Latest from Sarawak Report on The One that refuses to go away– Najib’s RM2.6 billion

October 8, 2015

Latest from Sarawak Report on The One that refuses to go away– Najib’s RM2.6 billion

by The Sarawak Report (Latest)

The Fake SheikhThe Fake Shake?

Who is the mystery father and son alleged to have met with Zahid and others and who goes by the name Saud Abdulaziz Majid al-Saud?

Sarawak Report can exclusively reveal the alleged identity of ‘His Highness’ the ‘royal donor’, which was given to AmBank as the source of several payments, including the US$681 million received into Najib’s account just before the last election. The name given was ‘His Highness Saud Abdulaziz Majid al-Saud’.

We have ascertained that this identity was first provided to explain an original payment of US$100 million, which was passed into Najib’s AmPrivate Banking account in Kuala Lumpur back in February 2011.

The bank had required details of the sender from the agent who was managing the transfer on behalf of the Prime Minister and a letter was purportedly then sent from the office of this individual to the bank.

Our sources tell us that this letter, which has been retained by the bank, was sparse on details but alleged to be from the ‘Private Office of Saud Abdulaziz Majid al-Saud’, without giving an address or telephone number. The letter was signed by ‘Saud Abdulaziz al-Saud’.

Compliance issues at AmBank?

ambankAmbank–The now infamous bank

The matter raises immediate questions about the regulatory andcompliance procedures of AmBank, which is 23% owned by ANZ Bank (Australia New Zealand Bank) as the largest shareholder.

The CEO of AmBank, Ashok Ramamurthy, who was on attachment from ANZ Bank, stepped down in January following a compliance audit  of several billion ringgit of loans to 1MDB – the issue remains subject to major criticism by opposition politicians.The fact that the Prime Minister was able to receive huge private donations with such a  cursory scrutiny of the donor certainly presents a major problem for the bank.

Najib Tipu MelayuMalaysia’s Billionaire Prince Najib al-Razak

In particular, Sarawak Report has established that anti-money laundering and anti-terror legislation in Saudi Arabia (given the Saud name) means that all its citizens are required to provide passport verification for any individual involved in the transfer of substantial sums.  This includes any citizen who is using a BVI off-shore company.

A letter without a contact address and no accompanying identification documents represents a laughable verification check and one can only assume it was let through by the bank because the recipient was the Malaysian Prime Minister, who nevertheless comes under a high category of concern as a politically exposed person. For several years, AmBank has flourished as the bank of choice for the Prime Minister’s own accounts and also for several state-controlled concerns, including 1MDB.

ambrin-buangWhere’s is this character now?

We have learnt that at least four payments were received into the Prime Minister’s account accompanied by the same sender identification between 2011 and 2013, including the two totalling US$681 million, revealed by Sarawak Report in July.

The second transfer was for a sum of US$200 million, meaning that a total of a billion dollars was transferred by this alleged Saudi royal philanthropist supposedly in favour of UMNO into Najib’s account.

This information was corroborated by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) in July, when officials stated they had seen four letters from the same donor to the bank. It indicates that this alleged donor had been passing huge sums of money to Najib far in advance of the General Election, the original reason given, for wider purposes that remain unclear.

The matter envelopes a growing circle of international regulatory authorities in Malaysia’s escalating financial scandal, since both Australia and New Zealand as well as Saudi Arabia are now faced with a flouting of their basic banking rules and anti-terrorism laws.

Fake Sheikh?

Meanwhile, our enquiries into the identity of this ‘Saudi Royal’ figure have drawn an interesting blank. Saud Abdulaziz Majid al-Saud appears to be a variation on a common royal name, but does not actually refer to any specific individual.

Yet the newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi claimed to have met a Middle Eastern “King and Prince” from the alleged “donor family”, shortly after taking over from Muhyiddin Yassin, who had questioned the donation before being sacked  by Najib:

He [Zahid] said the “king and prince”, whom he did not name, had donated the money because of Malaysia’s commitment in fighting terrorism, and being a moderate Muslim country with a plural society….

“Those were the answers given to me when I asked them the reason for their donation. They also told me that Malaysia was not the only country they have donated money to.

“They have also helped other Islamic countries,” he said .. The UMNO Vice-President, elaborating.. said the donors were an “Arab king and prince” and the family decided to make the huge donation also because of Datuk Seri Najib’s anti-Jewish stance..

“Because of that, the Arab king, Arab prince generously made the political donation for use during the 13th General Election,” Malaysian Mail Online quoted him as saying.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid also said the donor wanted to keep UMNO and the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in power. [Straits Times]

Likewise, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission reported officials had been introduced to individuals purporting to be the donor who had sent the letters they had seen at AmBank:

In a statement, the commission said it had found out about the donors’ details through bank documents.

“MACC has obtained explanation from the donors who originated from the Middle East and they have verified the donation.

“The RM2.6 billion donation has no connection at all to 1MDB,” the anti-graft commission said in the statement.

According to MACC, it had found four letters that were given to the bank when the RM2.6 billion amount was deposited into Najib’s account, with the bank documents stating that the contribution was a “donation”. [Malaysian Mail Online]

The MACC statement clearly conflicts with the bank documents obtained by Sarawak Report, which refer to the transfer of US$681 million from Tanore Finance Corporation as a “payment” rather than a donation.

So their eventual findings should present the exact identity of the so-called King and Prince, who they have so far accepted as genuine donors.

The wealth factor

This story of the Saudi donor becomes even harder to believe after a basic wealth check of Middle Eastern royals and the Saudis in particular. There are few ruling Kings and Princes in the Middle East – and the Saudi King Abdullah, who was alive at the time of the ‘donations’ had died in January before the time the so-called meetings took place in July with the likes of Zahid Hamidi.

1MDB-RM42-Billion-Thank-You-For-Your-SupportThank You MCA

It means that if the alleged donor family were lesser royals the likelihood of them being in a position to fork out such enormous secret sums of money becomes ever more remote.We have found no one of the Arab top 50 rich list with a name remotely similar to the supposed signatory of the donation letter ie Saud Abdulaziz Majid al-Saud and the individual at number 50, Saudi Arabia’s Ayman Hariri, has a relatively modest fortune of just US$2 billion, according to Arabian

Would a man with US$2 billion or less really be willing to part with half of it to Najib Razak because of his stance on this or that, let alone to pay for other similar begging leaders also? Or is this supposed donor from a royal family a secret entity of some kind?


Certainly, the top richest Saudi, Prince Alwaleed has made clear that at some point he intends to give all his money to good causes and he has been held up as an example of the sort of Middle Eastern who was favouring Najib by BN stallwarts.

