Citizen Nades’ Wish List


June 30, 2017

Citizen Nades’ Wish List

by R.Nadeswaran@www.malaysiakini.com

 

During WW II, a man was arrested in London for calling Winston Churchill a fool. The next day in the House of Commons, the opposition members were ready to roast the government for this. “Are we living in a police state”, they shouted, “where we cannot call the PM a fool”?

Churchill’s reply was truly disarming: “The man was not arrested for calling the Prime Minister a fool”, he said, “but for letting out a state secret at a time of war.”

– Anonymous

COMMENT | Over the past two years, Prime Minister Najib Razak has had his name smeared, muddied and tarnished. He was called all sorts of names and even unpleasant prefixes were added – some undeserving and downright uncouth.

Image result for Miranda Kerr

Miranda Kerr

As the imbroglio over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) canters into its third year, there must have been times when some of the key players would have told the PM and themselves: “We should not have said that”; “We should have taken a different approach” or “We should have put our cards on the table”…

The whole issue would have taken a different dimension if only the game had been played by the rules and greater efforts were made to be transparent at all times. People involved were in denial mode from Day One and this led to speculation, assumption and conjecture.

This, in turn, gave a carte blanche to detractors and critics, who in all fairness, created some interesting yet unbelievable tales. And so, misinformation, half-truths and bare denials made the headlines.

What would make us citizens sit up and pay attention instead of dismissing whatever said by government officials and the mainstream media as propaganda? What would it take to restore public confidence in our system? This is no time for sentiments or phrases like “If only we could turn the clock backwards…” or some smart aleck saying: “I told you so.” Below are some “statements” which all right-thinking Malaysians would like to hear or read:

  • The Prime Minister yesterday declared that he would invite the Arab prince who made the donation to make a public announcement on why he deposited RM2.6 billion into the former’s bank account. “Members of the media can ask the prince all the questions that linger in their minds and clear any doubts or misconception on the donation,” a spokesman said.
  • The Pime Minister’s stepson Riza Aziz has agreed to travel to Washington and challenge the application by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to seize his assets. “I will prove that the money I invested in Red Granite came from genuine well-wishers and friends who bequeathed the wealth to me.”
  • Interpol on the request of the Malaysian Police has issued a Red Notice for the immediate arrest of Jho Low. He is wanted to assist the authorities in investigations into billions of ringgit which were allegedly siphoned from 1MDB.
  • In a well-coordinated swoop, the US Navy intercepted the Equanimity in international waters off Japan. The superyacht was towed to a US base in South Korea. Jho Low was not on board and the crew were released after questioning.
  • 1MDB head honcho Arul Kanda yesterday vowed to break his silence and face the media. In a terse one-paragraph statement, he said: “I have a reputation as an international banker with impeccable credentials. I don’t want to be tainted because of my tenure with the company. I will tell all. I have nothing to hide and I will not protect anyone.”
Image result for shafee abdullahHe is also the RM9.5 million Man
  • PM Najib and senior lawyer cum prosecutor Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said, in a joint statement, that they would both face the media to explain the reasons for the transfer of RM9.5 million. “It has nothing to do with legal fees or the Anwar Ibrahim case. We ask you to stop the speculation. You will get all the answers soon.”
  • In a shock announcement, the government said former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed has been recalled from his secondment to the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Vienna. Also recalled is his former deputy, Mohd Shukri Abdul. “Both were involved in the MACC investigations into SRC International and there are few ends to tie up. Their knowledge and experience will help put an end to this long saga.”
  • In a related development, sources said that two directors of SRC International, who have been on the run, have indicated that they would surrender to the Indonesian authorities and return to Malaysia. Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and Suboh Md Yasin are said to be “fed up and frustrated” in a foreign land and want to tell the truth.
  • The Australian media yesterday reported that glamour model Miranda Kerr is scheduled to visit Kuala Lumpur to clear her name and that she was not aware of the alleged thievery of her then suitor Jho Low. “I have returned the diamonds to the US authorities and want to emphasise that at no time did I suspect the money for the diamonds was stolen from the people of Malaysia,” a newspaper quoted her as saying.
  • However, some newspapers doubted if Kerr would be allowed to enter Malaysia. Quoting past experiences in Malaysia where members of the ABC crew were arrested and deported, some questioned if she would get past the Immigration checkpoint. Australian Senator Nick Xenophon, who was previously deported on arrival, hoped Kerr would not be viewed as a ‘‘security threat’’ and not be put on a “watch list”.
  • In Putrajaya, Rizal Mansor, the spokesman for PM’s wife Rosmah Mansor, said Rosmah will make comments on the DOJ filings “at an appropriate time.” Despite being vocal in providing answers on her behalf, Rizal said: “They booked the best and most expensive available accommodation in Bali. They are entitled to some privacy and time to themselves. On her return, I am sure she will do as the others have done.”
Image result for jho low 1mdb

