Take MACC’s word for it: It is Donation, not 1MDB Money

August 4, 2015

Malaysia: Take MACC’s word for it: It is Donation, not 1MDB Money


najib-low-yat2You can’t fight Whitehall(Putrajaya)-Malaysian Government 101

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has found that the RM2.6 billion purportedly deposited into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s personal banks accounts came from donation.

“The investigation report related to the RM2.6 billion has been referred to the Attorney-General.

“Investigations have found the RM2.6 billion which was allegedly deposited into the Prime Minister’s accounts is the contribution of donors and not from 1MDB funds,” said the commission in a statement.

MACC’s statement comes amidst hints by BN leaders in recent days that the RM2.6 billion might have been donations.

BN strategic communications director Abdul Rahman Dahlan had said that Najib, as UMNO President, is allowed by the UMNO constitution to act as a trustee for the party.

Following this, UMNO supreme council member Azalina Othman said there was nothing wrong with political parties receiving foreign funding. Najib himself spoke about political funding as well, pledging to disclose UMNO’s source of funding if DAP did the same.

Three companies in the clear?

Earlier today, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli predicted that Putrajaya might claim that the RM2.6 billion was funded by well-heeled Middle Eastern figures. Questions about Najib’s bank accounts arose from the Wall Street Journal report on July 3. Quoting Malaysian investigators, WSJ said that RM2.6 billion was traced to Najib’s private accounts which have since been closed.

The report claimed that US$681 million was transferred into Najib’s bank accounts in two tranches in March 2013, two months before the general election.

The money originated from a Tanore Finance, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

The WSJ said another three tranches involving RM42 million were transferred from SRC International into Najib’s accounts. SRC International is owned by the Finance Ministry, which Najib heads.

Malaysia: A Tale of Labu and Labi–Labu Next?

August 3, 2015

Malaysia:  A Tale of Labu and Labi– Labu next?

by Dr. M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

najib-and-muhyiddin-new-cabinet-300x168Malaysia’s Political  Labu and Labi

Remember Labu and Labi, the two bumbling idiots in P. Ramlee’s 1962 comedy movie of the same title?Today we have a political version of that duo. With the latest cabinet reshuffle, Labi is gone. Next should be Labu, aka Najib Razak. The leadership of Malaysia is too important to be entrusted to these jokers.

In a twist of irony, this latest exercise eases the process. By firing his deputy, Najib has set an important precedent – decoupling cabinet positions from party leadership. It has been the tradition, and only that as it is unsupported by the constitution, that leaders of the ruling party should also lead the country.

By having someone other than the party’s deputy leader be the Deputy Prime Minister, that sets the stage whereby the Prime Minister too could be someone other than the party’s President. That is the only silver lining to this latest reshuffle. That excepted, Najib’s new cabinet remains a yawner. The elusive “wow” factor still eludes him.

In picking his new ministers Najib is taken in by the glint of pebbles, confusing that for the sparkle of diamonds, or in kampong expression, pasir berkilau disangkakan intan. No surprise there as Najib himself is a pebble. He values loyalty over smarts, pebbles over diamonds. Expect Malaysia to be continually grounded down.

One new minister gushed that she knew of her appointment through the radio! Obviously Najib had not vetted her. Even a housewife is more careful in picking her kangkung.

The new appointees were so eager that they were oblivious of the darkening clouds hovering over their leader, desperate as they are for personal advancement. May they be struck by the same lightning and be drenched in the downpour. Spare Malaysia their personal ethics and pebble-stone quality.

By “promoting” four members of the parliamentary committee investigating 1MDB, Najib tried to sidetrack and emasculate that committee. I would have thought that completing a crucial national investigation would be the committee’s highest priority and patriotic mission, as its chairman had earlier professed and promised. As I said, these characters are pebbles, not diamonds.

If Najib thinks that he would stymie the investigation, he is mistaken. Already the deputy chairman has vowed to continue. Now the committee has more opposition members, including its vice-chairman. Najib may rue his “brilliance!”