Enquiries at the Saudi Embassy in London have produced further questions.Their protocol department has pointed out that while the name presented to AmBank is similar to certain Saudi royal names, it lacks certain crucial formalities – the name should contain ‘bin’ we were told, along the lines of ‘bin Abdulaziz’ and ‘bin Majid’, giving the impression of a serious lack of authenticity in the name of our sheikh and the title of his Private Office.

It has been pointed out that the royal figure whose name most matches that of Saud Adulaziz Majid al-Saud is that of a former Governor of Medina, Abdulaziz bin Majid, a grandson of a former Saudi King.

This royal figure does have a son similarly named Prince Saud bin Abdu Aziz bin Majed Al-Saud. However, there has been no evidence that these are a family of prominent donors nor do they appear on the Arab rich list as owning over US$2 billion.

So, please step forward the mysterious  and alleged billion dollar donor, unless of course one accepts the inevitable conclusion that we are dealing with a fake sheikh with sparse identification, drummed up to explain a series of astonishing payments into the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s private bank accounts?

The Ringgit: To Peg or Not to Peg, that is the Issue, or it?

October 5, 2015

Din Merican at TSS AlumMY COMMENT: What we hear our politicians, public officials and some of my mainstream economist friends say repeatedly is that Malaysia’s economic fundamentals are sound. By implication, that means the ringgit which is a barometer of our national economic health, is grossly undervalued.

Is our economy fundamentally okay? They are not prepared answer that. In stead, they blame speculators and foreign exchange traders for “shorting” the ringgit by switching to a safe haven currency like the US dollar and, to some extent, the Singapore dollar. This flight to safety is a normal and rational thing to do. Savers and investors do not want to hang on to a currency that slides every moment of the day.

Uncertainty is a killer and the prudent will play safe. I am yet to be convinced that our economic fundamentals are what our politicians and their officials say they are. We face serious political uncertainties, resulting in a loss of public confidence and trust in Prime Minister’s leadership and management of our national finances. The repercussions of the ringgit’s slide are being felt in the cost of living due to inflation, which  has always been understated due to occasional manipulation of the CPI by the Statistics Department.

The ordinary man in the street does not need to rely on official statistics. He knows how much he can buy with his RM50 in the supermarket and how much he has to pay for his roti chanai and tea tarik today compared to, say, 6 months ago. He does not need some hot-shot mathematical economists to tell  him on behalf of the Najib administration that our economy is doing fine. These experts themselves will soon know when they are not paid their salaries on time.

I have been taught in my business education to focus on systematic identification of problems. Once you know what the problem (s) is, the solution is in sight and you can begin to fix. Our politicians and their officials are obviously in a state of denial. They know what is happening and they may even have solutions. But they lack the courage to deal with our national malaise.

Our Government under Finance Minister Najib Razak has been fiscally irresponsible and corrupt, spending money recklessly. The time to own up to this is long overdue. We can no longer ignore what financial and capital markets are telling us. We are in a financial crisis. Our bonds are now junk bonds and our ringgit is  sliding rapidly. It is the economy, stupid.

We may not need capital controls, and do not have to waste our foreign exchange reserves to defend the ringgit. Deal with the confidence factor and ask Najib to step down and face the consequences of his failed policies. –Din Merican

The Ringgit: To Peg or Not to Peg, that is the Issue, or it?

by T.K. Chua*

Red Shirt Poster

I have read a few times now statements made by Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Zeti Aziz, Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, as well as Finance Minister and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, that the ringgit will not be pegged to another currency for now. Neither is there a plan to impose capital control.

For many Malaysians, seeing the value of ringgit evaporating, the statements by our “custodians” of ringgit are not really a welcome relief. I think many Malaysians have long yearned for ringgit to recover and stabilise at a more “decent” level. In their minds, if we ever peg our ringgit, the rate should be higher than the present level.

Unfortunately, the ringgit exchange rate is not something that can be decided by a “decree”, i.e., that can be unilaterally decided by the government. If it is so simple, I think the government would not have allowed the ringgit to depreciate to this pathetic level as seen today.As far as I know, pegging the ringgit requires strong fundamentals. In other words, the economic strength must be present to support the pegged exchanged rate, failing which the peg will give way in no time. Hence, many of us could be mistaken if we think a quick peg by the Malaysian authorities would return the “value” and “stability” of our ringgit.

More crucially, I think the Malaysian authorities are in no position to peg the ringgit right now, not that they are exercising their option not to peg it. As I see it, pegging the ringgit at a lower rate (say RM5 to US$1) is meaningless, at least in our present circumstances.

But if we wish to peg it at a higher rate (say RM3.50 to US$1), the fundamentals must be present to support it. Do we have the strong fundamentals right now to support a higher pegged exchange rate?


Exchange rates are determined by numerous complex factors that have often left the most experienced economists baffled. So I will just list a few factors which may be relevant for all of us to look at. It is really up to you. First, our inflation is relatively high, more so with GST and subsidy rationalisation. High inflation is not good for exchange rate. Typically countries with higher inflation will suffer depreciation in their currency in relation to the currencies of their trading partners.

Second, our interest rates are low because we value borrowers more than savers. Low interest rates tend to decrease exchange rates, ceteris paribus. Third, we still enjoy current account surplus in the BOP, but the surplus is narrowing, due in part to poor commodity prices and weaker economies of our trading partners.

Balance in the current account reflects demand and supply of foreign currencies and ringgit, and hence the exchange rates of ringgit. Fourth, high public debt is a concern. It causes default risks and heightens potential inflation. It discourages capital inflows and encourages capital flight. All this is not good for exchange rate.

Fifth, the terms of trade are against Malaysia’s favour due to continued weakness in commodity prices. Sixth, political and economic stability is most important. A country with positive attributes will attract investment and capital inflow while those perceived to be risky will suffer reverse flow.

In extreme cases, political turmoil could cause a loss of confidence in a currency, rendering the value to much lower than the equilibrium rate. We are Malaysians. We read news and events unfolding each day in our country. It is for you to assess the factors and make a judgement call. –

* T. K. Chua reads The Malaysian Insider.


Labour Giant Lord Healey–A Tribute

October 4, 2015

Labour Giant Lord Healey–A Tribute

by David Mackie

Labour’s Defence Secretary in the 1960s, Chancellor in the 70s and Deputy Leader in the 80s whose hopes of the top job were dashed by the left.

Denis Healey2In terms of intellectual range and ability he had a far better claim to the premiership than several who did

Unfair though this would indisputably be, the life of Denis Healey, the former Labour Deputy Leader and Cabinet Minister, who has died aged 98, is likely to be remembered as a story of what might have been. Throughout the Harold Wilson governments of 1964 and 1966 he served as Defence Secretary; through the whole of the Wilson and James Callaghan terms from February 1974 to the party’s crushing defeat in 1979, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But he never made it to Foreign Secretary, a job for which he was formidably equipped. He never made party leader, though on merit he undoubtedly should have done. And he never made Prime Minister, though in terms of intellectual range and ability he had a far better claim to the job than several who did.

