MALAYSIA: ‘Same Old’in Sarawak Election Campaign (Part 1 of 5)


May 4,2016

MALAYSIA: ‘Same Old’in Sarawak Election Campaign (Part 1 of 5)

by Dr. Bridget Welsh

Bridget_welsh_PUBLICFORUM_190414_TMIAFIF_002

Billed as one of the most important elections in the Malaysian state’s history, Sarawak heads to the polls on 7 May. But the campaign has sent confusing messages and failed to inspire voters, reports Bridget Welsh.

As the lackluster 11th Sarawak 2016 election campaign comes to a close on Friday, consistency rather than change has predominated.Most Sarawakians on both sides of the political divide had made up their minds on how they will vote before the campaign began. So far, the campaign has done little to change their orientations, and even less to inspire Sarawakians to vote at all. Political parties have mainly relied on old strategies, offering little new in their engagement with the electorate.

Strongman versus pressure politics

The main substantive campaign issue is autonomy, the mantra of ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’. The prominence of this call is different than earlier campaigns but not new to Malaysian electoral politics as Sabahans will understand.

 Concerns about autonomy in East Malaysia have been long-standing and extend for decades to when the two Borneo states joined the Federation. Not surprising, all of the parties in the Sarawak polls are calling for greater control of decision-making at the state level in areas involving language, immigration, education, religion and resources (oil royalty). Where they differ slightly is in their priority in areas of governance, with those aligned with the BN tapping into immigration and those in the opposition pushing harder on issues of religion and resources.

The parties also differ in how they will implement autonomy. Current Chief Minister Adenan Satem has personified autonomy around himself, portraying the image that voting for him will assure the protection of state rights. He follows this pattern set by his brother-in-law, current Governor and former Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Adenan has projected the view that his working relationship with the federal government will assure protection, and that he is ‘his own man’. This argument runs that a strong mandate for Adenan will strengthen his hand with the federal government. The choice by ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) to focus on autonomy aims to neutralise traditional opposition demands for fairer representation for citizens in the state. It echoes electoral strategies adopted in the recent past, where the new incumbent co-opts ‘reform’ to win support.

The opposition on its part has repeated its call for checks and balances, arguing that a strong opposition is necessary to assure that the substantive issues related to autonomy are implemented. They are calling for pressure politics. Given that these issues have been traditional ones for the opposition, and they have been their strongest advocates by putting them into the public arena and introducing measures in the legislature, they are hoping that the electorate does not forget their commitment — even as these issues have been effectively co-opted by the incumbent government.

At stake for Sarawakians are two different visions of state representation, one based on repeating the independent strongman politics of Taib that Adenan is portraying versus the long-standing call for alternative voices in government.

Shadow of Pak Lah

Closely connected to calls for greater representation is the personification of political power in Sarawak. This is also not new. Personal politics and personality have been at the core of East Malaysian politics. They help us understand the fragmentation of the candidate slates and account for the long tenures of many of the incumbents. The campaign around Adenan and the use of his coattails for his team is not new. We saw this in the 2004 General Election, where former premier Abdullah Badawi, or Pak Lah, was showcased as ‘his own man’ and different than his predecessor.

Like Adenan, Abdullah was chosen by a predecessor who had become a political target for criticism. Although in Adenan’s case, he is part of the Taib family and has consistently been a part of the previous leadership, never challenging Taib or openly criticising his policies during his tenure. This is opposed to Abdullah, who was relegated to the political wilderness for a few years as ‘Team B’ and more openly campaigned against his predecessor to win support. Adenan has used the time since he was appointed in 2014 to try to distinguish rather than distance himself, featuring similar “nice guy,” “reformer” and “clean” traits that were part of comparable electoral efforts in Malaysia’s past. As with Pak Lah, the Adenan campaign has promised a new leadership.

Sarawakians are facing the difficult decision of whether Adenan can be trusted. Faith in Malaysian politicians is low, and the national politics of taking politicians down has become engrained in the fabric. Sarawakians are more trustworthy than their counterparts on the peninsula. They are also following the national trend and becoming more cynical.

Many Sarawakians recognise that the multitude of promises Adenan is making echoes unrealistic goals of the past. Adenan is building up expectations, with the repeated potential for disappointment.  Voters question whether he will have the power and political will to implement the promises after the election, especially given that Adenan will be a lame duck after he has won office as he has stated that he only wants one term.

Undermining leadership

Questions about Adenan’s leadership are understandable, given the prominence of his persona in the campaign. Two areas are prominent.

The first involves the perceived abuse of political power for electoral gains by Adenan, namely the use of Sarawak’s immigration authority to prevent opposition politicians and activists from entering the state. Scores of people have been denied entry, to prevent the opposition crowds from building and weakening the opposition machinery. On their part, peninsula-based BN politicians and government department and activists have been given access.

Deemed ‘extremists’ and ‘troublemakers’ many of those denied entry have used Skype to engage voters, but the dampening impact on ceramah crowds has been evident. This is in spite of more Sarawakians following the campaign online. This ‘strongman’ denial of entry and subsequent calls for politicians to write letters as pleas for entry as occurred for the female leader of the opposition, Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, feed the portrayal of a man in control. They simultaneously reveal a politician with weakness, as these measures suggest fear, and have raised questions about fairness in Adenan’s leadership. The denials of entries have backfired among many voters, who no longer see the chief minister as ‘Mr Nice Guy’.

Another factor undermining Adenan is Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The relationship between the two men is challenging to navigate as they are mutually dependent, as Adenan needs funds from the federal government to support his campaign. Najib on his part needs a decisive victory in the Sarawak polls to sustain his power, given the seriousness of the corruption, embezzlement, and abuse of power allegations being made in multiple investigations in the 1MDB scandal.

