Easy to catch the Corrupt,says Citizen Nades


December 3, 2016

Easy to catch the Corrupt,says Citizen Nades

http://www.thesundaily.my/node/409549

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Citizen Nades

UNTIL October 2006, few people outside political circles knew him. He rose from an obscure railway gatekeeper staying in a one-room quarters at the railway crossing where he was required to raise the barriers to allow vehicular traffic to flow after the trains had passed by.

By the time theSun front-paged the story on his “meteoric rise” and his “palace” which he had built on land meant for low-cost housing, his positions in the party and as a state assemblyman were hanging by a thread.

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The dearly departed UMNO crony of the convicted former Selangor Menteri  Besar Mohamed Khir Toyo

The late Zakaria Mat Deros (pic) (God bless his soul) gained notoriety for building his 16-bedroom house without even submitting building plans. He had not paid the assessment for 12 years on two low-cost units previously occupied by his large family.

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Jamal Yunos is arguably the richest Ikan Bakar man in the world with close connections to Najib Razak  who is the most corrupt Malaysian Prime Minister and UMNO el Presidente.

So, last week nostalgia came back when the Ikan Bakar man took journalists on a helicopter ride to show the “palace” of a politician – a divisional youth leader in the opposition.

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He is not Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police, but UMNO’s Policeman and Prime Minister Najib’s Poodle

Preceding this, Crime Watch supremo alleged that the Inspector-General of Police had himself built yet another “palace” in Mantin (pic above).

The accusers in both instances asked the relevant authorities to investigate them alleging that they must explain how they got the money to acquire such property.

This prompted a Facebook user to suggest in jest that he wants partners to start a helicopter service for aerial tours to pick out mansions of politicians. In banter, I offered my services and reasoned that I had a good track record.

Over the years, I have come across several ordinary cikgu who became millionaires after their foray into politics. There are scores of “politically connected people” (to borrow a term that has now become the new mantra for banks and bankers) living in similar luxury.

There are also good people who stepped into the dark side unable to resist their own temptation or that of their wives to lead different lifestyles and keep up with the Joneses. There are some female golfers who even have golf bags to match the colour of their attire.

Then there’s the average man who is turned over because he can’t make ends meet on his meagre salary and many dependants. But the law does not differentiate between the poor, the middle class and the rich. Perhaps, such a factor could be pleaded in mitigation for a lighter sentence.

I have been repeatedly told that being rich or wealthy does not constitute an offence. An offence only takes place if the money is obtained illegally – corruption, money laundering, criminal breach of trust, cheating and the like.

Image result for Malaysia's Most Corrupt Prime Minister and Rosmah Mansor

Asking the authorities to investigate the source of the money is dangerous territory full of mine fields and cluster bombs.

First of all, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can only compel someone to declare his assets. Once the assets are declared, there is no offence.

Second, if he or she is caught with the cash or money in the bank, a non-acceptable explanation would lead to charges of money-laundering – NOT corruption; not getting assets through corruption; not getting money from illegal activities.

We had the perfect opportunity to put it right when former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi promulgated the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act to replace the outdated Anti-Corruption Act towards the end of his tenure.

In the proposals was a clause which stated: “It shall be an offence of any person to lead a lifestyle or possess assets which are disproportionate to his or her declared income.”

By the time this legislation was presented as a bill in Parliament, this clause had been removed from the original draft. We were then told that several “warlords” within the system opposed the clause because they themselves would have to account for their wealth!

So, instead of putting the onus on the official suspected of corruption to prove he earned the money legitimately, the prosecution has to prove that he had received a gratification. That is difficult because corruption is a victimless crime. Both giver and taker benefit and one usually will not squeal on the other.

In the absence of such legislation, the prosecution usually files money laundering charges. But the core issue of proving that he or she was a corrupt person through the legal process becomes almost impossible. In such circumstances, it leaves Joe Public’s imagination to run wild as to the source of the wealth.

Under these circumstances, shouldn’t that catch-all clause be re-visited with a view to tightening our anti-corruption laws? Hong Kong has been successful in its fight because such a clause in its legislation empowers officers from the Independent Commission Against Corruption to serve notice demanding explanations from suspected corrupt officials.

If they fail to provide a plausible or satisfactory account of their wealth, they are prosecuted. A few like-minded lawyer-friends had a discussion on this and came to the conclusion that if this clause is incorporated, our prisons would be overcrowded.

R. Nadeswaran had the benefit of seeing the “new” legislation before and after it was presented and passed in Parliament. Comments: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com

 

BERSIH brought out the best in Malaysians


November 24, 2016

BERSIH brought out the best in Malaysians

by Ambassador Dennis Ignatius

http://www.dennisignatius.com

Image result for Najib in Lima Peru

BERSIH brought out the best in us; it renewed our hope to believe that change is possible.

Now that BERSIH 5.0 is over, the campaign to define it has begun. BN parties, worried about the BERSIH effect, have embarked upon a Goebbels-like effort to rewrite the history of those few hours when yellow became the colour of our nation.