There were moments when Healey came close to taking the foreign office. Had Hugh Gaitskell, then Labour leader, lived on beyond 1963 and won the following year’s election, he might have landed the job then. Wilson preferred to give it to Patrick Gordon Walker. When Gordon Walker lost his seat in the 1964 election, Wilson stuck with him, even though he was not an MP. However, when he lost again in a byelection at Leyton, east London, the following year, Wilson sent not for Healey but for Michael Stewart – chiefly, some colleagues believed, because he intended to keep foreign policy in his own hands and judged Stewart as more malleable than Healey.

Denis HealeyWhen in March 1968 the then Foreign Secretary, George Brown, walked out of the government, Wilson again considered Healey, but instead recalled Stewart. Then when Labour came back to power in February 1974, Healey lost out to Callaghan. And when Callaghan succeeded Wilson as premier, he gave the foreign office to Tony Crosland, keeping Healey as chancellor. After Crosland’s premature death in 1977, the doors closed again as Callaghan picked David Owen – though as Healey wrote in his memoirs, at the time he felt he ought not to leave the Treasury.

As for the party leadership, Healey made a bid for it in 1976 when Wilson stepped down, but took a mere 30 votes in the opening ballot and could push that up to only 38 even after Roy Jenkins, Crosland and Tony Benn had dropped out. When Callaghan resigned 18 months after the 1979 election defeat, Healey began as front runner, but was overtaken by Michael Foot, who had not at first intended to stand.

Though recognised as one of the party’s big hitters, Healey never had the devoted personal following that Jenkins had enjoyed, and made no attempt to build one. In a time of huge turmoil within the party, choosing Foot rather than the combative Healey seemed to many Labour MPs the best way of ensuring a quiet life. Healey, too, had recently been involved in one of his occasional vigorous spats with the Labour left, which had alienated not just his opponents, but some who, while sympathetic to Healey, had found his assault damaging.

Some right wing Labour MPs who later defect to the Social Democratic party (SDP) voted for Foot rather than Healey in the hope of wrecking the party. There were enough of these, Healey himself believed, to give Foot his 10-vote majority. As the 1983 election approached, and the polls presaged disaster, it seemed possible for a time that Foot might be ousted or might even step down of his own accord, but Healey’s opportunity never arrived. And when Foot departed after Labour’s abject defeat, Healey, at 66, chose not to run, feeling the party wanted the leadership to pass to a fresh generation.

The moment when his chances of getting to Number 10 had looked brightest was immediately before the 1978-79 winter of discontent, when Labour still had a chance of winning the coming election. Had Callaghan kept the premiership at that election, it might well have passed in a couple of years or so to Healey. But Labour’s defeat in May 1979 put paid to that, and one of Britain’s best potential Prime Ministers was thwarted to the last.

And yet, in perhaps the best political autobiography of the late 20th century, The Time of My Life (1989), Healey reflected on his career with satisfaction, not disappointment. This was in no sense the chronicle of a life unfulfilled, partly because of what he had achieved at Defence and the Treasury, but also because he could never understand how some of his colleagues subordinated everything to their politics. His family always came first and, as he wrote in his preface to the book: “I have always been as interested in music, painting and poetry as in politics.” You needed, he often said – though some said he’d borrowed the term from Edna, his wife – to have a hinterland.

Lord & Lady Healey...Lord and lady healey 1

Lord Healey and Lady Edna–A Loving Pair

Edna Edmunds, whom he had met at Oxford – where she had been much pursued, and whom he married in 1945 – was the heart of that hinterland. But his student travels before the second world war in France, Italy and Germany had given him a sense of the world’s possibilities that never faded. The writers from whom he took the texts at the heads of the chapters in The Time of My Life are some guide to the width and voracity of his reading: Yeats (his greatest literary hero), Defoe, Homer, Virginia Woolf, Byron, Hugh McDiarmid, Coleridge, Auden, CP Cavafy.

Only Healey among political autobiographers, recounting a visit to the office of a US government counterpart, could record: “I noticed a Rouault,” just as only Healey could say of Nigel Lawson, the Conservative chancellor: “He had a raffish insolence which reminded me sometimes of Steerforth in David Copperfield, sometimes of a rather tubby Alcibiades.” And certainly, only Healey would dare to open a chapter with the words: “Hector Berlioz, like me, had found it necessary for much of his life to earn a little extra by writing weekly articles as a feuilletoniste.” Through most of his life, he read greedily, prowled the picture galleries, revelled in nights at the opera, photographed avidly (he had given up painting) and played the piano with passion, if not always with accuracy.

With his big, ruddy face and his trademark eyebrows, Healey set out to enhance the fun of the nation. He played up to the image which others clearly enjoyed. When the impressionist Mike Yarwood started giving his Healey the catchphrase, “Silly billy”, Healey promptly adopted it, though he had never used it before. When people mocked him for name dropping, he dropped names with even more shameless abandon.

With his big, ruddy face and his trademark eyebrows, Healey set out to enhance the fun of the nation. He played up to the image which others clearly enjoyed. When the impressionist Mike Yarwood started giving his Healey the catchphrase, “Silly billy”, Healey promptly adopted it, though he had never used it before. When people mocked him for name dropping, he dropped names with even more shameless abandon.

Healey’s origins were Irish, and he had in abundance the gift of the gab. Sometimes that made for trouble. He was a bruiser, and sometimes a bully. His silkily lethal insults, sometimes prefaced by “with the greatest respect”, made enemies. During the 1983 election campaign, after the Falklands war, he accused Margaret Thatcher of “glorying in slaughter”, and had to withdraw the remark (he had meant to say “conflict”). When he claimed that leftwing Labour critics were “out of their tiny Chinese minds”, he had to apologise to the Chinese embassy, too.

Explaining that gaffe, he said in an interview with this newspaper: “The real trouble is that the only politician who doesn’t make that sort of mistake is the sort who tries never to say anything, and my great weakness as a politician is that I always say too much. I dare say I am a bit of a thug … On the other hand, you know, every party needs some people who will rough it up from time to time.”

Often his lacerating turn of phrase made him the talk of the town. His most cherished target was Thatcher; Rhoda the rhino, he called her, and the La Pasionaria of middle-class privilege. Healey’s difficulty as Labour deputy leader and shadow foreign secretary was that Commons debates pitched him not against her, but against Geoffrey Howe. His chummy insults to Howe were legendary: “Like being savaged by a dead sheep,” he said of one of Howe’s attacks on him.