The Generous Arab Donor born in Penang

Let it be reiterated that this is the wish list of the writer and is not related any event in the past or present. It could happen in the future, after which the disease called Truth Deficiency Syndrome will be wiped out.

The Game Malaysia and North Korea play over a dead Korean


February 23, 2017

The Game Malaysia and North Korea play over a dead Korean

by Lim Sue Goan@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

 

The assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother Jong Nam would be nothing short of a spectacular movie in the spy thriller genre, should anyone use the recent event as a plot.

Image result for The assassination of a Kim Jong Un

The storyline is roughly there: A fanatical leader of a certain hermit state has been suffering from some kind of persecutory delusion, fearing that someone is going to unseat him from the pinnacle of power. Consequently, he gets his intelligence agency to orchestrate an assassination plan to get rid of his half brother.

So, four intelligence operatives land in the country where the target is found, and pick two young foreign women to carry out the killing. The four men also arrange to catch the next plane out when the assassination goes as planned.

These agents are masters of their trade. One of them had entered the country on January 31 while the other three arrived several days later. They presumably arrived at different times to avert the attention of security authorities.

They later found the two women, one Vietnamese and the other Indonesian, possibly with the help of some other individuals, believing they were the right candidates to put down Kim Jong Nam.

Image result for Najib Razak mishandles the murder of Kim

The plan was drawn up in less than two weeks, including training the two foreign women, acquiring the poisonous fluid, tracking Jong Nam’s whereabouts, conducting site inspection and designing the escape route. The highly efficient plot worked, possibly with a little help from some insiders.

When the female suspects sprinkled the toxic fluid on Jong Nam’s face, the whole incident was closely monitored by the four masterminds from a nearby restaurant. Presumably, they were also ready to put a Plan B into execution if the female suspects had failed. They were supposedly still observing Jong Nam as he sought assistance, right until he slumped in the chair at the airport clinic.

The incident took place at about 10am in the morning, and the four suspects took the 12pm flight to Surabaya on the same day, arriving in Pyongyang on day four after making transits in three countries. The two women could have been abandoned by them, and could have been allowed to be arrested by the Police in order to give them ample time to flee.

From the leaked video of the klia2 CCTV footage, it could be seen that the two women were swift in their action. Their actions were nothing like the “prank” they claimed that they were carrying out for some men.

Elusive agents

The question is: how did the secret agents find out Jong Nam’s flight details and how many of them are still lurking in this country?

We know very little of these elusive agents. Malaysia and ASEAN have been doing a superb job in fighting terrorism, such that we could track down and know of certain militant group’s plans before they had a chance to act.

That being said, we still need to step up our cooperation with regional countries on the sharing of vital information on cross-border spies and secret agents to prevent autocratic regimes from carrying out their barbaric acts on our soil.

All police evidence point straight to Pyongyang, including the prime suspects being North Korean.

North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol has accused the Malaysian government of intentionally delaying the claim of Kim Jong Nam’s body in a bid to conceal the truth while colluding with external forces to tarnish the reputation of his country.

In view of this, it was absolutely necessary for the Malaysian government to take action, such as summoning Kang and recalling our envoy in Pyongyang.

Pyongyang must respect the laws of other countries. Malaysian law requires the next-of-kin to provide DNA for verification purposes before he or she can claim the body of the deceased.

Pyongyang cannot capriciously do what it wants. If the Malaysian Police fail to probe the case thoroughly, how are they going to answer to the international community? Our police have indeed carried out their job in a highly professional manner this time.

