Xenophobic Najib Razak, where is Reverend Koh?


April 19, 2017

Malaysia: Xenophobic Najib Razak, where is Reverend Koh?

by Manjit Bhatia

http://www.newmandala.org

Manjit Bhatia asks who bears the answers to the Malaysian-Chinese Christian preacher’s disappearance.

Image result for Imam Zahid Hamidi
Is the Face of an Enlightened Leader or a Philosopher-King? No, he is known for the company he keeps

Eight weeks after the February 13 abduction of 62-year old Malaysian-Chinese Christian preacher Raymond Koh Keng Joo – in broad daylight on a busy outskirts Kuala Lumpur street – Malaysia’s Police still claim have no clue of his whereabouts. That’s in spite of nabbing a suspect six weeks ago who curiously, demanded only one-third of the $A29,500 offer for the pastor’s release.

Also curious: the kidnapping happened 70 meters from the Selangor state police building in Shah Alam. More curious still: it was filmed, as if the cameraman lay in wait, and the video was quickly uploaded to social media sites. By whom, nobody knows. Despite CCTV footage, Malaysia’s coppers can’t seem to identify the 10-15 criminals or their motive.

In Malaysia, where bigotry rules alongside traditional patrimonialism,  the   kidnapping hasn’t caused a ripple among Malaysians, who fear state retribution.  Religious xenophobia has been fueling political violence, especially as Muslims soon could be living under sharia and hudud – laws already before Parliament.

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So where is Reverend Koh?

So where is Koh? Is he alive? Or has he been killed? The case quickly became frigid. Police, however, are questioning Koh’s family and his “past”. Nothing unusual for Malaysia’s Police to pass the buck. But its history of unexplained deaths in custody speaks volumes about the rise of institutional criminality. So, too, the link between Police and Islamic authorities.  

Most early speculations about Koh’s kidnapping can be ruled out, including ransom demand by common thugs, and rogue military elements or Islamic terrorists having kidnapped the Christian pastor. The earliest speculation – that Koh is being held in a government gulag, undergoing “re-education” prior to his release – is improbable. It will give Koh opportunities to speak out. And the beleaguered UMNO regime wouldn’t chance its crooked arm on more damning exposés.

It’s no secret Koh has been proselytizing Christianity to Malay-Muslims while providing basic needs to all races, not just Malays, through his Komuniti Harapan charity. The gravest accusation against him is his converting Malays – a definite no-no in Muslim-majority Malaysia. To deter Koh, Islamic authorities raided one of Koh’s charity fundraising dinners. Koh also received a bullet in the mail.

Though one persistent speculation about Koh’s kidnapping won’t fizzle – his abduction was a calculated operation. The criminals drove black SUVs with heavily-tinted windows – the sort favoured by Malaysia’s Police. Several unmarked cars and motorcyclists accompanying the SUVs herded traffic procedurally like Police.

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If he does not care, why is he still Malaysia’s Top Cop?

The attackers wore hoods – attire favoured by Police on such operations. Recall 1998 when former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad ordered balaclava-clad police to invade the home of and arrest his ex-protégé Anwar Ibrahim. Recall also the murder of Mongolian socialite Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was blown up by army-grade C4 explosives in a jungle near Kuala Lumpur. The military-guarded explosives fell into her killers’ hands, two of whom were “high-level” Police bodyguards to VIPs.  

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Malaysia’s Home Affairs Minister

Malaysia’s Police has a record of a slew of abuses of power and criminalities – from unexplained and uninvestigated deaths in their custody amounting to murder and abuse of human rights to extortion, racketeering and unbridled corruption. Locals aren’t surprised by any of the Police’s antics. In 2013, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi, to whom the Police answer, praised the outlawed Malay criminals Tiga Line – without consequence to his position. It’s another sign of the growing criminalisation of Malaysia’s institutions by the ruling political elite and its doxy economic class.  

But Police wouldn’t have acted alone against Koh. JAKIM has been headlining Malaysia’s turn towards ultra-conservative religious intolerance. JAKIM is the federal Islamic religious department under Premier Najib Razak’s purview. JAKIM is renowned for its political ideology and racist recklessness. Like its lesser sister organisations JAIS and MAIS, JAKIM, with Najib’s blessings, has been actively pushing for the greater Sunni Arabist Islamisation of Malaysia, bankrolled by Saudi largesse.

JAKIM has banned Christians from using the term “allah” – apparently the exclusive preserve for Muslims. Since the 9/11 terrorists attacks, non-Islamic religious practices in Malaysia have been frowned upon, scrutinised and gradually proscribed through threats by Umno-funded ultra-rightwing racists, like dumping cow heads at Hindu temples and vandalising churches.