All sorts of falsehoods, misinformation and disinformation are being put out about what BERSIH stands for, who and how many attended, why they attended, what transpired that day and what was achieved. In the process, they are demonizing, discrediting and delegitimizing the people who participated.

We are being told, for example, that Saturday’s rally was a riot, that BERSIH supporters were confused or clueless as to why they were demonstrating, that they felt exploited by opposition politicians, that it was largely a gathering of DAP [read Chinese] supporters, that participation was mostly confined to so-called urban elites, that no more than 15,000 attended, that it was an attempt to overthrow the government.

For all these reasons, they would have us believe that BERSIH was a failure, a non-event, an insignificant gathering of rabble-rousers and troublemakers. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Defying intimidation

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Defying threats and intimidation, harassment and disruption, and the very real possibility of violent attack, tens of thousands of ordinary citizens flooded the streets of Kuala Lumpur and other cities in support of BERSIH.

They came with an unambiguous message to a government that has long since broken faith with its people – they want a government that upholds our constitution, that is committed to democracy, good governance and transparency, that respects the voice of the people, that puts their interests ahead of the cronies and fat cats. 

Malaysia in all its hues and colours 

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And what an eclectic mix they were: Malays, Chinese, Indians and Orang Asli; Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians; professionals, traders, hawkers, students, farmers, retirees. They came from every state, their respective state flags, and of course, the Jalur Gemilang fluttering in the wind.

Some are insisting that it was largely a Chinese affair but that is a lie that disenfranchises the thousands of Malays who were present and who came in defiance of both UMNO and PAS as well as the religious establishment.

To see Malaysians marching together as one was truly inspiring. We have our differences, of course, but there was a unity of purpose, a sense of brotherhood, a shared pain over the sad plight of our nation.

It was Malaysia in all its hues and colours, strong, proud and free. It showed us what could be, what we ought to be. Only those whose power rests on dividing the nation, of playing off brother against brother, would find nothing to rejoice about such a gathering.

A mockery of truth 

The atmosphere too was remarkable. People chanted and sang and laughed together. With the support of the police (who did an outstanding job keeping us safe), the rally was peaceful, respectful and orderly. And there was courtesy, kindness, respect, civility – something that those in power have largely forgotten.

To call it a riot, an attempt to undermine parliamentary democracy or accuse its leaders of plotting to illegally topple the government is to make a mockery of truth, to call good evil and evil good.

Of course, we were there to press for change; citizens in a democracy have the right to peacefully vent their frustrations over the abuse of power, misgovernance and corruption, to tell the Prime Minster that they have lost confidence in his leadership.

Only in authoritarian regimes is that considered subversive or unlawful. In any case, both the courts and the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) have consistently upheld this fundamental right to protest. SUHAKAM, in fact, emphasized that Saturday’s gathering was by no means illegal and that “participants conducted themselves in an acceptable way, not threatening public order and the security of the country.”

Tip of the iceberg of discontent

Much is also being made about the numbers – that there were less this time around compared to previous BERSIH rallies – but BN shouldn’t be too quick to gloat. BERSIH is more than a numbers game. Those who turned up were but the tip of the iceberg of discontentment and anger. For every single person who marched on Saturday, a hundred more were at home cheering them on, marching with them in spirit, sharing their frustration, believing in their dream for a better nation.

We’ll yet hear from them come election day.

Clueless or clued-in?

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Tajuddin Abdul Rahman is what UMNO has to offer to Malaysia

BN leaders also give the citizens of our country far too little credit, esteem and respect when they assert that most rally-goers were clueless about BERSIH’s goals.

Ordinary citizens may not be as sophisticated as some of these BN elites but they understand enough to know that the country is in a mess, that unbridled corruption is destroying us, that all the race-baiting and religious extremism is pushing the nation towards the brink, that the abuse of power is turning our country into an ugly dictatorship.

After all, unlike so many politicians and their cronies, it is the people who are the first to feel the effects of corruption, failed policies and mismanagement. They are the ones who have to carry the burden of GST and pay more and more for basic necessities. They are the ones who have to struggle with substandard education, low wages and unemployment. They are the ones who have to live further and further out and pay more and more to get to work.

They are hard pressed, and they were there Saturday to tell the government of their pain.

Justice or vengeance? 

Whatever it is, the harsh reaction of the government, was totally unwarranted. As SUKAHAM itself noted, there was simply no justification for the arrest of BERSIH leaders. It was an abuse of power, plain and simple.

Image result for Suhakam Chairman Razali zzzzzzzismai.

Seldom has the state expended so much of its resources or brought so much of its power to bear to deter a peaceful gathering of citizens seeking to exercise their democratic rights.

Even that was apparently not enough for some politicians. The leader of a once-progressive political party accused BERSIH of being “out of control” and urged the government to bring back the Internal Security Act to deal with BERSIH supporters.