Subsequent moves by the Malaysian authorities show that we are ready to do anything even if it means our ties with Pyongyang being at stake. This will effectively prevent ourselves from getting embroiled in any unnecessary “diplomatic war” because mishandling of this matter could cause countries such as China, the United States, South Korea and even Japan to step in.

Image result for Najib Razak mishandles the murder of Kim

Malaysia has always been practicing an independent, neutral and non-allied diplomatic policy, but as a small nation, we must never risk our national interests by throwing ourselves into the whirlpool of international conflicts involving powerful nations.

The evidence we have provided should be sufficient to pinpoint the secret hand behind this dramatic assassination, and get the United Nations to intensify the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

Conventional logic does not apply to an impressionable and tyrannical leader of an autocratic state. It is now time to review our diplomatic policy to stop us from getting sucked into any international conspiracy.

Lim Sue Goan writes for Sin Chew Daily.

 

 

Malaysia: Into the Future Together


February 5, 2017

TN50, 1Malaysia and other else, Mr. Najib–Time to Get back to Basics and Stop your Political and Racist Nonsense–Into the Future Together and embrace Rukun Negara

by Zainah Anwar@www.thestar.com.my

Make no mistake the project to create a new ideological infrastructure for Malaysia has been many years in the making. If the leaders continue to ignore this real threat or to be complicit in this for short-term political gain, and the rakyat continue to be blinded by demagogues who abuse ethnicity and religion for narrow sectarian interests, then we will end up fighting for crumbs indeed come 2050, or even earlier. —Zainah Anwar
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Najib Razak–Malaysia’s No. 1 Problem

AS we stumble into 2017 in a Malaysia and a world full of uncertainties, and a US President shooting from his hip, causing global turmoil, I am glad that there are actually two important discussions taking place now in Malaysia on the kind of country we want to live in.

One is the TN50 series of national dialogues with young people on the Malaysia they envision by 2050. The other is the effort to make Rukunegara the preamble to the Constitution. And I believe they should feed into each other.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who is leading the TN50 dialogue, rightfully said this process is not just about defining policies for national development, but importantly, also about defining our national identity.

That many politicians (led by none other than the  narcissistic Prime Minister himself) are still determined to use ethnicity and religion to not only define us, but to divide us remains a dominant leitmotif of Malaysian politics to this day.

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In his recent interview with The Star, Khairy (pic with his wife Nori Tun Abdullah Badawi) stated that one of the areas of engagement in TN50 will be the subject of “an inclusive, vibrant and open society”. This, he hopes, will lead to a discussion on values and what a Malaysian identity should be.

I hope these dialogue sessions will be a platform where diverse groups of stakeholders can get to listen to each other and think. And in this process the “I” can become a ‘We” – we, Malaysians.

Over the years, ethnic and religious polarisation has gotten from bad to worse in Malaysia. The sad thing is that much of this divisiveness is driven by desperate politicians who manufacture fears and threats in order to maintain their power and privilege, and by non-state political ideologues burning with self-righteousness about establishing an Islamic state and syariah and Malay supremacy.

Never mind if such strategies lead to the destruction of the Malaysia we know and love, and the Malaysia that our founding fathers envisioned. That vision remains valid today.

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Malaysia’s Ills–Greed, Corruption and Incompetence

I have always believed that this country is big enough, and blessed enough for us all to share. That was how the founding fathers saw it as they developed a political system and policies where political power and economic wealth of the nation could be equitably shared.

As other ethnically divided countries fell apart, Malaysia stood in stark contrast because of a fundamental belief that this country has no other path to follow for its survival and well-being, but for its people to choose to live together in peace and to share the wealth of the nation.

To continue to label the Chinese and Indians as pendatangs, to portray them as threats, to regard other religions as a threat to Islam when the Constitution is clear in recognising Islam as the religion of the Federation and for other religions to be practised in peace and harmony, is nothing but a deliberate and mischievous attempt to manufacture a new ideological infrastructure for an exclusivist Malaysia to serve the short-term interest of the privileged few.

With all the corruption scandals perpetrated by those elected and appointed to protect the supposed interests and rights of the bumiputras, it is time that we start to think beyond our own ethnic and religious boundaries.

