Jho Low And The China Issue


July 19, 2018

Jho Low And The China Issue

by Sarawak Report

http://www.sarawakreport.org/2018/07/jho-low-and-the-china-issue/

Image result for malaysia most hated man Najib Razak

They seek him here and they seek him there, but best bets are back on China.  Indeed, earlier today, a Hong Kong radio station reported that Jho Low had most recently fled back from Hong Kong into China, where it claimed he has now been detained pending Dr Mahathir’s visit next month.

Certainly, Malaysia’s newly reinstated veteran leader has made clear he is champing at the bit to get to see the Chinese President, since there are plenty of highly pertinent issues he wishes to discuss, albeit embarrassing to China.

 

Image result for Mahathir and Xi

Xi Met Mahathir during his visit in 2013,

 

These, of course, relate to a series of multi-billion dollar mega-projects that Chinese state controlled companies signed up to with the previous premier, Najib Razak, star patron of the man on the run, Jho Low.

All of them have been frozen by the new government, which has been issuing toe-curling statements confirming everyone’s suspicions that the contracts were prime examples of super-corruption, which the Chinese had been prepared to pander to in return for digging its economic tentacles into Malaysia and cementing a strategic control over the region.

They include two pipe-line deals in East Malaysia with the China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau (CPPB), which the Finance Ministry recently disclosed had already received 88% of the agreed payment two years early and when only 13% of the work had been completed.

The Finance Minister and his team have not minced their words when indicating their firm suspicion that the reason for this outrageous outlay was that the project were being used as a front to channel money to repay billions of dollars of debts owed by Najib’s notorious multi-billion dollar slush fund 1MDB.

Likewise, the grossly inflated East Coast Railway, contracted by Najib to China’s unfortunately named China Communications Construction Corporation – or CCCC (C4 was the explosive used to murder a young woman in a particularly murky case linked to Najib and the has become synonymous with cover-up and corruption in Malaysia).

It was Sarawak Report which exclusively revealed leaked documents back in 2016 that showed how this C4 contract also was inflated by 100% at the last moment, following negotiations with Najib to again write of debts and liabilities connected to 1MDB and Jho Low.  The exact repayment details over the next decade were written into a secret annex to the contract, which on the surface had provided merely broad brush calculations to justify the increased expenditure.

Throughout the period when these contracts were being drawn up the already fugitive Jho Low was based in Shanghai, and it is generally agreed that he was acting as Najib’s agent to use the Chinese to get the prime minister off the hook financially and politically after the United States Department of Justice published the exact details of the 1MDB theft in July 2016.

In other words, to save his own skin Najib proved willing to tie up his country in a mountain of debt and obligation to its neighbouring predatory super-power.Image result for forest city johor

Numerous other Chinese funded projects were likewise put underway, in particular the evironmentally catastrophic Forest City, deemed to provide a helpful financial boon to the Sultan of Johore.  Not only was the development a perfect conduit for Chinese wishing to export cash, the project envisaged providing citizenship to a million new immigrants.

READ ON:  https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/05/375032/embracing-common-future

Mahathir and his reformist allies in the new Harapan government are naturally furious at all these thefts and deceptions and are demanding a re-negotiation with China, should these projects go ahead at all.  However, the entire episode represents a humiliating debacle for China, which like the rest of the world had mistakenly placed its bets on the politial survival of the unmasked kleptocrat Najib.

President Xi Jinping will hardly relish the prospect of the extent of his country’s bad behaviour and complicity in corruption being paraded on the world stage and it makes Malaysia’s top wanted man into a useful bargaining chip to help save face in the up-coming diplomatic wranglings and renegotiations.

Image result for malaysia most wanted man Jho Low

The Long Arm of the Law will get at him shoot.

It remains to be seen if China will hang on to Malaysia’s wanted man, who can tell all over Najib’s kleptocratic dealings (and China’s own involvement) or bargain a deal that includes the renegotiation of key projects in Malaysia’s favour, in return for a polite silence over the more embarrassing aspects of China’s corrupt part in propping up Najib?

Malaysia has its strong advocate in the trenchant Mahathir, but it appears China has a valuable hostage in its hands.

