Tricia Yeoh’s Advice to Malaysian Prime Minister– Don’t provide misleading information to foreigners


August 18, 2017

Tricia Yeoh’s Advice to Malaysian Prime Minister– Don’t provide misleading information to foreigners

by Tricia Yeoh@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Tricia Yeoh and Najib RazakSpeak the Truth, Keep Your Promises and Act with Conviction

 

Mr Prime Minister, you gave an outstanding speech to international investors at the Invest Malaysia 2017 conference. I am sure many were impressed with the economic achievements that have been accomplished to date under your leadership. However, I do believe that some of the facts that you quoted would require some further elaboration.

Please allow me to do so, especially since one would not want to provide misleading information to foreigners who may not know any better about this beloved country of ours.

Image result for Malaysia

Malaysia–Beautiful from afar, but rotten at the core

You started your speech by saying that you introduced the New Economic Model (NEM) seven years ago at the very same conference, with a plan that has worked and is continuing to work. Perhaps I may remind you that one of the key approaches of the NEM’s economic development plan was to move away from “dominant state participation in the economy” towards “private sector-led growth”.

An IDEAS policy paper published last year examined GLC disposal and investment exercises from 2011 to 2014 (after the NEM was published, by the way) and found that the total acquisition value of RM51.7 billion dwarfs the total disposal value of RM29.5 billion. In simple language, GLICs and GLCs combined have acquired far more than they have sold.

Second, you quoted a Bloomberg article which stated that the ringgit is “easily the strongest major Asian currency this quarter”. What you failed to note was that this is considered a remarkable improvement only because the ringgit had recently rebounded from a 19-year low. Anyone who has children studying overseas would know that as recently as January this year, the ringgit had lost about 22% since the start of 2015 and was at that point the worst-performing currency in emerging Asia. In fact, an analyst in the very same article you quote from seems to imply that the recent growth momentum is strongly related to the impending election, and asks “but what happens after it?”

Third, you said that your government is one that is committed to transparency, accountability and good regulation. I, for one, am particularly pleased that you place public importance on the need for these values in your administration.

Image result for Malusia

The Architect of NEP-Crony Capitalism and Patronage Politics

Having integrity and governance units at all GLCs – at both federal and state levels – should certainly be applauded. However, these units are monitored by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which reports to the Prime Minister’s Department. It is difficult to see how any conflict of interest involving your administration could be avoided if the integrity and governance officers were to uncover a certain wrongdoing within their GLCs placements.

Fourth, you referred to international bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, all of whom apparently heaped praises upon Malaysia’s glowing economic performance.

Image result for 1MDB Scandal

 

While the summaries of these reports may have been relatively positive, for which one can certainly be proud of, you failed to mention numerous other instances which are basically big, red flags. These warning signs are indicators that not all is perfect. I say this not with the intention of disparaging my own country – far be it that I would discourage investors from coming in to provide valuable capital for future long-term growth – but to be frank about what it will really take to move our economy forward. Unless we face the honest truth squarely in its face, we will never institute meaningful reforms and will merely chug along.

On this note, you quoted IMF as saying that Malaysia is amongst the fastest growing economies among peers. The very same report also highlights that our country’s “federal debt and contingent liabilities are relatively high, limiting policy space to respond to shocks”. Second, it also says that our “household debt remains high, with debt servicing capacity growing only moderately”. These are only two points that I am lifting from the report – if one looks closer, there are serious challenges that may implode over time if left uncorrected.

Similarly, you quoted the World Bank report that states our economy is progressing from a position of strength, but failed to mention that the same report says that risks in the economy “arise from growing threats of protectionism” and that there is a need to “accelerate structural reforms in the economy”.

I would advise you to personally read these documents from cover to cover to really understand the conditions of the economy today. In short, there is a need to examine the details and not just gloss over the summaries of these reports, advice I would provide to any investor looking into Malaysia.

Fifth, you deftly talked about how your administration is cracking down on “crony capitalism”, “sweetheart deals” and that there would be no more “national follies kept going to stroke the ego of one man”. I especially like this one, where you say “No more treating national companies as though they were personal property” – brilliant. Let us hope then that the national agencies such as the Attorney-General’s Chambers will lend its co-operation to any and all investigations including those from international bodies to assure us that 1MDB will not fall into such a category.

Sixth, you hailed SMEs as the “hallmarks” of your administration as they are the backbone of the economy. You also said that government policies are, therefore, meant to be business-friendly and pro small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

However, the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act is one such policy that is adversely affecting SMEs. The mechanism poses price ceilings on food and household goods sold at mamak and even small sundry shops. The mechanism to calculate the “right” price is so complicated that some shops have just shut down altogether because they could not afford to pay the fine. There are numerous other examples of regulations that are in fact making it very difficult for the business community to operate, which have been raised regularly at public forums but seemingly in vain.