Muhyiddin No Hero

Muhyiddin’s protestation over 1MDB was neither forceful nor strategic in content, setting, or timing, despite the hullabaloo it triggered. His mild and belated attempt at being a Hang Jebat after over six years as a compliant sidekick a la Hang Tuah was awkward. It was, to borrow his phrase, “lebih daripada meluat” (beyond nauseating).

Beyond nauseating because it was self-serving. Consider the content. “I told him [Najib] to let go of his post in 1MDB, but he didn’t want to listen!” protested poor Muhyiddin. Imagine had he said, “I could not get an unequivocal denial from the Prime Minister! On the contrary he admitted to having that account!”

In Muhyiddin’s retelling, he is “the first minister to take a stand on 1MDB.” He bragged about being vocal in cabinet and UMNO Supreme Council meetings. Then he complained that he and his cabinet and Supreme Council members had been kept in the dark.

You cannot have it both ways. A cabinet as well as Supreme Council colleague rebuked Muhyiddin, noting that he had chaired some of those meetings.

The setting too was inappropriate. Muhyiddin should have picked a more influential audience as in a formal press conference preferably with foreign correspondents present, not his party’s divisional meeting. He could have then answered the inevitable questions.

As for the timing, imagine if Muhyiddin had also submitted his resignation. His stock would have soared. By letting himself to be sacked, Muhyiddin’s subsequent ranting was seen more as the whining of an ex-wife about her former husband. Worse, it made Najib look strong. Now that took some doing!

Muhyiddin did better in his later press conference. Although it was somewhat chaotic, nonetheless he exuded great confidence, a portrait not of a man who had been fired rather one who had had a great burden lifted off his broad shoulders. One wonders what is that great burden!

He would have appeared more in command had he dispensed with the prop of his wife beside him and the throngs of hangers-on behind. You do not have to major in theater to appreciate these subtleties of effective stage presentation.

Going by Muhyiddin’s account, it was Najib who was weak. Muhyiddin had to prod Najib as he could not utter the words to fire Muhyiddin to his face. Najib merely nodded. There was no “you are fired” Donald Trump-style. If Najib could not handle his deputy one-on-one, I wonder how he would fare with world leaders.

Muhyiddin should have given his press conference first instead of that speech at the divisional meeting. The latter was more a sly maneuver to “suck up” to Mahathir. Mahathir was instrumental in Najib and Abdullah becoming Prime Ministers. Muhyiddin was trying to ingratiate himself to Mahathir in the hope of becoming his third dud pick.

Malaysians should not let that happen. Yes, Mahathir successfully undid his first mistake and is now desperate to undo his second, with no sign of success in sight. If Mahathir again prevails, Malaysians should be grateful but not let him have this third pick. Malaysia has had enough of his mistakes.

Muhyiddin is no hero. This is the Minister of Education who claimed that our schools and universities are the best. He could not be more wrong if he thinks the current outpouring of support he gets in the social media is an endorsement of his performance. Those are more expressions of citizens’ disgust with Najib, a variation of the enemy-of-your-enemy-is-my-friend dynamics.

Getting Labu Out

With Labi out, getting rid of Labu should now be easier. With 1MDB short of cash, bribing and influencing potential rebellious politicians would be that much more difficult. Nonetheless there are still other tools of persuasion, as Najib demonstrated with his latest cabinet reshuffle.

Those too, like cash, are finite. There are just not enough cabinet slots or lucrative GLC directorships to accommodate all UMNO MPs and the many more avaricious local warlords, not counting those MPs from Barisan’s other component parties. Those from Sarawak and Sabah are “fixed deposits” only if their “inducements” keep flowing.

Muhyiddin is from Johore, where UMNO began. Without inducements it would be difficult for him to keep his supporters there and elsewhere in tow. He is also no Tenkgu Razaleigh or Anwar Ibrahim. The chance of another Semangat 46 or Keadilan emerging to challenge UMNO and Najib is slim.

Muhyiddin’s firing, cabinet reshuffle, “promotions” of parliamentary investigating committee members, “retirement” of Attorney-General Gani Patail, and the spectacular arrests of supposed “leakers” are all deliberate distractions. There would be no “leakers” had no crime been committed. They are arresting the good guys while the bad ones are running free.

