Bersih 4.0 Update from freemalaysiatoday


August 29, 2015

Obama and Michelle Bersih 4.0

Best wishes from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC to all Malaysians at Bersih 4.0. The US President is montoring the situation closely from the East Wing. Let us show him and Michelle that we are a disciplined and peace-loving people who stand up for the Rule of Law, Freedom, Justice, and Democracy.–Din Merican

LIVE at Bersih 4: All peaceful around Dataran Merdeka

Stay tuned for updates on the Bersih 4 rally progressing in downtown Kuala Lumpur now.

UPDATED

5.12pm: Opposition leader Wan Azizah and her daughter Nurul Nuha are seeing leaving Dataran Merdeka and will return after the Maghrib prayers.

solat at Bersih 4.05.00pm: Muslim rally goers do not forget their religious obligations and perform the Solat Asar in front of the City Hall building.

4.58pm: Ambiga is seen leaving Dataran Merdeka and informs reporters she will be returning at 10pm tonight.

4.54pm: Speaking to rally goers, Ambiga said she misses the presence of PAS whose members were a no-show at the rally. She also says the main thing the government must do is “get rid of GST”.

ambiga4.50pm: What is believed to be a home-made bomb has exploded at Jalan Kinabalu. FMT Reporter Adam Abu Bakar, who was 30 metres away from the blast, said it was thrown from the flyover to the road below. There were no injuries.

4.44pm: City Hall officers have arrived to monitor and assist rally goers.

DBKL

4.36pm: With the skies turning cloudy, some rally goers are spotted leaving the scene. When asked why he was leaving, one man, who did not wish to be named, said he was headed back to Gombak.

pulang3 media pulang

4.21pm: Bersih 4 rally goers are seen sitting peacefully on the roads along Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja Laut. Earlier performers of the group BangsArt sang the song “Hidup Rakyat” (Long live the people) accompanied by drum beats.

Meanwhile Police presence at Dataran Merdeka is reported as being minimal. No FRU in sight.

4.20pm: Bersih 4.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah calls on MPs to table a motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister once Parliament reconvenes in October. She says this is the main message from Bersih 4 to the government apart from calling for institutional reforms.

4.05pm: The crowd from Menara Maybank is approaching Dataran Merdeka.

4.00pm: Crowds cheer as Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng approaches the Dataran Merdeka area. He addresses the crowd, criticising Prime Minister Najib Razak for the RM2.6 billion donation he received and the falling ringgit. He says with the GST, the poor have become even poorer. “Everything has gone up (in price). I believe when the country’s leaders see us gathering here today, they will not be able to sleep.”

He adds, “The ringgit has dropped so badly to the extent we can’t go anywhere, not even Thailand. That’s why we come to Dataran (Merdeka) because that’s the only place we can be.”Maria Chin Abdullah is also around the vicinity.

3.40pm: The crowd from Sogo arrives at Dataran Merdeka. There are reports that some people are leaving the rally grounds.

dataran ramai

3.32pm: GHB’s Mat Sabu arrives in Dataran Merdeka and tells Bersih 4 organisers to ensure rally goers do not enter Dataran Merdeka. He says the programme will start at 4.30pm when Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah arrives. He tells rally goers to sit down, be quiet and to get to know each other.

3.30pm: GHB’s Ahmad Awang addresses the crowd and says he hopes this will be the last time that there will be a Bersih 4 before the Opposition defeats UMNO-BN and takes over Putrajaya.

Meanwhile Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali says that will such a good turnout, he is confident that Prime Minister Najib Razak can be ousted from Putrajaya.

3.20pm: Some rally goers are sitting on the roads along Jalan Tun Perak, slowing down the march to Dataran Merdeka.

3.15pm: Crowds are swelling around Dataran Merdeka as they are joined by over 3,000 from Masjid Negara shouting “Bersih! Bersih! Hidup Rakyat!”.

Rally goers from Brickfields numbering 5,000 have arrived at Central Market.

3.01pm: The estimated crowd from Menara Maybank walking towards Dataran Merdeka is 20,000.

2.45pm: GHB’s chairman Mat Sabu, in a fiery speech outside Masjid Negara, says all Malaysians gathered today would do so peacefully for the next 34 hours. “We are here today to save the country, the people and to say no to corruption. Tomorrow at midnight we will all shout “Merdeka!”

mat-sabu2

2.35pm: The rally goers at Jalan Parlimen leading to Dataran Merdeka are told to sit down. Malaysiakini reports Bersih 2.0 secretariat member Shukri Razab as saying,”Ladies and gentlemen who gather in front of the barricades, please do not storm in as Bersih has made a promise (not to do so). And the police will also take care of our safety.” 

