Malaysia: Foreign Minister Anifah, don’t be ridiculous

July 26, 2017

Dear Foreign Minister Anifah Aman,

You know me and I  know you too since we used to chat on the phone and exchange sms and e-mail on foreign policy, especially on matters relating to Wisma Putra and ASEAN. I have always thought of you as the most level-headed Minister in Najib’s cabinet. That has all changed after reading your comment on Malaysiakini today.

You are wasting your time trying to defend Prime Minister Najib Razak who has lost public trust at home, and blemished his standing abroad. In doing so, not once but twice, you have put your personal reputation on the line by sounding ridiculous.

It does not take a knowledge of Malaysian history to know that the UMNO-BN government led by Najib Razak is corrupt, incompetent, arrogant and dishonest; it has mismanaged our economy. That is common knowledge. I have, for example, lived under 6 Prime Ministers and I know that the 1MBD scandal is but one example of how Najib achieved the distinction of the worst of them. Everything you write below is a distortion of the facts, which are known to all Malaysians and the world at large.

ASEAN Community 2015As Foreign Minister, you should be concerned about Malaysia’s international image.  You would be well advised to worry about Malaysia’s role as the ASEAN Chair 2015 and work in earnest on your people-centered 2015 ASEAN Community project. Right now, this important regional commitment has taken a back seat because Prime Minister Najib is pre-occupied with his own political survival.

Furthermore, I find it  hard to believe that the Wall Street Journal is ignorant about what is happening in Malaysia when you assume that their researchers and journalists do not know our history and politics. The problem with people like you and your Cabinet colleagues is that you refuse to accept the views of intelligent and knowledgeable Malaysians and other observers of the Malaysian political economy. Malaysia  has become a laughing stock of the international community. If you have pride and dignity, you should resign from your post and stop being a circus clown. –Din Merican

Malaysia: Foreign Minister advises Wall Street Journal– Know and Understand Malaysian History

COMMENT by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman: The Wall Street Journal takes aim at Malaysia, but once again displays a woeful lack of knowledge and understanding of our country and its history.

Malaysia has been a democracy since independence in 1957. Elections are fiercely contested, and the opposition won five out of the country’s 13 states in 2008. Political discourse is vibrant and noisy.

The “voices of dissent” that the opposition’s former leader, Anwar Ibrahim, claims not to be able to hear are dominant in Malaysia’s online news media, which has far more readers here than the print press. If anyone doubts Malaysians’ “fundamental liberties”, they can easily see for themselves how free anyone is to criticise the government on these news sites.

Anwar mentions the recent Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) as “encroaching” on those liberties. But he fails to mention that it explicitly states that “No person shall be arrested and detained solely for his political belief or political activity”.

Pota in fact further secures the liberties of Malaysians: both their freedom to speak out, and their freedom from extremists who pose a real threat to the country. Anwar may not take this threat seriously, but the Malaysian government does.

The WSJ gives Anwar the platform to raise false and politically motivated allegations of corruption against our prime minister. Perhaps it might have been relevant for the WSJ to mention that Anwar himself was convicted of corruption in 1999. The verdict was not overturned.

He is currently in jail after a legal process that lasted years. He was first acquitted, then convicted, allowed to appeal, and only when that failed did he go to prison. If he truly believed in his innocence, he could have submitted his own DNA to the court. If the charge had been “trumped up”, as the WSJ falsely says, that would have proven it. But he did not – hardly the action of an innocent man. Far from “sowing communal and religious animosity”, the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak early on launched the 1Malaysia policy.

This is the greatest attempt in Malaysia’s history to forge a national identity that includes all races and religions, and the Prime Minister regularly attends the festivals of non-Muslims, going to churches and temples to share the celebrations of fellow Malaysians.

anifah_amanUNAnwar and the opposition, however, never supported 1Malaysia. Why not? Was it because Anwar himself had a well-documented history of rabble-rousing and extremism, as well as of spouting anti-Semitic remarks – as the WSJ well knows but again fails to mention.

The suggestion that Malaysia is in danger of becoming a “failed state” would be laughable – if it were not for the fact that some people take Anwar seriously and will believe what he says, no matter how wild or imaginary.