But often, getting at Howe was merely the handy excuse for attacking Thatcher. The most famous passage of all came in 1984, when the Conservative government banned staff at the intelligence agency GCHQ from belonging to trade unions. “The foreign secretary,” he told the Commons, “is not the real villain in this case. He is the fall guy… Who is the Mephistopheles behind this shabby Faust? … The great she-elephant, she-who-must-be-obeyed, the Catherine the Great of Finchley … has drawn sympathetic trade unionists into open revolt.” This was not done simply to entertain. As a Healey attack developed, the Tories began to laugh. Even frontbenchers after a while could not disguise their mirth. And now they were not just laughing with Healey – he had them laughing at their leader. And once they were softened up, Healey would pulverise them.

Denis Winston Healey – the Winston reflecting his father’s admiration for Churchill, whose reputation was then still scarred by the disastrous first world war campaing at Gallipoli – was born in Mottingham, Kent. His father became the principal of Keighley technical college, but his son attended Bradford grammar school, where his favourite subject was English. His academic excellence marked him down for Balliol College, Oxford, where he read classics and philosophy; his contemporaries included Jenkins and Edward Heath.

Throwing himself into student politics, he dominated the Labour club, though by now he had joined the Communist party. “Only the Communist party,” he explained in his memoirs, “seemed unambiguously against Hitler.” Having got his predicted double-first in 1940, he awaited his call-up. His military career began ingloriously, checking travel arrangements at Swindon station, but his expertise in logistics saw him given the job of beachmaster at Anzio, south of Rome, in the allied invasion. He was mentioned in dispatches twice during that campaign and promoted to major.

Healey’s experience of war coloured his life. He was deeply opposed to the Suez adventure of 1956. When he heard on his car radio while driving to a protest meeting that the Russians had taken their chance to move in on Hungary that same year, and that Hungary was calling on the west for help, he pulled off the road and wept. As a young MP to whom Gaitskell listened, he persuaded the Labour leader to temper his early sympathy for a military onslaught on Egypt. Some 25 years later he judged that Foot, of all people, had initially been too ready for military action when the Argentinians invaded the Falklands.

Lord-HealeyPerhaps the most crucial part of Healey’s education, even above Bradford, Balliol and the war, was the job he took in 1945 as international secretary of the Labour party (at a salary of £7 a week). Here he learned hard truths and made contacts and friendships which served him for the rest of his life. He worked closely with the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, one of the progenitors of the Nato alliance, to which Healey was also dedicated.

Above all, he discovered the ugly realities of Communist rule, especially the suppression of socialist parties. His task in the countries he dealt with beyond the iron curtain, he said in his book, “was to help the socialist parties to stay alive … They were hanging on by the tips of their fingers.”

His knowledge and grasp of events recommended him not just to Bevin, but to the new generation of Labour leaders, especially Gaitskell, whose plans for nuclear disengagement and reductions in conventional forces in Europe were influenced and sometimes drafted by Healey.

Unlike Jenkins or Crosland, Healey had not set his sights on an early entry to parliament. He fought an apparently unwinnable seat – Pudsey and Otley – in 1945 and came close, in a Labour landslide, to winning it. But it was not until 1952, when he was 34, that he won a byelection for a safe Labour seat, Leeds South East (which after redistribution three years later became Leeds East). Having grown up in Keighley, he knew Leeds well and developed a great affection for his constituency, matching his local party’s advice against metropolitan fashion.

His maiden Commons speech was made on foreign affairs and defence. He used it, daringly in those days, to argue for the inclusion of Germany in Nato. Though he sometimes felt that Gaitskell’s leadership was too confrontational, he was firmly in Gaitskell’s camp against the the recently departed labour minister Aneurin Bevan. That reflected his belief that the left’s idealism too often blinded it to reality.

“There are far too many people,” he declared at the party conference that followed Labour’s third successive defeat in 1959, “who want to luxuriate complacently in moral righteousness in opposition … We are not just a debating society. We are not just a socialist Sunday school. We are a great movement that wants to help real people at the present time. We shall never be able to help them unless we get power. We shall never get power until we close the gap between our active workers and the average voter in the country.”

Within three years of his election Labour was deploying Healey as an unofficial frontbencher, winding up Commons debates on defence. He also used the freedom of opposition to develop a network of contacts, some of whom joined him in founding the Institute of Strategic Studies. In 1959 he won a place in the shadow cabinet and became the party’s second-line spokesman on foreign affairs. Two years later he was given responsibility for colonial and commonwealth issues, and in 1963, the new party leader, Wilson, made him chief opposition spokesman on defence.

When Labour won in 1964, Healey was made defence secretary and given a seat in the cabinet ahead of two other contenders, Jenkins and Crosland. The outgoing Tories had got through nine defence ministers in 13 years. Healey stayed there for almost six years. But his preoccupations at this time spilled across foreign policy. It used to be said that the foreign office was divided between those who thought Healey ought to be foreign secretary and those who thought he already was.

These years confirmed the decisive break with Britain’s imperial past and its old commitments east of Suez. Some of that came from political realism and some from economic constraints. Realism told Healey to get rid of the TSR-2 strike and reconnaissance plane; economic constraints forced the scrapping of the project he had offered as a replacement, the F111. He fought in vain against its abandonment. In 1966, under Treasury pressure, he agreed to cuts that cost him the services of his junior minister Christopher Mayhew and the chief of naval staff, Sir David Luce, who complained that cuts would making it impossible for the services to meet their commitments.

By 1967 his insistence on devising and pursuing his own solutions had alienated Wilson, who believed he was far too close to the US defence secretary, Robert McNamara. When they found themselves on opposite sides on the sale of arms to South Africa – Healey in favour, and Wilson, after initial support, against – the relationship began to look terminal. Later Healey would say that he had made the wrong choice on this issue. Yet even those he crossed rarely had any doubt about his record at defence. Roy Hattersley, his junior minister there, later told Healey’s biographer, Edward Pearce, of “the bliss of working for somebody who had the subject absolutely at their fingertips, who knew what he wanted and pursued his own concept of defence policy with a critical rigour which I have never seen from anyone else”.

 Had Labour won the general election in 1970, he would have been Wilson’s chancellor. As it was, he became shadow foreign secretary and was at last elected to the party’s national executive committee. When Jenkins resigned as shadow chancellor over Labour’s commitment to a referendum on Europe, Healey replaced him. Later he regretted that he had not handled the shadow chancellorship better, that he had not denounced more fiercely and effectively the break for growth engineered by the Conservative chancellor Tony Barber – with cruel consequences for Healey when in 1974 he took over the job after the Tory defeat. That left him saddled with the consequences of Barber’s well-intentioned follies.

Some, such as his austere deputy, Edmund Dell, argued for immediate draconian measures. Healey, though he had long believed that Britain was living dangerously above its means, was more cautious. He knew things would have to be changed. He believed in particular that the doctrines of Keynes, to which moderate Labour had long been wedded, no longer suited the times because of the growing influence of world conditions on the British economy and because his doctrines did not square with the strength of trades unions at the time.