The central question remains. Did Najib Razak siphon funds into his personal account? Having failed in their attempts at denials, Najib’s pebble boys and girls are desperate for novel spins, the latest being “political donations” and “trust accounts.” I shudder to think that foreigners are buying our elections. What would these pebble-brains think of next? Najib had a royal flush in Vegas?

Ignore these new distractions. The greatest challenge remains to get the truth on 1MDB out and the culprits brought to justice. That should be the duty and priority, ahead of personal interests and loyalty to individuals or party.

RM2.6 billion in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Personal Bank Accounts is Corrupt Money

August 3, 2015

Malaysia: RM2.6 billion in Prime Minister’s Personal Bank  Accounts is Corrupt Money

by Din Merican

Corrupt rm2.6 billion

As reward for supporting beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak, the new Cabinet appointees, especially Rahman Dahlan and Azalina Othman are posturing, as a mark of gratitude, with ridiculous ideas that are not only perverse but also blatantly mocking of the whole purpose of preventing corruption.


Rahman and Azalina are now defending the secret huge sums of RM2.6billion found in the Prime Minister’s personal bank accounts as political funding and that Prime Minister Najib is holding the sludge fund as a trustee o‎f UMNO.  It is unbelievable that they can come up with such a spin.

The argument is perverse in its logic of defending the indefensible, because it is  flawed in facts:

a) UMNO is a registered political organisation. Its accounts must be duly accounted for to the Registar of Societies. This was not done until the account was closed. Just check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM);

b) if the money is held as a trustee for UMNO, how come this trust account is unknown to UMNO itself that is the Deputy President and Supreme Council‎ are unaware of it until Rahman and Azalina raised this excuse that it is a political trust  fund in the Prime Minister’s name. If so, was there a trust document; was it discussed when it was created and disbursed by approval at any Supreme Council meeting? and

c) ‎if it is political donation, how come Prime Minister Najib has such difficulties to be open and transparent about it and has been unable to give us straight answers. His answers so far are wishy-washy not in the manner now argued by Rahman and Azalina.

Rahman-Dahlan-Clare-Rewcastle-BrownRahman Dahlan

Let us be very clear, money kept in secretive ways is a red flag that it is for an improper corrupt purpose. Now let us deal with the legal issue which will show that Rahman and Azalina ‎are propagating views  which are totally contrary to the provisions of the MACC Act, 2009.

Section 3 (S.3)

S.3 of the MACC Act  defines Prime Minister Najib, Rahman, Azalina, 4 Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members, all the cabinet members and all parliamentarians as “officers of a public body” by virtue of them being “members of the ‎administration” or “members of State Legislative Assembly” or “officers of Government  of Malaysia or Government of a State”. They are all prohibited from receiving any form of gratification.

Gratification has a long definition to include not just money but also donation, gift, loan, fee, office, post, dignity, employment, contracts, service, forbearance, protection.

Section 50 (S.50)

S.50 of the MACC Act clearly states that anyone of these officers of public body who gives or receives gratification is presumed to have ‎done so corruptly.

 Section 16 (S.16)

S.16 of the MACC Act provides that any of them who gives or receives corrupt gratification commits an offence punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment.


a) Prime Minister Najib who received the secret fund has committed an offence of corruption;

b) Prime Minister Najib who offered cabinet posts to the 4 Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members to disrupt their duty from reporting to Parliament on the Auditor-General’s report commits not only obstruction of justice but also corruption by offering them  cabinet posts so that they forbear reporting negatively against him in their PAC report;

c) The 4 PAC members who abandoned their duty in the PAC have not only betrayed their duty to report to Parliament but also created a conflict of interest whereby they now have information that they can use to protect the Prime Minister, and by accepting to be cabinet members have also committed the offence of corruption;

d) Rahman, Azalina, the other cabinet members and all the UMNO Supreme Council‎ members who are aware of the now admitted “slush fund” have also committed abetment of the corruption.