Here is what some other people have said about Malaysia recently:

  • Bloomberg rated Malaysia as the world’s 5th most promising emerging market in 2015.
  • The IMF’s latest report on our country was titled: “Favourable Prospects for Malaysia’s Diversified Economy”.
  • A Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations wrote: “Malaysian political discourse is becoming far more open than it was even a decade ago.”
  • The ratings agency Fitch recently upgraded the outlook for Malaysia.

This is the truth about Malaysia today. It is a pity that the WSJ has fallen for desperate, unfounded allegations by a politician and presented them as facts – thereby taking sides in internal Malaysian politics.

Dato’Seri ANIFAH AMAN is Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Shashi Tharoor on British Colonialism: The Indian Experience

July 22, 2015

Shashi Tharoor on British Colonialism: The Indian Experience

This is for all those who believe India benefited more than that it lost from being ruled by the British. Here’s a wonderful speech at the Oxford Union Society by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on the motion “This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies.”

In his stirring speech he brilliantly explains how India was governed for the benefit of the Britain and the effect of 200 year rules. What did 200 years of British rule cost us? India had been 23% of the global economy in the early 18th century. When the British left 200 years later, they’d managed to bring it down to a mere 4%! …and that is just a fraction of what the British did. He also spoke about how Britain’s industrialiation was anchored on the de-industrialisation  of India.

Before listening to Dr. Tharoor, hear the views of Henna Dattani–Britain Does Owe Reparations.

INDIA: Does democracy lead to good governance?

July 18, 2015

INDIA: Does democracy lead to good governance?

by Shashi Tharoor

tharoorAfter gaining independence from Britain in 1947, India was something of a poster child for the virtues of democracy — in stark contrast with China, which became a Communist dictatorship in 1949.

Until the 1970s, it was widely argued that, while both countries suffered from extreme poverty, underdevelopment and disease, India’s model was superior because its people were free to choose their own rulers.

With China’s economic boom, however, the counter argument — that a repressive political system is more conducive to development — has gained currency. But while China’s recent performance has been spectacular, India’s model may well stand up better in the long run.

The conversation changed after 1978, when China surged ahead of India economically, causing many to conclude that India’s chaotic democracy was holding back its people. After all, if China’s leaders want to build a new six-lane expressway, they can bulldoze any number of villages. In India, widening a two-lane road could incite popular protests and be tied up in court for years.

That old debate has now taken a new twist with the publication of a new book by Professor Daniel A Bell of Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Professor Bell argues that Chinese authoritarianism — specifically, its “political meritocracy” — is a viable model of governance, possibly even superior to the democracy of India and the West.

Democracy’s advantage

India debated this question 40 years ago, when then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a State of Emergency. She suspended civil liberties, locked up opposition leaders and censored the press, based on the belief that democracy had impeded India’s development. The issue was resolved in 1977, with an election that defenestrated Gandhi and restored democracy.

But the “bread versus freedom” dilemma remains: Can governments deliver economic growth and prosperity while respecting their citizens’ rights and freedoms? The dysfunction of Indian politics in recent years, with its fractious coalitions and disrupted parliament sessions, has made that question seem more relevant than ever.

I am not convinced that Professor Bell’s answer is the right one. Rapid industrialisation and development have lifted millions of Chinese out of poverty, but often at the cost of great human suffering. China may have grown at breakneck speed, but it has broken a lot of necks in the process.

One might like to contrast India’s sclerotic bureaucracy with China’s efficient one, India’s red tape with China’s red carpet for foreign investors, and India’s partisan politics with China’s Party hierarchy.

But there is no doubt that India’s pluralist democracy has enabled it to manage its diversity superbly, giving all citizens the sense that they have a strong stake in their country — and a real influence over how it is run.

In fact, it is India’s large population of poor and disadvantaged citizens — not the elite — that lends Indian democracy its legitimacy.

The poor turn out to vote because they know that participating in elections is their most effective means of letting the government know their demands. When they are frustrated with their government, they vote against its leaders in the next election, rather than launching revolts or insurrections.

When violent movements do arise, the democratic process often defuses them through accommodation: Yesterday’s militants become today’s chief ministers — and tomorrow’s opposition leaders.