Finally, Sir, with all due respect, your speech was peppered with many political references, many of which were obviously targeted at a specific individual. I am sure you made your point loud and clear. However, with all due respect, this may have been better said at a platform hosted by your political party – or perhaps out on the road when speaking to your electorate. To have these words uttered at a formal international investment conference may have been considered out of place.

Image result for Tricia Yeoh and Najib Razak

Perhaps your speech at the next Invest Malaysia conference could be more carefully worded – for the sake of future investment into this country we both call home.

Tricia Yeoh is Chief Operating Officer of IDEAS (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs).

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s (or organisation’s) personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

 

 

Lying Again: The DOJ has stopped investigating 1MDB?


August 13, 2017

Image result for Sarawak ReportSarawak Report

Proof The DOJ Has Stopped Investigating 1MDB??!

by Najib Razak’s Communications Team

The US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) suspension of its civil suits against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) shows there is a lack of evidence of wrongdoing by the state investment fund, says the Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications team.

“Civil suits related to this case which started a year ago, which has essentially gone nowhere without sufficient evidence, are now frozen,” said its deputy director Datuk Eric See-To in a statement on Friday.

He added that the civil action against 1MDB, without sufficient evidence, signalled the political motivation of individuals from the previous US administration.

He stressed that it was important to note that 1MDB “is not a party to the DoJ’s civil suits.”

“As far as 1MDB is concerned, all its funds have been accounted for, in addition to the Malaysia Attorney-General’s statements after the DoJ filings that there has been no evidence of any misappropriation of funds,” he said.

Sarawak Report’s comment

It is not surprising these government spokespeople are lying in the face of mountains of documented evidence, since the Najib adminstration has turned blatant misinformation and rejection of the truth into its trademark. Like most criminals in the dock they will continue to plead not guilty until the judge and jury finds them otherwise.

The DOJ spokespeople have stayed the proceedings of the civil case, because that means they can get on with their active parallel criminal investigation at their leisure with the assets still frozen and out of the reach of Riza, Jho and all the rest.  This is how they put it:

The United States makes this Motion on the ground that proceeding with the case is likely to have an adverse effect on the ability of the government to conduct a related federal criminal investigation… The government seeks a stay pending the resolution of a related federal criminal investigation arising from the same fact alleged in the First Amended Complain on the grounds that proceeding with the instant action is likely to have an adverse effect on the government’s ability to conduct the related criminal investigation.”

Trying to pretend that this means anything other than that criminal investigations are ongoing and that the FBI are happy to keep assets frozen for as long as those take represents no more than a refusal to read the print on the page by Najib’s circle.

Image result for Najib is lying again

Relying again on insinutations that new law enforcers are friendly to Najib unlike old ones, again merely betrays BN’s fundamental failure to understand the basic principles of modern democratic governance, which demand that the executive keeps its nose and manipulative interferences out of judicial processes.

DOJ hits pause on 1MDB suits


August 11, 2017

DOJ hits pause on 1MDB suits

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for malaysian official 1

It is no small wonder that the US DOJ is in a quandary over who should be charged. Even the entire Malaysian Cabinet is in a fix.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has applied to stay its civil forfeiture suits on assets allegedly purchased using misappropriated 1MDB funds to facilitate ongoing criminal investigations by the US government. These involve 13 of the 14 civil forfeiture suits the DOJ filed in July last year.

According to US court filings sighted by Malaysiakini, the DOJ said the proceedings would likely have an “adverse effect on the government’s ability to conduct the related criminal investigation.” This includes investigations in foreign jurisdictions.

A declaration by a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent said the government had been conducting the criminal probe prior to the commencement of DOJ’s action, and that investigation was still ongoing.

FBI special agent Jill Enyart said the disclosure of any facts beyond what the DOJ has already detailed could reveal “potential targets and subjects of the investigation and the investigative techniques that have been and will be used in the investigation”.

“Such disclosures could result in the destruction of evidence, the flight of potential subjects and targets, or the identification and intimidation of potential witnesses,” she added.

Enyart also said that some potential witnesses may live in jurisdictions where their safety and security could be jeopardised if their identities were made known.

She said the proceedings could prejudice “plans” by foreign jurisdictions, as well as “jeopardise the safety of certain foreign law enforcement personnel and threaten their willingness or ability to cooperate with the government in its criminal investigation, thereby closing off sources of evidence of the criminal and other conduct set forth in the first amended complaint (FAC)”.

The investigations, Enyart said, were global in nature, and would take time to pursue as most evidence and witnesses were in foreign jurisdictions.

The DOJ, in the filing, said it would need to update the courts every 180 days on the status of the criminal investigation. Of the 14 suits it filed in the first round in 2016, the DOJ is still seeking a default judgement in its case to seize artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

The DOJ had in total filed three civil forfeiture suits to seize over US$1.7 billion in assets it claims were purchased using funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.