Besides the Police, Islamic bodies also help to anchor the Najib regime’s soft authoritarianism. In 2015 JAKIM’s junior partner JAIS, which operates in Selangor state and is answerable to the sultan, raided a Christian society warehouse. It confiscated mainly Malay-language bibles while police provided JAIS protection. JAIS escaped criminal charges but issued an edict against Christians using the “Allah” word.

Koh’s proselytisation of Christianity to Muslims and their conversion is no greater a crime than the UMNO regime’s band of Sunni Islamic “authorities” engaged in “body snatching”, mostly of deceased Hindus who are then proclaimed as Muslims and whose names show up on electoral rolls to protect the Najib regime’s moral bankruptcy and political illegitimacy and criminality. Police and JAKIM bear answers to Koh’s disappearance.

 Manjit Bhatia is an Australian research scholar who specialises in the economics and politics of Asia and international political economy. He is also research director of AsiaRisk, an economic and political risk consultancy.

 

Malaysia–The Land of Fear and Intimidation


November 17, 2016

Malaysia–The Land of Fear and Intimidation

by Dennis Ignatius

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for The Red Shirts in Malaysia

Fear is filling our land. People are becoming increasingly afraid of their government, a government which has been amassing more and more power to harass, intimidate, threaten, punish or imprison those who oppose or disagree with it.

The goal is to cow the people into submission, force them to toe the line, pressure them to bend their knees to what their heart cries out against, to keep silent when citizenship demands a response.

Liberty impoverished

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Najib Razak’s  Lapdog or Guardian of Public Order?

There are so many oppressive laws now and so many different ways they can be applied and enforced.There are laws against sedition, laws prohibiting actions detrimental to parliamentary democracy (a law that is itself detrimental to democracy), laws against online posts that are deemed offensive or that might hurt the feelings of others and laws against insulting behaviour, to name a few.

A tweet, a Facebook post or a careless comment on a blog can suddenly bring tactical teams to your front door. What is free speech in other democracies is increasingly criminal here.

Even harmless yellow balloons can become subversive material, leading to a “breach of peace,” be seen as “intent to provoke anger” or be taken as “insulting behaviour.”

On pain of suspension or dismissal, university students are denied the right to protest, make known their unhappiness or be politically active unless, of course, they are active on behalf of the establishment.

Cartoonist and artists may not lampoon political leaders or bruise their ever so sensitive egos. Evidently many thin-skinned politicians feel they need protection from the disdain of the people.

The people may not insult their political leaders or hurt their feelings; political leaders, however, are under no obligation to respect the feelings or the intelligence of the people.

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Freedom is their cause

Whatever it is, the underlying message from those in power is simply this: public opposition and dissent invite state retaliation in one form or another. If you play the game – close your eyes, turn away, keep silent and wave the flag when it is demanded of you – you’ll be spared their wrath.

It appears that as citizens the only privilege we have is to pay for all the profligacy, misgovernance and corruption that we see all around us. And, of course, to suffer in silence.

Never in our history have we been so impoverished of our rights, so at the mercy of those in power.

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Is this what they mean when they talk about wanting a governance system based on Asian values, standards and requirements rather than on “the lopsided ethos” of the West (whatever that means) as one leader asserted recently?

The word is out

The word is out: don’t talk publicly, don’t write, don’t demonstrate because you never know who’s listening, who’s watching, who’s waiting for you. The state may not have such vast capabilities to monitor what people are saying or doing but when the people believe it, it becomes real. They modify their behaviour, they tone it down, they retreat from the public square.

Dissent is slowly being driven behind closed doors – people complain in private, grouse quietly among friends, surreptitiously share black humour on WhatsApp or vent their anger online under cover of anonymity. This is what we have been reduced to.

Outsourcing terror

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UMNO’s Gangsters

And then there’s the outsourcing of terror and intimidation to groups like the Red Shirts who run around with apparent impunity threatening, intimidating and sowing fear. They vow bloodshed and promise destruction if they don’t get their way – to stifle all criticism of the party in power, to silence dissenting opinions, to deter public protest. They are shallow, crude and thuggish but they have their secret admirers.

It is simply devious for political leaders to disavow any connection to the Red Shirts while allowing them to continue their reign of terror and excusing their ugly behaviour.

In the meantime, those responsible for public safety, quick to investigate and arrest opposition leaders and activists for what they say, dismiss the threatening language of the Red Shirts as harmless talk, a mere “war of words.”

Perhaps to demonstrate some resolve, some semblance of impartiality, a few Red Shirt minions are being investigated for the minor offense of dumping trash in front of Malaysiakini’s offices.

