Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee gets a Rose Garden Welcome


October 26, 2017

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee gets a Rose Garden Welcome from Donald Trump

by Howard Lee Chuan How

http://www.malaysiakini.com

ADUN SPEAKS | Singapore, a nation that is a fraction of our population and our geographical size, dealt Najib a diplomatic sucker punch on the international stage, without even mentioning the word Malaysia.

Image result for Najib is a disgrace

Najib’s visit to the White House last month drew brickbats and comedy sketches for welcoming an undemocratic tyrant and a human rights violator. This is on top of the many references by various international media to Najib’s 1MDB scandal, casting Malaysia under a glaring spotlight of shame and ridicule.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited the White House on Monday where he and US President Donald Trump had a working meeting in the Oval Office “over lunch” before witnessing the signing of a US$14 billion deal between Singapore Airlines and Boeing for 39 new planes.

It is estimated that the successfully signed and sealed Singaporean deal – as opposed to Najib’s one which he remains to be “working on” – is slated to create 70,000 jobs for the American people.

Yet, Lee did not deludedly offer to “strengthen the US economy” like Najib did. Instead, he spoke of Singaporean military assets and personnel being deployed to help in US disaster relief during the aftermath of hurricane Harvey.

Image result for Rosmah Mansor--Malaysia's Inspiration

Rosmah Mansor will inspire power UMNO-BN to GE-14 Victory since the Malaysian opposition is rudderless. 

As someone who is not a huge fan of Lee and his party, it pains me to admit that he did so with humility and grace. And to keep up the Malaysia-Singapore rivalry of “kiasu-ness” I reluctantly pronounce Singapore the clear winner against Malaysia.

Lee was also hosted by Trump to a bilateral working lunch together with his Vice President Mike Pence, several cabinet secretaries and senior White House players. On the other hand, Najib’s equivalent was an “Apprentice” style face-off, with a well-staged coldness and a well-rehearsed taciturn on the side of Trump.

If evidence is required, check the transcript for the monosyllabic replies by Trump to Najib’s assertions. Not to mention, Trump’s tightly folded arms being perfect textbook material for the study of body language to show defensiveness and/or impatience.

As if the difference wasn’t already stark enough, and Malaysia hasn’t lost enough face yet, there’s more. Whilst Najib was denied even the customary photo with the president in front of the Oval’s fireplace under George Washington’s portrait, Lee had a joint press conference with Trump at the Rose Garden where they mutually reaffirmed bilateral ties, pledged continued reciprocal cooperation on several fronts, and flaunted their diplomatic flirtations.

Metaphorically speaking, the G20 summit in Hamburg was their “first date” of this “Bromance of two Kingdoms”. This joint press conference at the Rose Garden was their second date in which Trump invited Lee for drinks at his ‘crib’.

For all intents and purposes, according to some Singaporean officials, this trip was nothing but a self-introduction exercise by Lee to Trump before the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines in a few weeks. However, we have just been informed of Trump’s decision to miss the ASEAN Summit; so the third date is postponed, it seems.

This makes it even more painful to stomach for a Malaysian, to see that Singapore punches several weight categories above Malaysia. This is despite the historical fact that it was Malaysia who kicked Singapore out the federation, forcing Singapore into premature independence.

 

Ultimately, Najib’s failed publicity stunt to exonerate himself of the 1MDB scandal simply did not work. It actually did him more harm than good considering the badly staged, badly performed bad choreography that Malaysians and the rest of the world saw of Najib’s visit to “his golfing buddy” and “friend”.

It is painful to watch Lee, the leader of a country equally as undemocratic as ours, afforded such treatment of respect and appreciation, while our own Najib was at best tolerated, and at worst humiliated, when making the same move a month ago.

However, it would be even more painful if, after the next general elections, the Kleptocrat-in-Chief that is MO1 remains in power.

The only remedy to cure that pain is a clear-cut victory by Pakatan Harapan; it may even recover the “face” that Najib has lost us over the years.


HOWARD LEE CHUAN HOW is the state assemblyperson for Pasir Pinji.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

 

Malaysian Reactions and the Political Calculus of Prime Minister Najib’s White House Visit


October 19, 2017

Image result for asia-pacific bulletin

Number 401 | October 18, 2017

ANALYSIS

Malaysian Reactions and the Political Calculus of Prime Minister Najib’s White House Visit

Image result for Trump and Najib at The White House

On September 12, 2017, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met with US President Donald Trump in the White House as part of his three-day visit to the United States. Within Malaysia, reactions to the meeting – in terms of both optics and substance – are bitterly divided; falling mostly along political lines. Notwithstanding the domestic reactions, Trump’s invitation to the controversial Malaysian prime minister and the deliberate shirking of the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue during the visit leave Najib in a position of perceived strength as he looks to extend his tenure as Prime Minister.

Meeting Hailed as a Milestone by Some, a Disgrace by Others

The Trump-Najib meeting went smoothly in diplomatic terms, with both leaders treating each other warmly and discussing agreeable agenda items. In the public meeting Trump extolled Malaysia’s role in investing in the United States, countering ISIS, and limiting its ties with North Korea. The Malaysian prime minister in turn offered “a strong value proposition” to the United States in terms of helping boost the US economy and being a loyal partner in eradicating terrorism. A joint statement addressed enhancing US-Malaysia defense ties, Malaysia’s progress to obtain visa free status to the United States, the situation in the South China Sea, the Rohingya crisis, and protecting human rights. If there were any private disagreements, they were not leaked.

