to see for yourselves what China is like. What you hear from others might be false, but what you see with your own eyes is real. China intends to work with the EU to bring the number of students exchanged between the two sides to 300,000 each year by 2020.

Young people are always energetic and full of dreams. They are the future of China, Europe and, indeed, of the world. I hope that Chinese and European students will perceive the world with equality, respect and love and treat different civilizations with appreciation, inclusiveness and the spirit of mutual learning. This way, you will promote mutual understanding and knowledge among the people of China, Europe and other parts of the world, and with your youthful energy and hard work, make our planet a better place to live in.

Stop flattering Najib, Envoy Zahrain told

April 23, 2015

Stop flattering Najib, Envoy Zahrain told

 by FMT Reporters

He should stick to diplomacy and stay out of politics, says Khairuddin Abu Hassan.

Zahrain Hashim khairuddin abu hassanPETALING JAYA: A former UMNO official has denounced the Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia, Zahrain Hashim, for issuing a public statement in defence of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s allegedly lavish lifestyle.

“He has crossed the line that separates diplomacy from politics in his eagerness to flatter Najib,” said Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who was recently sacked from his position as Vice Chairman of the Batu Kawan UMNO division.

Zahrain, in an interview with Utusan Malaysia, reacted to a magazine article about the spending habits of Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, by implying that they could afford an expensive lifestyle because the Prime Minister is of upper-class birth.

Khairuddin said in a press statement today that Zahrain seemed oblivious of the current political developments in the country and the moral issues being raised in connection with questions regarding Najib’s suitability as Prime Minister and Umno President.

“Perhaps Zahrain is forgetful,” he said. “Recently, Najib’s brothers issued a statement defending their father, former prime minister Tun Razak Hussein, from any insinuation that he accumulated wealth during his tenure.”

The statement from Najib’s brothers came after the New York Times quoted the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as saying: “Neither any money spent on travel, nor any jewellery purchases, nor the alleged contents of any safes are unusual for a person of the Prime Minister’s position, responsibilities and legacy family assets.” The PMO’s statement was a response to questions about Rosmah’s spending.

“Even if the Prime Minister comes from a noble family with a lot of money,” Khairuddin said, “he must, if he wants to be an effective and successful leader, display a moderate lifestlye. That would be more in keeping with Malay culture. The Malays look highly upon people of high birth who live moderately.

“Unfortunately, some UMNO leaders have forgotten this. They love to exhibit a lavish lifestyle. Such ostentation has invited all kinds of negative perceptions among the rakyat.”

Khairuddin reminded Zahrain that he used to be a member of PKR, whose leaders would often criticise UMNO leaders for their extravagance.

“I hope Dato Seri Zahrain would focus only on his responsibilities as our Ambassador to Indonesia and restrain himself from getting involved in Malaysia’s domestic politics,” he said.

Khairuddin also took issue with Zahrain’s insinuation that one of former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s son, Mokhzani, got rich by taking advantage of his father’s position. He said Mahathir’s children found success after decades of hard work. “They did not become rich in their youth,” he added.

Khairuddin, who shot to fame with his Police and MACC reports against 1MDB, is seen as aligned to Mahathir’s camp. He has become a frequent critic of the Najib administration, occasionally releasing press statements in his individual capacity.

In today’s statement, he referred to the current political battle between Mahathir and Najib, claiming that the ex-premier’s criticisms were motivated by a sincere wish to ensure that voters would continue to support UMNO and Barisan Nasional.

TEMPO stands firm on the Najib-Rosmah Article

April 23, 2015

COMMENT: You cannot expect TEMPO, a respected magazine in Indonesia, to stand down on its article on Najib-Rosmah’s lavish spending habits. 

The magazine is known since the days of Goenawan Mohamad to be fiercely independent and thorough in its reporting. I feel sorry for our Ambassador to Indonesia Dato Seri Zahrain Hashim  who has to defend our first couple, now in Bandung to  attend the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Asia- Africa Conference.

Goenawan (right) is the founder and editor of Tempo (“Time”) magazine in Indonesia, which wasGoenawan M of Tempo twice forcibly closed by the Suharto‘s New Order administration because of its vocal criticism of the authoritarian regime. In 1999, Mohamad was named International Editor of the Year by World Press Review magazine. In 1998, he was one of four winners of the CPJ International Press Freedom Awards, and in 2006 he received the Dan David Prize award. The World Press Review awarded him its International Editor of the Year Award in 1999 (wikipedia).

It is fortunate that TEMPO did not report on the missing rm27billion in 1MDB.  Read  –Din Merican

TEMPO stands firm on the Najib-Rosmah Article

Purwanto SetiadiIndonesia’s premier current affairs magazine Tempo is standing by their article on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s lavish lifestyle entitled ‘Hidup mewah sang perdana menteri’.Tempo senior editor, Purwanto Setiadi (left), said the magazine believes its sources for the story and although from secondary means, they (the sources) were vetted carefully before the said article was published.

“Like previously, we choose our sources (of the news) carefully. As of today, we believe in the source which was used,” he said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

Purwanto, who is the magazine’s editor for international news, was commenting on Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Zahrain Mohamed Hashim’s statement that he wanted to meet Tempo editors to correct alleged misconceptions contained in the article. Purwanto, who is also on Tempo‘s editorial board,  pointed out their article had also quoted the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as dismissing the sources for the article as used by Tempo.

However, Purwanto said if Zahrain or the Malaysian government had other versions, Tempo was open to publishing it.

Step-son’s luxury properties

Zahrain, Purwanto added, was welcome to visit the magazine’s office again, his second visit after a recent one. “It is an honour if he comes occasionally,” said the senior editor.

Tempo had reported on the lavish lifestyle of Najib and Rosmah in a special issue following the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Asia- Africa Conference currently being held in Banding, Indonesia for which Najib flew in today to attend. The write-up touched on Rosmah’s (centre above) penchant for luxury handbags and jewellery, and Najib’s step-son Riza Aziz’s wealth used to purchase luxury properties in the US. The article also mentioned Rosmah’s RM1,200 hairdo expense.