That in itself is an affront; it is the leader of the Red Shirts himself who should be held accountable and not simply for usurping the functions of Alam Flora but for criminal intimidation.

For so long as the Red Shirts leader is allowed to strut around like a peacock on heat, it will be hard not to conclude that he has a patron in high places, that he is merely a protected hired-hand doing the dirty work of men hiding in the shadows.

The colour of legitimacy

Some, of course, are endeavouring to conflate the illegitimacy of the Red Shirts with BERSIH, suggesting that both are but different sides of the same coin, that both should stop their activities.Nothing could be more disingenuous.

BERSIH is exercising its constitutional right to peaceful assembly to demand clean elections, clean government, support for parliamentary democracy, the right to dissent and the empowerment of Sabah and Sarawak.

The Red Shirts, on the other hand, have no other agenda than to prevent citizens from exercising their constitutional rights. They have no legitimacy, no integrity and no business harassing BERSIH supporters.

There’s no moral equivalency here; they are poles apart, as different as night is from day. And in harassing BERSIH, they cannot even claim the right to peaceful assembly.

 

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Tan Sri Razali Ismail

As Razali Ismail, the Suhakam chairman, said, “If the intention of the organizers of a counter-demonstration is to prevent another assembly from taking place, or to interfere with it, the counter-demonstration will cease to enjoy the protection afforded by the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.” That makes them a mob, illegitimate and illegal.

Hard choices ahead

Whatever it is, we all have a hard and difficult choice before us: keep silent as our nation continues on its downward trajectory towards tyranny or stand up and speak out despite the threats and intimidation.

Many feel the battle is already lost and are leaving. Others have decided to just stay out of the fray, abandon the struggle to build a better nation. They figure the only option that they have is make the best of a bad situation, keep their heads down, learn to survive in tyranny’s shadow.

But submission to tyranny doesn’t buy peace; it merely postpones the day of reckoning. Unbridled greed, misgovernance and the abuse of power will take its toll; it always does.

Benjamin Franklin may well be right: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty not safety.”

We all have some soul-searching to do to confront both the fear within and the fear without. We either overcome our fears or go quietly into the dark night that awaits us if we do nothing.

 

 

Violence is in UMNO’s DNA–An Addiction to May 13


October 14, 2016

Violence is in UMNO’s DNA–An Addiction to May 13

by  Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” 

– Isaac Asimov, ‘Foundation’

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Red Shirt Commander-in-Chief

I have no idea if Sungai Besar UMNO chief Jamal Md Yunos made the alleged seditious Facebook post warning of a repeat May 13 on November 19 but I could care less if he did. Part of my apathy is because all this fall under the free speech which I support but more importantly, I see no reason to get upset or make police reports because (1) establishment politicians have issued similar warnings, and (2) it is not as if the police are going to investigate this latest incitement by an UMNO political operative.

As for (2), a good example would be when Sabak Bernam district police chief Nor Azmi Isa said there was no reason to investigate the egg pelting of a Bersih supporter because nobody was hurt. Silly me, I thought it was assault but maybe Bukit Aman should send out a memo that the police would only investigate cases were somebody was hurt. By the way, the definition of “hurt” will be defined shortly (forget the Penal Code) after the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) have arrested all those who take to Twitter and Facebook and “hurt” the feelings of those the state deemed worthy of protection.

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The Ikan Bakar Man

After all, the leader of the red shirts has publicly stated that more aggressive responses would be meted out to Bersih, not to mention threats of vehicular manslaughter against the protestors exercising their democratic rights. Either Jamal has watched far too many ‘Fast and Furious’ movies – one is excessively many except if the person is a Jason Statham fan, then any ‘Furious’ movie with him in it is worth a watch – or he does not understand physics.

However, threatening Malaysians with violence, especially racial violence associated with May 13, is what UMNO does best. Anyone interested in a brief summary with links to pro-opposition and pro-establishment narratives should refer to Greg Lopez excellent summary in the ‘New Mandala’. I quote this paragraph of his piece to make a point:

“However, one thing became very clear after May 13. Any attempt to challenge UMNO would be met with the strongest response – legitimately or illegitimately. May 13 established the concept of Malay supremacy through the blood of hundreds if not thousands of Malaysians, especially of Chinese heritage. This led to most non-Malays having no options but to accept UMNO hegemony (ketuanan Melayu/Malay supremacy) or leave Malaysia. Many choose to migrate – a trend which has continued as a result of systematic discrimination against the non-Malays.”

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The Buffoon UMNO Information Chief

Six years ago, Penang opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim in a spat with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng not only referenced May 13 but also “saying UMNO has three million members, that he could call in the Malay ‘Tiga Line gang’ and asking the army to take over the duties of the police.” Of course, calling in outsourced thugs to secure political victory or usurp political power is a threat many in UMNO have no problem making.