For Najib’s domestic supporters and prominent government lawmakers, the meeting with Trump was seen as an unprecedented success and a legitimization of Najib as Malaysia’s elected leader. The optics couldn’t be better. The invitation to visit the White House was the first since former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi visited in 2004 and comes in the first year of the Trump presidency. Additionally, Najib’s visit was the second by an ASEAN leader, after Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and ahead of Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong of Singapore – traditionally America’s most trusted Southeast Asian partner.

Substantively, Najib’s supporters saw the meeting and its deliverables as recognition of Malaysia as a key strategic partner and successful economy. In public remarks during the meeting in the Cabinet Room between the Malaysian delegation and Trump administration officials, Trump praised Najib’s domestic counterterrorism efforts against ISIS, highlighted Najib’s reluctance to do business with North Korea any longer, and hailed Malaysia as a big investor in the United States. Malaysia’s mainstream and government-affiliated media emphasized this, crediting Najib with expanding Malaysia’s international profile and role. Najib also scored a PR win with the US-Malaysia joint statement that condemned the violence against ethnic Rohingyas in Myanmar, touting it as a promise kept to Malaysians to raise the issue with the United States.

Image result for Trump and Najib at The White HouseGua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua (You help me, I help you)

This rosy picture of Najib’s visit, however, did not reflect the opinions of all Malaysians. Many – especially opposition supporters – while acknowledging the importance of their leader meeting the US president, focused on Najib’s personal and political gains, rather than gains for Malaysia. To them, optics surrounding the meeting were questionable. First, Najib and his entourage were alleged to have stayed at the Trump International Hotel, giving the impression that Najib sought to curry favor with Trump. Given media attention on possible conflicts of interest on the part of the US President, the decision to have a presence at the Trump hotel seemed like a calculated risk Najib was willing to take. Second, the glaring absence of a joint press conference during Najib’s visit to the White House reinforced the view among Najib’s opponents that he was skirting controversial questions – namely the 1MDB scandal and political repression in Malaysia.

Image result for Malaysia buys BoeingMany Malaysians were dismayed by the commercial “value proposition” offered by Najib to the United States.

 

In terms of deliverables, many Malaysians were dismayed by the commercial “value proposition” offered by Najib to the United States. Najib had announced that Malaysia Airlines, whose majority stake is owned by state sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, will purchase high-capacity, long-distance Boeing aircraft worth $3 billion, with the possibility of more purchases in the future. Additionally, Najib stated that Malaysia’s retirement fund, the Employers Provident Fund (EPF), intended to invest $3-4 billion in Trump’s initiative to redevelop American infrastructure. Malaysians were indignant at possible diversion of funds to the US instead of fixing deteriorating infrastructure back home. And with the rising cost of living being a sore point for many people, the political opposition ridiculed Najib as being aloof and for selling Malaysia’s assets for his personal benefit. Najib’s fiercest critic, former Prime Minister Mahathir laughed at the idea of a developing country helping a developed country and opined that this was another illustration of Najib giving money to obtain political support.

“Exercises, training, and interoperability are the new emphases, and many Southeast Asian countries – unlike most in the South Pacific – no longer need extra funding to participate in exercises.”

The importance of protecting human rights aspect in the joint statement will appear ironic to many Malaysians as the authorities have been prosecuting opposition members and dissenters and stifling civil society activism in recent years

1MDB – the Elephant in the Room    

  
Image result for 1MDB

The 1MDB issue was conspicuously left out at the Trump-Najib Meeting

At the time of the meeting, the 1MDB scandal continued to dog Najib. The US Justice Department was in the midst of civil lawsuits seeking to seize US assets worth about $1.7 billion linked to 1MDB. But the subject was conspicuously left out in all official proceedings. The only response from the White House communications when quizzed by reporters after the meeting was that they weren’t aware of conversations that came up in the meeting.

To Najib, his political coalition, and supporters, this omission was strategically crucial because it lent legitimization to Najib’s position as Malaysia’s leader and it gave him a strong case to repudiate the opposition’s charge linking him to the 1MDB scandal. Najib flying in to meet Trump without being denied entry or arrested by US law enforcement – as was claimed would happen by the political opposition – was spun by Najib’s supporters as proof that the opposition’s 1MDB allegation was nothing more than a political ploy. Domestically, Najib hopes to capitalize on this by allaying suspicions supporters and political fence-sitters have about his culpability in the scandal.

About the Author

Matthew Kah Weng Wong is a former researcher at the East-West Center in Washington. He can be contacted at matthew.wongkw@gmail.com.

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.

Established by the US Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.

The Asia Pacific Bulletin (APB) series is produced by the East-West Center in Washington.

APB Series Editor: Dr. Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center in Washington
APB Series Coordinator: Peter Valente, Project Assistant, East-West Center in Washington

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the East-West Center or any organization with which the author is affiliated.

