August 4, 2017
1MDB is in default
Our 1MDB bonds have become junk. Why Ministry of Finance cannot pay? No Money. Maybe. Najib must explain.–Din Merican
August 4, 2017
Our 1MDB bonds have become junk. Why Ministry of Finance cannot pay? No Money. Maybe. Najib must explain.–Din Merican
August 4, 2017
by John Berthelsen
Altantuya Shaariibuu– A Mongolian model who was blown to bits. I met her dad Dr. Stev in Bangsar with Raja Petra Kamaruddin a few years ago. Pete was charged under ISA by the UMNO regime for his article “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to Hell” (April 25, 2009). –Din Merican
Although Abdul Razak Baginda, the central figure in what was previously Malaysia’s most notorious scandal, has been charged with “active and passive complicity in corruption” by French prosecutors, according to Agence France Press on Aug. 1, it is unlikely that they are going to catch up with him anytime soon.
Razak remains in Malaysia, a close friend of Prime Minister Najib Razak, with extradiction doubtful since the premier himself also figures in a case involving a €114 million bribe to the United Malays National Organization for the purchase of French submarines. It is a case that involves political corruption, murder, sex and allegations that reach high up into both the Malaysian and French governments. Neither Najib nor Razak Baginda is likely to go touring in France anytime soon.
Dr. Razak Baginda–A close associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak
In addition to Razak Baginda, four former Thales International Asia officials have been indicted, including one in December 2015 by a French court for allegedly bribing Najib himself, according to a January 2016 AFP story quoting French judicial sources. The matter seemed to have been stalled after that report although the case has been under investigation for seven years.
Case in 1MDB’s shadow
The affair has since paled in Malaysia in the shadow of the massive 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal, in which US$5.4 billion disappeared from a state-backed investment fund through looting and mismanagement that has spurred investigations in half a dozen countries across the world. US prosecutors have alleged that anywhere from US$681 million to US$1 billion disappeared out of 1MDB into Najib’s pockets, part of it to be used to buy a vast store of real estate, paintings and other assets in the United States, which alerted the US Justice Department’s kleptocracy unit to name him a “Public Official 1” and to seize millions of dollars’ worth of assets.
The two cases have given Malaysia an international black eye but have done nothing yet to bring Najib down as prime minister. He remains insulated from defenestration through the payment of fulsome contributions to the top UMNO cadres who might be tempted to oust him. Although the opposition has unified in recent months under the unlikely leadership of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the betting is that, insulated by gerrymandering, religious xenophobia, political repression and a kept press, he won’t be ousted in the next election, which must be called before mid-2018.
“Apparently after (the opposition Pakatan Harapan) sorted out leadership issues in their coalition, they have been gaining a lot of traction,” said a well-wired political observer in Kuala Lumpur. “The tragedy for Malaysia is that their comeback kid is 92 years old and his “successor” (imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim) is in jail.”
As Asia Sentinel reported in a prize-winning series in 2012, a two-decade campaign by DCN and its subsidiaries to sell submarines to Malaysia and other countries resulted in a tangle of blackmail, influence peddling and misuse of corporate assets that took place with the knowledge of top French officials including then-foreign Minister Alain Juppe and with the consent of Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister. The case has had far wider implications, stretching from South America to Pakistan to India to Taiwan and other countries and featuring a series of unexplained deaths as DCN sought to peddle its weapons.
At the center of the Malaysia case were Razak Baginda and Najib, then on a vast weapons acquisition spree as Minister of Defense, buying fighter jets, patrol boats and armored weapons. The ministry spent US$2 billion for Scorpene submarines manufactured by Thales. A store of documents from French prosecutors made available to Asia Sentinel presented a damning indictment that showed Najib’s goal was to steer the kickbacks to UMNO through a private company called Perimekar Sdn Bhd. whose principal shareholder was Razak Baginda’s wife Masjaliza.
Another €36 million was directed to Terasasi Hong Kong Ltd., whose principal officers were listed as Razak Baginda and his father. The company only existed as a name on a wall in a Hong Kong accounting office. At the time Razak Baginda was then the highly respected head of a Malaysian think tank called Malaysian Strategic Research, which was connected with UMNO.
DCN paid for lovers’ Macau tryst
Among the documents was one that showed a DCN confederate sent Razak Baginda on a jaunt to Macau with his then-girlfriend, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian national and international party girl who was later murdered by two of Najib’s bodyguards. Altantuya was said to have also been a lover of Najib before he passed her to his best chum although Najib said he would deny knowing her by swearing on the Quran.