By contrast, if China’s system faces a fundamental challenge, its only response is repression. That may have worked so far, but every autocratic state in history has reached a point where repression was no longer enough to ensure order and progress. If China encounters widespread popular unrest, all bets are off. The dragon could stumble, while the elephant trundles on.

Moreover, Professor Bell’s perception of China’s meritocracy may be too optimistic. Given that the Chinese system is rigidly bureaucratic, permitting only gradual ascent up the career ladder, it is impossible for a young and relatively inexperienced but dynamic and inspiring leader — like, say, US President Barack Obama — to emerge.

China would not choose gifted leaders who were failures in their youth, such as US presidents Franklin D Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln. Rebels and non-conformists who have flourished in Indian politics — leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru — would never have gotten started in China’s system.

Beyond China, Professor Bell cites the success of authoritarian systems such as Singapore and Taiwan. But these countries probably would have been at least as successful without authoritarianism. The methods they used to promote growth and development are consistent with democratic principles, to the point that many formerly authoritarian states in East Asia managed to carry out successful transitions to democracy, without derailing their development.

Finally, Professor Bell’s view can be refuted by a simple observation: No population that has gained democratic rights has clamoured for a return to dictatorship. That alone should be enough to prove that democracy is a strength, not a weakness.

China’s system may have enabled its rapid economic rise, but its dependence on a top-to-bottom consensus means that it functions well only in a predictable environment. India’s system, by contrast, requires consensus on only one point: That everyone does not always need to agree, so long as they agree on how to disagree.

In an unpredictable world, that gives India an undeniable — and invaluable — advantage. ― Today

*Shashi Tharoor, a former United Nations under-secretary-general, is a member of India’s Parliament for the Congress Party and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs.

South Africa’s Foreign Policy: Engaging Cambodia, ASEAN and the World

July 15, 2015

KH-Cambodia-UniversityDistinguished Lecture @The University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh-July 2, 2015

South Africa’s Foreign Policy: Engaging Cambodia, ASEAN the World

by HE Ambassador Ms. Robina P. Marks

South Africa-Freedom 1994

We defend the rights of people who are marginalized, excluded or stigmatized on any of these grounds whether it is in the African union or the united nations. We believe that we all have the right to live a life that is free from discrimination, sexism, or religious prosecution. But most of all, we believe that a nation that does not learn from its mistakes is doomed to repeat them again and again. And this is the message  that we share with the world wherever we are.–Ambassador Ms. Robina. P. Marks

It gives me great pleasure to address you on this event, the first of its kind, where we’ve partnered with this university to share with you the foreign policy objectives of my own country, South Africa.

We at the Embassy of South Africa are proud to be associated with The University of Cambodia that has for years produced responsible citizens who continue to play various leadership roles in society. I am also pleased to see that the motto of this university is ‘in pursuit of knowledge and wisdom’. It is therefore more than appropriate that I address you here today, in your pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, about my country, South Africa.

I have 4 countries that I am responsible for-Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. But Cambodia is the country that is closest to my heart, because we share difficult memories of the past. Both of our countries have seen wideSouth African Ambassador scale atrocities and human rights abuses; but both of our countries have also worked hard to reconcile with the past so as to focus on building our countries in a way that will enable it to create a better life for its entire people.

You might know that South Africa was isolated, and rightfully so, from the rest of the world for many, many years because of a system that the White minority rule imposed on the indigenous people of South Africa a system that was called Apartheid. This system was meant to segregate people on the basis of the colour of their skin.

And in this terrible system, whites and blacks were not able to live in the same neighborhood, marry, or go to the same schools and places of worship. It was an offense to do any of these things, and Black people had to carry a pass-an identity card-that indicated who they were and where they belonged. And so all of us were classified on the basis of the colour of our skins, shape of our noses, texture of our hair.