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Sebab sSaya nak songlap duit rakyat lagi

For there are larger interests for the national well-being that can unite us. So I welcome the TN50 dialogue initiative which I hope will start a national conversation on the kind of Malaysia we aspire to by 2050. Will it buttress the recognition of Malaysia’s plurality in the 1957 Constitution or submit to the demands for an exclusive identity based on ethnicity and religion, and even then, one that embraces only a certain kind of Malays and Muslims, while others are labelled deviants?

Will we continue to see our diversity as our strength rather than a curse and a threat as these extremists portray? Do we want to live in fear or in hope?

The proponents of the initiative (I am one of them) to make the Rukunegara the Preamble to the Constitution is embarked on an effort to reinvigorate and reaffirm this national commitment and turn it, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, into “habits of the heart”.

The objectives and principles of the Rukunegara, carefully crafted after the trauma of 1969 and launched by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on National Day in 1970, were designed to rebuild a sense of national unity and purpose – of a government and its citizens committed to building a democratic, just and progressive society with a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions.

They contain values that recognise our diversity and represent our commitment to inclusiveness, and our belief in democracy, justice, equity, and unity.

While some of us embrace these values until they become “habits of the heart”, too many others in powerful positions, in their rhetoric and actions, are determined to upend the best in the Malaysian character to refashion a new identity where those different are demonised and labelled, and therefore to be feared and excluded.

Make no mistake the project to create a new ideological infrastructure for Malaysia has been many years in the making. If the leaders continue to ignore this real threat or to be complicit in this for short-term political gain, and the rakyat continue to be blinded by demagogues who abuse ethnicity and religion for narrow sectarian interests, then we will end up fighting for crumbs indeed come 2050, or even earlier.

As expected, any effort to be inclusive, consultative, realistic in facing the challenges of today and the future, is regarded as a threat by these ethno-religious extremists.

Revitalising the Rukunegara to make it the preamble to the Constitution is damned as an effort to erode the special status of the Bumiputeras and undermine Islam as the religion of the Federation.

Dialogues to provide a platform for young people to envision the Malaysia they want by 2050 is criticised for not using Islam as its framework.

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Malaysia’s Gutsy Public  Intellectual

Such myopic attitudes reveal the intent of these supremacists to turn Malaysia into a mono-ethnic and mono-religious country or at least, one that serves the interest of only one group of citizens.

We want to move forward and embrace the values and ideals of the Rukunegara that remain relevant today, if not even more.

We want to explore new ideas and build new understandings that will keep us together and promote our collective well-being as we face the difficult and complex challenges of an uncertain new world order.

We want to stride into the future with knowledge and confidence, not with self-inflicted fear and myopia.

A Malaysian Trilogy


February 3, 2017

A Malaysian Trilogy

by Dr Chin Huat-Wong

PENANG, Malaysia — How does he do it? How does Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia stay in power despite allegations that he embezzled $1 billion from a sovereign wealth fund?

Corruption is nothing new here, but the scale and implications of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) affair are staggering. It may be the world’s largest money-laundering scandal involving a sitting head of government. The case is being investigated by authorities in at least six foreign states, including the U.S. Justice Department.

Yet there’s been no mutiny within Mr. Najib’s party, no vote of censure in Parliament, no mass protests. In both 2015 and 2016, tens of thousands of supporters of BERSIH, an electoral-reform movement, took to the streets calling for Mr. Najib’s resignation. But the demonstrations don’t seem to have loosened his grip on his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), nor UMNO’s grip on Malaysia: UMNO has been governing the country in coalition governments for six decades.

Mahathir Mohamad, a former Prime Minister and former mentor of Mr. Najib who recently left UMNO, blames the political stagnation on personal patronage — or what he calls “animal feed.” Others blame it on disarray within the opposition, an uneasy assemblage of parties representing different ethnic and religious interests.

But both explanations place too much emphasis on agency among the elites and too little on structural causes. Mr. Najib remains in power because Malaysia has become an electoral one-party state and because UMNO has captured the Muslim-Malay majority by peddling communalism under the guise of promoting equality. The opposition has yet to find an alternative model on which to build a sustainable coalition for change.