Malaysians reject fear tactics and opt for change


May 12, 2018

Malaysians reject fear tactics and opt for change

 

by Chandran Nair

The Financial Times

A first ever opposition victory signals voters’ disgust with corruption

Millions of Malaysians woke up on Thursday (May 10) to a new reality.

Image result for mahathir and wan azizah

With the unexpected victory of Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), Malaysians have overcome their fear of change and voted out the Barisan Nasional (National Front), after more than 60 years in power. The people have seized an opportunity to reshape their country after years of underachieving and feelings of shame.

Pakatan Harapan should work to create a new system of politics that does not distinguish between races, ethnicities and religions. It needs to restore meritocracy in the civil service and it needs to start reforming the country’s national development policy so that it serves all disadvantaged Malaysians equally.–Chandran Nair

Malaysia may have elected the world’s oldest Prime Minister in Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, aged 92, but it has also elected its youngest ever MP at 22 years old, and chosen its first ever female Deputy Prime Minister.

For the first time since independence, power will be transferred between political parties. Only Singapore has remained under single party control for longer: its People’s Action party has governed since 1959, before the country was independent.

This recent election should restore faith in democracy, at least a little, at a time when it is now common to talk about “democracy in retreat”. The truth is that many Malaysian reformers worked tirelessly and peacefully for years with little reward until now. It is also important to note that power is changing hands without incident, a testament to the endurance of state institutions despite allegations of corruption and legal manoeuvres aimed at keeping the ruling party in power.

Malaysia is perhaps the most culturally diverse country in its region, with a mix of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnicities. Four of the world’s major religions have a vibrant presence: Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. There is also a thriving Sikh community.

It is also wealthy, behind only Singapore in South-East Asia. It is well-educated, with a sizeable middle-class workforce proficient in English. The country really should be much more of a player on the world stage, but it has not capitalised on its competitive advantages. In addition, pride in the country has been hammered hard in recent years and many professionals have left.

Much of the credit for this change goes to Dr. Mahathir, perhaps Malaysia’s most well-respected and revered politician. In Malaysia, the deck is heavily stacked against the opposition. Opposition parties are denied coverage in the press and television. Leaders are often harassed, if not arrested, by the government. Dr. Mahathir’s decision to come out of retirement to stand as the Head of the opposition gave Pakatan Harapan the strength to go toe-to-toe with the government. He was not someone who could be threatened or thrown into jail.

Dr. Mahathir is not perfect, of course: he also harassed the opposition during his previous tenure as Prime Minister. But he has apologised for his past mistakes and has promised to give up his prime ministerial position to his former nemesis and current ally Anwar Ibrahim within two years.

But this result is also about outgoing Prime Minister Najib Razak, who pushed his luck and ultimately went too far.

Corruption has always been a problem in Malaysia, but the 1MDB scandal is the worst the country has ever seen. Lurid stories about bribery and money laundering have embarrassed Malaysia on the world stage. Malaysians were used to poor business practices and dirty money in politics, but this brought shame to the nation.

Perhaps Malaysians needed to face the stark choice between someone as discredited as Mr. Najib and as revered as Dr. Mahathir before they would vote for change. But at least it has now happened.

Image result for Malaysians celebrate Pakatan Harapan Victory

 

This election saw voters reject politics based on ethnic, racial and religious divisions. Mr. Najib’s campaign tried to capitalise on the old division between the Malays — the bumiputra — and ethnic minorities. He routinely tried to instil fear in the majority by arguing that Pakatan Harapan would be far more sympathetic to the Chinese and Indian minorities. Pakatan Harapan inherits a country with many problems, including stagnating wages, a bloated civil service, unethical business practices and declining education standards. But, several immediate steps come to mind.

Image result for Malaysia's New Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir

First, Pakatan Harapan needs to clean up the 1MDB scandal. If Malaysia resolves this problem within the Rule of Law, which Dr. Mahathir has stated he is committed to, it would restore international confidence in the country and allay fears about the state of the public coffers.

Pakatan Harapan should work to create a new system of politics that does not distinguish between races, ethnicities and religions. It needs to restore meritocracy in the civil service and it needs to start reforming the country’s national development policy so that it serves all disadvantaged Malaysians equally.