East-West Center | 1601 East-West Road | Honolulu, HI | 808.944.7111

East-West Center in Washington | 1819 L Street, NW, Suite 600 | Washington, DC | 202.293.3995

East-West Center in Washington, 1819 L Street, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036

A Beleaguered Malaysian Prime Minister seeks Donald Trump and Theresa May’s Support to shore up his regime ahead of GE-14


October 5, 2017

A Beleaguered Malaysian Prime Minister seeks Donald Trump and Theresa May’s Support to shore up his regime ahead of GE-14

Politically Connected UK PR Company’s Contract With Malaysian Government Lurks Behind Royal Visit!

By The Sarawak Report

The British style is different to that of the United States.  Last month’s Najib visit was leaked in Washington DC a couple of weeks beforehand and when Najib presented his tempting deal to President Donald Trump, consisting of multi-billion dollar investments, his voice audibly trembled as he realised that the whole exchange was being filmed, shortly to be uploaded onto YouTube.

The President showed his contempt soon after by leaving Malaysia out of his South East Asia tour.

By contrast, Najib made it to London a couple of days later, had his half hour with Theresa May and was out again safely before anyone knew anything of the visit.  The detail of that Prime Ministerial discussion was, moreover, kept completely secret. Nevertheless, the evidence is glaring that behind both visits lay extensive and expensive PR preparation and Malaysian lobbying by hired agents with close connections to both the US and UK current governments.

Image result for Najb visits Theresa May at No 10 Downing Street

“Now we know what the short little visit to Downing Street was all about. But what has the UK been promised for sending over Prince Charles and what is a promise from Najib Razak worth?”

Malaysian Government Contract With UK Politically Connected PR Company 

In the case of the United Kingdom, Sarawak Report has received information that yet another politically-connected UK public relations and private intelligence company has forged a commercial relationship with the Malaysian Government to promote its image, particularly in Sarawak and Sabah, where there is building anger over Prime Minister Najib Razak’s refusal to review the almost non-existent oil royalties being paid to these key resource providing states.

The issue has now extended to Najib’s 2012 Territorial Sea Act, which was specifically designed to further limit Sarawak’s control over its territory to 3 nautical miles from its shore (whereas previously state control extended across the whole continental shelf) thereby taking federal control of Sarawak’s sea-based oil and gas deposits and other rich resources, including marine fishery and other minerals.

Najib has ignored growing demands by the state government of Sarawak, which has responded to popular opinion by asking for a review of these prejudicial arrangements.

Information made available to Sarawak Report makes clear that the company, which has strong connections with the British Conservative Party, has been contracted by Najib in a deliberate and secretive attempt to alter such negative perceptions in favour of the Malaysian Government.

The company promotes a variety of campaigning techniques, but what could be more effective than an old fashioned propaganda coup than the promotion of a Royal Visit, given this company’s clear connections with the present UK Government?

Prince Charles Forest Campaigner Used For ‘Trade Initiative’?

Image result for HRH Prince Charles to visit Malaysia

HRH Prince Charles’ Visit to Malaysia — A strong endorsement of Malaysia’s Corrupt and Scandal ridden Prime Minister Najib Razak?

Today, a statement from the Palace confirmed that Charles is making the visit to Malaysia at the request of the UK Government. Evidence suggests that aggressive lobbying by Najib and his PR contractors has played its part.

It means that the world now certainly knows a great deal more about the content of Mr Najib’s secret discussions with Theresa May at Downing Street last month.  These will without question have included this matter of parading Prince Charles (and his wife Camilla) around Malaysia, inevitably providing a PR opportunity to a Prime Minister, who has spectacularly robbed his people in a world record theft.

Without doubt also there is a valuable quid pro quo in the background from the UK’s point of view, just as there was with regard to the visit arranged with President Trump.

Granted, Prime Minister Theresa May is anxious to demonstrate that the British Government can deliver unilateral trading agreements post-Brexit and that will have doubtless have been on the list.

However, it is also worth a very hefty bet that long mooted arms sales were also on the Downing Street agenda.  Najib’s promises to buy billions of dollars worth of Boeing passenger jets from the United States have echoed to the hollow ring of empty coffers, but it is almost certain that the Malaysian Prime Minister will have thrown out the same bogus line to the United Kingdom, which has been dancing around with various European rivals for several years, chasing supposed military contracts that Najib is at least pretending he is looking to complete.

After all, this veteran UMNO politician has become a cynical expert in playing first world arms-selling nations at their own game.  Even if it comes to naught, the Foreign Office mandarins behind this tawdry visit can expect a nice pat on the back and a chance to move on long before the sham becomes clear. And the PR companies involved can claim to have earned their Malaysian taxpayer-funded contract.

In return, the UK’s respected Royal Family has been pressed into service to cement the deal, providing Najib with the pre-election ‘validation’ he craves to project in the face of his international disgrace over 1MDB.

Snub To Myanmar Over Rohingya Implies Clean Bill Of Health To Najib!

It is plainly disgraceful that Prince Charles has been used in such a way and advised to travel across the world to shake hands with a kleptocrat before (even worse) being sent to visit the Governor of Sarawak, who is an even more egregious kleptocrat, responsible for destroying the rainforest that the Prince, who is a passionate enviromentalist and indigenous rights supporter, has long campaigned to protect.