Striking a balance where Adenan is in charge, but Najib gains credit is difficult. In the 2011 polls, the relationship between Taib and the Najib campaign was problematic, as the latter tried to control the campaign. A similar pattern has occurred in 2016, with Najib’s pictures of ‘Saya Sayang Sarawak’ and with Adenam himself featured all over rural areas, and coverage of his promises overshadowing Adenan’s.  It is not clear whether this is a Najib or Adenan campaign. Clearly, it is both.  Rural folk often highlight the similarity in the appearance of both men.  Najib’s significant presence is a liability for Adenan, as the premier is deeply unpopular and he undercuts the chief minister’s claim of independence. It appears as if Najib has hijacked Adenan’s thunder to serve himself.

Disconnecting messages

Amidst the personas, voters are navigating the messages of the various campaigns. The campaign messages showcase disconnection between their slogans and delivery. The Sarawak United Peoples Party’s (SUPP) slogan ‘United We Can’ is perhaps the most ironic, as the party remains dangerously divided. The splits in the party have the potential to lead to further downfalls of its leaders, as SUPP has yet to meaningfully justify why Sarawakians should vote for their party. They are effectively no longer their own players, as has occurred to other non-Malay parties in the BN.

The opposition parties are also delivering disengaging messages. The Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) ‘4Real Change’ raises questions about delivery, especially since they are not working with other parties in their campaign. One feature of the 2016 campaign is that for the opposition it is a step back to the past of 2001, even 1999 when parties worked against each other rather than together. While in urban areas there is little open vitriol against each other (with the BN the main target), the fact that they are competing with each other undercuts messages of ‘change’.

Voters are not clear what is meant by ‘real change’ as this theme has been so overused that is has lost meaning. Indeed, the fact that even the BN is using the word, in its call to remove the DAP from Kuching (notably the Kota Sentosa seat where DAP Chairman Chong Chieng Jen is contesting), shows how unclear the word has become. On its part, the People’s Justice Party’s (PKR) focus has been on autonomy, but the word ‘trust’ has featured in much of its campaign posters, with questions arising from its use given the distrust in the opposition evident in the split among the various parties. The opposition’s lack of collaboration in the campaign has undermined their momentum and undercut their connection with voters, especially younger and swing voters. They have damaged themselves.

Playing cards and scandals

As the campaign draws to a close, political parties are fighting hard. To date, what distinguishes Sarawak’s campaign has been the lack of prominence of the racial card. Religion, however, has been mobilised by the BN, which has used funds to woo Christians, estimated to comprise 40 per cent of the electorate.

The use of religion has been contradicted by broad trends to undercut freedom of religion in Sarawak and the slating of candidates by the BN that have conservative views that are not in line with more tolerant calls of moderation. Whether the BN can win back Christian support lies with the priorities of the churches themselves, whether they buy into the wooing effort, how they perceive Adenan’s sincerity and the choice of moral example they will set.

The opposition is relying on the 1MDB scandal to swing the electorate. This issue is difficult for many Sarawakians to connect to, especially in rural areas. Many do not believe it at all and do not see how the issue affects them directly. Others are outraged, and this undercurrent is strong among those who hold political leaders to standards. These issues about rights and scandals have become even more serious for Malaysia’s future, but it is not clear whether national concerns will displace local interests.

Sarawakians, like many Malaysians, are tired. The campaign has not yet inspired, and as such voter engagement has been markedly lower. There is a palpable lack of enthusiasm for either side, with a focus on livelihoods and ordinary routines. This is in part because the 2016 campaign has been in fact quite routine itself, offering little new and relying on the old strategies and tactics. The question ahead will be whether the same old campaign approaches will yield the same old results.

Bridget Welsh is Professor of Political Science at Ipek University, Senior Research Associate at the Center for East Asian Democratic Studies of National Taiwan University, Senior Associate Fellow of The Habibie Center, and University Fellow of Charles Darwin University.

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2016/05/03/same-old-in-sarawak-campaign/

This article is part of a five-part series on the Sarawak 2016 state election. The next article will focus on voting trends and constituencies. Bridget Welsh thanks Sarawakians for sharing their views and kind hospitality.

Malaysia: Azalina and Tomb of Lies


April 22, 2016

READ THIS: Singapore Banker charged in connection with 1MDB scandal for money laundering:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-22/from-1mdb-probe-singapore-charges-former-banker-with-laundering

Tomb of Lies

by Rihaku (received vi e-mail)

 

Lina O wants to know: Who lied?

Answer: You did, Lina. And so did Najib Razak, and Zahid Hamidi, and Adnan, and Apandi, and Arul…. and, of course, Chubby Low. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, you were being human.

1MDB was built on a tomb of lies

Dear Azalina/Lina:

You’ve been lying and lying and lying, but you can’t help it. How can you? You don’t even know your own lies.

Let’s begin with the Saudi Foreign Minister, whose remarks centered on two ingredients. One, the Saudi government is ‘aware’ of investigations into a certain ‘donation’, amount unstated, source anonymous, and so on (see Chedet: Money Trail). Two, the ‘donation’ was unconditional.

Now, contrast those remarks against the unknown and the unstated. The minister’s remarks are actually regurgitation, vomit, that on countless occasions had been recycled by Najib Razak’s ministers (‘recycle’ is Arul’s favorite red herring word used to throw our scent off from getting straight answers). As a result, those words resurrect old problems that hadn’t been addressed before.

One, when is a ‘donation’ a donation? An example in this question: ‘A’ steals from Bank X then transfers to ‘B’ who in turn deposits half the loot into A’s Bank Y. Is B donating to A — technically? Two, why don’t those towel head Saudis come straight, right out to say it: “Here’s the donor, here is proof of yearly earnings, in USD billions, here’s the remittance receipt, here is the money back. We consider the case closed.” Instead, the minister actually recycles Najib’s Arulian spittle. Why?

The worse for the inanity is this, Lina: with those remarks, you went to town gloating, and that in writing, too. Why? There was nothing new in them. On the contrary, the Saudi man doesn’t even say the donation is a ‘political fund’ which, if you remember, Lina, you said late last year was the purpose of the US$681 million. First, there was no such money, after that the money was a form of Islamic ‘reward’, then ‘political funding’, and now it’s a ‘genuine’ personal donation.

