Paul Low shamelessly hangs on to his Cabinet post


July 24, 2016

Paul Low shamelessly hangs on to his Cabinet post

by Stephen Ng

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/349605

COMMENT:  At least Wahid Omar, Idris Jala and former finance minister II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah have ‘abandoned’ the present cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

One person whom I have been trying to persuade to leave the cabinet is Paul Low Seng Kuan, who is still hanging on to his ministerial post as if this was the divine decree that he received when Najib’s office first contacted him about the offer.

Sadly, as a Christian, Low has chosen to be part of a cabinet in support of Najib, even at a time when the whole world can immediately see the link between Najib and the Malaysian Official No 1 mentioned in the civil suit filed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

In the court of public opinion, one does not have to wait for the entire case to be dispensed by the court. As long as the DOJ is able to produce concrete evidence showing the money trail, that alone is sufficient for the public to know how the money had allegedly been laundered.

Dr. Loretta Lynch  and colleagues in DOJ, USA are dealing with  Kleptocrats (the Foxes) in the Malaysian Hen House because our MACC and Attorney-General failed us.

Between what the DOJ has revealed during its press conference in Washington DC and Najib’s long denial of the scandal, Low should be able to decide for himself who is more transparent. As a minister working within Najib’s cabinet, I want to know if Low has in fact advised Najib to own up to the scandal, or has he not?

The facts and evidences are all there on the table. Nothing that could be revealed by the DOJ was not hidden away from us. The Bible says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Perhaps, what the DOJ has disclosed this week is too shocking for Low himself, who had once shocked even the average Malaysian, when he likened too much transparency to a naked woman.

What saddens me the most is that someone can use Scripture to justify his position in cabinet, and thereafter, do all the whitewashing. At a meeting where Low attended, Low had said that Najib “is serious about fighting corruption”.

Immediately, he received a very strong response from a discerning theological professor who said that he did not honestly think so. This was way before the expose of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) by the Wall Street Journal or Sarawak Report.

As a former president of Transparency International ( Tunku A Aziz was the Founder of TI Malaysian Chapter), Low should come clean, and tell the world whether he is now able to convince Najib to own up to being the Malaysian Official No 1, so that others like DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang are not implicated.

No matter how the spin wheel is turned, it will still point to either the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the chairperson of the Advisory Board of 1MDB, the “senior official in the government of Malaysia”, “senior person of authority in 1MDB” and “relative of Riza Aziz”.

Where does Wong Kim Kong now stand?

Low has be upfront now to tell us if he had a role to play in the setting up of the well-funded Christians for Peace and Harmony Malaysia (CPHM), and naturally, the other person I want to bring to the forefront is Wong Kim Kong, who is chairperson of the organisation.

I am not against anyone or organisation in particular, but I am angry when people are pretending to be neutral and using the Christian platform in an effort to defend the indefensible or endorse a particular person.

It is such hypocrisy that has to be exposed so that the truth can prevail, but even at this juncture, I would urge that Low redeem his reputation by leaving the cabinet if he is still true to his conscience and our God.

After the DOJ’s civil suit, Najib does not appear to be able to escape the infamy his 1MDB scandal has earned him; therefore, the only right thing to do is to state your stand and dissociate yourself from him.


STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

1MDB is more than just about stolen money


July 24, 2016

1MDB is more than just about stolen money

by TK Chua

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

La Maison de Vincent a Arles, by Vincent Van Gogh.

This painting by Vincent van Gogh belongs to Malaysia

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/23/van-gogh-and-monet-paintings-seized-in-1mdb-corruption-investigation

So many countries are now investigating 1Malaysia Development Berhad: in the course of them doing that, I hope some are not subtly holding this country to ransom. Given our endless predicaments, it is important to ensure that our sovereignty and vital interests are not compromised when dealing with others.

It is important to keep vigilant of treaties signed, concessions made, and foreign policies promulgated during this difficult time.

How could we raise so much money through bonds and then use the proceeds for unimaginable wayward indulgences? Are reputable investment bankers and sophisticated bond investors blind or are they part of the conspiracy?