After all, Sarawak and Sabah remain BN’s crucial ‘safe deposit’ of seats needed to prop Najib up in power.  The Malaysian PM is clearly determined to keep their oil money, whilst manipulating perceptions back into his own favour, as he hands out cheap bribes in the normal way.

Image result for Malaysia's snub of Myanmar over Rohingya Issue

 

Even more disgraceful is the fact that this ‘validating’ tour of Malaysia sanctioned by the British Government has been accompanied by a deliberate and public snub of Myanmar, by means of an announcement that the Royal Couple have abandoned their plan to also visit, because of the treatment of the Rohingya.  Campaigners on this issue have made the point perfectly in their statements on the matter:

““To have someone of Prince Charles’s stature go to visit the country would be seen as a reward, and giving legitimacy to the government and the military that are currently violating international law,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK.” [Reuters]

Fair enough.  However, instead the ‘reward’ has gone to the global class kleptocrat leader of Malaysia, who has been desperately seeking just this form of international endorsement in front of his electorate as he gears up for his next election.

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind whatsoever how Najib will use the visit.  He, his spinners and propaganda media will declare that this British Royal ‘valediction’ proves what they have been claiming for months, which is that the DOJ case against him over 1MDB is just a cooked up plot by foreign bloggers.

If Prince Charles is willing to endorse him, they will ask, how can he possibly have been identified as having stolen billions of dollars from his people?

Image result for Malaysia's snub of Myanmar over Rohingya Issue

 

The poke in the eye to Aung San Suu Kyi (pic above), who has struggled against the military in her country, is another boon to Najib, since he has recently started to posture as a champion of the refugees as a convenient way of forging further solidarity with his new friends in PAS.

Image result for Malaysia abandons Vietnamese Boat People

The Vietnamese Boat  People

The Malaysian PM wants people to forget that he and his government were initially responsible for one of the most vicious and cold-hearted rejections of these fellow Muslims in their plight, when Malaysia turned around several hundred in their sinking boats away from the safety of its shores, only to have most of them drown.  Najib made no apology for this outrage until Sarawak Report and others decried such atrocious and pitiless behaviour – and yet he now, thanks to his trade deal, Najib expects to be praised compared to Myanmar.

In Return For ‘Trade’ Must Charles White-Wash Najib And Green-Wash Taib to Sarawak’s Voters?

By traveling to Sarawak and politely shaking hands with the hierachy there, Prince Charles will be complying with one of Najib’s key pre-election priorities, which is to change the perceptions of that Christian state in favour of him and his Government.

The locals will be expected to  reassured through Charles’s presence that Najib is their best option and that he is looking after the concerns of non-Muslims after all, despite the cosying up to extremist Islamic action groups and their harsh agenda to turn Malaysia into an intolerant Islamic State.

Charles, who has long championed the rights of the indigenous peoples and Penan of Sarawak and deplored the greedy destruction of their natives jungle lands, will be lined up to shake the hand of another even more egregious kleptocrat, none other than Governor Taib Mahmud who is single-handedly most responsible for the felling of the Borneo Jungle and has stolen the vast majority of the profits gained.

Image result for The Penans and Bruno Manser

The  late Bruno Manser with a Penan Chieftain

As heir to the role of Head of the Church of England he will be publicly flagged up in Sarawak as endorsing a regime that has pushed back against the rights of the majority Christian population of that state: excluding them from power, taking their lands and treating them as second class citizens over the six decades since independence.

Sarawak Report suggests that Malaysians demand further details of Najib’s lobbying contracts with his politically connected UK PR company. Taxpayers have a right to know how much public money has been spent on yet another PR contract designed to covertly maniputlate peoples’ opinion at their own expense.

They should further be entitled to know exactly what promises have been made to the UK in terms of investment of Malaysia’s dwindling reserves of cash, on top of the enormous commitments their Prime Minister has already just made to the US?

 

DOJ Action against 1MDB continues


October 4, 2017

DOJ Action against 1MDB continues, despite Najib’s embrace of President Donald Trump–Justice will be done

http://www.sarawakreport.org

Image result for sarawak report

When the US Dept Of Justice gained its court order to suspend various court actions over the assets it has now seized and frozen relating to 1MDB last month, it made clear that this was because it was in the middle of intensifying its criminal investigations.

In doing so federal agents for the first time described their chief targets in the investigation as criminal suspects, including the PM’s advisor Jho Low and the PM’s step-son Riza Aziz along with the ex-Chairman of Aabar, Khadem Al Qubaisi. However, they also made clear that this was by no means conclusive list:

“The FACs [First Amended Complaints] allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) . Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases. Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation.” [Declaration of FBI Special Agent Robert Heuchling – filed 9th May 2017]

In other words Jho Low and Riza can expect to face formal criminal charges sooner rather than later.

Image result for najib meets donald trump

Given that this submission by the DOJ was accepted by Judge Dale Fischer and the court order granted on September 13th, the day after Najib met with Donald Trump, it lays to rest all the recent spin about the case being dropped, thanks to supposed intervention from the President.