Can you, Lina, sense the lie on the lie on the lie on the lie? Said so often, you are beginning to believe your own lies. You can’t even tell one lie from another, much less the truth from them. You can’t even tell when a donation ceases to be a donation and, therefore, see that a donation can be a form of gratification — words contained in the  MACC Act. Look it up, since you are lawyer, ableit a kaki ampu bodek.

Then there is the matter of conditionality. For someone to drop US$681 million into your bank account, expecting nothing in return, is an un-human feat and, worse for it, when this is done in the name of your God. Think about it for a minute, Lina: Why is it un-human?

But to pass around embezzled money, whether this is done by thieves or politicians, is pure human reaction. Consequently, it has to be unconditional. In colloquial terms, it is called splitting the loot. What need is there to expect anything in return when the money hadn’t originally come from nor does it belong to the donor? Nor recipient.

Lina, can you not see? Your lies cloud your judgment. After which, you mentioned of a letter published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which you say reaffirms the Saudi’s remarks. Is this it?

375m-pledge-letter-to-Najib-Razak-from-HRH-p1-normal

Click on image for an enlarged view.

It was with that letter plus two consecutive findings you cited from Apandi Ali and parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that led you to believe Najib is innocent of all the accusations. So, let’s go into your arguments. Apandi (A-G)first.

Essentially, the A-G says (a) there is ‘no evidence’ to trace money going from 1MDB to Najib. Instead, (b) there is evidence to show that money went from a Saudi national to Najib. Therefore, no crime.

Before going further, a little history. But, re-read the Saudi letter above, dated 2011, alongside the two statements from International Petroleum Investment Co, below, five years later.

On September 2009, Najib signed a deal with the Saudis, creating the 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture (JV) with Malaysia putting in US$1 billion. Then from March 2011 onwards, barely 18 months after the JV, 1MDB began raising US$3.5 billion in two bond tranches through Goldman Sachs (there was a third in Mar 2012, raising US$3 bn). If Goldman were to raise that kind of money, it needs guarantees. So Najib goes not to his business partners, the Saudis, but their neighbors, the UAE, IPIC to underwrite both deals.

Some Saudi may give to Najib US$681 million for nothing, but not IPIC. It has shareholders and the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to answer to. So, in its turn, IPIC asks Malaysia for collateral but at that early stage, year 2010, what has 1MDB got other than MYR1 million as paid-in capital? Nothing, not the JV, no Argentinian oil fields, no Turkmenistan. Nothing, except this: a lien on the power assets — later known as Edra Energy — with which US$3.5 bn was supposed to buy, starting with Tanjung Power.

Most of the money never went to those power plants anyway but transferred instead to some island bank accounts. Now, worse for IPIC, Arul has sold all of Edra, alongside the Bandar Malaysia land (used partly as justification to raise the third, US$3 bn tranche of bonds). Those sales left the Emirate holding what for collateral? Nothing, but a worthless piece of promise on paper.

This train of affairs isn’t a matter of speculative conjecture but constitutes an easily traceable chain of events but are now unraveling. And this event series is documented, such as with bank transactions and, now, the Saudi letter and IPIC’s most recent two LSE statements (below). IPIC statements are most revealing, saying as if they had had enough not only of 1MDB but also — and get this right — the Ministry of Finance. Meaning, Najib. They must have reasoned, ‘why is it that Najib can, at the snap of finger, get up to a billion but can’t show us any money to honor 1MDB deals with us? Have we been exploited — no, cheated — to cover a scam?

IPIC statements exposed the terrible experiences they had in making deals with Malaysians: Above, 1MDB lied to us, IPIC says, and in their accounts. We didn’t get the money. Below, IPIC to MoF in a statement for the London Stock Exchange, all deals are off, we might sue.

1MDB Debt Settlement Arrangements

On 28 May 2015, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), Aabar Investments PJS (Aabar), Minister of Finance, Inc., Malaysia (MOF) and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) entered into a binding term sheet that provides for the following principal matters:

·    on 4 June 2015, IPIC provided US$1 billion to 1MDB for 1MDB to utilise immediately to settle certain of its liabilities (the Cash Payment);

·    from 4 June 2015, IPIC has assumed the obligations to pay (on an interim basis) all interest due under two IPIC guaranteed 1MDB financings amounting to US$3.5 billion in aggregate principal amount (the Notes);

·    upon the completion of the transfer of assets as described below, IPIC will directly assume liability for all payment obligations under the Notes (the Assumption of Debt) and forgive certain financial obligations of the 1MDB Group to the IPIC Group (the Debt Forgiveness); and

 ·    by 30 June 2016, IPIC is to have received a transfer of assets with an aggregate value of an amount which represents the sum of the Cash Payment, the Assumption of Debt and the Debt Forgiveness.

 1MDB and MOF have agreed to perform the obligations contemplated in the binding term sheet and to indemnify IPIC and Aabar for any non-performance, and vice versa.

 IPIC has met the Cash Payment and will meet the interim interest payments under the Notes from existing liquidity available to IPIC.

ENDS

The point is this: Apandi finds what he wants to find, sees what he wants to see. He won’t find evidences if he isn’t interested to look. Yet, if he did then recent developments made him looked like a fool, contradicting his exoneration of Najib and, paradoxically, showed that he lied in that judgment. The way out for Apandi, is simply to turn around and blame the MACC for failing to come up with those evidences. But this would be disingenuous.

Consider evidence from IPIC and from the PAC.

Apandi Ali

One, IPIC’s statements this April tell, in bottom line language: ‘we hold Najib ultimately responsible to give us back our money (US$1 billion) and we hold 1MDB complicit in lying to us, and in lying in their accounts about a payment that never arrived‘. After receiving the 1MDB money, Aabar BVI was wound up in June 2015. Yet this evidence means nothing to Apandi. You don’t think this strange, Lina?