Image result for malaysian official 1

Sorry, buddy, I cannot remember the mind-boggling amount–Rm2.6 billion is just the tip of the iceberg.  I cannot imagine how I am able to pull this off without the connivance of Jho Low from Penang.  Even the DOJ is stuck. since it involves the US and other governments.

In the suits, the DOJ alleged that Malaysian-born businessperson Jho Low had used 1MDB funds to purchase luxury properties, a yacht and a jet. It also alleged that Low had purchased jewellery for the wife of an unnamed Malaysian Official 1 (MO1), including a pink diamond necklace worth US$27.3 million.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan last year confirmed that MO1 was Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.However, he stressed the fact Najib was not named in the DOJ filing showed that the Prime Minister was not a subject of investigation.

Najib has denied misappropriating 1MDB funds, and Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali has also cleared him of any wrongdoing

 

Najib Razak has betrayed Malaysia, says Scholar Dr. Azeem Ibrahim


July 31, 2017

Najib Razak has betrayed Malaysia, says Scholar Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/07/22/Malaysia-has-been-betrayed-by-Prime-Minister-Najib-Razak.html

Image result for dr azeem ibrahim

2012 Alumni Award Winner from University of Strathclyde

Dr. Azeem has qualifications from a number of prestigious institutions such as the University of Cambridge, Harvard and Yale. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from Glasgow Caledonian University, an Adjunct Research Professorship from the US Army War College, and was made a Fellow at the Macmillan Centre for International Area Studies at Yale University. Most recently Azeem was appointed a Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute of Social Policy Understanding in the USA. For seven years until early 2006, Azeem was a reservist in the IV Battalion Parachute Regiment – the British army’s elite airborne infantry reserve where they are trained to be inserted by parachute behind enemy lines at short notice. He is a fitness fanatic keen on marathon and fell running, and speaks four languages.–University of Strathclyde

I have argued time and again that the greatest threat to the Muslim world is not the West, but rather, corruption and incompetence in administration in the Muslim countries themselves.

To this argument there were a number of crucial pieces of evidence. First of all, there is a clear inverse correlation between corruption and economic development not just in the Middle East, but globally. Secondly, Muslim countries are among the most corrupt countries in the world, and this maps well to the problems we know well from the region.

In this sense, the abundance of natural resources has served to mask much of the problem, as per capita wealth in the region comes out as much higher than it would have been for a given level of corruption, and that distorts the perception of societal problems in these countries.

For another, that abundance of wealth can be used to buy off the acquiescence of the population to an otherwise questionable regime, as is the case with the benefits that these states lavish upon their population, or alternatively, can be used to fund extensive repressive police and intelligence apparatuses to keep the population in check, as was the case in Saddam-era Iraq.

Image result for Najib betrays MalaysiaYou did, stop denying what you did

But there was also plenty of converse evidence, specifically states on the periphery of the Islamic world which did not conform the region’s reputation for corruption. Most notably, we had the examples of Turkey and of Malaysia.

Malaysia is a secure and naturally wealthy country with a track record of success in development and is suffering entirely from self-inflicted wounds

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

In both the cases, the countries have inherited and sustained over the span of the 20th century an ethos of modernism and civic-mindedness which emulated that in the successful countries in the West. And they reaped the benefits of social and political stability, and economic development, both having been the most economically developed Islamic countries in international rankings.

But I fear we are about to be witnesses to a very cruel experiment, which I believe will prove my argument. It is yet too early to make a definitive judgement on the direction Turkey is heading in after the failed coup of the other week, even if the omens do not look good.

Breakdown of institutional functioning

In the case of Malaysia, we are already seeing the breakdown in institutional functioning and credibility which will likely see the country join the other Middle Eastern countries in the infamous club of corrupt and barely functioning states.

Malaysia has been betrayed not so much by its institutional traditions, as by its populist Prime Minister Najib Razak. He has ridden a wave of popular support into power on the back of promises for economic liberalization, and growth and opportunity, but has seemingly wasted no time in milking the state dry for his own personal gain and the gain of his family.

An ongoing Wall Street Journal investigation is looking into evidence that as much as $1 billion has been siphoned into the prime minister and his relatives’ bank accounts, most of it from the coffers of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, allegedly started by Mr Razak soon after he took charge in the country in 2009. And a further $5 billion are unaccounted for.

Neither Turkey nor Malaysia can hide behind the usual excuses about Western intervention or historical colonial crimes. Both have come into the post WW2 world as confident, independent nations, and both carved a way in the world for themselves through hard work and diligence, efforts which have yielded a good life to the majority of their citizens.