Indeed, in my piece ‘In defence of our realm’, I took an exception to the police report filed by the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) against Perak opposition leader Nizar Jamaluddin because he claimed that Prime Minister Najib Razak was having secret backroom talks with the security apparatus of this country.

The issue was this: “In 2010, Azhar Ibrahim was suspended for six months from the Penang state assembly for making ‘references to the May 13 incident and inviting the Armed Forces to take over the government’, not to mention his threat that Malay triad organisation ‘Tiga Line’ would be called in to teach the state government a lesson.”

“So, why no report against the UMNO assemblyperson? UMNO distanced itself from these inflammatory remarks, but my question is, why didn’t MAF chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin lodge a police report alleging sedition against UMNO’s Azhar?”

Political violence is new norm

Meanwhile, with UMNO potentates distancing themselves from the red shirts, the idea that political violence is the new norm is taking root in a political landscape dominated by an incompetent opposition and a kleptocratic regime riddled with internal schisms. And while a few members of UMNO make the appropriate noises about rejecting political violence, the reality is that because of the way UMNO is run, the line between being a UMNO member and outsourced thug is non-existent.

Remember what UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said about the establishment – “(Bagaimanapun) jangan memandang rendah kepada kerajaan kerana mereka ada kuasa, ada televisyen, radio, duit dan media. Mereka juga ada alat-alat risikan dan sebagainya. Media dia lebih tahu pada kita. Dia tahu kita belum tahu lagi. Sama ada dengan kekuasaan itu, parti yang berkuasa akan kalah saya tidak tahu.”

So this idea that the criminal underclass and political power – some would argue that there is no difference – within UMNO is not something new except that these days the latter legitimises the former. This is why an organisation like the red shirts have a free reign. They do not answer to anyone except UMNO potentates and they fear no repercussions from the security apparatus because as Razaleigh said, “jangan memandang rendah kepada kerajaan kerana mereka ada kuasa”

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The UMNO Mafia(on extreme left IGP Khalid Ashburn)

And how does the establishment shape the narrative? As recent as three years ago, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed friendship with a so-called secret society like Tiga Line even though it was outlawed by his own Home Ministry earlier in the year.

He said, “The 6,171 Malays, they are not real thugs (samseng), they were Pekida members and were part of the Tiga Line group, Gang 30, Gang 7 – these are festivities (kenduri-kendara) gangsters,” Furthermore he added, “I tell our Tiga Line friends, do what should be done.”

And what exactly should these groups be doing? I would argue that if three years ago you made the claim that Tiga Line was disrupting Bersih activities, you would get UMNO members saying that these thugs are only doing what needs to be done.

Just to add a bit of nuance to this idea of political violence. Some folks would disagree with me for making this link but since I think it is a legitimate point to make, here goes, the current Deputy Prime Minster also made these statements with regards to the ‘shoot first’ policy of the PDRM:

“He was also reported to have advocated a ‘shoot first’ policy for the police at the same event, in dealing with suspected gang members in the wake of a violent crime spree that has resulted in, according to him, Malays making up the majority of the victims.

“He reportedly said there was nothing wrong with arresting the over 40,000 known gangsters in the country, half of whom are Indians.

“‘What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are our Malays. Most of them are our race,’ he was quoted as saying.

“‘I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any more warning. If (we) get the evidence, (we) shoot first.’”

Therefore, while certain UMNO members are distancing themselves from the red shirts, I would argue that separating the red shirt DNA from UMNO is impossible. UMNO does not speak softly and carry a big stick. UMNO is the big stick.

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


1MDB Buck passes on to Malaysian Taxpayers


May 5, 2016

MALAYSIA: Irresponsible Prime Minister Najib Razak passes 1MDB Buck to Malaysian Taxpayers

by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

1MDB is not a wealth fund as it is touted to be. Except for the one million Ringgit contributed by the Government, the rest of the RM 42,000,000,000 (forty-two thousand million) is borrowed money. Borrowed money cannot be regarded or classified a wealth. It is a liability which imposes on 1MDB or in case of its failure the Government to repay the interest and the principal. The sum is so huge that if the Government cannot pay them it could be bankrupted. This has happened to Greece.

The possibility of this happening imposes a heavy responsibility on the management of 1MDB and oversight by the Government. And very quickly it became clear that the executives and Board of 1MDB did not take their responsibilities seriously.