Two, the US$1 bn owed to IPIC is just 14% of US$7.04 billion (MYR28 bn) the PAC has documented to be unaccounted for, a disappearance that started in Sept 2009 with US$1.03 billion and then continued until 2014. That is, for five years, evidences piled up to show not only a pattern in which money was siphoned out of 1MDB but they also pointed to fraud on an international scale. If a bunch of politicians closeted in a parliament room with little time, limited resources and limited access to documentary evidences can come close to such a conclusion how could the expert AG lawyers and Apandi himself see nothing?

malaysians

Malaysians  made Stupid by UMNO Lies

Today, even Arul concedes that some of the monies have disappeared, adding that 1MDB might have been scammed. This is a startling admission which contradicts numerous, earlier statements of his own. In particular, are his repeated assertions (a) that everything in 1MDB have been accounted for, (b) that assets exceed liabilities, and (c) rationalization, meaning the sale of nearly everything 1MDB once owned, will put a clean slate to 1MDB. Now, it looks like 1MDB will never, never, never come out clean.

So Lina, tell us, who has been lying?

For Apandi to say there are no evidence that traced 1MDB’s money back to Najib is not the same as saying the money never went to him. This raises a question: If the money is not with Najib, where the fuck is it? How about the like of Jho Low, with a turkey for a prince, and the Emirates men? How about those dodgy companies created to look like the real. How about Blackstone BVI, mentioned in the letter by the Saudi ‘prince’?

*

blackstone2013Click on image to read.

For you to appreciate the depth and the severity of the 1MDB scam, begin with names: Blackstone, Merryl Capital, Bridge. These aren’t just ordinary names, chosen for no good reason, then registered in some far-flung Caribbean  islands. But, in taking on those names, Jho Low, Tarek Obaid, et al, gained overnight reputation and credibility they hadn’t earned.

The original companies — the Blackstone Group LP, Merrill Lynch (since 2009 renamed as Ridgemont Equity Partners) and Bridge Equity Partners — are US-registered private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) firms. They act like banks without being subjected to banking laws because, instead of funding a corporate or an individual person they lend directly to projects with money they themselves had raised from banks, insurers and pension funds. Last year, Blackstone was managing assets worth US$311 billion, making it one of the world’s top three largest PE firms, and drawing 2014 revenues of US$7.5 billion.  This makes it wealthier than Petronas.

It was, therefore, not without reason that Jho Low and the ex-Aabar and PetroSaudi officials, Badawy al Husseiny, Khadem al Qubassi, Tarek Obaid should pick those names for their island companies. It is called, fraudulent misrepresentation; more commonly known as lying. Aabar BVI wasn’t the only, nor their first, dummy company. There were: Blackstone BVI (as opposed to Blackstone Group), Merryl Capital (v. Merrill Lynch), Bridge Partners International Investment (v. Bridge Equity).

Riza Aziz–Rosmah’s Son

Yet, Apandi sees nothing wrong in all that: a string of dummy companies, all set up at short notice by the same clique, all short-lived, all resident in some Caribbean island, all shell companies.

Take Blackstone Real Estate that’s mentioned in the letter from the ‘prince’. It was registered in the British Virgin Island (BVI) on Nov 2010, stating at the time that foreign exchange was its business. Seven months later, it changed its name to Blackstone Asia Real Estate and in 2013 wound up barely 2 years and a half into its existence — and note, the year after money was remitted to Najib. In short, a bogus company set up for laundering money.

You see, Lina, Apandi didn’t want to know all that. Not wanting to know, not wanting to find evidences, Apandi would deny all MACC request for foreign assistance to inquire into those companies as well as the people behind them and the money deposited in them. The creation of these dummy companies, made to look identical to reputable ones, are the clear, irrefutable evidences of fraud.

But why did Apandi, and others like you, deny their existence? Or, deny that something seriously is amiss, lying instead? This is not some boys peddling cigarettes behind a schoolyard. Bogus princes, bogus companies, bogus ventures, bogus assets, bogus oil fields, bogus accounts, and bogus lovers are a dime a dozen in the World of Fraud. Even money may not be real, Lina. Ask Arul or Jho Low.

Inside secret desert and island places, the like of Arul  mirror the sweet, Wharton business school talks of Jho Low, so hiding their fraudulent conduct. Fact is, US$7 billion is now formally acknowledged to have disappeared.

But Arul lied about that from the beginning, producing fancy charts and hiding their disappearance in financial jargon. (Bet you this, Lina: you had never heard of ‘Level 3 assets’ or financial ‘units’ before 1MDB.) Arul also says his work at 1MDB is done. What ‘work’ would that be? Cover up? In offering to resign over money vanished, he lies farther, suggesting that 1MDB is the victim when all the evidences point to it being the conduit and the vehicle in an international scam.

Arabians-Donate-Arabians-Love-Najib1

Arul’s statements, and those by the Saudi Minister, by your statement and your peers, as well as by Apandi himself have collectively become the evidences that demonstrated a concerted, deliberate attempt calculated to hide a scam, and the money and its trail leading — irrefutably — to Najib Razak. In repeatedly lying, Lina, you become complicit to the crime even though you might have no part of it.

You see, when you enter a profession such as the government Cabinet there is in it the means to do good to society. But even a greater temptation to do harm. You may encourage genius, you may chastise the incompetent, expose falsehood, correct error, and guide the lives of this age in no small degree by the speeches you make and the actions you recommend. Yet you commit to everything the precise opposite….

What are you, Lina? Why do you make a big deal out of the tongue of a towel head? Because, you know, no one believes Apandi? That being so, why should the few words of an Arab, minister or no minister, make a difference?

The problems surrounding Najib don’t rest in matters of beliefs. It is in a simple fact: the reality of a theft, billions. That has been Najib’s secret for a long time, which a thousand more Arab tongues can’t change nor erase. Is far too many secrets also weighing you down, Lina? You have a secret life you live? A secret nest somewhere, like Najib’s secret Mongolian women and secret deals?