A Malaysian society and economy structured along these lines would give any economy in South-East Asia, if not the entire continent, a run for its money.

Azrene Soraya Ahmad on Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor


May 11, 2018

Azrene Soraya Ahmad (Daughter of Zero Lady of Malaysia)  on Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor

by Azrene Ahmad

Image result for Rosmah Mansor and Najib Razak

Bismillahirahmanirahim. Today (May 9, 2018) marks the end of an era of tyranny that many have prayed for. I grew up looking up to these two individuals, loving them and respecting them. There was a time when I would have walked through the fires of hell and back for them. As I grew older, I saw the selfishness and greed of one above all else.

I experienced firsthand emotional, physical and mental abuse at the hands of the one on the left. I witnessed firsthand the same abuse she caused onto the one on the right. I witnessed many trespasses, deals and handshakes these two made for the benefit of power and to fuel their appetite for greed. I witnessed the side deals made behind the back of the one on the right.

The amount of money in brief cases exchanging hands and being spent like water not for the benefit of the rakyat but to be spent like water on jewels, bribery of officials and used in the pursuit of gaining more power. Shamans, witch doctors, aesthetic doctors and the like walking the pathways of my home for one reason or another but mostly to bring to heel and gain dominion over their peers and over their family members, even to cause harm on those who were audacious enough to cross them.

The numerous offshore accounts were opened to launder money out of the country for their personal spending. The steel safes full of jewels, precious stones and cash amassed. Being made a cash mule or even crystal shoes mule carrying these quietly into and out of the country was no fun either, let me tell you. The countless attempts to sell me into marriage to the highest bidder or even persons with the highest position that will be able to help them gain political and social advantage.

The greed, avarice and pride that grew with each step that was gained closer to the top position. Nothing could stop their reign of terror and yet I stayed out of loyalty and duty. When this terror was then focused on me and became too unbearable a burden to carry, I decided to leave. Thus began my self imposed exile from this unfortunate family.

When I married the man of my choosing after exhausting all ways of trying to convince them to release me from my bond, my new family unit was harassed and exposed to countless cruel, intolerable, degrading treatment at the hands of one Rosmah Mansor and her collaborators. Unchecked, she engaged different government machinery, civil servants, media and members of Parliament to harass the family. Many other creative methods too were used to terrorise us and shut all ways of providing for the family and our children.

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Najib Razak : “Too scared of his bed partner to exercise any semblance of mercy”, says Azrene Soraya Ahmad

Throughout all of this and despite numerous attempts to seek help from the Prime Minister it was all to no avail. In fact, he covered his wife’s tracks instead. The one person who could have helped, refused to do so and turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. Too scared of his bed partner to exercise any semblance of mercy.

Just as he was too scared to stand up for the rights of the people when he realised something malignant had creeped into 1MDB but instead this family resorted to committing this disgustingly treasonous act of stealing from their people billions of dollars which they proceeded to use not just as their personal coffers to the detriment of the people but to bribe, extort, silence, maim, and kill.

 

Azrene Soraya Ahmad (Rosmah Mansor’s Daughter)

The day I left home, I left you a warning. That one who has been elected into office has power only at the will of the people. They are there to serve the people, not the other way round. There will come a reckoning when the people will punish you for your trespass on them. There will come a day when God will punish you for your trespasses the very people you swore to protect.

Malaysia: 1MDB– A Major GE-14 Issue


March 14, 2018

Malaysia: 1MDB– A Major GE-14 Issue

by P. Gunasegaram@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for najib razak in a fix over 1mdb

QUESTION TIME | They say rural Malays and other deprived Malaysians don’t care about 1MDB and that their major concern is only with the higher cost of living. I say, utter rubbish.

I refuse to believe that any Malaysian, rural or urban, is unconcerned that effectively as much as over RM40 billion was stolen from 1MDB and of this, over RM30 billion was borrowed money.

The problem may be that the magnitude and significance of what has been allowed to happen by BN – that means all of them from Ministers to MPs to state assemblypersons to delegates from all BN parties but particularly UMNO – has not been explained to all of the Malay masses.

And the only person who seems able to explain it in an understandable manner to Malays is Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his own inimitable style.