The wording of the joint FBI/DOJ submission also intensifies the heat on Najib himself by pointing the finger ever more directly at him.  Just in case anyone in Malaysia still believes that the prime mover and beneficiary of the heist, MO1, refers to someone other than Najib Razak, the statement spells it out even more clearly, because criminal suspect Riza Aziz is described as “the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB” – i.e. Najib and Malaysian Official One (MO1) are without any mistaking one and the same.

Here is an abridgement of the points made in the FBI declaration by Agent Heuchling:

I am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”)....Specifically, the FACs allege that, over the course of four phases (collectively the “Criminal Phases”), billions of dollars were stolen from the Malaysian government’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MBD”), a strategic investment company...The 1MDB Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation are related because they involve the same or substantially the same parties, witnesses, facts and circumstances.  Specifically, the United States is investigating the individuals, entities, financial and monetary transactions, and investment vehicles involved in the Criminal Phases.  As alleged in the FACs, one of the Criminal Phases involved the fraudulent diversion of more than $1 billion in proceeds from 1MDB to a Swiss bank account held in the name of Good Star Ltd...The FACs allege that Taek Jho Low (“Low”), a Malaysian national, controlled the Good Star Account, and used the criminal proceeds diverted from 1MBD and deposited into the Good Star Account to purchase tens of millions of dollars of assets in the United States.  During two of the other Criminal Phases, the FACs allege that Low and his associates conspired to divert and misappropriate approximately more than $2.5 billion in proceeds that 1MDB raised through multiple bond offerings in 2012 and 2013.  Many of these funds were then used to acquire assets that are the subject of the 1MDB Actions.  Similarly, during another Criminal Phase, the FACs allege that 1MDB officials and their associates conspired to misappropriate approximately $850 million in 1MDB funds that were borrowed from a syndicate of banks led by Deutsche Bank.  Some of these funds were also used to acquire assets relating to the 1MDB Actions. The FACs allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) .  Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases.  Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation. I believe that allowing discovery or other proceedings to occur in the 1MBD Actions will have an adverse impact on the United States’ ongoing criminal investigation..... the claimant in that case propounded 358 separate document requests seeking broad discovery intothe United States’ investigation.  These requests seek “all” documents obtained by the United States during its investigation “[c]oncerning,” among other things, individuals and persons referenced in the forfeiture complaint..transactions cited in the complaint...assets acquired by persons referenced in the complaint
.. the criminal acts alleged in the complaint,including the unlawful diversion and misappropriation of 1MBD and other funds; thematerial misrepresentations and omissions discussed in the complaint; the knowledge and intent of those involved in the criminalacts; specific money laundering transactions; the involvement ofany one of more than thirty banks in the monetary transactions described in the complaint; and communications that the United States has had with various individuals, persons and their counselThe claimant’s counsel also requests that the United States produce “[a]ll Documents and Communications concerning” twenty different legal entities...“including but not limited to . . . ‘information supplied [] by other law enforcement officers, experts,and other witnesses’” (Request No. 2); between any of the over forty individuals discussed or referenced in the forfeiture complaint along with “[d]ocuments sufficient to identify the name, home address, business(es), e-mail address(es), telephone number(s) and facsimile numbers” of these individuals (Request Nos. 3 and 4);  and concerning “all subpoenas, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (‘MLAT’) requests” or documents and communications obtained by the United States pursuant to any MLAT requests (Request No. 9)....Finally, the requests ..seek, among other things, “all” documents and communications[c]oncerning” the extent to which the United States relied upon “anyother country or principality” as a source of evidence and information; “all” agreements, including cooperation or settlement agreements, the Government entered into with individuals and persons; “all” “witness statements,transcripts, memoranda of interviews,reports, notes or video or audio recordings” “[c]oncerning” the subject matter of the forfeiture complaint; “all [d]ocuments and[c]communications” between the United States and “any other country or principality . . . including Malaysia, Seychelles, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand, the British Virgin Islands, and the United Arab Emirates” or any of these countries’ agents or representatives..All or almost all of these documents are evidence of the conduct underlying the Criminal Phases of the 1MBD Actions.Providing these documents to any of the claimants in the 1MDB Actions could result in their disclosure to other third parties.  The disclosure of such information to subjects or targets of the criminal investigation could give these individuals and entities a preview of the United States’ criminal investigation as well as the opportunity to track the status of the criminal investigation.  Disclosure of such materials also will potentially identify witnesses who have provided information to the government, including their identity and location ...By obtaining discovery directly from the government or third parties about the government’s investigation, individuals and entities involved in the Criminal Phases could potentially conceal, alter, or destroy evidence, as well as intimidate and/or retaliate against potential witnesses Producing any identifying witness information could result in witness intimidation or jeopardize the safety and security of witnesses – a legitimate concern in this case, given that press reports have publicized potentially retaliatory or threatening acts linked possibly to the 1MDB investigation.
For example:On or about September 1, 2015, the media reported that Khairuddin Abu Hassan, an official in the United Malays National Organization, was arrested by Malaysian authorities after he announced that he intended to travel to New York to provide information about 1MDB to the FBI. Similarly, on or about August 1, 2015, the media reported that three Malaysian law enforcement officials, including a deputy public prosecutor, an official of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and an official from the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia, all of whom were working on a special task force in Malaysia investigating 1MDB, were arrested by Malaysia’s Special Branch, Malaysia’s intelligence service, because of news reports relating to 1MDB published in the United Kingdom. On or about April 8, 2016, Malaysian media reported that Rafizi Ramli, a member of Malaysia’s Parliament, was arrested because he was suspected of disclosing information relating to 1MDB. Just a few days ago, Malaysian local media reported that the driver of former Malaysian attorney-general, Abdul Gani Patail, who opened the initial investigation into 1MDB in that country, was shot in public by two unidentified men. (See “Driver’s Shooting a Warning to Gani Patail from ‘MO1’ Not to Assist in DOJ’s 1MDB Criminal Probe? [Abridgement of Agent Heurchling statement, which was accepted by the Court]