There’s simply no telling how low such morally-bankrupt politicians will go.

maria-bersihWorst of all, however, was the arrest of the heroic and courageous BERSIH leader, Maria Chin Abdullah, under SOSMA, the draconian anti-terrorist act, a new political low even by BN standards.

And now Maria is being made out to be some sort of sinister super villain heading a foreign-funded, CIA sponsored, ISIS-infiltrated network working in tandem with an assortment of apparently dangerous civil society groups like election monitors, Sisters in Islam and feminist NGOs to terrorize the nation.

It’s laughable really if not for the fact that a grave injustice is being committed against a true patriot and a great Malaysian.

The harsh treatment of Maria smacks of vengeance more than anything else. Malaysians will not soon forget so great an injustice.

As well, it makes the struggle for democracy and accountable government all the more urgent and justified.

BERSIH brought out the best in us

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Whatever may be said about BERSIH, one thing is clear: it brought out the best in us. It inspired a great many Malaysians to reach beyond the narrow and petty divisions that have divided us. It taught us that the dream of our founding father, Tengku Abdul Rahman, of a progressive constitutional democracy, united in diversity, is not as forlorn as they would have us believe.

The road ahead may be long and arduous but BERSIH gave us hope to believe that change is possible and it inspired us to press on.

For now, at least, that is enough. And they can’t take that from us.

 

SARAWAK Report: Rosmah and Najib Razak apply pressure on Thai Government


September 17, 2016

SARAWAK Report: Rosmah and Najib Razak apply pressure on Thai Government regarding Xavier Justo

Shock news from Bangkok has confirmed that the  so-called ‘holiday’ taken by Najib Razak and wife Rosmah in Thailand this week was no coincidence.

Wife Laura is distraught

Laura Justo

In a dramatic reversal, the Thai authorities have made a U-turn over a promised prisoner transfer agreement for Xavier Justo with the Swiss Government.

Under normal rules for prisoner release the star witness and whistleblower in the 1MDB/PetroSaudi financial scandal had been due to be returned to Switzerland on September 1st.

Informal assurances had already been given to the Swiss and US authorities that this was indeed the case and that only a few formalities were needed and papers to be signed.

Then on August 31 there was a sudden delay. Diplomatic whispers explained that since Najib was due to visit in early September it would be polite not to dominate his visit with headlines concerning his global kleptocracy case.

However, Laura Justo told Sarawak Report that she feared the Malaysians were pressurising the Thais to keep this embarrassing witness in the 1MDB case from testifying to global regulators against Najib and his former colleagues at PetroSaudi.

Her fears now seem born out. The formal meeting to secure the transfer had been postponed till today (September 16), just after the Malaysian couple had left.  However, Justo’s lawyers confirmed that the papers were now all ready to be signed for his immediate transfer, already delayed under the inter-country convention on prisoners.

There was never any doubt Rosmah would fight this release

The Justo family had made a decision to lower their profile during this sensitive period to allow formal procedures to take place. However, there was increasing concern that the desperate tactics they had already experienced at the hands of the Malaysians and PetroSaudi, now in centre frame for the world’s biggest ever kleptocracy case, would again come into play.

“They were there [in Thailand] to use every influence they had, power, money, sweetheart deals and cooperation, to get the Thais to hold on to Justo. They played the same game with Singapore. They are willing to sell out their country’s interests to save their skin” explained one observer, close to the family.

Laura Justo went public on the circumstances of her husband’s arrest and conviction in July. She explained how PetroSaudi operatives had blackmailed him into a forced confession and had boasted they had “paid everyone in Thailand” to get him arrested.

The British Director of the company, Patrick Mahony, has further admitted in a recorded conversation that behind him it was Najib who was directing the operation because:

“A Prime Minister of a country is in deep shit because of him [Justo]”

But Malaysia’s first couple and their entourage, who refuse to accept they are not all powerful and protected by impunity are still using every power they have to fight through and cement their grip on the situation.

Phoney excuses

Sure enough, today Thailand presented a U-turn to the Swiss authorities, whom they had earlier assured that all was proceeding with the transfer.

“Because of all the delays in releasing him and the recent amnesty the Thais are now saying that Xavier now has just less than a year left to serve, which means he apparently can’t be transferred! This is a complete turnaround on their previous commitments and they are playing games” wife Laura Justo has told Sarawak Report.

“My biggest fear is that the Malaysians will try and take this a step further and extradite him under some kind of legal pretence” Laura added.

Thai officials have now further warned Justo’s lawyers that despite there being ‘less than a year to serve’ there could be several months of delay after the end of the sentence before he can be released, because of ‘paperwork delays’!

Najib’s game plan to stay in power against growing coalition

Jho Low joined Rosmah and Najib in Thailand

Najib has changed his strategies by the day to keep power in the face of increasing exposure over 1MDB.

First, he lied and organised the jailing of Justo in Thailand. He then persuaded a Saudi Minister to appear to condone a story that Malaysia’s stolen billions had been ‘donated’ from an anonymous Royal donor.