But make no mistake about it – if 1MDB is still not an election issue it has to be made one. Essentially, 1MDB borrowed money and most of the borrowed money was allegedly stolen by transferring it out through a convoluted process into accounts controlled by an associate of the Prime Minister, Jho Low (photo).

A total of US$681 million (RM2.7 billion) came into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s account before US$620 million (RM2.5 billion) was transferred back. These are facts.

It is unprecedented in the annals of Malaysian history. Never before was money “stolen” from a government-owned company (100 percent owned by the Minister of Finance Inc) in such a manner and tens of billions of ringgit at that.

It is much bigger than the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (or BMF) scandal (RM1.8 billion) and much more blatant and audacious.

There is a hole in 1MDB which at some time will show itself, despite all the denials by the government simply because one cannot hide the movement of international funds.

The government is already engaged in desperate moves to try and fill up these holes such as getting into lopsided contracts with others, including companies from China.

Such things are a double-whammy as more and more money is thrown away through overpriced contracts and the like to try and return money into 1MDB accounts and to perhaps steal some more. No matter what they do, such flows can eventually be traced through the international financial system.

It is through identification of international flows that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has managed to obtain an overwhelming amount of evidence that money was stolen and laundered for the purchase of luxury assets including a US$27 million pink diamond necklace.

 

If we don’t collectively get rid of this government and hold it to account for all the losses incurred at 1MDB, the future of this country is very bleak indeed.

If anybody needs a recap of what 1MDB is, and we all need one from time to time, here it is 10 points:

1. RM40 billion or more ‘stolen’ from 1MDB. It’s allegedly the biggest theft by a government (kleptocracy) the world has ever seen. Malaysian officials like world records and this is truly a world record but of the very wrong kind. It has made Malaysia rather notorious and infamous.

2. US$7 billion (RM28 billion) unaccounted for. Press reports quoting the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB, a report which is kept unrevealed to the Malaysian general public by using the Official Secrets Act, say this. If it was untrue, all the government has to do is unveil the auditor-general’s report which it has not done so far. The figure amounts to most of the long-term bonds of RM31 billion at current exchange rates.

3. Interest, asset and fees over-payments could cost over RM10 billion. The under-pricing by 1MDB of long-term bonds through needlessly high-interest rates, excessive fees to Goldman Sachs which arranged the bonds and over-payment for power assets, which now belong to a China entity, would have cost over RM10 billion more.

Image result for Equanimity

 

4. US$4.5 billion (RM18 billion) stolen, according to DOJ. This is the definitive figure given by the DOJ which is now in the process of recovering US$3.5 billion (RM14 billion) in assets. The yacht Equanimity belonging to Jho Low costing US$250 million or RM1 billion was the latest large asset to be seized, to be handed over to the FBI in Bali by the Indonesian authorities.

5. US$681 million (RM2.7 billion) of the money went to Najib. It came from an account which the DOJ says was controlled by Jho Low, a family friend of Najib’s.

6. US$238 million (RM952 million) went to Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson and Rosmah’s son. Riza is a close associate and friend of Jho Low and reportedly did a deal with the US recently – the company that Riza (photo) is associated with, Red Granite Pictures, last week agreed to return to the US government US$60 million (US$240 million).

7. Najib must be aware of 1MDB deals. According to Section 117 of 1MDB’s memorandum and articles of association, Najib had to be informed of all of 1MDB’s major decisions. Najib was and is Finance Minister and the highest officer of Minister of Finance Inc which owns all of 1MDB. He was also chairperson of the advisory board. It is highly unlikely he did not know and the fact that he does nothing now is a sure sign of a cover-up.

8. Authorities maintain all is well at 1MDB. Despite overwhelming evidence in a number of countries that money was stolen from 1MDB, the authorities, including the Police and Attorney-General maintain nothing wrong was done. 1MDB has not even reported the loss of the money to the police.

9. US$4 billion (RM16 billion) of ‘stolen’ money can’t be returned. The Malaysian government steadfastly and ridiculously continues to insist that 1MDB did not lose money, making it impossible for various governments to return money and assets bought with allegedly stolen 1MDB funds which they have seized or are seizing in the course of their own investigations.