Scaffolds don’t support buildings. It only looks like that; in truth it’s the other way around. Therefore, understand this, Lina: you are but a piece of scaffold around an edifice called 1MDB after — and this part is critical — it had been wrecked and laid to waste. You stand holding on to nothing.

1MDB is today way past been a legal and a political issue that you, Najib, et al have been flogging to no end. It is an ethical issue, which explains why all the Apandis and all the towel heads in the world, won’t make go away. As an ethical problem — that is, a question of being right or wrong, being true or false — it must have an ethical resolution. Guess what’s that?

Yours truly,

rihaku

rihaku

Above, is the sort of language of Seet Li Lin and the kind of Wharton business talk, the Wolf of Wall Street culture, you’d hear from Najib (recall him saying: ‘you help me, I help you’; ‘this is the deal…’) and Arul and Jho Low and Tim Leissner — all those financial scammers, gaming the system: “big on fluff, light on content, says a lot yet very little“.

You see, Lina, duplicity is characteristic hallmark of a scam. And guess who uses, who deploys, such language with so much frequency and regularity? Arul Kanda top the list. Next, Najib Razak. Recall him telling The Star: “Yes, the bank account is in my name. But, understand, although the account is my name, it is not personal.”

This sort of gobbledegook is the language of snake oil salesmen — and financial salesmen as well, people like Jho Low, and Tim Leissner, and Seet, and Goldman Sachs, and Tarek Obaid and their band of Arabian camel traders masquerading as sheikhs and princes.

Then there are ministers, people like you and that Saudi bloke.  Who’s been lying, Lina? You. You have been scammed, deceived, lied to, after which you repeat their lies. Can you feel your own lies moving the earth… (see Seet’s email below)?

The earth began moving on September 30 2009. But why? That was the opening bid in the Great Malaysia Scam — starting with US$700 million, now way past US$4 billion, all gone, and still rising. Two years later, Seet would be gloating: ‘he and others had gamed the system’.

This ‘gaming the system’ went on for five straight fucking years, billions upon billions, all right under Najib’s nose while you, Lina, holds up his flag with the gall to say he told the truth. But the truth is you, Lina, don’t want to know — to know that Najib Razak, human as he is, is capable of thievery on an unprecedented global scale in such a short time, unmatched by any head of government, democrat or dictator, dead or alive.

*

It began with MYR 2.6 bn; now it’s going through the roof. Why, Zaid, is that so hard to understand, even by the kampung?

*Altantuya All Over Again & the 1MDB Calculus

*

 

Variants of the above calculus, the Black-Scholes financial equation, are circulated in stock and financial trading halls. This is done by constructing ready-to-use formulae then bundling them into the hand-held calculators for Wall Street bankers and derivatives, options and bond traders like Nick Leeson.

Those equations are rarely in use today, victim of Black-Scholes fallibility and incipiency. Here is a list of its victims: Metallgesellschaft, Orange County, Sears Roebuck, Proctor & Gamble, all came to near collapse from heavy derivatives trading losses before and during 1994.

A year later there were Daiwa and Barings Bank and the latter’s employee Nick Leeson, the Briton in Singapore who relied on those equations to buy and sell bonds and Japanese index options, that is, ‘I-owe-you’ debt papers based on the high and lows (volatility is another word) of the country’s stock exchanges. Bank Negara’s losses in the 1990s’ sterling-USD-ringgit trades follows a similar pattern.

Barings was a century-old when it collapsed, done in single handedly by Leeson, whose losses wiped out the bank’s entire 1 billion Pound capital base. But this was not because Leeson, a high school dropout (like Petra Kamarudin), couldn’t fathom Black-Scholes. What is there to understand anyway? It was because high finance, like Las Vegas, has no morality, no God.

That amorality — no, immorality — underlies the same Wall Street culture taught in Wharton business school, driving the energies in the like of Tim Leissner and Low Taek Jho and Arul Kanda and their schoolmate hangers-on and underlings like Sharol and Tiffany, and like Casey Tang and Seet Li Lin.

Zaid Ibrahim made the observation that Malays, unable to understand the workings of Wall Street and high finance, turns readily to God, Zakir Nair being their conduit to Heaven. If only that is true: we, too, would queue up to get some of the Zakir holy sprinkles.

But Zaid was wrong on two counts. High finance being impenetrable to common people is a myth: just ask Leeson. And that, in its turn, leads to Zaid’s second error, which is that God is far more readily accessible than Black-Scholes, which for those still puzzled by it is actually a third-level differentiation of this; just two steps up:

A derivative (from the root word, differ) is simply the measure of a slope or its steepness:

202345.image2

Give the above equation a formula, the result is this:

202345.image3

Add many more variables other than x and y, insert a time-line into the chart, you will get the Black-Scholes’ formula. At its root it is algebraic, a third-level differential calculus. That is, it being derived from the difference in the steepness of slope and, of that, one more difference. In sum, a differential three times over. Another way of saying the same thing: the change over a change over a change. There is nothing incomprehensible about that.

If Zaid is indeed wrong, then his task, in speaking to the kampung, isn’t to teach Malays how Goldman Sachs created, then bought and sold bonds through a Black-Scholes formula. That would be completely unnecessary, and it would be fallacious as well.

Rather, it is to speak simply of the immorality in 1MDB and SRC, the godlessness of its people, Najib and Arul in particular. Worse than the godlessness, is today the trade of lives — Najib himself breaking even his own ‘you-help-me, I-help-you‘ credo. And this godlessness is in spite of his frequent Saudi visits, there trading the souls of Malay soldier-boys for princely Arab favors.

Now, with formal admission that up to US$7 billion might have been embezzled (vanished is the polite word), Najib’s sycophants, beginning with Azalina, are clearly attempting to completely severe the man from any association with 1MDB. After which — and you can see it coming — they will help Najib wash his hands clean of the affair by throwing out the rest of 1MDB people under the bus, beginning with Sharol Halmi.