That is what the law says.

Thus, Rahman and Azalina whose oath of office as Parliamentarians and as Ministers have breached their oaths of office by saying something contrary to the law. They have, in fact, encouraged the public and the Malaysian masses to breach the law. They should be hauled up by the MACC.

No Excuse for Committing Corruption

If guidance from history is needed that there is no excuse for committing corruption, just read this passage on the conviction of Dato’Harun Idris who was once a hero of the Malays. Tun Razak may also be a hero. But, make no mistake, Najib is not.

Just look at all his policies that are causing endless  miseries not only to the rakyat but also to the future generations when they will have to pay for the crimes committed today.

A Footnote in History per Almarhum Sultan Azlan Shah, when sentencing Allahyarham (Dato’) Harun Idris for corruption in 1976:

” It is painful for me to have to sentence a man I know. I wish it were the duty of some other judge to perform that task. To me this hearing seems to reaffirm the vitality of the Rule of Law. But to many of us, this hearing also suggests a frightening decay in the integrity of some of our leaders. It has given horrible illustrations of Lord Acton’s aphorism “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and has focused concern on the need of some avowed limitations upon political authority.

“…the law is no respecter of persons. Nevertheless it will be impossible to ignore the fact that you are in a different category from any person that I have ever tried. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that, in the eyes of millions of our countrymen and women, you are a patriot and a leader. Even those who differ from you in politics look upon you as a man of high ideals. You had every chance to reach the greatest height of human achievement. But half-way along the road, you allowed avarice to corrupt you.

“It is incomprehensible how a man in your position could not in your own conscience, recognise corruption for what it is. In so doing, you have not only betrayed your party cause, for which you have spoken so eloquently, but also the oath of office which you have taken and subscribed before your Sovereign Ruler, and above all the law of which you are its servant”.

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Najib Razak’s Cabinet–Hududism on the Way

August 2, 2015

Listen to Ambiga on kiniTv: PM gone crazy

Malaysia: More on Najib Razak’s Cabinet–Hududism on the Way

by AR Zurairi@www.malaymailone.com

Najib on HududA Hudud Prime Minister

A Cabinet reshuffle is not about dropping ministers who have underperformed or are unpopular with the public, at least not in Malaysia.

If that were true, then we would not still be seeing former Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan around after the massive kerfuffle with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.

Ahmad MaslanHigh GPA Minister

Instead he is now the Deputy International Trade and industry minister, with perhaps a role in the handling of the hot potato that is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

And we would not still see Ismail Sabri Yaakob, not after his call to boycott Chinese traders in February. And then, you have Jamil Khir Baharom, whose tenure as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs has been nothing but horrendous with regards to the rights and civil liberties of not only non-Muslims, but some in the Muslim community themselves.

Datuk-Jamil-Khir-BaharomLaksamana (Admiral) al-Hudud

The past few years have seen the divide between Muslims and others grow even wider as Islamic authorities gain the upper hand in determining the country’s policies and undermining the Federal Constitution.

Under Jamil, Islamic authorities — either federal or state — have only grown bolder in encroaching more into Malaysian lives with impunity and without rebuke.

State religious authorities have several times, in court and usually in judicial reviews, insisted that the Shariah court has jurisdiction over civil courts, and Shariah laws should not be subjected to the provisions in the Constitution.

Jamil himself has even alleged a “new wave” of assault on Islam here, accusing human rights activists of colluding with enemies of Islam to put its religious institutions on trial in a secular court.

Instead, Jamil now has a Deputy minister in the form of Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the UMNO senator more popularly known as the head of Muslim missionary group Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM).

Judging from his track record, Asyraf is a perfect fit for Jamil, and we can expect more of the same from our Islamic authorities.

In 2013, Asyraf was among the speakers of the Symposium on Facing Foreign Agenda with the theme “Malay Leadership Crisis”, jointly organised by Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia and its student wing Pembina, where he urged Muslims to always prioritise their own rights over the non-Muslims.