10. Desperate measures and a weakened ringgit could further aggravate the situation. The government is aggressively doing deals which may raise illegal money through contract overpricing to plug the holes in 1MDB such as the RM55 billion East Coast Rail project with China companies and others. These will have deleterious effects on the future of the country. Meanwhile, the weakened ringgit has resulted in the latest rounds of price increases (not GST whose full impact finished at the end of 2016) as confidence evaporates, to price in a risk premium for the ringgit.

There is more but that pretty much sums up the main points. So whoever wants to do the messaging for the rural and other folk needs to focus mainly on the below three points, using the 10 above to add colour and illustration:

1. 1MDB lost RM40 billion. 1MDB borrowed over RM30 billion money through long-term loans which were “stolen”. A further RM10 billion was lost through high-interest rates, paying too much for things bought and to advisers.

Image result for Shahrir Samad admits to receiving R1 million from Najib Razak

2. The current Prime Minister, government and all major BN politicians were aware of this, and some even benefited from the “loot” with UMNO division heads admitting they received money from the Prime Minister e.g Shahrir Samad ( pic above). UMNO still supports its leader.

3. If this government is not changed, even worse things will happen to this country as more and more money could be stolen.

How can anyone even think that 1MDB is not a major issue in these elections? If it is not, isn’t it time it was made one?

If anyone was aware of the facts, would they actually think 1MDB is a non-issue? It will be a major mistake to underplay the issue of 1MDB in the forthcoming elections.


P GUNASEGARAM is sceptical of surveys which claim to show this and that when they clearly go against plain old common sense. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

 

1MDB: ‘Kleptocracy at its worst’ in Malaysia


March 11, 2018

1MDB: ‘Kleptocracy at its worst’ in Malaysia

So says US Attorney General Jeff Sessions as global investigators seize assets and tighten dragnet on premier Najib Razak’s 1MDB scandal

Image result for Najib Razak in a Fix over 1mdb
Malaysian Premier Najib Razak aka MO1 is in a Bind over 1MDB

“Kleptocracy at its worst” is how US Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently characterized dealings at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a heavily indebted state development fund currently under investigation for fraud by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

The fund, created and until recently oversaw by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, has been at the center of ongoing embezzlement probes in multiple countries since 2015. But while the embattled premier plays down the evolving scandal in an election campaign season, new overseas asset seizures are keeping it in the headlines.

Image result for US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on 1MDB

 

Investigators believe US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund by high-ranking Malaysian officials and their associates since 2009, making it one of the world’s largest ever financial fraud cases and the biggest action ever brought under the DoJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

Najib, believed to be the unnamed “Official 1” in the DoJ’s ongoing case, has avoided scrutiny and charges at home by sacking critics, including his former deputy, appointing an Attorney General who has exonerated him of all wrongdoing, and clamping down on probing media.

The Malaysian Premier has consistently denied involvement in any corruption and claimed the US$681 million discovered in his personal bank accounts was a “gift” from a Saudi royal family member rather than pilfered 1MDB funds.

While opposition parties have staged anti-kleptocracy rallies centered on 1MDB, it’s not clear yet the scandal will be Najib’s undoing at the polls, which must be held by August. But a new string of foreign asset seizures and developments are bringing the issue back to the fore as elections draw near.

Last week, Indonesian authorities and US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents seized a US$250 million luxury yacht belonging to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, a central figure in the 1MDB scandal.

A seized a luxury yacht sought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of a multi-billion dollar corruption investigation is seen off the shore of Banoa, on the resort island of Bali, Indonesia February 28, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Wira Suryantala/via REUTERS

A 1MDB-linked seized luxury yacht sought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) seen off the shore of Banoa, Bali, Indonesia February 28, 2018. Photo: Antara Foto via Reuters/Wira Suryantala

Also known as Jho Low, DoJ documents describe him as “a Malaysian national who had no formal position with 1MDB but who was involved in its creation and exercised significant control over its dealings.”

Low, known for his flamboyant displays of wealth, is believed to have acted as an unofficial adviser to 1MDB, brokering the state fund’s largest business deals and allegedly siphoning the proceeds to purchase luxury items, including museum paintings and expensive jewelry.