 The above cites that the targets of the civil case are the same as in the criminal investigation and they are now trying to get disclosure of information involving 30 banks, 20 jurisdictions and 40 individual people who have assisted in the 1MDB investigation so far.

Image result for Riza Aziz and DOJ

The FBI and DOJ have made plain that they do not wish to provide such information to tip of their criminal suspects and enable them to intimidate witnesses, so they have frozen the assets relating to the money laundering until they have brought their formal charges. The US Court has accepted their position.

Najib’s RM43bil Boeing purchase that wasn’t


September 26, 2017

Najib’s RM43bil Boeing purchase that wasn’t

by P. Gunasegaram@www.malaysiakini.com

For Najib to use this process and to further even offer to persuade AirAsia to buy General Electric engines from the US is rather disingenuous to say the least and puts these two Malaysian airlines in a needlessly uncomfortable position, constraining their full range of options.–P. Gunasegaram

Image result for Najib at thr White House with Donald TrumpDid Donald Trump buy Najib’s Value Proposition–Gua Tolong Ekonomi Amerika? Say what you like about President Trump, he is no fool. He could recognise a con artiste 12,000 miles away. One could speculate that State Department and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would have advised the US President not to take the Malaysian Prime Minister too seriously. –Din Merican

 

A QUESTION OF BUSINESS | Prime Minister Najib Razak had to dig deep to offer US President Donald Trump something tangible but even the much-touted US$10 billion, or RM43 billion, Boeing jet purchases turn out to be less than what they seem.

In his meeting with Trump earlier this month, Najib offered three things to help the US economy, including what Trump said was US$10-20 billion to buy Boeing jets and General Electric engines. Najib thanked Trump for the meeting and said that he came with a value proposition to “strengthen” the US economy.

“I come with three specific proposals,” he said. They were: 1. Increase the number of Boeing planes committed from 25 B-737s and eight 787 Dreamliners with the “strong probability not possibility that 25 more 737 Max10” will be bought in the near future. Within five years, these would be worth “beyond RM10 billion”. Also, Najib said he will try and persuade AirAsia to buy GE engines.

2. The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has so far invested over US$7 billion in equity in the US and intends to invest a further US$3 billion to US$4 billion “to support your infrastructure re-development in the US”.

3. Malaysian sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional has investments of US$400 million in Silicon Valley in high-tech investments. It intends to increase investment here.

Enough has been said about his proposals to “strengthen” the US economy and the US$10 billion plus purchases of Boeing jets taken together with EPF’s and Khazanah’s investments will be a mere drop in the ocean of an economy in 2016 of nearly US$19 trillion (over RM80 trillion). Even US$20 billion is just 0.0001 percent of US$19 trillion, showing how little Najib’s offers will help the US economy!

The EPF already has a policy of overseas equity investments and the US, which has the largest equity market in the world, must be a major target market for the EPF already to diversify its portfolio and increase its returns – nothing new there. Ditto for Khazanah Nasional’s US$400 million investment in Silicon Valley which may increase in the future.

But even the RM43 billion that Malaysia is offering in terms of jet purchases may well not turn out to be the full sum that Malaysia Airlines will spend on Boeing jets.

After confusion over its future fleet policy and purchases, with talk of reopening European routes closed during the rationalisation and flying again to the US west coast and seeming contradiction with its earlier fleet programme, Malaysia Airlines issued a statement to clarify the proposed purchases.

The airline said it has a firm order of 25 Boeing 737 aircraft “with everything else being optional”.

“The options, as well as a variety of other arrangements including the recent MoU with Boeing, will allow us to have some flexibility in deciding which aircraft suits our operational environment best,” it said.

Disingenuous offer

In 2016, Malaysia Airlines made 25 firm orders for the 737-MAX8 aircraft and 25 options. The statement said. “The aircraft were ordered as pure replacements for existing planes, due for replacement beginning 2019.”

“In June 2017, we entered into a new agreement with Boeing to allow us to choose their new larger 737-MAX10 aircraft for 10 out of the previous firm order of 25 737-MAX8. With this agreement, Malaysia Airlines can decide to take either the MAX8 or MAX10. The MAX10 aircraft are expected to commence delivery in early 2021.”