More recently, his antics as a senator included suggesting in Dewan Negara that 24-hour eateries could be the cause of “social problems”, claiming no such outlets are available in developed countries.

But most of all, the Tumpat-born Asyraf is a vocal proponent of implementing the controversial Islamic penal code of hudud across the country, and he seems to have a clearer vision of it than Jamil.

Last year, YADIM organised a conference compiling working papers on implementing hudud from Muslim academics nationwide. The compilation was edited into a book by Asyraf and it was launched earlier this year.

Among those who submitted papers were former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad, and Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. But there were also PAS Ulama wing chief Dr Mahfodz Mohamed, Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali who was then the wing’s information chief, and Kelantan exco member Dr Mohamed Fadzli Hassan, also from PAS.

The conclusion from the papers had been that it is not impossible for hudud to be implemented in the country, but it takes a bipartisan effort that puts Islam above all other considerations.

When met after the book launch, Khairuddin had coyly said this consensus on hudud is not a collaboration between UMNO and PAS, but rather a government-to-government deal between Putrajaya and Kelantan.

It has since been a tug-of-war between the two political parties. Ever since Kelantan passed an amendment to its Shariah Criminal Enactment to pave way for hudud, PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang has been trying to table private members’ Bills to clear any legal obstacles.

Even though Jamil had said that Putrajaya and UMNO have no qualms implementing hudud, he has stopped short of suggesting anything concrete. Hadi’s Bills have so far been put on the backburner in two previous Parliament sittings.

It has been suggested that the failure of PAS to push for hudud has been its recent haste in doing so, ignoring the blueprint allegedly drawn by Putrajaya to implement hudud in the country.

The paper, said to be prepared by a Shariah-Civil Technical Committee under JAKIM, the federal Islamic authority under Jamil, had concluded that the Constitution does not bar the incorporation of hudud into the Penal Code and its subsequent application to all Malaysians, not just Muslims.

It also stated it was vital for all local laws to be harmonised with Islamic principles.

Of course, the blueprint went out of the window after it was leaked to the public, and PAS meanwhile went ahead with its hudud plan in Kelantan to advance its credibility with its supporters prior to its annual congress and internal polls.

The move had arguably forced DAP’s hand which led to Pakatan Rakyat’s death, and also PAS’ progressive leaders in Harapan Baru which are now finalising plans for a new Islamic party.

With DAP and its progressive leaders out of the picture, and PAS going it mostly alone, its hudud goals might get a new life.And now PAS, and its clergy faction which took over the party, has one more ally in a high place: the now Deputy Minister Asyraf.

With UMNO grasping for support amid its fractious power struggle, will we see this alliance lead to a rekindling of the PAS-UMNO “friendship”?

“What is the most important is to ensure the agenda involving hudud can be realised, God willing,” Asyraf said in a status update on his official Facebook page on Wednesday following his appointment. With his newfound power, Asyraf now has carte blanche to realise this hudud ambition.

Malaysia: Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Defence Game

August 2, 2015

Malaysia: Malaysian PM’s Successful Defensive Game

by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com

Najib-Razak-david-_3392712bNajib Razak got a message on Corruption from David Cameron

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has played a deft defensive game to keep his job in the face of what ought to be overwhelming forces to remove him. He has fired enemies, co-opted others and muzzled  the press.

That leaves only a handful who may stand in his way including Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the central banker, who is said to be under enormous pressure but who has access to incriminating bank records on both Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor. The other is Ahmad Hamdan Dahlan, the chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, who has remained silent on which way the commission may go. There are rumors in Kuala Lumpur that he may be the next to get the boot.

Political analysts now are trying to assess new damage from an explosive account in the UK-based Sarawak Report that published what are purported to be drafts of corruption charges to be brought by Malaysian former Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail, who was fired on July 28, and shunted into a make-work position. Rumors of Gani Patail’s decision to charge the prime minister circulated well before he was sacked.

Scandal and tumult

That was only the latest in a tumultuous week in Kuala Lumpur. For more than a  year, Najib has been ensnared in one of the biggest financial scandals in recent history.  But despite the ostensible damage, he is expected to survive, at least for now, partly because there is nobody around with the power to topple him. Even if the opposition were to somehow pull back together, he seems safe from a no-confidence motion in the Parliament and has until 2018 to regroup for the next general election.