This system also meant that the best jobs were reserved for white people, and the most menial jobs for black people. Black people were also not allowed to vote in the country of their birth, and so you had the peculiar situation that 5 million people, out of a population of about 40 million, made decisions for the whole country. The apartheid government was also very repressive system, and so many of us who protested against apartheid were imprisoned, banned, or died under mysterious circumstances. In fact, the cause of death for many black anti-apartheid prisoners were often cited as accidental cause of death, and that they slipped on a bar of soap while they were in the shower, or that they fell from a high building. But we knew what the truth was. And with the help of the international community, we were able to end apartheid, and start our transition into a new democracy that is non-racial and non-sexist. In fact our constitution is considered to be one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, because we have made human rights and socio-economic rights the basis of our constitution, we had our first democratic elections in 1994, and Nelson Mandela was the first black President of the new South Africa

Nelson Mandela Quote

We consider Nelson Mandela to have been the father of our nation-and his legacy to us is his commitment to turn away from the anger and bitterness of the past to allow for peace and reconciliation. The world joined us in mourning the death of this great man in 2013, and his funeral was attended by the highest number of heads of state ever recorded for a funeral. We also convened a memorial service here in Phnom Penh, and I was extremely touched by the way in which many ordinary people came up to me and told me that his ideas and his life had also inspired him.

But there are other things that you may not know about us. Ours is a country of close to 50 million people, we have 11 official languages and we are also known as the rainbow nation. A rainbow nation, because of the diversity of our cultural backgrounds, and we come in all colours of the rainbow! We are located at the Southernmost tip of Africa, and we are also called the Cradle of Humankind, because it was in South Africa  that the oldest remains of a human being were discovered. But we are also a country of inventors-we performed the world’s first heart transplant and more recently, also the world’s first penile transplant. We have one of the oldest mountains in the world, known as Table Mountain, which was declared one of the seven wonders of the world. We have the oldest wine industry after Europe, and our wines are highly sought after-we also have the world’s longest wine route and the highest bungee jump in the world.

We are the recipient of three Nobel Peace awards, for Nelson Mandela, FW De Klerk and Chief Albert Luthuli. Ours is also a country that has some of the largest mineral deposits in the world- gold, diamonds, platinum to name just a few. In fact the largest diamond ever discovered was found in SA, and today it is part of the Queen Elizabeth’s throne! We are home to one of the largest national game parks in the world, where you can experience our wildlife-lions, cheetahs, the African elephant and tigers. In fact, Kruger National Park is twice the size of Switzerland! You might also know that we hosted one of the most successful FIFA World Cup in SA in 2010, and we attract many tourists.

world, but that we are all united in one important sense-that we are dependent and connected to each other as people, but also countries to ensure that we build and contribute to a better life for all of our people. And that it is only through cooperation that we are able to build our countries, and therefore build a better world for current and future generations.

This is also the basis for our presence here in Cambodia. Like you, the textile industry and tourism are strong pillars of our economy. We also share with you the World Bank’s assessment that you represent an attractive investment destination, with sound macroeconomic policies in place, supported by steady economic growth. And so there’s a lot that we can do to learn and grow with each other.

This also explains why, at the centre of our foreign policy is the concept of fostering people to people relations with Cambodia, with common interests as a testimony of the global community in which we live in.

Our Foreign Relations Policy instructs us to pursue the vision of an African Continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable. We are committed to promoting South Africa’s national interests and values, the African Renaissance and the creation of a better world for all.

South Africa’s relations with Africa and the world are driven by our commitment that peace and stability are critical for us to deal with our key challenges of fighting unemployment, poverty and inequality. We pursue peaceful means of resolving conflicts whenever we are given an opportunity to do so. In this regard we are driven by our experience and pain of apartheid discrimination which denied peace to the majority of the country’s citizens.

We continue to nurture our historical relations with countries whose foreign policies were concerned with the human rights and dignity of our people at a time which supported us in ending apartheid. It is partly this orientation which drives what many see as a ‘look to the East and South’ slant in our foreign relations. Our relationship with Asia is an important one to us, and one that continues to grow. We see Asia, the tiger, and Africa, the lion, as the last two frontiers of economic growth, and we have a lot to offer each other. It therefore makes sense to us that our trading patterns have also shifted-today; China is our largest trading partner, followed by Japan, the US, the UK and Germany. The old orientation to Europe has shifted to Asia, who, like Africa, has weathered the financial crises very well.

Our Foreign Policy is also articulated in our commitment to focus our international relations and cooperation towards building a better Africa and a better world. Politically and economically, we are the largest and most significant economy in Africa, and are also the only African country that serves on the G20. We also currently chair the G77 plus China, and we have served twice in the UN Security Council. We are also the first country to voluntarily dismantle our nuclear program. Sa is respected as a credible, impartial partner in many countries who are going through a reconciliation and nation building process, because it is important for us to share our lessons and best practices. So that is just a brief background on South Africa.