During negotiations at the end of the submarine contract, Altantuya was employed as a translator, according to the documents, although it is questionable how effective her language skills really were. In any case, after a whirlwind tour of Europe in his Ferrari, Razak Baginda apparently tired of Altantuya and jilted her, impelling her to fly to Kuala Lumpur to demand US$500,000 in what she described as blackmail in a letter found in her hotel room after her murder.
Altantuya was grabbed on Oct. 19, 2006 from in front of Razak Baginda’s home by Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, members of an elite police unit responsible as bodyguards for Najib, and was dragged into a car and driven to a forested spot outside the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam, where she was knocked unconscious and shot twice in the head. The two then wrapped her body in C4 plastic explosive and blew her up, supposedly to destroy the fetus she was carrying.
Detailed confession not allowed in court
What a ghastly murder of a Mongolian Model
Sirul gave a detailed confession to a fellow police officer in which he described in chilling fashion how the two had killed the woman, who begged for the life of her unborn child. Although Sirul had been read his rights, inexplicably the confession was never introduced in the lengthy trial that followed. At the conclusion of the trial, as he was being sentenced, Sirul broke into tears, telling the judge that he was the “black sheep who has been sacrificed to protect unnamed people.”
Although Razak Baginda was quoted in his own statement to police following the discovery of the murder as saying he had asked one of Najib’s aides to “do something” about the woman, who was harassing him, he was excused without the need to present evidence, The aide was never called to testify, nor were a long string of other Malaysian officials with connections to the case.
Ultimately, Azilah and Sirul were sentenced to death. However, the two have never been executed, Sirul, released temporarily on appeal, made tracks for Australia, where he was later detained. He remains there today after having implicated Najib in the murder and then retracted the allegation. Mahathir has repeatedly called vainly for the case to be reopened. Nonetheless, it remains one of Malaysia’s biggest scandals, and is likely to remain so unless a new election sweeps out UMNO and its lieutenants.
June 18, 2017
Prime Minister (To be Elected) Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Deputy Lim Kit Siang!–A Case of counting chickens before they are hatched
It is disheartening to note that the opposition parties are now fighting who among their respective leaders would become the Prime Minister (PM) should they win the coming general election.
Rightly or wrongly, the position of the PM has become the most important “institution” in the country today. Years of power consolidation and concentration has made this position very invincible and powerful. Hence, the endless tussle for it, even though winning the election is by no means certain yet.
I think it is time for the opposition coalition to look at the position of the PM differently.
Hanuman (Warrior-Protector) of PM Najib Razak
Right now the PM is all powerful because all the “actors” as provided for in our constitution have not played their rightful role.Instead of fighting for the post, the opposition coalition should be looking at the powers and jurisdiction of the PM within the confines of the constitution.
In other words, they shouldn’t be just looking at the powers of the PM as they exist today. They should “reconstruct” the PM the way they want the person to be. Please let me elaborate.
First, the opposition coalition must look at important positions as provided for in the constitution other than that of the PM. Second, they should share these important positions fairly among the coalition partners to ensure checks and balance.
If important positions are fairly distributed among coalition partners, it will automatically circumscribe the powers of the PM.
The idea is really to prevent abuse or the arbitrary exercise of power. To begin with, all MPs from each coalition partner must play their respective roles jealously and dutifully. The executive branch headed by the PM has become too powerful because the legislature has more or less abdicated its power. An assertive legislature would send different signals to the executive branch.
Similarly, we can look at other important positions to ensure check and balance. For example, if the PM is from PPBM, the finance and home affairs ministers should be from other coalition partners. The same goes for the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.
I believe it is easier to agree on the post of PM if the coalition partners first work out other important positions in the government. The overarching principle is to ensure power sharing and fair play.
Don’t fight over the post of PM; fight for a PM who can only exercise power within the confines of the constitution.
T K Chua is an FMT reader.
April 5, 2017
When R Nadeswaran, the former editor of Special and Investigative Reporting at theSun, retired last December, it was not because he had called it a day, or wanted to potter around in the garden, tending to his prized orchids.
He had a bigger mission at hand, and that was to focus on, and publish his second book, called ‘Curi-Curi Malaysia’.
My friend and Fellow Malaysian, R Nadeswaran (Citizen Nades) is on a mission larger than himself. A pioneer investigative reporter, he is fearless and relentless in his pursuit of truth, but he is responsible and balanced in his expose. I admire and respect Citizen Nades for his dedication to civic duty.
Launched in January 2017, ‘Curi-Curi Malaysia’ is self-published, and as Nades points out, is not an autobiography, which he claims he has no desire to write. Nor is it a compilation of his articles, which after a distinguished career spanning over 45 years, would probably fill several volumes, like the Encyclopædia Britannica.
No! ‘Curi-Curi Malaysia’ describes the hours of hard work done by him and his team of investigative journalists. More often than not, the work would have been shared with his former partner of many years, Terence Fernandez.