In 1969, after UMNO suffered an unprecedented electoral setback, Muslim Malays’ longstanding grievances about their economic marginalization, a byproduct of British colonialism, devolved into widespread riots between the Malay majority and the Chinese minority. Two years of emergency rule followed.

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Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia after delivering remarks at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Kuala Lumpur last month. Credit Fazry Ismail/European Pressphoto Agency

Abdul Razak Hussein, the first Prime Minister after the May 13, 1969 riots (and Mr. Najib’s father), approached multiparty democracy with great cynicism. He co-opted opposition groups into the governing coalition. He permanently abolished local elections, which had previously put opposition parties in charge of municipalities and given them standing to challenge the federal government’s authority. And his government tightened the sedition law to ban discussion of sensitive communal issues.

Most important, Mr. Razak introduced the New Economic Policy, a nativist plan to restructure the economy, then dominated by local ethnic Chinese and foreign capital. Muslim Malays and indigenous peoples of Borneo, together known as bumiputera, were given preferential access to education, employment, equity and homeownership. These groups soon came to dominate the fast-expanding bureaucracy and state enterprises.

The policy was a masterful move by UMNO to lock in support from Muslim-Malay voters, as well as fend off competition from the Islamist party PAS.

The system was reinforced under Mr. Mahathir’s rule, from 1981 to 2003. His government substantially privatized the economy, producing a new bumiputera capitalist class and more patronage networks. Mr. Mahathir tried to enhance UMNO’s legitimacy among Malays while further sidelining Pas with so-called Islamization policies — starting halal food certification, promoting Islamic courts and offering Islamic banking. He also sent political opponents to jail, shut down newspapers that challenged him and concentrated power in the prime minister’s office, weakening the cabinet, Parliament and the courts.

The combination of communalism and authoritarianism that both Mr. Razak and Mr. Mahathir embedded into the system over the years helps explain Mr. Najib’s resilience today.

In fact, Mr. Najib only survived the last general election in 2013 thanks to years of gerrymandering and the skewed allocation of seats in the national legislature. That year the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat secured only 40 percent of seats in Parliament despite winning 51 percent of the popular vote.

Dissenting voices have been increasingly harassed. In addition to the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is in jail on what many people believe are trumped-up sodomy charges, at least 18 opposition lawmakers have been investigated for or charged with sedition and other offenses since 2013.

Meanwhile, the affirmative action programs have stalled. Although they greatly reduced absolute poverty among Malays, they have done too little to raise their competitiveness. For example, Malays are overrepresented among unemployed youth with university degrees. Yet UMNO has deftly managed to exploit the policy’s waning effectiveness and even the prospect of its demise.

Malaysia’s first-past-the-post election system and the great concentration of power in the prime minister’s office mean that a change of the guard could happen suddenly and have sweeping effects. Playing on Muslim Malays’ growing fear that their dominance would be threatened if UMNO lost power and the bumiputera preferences were terminated, the party has doubled down on communal politics over the past decade.

Since the strong showing of opposition parties in the 2008 general election, ethno-religious controversies — over how women should dress, over who can say “Allah”, drink alcohol or touch dogs — have multiplied and intensified. UMNO routinely accuses opposition parties of serving Chinese or Christian interests to the detriment of Malays. When Mr. Mahathir left UMNO last year, a party leader accused him of being a “puppet” of the secularist and predominantly ethnic-Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP).

The once-formidable opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat — consisting of Mr. Anwar’s centrist party, Pas and DAP — fell apart in 2015, largely because of disagreement over Pas’s proposal to harden Shariah punishments in some states. UMNO is now backing a bill Pas submitted to Parliament that would pave the way for such penalties. This rapprochement is a shrewd political move — a signal by UMNO that it is trying to preserve Malay-Muslim unity by strengthening the place of Islam in Malaysian politics.

What glues many Malays to UMNO isn’t just personal patronage, as Mr. Mahathir claims, but also, and much more so, communal patronage, reinforced by the system’s authoritarian features. UMNO’s affirmative action policies may have reached a dead-end, but even if the opposition hopes to transcend Malaysia’s ethnic politics, it simply cannot do so right now. It has few options ahead of the next general election, which is expected to take place by August 2018.