Now that the US Department of Justice has exposed the whole scam Najib seems determined to just bludgeon control in Malaysia as a growing coalition of political forces are joining from all sides against him.

The couple are now preparing to fight early elections in March and Najib is trying to bulldoze through a last minute further gerrymandering of seats to disadvantage already disadvantaged opposition politicians – the size of many opposition seats is now well over ten times those of BN held constituencies, which are located mainly in rural areas where the party believes it can control the outcome through ‘money politics’.

With this ‘mandate’ the desperate ‘first couple’ believe they will be able to sweep aside all protests over their billion dollar heists.

Council of War – Jho Low joined Najib/Rosmah in Thai retreat

The purpose of the extended visit in Bangkok was plain from the start, observers say. The Malaysian Prime Minister and his wife were there to offer whatever was wanted to the Thai leadership seeking cooperation on border controls.

Malaysia’s public money is also plainly on offer to smooth any consciences in a country which PetroSaudi Directors had bragged that ‘everyone’ can be bought.

Joining the couple in Thailand was none other than the fugitive 1MDB financier Jho Low, sources have told Sarawak Report.

Others linked to 1MDB, including Nik Faisal Arif Kamil, the executive still in charge of the former subsidiary SRC International, is also believed to have joined the council of war in Thailand. SRC borrowed RM4 billion from the pension fund KWAP in 2012 and has yet to produce a satisfactory account of where that money now is.  However, several millions have been traced into Najib Razak’s private spending accounts from SRC.

Nik Kamil is known to have now returned to his home in KL, which is believed to now be the safest place for known 1MDB fugitives from the international manhunt for key players in the theft.

However, Low, who is instantly recognisable in Malaysia, has not dared to returned to the country since he was exposed last year for stealing billions of the country’s development money on behalf of Najib.

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Sarawak Report has previously revealed that Taiwan and Bangkok have been his favourite haunts since then, although the financier also still retains his yacht, which recently returned to Hong Kong, where he is believed to be attempting to make a sale.

Zaid Ibrahim on the State of Malaysian (or Malay) Politics


August 30, 2016

“As President of UMNO, Najib should tell the ultras in the party to shut up. If he does so and proceeds with genuine reforms, maybe the country can still be saved. He must, of course, apologise to the nation for 1MDB and be sincere about it, and proceed with much-needed reforms, which would include telling us honestly how we can recover the monies parked in Hong Kong, the United States, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere”, says Zaid Ibrahim.

Really? Expect him to tell the ultras in his party to shut up. He is using them to show up his position. Najib is not indispensable. He is a national disgrace and must be removed from public office. Right now, he is using all available statutes to cling to his high office at the expense of our national being.

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What political game are you playing? As an experienced lawyer and a former de facto Minister of Law in the Badawi administration,  you ought to know that money laundering, corruption and abuse of power are serious breaches of the law.

Prime Minister Najib must made to face the full brunt of the law. Apologies are not enough, In stead, we should ensure that he is made to pay for his indiscretions and misdemeanors. No body should be above the law. Furthermore, you are naive to believe that Najib is (or can be) a  reformer. A reformer is a man of action, not one big talker. –Din Merican

Zaid Ibrahim on the State of Malaysian (or Malay) Politics–Not Healthy

by Zaid Ibrahim

A Reformer or Deformer?

COMMENT The state of our politics today is not healthy – it’s divisive, sordid and unbefitting a country with fast MRTs and skyscrapers.

We spend a lot of time hurling abuses at one another, and on a daily basis we hear of propaganda, personal attacks, allegations of wrongdoing and the endless lodging of Police reports.

In fact, in our so-called democracy, there is no place for civilised discourse or for constructive ideas that can be useful for the country. All we hear from this bungling and incompetent dictatorship is talk about enemies coming from everywhere to attack us, thus justifying our new emergency laws. Our Prime Minister has entrenched a framework, through which he and his successor will be able to do as they please.

The National Security Council Act 2016 ensures that if the Prime Minister decides to rule by fiat, he will prevail under any circumstances.

Institutional checks and balances exist only on paper – literally in the printed copies of our Federal Constitution – but are not practised. The Police, civil service, Election Commission and Parliament have all become the rubber stamps of governing politicians. It was only last week that the Inspector-General of Police himself admitted that the Police could only investigate matters relating to 1MDB as directed by the Cabinet.

Elections will be held to show the world that we are a democracy, but these elections will be neither free nor fair. Constituencies will be “managed” to ensure victory for the ruling party, either by the use of large amounts of cash, gerrymandering or some other improper means of transferring voters from one voting station to another.

Some look to the Ruling Houses for a solution, but, in Malaysia today, the Council of Rulers seems unwilling to intervene in the affairs of the state, no matter how sordid or flagrant the violations of the Prime Minister and the cabinet are.

The oft-repeated statement that the Rulers should not interfere in politics now seem pointless because things have gone so far beyond the pale that the normal rules of political engagement no longer apply.