That means the only firm order is for the 25 Boeing 737-MAX8 and MAX10 aircraft. While the statement did not give the cost, at a price of around US$100 million a plane, 25 will cost around US$2.5 billion or RM10.8 billion, about a quarter of the RM43 billion of Boeing purchases bandied about.

But the addition of the eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners is something new, although it remains an option for now as well as the additional option to purchase a further 25 Boeing 737s. However, Najib’s statement at the meeting with Trump implied the Dreamliner purchase was already committed while there was “probability not possibility” of the extra 25 Boeing purchases.

Malaysia Airlines said in its statements that it has been exploring various options for wide-body  aircraft, for possible delivery in 2018 and 2019, “to address the rapid growth in international sales which requires additional wide-body aircraft”.

 

While it has been talking about replacing the Airbus 380 on the KL-London route with the lower capacity Airbus 350, there was no previous discussion of using the Dreamliner for any of the routes it has been planning to reopen or initiate.

Malaysia Airlines said the list price for the eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft is some US$2.5 billion and it “will negotiate extensively to ensure the best value on confirmation of order”.

It added that if the order is confirmed, the initial 787-9 Dreamliner deliveries are planned for operating Asian services. “The growth of the Malaysian economy and the increasing globalisation will allow these aircraft to commence new long-haul services from 2020 onwards if sufficient profitable demand exists,” Malaysia Airlines said.

Clearly, Malaysia Airlines is still rethinking its options for its fleet. For Najib to use this process and to further even offer to persuade AirAsia to buy General Electric engines from the US is rather disingenuous to say the least and puts these two Malaysian airlines in a needlessly uncomfortable position, constraining their full range of options.

That has all the hallmarks of not just political expediency but desperation to show publicly that the US, despite the extensive investigations of 1MDB by its Department of Justice which has unearthed at least US$4.5 billion in theft, still endorses him as a leader.

But it looks like that Boeing deal and the other announcements have boomeranged on him, putting him on even more a slippery slope than before. It will be pretty hard for Najib to spin that the Trump meeting was a triumph although attempts are being made to do just that.


P GUNASEGARAM says suppressing truth is much like holding a ball under water – it has a way of surfacing and resurfacing despite attempts at keeping it submerged. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com.
Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/396288#x4aDtSofJBgqsH4q.99

 

The Folly of Najib Razak’s Homage to Donald Trump at The White House


September 24, 2017

Malaysia: The Folly of Najib Razak’s Homage to Donald Trump at The White House

by Mariam Mokhtar

http://www.asiasentinel,com

Image result for Trump  arm folded
Trump’s Body Language: Things aren’t going his way, he’s not in the mood for negotiation and there’s an anger ‘bordering on fury’. In short, Trump was not too pleased to see the Malaysian Prime Minister as he was preoccupied with Hurricane Irma. It is America First. According to Mariam Mokhtar, “[T]hat is the classic pose we see in bouncers outside clubs. Trump may think otherwise, and call it his ‘Superman’ pose, in his effort to ‘make America great again’.”

What was the US President Donald Trump trying to convey with his body language as he sat, with arms tightly folded across his chest, facing down on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was seated opposite him, at the conference table during Najib’s September 12 visit to the White House?

Well before Najib had landed in the capital, there were calls for Trump to find an excuse to cancel the meeting with Southeast Asia’s most-tainted current leader, currently under investigation in what has been called the biggest kleptocracy probe of a foreign leader ever implemented by the US Department of Justice.

Malaysians took to social media to denounce the visit, with one suggesting that Trump use Hurricane Irma and the need to mobilize a relief effort for the storm victims as an excuse not to meet.

This  White House visit was no big deal for Trump. For Najib, it was everything, as indicated by the magic dust of airplane purchases, infrastructure and stock investments he threw at the President for good measure. It was acceptance on an international scale, but more importantly, the trip and the photos of him shaking hands with Trump in the White House were to be used to exonerate him and distance himself from the Justice Department’s investigations.

The visit would be tantamount to telling Najib’s power and support base, the rural Malaysians, that he is not the much-touted “Malaysian Official 1” who has been accused of looting billions of ringgit from Malaysian taxpayers in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal. The fact that he has met Trump and returned a free man was designed to be use as political fodder and propaganda in the upcoming general election.

Image result for altantuya shaariibuuMurder, Submarine deal, 1mdb scandal, fiscal mismanagement, lavish lifestyle, handbags and diamonds, racial discord, rampant corruption etc.

 

Nonetheless, Najib is a man on borrowed time. He has six months in which to dissolve parliament and call Malaysia’s 14th General Election. There are numerous scandals he has to whitewash or cover up, ranging from the secret bank accounts revealed by the Panama papers to Sirul Azhar, the killer of the Mongolian party girl and translator Altantuya Shaaribuu, who remains in an Australian detention center, a walking time bomb who could cause chaos by confessing who ordered him to kill the woman in 2006.

There was no warmth conveyed at that meeting. In one photo, Trump adopted the “power pose” or the “bully pose,” in which he attempted to make himself look bigger and more intimidating. That is the classic pose we see in bouncers outside clubs. Trump may think otherwise, and call it his “Superman” pose, in his effort to “make America great again.”