Shahrol, the CEO of 1MDB, borrowed five billion Ringgit from the banks without the knowledge and approval of the Board of Directors. The borrowings were at high interest rates. In one case Goldman Sachs was paid a 10% commission for raising a loan with a 5.9% interest. This means that 1MDB gets only 90% of the loan but has to pay interest on 100%. It is the same with the principal.

The Former CEO of 1MDB– The Probable Scapegoat

The money was apparently used to buy power plants at well over the market price. The licences for some of the plants were due to expire. If the purchases were delayed until the expiration of the licences the prices would be for less than market price. But the management seemed not to care about getting the best prices. As a result when the plants were sold to the Chinese, 1MDB suffered a loss of more than one billion Ringgit. This is the 1MDB style of doing business.

There are two other cases where the CEO Shahrol had acted without the approval of the Directors of 1MDB. He entered into a joint venture (JV) with Petro Saudi before a proper and intensive due diligence was carried out. Then he invested USD 1 billion in the JV also without approval of the Board.

The investment was so big that it demands for thorough and extensive due diligence before it could request for approval by the Board of Directors. The CEO really has no authority to invest such a huge amount. But this was what he did.

It is unthinkable that on three occasions the CEO, Shahrol, would act without following the rules of the company. In the memorandum of the company Section 117 states that all the affairs of the company must be approved by the Advisor of 1MDB, i.e. by Dato’ Seri Najib, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

While Shahrol may be brave enough to act without the Board’s approval, it is unthinkable that he would act without Najib’s approval. The responsibility for the three actions by Shahrol must have been made after, or on the instruction of Najib, the company’s Advisor. If not he would have been scolded and probably sacked by Najib.

Then 1MDB was unable to pay interest of two billion Ringgit on the loans. It had to borrow in order to pay. The borrowings have thus increased to RM 50 billion due probably to subsequent borrowings. This increase in the amount of borrowings is recorded in the PAC report.

Then it was reported that Najib had 681 million USD, equal to 2.6 billion Malaysian Ringgit in his personal and secret account in Ambank. No Prime Minister of Malaysia should have so much money in his own account. He should reject any such gift. If it is not a crime, it is morally wrong.

At first Dato’ Seri Najib denied the truth of the report. He said he could not be so stupid as to put the money in his account. His stooges all echoed his words.Then he admitted that he did have the 2.6 billion Ringgit in his account but it was a gift. Then he explained that it was a donation from an Arab for his actions against I.S. and his interest in Islam.Then the Arab became a prince and subsequently the late King of Saudi Arabia. What is next, only God knows.

None of his explanation can be believed. No one would give this huge amount to anyone even if he had done something for Islam or for any other cause. The belief is that the money came from 1MDB, the only source of such sums accessible to Najib. He denies, of course, but he has no documentary evidence to prove the money is not from 1MDB.

Then IPIC which was appointed as guarantor for the loans for 1MDB made a statement to the authorities in London that a sum of 1.7 billion USD which was due to it had not been paid by 1MDB. It therefore refused to pay the USD50 million interests due on the loan taken by 1MDB.

The Penang Born Crook Extraordinaire

1MDB said it had paid the money to a subsidiary of IPIC named Aabar PJS Ltd (British Virgin Islands)..IPIC says that Aabar PJS(BVI) is not an IPIC company although it has a company by almost the same name i.e. Aabar PJS Ltd. This company had received no payment from 1MDB. IPIC implied that the company the 1MDB paid to was a false company.

Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is investigating 1MDB money laundering activities

There was a suggestion of fraud and Arul the CEO of 1MDB admitted that it may have paid to the wrong company. But 1MDB insist that IPIC should pay the USD50 million interests as it was the guarantor of the loan. 1MDB would not pay.

A guarantor could be obliged to pay if 1MDB was really incapable of paying. But a guarantor is not obliged to pay simply because 1MDB refused to pay. Besides IPIC as guarantor had not been paid the USD1.7 billion which was due.

As both 1MDB and IPIC would not pay the interest on the loans, there would be a default. This will cross default other loans taken by 1MDB. Since 1MDB is a fully-owned Government company the defaults will affect the Government’s credit-worthiness. The Government may not be able to borrow any more in the market.

The Government will have financial deficits which may lead to bankruptcy if the loans are not serviced and the principal paid.In the meantime the 2.6 billion Ringgit in Najib’s account were said to be moved into Singapore banks. Singapore was said to have frozen accounts of several people pending investigations for money laundering. Though no mention was made that the frozen accounts belong to Najib, as a financial center Singapore cannot be seen to cover up an obvious case of money laundering.

Bank Negara had made a report to the Attorney General presumably on Najib’s money in Ambank. But the Attorney-General (AG). dismissed the report, claiming that there was no wrongdoing by the Prime Minister. Similarly the report by MACC was also dismissed by the AG. The contents of those reports were made official secrets to prevent public scrutiny. But the OSA is not meant to cover up possible crimes.