Our foreign policy is based on an African concept called UBUNTU, which means, ‘I am, because you are’. Using this concept is a reminder to us that we live in a multi polar worfd

Allow me to share with you our immediate and long term priorities as we seek to operationalize our stated vision and commitment towards building a better Africa and a better world.

Africa and African Union

Our economic and political efforts as a country, while also recognizing the internal challenges we face as a country, are deployed with the recognition that we are first an African country and that we should support all efforts aimed at the attainment of prosperity to Africa. We cannot talk about the realization of prosperity in Africa without peace and stability. It is South Africa’s stated intention, working together with other African countries, regional organisations and the African Union, that there should be no African child who cannot realize their dreams because of circumstances of war or insecurity in their country. As such, we aim to be part of the African countries that positively strengthen the African institutions so that we can reach the targets outlined in the Agenda 2063 framework document. Of course, your equivalent for the African Union is the ASEAN, and we continue to cooperate with each other. This relationship goes back all the way to the historic Bandung Conference in 1955, which was the first time that Africa and Asia came together to seek cooperation with each other. Therefore the spirit of Bandung is still with us today as we seek partnerships.

Enhancement of our strategic partnerships

We actively continue establishing geostrategic partnerships through strengthening South-South relations while also advancing strategic relations with the formations of the North. With the changing global trends, it is important for South Africa to diversify its relations particularly with other emerging economies in order to open up new ways of finding sustainable solutions to global challenges.

Our participation in formations such as G20, BRICS, IBSA, G-77 and others is guided by our desire for a World that is fair and equitable. With our BRICS partners we are forging ahead creating credible institutions, such as the New Development Bank.  Europe and North America also remain South Africa’s strategic regions and we are encouraged to see that in both regions there is widespread recovery following the crippling economic crisis that started in Europe.

Our structured bilateral relations with both countries of the South and the North also provide us with a platform to engage in sustainable partnerships for development, including through the promotion of trade and investment; the establishment of joint projects for infrastructure development; and the sharing of technical skills that can help upscale delivery to our stated five national priority areas.

Creation of a fair Global Governance system

One of the foundations of South Africa’s foreign policy is our firm belief in multilateralism and collective solutions for shared challenges. Former President Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. While this was in reference to our struggle against apartheid regime, this saying also provides an instructive lesson for the current global governance structures. These remain imbalanced and not reflective of the current global realities.

With reference to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), we remain resolute in our call for the reform of this important institution that is tasked with global security matters. In fact, many of the agenda items of the UN Security Council deals with issues and yet we are not one of the permanent members.

The current composition of this institution makes it difficult for the UNSC to respond to global crises in a responsible manner. We belief that the 70th anniversary of the U.N. this year provides an opportunity to make a meaningful progress on the reform the UNSC. We shall not rest until this important institution and others are reformed because we believe that transforming these is not only good for the institutions themselves, but will also provide testimony to the stated principle of sovereign nations participating in foreign relations as equal partners.

South Africa is of the view that multilateral cooperation is more relevant than ever before in seeking lasting solutions to global problems. That is why we will continue to ensure that the voice of the South is heard in such fora as G20, while also enhancing our constructive engagement with partners on such issues relating to an equitable global trade regime as well as on issues of global climate change.

The world has an immense capacity to resolve global problems through cooperative means. South Africa’s membership of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) also provides an opportunity for us to advance this position. It is our view that non-governmental organizations have an important strategic role to play in international relations as they contribute the type of skills and practical experience that are valuable to resolving global challenges.

Strengthening South Africa’s participation in Economic Diplomacy

Economic Diplomacy has become the central pillar of relations among nations and as a country we are forging ahead utilizing the resources we already have while also developing new skills in this area. We aspire for a South Africa that continues to attract international trade and investments which will enable us to participate in the on-going initiatives aimed at positioning Africa as a major economic continent. One of the key objectives is to expand Africa’s industrial base.