Fear of increasing unemployment, especially at the outset when Labour would have to fight a second election in 1974, together with hopelessly inaccurate figures served up by the Treasury, stayed his hand. Drastic solutions were advocated: devaluation, severe deflation, protectionism. He weighed and rejected them all. He invested great trust in a policy he had advocated throughout this decade: controls on prices and incomes, statutory if they had to be. With the help of sympathetic union leaders, especially Jack Jones of the TGWU, he introduced that policy and steered it quite successfully through successive stages.

The raging inflation of Labour’s opening years – just short of 27% a year in August 1975 – was halved by the following summer. “Only the most heroic efforts by Healey,” wrote Dell, “ brought the unions to recognise the dangers of hyperinflation and to accept their responsibility in this matter.” Realism had prevailed. But Healey paid a price: the party voted him off the national executive.

Yet his troubles were far from over. The most famous, enduring image of his chancellorship came after he gave up on flying to Manila for the annual meeting of International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the autumn of 1976, and made instead for the party conference in Blackpool. There, against a cacophony of cheering and booing, Healey, who having lost his place on the executive had to speak from the floor, defended his decision to throw himself on the mercies of the IMF as the only way to beat off a crisis brought about by the heavy selling of sterling. Resort to the IMF meant even more grievous cuts in public spending, which many of his cabinet colleagues, left and right, found unacceptable.

Even Callaghan, who had succeeded Wilson as premier in April, seemed at first to waver. When Healey said that interest rates would have to be raised to 15%, Callaghan at first refused to endorse him, though he later said he had merely been testing the chancellor’s resolve. On the one hand, Healey was trying to persuade the IMF to minimise the extent of the cuts it required. On the other, he was having to convince his colleagues that swingeing cuts could not be escaped. In the end, prime minister and chancellor fought the battle against cabinet dissent together, and their will prevailed.

It later transpired that this confrontation was never entirely necessary. The forecasts supplied by the Treasury had exaggerated the extent of the problem and most of the credit he negotiated was never needed. These, he later confessed, were his worst four months. “For the first and last time in my life,” he wrote in his memoirs, “I was close to demoralisation.”

Unpalatable though they were, the measures worked. By 1977, all seemed to be going well. What wrecked that was Labour’s attempt to sustain its incomes policy. Callaghan insisted that the norm should be set at 5%, a figure that Healey would later describe as provocative and unattainable. His own preference was for a more vague formula – single figures perhaps. He came to regret that he did not fight Callaghan harder. The result was the 1978-79 winter of discontent, leading to the loss of the ensuing general election. At 61, Healey was back in opposition for the foreseeable future.

The turmoil that followed was, if anything, harder on Healey than the IMF crisis. Defeat disrupted the party, with the left demanding changes in its constitution designed to impose constraints on the freedom of action of its parliamentary leaders, including the transfer of the right to elect the party’s leader from MPs to an electoral college that would also give votes to the unions and the constituency parties.

Some on the right, especially those who later broke with Labour to form the SDP, urged Healey to take the lead in denouncing the process. He demurred, believing that the battle could not be won and that staging a head-on collision would split and perhaps destroy the party. He seems never to have accepted that the Gang of Three – Shirley Williams, David Owen and Bill Rodgers – were genuinely ready to break with Labour. Callaghan had stayed on after the election defeat “to take the shine off the ball”, as he said, in preparation for a Healey leadership. To ensure that the choice was made, as before, by the parliamentary party rather than by the newly concocted electoral college, Callaghan resigned in October 1980, leaving Healey as the apparent favourite.

However, the left prevailed on Foot to stand against him, and Healey lost. He settled for the deputy leadership and the role of shadow foreign secretary. But the left was unhappy even with that. Benn challenged him for the deputy leadership in 1981, and a nasty campaign ensued. Healey won by a minuscule margin, but Foot and Healey, though a happier combination than Foot and Benn could have been, was always an odd kind of tandem when the two had so often pedalled in opposite directions, and on issues such as defence still did.

Labour’s 1983 election defeat, when the party came close to coming third behind the Liberal/SDP alliance, finished Foot, and Healey went with him. He continued as shadow foreign secretary under Neil Kinnock, whose oratorical powers he greatly admired, but whose unilateralist commitment made for tensions. And when Labour lost again, though less wretchedly, four years later, Healey, nearing 70, gave up his frontbench duties and began a redesign of his life.

Now, and even more when he left the Commons for a seat in the Lords five years later, was time for his hinterland, for the wife he admired and adored, for his children, Jenny, Tim and Cressida, and his grandchildren; for art and books and music and for pieces of self-indulgence such as cameos in TV pantomimes and other clowning about. In addition to his memoirs, there were also books of photographs and collections of speeches and writings. From time to time, too, there were speeches in the Lords, some of them quite explosive, often in disagreement with war. The use of armed force in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and most of all in Iraq, disturbed and dismayed him.

In the spring of 2004 he said publicly that Tony Blair should resign. He was also, as he had been since his days as international secretary, notably cool on Britain’s involvement in Europe. He had voted against the Conservative application to join the EC in 1972; he had always opposed engagement in the European monetary union; he was set against political union. In political terms though, he was gently fading away, enjoying a private life. He had always, as he once told me, expected to live well into his 90s; his father had died in 1977 at 92, his mother in 1988, at 99, “game and happy to the last”.

In The Time of My Life, there is a touching account of his mother’s late days. At 92 after a heavy fall, she insisted on making the two-hour journey to Glyndebourne for The Marriage of Figaro. Later, living with her son and daughter-in-law at their home near Alfriston, East Sussex, after two hip replacements, she had another bad fall. “When the doctor had put the necessary stitches in the wound,” Healey recalled, “she looked up from her pillow and muttered, ‘Denis, I’m indestructible.’” So much of that spirited mother was replicated in her spirited son.

Edna died in 2010, and he is survived by their children.

Denis Winston Healey, Lord Healey, politician, born 30 August 1917; died 3 October 2015

Countering and Preventing the spread of violent extremism

October 1, 2015

A Prelude to his Address at UNGA

Countering and Preventing the spread of violent extremism

by Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia

Delivered at Ecosoc Chamber, New York (September 29, 2015)


I join earlier speakers in expressing my appreciation to President Obama for spearheading and galvanising the international community’s campaign to combat and ultimately eradicate – Insh’Allah – the spread of the so-called Islamic State.

We must give those in IS a clear choice. Renounce your virulent creed of hate, violence and extremism and be guided back towards the righteous path, or face the consequences. Malaysia completely and unequivocally rejects any attempt to associate the wicked crimes they perpetrate with Islam.

We condemn their blatant misrepresentation of the Deen when they say that their sadistic brutality, torture and murder of innocent men, women and children – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – is justified in the name of a religion that is truly one of peace, justice, tolerance and compassion.