It is just too convenient to push the responsibility to the Malaysian government (present and future) and the Malaysian taxpayer. It is time investment bankers are held accountable and bond-holders take a “haircut”. I don’t care, maybe we should just default on the bonds and damn the sovereignty ratings: there is not much reputation left to protect in the first place.

READ THIS: 

http://www.wsj.com/articles/decision-time-on-malaysias-1mdb-1469142956

Institutional failure is now pervasive. These institutions were set up under our constitution and system of government. They draw salaries and perks from our coffers; they are expected to perform specific functions and entrusted responsibility. But look at them now, none of them work.

There are investigations which lead to no outcome. They are enquiries and audits, but the results are hidden. They have the inherent power to “make a difference” but somehow they have chosen to remain silent.

How do we feel as Malaysians now? While we exchange jokes about the baloney, I think the indignation, despair and uncertainty in each of us is very real. We feel that those entrusted to govern have failed us completely. Our democratic rights are being denied and our economic wellbeing threatened.

I hope we can all see the double jeopardy here: even if we Malaysians are prepared to lose the money in 1MDB, it will not buy us the country we used to have, having now become so parochial, archaic, hypocritical, corrupt, and incompetent.

1MDB is an eye opener to many things we take for granted. We can’t assume that national leaders will do the right and proper things. We can’t assume we are a democracy simply because we hold elections every five years. We can’t assume institutions will perform their roles and protect the people. We are all very capable of indulging in fake democracy and false pretences.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

READ THIS:

Justice Dept. Rejects Account of How Malaysia’s Leader Acquired Millions (NYT), Change Log

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/23/world/asia/malaysia-1mdb-najib-razak.html

By RICHARD C. PADDOCK | First archived on July 22, 2016, 8:23 a.m.

NO, Tunku Aziz, 1MDB is “a modern day wonder”, not the US Probe


July 23, 2016

NO, Tunku Aziz, 1MDB is “a modern day wonder”, not the US Probe

by Bernama

Description:

For Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim (pic above), the total lack of communication with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in regard to the filing of civil forfeiture by the United States Department of Justice, are among several features that intrigued him.

In his article published by Malaysia Outlook news portal, Tunku Abdul Aziz who was former United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, questioned the method used in obtaining information which he described as a “modern-day wonder”.

“How could anyone conduct a thorough and professional investigation without seeking and obtaining information from primary sources such as 1MDB officials and other relevant authorities, including Malaysian law officers,” he asked.

Najib Razak, Architect of “IMDB modern day wonder”

The civil lawsuit for the recovery of assets in excess of US$1 billion accused of being plundered from 1MDB, was announced by US Attorney-General Loretta E Lynch on Wednesday (July 13).

Tunku Abdul Aziz said it was regrettable that the Americans had chosen to fight their war against cross-border corruption by hiding behind a smokescreen of high-minded moral principles that could not stand up to close scrutiny.

“Yet in the same breath, and stopping just short of naming names, they impute improper motives to our Prime Minister (Najib Abdul Razak) and cast aspersions on his reputation and character, without being able to produce an ounce of proof.

“It is worth reminding ourselves that there is absolutely no suggestion in any of the investigations conducted so far by the authorities in Switzerland and Malaysia that Najib had stolen anything from 1MDB,” he said.

He said the Public Accounts Committee, comprising government and opposition lawmakers, after months of exhaustive investigation and in regular consultations with the auditor-general recently produced their authoritative report that exonerated the prime minister from all allegations of wrongdoing.

“In short, the allegations against him were reckless, vindictive and frivolous. In all the circumstances, Najib is innocent until proven guilty under the law.What is shocking is that there are many among us who cannot cope with the truth and the truth is that the prime minister is innocent until proven guilty,” he added.

– Bernama

 

Malaysia’s 2016 Tipping Point but Justice for Malaysians


July 23, 2016

Malaysia’s 2016 Tipping Point but Justice for Malaysians

Najib Razak’s Kleptocratic career may be in danger, thanks to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and Colleagues

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com

Kuala Lumpur insiders say massive US probe could bring him down

For the first time since he began life of theft of vast amounts of Malaysian government funds that began at least in 1999 when he was named Ddefense minister for the second time by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s kleptocratic career may finally be in danger.

It is rare, if ever, that a foreign Head of State and an ally of the United States government has been hit with charges as devastating as those released on July 20 by US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch against suspects in what she called an “an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.”