To win over communalist Malay voters, some people in the opposition want to woo PAS back. But that would mean agreeing to PAS’s Shariah project, which is what ripped the opposition apart in 2015 and remains anathema to many non-Muslims (and some Muslims, too).

Image result for Chin Huat--WongOthers, like Mr. Mahathir and his supporters, seem to be on a personal crusade against Mr. Najib and tend to downplay the system’s structural flaws. Not admitting his part in creating those problems may be a way for Mr. Mahathir to reassure Malay communalists — he isn’t kowtowing to the Chinese; the bumiputera preferences will remain — but it is already alienating some minorities and reformists. In any event, only bold institutional reforms could correct the system’s authoritarian and sectarian features.

Malaysia needs a wholesale political transformation, but it isn’t ready for one. Six decades after independence, true multiparty democracy is still a long way away.

Najib Razak drags Singapore’s reputation as a Regional Centre into the Selut (MUD)


December 29, 2016

From the moment Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak took over 1Malaysia Development Bhd. in 2009 the fund has remained controversial. Plagued by heavy debt and questions about its management, 1MDB grew into a scandal that moved closer and closer to the heart of the Malaysian government and has resulted in numerous foreign probes.

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Najib Razak drags Singapore’s reputation as a Regional Centre into the Selut (MUD)

http://1426.blogspot.com/2016/12/najib-drags-singapore-into-1mdb-muck.html

From the 1Malaysia Development Bhd.-linked scandal to a 333-count front-running case and the largest market-manipulation prosecution in Singapore’s history, this year’s allegations of moneymen behaving badly have put the city-state’s image as a squeaky-clean financial hub to the test.

Image result for Najib Razak--Malaysia's No 1. Rogue

Regulators have responded with their busiest year of enforcement actions, shutting the local units of two Swiss banks, fining some of the world’s biggest lenders and seizing S$240 million ($166 million) of assets. Ravi Menon, the head of Singapore’s central bank, summed up the city’s mood as the 1MDB-related cases escalated in July: “We can do better.”

2016 was the year of significant crackdown in Singapore,” said Hamidul Haq, a lawyer at Rajah & Tann LLP and author of ‘Financial Crimes in Singapore.’ “Companies, financial traders and bankers are being kept on their toes.”

The stakes could hardly be higher for a city that relies on finance for 13 percent of its economy and has 200,000 jobs tied to the industry. With exports sliding and the local oil services industries in a slump, Singapore needs to protect the reputation of its financial sector as it grapples with the weakest economic growth since 2009.

 Ravi Menon

Strengthening enforcement functions under a new department is a strong signal of its commitment to uphold Singapore’s reputation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said in an e-mailed response to questions. The regulator said it will continue to boost its enforcement and surveillance capabilities to deter criminal behavior and poor controls.

“This will ensure that any wrongdoing is swiftly detected, thoroughly investigated and firmly dealt with,” the MAS said.

Least Corrupt

Singapore, which prides itself on having a clean and trusted system, is rated by Transparency International as the least corrupt nation in Asia and consistently ranksamong the top 10 globally. That reputation was forged 51 years ago when Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, and politicians from his People’s Action Party dressed in white to show they couldn’t be corrupted. That image helped to lure foreign investment to the city, where more than 200 banks have since set up shop.

The island  republic emerged unscathed from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International global money laundering scandal in 1991 after MAS refused to grant it a license, though it isn’t immune to financial wrongdoing. In 1995, Nick Leeson’s $1.5 billion loss from unauthorized trades brought down Barings Plc, the U.K.’s oldest merchant bank. In 2004, China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corp. revealed a $550 million derivatives fraud.

While Singapore has undergone significant change in tackling money laundering since 2008, “moderate gaps” remain in the city, Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said in September.

 MAS Chief Menon vowed to take stern action after the city’s reputation took a hit following revelations that money linked to 1MDB went through Singapore. The fund, at the center of global money-laundering and corruption probes, has consistently denied wrongdoing.

The city is the only jurisdiction to charge and convict bankers in connection with 1MDB. Yak Yew Chee, an ex-banker at Swiss firm BSI SA, pleaded guilty in November to charges including forging documents and failing to disclose suspicious transactions, while Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, who reported to Yak, was sentenced to two weeks in jail for aiding in forging documents. A former wealth planner at BSI, Yeo Jiawei, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and faces further charges of money laundering and forgery, among others. Yak and Seah didn’t appeal their convictions and sentences. Yeo is considering an appeal, according to his lawyer.