Although Najib has made much capital of his visit to America, in the Malaysia Day speech, he didn’t dwell upon it.

Image result for najib and trumpPM Najib Razak bersalam dengan Mat Salleh dari Amerika Syarikat ( PM Najib Razak shakes hands with a White Man from  United States of America). “Najib is beginning to realize that the rural voters may not be too thrilled by his American visit, and meeting with Trump. The Washington trip may have backfired on him,” said one social analyst.–Mariam Mokhtar

 

“Najib is beginning to realize that the rural voters may not be too thrilled by his American visit, and meeting with Trump. The Washington trip may have backfired on him,” said one social analyst. “Remember that Trump is the white supremacist who called for a ban on Muslims from certain Muslim nations from visiting America. To see Najib smiling and shaking his hands will not have the desired effect with the rural Malays, who are by nature Muslim conservatives. It was a different matter when Najib met Obama. The Black President was seen as ‘one of us;’ moreover, his second name, Hussein, reminded them of his Muslim youth, and it jelled with them. The fact that he lived in Indonesia made Obama more acceptable. You begin to wonder if Najib’s advisers have made a terrible mistake and that he relied too much on them. He lives in his ivory tower, and perhaps his advisers are foreigners who do not know what the rural Malays think and feel.”

Said another social and political analyst: “After Najib met Obama, you could see billboards with the pictures of the two men for several months at the Maju Junction near the Pertama Complex, in Kuala Lumpur. Despite UMNO-Baru supporters praising Najib on his latest Washington visit, we have yet to see any billboards with Trump and Najib on display. That is a sure sign that this trip didn’t turn out as Najib would have liked.”

Trump is aware that the Malaysian PM was going to use this visit to try to whitewash his blemished character.  His Press Secretary, Sarah Hucklebee Sanders, was at pains to tell reporters the Justice Department investigation was continuing and had nothing to do with the visit.

Nonetheless, milking the trip for all it was worth, Najib and his entourage have tried to convince the Malaysian public, on their return, that it was a worthwhile working visit. Few have been persuaded. The hints to the electorate, that Trump had twice referred to Najib as “my friend” smack of trying too hard to sound convincing.

One cynic said, “Najib had plenty to tell us about his purchase of the Boeing jets and investing EPF money to prop up US infrastructure. What did Malaysia gain from this trip? I cannot see anything significant coming out of the White House reports. Malaysian money has been promised to boost and prop up the US economy. Why did he not invest the money locally, and boost our economy? When he returned to Malaysia, via London, he met Theresa May, the British PM. He was photographed shaking hands outside 10 Downing Street. We are still not clear what Malaysia stood to gain from these two meetings?

Image result for Najib and Theresa May at No. 10 Downing Street

Shaking hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May–Najib’s cheap thrill but haram to his rural UMNO constituents

The result of the trip seems to be nothing more than a few photographs. It is as if these trips were publicity shots taken to use and show Najib’s support base, the rural Malaysians, that he met Trump and there were no repercussions, nor was he arrested. Remember he is the subject of the largest foreign kleptocracy launched by the Department of Justice. Many people wonder how many millions this trip cost. If it was not an official visit, why was the self-styled “First Lady of Malaysia”(FLOM) and a massive entourage on the private government jet? This appears to be another expensive foreign junket.”

At the Malaysia Day celebration in Kota Kinabalu a few days after his return, Najib told the audience that Trump had given him a warm welcome and great respect, and that Trump was proud of Malaysia’s success. Citing Malaysia’s value as a sovereign state and a capital exporter, Najib was reported to have said, “That is why when I met with the US president, I brought forth what I described as a value proposition, I told him that we were planning to purchase Boeing jets from the US, including eight Dreamliners (Boeing 787-9s), not merely to give easy profit to the US as bandied about by the opposition, but to enable Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to have state-of-the-art aircraft.”

Najib claimed that when the old planes are replaced, MAS will be one of the world’s leading airlines.  But instead of praise, Najib’s speech about MAS was met with skepticism. The airline’s move last year to sell its fleet of Airbus A380s, the double-decked behemoths that have proven too large for the London route, was unsuccessful. One MAS employee said on condition of anonymity, “Where are they getting the money from? I hear that there will be another cull and MAS will terminate the services of another 6,000 employees. If they are purchasing more planes, which routes are these going to fly? Our European sector consists of one station — London. If more planes are added to the fleet, where are the crew to fly them? There is much that the management has omitted to tell us.”

Najib told the crowd in Kota Kinabalu that he did not wish MAS to lag behind. “We want to be on the front line, so that we can bring more tourists to Malaysia, including Sabah.”

A tourist operator said, “It is pointless trying to attract more tourists when the Sabah Eastern seaboard is rife with kidnappings, smuggling and security issues. Despite the billions of ringgits poured into the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), many Sabahans disagree that their safety concerns have been fully addressed.

“The sophisticated machinery and surveillance techniques on land, sea and air, reinforced by informants and intelligence gathering, have not made Sabahans feel safe. Our livelihood is threatened and our tourism industry is suffering. What is the point in encouraging more tourism when we are afraid?”

Mariam Mokhtar (ahyamseng@yahoo.com) is a Malaysian freelance journalist and social activist