Malangnya Obama tak boleh campur tangan ( Sadly Obama cannot interfere)

Although he is identified only as “Malaysian Public Official No. 1,” it is clear that Najib is the target of what Lynch called “the largest single action ever brought” under the US’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

The US Justice Department investigation is a damning indictment of the entire structure surrounding 1MDB.  It found that from 2009 through 2015, more than US$3.5 billion in funds belonging to 1MDB were misappropriated from an entity ostensibly created by the Malaysian government to promote economic development in Malaysia through global partnerships and foreign direct investment, and intended to be used for improving the well-being of the Malaysian people.

“Instead, as detailed in the complaints, 1MDB officials and their associates allegedly misappropriated more than $3 billion,” Lynch said.

Where Najib goes from here is anybody’s question. He has done what might be called a brilliant job so far of maneuvering to stay out of the law’s clutches after more than a year and a half of deeply detailed allegations of corruption by opposition figures and particularly by Clare Rewcastle Brown, the editor of Sarawak Report. He might pull it off again, although doubts are growing.

The Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya issued an astonishing statement saying that “Malaysian authorities have led the way in investigations into 1MDB. The company has been the subject of multiple investigations within Malaysia, including by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Auditor General and bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee.”

In fact, as has been universally reported everywhere but in Malaysia’s kept press, officials have sought to thwart every single domestic attempt to bring an investigation into activities surrounding 1MDB, including firing Attorney General Abdul Gani Patel when his office was on the eve of writing an indictment of Najib and replacing him with Mohamed Apandi Ali, a United Malays National Organization lawyer and lackey who, according to the Prime Minister’s office statement, “after a comprehensive review…found that that no crime was committed.”

One extremely well-wired analyst in Kuala Lumpur called the Justice Department’s statement a “game-changer.” Another said he had conversations overnight with some of UMNO’s most powerful mandarins, including senior supreme council members and members of the administration, who think Najib will be unable to twist his way out of this, as he has so often in the past.

“They are realistic and said they were already getting calls and messages from colleagues looking for escape routes from the sinking ship Rosmah,” he said, referring to Najib’s imperious wife Rosmah Mansor. “Once the exodus begins, it will come to a crescendo fast. That’s how UMNO works. The question is, who will be the first Brutus? Mark my words – they will soon be scrambling to outdo each other in distancing themselves from both Najib and Rosmah.”

What is wrong prayers can’t help

Soon, it will be time to cry

If it happens, it will be a long and excruciating fall for a man who as recently as last November was playing golf in Hawaii with US President Barack Obama and who reveled in speaking at the United Nations as the head of a moderate Muslim nation that was supposedly a democratic bulwark in Southeast Asia.

But Najib began a career of deep corruption almost as soon as he became defense minister for the second time in 1999 under then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He set out to modernize the Malaysian military, reportedly suborning bribes all the way along, with much of the money being poured into the coffers of the United Malays National Organization, buying him loyalty from the cadres that has endured to this day.

As Asia Sentinel reported in 2007, “if three separate contracts over the past several years are any yardstick, Najib Razak, who became Defense Minister in 1999 and kept the portfolio when he became Deputy Prime Minister, appears to have mastered the game [of profiting off of defense contracts] far beyond the expectations of any previous defense leaders. Opposition figures say three contracts, one for Russian Sukhoi jet fighters, a second for French submarines and a third for navy patrol boats, appear to have produced at least US$300 million for UMNO cronies, Najib’s friends and others.

The biggest of those was a US$1 billion contract with the French munitions giant DCN for two Scorpene submarines that produced US$141 million in bribes that were funneled to UMNO, and another €36 million (US$39.6 million at current exchange rates) routed through a shell company in Hong Kong that went to a close friend of Najib.

As Asia Sentinel detailed in a prize winning series of articles in 2012, that contract resulted in what had been the biggest scandal in Malaysian history until this one came along. It featured the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian translator and party girl who reportedly had been passed from Najib to Abdul Razak Baginda, the agent on the submarine purchase. Altantuya, who by her own admission was asking for US$500,000 in blackmail funds, was shot in the head on October 19, 2006, and then blown up with C4 explosives available only from Malaysia’s military. Two of Najib’s bodyguards were convicted of the killing.