2.30pm: Rally goers start their march from Brickfields carrying a large banner that says “Tangkap Najib”.

tangkap-najib

2.25pm: The march from Menara Maybank to Dataran Merdeka has begun.

2.20pm: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng addressing the crowd at Menara Maybank says, “We gather here today not for power, positions or money. We gather here not for ourselves, but for our children.”

2.19pm: GHB’s Mat Sabu tells rally goers at Masjid Negara that their presence at Bersih 4 today is a clear indication of their desire for Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign.

mat-sabu

2.17pm: Wan Azizah addresses the crowd gathered in front of the Sogo Shopping Complex.

wan-azizah

2.15pm: Maria Chin Abdullah in her speech at Menara Maybank, says the march today is to demand the Prime Minister step down so that Malaysians will get a clean government. This was followed by a two-minute long cheer by the almost 8,000 rally goers gathered there.

Meanwhile Khalid Samad who spoke at the same venue commended rally goers for being brave enough to have come out and demand for the prime minister to step down. He said Malaysians were people of great dignity. Khalid also said he would support a vote of no confidence on the prime minister because he has embarrassed Malaysians. His speech was followed by shouts of “Bersih! Bersih! Bersih!”

2.10pm: MP for Kota Raja Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud from GHB who is at Masjid Jamek calls for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s resignation and says the people are tired of his leadership.


dr-Mariah

Ambiga meanwhile tells rally goers at Brickfields that the people want clean elections and a clean government, “Hidup Bersih Hidup Rakyat!” and proceeds to lead the march to the Central Market.

ambiga

2.00pm: DAP Parliamentary leader and MP for Gelang Patah Lim Kit Siang arrives at Masjid Negara while Opposition leader Wan Azizah and daughter Nurul Hana have arrived at Sogo Shopping Complex.

Number of rally goers at Central Market are approximately 4,000 at this point.

Lim-kitsiang

1.59pm: Former Bersih co-chair Ambiga Sreenevasan arrives at Brickfields.

1.50pm: Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah arrives at Central Market.

maria-chin

Activist Hishamuddin Rais and former MB of Perak Nizar Jamaluddin have just arrived in Brickfields to a cheering crowd. They crowd is anxiously awaiting for the nod to start marching. MP for Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar is expected to arrive at 2.30pm.

According to Malaysiakini, approximately 50 Malaysians have gathered at Suzhou in China to mark Bersih 4. They came wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirts and carrying the Jalur Gemilang.

1.30pm: Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad has been spotted at Menara Maybank.

A huge Bersih 4 bunting carried by three rally goers is spotted. A driver passing by has rolled down his window to shout “Bersih!” with others shouting in unison.

Crowd at Menara Maybank approximately 5,000 now after being joined by those from the Masjib Jamek area. Drivers of almost every vehicle passing by honks in support.Shouts of “Bersih!” dominate accompanied by sounds of the vuvuzela.

Apart from wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirts, some have painted their faces in yellow with the words Bersih 4 on it.

Lawyers for Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen and PKR’s Batu MP Tian Chua are spotted in front of the Sogo Shopping Mall.

1.16pm: Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad from GHB, who has been spotted, says supporters from Johor, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan are on the way to Kuala Lumpur.

The entrances to Dataran Merdeka are under tight police control by 200 personnel stationed there. Rally goers are steering clear of the area out of respect for Merdeka Day rehearsals taking place there. They have instead starting moving towards the Masjid Jamek area.

About 2,000 rally goers are now shouting “BERSIH!” non-stop.

bersih3

1.10pm: FMT reporters on the ground say the turnout today is peaceful overall with a mixed crowd of Malaysians showing up to participate in the Bersih 4 rally despite it being declared illegal by the authorities.

Every rally goer has also defied authorities by donning the yellow Bersih T-shirt that was declared illegal yesterday because it was an “undesirable item”.

Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB) leaders however have not been spotted yet leading their supporters.

12.50pm: About 2,000 people have gathered in front of the Sogo Shopping Mall and about the same number at Menara Maybank.

The crowd at Masjib Jamek that has gathered near the LRT station meanwhile has swelled to approximately 1,500.

bersih4 bersih5.