My region – Southeast Asia – has not been spared this threat, and to counter this we have taken proactive steps, both nationally and within the framework of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Kulup NajibYou are known by the Company you keep

As Chair of ASEAN this year, Malaysia will be hosting two key ministerial-level meetings on transnational crime, and on the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism, in Kuala Lumpur over the next few days.

Later this year, ASEAN Heads of State and Government will also deliberate on these issues. Let me assure everyone present that we take them very seriously indeed.

At the national level, we have strengthened the legal framework by updating and, where necessary, enacting new legislation. We have also undertaken measures to strengthen the administrative and operational capacities of the relevant law enforcement authorities. We must make pre-emptive arrests if necessary, and if there is irrefutable evidence, to save innocent lives.

Because we have fortunately not suffered a major terrorist outrage in Malaysia, some appear to believe that we are not afflicted by this scourge. Nothing could be further from the truth. The work done by the relevant authorities is largely unsung, for reasons of security.

But our counter-terrorism forces have been unceasing in their attempts to identify extremists who wish to travel to the Middle East via Malaysia – and stopped many from ruining their lives and the lives of others. They have also arrested over 100 suspected of links with IS. There are those who wish to bring their barbarity and bombings to Malaysia. We will not let them.

These successes would not have been possible without close collaboration at the international level, and we will continue to deepen our cooperation with like-minded nations, sharing timely intelligence, working with relevant military, police and cyber security to deal with this insidious threat.However, these efforts are only part of what is necessary. IS has harnessed a highly effective approach to communications and messaging. The so-called online terrorists have been deployed to devastating effect, inspiring too many of the impressionable, the vulnerable and the excluded to join their ranks.

A focused attempt to counter the narrative and online presence of IS is required. Southeast Asia currently lacks an overarching programme to do this, so we must address this and efforts are underway.

I believe that with the necessary support and participation, this could become an important bulwark at the forefront of region-wide efforts to amplify anti-IS messaging. This work could not be more important. For the lies that IS employs are insidious. For instance, they claim that it is their duty to destroy historical sites, because the Prophet Muhammad destroyed the idols that had been introduced into the Ka`ba in Mecca.

This is based on a false analogy. The Ka`ba was built by the Prophet Ibrahim for the worship of the One True God, and later generations added the idols. The Prophet Muhammad was commanded to purify the Ka`ba of these idols for its use by his followers, to bring it back to its original form.

The historical sites being destroyed by ISIS were never used for the worship of the One God and then later desecrated; so the argument for destroying them does not and cannot apply. Moreover, God informs us that these sites we travel by, and which denote past civilizations — some of which were global superpowers of their time, but are now no more — are signs to remind us not to be arrogant, but to walk the earth humbly.

Moderation, or “wasatiyyah” in Islam, and its associated values such as humbleness, compassion and love for our fellow man – these are noble virtues that IS and their fellow extremists are lack totally. Retelling the narrative of the true Islam that elevates these virtues is as vital in countering extremism as putting a stop to the barbarities that these misguided people perpetrate.

Let me say again: Malaysia stands with all present today to redouble these efforts. We will not allow imposters to besmirch the name of a religion which, in its true form – if interpreted correctly – is a light to mankind

Tan Sri Robert Kuok on Malaysia

September 30, 2015

Tan Sri Robert Kuok* on Malaysia

Tan Sri Robert KuokTan Sri Robert Kuok–An Extraordinary Man

THERE is a bit of a romantic streak in South-east Asia’s richest man, it seems.

Four decades ago, Tan Sri Robert Kuok decamped Malaysia for Hong Kong. The ostensible reason: lower taxes in Hong Kong. What some say: a fierce dislike of Malaysia’s controversial New Economic Policy favouring the bumiputeras and the resulting cronyism.

Whatever his reasons, Kuok says of the country in which he was born: “I haven’t lost my affection for Malaysia.”

In a telephone interview with The Straits Times on Tuesday, the tycoon elaborated on his donation of RM100mil to build Xiamen University’s first overseas campus in Salak Tinggi, Selangor.

The largess was announced last week during a lunch with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the latter visited Malaysia. “It is a gesture of appreciation. I only wish Malaysia well,” said Kuok.

The magnate is known for being averse to media interviews and had not granted one to the international media for 16 years, barring one to Bloomberg in January this year. He may have marked his 90th birthday on Sunday, but showed little signs of his age except for some impact on his hearing.

Asked about succession plans for his HK$300bil (RM123.8bil) conglomerate Kuok Group, Kuok firmly insisted that it was a “private matter – a family matter, a company matter”.

“I will not poke my nose into other families’ (businesses), and I hope they won’t poke their noses into mine,” he said.

It was an acerbic retort to a recent cover story by Hong Kong’s Chinese-language Next magazine, which speculated that five of Kuok’s eight children were jockeying to take over the helm.

Unlike peers such as Li Ka Shing, Kuok has yet to announce who will head his empire, which includes three listed enterprises – Kerry Properties encompassing the Shangri-La chain of hotels, the SCMP Group which runs the South China Morning Post and Singapore-listed Wilmar International, the world’s biggest processor of palm oil.

Further incurring his ire was the magazine’s allusion to an “open secret” that Kuok – who is twice married – has a third family in Shanghai.

“I (only) wish that journalists who write those articles can find me a third wife!” he said irritably. On whether he would take any legal action against the periodical, he said: “Those are filthy productions, and if you want me to dive into dirty drains (with them), I hope I’m not that stupid.”

Kuok was more forthcoming in talking about the ties that continue to bind him to his home country.

“Our family enjoyed relative success due to the benevolence of the host country where my parents settled,” he said. Immigrants from Fujian, they ran a shop in Johor Baru selling rice, sugar and flour.

When Kuok senior died in 1948, the then 25-year-old Robert established Kuok Brothers with his brother and other family members. Its success would eventually earn him the moniker “Sugar King”.

Kuok, who was educated at Raffles College where he was classmates with Lee Kuan Yew, later moved his base to Singapore. Tracing those years, he said: “We were minnows in the pond, then we entered the lake where we grew to five to 10 pounds.”

By 1960, he was trading sugar and rice with China, skilfully navigating any political turbulence. “Later, the ocean – Hong Kong and China – attracted my attention and so the fish could become even larger,” he said.

His focus today is on China’s economic development, “instead of interfering in the politics of China”, he said, in apparent allusion to critics who say he is too cosy with Beijing leadership.

Staff from the SCMP for instance, have complained that under Kuok ownership, the paper censors stories it thinks the Chinese government would not like.

But, he said, like the giant leather-backed turtles of Terengganu which return to the same sandy beaches every year to lay their eggs, he feels the primal tug of home.

“Roots are roots, except that my other root is the root of my parents – and that is China. I am twin-rooted.” Asked about the sense of discrimination among the Chinese in Malaysia, Kuok demurred, saying: “This will lead only to highly controversial statements, which is not good for anybody. One must never hurt those Chinese who are living in Malaysia, never be the cause of any kind of inter-racial hostility.