The current scandal began in 2009, when Jho Taek Low, a Penang-born wunderkind and friend of Najib’s family, created the mechanism by which 1MDB was born. According to the US Justice Department complaint, it grew into a hydra-headed monster that resulted in money laundering over much of the planet as Jho Low and his friends looted hundreds of millions of dollars of funds to pay gambling debts and blaze a trail across Broadway marked with the purchase of magnums of Cristal champagne lavished on blondes.

The complaint spelled out in detail what had long been suspected, that US$681 million that mysteriously turned up in Najib’s personal bank accounts in Kuala Lumpur’s Ambank in March of 2013 was not a donation from a mysterious Saudi prince to defend Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation in a war with extremism but rather was stolen from 1MDB through a series of shell transactions.  Hussain Najadi, the founder of Arab-Malaysian Bank Bhd. which became Ambank, was gunned down on the street in July of that year.  His son, Pascal Najadi, has repeatedly accused unknown figures of assassinating his father because he was complaining loudly about UMNO corruption and the movement of money through Ambank.

“The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption,” Lynch said.  “With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people.  Instead, they were stolen, laundered through American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates.  Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes. ”

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Caldwell called it case that imitated art, with stolen money being poured into the production of The Wolf of Wall Street, “a movie about a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven.  But whether corrupt officials try to hide stolen assets across international borders – or behind the silver screen – the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that there is no safe haven.”

Stolen money that is subsequently used to purchase interests in music companies, artwork or high-end real estate is subject to forfeiture under U.S. law,” said U.S. Attorney Decker.  “Today’s actions are the result of the tremendous dedication of attorneys in my office and the Department of Justice, as well as law enforcement agents across the country.  All of us are committed to sending a message that we will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt, a platform for money laundering or a place to hide and invest stolen riches.”

The complaints alleged that the members of the conspiracy diverted more than $3.5 billion in 1MDB funds. “Using fraudulent documents and representations, the co-conspirators allegedly laundered the funds through a series of complex transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts located in the Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States,” according to Lynch’s statement. “These transactions were allegedly intended to conceal the origin, source and ownership of the funds, and were ultimately processed through U.S. financial institutions and were used to acquire and invest in assets located in the United States.”

In seeking recovery of more than $1 billion, the complaints detail the alleged misappropriation of 1MDB’s assets as it occurred over the course of at least three schemes, the statement said.  In 2009, the complaints allege that 1MDB officials and their associates embezzled approximately $1 billion that was intended to be invested to exploit energy concessions purportedly owned by a foreign partner.

Instead, the funds were transferred through shell companies and were used to acquire a number of assets including high-end real estate and hotel properties in New York and Los Angeles, a $35 million jet aircraft, works of art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, an interest in the music publishing rights of EMI Music and the production of The Wolf of Wall Street.

1MDB Saga– US Department of Justice does Malaysia a great favour


July 23, 2016

The COMMENT from Ambassador John R. Mallot, former US Ambassador to Malaysia on the article by our mutual friend, John Berthelsen of http://www.asiasentinel.com merits top billing as he outlines in simple, readable English what can happen next.

Ambassador Malott also asks us Malaysians to think: What are we going to do next? Sit still, do nothing and suffer in silence. There is a limit to what countries like Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, United States and others can do for us. It is our collective responsibility to fight for good governance, democracy, freedom and justice. Otherwise, we deserve the status quo. The former US Ambassador is not optimistic that we will act.

No way, Mr. Ambassador. Maria Chin Abdullah is planning BERSIH 5.0. to show our government led by Prime Minister Najib Razak that enough is enough. We should also have a Royal Commission of Inquiry on 1MDB, as suggested by Lim Kit Siang.

Only UMNO Malays will glorify the Prime Minister. They will blame Israel, Zionists and the Jewish diaspora. As usual, our Ulamas ( I call them ularmak or mother of snakes) will say Islam is being attacked by the infidels and Najib is their Defender of the Faith.