In conclusion

We have been able to turn away from our painful history of apartheid to a country that respects the human rights of everyone, irrespective of their sexual orientation, race, gender, physical ability or religion. We respect our cultural diversity, because we believe that that is what makes us stronger as a nation.

We defend the rights of people who are marginalized, excluded or stigmatized on any of these grounds whether it is in the African union or the united nations. We believe that we all have the right to live a life that is free from discrimination, sexism, or religious prosecution. But most of all, we believe that a nation that does not learn from its mistakes is doomed to repeat them again and again. And this is the message  that we share with the world wherever we are.

Killing the European Project

July 13, 2015

 Killing the European Project

by Paul Krugman–The Conscience of a Liberal

Suppose you consider Tsipras an incompetent twerp. Suppose you dearly want to see Syriza out of power. Suppose, even, that you welcome the prospect of pushing those annoying Greeks out of the euro.

PM of Greece

Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.

Can anything pull Europe back from the brink? Word is that Mario Draghi is trying to reintroduce some sanity, that Hollande is finally showing a bit of the pushback against German morality-play economics that he so signally failed to supply in the past. But much of the damage has already been done. Who will ever trust Germany’s good intentions after this?

In a way, the economics have almost become secondary. But still, let’s be clear: what we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line. This has no bearing at all on the underlying economics of austerity. It’s as true as ever that imposing harsh austerity without debt relief is a doomed policy no matter how willing the country is to accept suffering. And this in turn means that even a complete Greek capitulation would be a dead end.

Can Greece pull off a successful exit? Will Germany try to block a recovery? (Sorry, but that’s the kind of thing we must now ask.)

The European project — a project I have always praised and supported — has just been dealt a terrible, perhaps fatal blow. And whatever you think of Syriza, or Greece, it wasn’t the Greeks who did it.

Malaysia’s Najib Razak fights for political life

July 6, 2015

Malaysia’s Najib Razak fights for political life amid 1MDB claims

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak faces a struggle for survival amid growing fallout from allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were channeled from a state development fund into his personal bank accounts.

rosmah-pink-handbagMore Needed than Just Prayer (Doa)

Investigators of the escalating scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad have passed the country’s Attorney-General evidence relating to transfers totaling almost $700m shortly before the last elections.

Mr Najib has denied taking money for personal gain and has denounced the accusations as “a concerted campaign of political sabotage to topple a democratically elected Prime Minister”.

The Financial Times has not been able to independently verify the allegations. They have added to turmoil in Malaysian politics at a time when Mr Najib’s United Malays National Organisation faces a grave challenge to its near six-decade hegemony.

Analysts say the claims, reported on Friday by the Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report website, are potentially fatal for Mr Najib’s career. They appear to make the first direct link between the premier and the long-running scandal over how 1MDB racked up debts of more than $11bn.

Professor James Chin, Director of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, said the fresh claims showed how Mr Najib “can’t seem to shake off the scandal” of the 1MDB affair.

“If indeed the money is in an account bearing his name and he is the owner of the account, he’s toast,” Prof Chin said. “We will get to the truth soon, because the amount is large, and most governments around the world have strict reporting systems for large financial transactions.”

The Attorney-General said at the weekend that he had received documents relating to the latest allegations about 1MDB, which was the subject of four separate official investigations. The fund had denied it had given money to Mr Razak and — like him — had claimed it was the victim of a plot.

The most serious of the latest claims against Mr Najib is that two transfers totaling US$681m were made via a series of companies linked to 1MDB to an account in his name just before the tight 2013 parliamentary elections.

The opposition won the popular vote in those polls, but the design of the electoral system meant the United Malays National Organisation ended up with most seats.

If indeed the money is in an account bearing [Najib Razak’s] name and he is the owner of the account, he’s toas.t– James Chin, Director of the Asia Institute at Tasmania University

Mr Najib set up 1MDB in 2009 and chairs its advisory board, but the fund has come under increasing scrutiny over its investments and financial dealings, particularly with some prominent Gulf companies.

Mahathir Lawan NajibThe pressure on the Prime Minister has grown further because Mahathir Mohamad, the influential former premier of more than 20 years, has called on his successor to step down over the fund’s activities. Two opposition parties have also called for Mr Najib to stand aside pending an investigation into the latest claims.


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