‘Islamic’ forces have gained stronger foothold

So-called ‘Islamic’ forces have also gained a stronger foothold in all parts of the administration, and the separation of religion from affairs of state is a thing of the past. When Parliament approves Act 355, as mooted by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, which will effectively do away with the limitation of the Syariah Court’s sentencing powers, the conversion of Malaysia to a religious state will be complete.

Civil liberties, especially for Muslims, will be non-existent. This is why parliamentarians, especially from Sabah and Sarawak, must reject this bill.

The sooner that Sabah and Sarawak understand the perils facing Malaysia, the better chance they will have to guard against the present malaise. Both states can still preserve democracy, the rule of law and the multicultural foundations of Malaysian life if they do not allow UMNO too much leeway in determining their future.

On the economic front, we have a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots. Equal opportunities and access to economic benefits are difficult for the underclass. Those supporting the government will in turn be supported economically, but those who oppose the government will be punished.

In such an environment, the economic well-being of the poor will continue to be neglected. The underclass will mushroom from the present group of Indians to include Malays, Chinese and others. A political party that can successfully champion the cause of workers and the underclass may be the force of the future.

Our young might not have the competitive edge, knowledge or capital to compete in the global environment, much less against foreign workers and global companies in Malaysia. If this happens, they will be marginalised quickly. Government hand-outs will not be enough to quell the resulting ill-feeling and, as in many other places, this can easily explode into violence.

How have we come to this? The main reason is that the Malay leadership has failed us. This is in contrast to the success of the dominant Chinese leadership in Singapore. As a proud Malay, I am saddened by this. We could have brought this country forward and made it a symbol of real Malay power, to the envy of our neighbours.

Instead, we have allowed corruption to get out of control. We have abandoned meritocracy to such an extent that we have allowed feeble leaders at all levels to rise while the capable ones retire or leave the services. We have reduced noble religious principles to instruments of control.

Religious bureaucrats have too much power and authority, and we have allowed this to happen without ensuring that they are men (and they are all men) of conscience and ability. If they were truly righteous in their conduct and unafraid to defend what is right from the excesses of those in power, we would not be where we are now.

New type of government

We do not encourage transparency in government affairs because we want to protect the corrupt and the interests of the few. Singapore may not be tolerant of dissent or appear very democratic, but at least they have a no-nonsense attitude to corruption and good governance. Their leaders have built an economy far superior than ours by being efficient and by employing those with ability and the right kind of knowledge.

It is therefore necessary for Malaysia to have a new type of government, as well as a new set of political leaders who will not allow race-based policies to degenerate into racist ones. We need leaders who will allow for the complete reform of our politics; the administration of our government, commerce, industry and religious affairs; as well as the thinking of Malaysians about the world.

We do not need groups with coloured shirts or those whose skills are apparently limited to the lodging of police reports. We need more people who can contribute to the development of the country.

How can such a change be possible? I wish I knew the answer. But I have a dream I would like to share. One scenario is for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to suddenly wake up and become a new person altogether. Gone would be his Jekyll and Hyde personality and in its place we would have a true and dedicated reformer. He would be willing to abandon the stupid idea of making DAP the enemy of Malays and Islam, and fight the real enemy, which is ignorance.

When Najib did not get support from the Chinese and urban voters in the 13th general election (GE13) in 2013, his not-so-clever advisers probably told him to end his earlier commitment to reforms. They must have told him there was “no need for reforms” because the Chinese would not vote for him anyway.

He should have engaged DAP in national development and political reforms; instead, he chose PAS, the party for which the main concern is, and always will, be the tightness of women’s dresses and longer prison sentences for khalwat offenders.

I think Najib allowed the disappointment of GE-13 (especially since he had spent a lot of money) to cloud his judgment. He is too deferential to his party’s right wing. He must expect that his own party would need time to understand the value of reforms. He must expect the electorate who are opposed to UMNO to need time to digest the effects of such new policies.

Apologise to the nation for 1MDB

As President of UMNO, Najib should tell the ultras in the party to shut up. If he does so and proceeds with genuine reforms, maybe the country can still be saved. He must, of course, apologise to the nation for 1MDB and be sincere about it, and proceed with much-needed reforms, which would include telling us honestly how we can recover the monies parked in Hong Kong, the United States, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.

I am saying this not because I condone what he did with 1MDB. I just think that, despite 1MDB, Najib will continue to stay in power for many years to come because the Opposition will not be strong enough to unseat him in the short term.

So, why not try to make the best of his term in office? If he is willing to undertake fundamental reforms, maybe the people will accept him – albeit reluctantly, at least in the beginning. If these changes are good for the country the people might one day judge him differently. So, will Najib ever wake up and be a different person altogether? Miracles do happen.

The second scenario is preferred but equally implausible. The political grouping initiated by Anwar Ibrahim under Pakatan Rakyat, now known as Pakatan Harapan, suddenly becomes a single, cohesive force. For this to happen PAS needs to rejoin the Opposition pact and become a reformist party. If PAS decides to be part of a reformist and united Opposition, it must ditch Hadi and pick Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man as its leader.