12.45pm: The Malaysian Insider reports that a petition to collect one million signatures for the release of former Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim from prison, has started circulating among rally goers in front of the Sogo Shopping Mall.

Nandos adds to the spice of the rally by distributing free drinks to Bersih 4 rally goers.

According to Malaysiakini, some of those present at the rally were seen holding creative cardboard banners saying “I ‘hv NO MONEY TO PRINT A BANNER. PLEASE DONATE RM2.6 BILLION TO ME!!”

Another says, “People will eat grass if Najib does not resign” while another was spotted carrying a canvas bag with the words, “My Prime Minister embarrasses me”.

12.40pm: Some rally goers making the most of their time downtown to buy lottery tickets for the weekend at Jalan Masjid Jamek.

IMG-20150829-WA0097

12.35pm: FMT reporters say the mood is generally of a festive nature.

12.30pm: Bersih’s Mandeep Singh and student activist Adam Adli are seen leading a big crowd towards Central Market, obstructing traffic.

FMT reporter Arfa Yunus says some rally goers are carrying sunflowers to signify the colour of Bersih 4.  She herself received one. Another reporter Yusoff Mohamed received a bottle of mineral water from a good-hearted rally goer.

PKR Secretary-General Rafizi Ramli is seen looking jovial and posing with a crowd of rally goers as they gesture showing the number 4 to reflect the Bersih 4 rally.

rafizi

12.20pm: Over 300 Bersih rally goers at Menara Maybank have begun to march towards Dataran Merdeka although their group leader Selangor MB Azmin Ali has yet to make an appearance. The others are seen still standing along the roadside of Jalan Pudu.

Meanwhile Police trucks have begun to arrive at Central Market where crowds have reached almost 1,000 in number.

12.15pm: Police trucks and buses begin to arrive at Menara Maybank. Police officers start to control traffic. The crowd has now swelled to close to 1,500.

12.00pm: Crowds at Menara Maybank numbering in the region of 1,200 await the arrival of Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali. Rally goers are waving the Jalur Gemilang as traffic shows significant signs of slowing down.

Over at Central Market, crowds of between 600-700 people begin to gather.

IMG-20150829-WA0076

11.51am: Malaysian Insider reports from Kota Kinabalu that rally goers have been spotted erecting tents for their overnight camp out at the Teluk Likas public park 2.

11.45am: About 1,000 people have gathered in front of Central Market clamouring for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak and calling for the release of jailed former Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

FMT reporter Arfa Yunus says it’s like Hari Raya celebrations down at Dataran Merdeka. Individuals without any affiliation to political parties or organisations are handing out drinking water to rally goers free of charge.

bersih6

bebaskan anwar

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11.30am: Crowds building up at the location of Central Market, Petaling Street, Masjid Negara, Sogo and Brickfields. People have also gathered at Menara Maybank where Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali will lead the rally.

Rally goers are seen waving the Malaysian flag and blaring the vuvuzela. Cars passing keep honking, showing their support for Bersih 4.

Malaysia political crisis poised for street showdown


August 29, 2015

BERSIH 4.0 :Malaysia Political Crisis poised for street showdown

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/78316de4-4d52-11e5-9b5d-89a026fda5c9.html#axzz3kBzkoQLS

FT Najib

Malaysia’s growing political crisis is on the brink of a showdown as tens of thousands of protesters prepare to pour on to the capital’s streets in an effort to topple Najib Razak, the scandal-hit prime minister.

The mass demonstration this weekend known as Bersih — or “clean” — is aimed at forcing the premier’s resignation, after it emerged that unexplained payments of almost $700m were made into bank accounts in his name.

The country’s anti-corruption commission has said the money was from unspecified Middle Eastern donors, rather than Malaysian state coffers. But critics claim the transactions are linked to huge debts run up by a state investment fund, whose troubles some see as emblematic of the misrule of the premier’s long-dominant United Malays National Organisation.

“There has to be some investigation and the result must be made public,” Maria Chin Abdullah, Bersih’s chairwoman, said of the payments. “[And] even if you got rid of Najib, this political system of corruption, draconian laws, using racial politics to divide us will continue.”

Lord of the Ringgit

Police have already sealed off areas of Kuala Lumpur ahead of a gathering the authorities have declared illegal. The organisers of Bersih 4.0 — three previous demonstrations have been held during political flashpoints of the past 10 years — are also organising protests in other cities across Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy.