RM42 Billion is no Peanuts

Parliamentary Panel Whitewashes Najib


April 8, 2016

Parliamentary Panel Whitewashes Najib

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-parliamentary-panel-condemns-1mdb-management/

But steers away from much more serious questions

In sum, while the report on the surface paints a picture of an incompetent management that made a long series of mistakes that ran the fund into the ground, that all has been reported for more than a year by international media and a handful of independent websites – one of which, Malaysia Insider, was blocked and eventually forced to close – it is yet another investigation that does little more than hang a fig leaf on the Prime Minister.–John Berthelsen

The Malaysian Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in a 106-page report today (April 7), found what it said were “significant restrictions and weaknesses” in the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd. Fund, recommending that the government open an investigation into the activities of the Fund’s former CEO, Shahrol Azral Ibahim Halmi.

Shahrol Azral Ibahim Halmi (left) and PAC Chairperson

That looks like it will make Shahrol (above) the scapegoat in a probe that arguably involves many other people up to Prime Minister Najib Razak. While finding plenty of fault, the report itself shied away from much more serious charges of misappropriation of up to US$4 billion and spectacular allegations of money-laundering that are pending in five countries and involve allegations of wrongdoing on the part of JhoTaek Low, the youthful wunderkind who persuaded Najib to take over a Terengganu state investment fund in 2009 and turn it into 1MDB, which is backed by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance.

JhoTaek Low (extreme left) in the company of his Patrons (Najib and Rosmah)

Instead, the committee declared a statement by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that RM42 billion was missing from the fund to be false, allowing Najib the chance to issue a rejoinder accusing Mahathir of being “motivated by personal interest, not national interest, and a desire to unseat the government.”

 A much stronger report, said to have been produced by the country’s Auditor -General,remains under wraps and subject to Malaysia’s Official Secrets Act, making anyone who reports on its contents liable for prosecution. The Auditor General’s report is said to not only recommend the Board of Directors for prosecution but names Najib himself.

Although Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said the Police would “conduct a detailed and in-depth examination of the Auditor’s report to check if there are any elements warranting investigation and further action,” so far police investigations into matters surrounding 1MDB appear to have been curtailed by political interference.

In particular, a report by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (now discredited corruption busting agency), said to be ready to recommend prosecution of the prime minister himself for diverting state funds into his own pockets, was derailed and the Attorney_General, Abdul Gani Patail, was retired “for health reasons.” One of the lead prosecutors for the MACC, Kevin Morais, was kidnapped and later found in an oil drum full of cement that had been rolled into a river. His burned car was found in another state.

 A statement from the troubled fund itself said the report “dispelled numerous allegations” about it, saying the board “has successfully steered 1MDB through a uniquely challenging period and trusts that, with the release of the PAC Report, a line has been drawn.”

There were concerns in early 2015 that the government-backed Fund might default, threatening the country’s entire financial system. In May of last year, the Fund began selling off assets, including US$2.3 billion to the subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise, raising concerns on the part of critics over Chinese government ownership of Malaysian power assets.

While the report seemingly delivers a harsh verdict on 1MDB’s conduct of business, in fact it mostly confirms stories that have been in the press for months. Many were carried by The Edge Media Group owned by Tan Kooi Ong and publisher Ho Kay Tat. After detailed stories appeared on misdoings in the fund, the substance of many of them repeated in the committee’s report the government suspended the publication and its sister publications for three months. A court reversed the order after two months, but The Edge has never really recovered its previous financial and journalistic standing. The government has also blocked more than 30 websites, many of which have reported critically on the scandal, including Sarawak Report and Asia Sentinel.

As widely reported by a variety of publications, particularly Sarawak Report, 1MDB’s troubles began when it formed a joint venture with a mysterious Middle Eastern oil exploration firm called PetroSaudi that seemed to have been brought into existence for the purpose of the joint venture. The management did so without telling the board of directors. As much as US$1 billion disappeared from PetroSaudi, with a significant portion of it believed to have been routed into entities backed by Jho Taek Low, a pudgy Penang-born financier who subsequently exploded into New York’s café society, buying magnums of champagne for a coterie of blondes.

 The Flamboyant Jho Taek Low

“The 1MDB Board of Directors was not briefed clearly regarding the project partner and its relation between three companies – PetroSaudi International Ltd (Saudi), PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd and PetroSaudi International (Cayman),” it said. “The Board of Directors gave conditional approval to the management of 1MDB to carry out the effort with PetroSaudi International Ltd, but the actual deal was signed with PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd without the informing the 1MDB Board regarding the change of the project partner,” it said.