 “There’s no doubt about the tone that we take,” Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam said at a media lunch earlier this month, adding that the rule of law is the city’s life blood. “It’s got to be understood that the MAS will be very tough if you don’t follow the rules.”

Bigger Stick

The MAS was given a bigger stick to wield in 2015 after a penny-stock crash in 2013 mysteriously wiped out S$8 billion over three trading days, an event seen contributing to lower subsequent trading volumes. Lawmakers granted the regulator enhanced powers including being able to search premises, seize items and order financial firms to monitor customer accounts.

The alleged “masterminds” in the penny-stock case were charged in November after MAS investigators and white-collar crime police sifted through two million e-mails, thousands of phone records and financial statements and 180 trading accounts to solve the largest securities fraud in the city’s history. Previously, the regulator had to refer criminal probes to the Commercial Affairs Department and could only fine culprits.

“Hopefully, the MAS will continue to focus on catching the bigger fish like they have done in 2016,” said Lan Luh Luh, a professor at the National University of Singapore Business School. “It’s always a dilemma between tightening the reins too much, going after the very little guys and staying open for business.”

Crowdfunding and financial technology may come under scrutiny in 2017, according to Lan. The two areas aren’t heavily regulated and may be open to abuse, she said.

More Scrutiny

Singapore’s enforcement actions this year have made it one of the most active financial regulators in Asia. In rival Hong Kong, the Securities and Futures Commission has been settling probes and creating specialized teams under new enforcement chief Thomas Atkinson.

Other countries have also seen heightened supervisory focus. Indonesia started a tax amnesty plan aimed at repatriating cash stashed overseas while giving evaders a way to come clean. China has placed regulatory curbs to rein in shadow banking and contain debt risk.

“That’s the global trend — it’s going to become harder to hide illicit money,” said Andre Jumabhoy, a Singapore-based lawyer who advises on government enforcement at K&L Gates LLP. “There’s a real emphasis in making sure that if you want to be a serious global financial center like Singapore wants to be, you’ve got to abide by the rules.”

Here’s what the Monetary Authority of Singapore was busy with in 2016:

Banks and bankers

* Fined Standard Chartered Plc, Coutts & Co., UBS Group AG and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. over breaches related to 1MDB. The banks have said they cooperated with authorities.

* Said it plans to bar former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. star banker Tim Leissner from the securities industry for 10 years. Leissner’s lawyer had said he intends to respond to allegations raised by MAS.

Falcon Private Bank Ltd. was fined and ordered to shut over weak controls; local branch manager arrested by police. The bank had said it welcomed the completion of investigations.

BSI SA was fined and directed to close after “serious” money laundering breaches; six senior executives referred to prosecutors. BSI said it cooperated fully with investigations.

Alleged errant traders

* Three people were charged for orchestrating largest market manipulation case in Singapore’s history.

* Three former traders were charged with 333 counts in Singapore’s first front-running case.

* Man charged in the city’s first spoofing case, which was also the first case that the regulator and Commercial Affairs Department jointly brought to court.

Fined a former chief financial officer of Sinomem Technology Ltd. and asset manager Triumpus Assets Management Pte for insider trading. Both had admitted to the contravention.

Barred a former trader for two years and fined him S$110,000 for insider trading.

Other enforcement efforts

* Joint announcement with Attorney-General’s Chambers and police that S$240 million in assets have been seized, including from Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. Two calls to Low’s Jynwel Capital Ltd. in Hong Kong weren’t answered

* Set up units to centralize and further boost enforcement as well as target money-laundering activities

The Pangs of an Itinerant Thinker– Of Ethics and Deathics


December 19, 2016

The Pangs of an Itinerant Thinker– Of Ethics and Deathics

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

In the course of my long-running participation in the human race, and my increasingly urgent strivings to figure-out where I’m likely to be placed in this enthralling event when old age and death finally force me to drop out of it, I’ve become increasingly confused about its rules.

At the start it seemed to be childishly simple. Obey the so-called commandments of some alleged heavenly father and earthly representatives like priests, parents and teachers, and you’re a guaranteed winner in either this life or the next, if not both.