People may recognise Citizen Nades as the man who broke the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) story, or the reporter with the dogged determination to prevent the culprits in the PKFZ scandal from escaping scot-free (they did, as the recent court case in March showed!).
It will come as no surprise to many Malaysians, that there are other scandals, some we know about, and many of which we are unaware.
‘Curi-Curi Malaysia’ represents the tip of this iceberg. Nades covers only the stories for which he has expert knowledge. For that reason, he avoids sensitive topics, such as religious issues, in which, he readily admits, that he is not an expert, and religious interpretations are needed.
Many people who read about an exposé in a newspaper do not realise the months of work, the money spent and dedication needed to produce a one-page-long article. They do not know about the threats to the reporters, the unanswered calls, the emails which are ignored, the sleepless nights or the frustration of trying to get a straight response from a corrupt politician who is avoiding a straight answer.
Nor would the reader know about the angst of having to deal with a civil servant who is petrified of telling the truth, for fear of losing his job.
Work of journalists more challenging and frustrating
Equally important, says Nades, is having an editor, or a newspaper owner, who allows free rein over the piece, so that he, as a responsible journalist, need not look over his shoulder all the time.
In today’s climate, with newspaper ownership in the hands of the powerful, who have strong links to the ruling politicians, Nades knows that the work of many journalists is more challenging and frustrating than ever.
Nades, once referred to as “the scariest man in Malaysia”, is also a reporter of whom the politicians are wary. If an email from Nades were to land on the desk of a junior member of a government department, it would soon find its way to the minister. An example of a minister who is micro-managing, perhaps?
Ministers and civil servants treat Nades with kid gloves. One wrong slip and he may have a major story on his hands.
In the northern hemisphere, spring is in the air, and in England, the Chelsea Flower Show (CFS) will be open to the public and the Queen. In 2011, Tourism Malaysia tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the horticultural world.
As Nades pointed out, Tourism Malaysia opened a tender exercise, in which people were invited to pay for tender documents, despite having already awarded the contract to represent Malaysia at the prestigious show.
Nades was most interested in transparency and accountability, but it is doubtful if the respective Malaysian departments were willing to help him.
He managed to expose the cheating, and exorbitant expenses claimed by Malaysian officials, who stayed in London, to attend the CFS. More importantly, he discovered the Malaysian CFS garden exhibit did not have any Malaysian plant species, because quarantine laws had to be respected.
In fact, the award-winning Malaysian garden contained plants which, although native to Malaysia, were sourced and cultivated in Holland. Another wayang!
Ng Yen Yen–Ex Tourism
The behind-the-scenes exchanges, of many other eye-watering cases of abuse of the Malaysian taxpayers’ money are highlighted in ‘Curi-Curi Malaysia’, the book that has taken Nades on a personal quest, throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Australia, England and Europe.
Former Minister of Tourism Azalina Othman Said before she became Macho Minister in Najib Razak’s Cabinet (pic below)
These scandals include the Awana Chelsea restaurant, the Brickendonbury sports centre, jet-setting VIP wives, the Paya Indah Wetlands, the palatial mansion in Port Klang and ministers Ng Yen Yen and Azalina Othman Said (both were Tourism Ministers).
At his book launch, Nades reminded his audience to make others aware of the controversies, the corruption and the injustice. He told us to do the right thing in GE-14. So, grab a copy, before ‘Curi-Curi Malaysia’ is banned.
February 9, 2017
by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com
Tan Sri Syed Azman, Malaysia’s AP King
At 2:30 a.m. one day in mid-November, after the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States, the telephone rang in the official residence of Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia.
Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor answered the telephone. On the other end was businessman Syed Azman of Weststar Group, a sprawling Malaysia-based conglomerate with interests in cars, aviation, construction, defense and engineering. Azman’s 40 helicopters shuttle people and goods to offshore oil platforms.
Known as the “AP king” for his ability to acquire scarce government-issued Approved Permits to import luxury cars into Malaysia, Azman, a Tan Sri – one of the highest of Malaysia’s arcane honorifics – had good news. The President-elect wanted to talk to her husband and told him to call two hours later, at 4:30 a.m. Azman arranged the call between Najib and Trump.
Azman is not just a rich Malaysian businessman. He knows Donald Trump relatively well and, according to a public statement by Rosmah, plays golf with the President, a real estate tycoon before his election. Some years ago Azman bought two of Trump’s ornate branded jets for use by his own businesses. During the presidential campaign, he re-loaned one of the jets back for use by Trump’s aides. It was repainted in the Trump livery and used during the campaign, a source in Kuala Lumpur told Asia Sentinel.