But will PAS members change their leader? This has as much chance of happening as Najib turning over a new leaf. Then PKR will need to wake up and decide on Anwar’s successor, whether it’s one of his family members or Azmin Ali. For now, it looks like there will be no end to the party’s internal bickering, and therefore, no coherence and unity in its policies.

The new party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), also has to decide if it wants to be a Johor and Kedah-based party to save the fates of Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir. They must also decide if they are willing to be part of the national Opposition, in which case they need to tie up with other groups.

It’s possible for Bersatu to want to team up with PAS, although I doubt if the PAS prefers Muhyiddin to Najib, for obvious reasons. Pakatan Harapan has already made it clear that it’s not Muhyiddin they want as opposition leader. DAP, of course, remains a strong political party, and Parti Amanah has tremendous potential, but they will not have enough to form the government in the next election.

Students the light end of tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel is the courage shown by our students, who dare to take to the streets and demand the arrest of the infamous Malaysian Official Number 1. These young Malaysians can make all the difference if they have the numbers. But I don’t think the majority of our young are like Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof (photo above).

Many are scared and some don’t even care what’s happening to the country. Apathy and indifference to political developments are common traits among the young, although that might change in the future.

To sum things up: I am not convinced that our country will be put on the right path anytime soon. There are too many unresolved issues among the Opposition grouping and the ruling Barisan Nasional. This maelstrom of confusion is engulfing us and we have to sort it out.

The people want a solution. I don’t have the answers. All I know is that we need to be a developed country, a peaceful and united country, with an economy that is vibrant and sustainable. For that we need change. We need to be one Bangsa Malaysia, and not Bangsa Johor, Sarawak or Sabah. We can, of course, continue to enjoy Laksa Johor, Laksa Kelantan or Laksa Sarawak.

I do not see anyone in Umno today who even believes in democracy and good governance as the best and most legitimate system of government and political engagement. Najib can change that thinking if he wants to. He can be a “benevolent” dictator if he wants to. But I doubt he will. Some Umno politicians complain about the “lack of democracy” or “abuse of power” only after they have been kicked out of the party and have joined the Opposition.

We desperately need a new leadership that wants the right path for the country. Reformists outside the BN must be willing to take the long road to success. They must not worry too much about the election outcome in the short term. They first must do what’s right.

Reformists within the BN, if there are any, must be willing to persuade Najib to change his ways. They must be genuine reformists and believe in the ideas of a modern state where institution and laws are supreme. They must want to share the wealth fairly.

But enough about my dream. I am pessimistic about the country’s future. Being pessimistic does not mean that I don’t want to do anything to reverse the process. It’s a reminder that while we must fight corruption, religious orthodoxy and the undemocratic forces ruling our country today, we must also be realistic about the difficulties and the dangers that are inherent in that task.

Malaysians who want change must be prepared to make sacrifices. Nowhere in the world have freedom, peace and the rule of law come easily. Maybe when we have more poor people and the size of the underclass gets bigger, there will be impetus for change.

People living in relative comfort dare not make the sacrifices needed for real change to happen. It’s not going to be a walk in the park. Street protests here and there are not enough. Malaysians must not be afraid to defend what they believe in. That is the price we must pay to make things better.

Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/353970#ixzz4IkzzL9x6

Lessons out of Africa for scandal plagued Malaysia


August 23, 2o16

Lessons out of Africa for scandal plagued Malaysia

by Michael Vatikiotis

Beset by scandal, a murky Malaysia could take heed of recent political developments and a new transparency in South Africa and Mauritius.

Many Malaysians are despairing about their political system, in which institutional checks and balances against the abuse of power fail to work, and the opposition lacks the capacity to provide voters with a means of punishing the government at the ballot box.

The damning revelations about the abuse of funds in 1MDB, a development fund headed by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, have generated corruption allegations so big that the US Department of Justice, as well as authorities in Switzerland and Singapore, have all weighed in to investigate.  Yet, the political opposition at home in Malaysia has been unable to do what a loyal opposition does in a parliamentary democracy, which is to freely air grievances and sanction the sitting government in a no-confidence vote. Neither have any formal legal proceedings been successfully brought forward in Malaysia’s supposedly independent courts. Instead, a group of Malaysians has launched a class actions suit in the US.

The government meanwhile, has launched its own investigation, which has cleared the Prime Minister of any wrongdoing, but has refused to release details of what state auditors found.   An executive order removed a sitting Attorney General, and several senior party officials from the ruling United Malays National Organisations have been summarily sacked after expressing concern about the situation.

 UMNO is doomed 

For many Malaysians, what is emblematic about 1MDB is less the alleged corruption on a massive scale, but just how disempowered they feel as lawyers, members of parliament and ordinary citizens; there seems to be absolutely no redress to what is plainly evident to anyone outside the country – and they feel ashamed.  The government meanwhile, is prone to accusing those who dream of a more accountability of being unduly influenced by Western liberal values that have no currency in Asia or the developing world.