Low has denied any wrongdoing and his current whereabouts remain unknown.

Mohamed Azmin Ali, a senior opposition parliamentarian, called Indonesia’s seizure of the Cayman Islands-registered vessel a “milestone” in the 1MDB investigation, while lambasting the “failure of Malaysian authorities to act in the cause of justice.”

Low’s spokesperson dismissed allegations against him as “deeply flawed and politically motivated” and characterized the DoJ’s asset recovery efforts as a “pattern of global overreach.”

Other assets allegedly purchased by Low with 1MDB funds include a private jet, a New York hotel and real estate, and a US$107 million interest in EMI Music Publishing.

Malaysia-Jho Low-1MDB-Scandal-AFP copy

 

The DoJ has also sought to recover proceeds from the blockbuster film “The Wolf of Wall Street” made by Red Granite Pictures Inc, a production company co-owned by Riza Aziz, the Malaysian premier’s stepson and a friend of Low.

Leonardo DiCaprio, the film’s lead Hollywood actor, has cooperated with US investigators, turning over artworks and gifts worth millions of dollars reportedly given to him by Low.

On March 7, Red Granite Pictures announced a settlement with the DoJ that requires it to pay US$60 million in a civil forfeiture suit covering rights and interests claims to “The Wolf of Wall Street”, as well as two other films, “Daddy’s Home” and “Dumb and Dumber To”, also suspected to have been financed with siphoned 1MDB funds.

Though the settlement does not constitute “an admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of Red Granite,” according to the court filing, analysts widely regard Riza’s compliance with the DoJ’s asset seizure demands as an admission of guilt.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reported that Elliott Broidy, a top Republican Party donor close to US President Donald Trump, and his wife Robin Rosenzweig, an attorney, had been in negotiations with Low, who had apparently approached the well-connected couple in the hopes of influencing the DoJ’s investigation.

The fugitive Malaysian financier, according to a cache of emails reviewed by WSJ, was prepared to award Rosenzweig’s California-based law firm a US$75 million fee if it could persuade the DoJ to drop its civil asset forfeiture lawsuits within 180 days. It is not clear whether the agreement was ever finalized.

 

US-Elliot Broidy-Robin Rosenzweig-1MDB-Youtube Screen Grab

Elliot Broidy (R) and Robinn Rozenzweig (L) have been linked to Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Photo: Youtube

 

 

Broidy, previously Vice-Chairman for Trump 2016 election campaign’s joint fund with the Republican Party, had also prepared talking points for Malaysia’s premier ahead of his controversial September 2017 visit to Trump’s White House, in which Najib expressed his willingness to assist US efforts to isolate North Korea.

It is not clear whether Malaysia’s position was influenced by Broidy’s talking points. Lawyers for Broidy and Rosenzweig said the latter’s law firm had been engaged by Low “to provide strategic advice” and neither had discussed Low’s 1MDB case with President Trump or DoJ representatives.

Low’s purported efforts to influence the DoJ’s investigations, however, have failed to bear fruit, as evidenced by recent asset seizures and forfeiture settlements.

While similar 1MDB probes are underway in at least six countries, including Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Hong Kong, Malaysian authorities have quietly started to wind down the scandal-plagued fund.

Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Malaysia’s Treasury Secretary General, announced last week that 1MDB would be permanently closed once it settles all outstanding debts. 1MDB paid US$603 million last December to settle a debt with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

Observers believe the sale of two land parcels from 1MDB-related entities to firms linked to Chinese state enterprises last year rescued the beleaguered state fund from defaulting, extending a political lifeline to Najib in the process.

1MDB and IPIC are still in a dispute over US$3.54 billion in cash advances that 1MDB claimed it made to several Abu Dhabi-controlled entities as part of obligations under a 2012 bond arrangement. IPIC denies ever receiving the monies.

Treasury Secretary Irwan Serigar projected it would take more than a decade for the state fund to settle its debts, which are slated to be repaid from revenues generated from government mega-projects, including the soon-to-be-launched Tun Razak Exchange commercial skyscraper and returns on high-speed rail infrastructure.