While the economy may be more decisive in determining the outcome of the next general election, analysts expect the political cauldron to continue to bubble for the next two years, unless something unseen breaks. It is hard to see what that might be given the peculiar nature of Malaysian politics, as ethnic Malays, who make up 60 percent of the country, regard UMNO as their defender against the Chinese, who occupy the economic heights.  To many the continuing attacks on Najib and UMNO represent a threat against their guardian.

Over the years Najib has survived being caught in a Port Dickson motel room bed with an actress, being investigated by French prosecutors for taking a €114 million kickback on the purchase of submarines as Defense Minister and overpaying by a vast amount on the purchase of a wide range of other military weapons that probably resulted in kickbacks.

In the current episode, the Premier has muzzled the most influential business newspapers in the country and left those owned by the political parties, including UMNO’s vitriolic Utusan Malaysia, the Malay-language broadsheet, to blast opponents as agents of foreign powers. The English-language New Straits Times and Star have been content to largely parrot the government  line.

By firing Akhil Bulat, the head of Special Branch, Najib has pushed out what amounts to the police intelligence chief and the man who knows where the bodies are buried. Bulat, a source told Asia Sentinel, has grown increasingly critical of Najib in private circles, saying he has to go.

The most potent threat, beyond the Bank Negara documents, is the long-running and often-delayed investigation by the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee into the affairs of the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd. Najib has addressed that by appointing four UMNO members of the committee to cabinet positions when he reshuffled the cabinet and ousted his critics. The chairman, Nur Jazlan Mohamed, has been named Deputy Home Minister.

Nur JazlanLoyalty over Duty=Promotion=Loss of Dignity

While opposition members of the bipartisan committee have vowed to continue their work, other observers believe it has been effectively neutered, at least for now.

Whether or not Najib retains the loyalty of the 190-odd United Malays Organization district chiefs, he has neutered opposition there as well by pushing intra-party elections back by 18 months so that even if his enemies, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad could generate party support, it doesn’t appear that anybody can get at him. But pushing the elections back cuts both ways. Najib can’t be ousted but neither can Muhyiddin Yassin, fired as Deputy Prime Minister early this week, be sacked as Deputy President.

Najib also endured a tongue-lashing this week from British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had the ill timing to land in Kuala Lumpur to peddle trade as the scandal blew open. The British premier skulked out of town as quickly as he could. It was hardly the reflected prestige that Najib was counting on to boost his street cred.

Deflect the bad news

As Najib’s supporters have done since the scandal blew open months ago, they sought to deflect the latest salvo by Sarawak Report, saying unnamed forces want to end parliamentary democracy in Malaysia. Apandi Ali, the new attorney general, who was appointed the same day Gani Patail was removed, said the documents were part of a “conspiracy to topple a serving prime minister” and a “threat to Malaysia’s democracy.”

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the nakedly ambitious and often mercurial deputy prime minister picked to replace Muhyiddin, and Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, went on the opposition against crusading Sarawak Report editor Clare  Rewcastle Brown, saying sedition charges are likely to be brought against her, a hollow charge since she operates in the UK, which is not about to bend to already-existing demands to extradite her. For weeks, forces believed to be paid by middle eastern oil interests have staged an all-out campaign to discredit Rewcastle Brown, stalking her in London to photograph people she meets and charging they are part of the conspiracy.  They paid a former Sarawak Radio official to accuse her of altering documents to discredit 1MDB.

In the latest case, Rewcastle Brown said she had verified the documents with senior officials before printing them. Gani Patail has been silent on it. One presumes he would denounce the documents if they were fake.

Americk Sidhu, a Kuala Lumpur-based lawyer, went to bat for the documents. “The way those charge sheets are drafted indicates the person tasked with that job knew what he was doing,” Sidhu said. “There is a complex legal structure to both charges (in the alternative) which any layman would not be able to understand or even appreciate. The details are also too intricate to be made up. Remember these were still drafts. The final product would have been a little different but the substance would remain.”