Recent events and political trends in southern Africa indicate such claims are nonsense and are worth examining in the light of the current situation in Malaysia.

The outcome of local elections held this month in South Africa and the conduct of political affairs in the small island neighbouring state of Mauritius suggest, that countries in the developing world afflicted by the scourge of corruption do have civilised ways of dealing with the abuse of power, which leave them economically stronger and socially more cohesive.

ANC under Zuma –rejected by voters

Local elections held in South Africa on 3 August saw the ruling African National Congress lose significantly, especially in urban areas.  For the first time since winning power after the dismantling of apartheid in 1994, the ANC’s share of the vote fell below 60 per cent.  The final tally was barely 53 per cent. Most analysts attributed the loss to dissatisfaction with ANC leaders, specifically its President Jacob Zuma, whose term in office has been dogged by accusations of corruption.

Voters appear to have based their decision on a clear process of legal investigation that has shown itself to be somewhat immune to political interference and whitewash.  In June, a South African court rejected President Zuma’s attempted appeal against a ruling that he should face as many as 800 charges of corruption, which include fraud and money laundering while he was in office.  In March this year, Zuma was found guilty of violating the constitution over the use of public funds to upgrade his private residence.

In the light of 1MDB, Malaysians won’t be shocked by these allegations, but what they might find surprising is that the courts in South Africa are ruling on them without fear or favour.  As a result, the party that has led the country since liberation, like UMNO in Malaysia, is no longer immune to scrutiny and the weight of public opinion.  Moreover, instead of blaming other groups or races for its loss, the ANC leadership has declared it will take collective responsibility.

New Hope for South Africa–Mmusi Maimane

More noteworthy still is how the opposition has responded in the South African context.  The winner in the August local election was the old White-dominated liberal party, the Democratic Alliance, that has strongholds in urban areas, rather like the Malaysian opposition.  The DA’s new leader, a black man from Soweto, called Mmusi Maimane, sometimes dubbed South Africa’s Obama, led the party to gain almost 30 per cent of the vote, up from less than two per cent in 1994.  Since the white population of South Africa represents only eight per cent of the total, many brown and black people must have shifted their allegiance from the ANC to the DA.

There are two lessons here for Malaysia: the first is that it is not a given that the party of liberation must rule the country forever; the second is that political affiliation need not correspond to ethnic identity.  South Africa is now the continent’s largest economy, having displaced Nigeria.  With the message delivered to the ANC at the local elections this month, many South Africans are hopeful that the country’s economic promise will no longer be squandered by leaders who use affirmative action to line the pockets of cronies and relatives.

 Mauritius: Checks and Balances are working

Meanwhile, next door in the tiny island of Mauritius, which has long had a close relationship with Malaysia, there are also signs that politicians who abuse their power are increasingly subject to the law.  In June last year, Pravind Jugnauth, the son of current Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth (pic above), was found guilty as Minister of Technology of conflict of interest in the purchase of a health clinic.

Pravind appealed the verdict and claimed trial, a decision he won, which has enabled him to serve as Finance Minister in the cabinet.  Remarkably, given that Pravind is considered Prime Minister in waiting to take over from his father, the Deputy Public Prosecutor is appealing the court’s decision – and he has kept his job.

The political set up in Mauritius is similar to that of Malaysia — a multiracial society composed of Hindu Indians, Muslim Indians, Chinese, Creole, and a smattering of established white families governed by a parliamentary system with courts and other regulatory bodies closely modeled on British institutions.  Also like Malaysia, there has long been tension between the manner in which the courts and the media hold politicians accountable, and political efforts to manipulate them.

It would seem that in the case of Mauritius, the checks and balances are working. Former Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, who was accused of using the courts to try to muzzle the media, is now under police investigation after more than US$ 6 million in cash was found at his home after he lost the election in 2014. Ramgoolam claims the money was a donation from supporters for use in the election campaign.  Sound familiar?

Michael Vatikiotis is Asia Regional Director for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Out of Africa: lessons in accountability and power

 

Seeking Justice on 1MDB (Malaysia’s Enron and Watergate Combined)


August 16, 2016

Seeking Justice on 1MDB (Malaysia’s Enron and Watergate Combined)

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

Seeking Justice for Malaysians

The One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption is business as usual in Malaysia. That is a great tragedy as well as a gross injustice. To Malaysia, 1MDB is “case closed.” That reflects the nation’s system of justice and quality of its institutions, as well as the caliber of those entrusted to run them.

Like ugliness, injustice is obvious to all and transcends boundaries. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) first shone the light at the hideous pox on 1MDB’s face with the filing of the asset forfeiture lawsuit on July 20, 2016. That was only the beginning. Shortly thereafter, Singapore froze the assets of Jho Low, one of the culprits. Together with Switzerland, it also closed the bank involved.