What additional evidence do we need to show conclusively that our Prime Minister Najib and his cohorts in 1MDB are crooks of the worst kind. They have taken billion of ringgits from our Treasury and we are now expected to bear the burden of having to service and repay the loans. I expect all Malaysians to know that without income and profits from hardworking Malaysians and corporations, our government will not have the revenue to service the mounting national debt. Why are we trusting our foxes to guard the hen house? That beats me.–Din Merican

Here is Ambassador Mallot’s comment:

As always, John Bertelsen clarifies everything so well. Some thoughts about what happens next, on the US side:

The US Government already has seized all of this property. So now Aziz and Jho Low cannot sell anything and try to get their money out of the US.

The next step, as John Bethelsen points out, is for Aziz, Jho Low, and others to prove in a court of law that the property truly was purchased with their own money and was not the result of stealing money from 1MDB. Of course, they cannot prove that. The FBI and DOJ filing is thorough and professional. The proof is all there. It even includes the transcripts of wiretapped phone calls of Jho Low talking to his bankers.

The US Government will hold all of that property — the real estate, the paintings, the rights to “Wolf of Wall Street,” etc. IN CUSTODY (or trust) on behalf of the people of Malaysia, from whom the money was stolen. But — the assets will NOT belong to the US Government.

As the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the others pointed out, the money was stolen from the people of Malaysia. The assets belong to them. (How ironic that the US Attorney General seems to care more about this thievery than the Malaysian Attorney General does…)

In the meantime the US Government will rent out Aziz’s condo in NYC and his Beverly Hills house. They will take over the management of the hotels in New York and Beverly Hills that were purchased with the stolen money. The US Government will collect the profits from all future sales of the DVDs and TV rights of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The Monet and Van Gogh paintings will go on exhibition somewhere. And so on. And all of that profit will be held by the US Government for the Malaysian people.

Young Aziz will be homeless. In order to save itself and the films it has in production (including a new film about George Washington, starring Leonardo Dicaprio), Red Granite Pictures will get rid of him. So Aziz will be jobless, too.

When the US Government files criminal charges against Aziz (and I am sure they will), they will ask the court to seize his passport, so he cannot leave the US. The Malaysian Embassy in Washington will then try to defraud the US Government and issue a new passport to Aziz so that he can leave the country — and we will see how efficient the US Government is at catching this.

If the Malaysian Government asks for the property to be transferred back to them, the US Government will do so.But as Berthelsen points out, will Najib do that? No. If Najib asks for the money back, it means that he is admitting that the money was stolen from the development fund that he headed, that the stolen money went to his stepson and his “advisor” Jho Low, and that he has been lying about this to the Malaysian people for years.

Of course he will never do that. Asking for the money back will have to wait for a request from a future Prime Minister. And why would Najib want to ask “for the money back,” when he and his family and cronies already have it — or have spent it?

From an international viewpoint, this is the end of Najib. He is an international pariah. He is a crook. He is a fraud. The world will want nothing to do with him. He will not be welcome anywhere. People will be embarrassed to be seen with him, to shake his hand, to be photographed with him.

As for Rosmah, her credit at Hermes and Tiffany’s and elsewhere will be cut off. Now those luxury stores know that the money was not hers. It was stolen from the Malaysian people, and they do not want to be complicit. They have their own reputations to protect.

That is how the world will react. But how will the Malaysian people react? Will Najib get away with this, back in Malaysia? I fear that the answer is yes. If so, it means that Malaysia is now in Mugabe-Land.

The IGP says that the US Government never asked for cooperation from the Malaysian Government in their investigation. Yet both the MACC and the FBI have said that they cooperated with each other in the investigation. The IGP knows the truth, so why did he say otherwise?

The Attorney General says that this is all speculation and innuendo, and that there is no proof for the US Government’s charges. Yet the US Government issued a very thorough, professional, and detailed 136-page filing with the court. It is there for the AG to read, rather than insult the US Government.