The draft also contains a police report, on which the draft charge would have been based. “I have seen charge sheets before,” Sidhu said. “They look like this.” The documents indicate Gani Patail was about to charge Najib and a company director of the controversial state-backed 1Malasia Development Bhd with corrupt practices under Section 17 (a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, with the potential of up to 20 years in prison.

Do average voters care?

But Najib remains insulated from rank and file voters.  “IMDB is too complicated for the average Malaysian,” said a veteran think tanker, who pointed out that a decision to impose a goods and services tax in April has been hugely unpopular. 

“What the average Malaysian thinks is this – I have to pay GST because IMDB owes RM42 billion, can’t pay its loans and has to be bailed out by the government. Other missteps by government – petrol prices raised BEFORE [Ramadan]. Think of the impact on all those in the kampungs.  Consumer spending is down this year.”

The business community and the economy are being hit hard.  The ringgit, the Malaysian unit of currency, has fallen more than any other in Southeast Asia. Malaysian Industrial Finance  has reported that so far in 2015 nearly RM10 billion net has flowed out from the stock market after another RM6 billion plus in 2014.

He still faces opposition from Muhyiddin and Mahathir as well. Muhyiddin is still UMNO Deputy President despite having been sacked as Deputy Prime Minister. He retains considerable power in the southern state of Johor, an UMNO bastion.

“Now freed from government work, Muhyiddin can visit UMNO branches to canvas for support. He also has very, very well-heeled supporters, “said the think tank  operative. In particular, the Tunku Makhota, Johor’s crown prince recently attacked the handling of the scandal only to have UMNO figures lash out at him. That in turn earned the critics an investigation for insulting the Johor monarchy, further splitting the party in the state.

“I think Najib made a mistake in sacking Muhyiddin,” the think tank official said. “Sacking him will prompt Muhyiddin to go for broke. I think a better strategy would have been to allow Muhyiddin to remain as DPM but give him an inconsequential portfolio.”

Malaysia: Big Momma takes on Governor Zeti

July 31, 2015

Malaysia: Big Momma takes on Governor Zeti

by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com


Two powerful women take center stage in spreading scandal as government clings to power

Rosmah and Najib nowRosmah Mansor and The “Boss”

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s controversial wife, Rosmah Mansor, is trying to drive another powerful woman, internationally respected Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, out of the central bank,  according to knowledgeable sources in Kuala Lumpur.

Rosmah is said to be enraged over leaks of her personal financial details. She also fears that Zeti has detailed information on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal that could bring down the government and the prime minister. Insiders say Rosmah, a lightning rod for criticism over her lavish spending, is the field marshal directing the defense of her beleaguered husband’s government.

“My own view is that Najib will fight to the political death because of the wife,” a longtime academician and political analyst told Asia Sentinel. “She is much stronger than Najib and will not accept any retirement package. She is powerful in her own right.”

The year-long scandal has paralyzed Malaysian politics and played a major role in weakening the economy as Najib twists and turns to keep his enemies at bay. Earlier this week, Najib sacked several members of his cabinet for apparent disloyalty; he has also moved against critical news outlets.

Independent authority

Driving Zeti out won’t be easy. The Central Bank Act of 2009 – ironically passed that year at Zeti’s request after Najib became Prime Minister – insulates the central bank from political influence.

The Governor can only be appointed or fired by the Malaysian King, a rotating monarchy that passes among nine sultans. The current King is from Kedah, the home state of Mahathir Mohamad, Najib’s most implacable enemy. The King reportedly has told Mahathir he is staying out of the matter so that the law can take its course.

Rosmah is said to have targeted Zeti after the Sarawak Report published details on July 9 about the deposit of RM2 million [US$523,400] into her account in Affin Bank, after which Rosmah demanded that Zeti find out who leaked the information within 72 hours or resign. When Zeti apparently declined, she came under attack from blogs said to be linked to Rosmah.