“We all feel it, but there may come a day, with the proper platform (do we then talk about it).”What’s most important is the timing.”And the present is not the right time? The man laughed: “Certainly not this morning, to a journalist!” – ANN/Straits Times

Published: Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 5:14:00 PM–Still relevant from a self-made man with vision, compassion and superb business acumen

Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong’s Message to PAP MPs

September 29, 2015

Now on a more sombre and serious note read this from Barack Obama:

…development is threatened by bad governance. Today, we affirm what we know to be true from decades of experience — development and economic growth that is truly sustainable and inclusive depends on governments and institutions that care about their people, that are accountable, that respect human rights and deliver justice for everybody and not just some.

So, in the face of corruption that siphons billions away from schools and hospitals and infrastructure into foreign bank accounts, governments have to embrace transparency and open government and rule of law.

And citizens and civil society groups must be free to organize and speak their mind and work for progress, because that’s how countries develop; that’s how countries succeed

Note: I wonder what our Prime Minister Najib Razak might say to UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and other partners in Barisan Nasional. Let me suggest something for your consideration. You are welcome to add your own.

To those who lost the election, he would say take it easy.  He would talk his Ikan Bakar seller, Jamal and ask him to invite you to join his Red Shirt group and help to defend me, and protect maruah orang Melayu against pendatang cina.

Here are the 3 things from our Prime Minister, apart from tahniah for their success.

1.Carpe diem quam minimum credula ( seize the day and don’t worry about the future). Just forget your promises to those who were foolish enough to vote for you in GE13. Sapu semua before we lose in GE 14.

MACC won’t touch if you are loyal to me. They are toothless and dysfunctional. Don’t worry about Abu Kassim, the MACC Chief as he has been badly traumatised by 1MDB.

2. Gua tolong lu, lu tolong gua. Forget about integrity. We have the National Integrity Institute and my side kick, Dato Paul Low to worry about this.  They are doing a lot of research on this subject. But don’t expect the Institute to come with their recommendations any time soon.

3. Cash is King. If someone put loads of money into your personal bank account say it is a d0nation from those generous Arabs with loads of petrodollars to give you. If don’t  know what to say, get in touch with that Keruak fella from Sabah, Khairy Jamaluddin and Nazri Aziz. These guys know what I will say before I can speak. Don’t worry about me. In case you do not know, I am keramat. I am untouchable as long I can take care of Rosmah. Her ilmu is very strong. Even Harun Din, PAS Spiritual leader cannot get near her. –Din Merican

Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong’s Message to PAP MPs

…integrity, honesty and incorruptibility are fundamental to our party. We must never tire of reminding ourselves of their importance.–PM Lee Hsien Loong.

PAP wins 2015 General Elections Led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

PAP wins 2015 General Elections Led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

It is a tradition for the Prime Minister to send a letter on “Rules of Prudence” to all the PAP MPs after an election. The context each time may be different but the subject remains constant, because integrity, honesty and incorruptibility are fundamental to our party. We must never tire of reminding ourselves of their importance.

2. Our party has won 83 out of 89 seats in the just concluded general election, with all seats contested. Overall, the PAP won 69.9% of the votes.

3. The people have endorsed what we have done in the previous term, and given us a clear mandate to take Singapore forward beyond SG50. Now we must fulfil what we have promised to do in our manifesto. We must never break faith with the people, but must always carry out our duties to them responsibly, address their worries and advance their interests.

4. Be humble in victory. As MPs, always remember we are servants of the people, not masters. Do not mistake the strong election result to mean that our efforts have succeeded, and that we can afford to slacken.

Much work remains to be done tackling issues which concern Singaporeans, and finding new ways to improve people’s lives. Listen hard to voter concerns, help them to tackle pressing needs, and convey their worries and aspirations to the government.

Persuade them to support policies which are in their own long-term benefit, while helping the government to formulate good policies and stay in close touch with the people.

Upholding our reputation and integrity

5. One vital factor that has enabled the PAP to retain the trust of Singaporeans all these years is honesty and integrity.The PAP’s reputation for clean, incorruptible government is one of our most precious assets. As PAP MPs, your personal standing reflects this high standing of the Party as a whole.

I cannot stress strongly enough that every MP must uphold the rigorous standards that we have set for ourselves, and do nothing to compromise them. Never give cause for allegations that you are misusing your position, especially your access to ministers. That would discredit both you and the Party.

6. As MPs, you will come across many different sorts of people. Many altruistic, public-spirited individuals will help you without wanting anything in return, spending time and money to get community projects going and to serve residents. But a few will cultivate you to obtain benefits for themselves or their companies, to gain respectability by association with you, or to get you to influence ministries and statutory boards to make decisions in their favour.

Gift hampers on festive occasions, entertainment, and personal favours big and small are just a few of countless social lubricants which such people use to ingratiate themselves to MPs and make you obligated to them.

7. You must distinguish between these two groups of people, and be shrewd in assessing the motives of those who seek to get close to you. At all times be seen to be beyond the influence of gifts or favours.

8. Be scrupulously proper in your contacts with government departments or public officers. Do not lobby any ministry or statutory board on behalf of anyone who is not your constituent or grassroots activist. Do not raise matters with public officers on behalf of friends, clients, contractors, employers, or financiers to advance their business interests.

Conduct business with government agencies in writing and avoid making telephone requests. If you have to speak, follow-up in writing to put your requests on record.

9. MPs are often approached by friends, grassroots leaders or proprietors and businessmen to officiate at the openings of their new shops or other business events. They usually offer a gesture, such as a donation to a charity or constituency welfare fund.

Though it may be awkward to refuse such requests, once you accept one, you will be hard-pressed to draw a line. As a rule, you should decline invitations to such business events. If you feel you should attend, please obtain prior approval from the Whip.

Separating business and politics

10. Separate your public political position from your private, professional or business interests. MPs who are in business, who occupy senior management positions in companies, or who sit on company boards should be especially vigilant.

You must not exploit your public position as Government MPs, your close contacts with the Ministers, or your access to government departments and civil servants, for your personal interest or the benefit of your employers. Your conduct must always be above board.

11. MPs who are employed by companies or industry associations may at times have to make public statements on behalf of their company or industry association. If you have to do so, make it clear that you are not speaking as an MP, but in your private, professional or business capacity.

12. Do not use parliamentary questions as a means to lobby the government on behalf of your businesses or clients. When you raise questions in Parliament related to your own businesses or your clients, be careful to first declare your pecuniary interest in the issue.

13. You may, however, speak freely to Cabinet ministers, who are your parliamentary colleagues. Ministers will listen carefully to arguments on principles, especially when they relate to the general policy of their ministries.