As long as the IGP and Attorney General continue to deny the truth in the face of overwhelming evidence — we know where this is going. But now I have to ask my Malaysia friends — in Malaysia, where will this go? Is there no way to save Malaysia?–John R. Malott

1MDB Saga– US Department of Justice does Malaysia a great favour

by  John Berthelsen

… Najib has been able to shortstop more than a year and a half of allegations by both opposition figures and members of his own government, threatening accusers with sedition charges and firing or otherwise neutralizing government investigators as well. Kevin Morais, a lawyer working on charges against the Prime Minister for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, was kidnapped and murdered last September after it became apparent that he was feeding information to Clare Rewcastle Brown, the indefatigable editor of the Sarawak Report, who has done more than anyone else to delineate wrongdoing involving Najib, Rosmah and 1MDB.–John Berthelsen

Reports in American newspapers that the US government plans to seize more than US$1 billion in assets purchased by funds allegedly stolen from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. sovereign wealth fund brings a massive scandal one giant step closer to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

According to stories in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the properties, bought through Delaware shell companies, involve real estate in Los Angeles and New York, which according to other sources are believed to be closely tied to the Najib family, particularly Najib’s is Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son by a previous marriage.

The other is Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low as he is known, who was the brains behind setting up 1MDB in the first place. Although Najib himself was the financial adviser to the fund until quite recently and according to statute was responsible for signing off on all of the 1MDB financial transactions, he is not expected to be named. After establishing a flamboyant presence in New York’s café scene, Jho Low has more recently made himself scarce in the US.

The Justice Department action, expected to take place on July 20 in the US, follows a May 24 move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to force the closure of BSI Bank Ltd – the first merchant bank to be closed in Singapore in 32 years – for its role in what Singapore authorities charged were 41 cases of breaches of money laundering and other Singapore laws. MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon called BSI Bank “the worst case of control lapses and gross misconduct that we have seen in the Singapore financial sector.”

Investigations into 1MDB are said to be underway in seven countries, although the US one is believed to be the most advanced. Swiss authorities have charged that as much as US$4 billion may have been laundered out of the fund into Swiss banks. In all, according to Democratic Action Party spokesman Tony Pua, speaking to local media, the government may be forced to take over more than MYR27 billion (US$6.75 billion) in unfunded liabilities from 1MDB, which was ordered shut down in May with its assets and liabilities to be transferred to the Ministry of Finance.

So far, Najib has been able to shortstop more than a year and a half of allegations by both opposition figures and members of his own government, threatening accusers with sedition charges and firing or otherwise neutralizing government investigators as well. Kevin Morais, a lawyer working on charges against the Prime Minister for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, was kidnapped and murdered last September after it became apparent that he was feeding information to Clare Rewcastle Brown, the indefatigable editor of the Sarawak Report, who has done more than anyone else to delineate wrongdoing involving Najib, Rosmah and 1MDB.

Clare Rewcastle Brown, the indefatigable editor of the Sarawak Report

Through it all, relying on intimidation of accusers and by alleging to his ethnic constituency that the accusations were a Chinese plot to take power away from ethnic Malays, relying as well on stirring religious extremism, Najib has been able to ride out what is considered the biggest political and financial scandal in Malaysian history, possibly involving at least two murders ( that of Kevin Morais and Hussein Najadi).

A statewide election in Sarawak in May, plus two by-elections in June that were won by the United Malays National Organization and its Sarawak allies left Najib riding high politically and planning a possible national snap election that would cement his leadership for the next five years under Malaysia’s parliamentary system.

Now, however, given the US action against properties that are closely tied to his family, it is questionable whether he wants to dare such an election, even with a fragmented and ineffective opposition. Lim Guan Eng, the Secretary General of the Democratic Action Party, is under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for purchasing a home from a friend well below the market price.

Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the three-party Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition, is in prison, serving five years on trumped-up charges of sexual perversion. The Islamist Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), the third leg of the coalition, has split into two factions over the issue of implementing Islamic law in the one state the party controls.

The government has also maintained ruthless control over the press, temporarily suspending The Edge financial newspaper group after it printed damning allegations against 1MDB and driving the Malaysian Insider, an influential online publication, out of business. The government has also blocked Sarawak Report and Asia Sentinel from online circulation in Malaysia.

Thus, it is almost certain that Najib can remain in power unless an indictment is brought against him or other members of his family. For instance, he has so far survived an announcement late last year by French authorities that two officials of the defense company Thales had been indicted specifically on charges of bribing Najib over the purchase of French submarines more than a decade ago.