Dr. Ooi Kee Beng, Deputy Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said: “This will probably be the biggest demonstration in Malaysian history. The sense of exasperation and helplessness is high in Malaysia right now, so the timing will encourage a huge turnout.”

The demonstration is the biggest popular challenge yet to Mr Najib’s rule of more than six years, which has extended the hegemony enjoyed by UMNO since Malaysia won independence from Britain 58 years ago on Monday. Security forces used tear gas and water cannon on protesters at a previous Bersih in 2012, the year before contentious elections in which the opposition won the popular vote but the UMNO-led coalition retained a parliamentary majority.

Mr Najib’s position has become more precarious as questions have arisen over how the 1Malaysia Development Berhad investment fund, whose advisory board he chairs, ran up debts of more than $11bn. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s still influential ex-premier, has called for Mr Najib to stand down.

Mr Najib insists he has done nothing wrong, but he has declined to offer a full explanation for the near-$700m money transfer. He was due to make a much-anticipated appearance at an international anti-corruption conference in Malaysia next week. The organisers’ website does not list him on the conference agenda, although a government spokesperson insisted the Premier still intended to speak as originally planned.

John Malott, a former US Ambassador to Malaysia, attacked the Prime Minister in a strongly worded column published on the Malaysiakini website this week, declaring that it was “game over for Najib Razak internationally”.

Mr Najib has attracted western leaders by casting Muslim-majority Malaysia as a moderate country committed to the fight against terrorism. He played golf with US President Barack Obama late last year and hosted a visit last month from David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, after evidence of the bank account payments surfaced.

Mr Malott said Mr Najib’s darker side had become increasingly apparent, as he had stifled opposition and become embroiled in questionable transactions. “There was always a gap between the real Najib . . . and the image people had of him,” Mr Malott said.

 

Going Rogue: Malaysia and the 1MDB Scandal


August 29, 2015

Bersih4We are Malaysians, so we must be who we say we are.–Din Merican

The respected, admired and well-regarded London School of Economics don, Dr. Danny Quah provides the rationale for Bersih 4.0. And here I quote his eloquent statement:

One of Britain’s greatest friends – a former colony that admired and reflected the grand British ideals of democracy, Rule of Law, free speech, and egalitarianism – has gone rogue…It does not take authoritarian autocracy to run a country into the ground. Regardless of the system of government, it takes only political elites out of touch with their people, a co-opted judiciary, an electoral process that even while open fails to surface progressive leadership, and a system that keeps to the law but fails to protect those speaking truth to power. Malaysia now has all of these sorry attributes.–Dr. Danny Quah

So go forth my fellow Malaysians at Bersih 4.0 and show the world that we want positive change and have the will to make Malaysia great again. We  must, we can, and we will succeed. All that is needed is the collective will to make it happen. We are Malaysians and proud to be Malaysians always, no matter where in this wide world we may be.–Din Merican

Going Rogue: Malaysia and the 1MDB Scandal

http://thediplomat.com/2015/08/going-rogue-malaysia-and-the-1mdb-scandal/

In 1971, more than forty years before the world would turn its attention to the so-called one percent and the problem of income inequality, Malaysia embarked on one of history’s boldest and most noble experiments to reduce social disparity. Malaysia’s New Economic Policy, or NEP, would seek to “eradicate poverty for all” and “eliminate identification of race by economic function and geographic location.” This polity that had achieved national independence just over a decade before, this country that was still a low-income emerging economy, was setting out to solve the massive problem of injustice and inequality over which other societies much more mature continued to struggle.

Malaysia was a democracy that hewed to the Rule of Law. The New Economic Policy (NEP) -1970-1990– would be Malaysia’s key political driver. Over the decades that followed, the NEP’s mantra would serve as a backdrop to almost all political discourse in the country. NEP-themed policies would, among much else, flesh out the concept of Bumiputera – an ethnic-driven formulation of native peoples in Malaysia.

Najib The SapumanMalaysia’s  most tainted Prime Minister 

It is difficult to grow an economy – look at train wrecks strewn around the world. But seeking to do so and at the same reduce ethnic- and rural-urban inequality, and maintain social harmony among diverse ethnic and religious groups is an order of magnitude more arduous. Malaysia succeeded: From tropical jungle, Malaysia has grown to have an average income now well above the world emerging-economy average. Its urban infrastructure and worker skills approach those in the first world. Malaysia’s top bankers, business people, and entrepreneurs are admired everywhere. NEP reduced pockets of extreme poverty and created a significant, thriving, and successful Bumiputera middle class – a group of professionals and intellectuals whose contributions to Malaysian society would be the pride of any country.