Such a thing is the trade of lives; buying and selling people, first with cash and now it is with god and piety, or the pretense of it.

All this charade follows the same pattern in the Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder. It is Mongolia all over again. Recall Najib texting Razak Baginda: ‘be cool’, things are being sorted out. And, lo and behold, Razak, after some minor inconveniences, gets to live out the rest of his life in the UK; Sirul Azhar Umar gets to slip out to Australia from under his jailers’ noses, plus that of an entire police force and all Immigration. Nobody gets hanged.

In Malaysian morality, if you can get away with murder you can get away with US$7 billion — and still counting. That’s the godless morality message for the kampung, Zaid, not Black-Scholes, and not how bonds are created and traded. Those are just money in the form of an A4 letterhead. In a word, a derivative.

Now, Zaid, is all that so hard to understand? As humans we can only take in so much. Malays in the kampung are so filled with gods there is really little room left in them for this world. Take out the god then you, Zaid, might just make some room for them to know Black-Scholes and its worldliness, both ugly and beautiful. This eagerness to tackle the world, if you hadn’t been told, occupies much of Chinese philosophical thinking…

To put the politics technically: We’ll have to get rid of God, then to take back our morality and return it to politics with the primacy it deserves over other basic forces, including Law, Money and King. Cash must be defeated as the King of Politics. Long live the Revolution!

Zakir Naik: Peace Preacher or Hate Monger


April 20, 2016

(@KLIA on the way back to Phnom Penh)

Zakir Naik: Peace Preacher or Hate Monger

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Dr. Zakir Naik, the controversial Muslim televangalist, is no stranger to Malaysia. He was here first in 2012 to deliver lectures in Johor Baru, Shah Alam, Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur. According to the organizers of the first lecture series, their objective was to promote harmony among people of various religions.

He is now into his second lecture tour series here. Presumably his objective to spread the message of peace, love and brotherhood among the various religions and Islam remains unchanged.

But perhaps his presence is also to emphasise the superiority of Islam over other religions; and as stated in the website of the Islamic Research Foundation of which he is President and founder, “about the truth and excellence of Islamic teachings – based on the glorious Qur’an and authentic Hadith, as well as adhering to reasons, logic and scientific facts”?

His main claim to fame (and contrariety)  in Malaysia comes from being recipient of the Ma’al Hijrah Distinguished Personality award by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah in 2013 for his significant service and contribution to the development of Islam. He has also received various other awards and honours – all from Islamic governments or organizations.

That said, his standing with some non-Muslim governments and organizations is less creditable and more controversial. The religious television channel, Peace TV, which acknowledges him as its main ideologue as well as driving force, has been banned by his own government, the Indian government, for its anti-Indian malicious content.

This is a reasonable statement

The station has also been in trouble with various broadcasting authorities for some of its content and Dr. Zakir himself has been banned from entry to the United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore – in the UK, for allegedly “engaging in unacceptable behaviour by making statements that attempt to justify terrorist activity and fostering hatred.”

It could be that Dr. Zakir has been unfairly targeted and victimized for his religious zealotry and popularity with the Muslim community. He has claimed, for example, that he has been quoted out of context for his views on terrorism.

But if he has been misquoted or has recanted for his earlier views on Al Queda and his support of Islamic terrorism, what are his perspectives on Islam and other religions which have enabled him to gain such a huge following among Muslims all over the world, and have him placed so high up on the pedestal?

Peace Preacher or Hate Monger.

Critics who have followed his lectures and preaching – Dr. Zakir, following the example of Christian telemarketers, describes himself as “a dynamic international orator of Islam and comparative religion – have expressed concern over his conservative and extremist views on a wide range of subjects, including apostasy and the propagation of other faiths in Islamic states, both of them major issues in Malaysia.

On the former, he is said to have argued that Muslims who convert from Islam should not necessarily receive death sentences, but that under Islamic rule those who leave Islam and then “propagate the non-Islamic faith and speak against Islam” should be put to death. Another source states that according to Dr. Zakir “there is no death penalty for apostates in Islam, until the apostate starts to preach his new religion; then he can be put to death.”

On the latter, Dr. Zakir has noted that while he appreciates that people of other religions allow Muslims to freely propagate Islam in their country, “the dissemination of other religions within an Islamic state must be forbidden because (he believes) other faiths are incorrect, so their propagation is as wrong as it would be for an arithmetic teacher to teach that 2+2=3 or 6 instead of 2+2=4.”

Similarly Dr. Zakir has argued, “regarding building of churches or temples, how can we allow this when their religion is wrong and when their worship-ping is wrong?”

Similarly, The Times of India in a profile piece on Dr. Zakir has argued that “the Wahabi-Salafist brand of Islam, bankrolled by petro-rich Saudi Arabia and propagated by preachers like Naik, does not appreciate the idea of pluralism.”

The article quotes Muslim scholar Wahiduddin Khan: “Dawah, which Naik also claims to be engaged in, is to make people aware of the creation plan of God, not to peddle some provocative, dubious ideas as Naik does.”

He adds: “The wave of Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11 and the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have only added to the Muslims’ sense of injury. In such a situation, when a debater like Zakir Naik, in eloquent English, takes on preachers of other faiths and defeats them during debates, the Muslims’ chests puff with pride. A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives

A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives it a sense of pride. Never mind if it’s false pride.”

Whether Dr. Zakir should have the right to be in Malaysia and to speak on comparative religions may be controversial but in our part of the world apparently lacking appropriate Islamic “wise” men and leaders to look up to, hopefully it is not false pride that Dr. Zakir is peddling but the doctrinal and institutional re-caliberation of the religion so that Malaysians can be reassured of its contribution to our religious and racial peace and harmony.