But ministers will not exercise their discretion to change individual decisions without very good reasons which they can justify publicly. Parliamentary secretaries and ministers of state who intervene in their ministries to reverse or alter decisions should promptly report the matter to their ministers to protect themselves against possible accusations of misconduct.

The government must always base decisions on the merits of the issues, and cannot yield to pressure from interested parties.


14. MPs are often invited to serve on the Boards of private and publicly listed companies. This is a sign that the private sector values PAP MPs’ integrity and experience, and reflects the high standing of the party and of PAP MPs in general.

The party permits MPs to serve as directors, provided you keep your private and public responsibilities rigorously separate, and your private appointments do not compromise your duties and performance as an MP.

15. The public will closely scrutinise your involvement in companies, because you are a PAP MP. Conduct your business activities so as to bring credit to yourself and to the party.

Adverse publicity on your performance as a director, or lapses in the companies you are associated with, will tarnish your reputation as an MP and lower the public’s regard for the party.

16. You should not solicit for directorships in any companies, lest you appear to be exploiting your political position to benefit yourself.

17. You should not accept directorships where your role is just to dress up the board with a PAP MP or two, in order to make the company look more respectable.

18. Some grassroots leaders are businessmen who own or manage companies. You should not sit on any boards of companies owned or chaired by grassroots leaders appointed by you, so as to avoid the perception that you are obligated to them or advancing their business interests.

19. If you are offered a directorship, you have to decide for yourself whether to accept. The Party is not in a position to vet or approve such decisions.

20. Before accepting, consider the possible impact of the directorship on your political life. Ensure that the company understands that you are doing so strictly in your private capacity, and will not use your public position to champion the interests of the company, or lobby the government on its behalf.

21. Make every effort to familiarise yourself with the business, track record and background of the key promoters of the company. Satisfy yourself that the company is reputable, and that you are able to make a meaningful contribution. Specifically, just like anyone else contemplating a directorship, you should ask yourself:

a. How well do you know the company, its business strategy, financial status, shareholding structure and the underlying industry?

b. Do you know your fellow directors, the way the board and its committees fulfil their responsibilities, the reporting structure between board and management and the relationship between shareholders and the company?

c. Do you have sufficient industry, financial or professional expertise to fulfil your expected role and responsibilities as a Director? Do you understand your obligations under the law and the Code of Corporate Governance? Will you be able to discharge your fiduciary duties properly and without fear or favour?

d. Will you face any conflicts of interest, and if so can you manage them? If in any doubt, you should decline.

22. Once you have decided to take up a Directorship, please inform the Whip. Detailed reporting requirements are listed in the Annex.


23. MPs are expected to attend all sittings of Parliament. If you have to be absent from any sitting, seek permission from the Government Whip. Please inform the Whip if you have to leave the Parliament premises while a sitting is on.

24. If you travel abroad, or need to be absent from Parliament for any reason, you must apply to the Speaker for leave, with copies to the Leader of the House and the Government Whip. You should also inform the Whip where you can be reached while abroad.

25. I have asked the Speaker to give all MPs, particularly new MPs, ample opportunity and latitude to speak in Parliament. Your first opportunity will be during the debate on the President’s Address at the opening of Parliament in January 2016.

Following that, at the Budget Debate, all MPs should speak up. Script your speeches or put your key points in note form to structure your presentation and help the media.

26. The public expects PAP MPs to express their views frankly, whether for or against government policies. During debates, speak freely and with conviction. Press your points vigorously, and do not shy away from robust debate.

However, please exercise judgement when putting your points across, and do not get carried away playing to the gallery.

27. Bring out questions and issues that Singaporeans and your constituents have concerns about, and grapevine talk for the government to rebut, but avoid unwittingly lending credence to baseless gossip. This will show that you and the party are in touch with the ground, and speaking up for Singaporeans.

Bringing up pertinent issues and questions in a timely manner helps ministers to put across the facts, explain the reasons for policies and decisions, and maintain public confidence in the openness and integrity of our actions.

28. Your honest, informed views are an important political input to ministers when they formulate and review policies. Ministers will accept valid, constructive suggestions, but they have to challenge inaccurate or mistaken views.

Over time, the public will see that PAP backbenchers are as effective as opposition MPs, if not better, at holding ministers to account, getting issues fully debated, and influencing policies for the better.

Important public occasions

29. On certain occasions, like the National Day Parade and the Investiture Ceremony for National Day Awards, the whole establishment, i.e. the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, will be there. Those who cannot attend must have very good reasons. Those who have accepted the invitation must attend, otherwise they leave empty seats, which does no credit to them or to the party.

30. At all public functions and constituency events, punctuality is of paramount importance.


31. You should not accept gifts which might place you under obligations which conflict with your public duties. If you receive any gifts other than from close personal friends or relatives, you must declare them to the Clerk of Parliament who will have the gifts valued. If you wish to keep the gifts, you must pay the government for them at the valuation price.


32. Party branches should not raise funds on their own without permission, for example by soliciting advertisements for a souvenir magazine or a carnival.

If you intend to raise funds, please clear it beforehand with the organising secretary. When your branch embarks on a collective fund-raising activity, eg. a Family Day or Walk-A-Jog, you must follow the rules strictly.

Financial prudence

33. As MPs, you should manage your personal financial affairs prudently. Do not over-extend yourself or become financially embarrassed. This would be not only a potential source of personal embarrassment, but also a weakness which may expose you to pressure or blackmail.

34. In particular, be careful about making major financial commitments assuming that you will continue to receive your MP’s allowance. While MPs typically serve several terms, you cannot assume that you will automatically be fielded in future general elections, or that if fielded you will definitely be re-elected. There is neither tenure nor job security in politics.

Declaration of income

35. For your own protection, every MP should disclose to me, in confidence, your business and professional interests, your present employment and monthly pay, all retainers and fees that you are receiving, and whether your job requires you to get in touch with officers of government ministries or statutory boards on behalf of employers or clients.

Office holders need not do so because you will be subject to the reporting requirements of the Code of Conduct for ministers. This should be done by 31 October 2015.

General misbehaviour

36. The PAP has held our position in successive elections because our integrity has never been in doubt, and because we are sensitive to the views and attitudes of the people we represent.

MPs must always uphold the high standards of the party and not have lifestyles or personal conduct which will embarrass themselves and the party. Any slackening of standards, or show of arrogance or indifference by any MP, will erode confidence in him, and ultimately in the party and government.

New MPs can pick up the dos and don’ts from older MPs. You should conduct yourselves always with modesty, decorum and dignity, particularly in the media. You must win respect, not popularity, to stay the course.

Media publicity

37. I am releasing a copy of this letter to the media so that the public knows the high standards we demand of our MPs.

* Lee Hsien Loong, the Singapore prime minister, is Secretary-General of the People’s Action Party (PAP).