 1MDB PetroSaudi Ltd, which was later made into a joint venture company, was registered much earlier by PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd on September 18, 2009, eight days before the approval of the Board of Directors on September 26.

 The Board was also not informed that 1MDB PetroSaudi Ltd had been established on the day that the first proposal was brought to the board. “This shows that the management of 1MDB had decided to work with PetroSaudi International Ltd earlier without informing the board of directors,” the report said.

It said that the Board was also not informed that there was a clause in the joint venture agreement stating that 1MDB PetroSaudi Ltd had to pay a US$700 million (RM2.73 billion)

A loan from its parent company PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd on or before September 30, two days before the agreement was signed. Approval was also not given by the Board to pay the US$700 million loan from the US$1billion in investments that had been channeled into accounts owned by other companies, presumably those controlled by Jho Low, as he is universally known.

In sum, while the report on the surface paints a picture of an incompetent management that made a long series of mistakes that ran the fund into the ground, that all has been reported for more than a year by international media and a handful of independent websites – one of which, Malaysia Insider, was blocked and eventually forced to close – it is yet another investigation that does little more than hang a fig leaf on the Prime Minister.

Malaysia: End of Media Freedom?


January 24, 2016

Malaysia: End of Media Freedom–Najib Razak on the Defensive

by Malaysiakini Reporters

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Letter from MCMC to Din Merican

Din@UC

2016-01-20 9:00 GMT+08:00 MCMC New Media Unit <newmedia.unit@cmc.gov.my>:

Ruj. Kami     : SKMM(T)09-NMSMD/960/2016 (14)

Tarikh          : 20 Januari 2016

En. Din Merican (dmerican2@gmail.com)

Tuan,

BERITA PALSU BERKENAAN LAPORAN PORTAL SARAWAK REPORT BAHAWA SPRM MEMASUKKAN 37 SYOR DAKWAAN TERHADAP YAB PERDANA MENTERI DATO’ SRI NAJIB RAZAK

 Dengan segala hormatnya perkara di atas adalah dirujuk.

2.Adalah dimaklumkan bahawa Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (MCMC) mendapati bahawa pihak tuan telah menerbitkan sebuah artikel yang mempunyai maklumat yang tidak benar di bawah tajuk “Malaysia: Prime Minister Najib Razak on the way out?” melalui pautan berikut:

 https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/malaysia-prime-minister-najib-razak-on-the-way-out

3.Untuk makluman tuan, pihak Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) telah mengeluarkan satu kenyataan rasmi pada 18 Januari 2016 yang menjelaskan bahawa laporan portal berita Sarawak Report yang mengatakan kononnya terdapat 37 syor dakwaan berasingan telah dikemukakan oleh SPRM terhadap YAB Perdana Menteri Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak melibatkan kes SRC International, adalah tidak benar.

4. Oleh yang demikian, pihak MCMC dengan ini menyarankan pihak tuan untuk menurunkan dan menghentikan penyebaran kandungan berita palsu tersebut bagi mengelakkan daripada melakukan kesalahan di bawah Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 (AKM98).

Sekian, untuk tindakan segera pihak tuan. Terima kasih.

Yang Benar,
Jabatan Rangkaian Media dan Pengurusan Keselamatan
Bahagian Pengawasan Digital
Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (MCMC)
Off Persiaran Multimedia
63000 Cyberjaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Malaysia
Tel  : +60 3 8688 8000
Fax : +60 3 8688 1000

  Che IconThe Iconic Che’

ANALYSIS: With Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak strengthening his position in the wake of the ‘donation’ scandal and launches a counter-attack against his critics, the media industry has become one of the first casualties.

This, coupled with a sluggish economy, resulting in a fall of advertising income, has impacted, in particular, a number of fledging online news websites.

A week ago, rumours began spreading within the journalists’ circle that the ownership of certain media organisations may change hands, a few will close shop, while some are altering their market position.

Among those affected is news website The Rakyat Post (TRP). Its investor is believed to have withdrawn funding and the portal could face closure, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The trilingual portal, which was set up after the 13th general election, provides tabloid-style news. It is believed that its former patron is a businessman who has an affinity to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Sources told Malaysiakini that TRP was facing a “cashflow issue”, resulting in late payment of salaries, and journalists were encouraged by the management to seek employment elsewhere.

Malaysiakini has contacted TRP for confirmation but has yet to receive an official response.Meanwhile, Astro Awani, a popular television channel that has successfully built a large Malay audience, will soon morph into an English-only outfit.