Malaysian officials have said 1MDB’s eventual closure is a business decision and have not apportioned blame for the fund’s indebtedness or mismanagement, conceding only “weaknesses” in its administration.

However, emergency motions to discuss recent 1MDB developments raised in Parliament by the opposition have been denied. Opposition parliamentarian Gooi Hsiao-Leung recently called on Najib to clarify whether Malaysia would seek to recover assets seized by the US DoJ and why the government did not intend to claim Low’s confiscated yacht.

Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali maintains the government has no ownership claim over the 1MDB-linked yacht. Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, meanwhile, denied discussion of Gooi’s emergency motion on grounds that such queries would be prejudicial to police investigations into Low.

Malaysia’s Police Chief, Mohamad Fuzi Harun, has since said that his investigations revealed no link between Low and 1MDB.

“One of the strangest things surrounding the 1MDB and the DoJ’s accusations is that the Malaysian government has shown no interest at all in regaining any of the assets the DoJ says it is trying to recover,” Ooi Kee Beng, executive director at the Penang Institute, told Asia Times. “This is despite the huge sums involved.”

Putrajaya has also shown apparent disinterest in seeking restitution of 1MDB-linked funds seized overseas. Swiss financial authorities seized US$102 million from banks last year after sanctioning now defunct local bank BSI for its involvement with 1MDB.

Lawmakers in Switzerland will soon debate whether those sums should be absorbed into state coffers as no party has claimed or sought to repatriate the funds.

Singapore is the only country to have jailed or brought charges against financial sector workers for cases linked to 1MDB. The city-state, which enjoys close bilateral ties with Putrajaya, could ruffle feathers by bringing charges against individuals close to the premier, says Chandra Muzaffar, a Malaysian political scientist.

“Singapore has already acted against some 1MDB linked individuals, but it does not seem to have affected Singapore-Malaysia ties,” he noted. “However, if Singapore or the US pressed concrete charges against Jho Low or Reza Aziz, Najib’s step-son…Najib may take it as a personal affront and retaliate.”

As 1MDB investigations move ahead, some involved with its alleged illicit dealings have faced charges and fines overseas, though high-profile Malaysian figures and high-ranking politicians continue to maintain their iron-clad denials while thwarting calls for transparency and responsibility.

“It is unlikely that as long as the leading figure Najib Razak is in power that there will be any meaningful accountability,” said Bridget Welsh, a Malaysia expert at Italy’s John Cabot University. “The most tragic dimension of this scandal is that the burden has been passed onto ordinary Malaysians, who have had to pay for the abuse of power by their leaders.”

 

The Tyranny of Malaysian Democracy


October 3, 2017

The Tyranny of Malaysian Democracy

For better or for worse, our hope lies in this bunch of former political enemies (Mahathir, Kit Siang and Anwar) pulled together by fate and a common foe. We cannot afford to take the wrong road again.

Image result for Cogito Ergo Sum

When we cease to think and act, we lose our identity and dignity

COMMENT by Cogito Ergo Sum*| Like everybody else, I am subjective. And like most reasonable Malaysians, I am now more than a little concerned about the current trends and future direction our nation seems to be hurtling towards.

I am as old as Malaysia and have witnessed this nation grow from a fledgling, newly independent state to one that has become a regional and international player in sports, diplomacy and the world economy. It was also, at one time, a paragon of multicultural tolerance and showcased that diversity and unity could be one.

The government of the day, for most of the days in the past, was a benevolent one that provided a vision and clear direction for us to progress with the times technologically, socially and economically.

Along the way, something went terribly wrong. We are now a nation of bigots where once tolerance flourished. Prejudices based on race, religion, gender, creed and colour are now the order of the day, not the exception.

Democratic Leadership of the Corrupt Sort

Despite the institutionalized apartheid policies in the guise of affirmative action that were constructed, people were still able to eke out a decent living and make enough to put aside for a rainy day. And give their kids good education with moral values.

But all that changed almost suddenly. We are now well-known for repressing dissent, jailing social activists and opposition members, 1MDB, and GST. And the list goes on.

A Nation in Debt

We now have a domestic debt of over 80 percent, which means that 80 percent of salaries and wages are set aside for debt repayment and the balance for food, shelter, transport and health. It is impossible to save anything, much less to even have a decent meal once a month.