Blogs in the fray 

One of the blogs, “Fromtheeleventh,” alleged that the police Special Branch intelligence unit is investigating Zeti and three other Bank Negara officials for sedition and carrying out a parallel investigation into Selangor state water contracts involving Zeti’s husband, Tawfiq Ayman, and their son Alif.

The blog also alleged that Tawfiq is being investigated for allegedly illegal commissions paid in a bank deal in which third parties benefited from insider information, supposedly which could have been provided by the central bank.

“By virtue of the close relationship between husband and wife, Ayman has access to confidential information that has been used for his benefit in his business dealings,” the blog said, indicating that “new information” had been supplied to investigators.

“The husband is a little shaky,” said a Malaysian businessman, “but Zeti has always acted quite properly.” Another extremely well-informed source told Asia Sentinel, “I would totally believe that Rosmah would try to push Zeti out if she felt threatened.

Bank Negara does have lots of smoking guns on all the dodgy bank transfer documentation, both involving Rosmah and also Najib, 1MDB etc. Zeti isn’t an angel and there could be dirt on her somewhere that could be used, though she’s not been associated with any major personal scandals that I can recall.  It’s more that she’s gone along with wonky stuff as required by politics and maybe got rewarded for her compliance.”

But, he said, “I do believe she still thinks of herself as a professional central banker, so she might actually draw the line here. My impression is that Bank Negara is the most likely of all the investigative entities to really be able to pin something on Najib and Co.”   

Long career

ZetiGovernor Zeti

Zeti has been with the bank for 36 years, becoming governor in 2000.  She was named one of the world’s best central bank chiefs by Global Finance Magazine in 2009 and several times since, and a Bloomberg columnist picked her as one of his favorites to head the International Monetary Fund after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on sexual assault charges in 2011.

According to one political analyst, Rosmah is believed to have been behind the dramatic ouster of cabinet members earlier this week, including attorney general Gani Patail and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, replacing him with uber-loyalist Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the home minister. To replace fired cabinet members, who were involved in an investigation of 1MDB, Najib appointed members of a parliamentary committee probing 1MDB. Critics say that committee was designed to nullify the cabinet-level investigation, which is now presumably neutralized.

Rosmah is also supposedly furious over the role former Premier Mahathir Mohamad has played in undermining Najib. “She thinks Mahathir and gang are behind the campaign to pull down 1MDB and the Sarawak Report,” said a well-informed academic.

More evidence?

If the gossip mills in Kuala Lumpur are right, and Rosmah is indeed trying get Zeti sacked, the most likely reason – beyond personal pique – is  that the Bank Negara Governor is in possession of a report forwarded to her on March 13 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore that is said to contain damaging information about accounts related to 1MDB. So far Zeti has refused to talk about the contents of the report, although she said it would be forwarded to other enforcement agencies looking into the scandal. According to Sarawak Report, the account contains merely paper assets whose true value can’t be determined.

Zeti is feeling her way cautiously through the politically fraught scandal, which involves questions over not just massive debts of RM42 billion [US$11.8 billion] but that as much as US$680 billion allegedly was diverted from companies linked to 1MDB into Najib’s personal account, supposedly to be used illegally to fund the ruling national coalition’s successful 2013 general election campaign. 

“Disclosures will stop all investigations if we talk about it,” Zeti told local media. Although she has been criticized by opposition figures and Mahathir for the central bank’s tardiness in moving ahead on the investigation, Zeti is generally regarded as having played a neutral role.

Over recent weeks, Najib has suspended the publishing license for three months of The Edge Financial Daily and its sister publications, which played a major role in exposing 1MDB irregularities. He has also blocked access to the UK-based site Sarawak Report, written by persistent critic Clare Rewcastle Brown. He has blocked several opposition members and activists from leaving the country and the Inspector General of Police has threatened charges against organizers of a planned rally this weekend. 

That led the Malaysian branch of Transparency International to charge that there is deep concern over whether the 1MDB investigation can ever be completed. Gani Patail, the ousted attorney general, was said by insiders to be about to charge the Prime Minister with corruption when he was booted out.