 

Malaysia: A place where Islamic Buffoons are given a free rein


March 29, 2016

Malaysia: A place where Islamic Buffoons are given a free rein

by Farouk A. Peru

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

Islamic Buffoons run BolehLand

When any industry gets inundated with players, the quality of its products can be very questionable. It was true with the PC industry when IBM PC opened its doors to compatibles thus giving way to some very sub-par products.

It was also true in the movie industry when stellar movies inevitably inspired copycats. The Blair Witch Project and Sixth Sense were pioneers in this regard and inspired a number of inferior films.

This is also unfortunately true with the industry of religion. While there are some very inspiring speakers who can motivate the layperson to become a better human being, there are also those who tap into the religious market by providing sheer entertainment. They, perhaps unknowingly, act like buffoons in order to boost their popularity.

What makes a religious buffoon? While some may point to the speakers’ demeanour and style, I have to disagree.

Humour can actually make difficult subjects much easier to digest, in my experience. I have a vast collection of “Idiots Guides” and “For Dummies” books which attest to that fact!

No, rather buffoonery comes from the puerility of the subject matter and worse, the superficial manner in which it is handled.

Like any economic endeavour, the religious industry needs to keep coming up with fresh products to keep the target market interested else it becomes stale or irrelevant.

The inspiration for this piece came earlier this week in my Facebook feed which I use to observe the religious social media. I chanced upon a lecture by this ustaz (religious teacher)  who claimed that the voices of women is considered “aurat” in Islam.

“Aurat” is an imported word from Arabic which means “modest or private area” in everyday lingo. The ustaz who seemed to be talking to an exclusively male audience, claimed that if a male were to engage in a telephone conversation with a woman ― however innocent the conversation may be ― that man would be sexually aroused.

He then asked a member of the audience if this was true and the answer came in the negative. Instead of accepting that different people have different levels of acceptable stimuli, the ustaz then accused that gentleman of having a low sex drive!

The next person the ustaz questioned hurriedly replied to the affirmative that indeed women’s voices can be seductive. The ustaz then added that not only are women’s voices arousing, they can actually cause a man to emit pre-ejaculate!

One wonders how this ustaz survives in daily life. When he goes to a restaurant and a waitress inquires about his order, would he then be in a state of arousal? But it does not end there. The ustaz manages to surreptitiously add in some misogynistic elements to the seemingly receptive audience.

At that point, he adds that that is the reason we cannot have female leaders and khateebas (women who give sermons) unless the congregation is all female. The measure of a society’s backwardness is apparently when women take the helm of leadership, he asserts.

This is from the same individual who criticises women for shaping their eyebrows, claiming that it is physical modification! Comparing eyebrow shaping with plastic surgery must be the very definition of puerile and superficial.

The phenomenon of the religious buffoon is, in reality, an indictment on the society which produces it. Without the religious consumer, these people would need to find real jobs, perhaps in the entertainment industry given their talents to amuse listeners.

The only difference is the entertainment industry actually provides some benefit in that it gives us a means to relieve stress and to enjoy ourselves.

These religious buffoons, however, can actually cause damage with their sinister remarks. With the aforementioned ustaz for example, male members of his audience may actually force their beliefs on female members of their respective families.

This is when simple entertainment translates into social detriment. Malay-Muslims need to stay away from such folks.

JAKIM, PAS, and Najib’s UMNO: They make us sick


March 26, 2016

JAKIM, PAS, and Najib’s UMNO: They make us sick

by Farouk A. Peru

There was a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read reports of the Brussels attacks. In 2013, I was feeling quite buoyant after a jog when the 6 o’clock news announced the shocking report of the Woolwich attacks.

Farouk A. Peru

Even though there was only one casualty, that attack was particularly vicious and the murderer actually spoke to a camera justifying his evil. That made me sick to my stomach. Naturally, the backlash against the Muslim community was brutal and severe.

The terror attacks in Brussels which have so far left 31 dead and scores more injured were not even confirmed as Jihadi attacks when I detected Islamophobic remarks on social media.

The world is already attuned to that mode of thinking. After all, Turkey suffered attacks only last week by what officials claimed to be ISIS. Who are these ISIS people? Does it even matter? We now have an “admission” from ISIS, behind the curtain of obfuscation and really, that’s all that’s needed.

The fact that they are claiming to be Islamic is already enough for Islamophobes to make Islam culpable and thus incriminate Muslims. In this climate of suspicion, even people who look like Muslims (read: racial features) have already been attacked!

No Change when we have idiots in Malaysia

I believe in being proactive though. Muslims are in the best position to prevent these attacks from happening simply because these terrorists are hiding in our midst. They could be our friends and family who have been radicalised or some mysterious stranger who suddenly appeared recently.

Whoever they are, we will encounter them more than any other people. After all, Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect of the Paris attacks late last year, hid for four months in his old hometown without being detected. He must have had some help. Hence, we are in the best position to recognise and prevent them from carrying out their heinous activities. The question is how?

The first thing I would recommend is keeping one’s eyes and ears open. Watch out for suspicious activities. Terrorist attacks, at least ones which meet their goals, are not the result of the lack of planning and haphazard execution. Much time and effort will need to be invested.

This is how we can detect the possibility of these attacks. In the movie Four Lions which satirises Islamic terrorism, the lead terrorist Omar had to go for training in Pakistan before he could be “authorised” for such an attack. Such an absence would be very obvious to those close to him.

This brings us to the next point ― recruitment. Thanks to the dark, shadowy anonymity of the internet, ISIS recruiters have managed to succeed in gaining recruits using social media. Reports have said that they even use attractive operatives to lure Muslims of the opposite sex through promises of marriage!

Of course, they also do so through direct propaganda. Malaysian ISIS recruiters probably also use the same method. One can easily find profiles in social media which echo ISIS sentiments. They may be fake ones, simply pranksters wasting people’s time or they may actually be ISIS recruiters.

In any case, I advise Muslims to block these profiles straight away. Deny the troll his oxygen and he will be done.