But then adolescence kicked-in, activating not just antagonism to the rules, but a growing awareness that adults seemed to be running the human race according to not just a single set of rules, but countlessly competing and conflicting ones.

Some clearly and sincerely intended to render the race as fair as humanly possible, and thus genuinely ethical; but others designed to rig the contest in favour of themselves and their running-mates, and thus downright unethical, or, if you like, deathical to the rest of us also-rans.

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In other words, there is an ethical/deathical divide in the human race that explains but by no means excuses the dismal fact that, as Aristotle wrote 2,500 or so years ago in his ‘Politics’, “man is the best of all animals when he has reached his full development, so he is the worst of all when divorced from law and justice.”

And, despite the system of ‘virtue’ ethics that Aristotle famously advocated as a solution to this infernal contest between good and evil in the human race, and all the myriad other ethical systems, both ‘sacred’ and secular that have been proposed before and since, the problem is seemingly eternal.

Possibly the oldest and most widely-known ethical principle, and certainly the first secular one I recall hearing about, is the so-called ‘Golden Rule’ to do unto others what we would wish others to do to us.

But, while at first sight this is a perfectly reasonable rule for the fair and successful running of the human race, on further examination it has a fatal flaw lurking in the apparently innocent word ‘others’.

Because as has been horribly evident throughout history, the word ‘others’ has been routinely (mis)interpreted as meaning and including ‘others just like ourselves’, and thus excluding all other others.

As including only other Aryans, to cite an especially evil perversion of the Golden Rule by the Nazis, but excluding non-Aryans and even allegedly non-humans like Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other groups thus targeted for torture and killing.

And in a perennial virtually worldwide sense, including ‘others’ of our own race, skin-colour, creed, gender, nationality or some other equally spuriously significant common factor, and excluding other others accordingly.

‘He who makes the rules gets the gold’

A further problem with the Golden Rule as an ethic, of course, is that it is so easily subverted by such cynically self-serving deathics, as, for example, ‘he who has the gold makes the rules’, and the corollary intended to form greed into a vicious circle with power, ‘he who makes the rules gets the gold’.

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These Guys of the Eastern Philosophy School are beginning to make sense to us in the 21st century world–Holistic Thinking

Given all these difficulties with the Golden Rule, I personally, like Confucius (551-479BC), Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and doubtless many other philosophers, vastly prefer the Silver Rule: do not unto others what you would not want them to do to you.

While superficially this seems just a negative version of the Golden Rule, the crucial difference that becomes clear on further examination is that, while what we want for ourselves and others tends to be impossibly vague and various, we’re far more sure what we definitely don’t want and thus should not inflict on others, or, for that matter, on other others.

In other words, the Silver Rule in both theory and practice sets us free to aspire and strive toward the most golden of our aspirations by equally denying us the right to kill, rob, abuse, persecute, impoverish or otherwise disadvantage each other in ways that anybody in his or her right mind would possibly want.

And, thank goodness it’s largely the Silver Rule that forms the basis for our systems of ‘religious’ and secular law.

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UMNO’s Strategic Thinker

Unfortunately, however, laws and the systems of ethics underpinning them have always, as today by Islamic State, Boko Haram and similar rogue organisations, along with allegedly criminal ruling regimes in countless countries ranging from Russia and Syria to Zaire and Zimbabwe, not to mention Malaysia, been supplanted by the deathic variously known as the Law of the Jungle or the Iron Rule declaring that ‘might is right’.

And under this deadly deathic it is possible to discern a good many subsidiary ones that might be called, for example, the Steel Law that apparently grants the potentates, or in the case of Malaysia, the UMNOputras, the power to take what they want from the people; the Copper Law that decrees that the regime owns the police; and the Rubber Law designed to render the constitution and laws of the country sufficiently flexible as to always protect the regime and its cronies and to punish its critics and opponents.

But thankfully there are finally some signs that UMNO-BN’s Steel Law is getting rusty, its Copper Law terribly tarnished, and its Rubber Law perished beyond repair. And that there are so many good, honest, courageous and truly ethical Malaysians who are hell-bent on finally destroying this deathical regime that it’s finally and deservedly doomed.