The MCMC is also after Bloggers

According to a source, it seeks to reposition itself as a regional news agency and will no longer focus solely on local current affairs. It is understood that Astro Awani will abandon its sizeable Malay-speaking market and is to broadcast entirely in English by April 1. A number of employees are expected to be laid off while some Malay-speaking reporters may opt to resign, according to sources.

The 24-hour Bahasa Malaysia news station was launched in 2007 in conjunction with the 50th Merdeka celebration. Two years later, it expanded its stable to include English programmes.

Astro Awani also operates a BM and English website, providing news not just in video but also in text. It is unclear if the website would be affected by the transformation.Observers believe that the language switch could help the government curb Astro Awani’s influence among Malay viewers.

Viewers of Malay language news and current affairs programmes will be left with RTM, Media Prima’s TV3 and TV9, and Astro’s TV Al Hjirah, which has an Islamic focus.

When contacted, Astro Awani Chief Executive Officer Faizal Mansor had this to say: “Astro Awani, Malaysia’s first and only 24/7 news channel, has built a strong franchise in BM and is looking forward to building on it to better serve our customers.”

Malaysian Insider put on the market

Another shocker is news on financial weekly The Edge, which is reportedly planning to sell The Malaysian Insider (TMI), allegedly as part of a deal with the powers-that-be to resolve the issue of its publication permit suspension.

Former New Straits Times Group Editor-in-Chief A Kadir Jasin has claimed in a blog posting that the potential buyer is someone from Najib’s camp.

The Edge was suspended for three months last year after publishing a four-page expose claiming that flamboyant tycoon Jho Low and PetroSaudi International had siphoned RM1.83 billion from 1MDB through the 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture company.

The Edge resumed publication in September after the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the home minister’s suspension order.

The financial weekly, owned by tycoon Tong Kooi Ong, has recently conducted an exclusive interview with 1MDB chief Arul Kanda, which raised some eyebrows.

Ahirudin Attan aka Rocky Bru, a veteran newsman from the pro-Najib camp, said in his blog: “Does that mean Arul has won them over? It seems that way to me. The whole report on Arul and 1MDB was glowing, if you ask me.”

Tong bought TMI in 2014 from a group of unnamed investors. The news portal was launched in February 2008, just before the 12th general election, and is believed to have changed hands a number of times.

Steven Gan

Steven Gan and Malaysiakini Team

Malaysiakini has contacted The Edge and TMI, but both did not respond to questions on the matter.It is also learnt that a number of media organisations have received warnings from the Prime Minister’s Office in recent weeks not to play up issues that could cast a negative light on the government, such as the 1MDB scandal.

However, Malay daily Sinar Harian denied this in an email message to Malaysiakini, while another bilingual news portal has declined to answer queries on the matter.Sinar Harian is the only Malay daily that has no direct link to UMNO. Its sales have increased in recent years as its editorial stand is seen to be relatively more independent compared to its rivals.

The empire strikes back

Ever since Najib was implicated in the RM2.6 billion ‘donation’ scandal last year, he has mounted a series of attacks – using both restrictive laws and the state machinery – against the Fourth Estate.

Asia Sentinel is the latest casualty in Najib’s war against pestering websites. On Thursday, the Hong Kong-based current affairs news site was blocked by Putrajaya after it reproduced an article by Sarawak Report, where the latter claimed to be in possession of evidence against Najib in relation to the SRC International case.

Last November, the offices of Malaysiakini and The Star were raided by police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) over their reports on the transfer of a top government official involved in the SRC investigation.

Rahman-Dahlan-Clare-Rewcastle-Brown

Earlier this week, UMNO Mminister Abdul Rahman Dahlan filed a defamation suit against Malaysiakini over a vox populi article on his “reverse migration” remark.This is the second lawsuit against the country’s top news portal from a key member of the government. In 2014, Najib sued Malaysiakini for publishing readers’ comments which criticised him for alleged money politics.

Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar has vowed that there would be more Internet policing on social media, as Malaysians “have shown to be less than mature” when posting their views.

The Communications and Multimedia Act will also be amended when Parliament resumes its sitting in March to block sites from defaming the national leadership, warned Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak.

Centre for Independent Journalism co-director Jac Kee has expressed serious concern over the troubling drift in the media industry.“If the purported news is true, then it signals a worrying trend where alternative news sources are becoming more scarce and under threat – not just from increasingly heavy-handed content regulatory laws, but also the tough economics of running online content sites.

“Unless we have a policy and legal environment that values and protects press freedom and diversity as fundamental pillars of a functioning democracy, then our media will always be at risk of such gaming tactics to consolidate power,” she said when contacted.

It has also been reported that KiniBiz – a joint-venture between business editor P Gunasegaram and Malaysiakini – is to end both its print and online run. An announcement will be made on February 1.