There is now a racketeering suit filed by Husam Musa and Matthias Chang, as private citizens, on August 11, 2016 in New York. That has yet to be certified as a class action suit. With the huge number of potential plaintiffs, it will have no difficulty meeting the numerosity criterion. 1MDB will be Malaysia’s Watergate and Enron combined.

Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon–Partners in Power and in the Destruction of Cambodia

The US Senate Watergate Hearings of the 1970s, triggered by the “third-rate burglary” at the Democratic Party Election Headquarters in Washington, DC, saw many jailed. More than a few prominent lawyers were disbarred, including a former Attorney General as well as the Counsel to the President. It forced President Nixon to resign in disgrace.

The Enron debacle also saw many of its principals imprisoned. The main culprit had a fatal heart attack while being investigated. Enron’s principal advisor, the giant accounting firm Arthur Andersen, collapsed. Quite a collateral damage.

The suit by Husam and Chang differs from the earlier DOJ’s in that the defendants are individuals and firms, not assets. They include the usual culprits Jho Low and Riza Aziz, plus his principal accountant Debra Johnson, Goldman Sachs’ bond salesman Timothy Leissner, and film producer Joey McFarland, together with their respective enterprises Metroplex Capital Advisors, Goldman Sachs, and Red Granite Pictures respectively.

Lawsuits are complex and expensive, both to initiate and defend. As for costs, we are looking at high six figures or even millions. That’s US dollars, not devalued ringgit. I do not know about Chang, but I am certain that Husam does not have the kind of resources to engage the high-powered law firms of Louis F Burke PC of New York and Ajamie, LLP of Houston. I do not know their arrangements.

America has the wonderful concept of contingency fees where plaintiffs’ lawyers would get paid only from the awards. Meaning, they have to prevail in order to get paid. That’s laudable public policy as it would ensure that the poor get access to good legal representation.

It would be in the plaintiff lawyers’ interest to ensure that there is a good or at least winnable case, as well as a pot of gold at the end of the trail, or trial. To put it in the colloquial, their defendants must have deep pockets.

The Two Malaysian rogues, Riza Aziz and Baby-Faced Jho Low with Film Producer Joey McFarland (center)

Riza Aziz’s and Jho Low’s major assets are now tied up in the DOJ’s forfeiture lawsuit, while Low’s are also frozen in Singapore. Riza Aziz may have a super rich stepfather or donor somewhere. As for the other defendants, Goldman Sachs has the deepest pocket, tantalizing enough target by itself.

While the other defendants and their enterprises may not have deep pockets on cursory examination, they may have generous liability and other insurances. It would be a hollow victory, not to mention a very expensive one, if in the end you could not collect your awards.

In their lawsuit Husam and Chang seek awards of actual damages, restitution or disgorgement of wrongful profits obtained by the defendants, triple damages as provided for by the racketeering Act and other statutes cited, punitive damages, as well as costs and expenses. Tallying those will take a battalion of accountants. Insurances usually do not cover punitive damages or racketeering acts. The threat of both is motivation enough to make defendants settle early.

Husam and Chang have already won a victory of sorts in securing the services of these two top law firms. Those lawyers would not risk their reputation and resources to see their case thrown out of court at the first hearing. They must have done their research and found the case not without merit.

What’s in it for Husam and Chang? Certainly not the money. For even if they were to prevail and the awards be in the mega millions, their share after their lawyers’ cut would not be substantial. They must be doing it to ensure that justice prevails. They could not get that in Malaysia, so they come to America.

The irony should not escape us. The pair could not find justice in an Islamic country but instead have to fly ten thousand miles away in the land of the kafir to seek it. The paradox must have struck Husam hard, being a former PAS Vice-President. That should impress upon him the essential difference between label and content.

Lawyers however, have as much to do with justice as doctors to health. Lawsuits in particular have even less; they are but business decisions to law firms. Victory is settlement in their favor without having to go through an expensive and uncertain trial.

For others, justice would be served if Jho Low and Reza Aziz were forced to disgorge their illicit gains, and then be punished. For Malaysians, that would not be enough. For them justice would come only with full exposure, as with a trial so all the ugly truth could be revealed. Then with that information they could make a better choice on whom to elect as their next leaders to ensure that such corruption and injustice would not recur.

As President Johnson once noted, the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man to fight injustice. We must erase this perversity among Malaysians, leaders and followers alike, that corrupt and illicit gains are but rewards and gifts from generous donors or a benevolent Allah. An open trail would be a great effort in that direction.

The highest reach of injustice is to be deemed just when you are not, wrote Greek Philosopher Plato. Likewise, the most depraved act of corruption is to view it as otherwise. 1MDB is the most egregious corruption, and we have to expose it to Malaysians as such.

To Husam Musa and Matthias Chang, thank you for your initiative in taking that brave first step. Yours is the finest form of patriotism. The corrupt, the perverts and the traitors would view your act as treason. That is the ultimate compliment! You do not want them to praise you. Reserve that for Najib.