Turkey currently finds itself in a complex political, economic and security crisis from which we cannot draw too many general conclusions. But Malaysia is suffering entirely from self-inflicted wounds. It is a secure and naturally wealthy country with a track record of success in development. But it has let its guard down, and has let corruption infest the highest levels of government.

Malaysian civil society must now take firm and immediate action to put the country back on track. If not, I fear that the country will tragically end up as the perfect case study into how the problems of the Islamic world stem primarily from domestic corruption.
________________________
Azeem Ibrahim is an RAI Fellow at Mansfield College, University of Oxford and Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College. He completed his PhD from the University of Cambridge and served as an International Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a World Fellow at Yale. Over the years he has met and advised numerous world leaders on policy development and was ranked as a Top 100 Global Thinker by the European Social Think Tank in 2010 and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He tweets @AzeemIbrahim

Former Attorney-General Abu Talib on Apandi Ali and 1MDB Scandal Cover-Up


July 30, 2017

Former Attorney-General Abu Talib on Apandi Ali and 1MDB Scandal Cover-Up

by Alyaa Azhar@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Abu Talib Othman

Abu Talib is of the opinion that Apandi acted to the “best of his ability in the circumstances today” and that he has the power to clear the Prime Minister as “he has the evidence”.

No, Tan Sri, Apandi Ali did his best to exonerate Najib Razak.  Why don’t you ask the incumbent AG to make his evidence (of Najib’s innocence) available to the DOJ and the Malaysian public and bring the IMDB scandal to closure so that Malaysia can go forward.–Din Merican

Two years have passed since Mohamed Apandi Ali was appointed as attorney-general, but his decision to clear Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of any wrongdoing with regard to the RM2.6 and 1MDB issues continues to haunt him.

Detractors have claimed he was appointed to replace Abdul Gani Patail, who was suddenly removed due to health reasons, with the sole aim of covering-up the 1MDB scandal. Both Apandi and the government have denied this.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, former Attorney-General Abu Talib Othman shared his thoughts on Apandi’s handling of the 1MDB case.

Responding to a question, he agreed that Apandi should be more cooperative with the US authorities instead of dismissing the Department of Justice (DOJ) suit as being politically motivated. “Ideally, he should because we are talking of justice and the rights of the individual,” he said.

Abu Talib cited the case of businessman Eric Chia in which the then Attorney-General had “gone around the world collecting evidence to support the charge preferred against him”.

Image result for Eric Chia

The Federal Court, in 2007, however, held that the evidence obtained from Hong Kong was inadmissible. The former Managing Director of Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd was thus acquitted of committing criminal breach of trust.

“So we don’t know what evidence he (Apandi) has, the evidence the investigating agencies were able to gather which was presented to him for a decision,” said the former AG.

‘Apandi acted to the best of his ability’

Image result for Najib Razak I am not a crook

They go to Mecca to cleanse their souls, return home to become more corrupt and then go back to the Holy Land for redemption.–Playing Monkey with God

On the same note, Abu Talib is of the opinion that Apandi acted to the “best of his ability in the circumstances today” and that he has the power to clear the Prime Minister as “he has the evidence”.

“I don’t know whether there is evidence or not. According to him, he examined the investigation papers and found the Prime Minister has not committed any criminal offence and therefore he closed the case.

“You and I don’t know the contents of the investigation papers. Maybe what evidence America has, they (the Attorney-General’s Chambers) don’t have here,” he said.

The DOJ had claimed US$4.5 billion of 1MDB funds had been misappropriated and is seeking to seize US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly acquired using the stolen money.

Apandi, however, said the suit was “politically motivated”, claiming the DOJ never made a formal application to Malaysia’s Attorney-General’s Chambers to obtain further information with regard to its claim.

Asked how he would have handled the matter, Abu Talib cited the case of former culture, youth and sports minister Mokhtar Hashim who was convicted of murder in 1983.

The former AG stressed he would make decisions based on evidence made available. “I had to make a tough decision whether or not to charge him for the murder of his colleague in Negri Sembilan. I disagreed with everybody, I said there was enough evidence. I went to court and I prosecuted him, he was sentenced to death but later it was commuted to life imprisonment.My decision was based on the evidence,” he said.

Abu Talib believes that it is convenient for people to criticise when he or she does not even know the evidence that was presented.

“As Attorney-General, I think he (Apandi) acted on, as what he said, the facts and the law applicable.

“The Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) never said they have sufficient evidence, all they said was that they have completed their investigation and submitted (the findings) to the Attorney-General,” he pointed out.

Last January, Apandi said the RM2.6 billion in Najib’s personal account was a donation from a member of the Saudi Royal Family.

In its civil forfeiture lawsuits involving 1MDB, the DOJ claimed that the money had originated from 1MDB. Najib has repeatedly denied misusing public funds for personal gain and blamed such allegations on those conspiring to topple him.