A Message from Mr. Trump–This is not the solution either

My final point is the prerequisite to making the first two points justifiable ― ideology. In my observation, Muslims are ill-equipped to handle ISIS rhetoric. This is because of two things. One, our traditional education system is not of a dialectical model. It shies away from dialogue and even attempts to repress it. JAKIM is a clear example of this policy. So when ISIS tells Muslims that Islam demands they join the Islamic State, they are unable to answer.

Secondly, conservative traditional Islam is still not willing to reform its tradition. Although we will find dozens of Muslims scholars and luminaries loudly condemning ISIS time and again, none of them will actually step up and reform the Islamic tradition.

The tradition has many narrations and interpretations of the Quran which echo the sentiments of ISIS. Unless these books are edited, Muslims will continue to be held hostage by them and worse still, think the Quran actually teaches this evil. The soul of our faith is at stake here.

To me, the greatest solution to these attacks and Islamophobia lies in social activism. A group of Muslims here in London aptly named the Children of Adam feed the homeless every Sunday. In doing so, they are simultaneous fulfilling the key tenet of Islam as well as showing the world what we’re really about.

The problem is, their numbers are about one hundredth of a typical Friday congregation. We do have a long way to go.

 

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

Wake Up America–Stop Propping up Saudi Arabia, the Sponsor of Islamic Extremism


March 24, 2016

US Foreign Policy:  Wake Up America–Stop Propping up Saudi Arabia,  the Sponsor of Islamic Extremism

http://www.washingtonpost.com

The roots of Islamist extremism in Belgium are deep and complex. In the wake of Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels, investigators are puzzling over the scope of the terrorist plot, in which bombs exploded in the capital’s main airport and on its busy metro, killing at least 31 people and injuring at least 270.

There has been criticism of Belgium’s security lapses and the dysfunctions dogging its multilingual police agencies. There is also focus on the country’s particular problem of radicalization: It has had a greater share of its population join radical groups fighting in Syria than any other country in Europe; a Muslim-majority neighborhood in Brussels appears to be at the heart of terrorist plots, including the Islamic State’s November assault on Paris.

A lot of ink has already been spilled on the complexity of the jihadist networks operating in Belgium, as well as the social factors — discrimination and alienation — luring some Belgian youths toward groups such as the Islamic State. It’s also worth considering, though, an older history.

Analysts point to the inroads made in Belgium by the more conservative, orthodox brand of Islam espoused by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is the consequence of actual policy. In 1978, the Saudi-backed Great Mosque of Brussels opened its doors; the elegant building and land where it sat had been a gift by Belgium’s then-king to his Saudi counterpart a decade prior.

It became the seat of Islamic activity in Belgium. A 2007 leaked U.S. diplomatic cable, published by the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, detailed how the Saudi Embassy in Brussels has continued to provide Korans to myriad mosques in the country and help pay for the upkeep of the structures. Saudi Arabia also invested in training the imams who would preach to a growing Muslim diaspora in European countries, including in Belgium.

Observers say the Salafist dogma of the Saudi-funded clerics active in many mosques in Belgium stood in contrast to the traditional beliefs of the mostly working-class Moroccan and Turkish immigrants who first arrived in the country in the 1960s and 1970s.

“The Moroccan community comes from mountainous regions and rift valleys, not the desert. They come from the Maliki school of Islam, and are a lot more tolerant and open than the Muslims from other regions like Saudi Arabia,” George Dallemagne, a Belgian politician, told the Independent last year. “However, many of them were re-Islamified by the Salafist clerics and teachers from the Great Mosque. Some Moroccans were even given scholarships to study in Medina, in Saudi Arabia.”

The majority of the Belgian nationals who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq are thought to be of Moroccan descent.

A separate WikiLeaks disclosure — this time of classified Saudi documents — found that in April 2012 the Belgian government quietly forced Saudi authorities to remove the main Director of the Great Mosque, Khalid Alabri, a Saudi Embassy employee suspected of propagating the intolerant Sunni radicalism that is shared by the extremists of the Islamic State.

“Today, in Brussels, 95 percent of the courses offered on Islam for Muslims are operated by young preachers trained in Saudi Arabia,” Michael Privot, Director of the Brussels-based European Network Against Racism, said in an interview with an Italian journalist. “There is a huge demand within Muslim communities to know about their religion, but most of the offer is filled by a very conservative Salafi type of Islam sponsored by Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries have been unable to offer grants to students on such a scale.”

Saudi Arabia is an avowed enemy of the Islamic State and has sought to rebuff criticism of its role in fomenting Sunni fundamentalist movements around the world. The current leadership of the Great Mosque in Brussels has rejected any link whatsoever to radical groups.

“Nobody like this [an Islamic State recruiter] can come here. I wouldn’t allow them to come to this place, and they understand my way,” Jamal Saleh Momenah, the director of the mosque, told EUObserver last year.

As WorldViews noted earlier, the recent wave of Belgian jihadists is specifically less ideological than previous generations of militants and more animated by social alienation and local criminal networks.

But the wider legacy of Saudi policies has been increasingly noticed and criticized, particularly in Europe.

“Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities,” Sigmar Gabriel, a leading German politician, said in December. An unusually blunt memo, circulated around the same time, from Germany’s chief intelligence agency attacked the Saudis for the supposedly destabilizing role they play in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Earlier this month, the Dutch government voted to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia, an act symbolic both of European frustration with the Saudis and anger at the kingdom’s continued, heavy-handed war effort in neighboring Yemen.

After the Brussels attacks this week, Saudi Arabia issued a strong condemnation of the violence.

“We learned with grief about the terrorist attacks that took place in Brussels which resulted in casualties and injuries,” King Salman said in a cable to his Belgian counterpart, King Philippe, adding that “we strongly condemn these criminal acts.” He continued: “We stress the importance of international efforts to confront and eliminate this dangerous scourge which is condemned by all divine religions and international norms and conventions.”

Read more

Has terrorism become the new normal in Europe?

At NATO headquarters, alert status raised just miles from attacks

Five stories you should read to understand the Brussels attacks

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.