A Fleet of Helicopters owned by Weststar Group
An email to White House press representative Michael C. Short, asking for details of the conversation, went unanswered. But a thrilled Rosmah, in a video recording released on Nov. 28 from a public function she had attended, described the call, saying Najib called Trump at the fixed time, and Trump answered himself. Rosmah said Trump and her husband discussed various things, and that the US President-Elect commended Malaysia’s economic growth rate. Trump, she added, also asked Najib when the latter planned to visit the US, to which the prime minister replied, “Wait until you settle in and I will come. I would like to discuss a few things with you.”
Apparently Trump’s famed “extreme vetting” of Muslims didn’t extend to Najib. The Malaysian Premier is the subject of an investigation by the US Justice Department’s kleptocracy unit (part of its Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section) for the theft of up to US$1 billion from the Malaysian government-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. investment fund.
Barack Obama’s beleaguered Golf Buddy –Malaysia’s Najib Razak
Earlier, during the administration of Barack Obama, Najib was a presidential favorite under the perception that he was a moderate Muslim leader and a regional powerhouse. The Malaysian Prime Minister was invited to play golf in Hawaii with Obama before word filtered up about the fact that he was involved in what appears to be the biggest scandal in Malaysian history. That ended Najib’s cozy relationship with the then President.
Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” for Muslims: Najib Exempt?In addition to the theft, at least two people have died violently in acts tied to Najib’s administration.
In October 2006, a Mongolian translator and international party girl, Altantuya Shaaribuu, was shot in the head twice and her body was blown up with military explosives in a patch of jungle outside of Kuala Lumpur by two of Najib’s bodyguards. She had played a minor role in the purchase of French submarines by the Malaysian government when Najib was defense minister. French officials have charged that €114 million (now US$123 million) in bribes was channeled through Najib to the United Malays National Organization and another €36 million went into a mysterious company in Hong Kong that was established by Najib’s best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, who was instrumental in the submarine transaction.
In the other incident, Anthony Kevin Morais, a prosecutor for Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission who was investigating the 1MDB scandal disappeared in November of 2015. His body was later found encased in cement in an oil drum that had been rolled into a river outside Kuala Lumpur. His brother, Charles Morais, an Atlanta businessman, later charged that Kevin Morais had been investigating Najib and his wife when he disappeared. Kevin Morais was believed to be channeling vital information about the scandal to the Sarawak Report, which has been instrumental in uncovering the details.
A half-dozen global jurisdictions including Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom and others are awaiting the continuing US investigation, which involves allegations of the theft of at least US$2.5 billion and perhaps as much as US$4 billion from 1MDB, which was so disastrously overseen that it is believed to have lost as much as US$11.3 billion through theft and mismanagement.
Like President Trump, flamboyant Jho Taek Low was educated at The Wharton School of Finance, The University of Pennsylvania
Steered by a flamboyant young friend of the Najib family named Jho Taek Low, an unknown amount of that money allegedly went to finance Red Granite Pictures, the Hollywood entity that produced the blockbuster movie “Wolf of Wall Street.” Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son by a previous marriage, was a co-producer of the picture. Considerably more has ended up in California and New York, in real estate owned by nominees, particularly Jho Low, as he is known, who are believed to represent the Najib family.
Najib’s Next Golfing Buddy?–Trump, however, cannot intercede on his behalf on 1MDB
In July 2016 US Federal prosecutors issued a 136-page document alleging that “over the course of an approximately four year period, between approximately 2009 and at least 2013, multiple individuals, including public officials and their associates, conspired to fraudulently divert billions of dollars from 1MDB through various means, including by defrauding foreign banks and by sending foreign wire communications in furtherance of the scheme, and thereafter, to launder the proceeds of that criminal conduct, including and through US financial institutions.
“The funds diverted from 1MDB were used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associates, including to purchase luxury real estate in the United States, pay gambling expenses in Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than US$100 million in artwork, invest in a major New York development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films. 1MDB maintained no interest in these assets and saw no returns on these investments.”
As is customary, the US Justice Department had no comment on the progress of its continuing investigation into assets believed to have been stolen by the family or their associates.
Despite that, Najib and his cronies in the United Malays National Organization (UMNO0, the country’s biggest political party, have insulated themselves from the loss of leadership of the country primarily by bribing the 190-odd cadres who determine the leadership of UMNO to keep him in power. UMNO leadership confers automatic status as Prime Minister.
The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Sarawak Report, Asia Sentinel and other publications have provided voluminous proof that Najib allegedly diverted at least US$681 million – he has acknowledged the deposit in his personal accounts in Kuala Lumpur but given no reason for the deposit. Other sources have put the amount as high as US$1 billion.
“Come over with your family, we can have lunch or dinner,” Trump told Najib in the phone call, according to Rosmah. It remains to be seen if the invitation will continue to be extended.