In this case, it appears that the assets the US Justice Department is expected to confiscate are closely tied to the Najibs themselves. According to the New York Times, they include real estate which is believed to have been purchased for the Najib family by Jho Low through shell companies, as well as art and other luxury goods. The US, for instance, may be after assets connected to Red Granite Productions, partly owned by Rosmah’s son Reza Aziz, which produced the award-winning Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo de Caprio.

As the Times pointed out, the forfeiture process is lengthy, with a court required to ascertain that no other interested party has a valid claim to the properties. In turn, that raises the interesting question whether members of the Najib family might dare to step forward to claim them. Once true ownership is determined, the court must decide whether the money used to buy those assets was, in fact, earned illicitly. Only then can the government permanently seize the assets, the Times asserted.

http://www.asiasentinel.com/

1MDB–A Symbol of Shame for Malaysia


July 22, 2016

1MDB–A Symbol of Shame for Malaysia

by Zakiah Koya

The 1MDB trio of Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, Arul Kanda Kandasamy and Superstar Najib Razak.

No one in Malaysia can open their social media accounts without having the one number and three lettered acronym staring back at them for the past few days.

As a matter of fact, that one number and three lettered acronym has been haunting us for months, but only in the past two days, someone has finally put a white shroud on it and we are now finally seeing its shape come into view.

1.M.D.B. has finally been caught by the United States of America (US) crime busters after its spree in Malaysia, US, Singapore, UAE and a few more countries.

The live telecast of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) showed Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and a high powered team breaking it point by point on what they are doing on 1MDB took the internet by storm as it was announced as the “ largest single action ever brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

It was definitely interesting the way Malaysia was shamed on world stage as millions watched it live and the news was telecast, for it was truly 1Malaysia Di Bantai (1Malaysia Being Damned). And in US, where everything is BIG, this must the biggest kleptocracy in the world too, we can safely presume. Malaysia Boleh, we all say.

During the press conference, the US government announced that it is seeking to recover more than $1 billion in assets tied to international public corruption and a global money laundering conspiracy.

Lynch announced civil forfeiture complaints to recover assets associated with a fund owned by the Malaysian government that raised nearly $8 billion to benefit the Malaysian people. However, loads  of the money was diverted by high-ranking fund officials and their associates to purchase yachts, hotels, a $35 million jet, artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and to bankroll the popular 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street.

In response, the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak calmly called for calm. After all, Najib was the one who started the 1MDB as Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), a sovereign wealth fund aimed at ensuring economic development for the state of Terengganu for the people of Terengganu.  Najib calmly said that one must not jump to conclusions and prejudge those named by the US DOJ.

The Star Online reported that Najib has urged all parties not to jump to conclusions over the ongoing action by the US Justice Department to seize over US$1bil (RM4.02bil) in assets allegedly linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The Prime Minister said the Government will extend its full cooperation to all international investigative bodies relating to the matter.  “We take the matter seriously on the statement by the United States’ Justice Department which was issued late last night.  I want to say categorically that we are serious about good governance so anything that is against the law, we want the process to take its course,” said Najib.

Najib said it is important to establish that it is a civil action and not a criminal action.  “And those people who are involved will have their right to say through the court process in the United States,” he said, reported The Star Online.

Yes, one must give thumbs up to Najib’s call and must not prejudge and must let the law take its course.One must also give credit to Najib’s bravery and calmness for coming out in public and saying this, despite his stepson Riza Aziz being named.

One must also applaud Najib for being very “Prime Ministerial” and not telling us who “Malaysian Official 1” as named by DOJ is. (For one must not interfere in an ongoing investigation.) Najib is ‘doing well’ by holding up his demeanour, despite the looming court case in US which may be the downfall of many in the government, or the government itself, which has been battling the 1MDB scandal for more than a year now.

While all this is happening on the internet and all this news is being bandied about by the Malaysian rakyat  who understands English, one does wonder if the rural folks may want to get it further translated into the people’s language. One does hope that the majority of the rakyat in the country does know what is going on, if only to massage the present government for temporary relief while it is going through this ordeal of shame.

So, let us hope the government of the day walks the talk and not prejudge those of us who may have our own ideas of what has really happened and will happen. Najib must also tell his ministers to hold their tongues and not speak of it and be defensive.

It would do good too for Najib to walk among the rakyat freely now and take all the questions of the media on 1MDB, so that we do not prejudge and come to our own conclusions.