To exacerbate the problem, we seem to be jailing and punishing the very people who have championed the struggles of the people. Two days ago, Tian Chua (centre in photo), the PKR MP for Batu in Kuala Lumpur, was jailed for being present in a police restricted area.

Malaysian Law is an Ass when our Judges are slaves to Political Power

But his defence was that he was forcibly brought into the restricted area after taking part in an elections reform rally, Bersih in 2012. Surely common sense must prevail. If the facts are correct, according to Tian Chua, the courts should have found the charge defective and released him, even if he withdrew his appeal. What has happened to the concept of judicial review?

Desperation and depravation

In any democracy, the ballot becomes the silver bullet for ills ailing society. If a government fails in its elected duties, you change it in the next polls. But that hope for a fair and clean poll is now fading. Disingenuous and not so subtle methods are underway to ensure that the incumbents are returned, come hell or high water.

Gerrymandering and altering election boundaries are in full swing and there are efforts to stop them by various NGOs and individuals. But the courts do not seem to be very impressed with these efforts and neither do they seem too keen to upset the apple cart.

As desperation turns into depravation, the ruling regime is conscious that for the very first time in 60 years, dissent and dissatisfaction are now rampant, cutting across racial, religious, and social barriers. And that it could be facing a catastrophic and historic defeat is a very real possibility now.

The desperation becomes more and more apparent by the ludicrous replies given by various officials and ministers to genuine concerns and questions by the opposition and pressure groups.

Joy Ride  on a Military Aircraft at Taxpayers’ Expense

One such reply that stands out is the use of military assets to fly Sarawak chiefs to Putrajaya to thank them for fighting the communist some 47 years ago!

One wonders what four Prime Ministers were doing in four decades of being in power and all of them seem to have forgotten to reward the Sarawak chiefs.

Our “fixed deposits” seem to have garnered no interest in forty years. That latest gaffe is just the tip of the iceberg of a slew of idiotic responses to come out of the corridors of power over the last two years or so.

Thrust into power again

Our hope lies in the fabric of our political set-up. We now have an opposition that seems to have recovered from its own internal squabbles, cobbled together by a motley crew of ageing and youthful leaders.

For many, the resurgence and leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad are as repulsive as the idea of Malaysia being led by the current Prime Minister. His chairing of the opposition Pakatan Harapan seems like a fait accompli after the jailing of Anwar Ibrahim, the former opposition leader.

While the opposition has many young leaders in the likes of Nurul Izzah Anwar, Liew Chin Tong and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who will be the next generation of lawmakers, they do not as yet have the political acumen to defeat the juggernaut that is Barisan Nasional. For that, Harapan needs the wiles and cunning strategies of older leaders who have been to the brink and back like Mahathir, Lim Kit Siang and others to out-think and out-fox an aging old and wounded wolf.

Mahathir’s Legacy–A Broken System of Governance

Many institutions of governance today suffer the symptoms and ills of 22 years under Dr Mahathir’s leadership. It is not an exaggeration to say that many challenges today are the 92-year-old’s making. However, there were moments of glory and achievement as well.

The people were not taxed beyond what they could bear. Short of apologising for the past, he has, by his actions and words, shown a genuine interest in getting this once beautiful and tolerant nation back onto its feet.

Image result for Mahathir Mohamad

Whether he has other motives or not, at this present time, we do not know. What we do know is that we lack salt and experienced leaders in the opposition.

 

When our poets, satirists, cartoonists, songwriters and social activists are persecuted, prosecuted and jailed for speaking up, when opposition voices are silenced by the very parliament they have been voted into, we know that democracy has become tyrannical and kleptocratic.

Zunar–The Cartoonist and Freedom Fighter

Harapan needs to tell the people what its game plan is. They need to know and know now, what corrective economic and social measures they have planned after winning over Putrajaya. General broad strokes are no longer enough. The rakyat needs a concrete hope and the brass tacks of programmes for them to believe in.

For better or for worse, our hope lies in this bunch of former political enemies, pulled together by fate and a common foe. We cannot afford to take the wrong road again.

*COGITO ERGO SUM is a Malaysiakini reader.