And, although from time to time patchily diverging from the ideal, throughout this history Malaysia worked hard to maintain its young democracy and its adherence to Rule of Law, and to support a healthy vigorous open sphere of public debate. Sensitive racial questions were out of bounds, but open questioning of the government was lively. Top government officials routinely had the judiciary rule against them. And a national identity emerged, one that combined the best aspects of local culture and an easy-going, open-minded cosmopolitanism developed from, among other things, the many Malaysians who have seen significant international experience. More so than when at home, Malaysians outside Malaysia saw each other for the warm and lively friends they genuinely were for one another, people who felt driven by a mission to make their country better.

Since his 2009 swearing-in, Malaysia’s current Prime Minister has sought to articulate an international vision for a “coalition of moderates.” As leader of a successful moderate Muslim country, he carried an authority and credibility sorely needed in global discourse. He was widely accepted in international circles, and even famously golfed with Barack Obama.

All this is now at risk.

However noble the goal of reducing social disparity, and however laudable the democracy, transparency, and Rule of Law to which Malaysia has desperately clung, this NEP half-century has seen the emergence of an increasingly hateful race-based narrative to Malaysia’s political and economic strategies. The Bumiputera concept has become conflated with questions of religion, and threatens the open society that Malaysia has built. That concept is now considered by many – both Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera alike – to hold back continued social development for the country. Significant Bumiputera and rural poverty remain. Ever more frequent accounts have appeared of government agencies intended to reduce Bumiputera poverty yet only enriching the elites of that group. A recent article by one of Malaysia’s most thoughtful interlocutors has had to ask:

Why after decades of rigorous development planning, 40% of Malaysian households earn only about RM1,847 a month? Why after more than four decades of the NEP, 75.5% of those at the bottom are Bumiputeras? Why in spite of the billions poured into education and boarding schools, 64.3% of the Bumiputera workforce have only SPM qualifications? Why some 90% of the unemployable university graduates are Bumiputras? Why of the $54 billion worth of shares pumped to Bumiputera individuals and institutions between 1984 and 2005, only $2 billion remained in Bumiputera hands today?

In March 2010 at an international investors’ conference, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced an urgent need for a revision to the NEP, towards a national development strategy more transparent, merit-driven, and market-friendly, and towards a new needs-based affirmative action. The Prime Minister had just won a resounding electoral victory; he had the backing of all Malaysians. (I am told by reliable sources that even Malaysia’s opposition MPs felt like standing up and cheering.)  But then elements within the Prime Minister’s political party mounted significant pushback, the moment passed, and he did not stay the course. Open democratic process has not kept in check the rise of extremists rallying together the Bumiputera grassroots, good people who have been told this time will be different, this time more of the same will help them, despite its having failed to do so these last 50 years.  Since 2010 no one has been able to recount significant action on that announcement.

A Malaysia of Cronies

All this is background. The practice continues to worsen in a Malaysia of cronies undermining good intentions and exploiting for self-interest the very instruments designed to help others. The latest most visible instance of this is 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, an investment fund set up to steward the nation’s resources. Elsewhere in the world, international scrutiny of sovereign wealth management vehicles has led to their applying the highest possible standards of financial probity; indeed, among the world’s most respected, successful, and scrupulously managed of those is Malaysia’s own Khazanah Nasional. By contrast, 1MDB has seen billions of dollars of public money moved around the world in suspicious circumstances, with allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were funneled into the prime minister’s personal bank accounts. (Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency has ruled that the money came from legitimate “donations,” without specifying who the donor was.) All of this has dragged down in the world’s eyes Malaysia’s otherwise globally esteemed financial infrastructure.

And the egregious actions continue: shutting down the press has become the next step in that escalation. In July 2015 Malaysian authorities blocked a website that had become a significant and honest whistleblower on high-level developments in Malaysia. That same month Malaysian authorities suspended The Edge newspaper for its reports on 1MDB. Criminal defamation litigation threatened by the prime minister against the Wall Street Journal on its 1MDB reporting turned into a fiasco of the most basic legal ineptitude. Towards the end of July Najib removed from Cabinet his own deputy prime minister, the government’s most significant and prominent voice to raise questions on 1MDB. While four different official Malaysian government investigations are underway, there has now been a sudden replacement of the attorney-general and chief prosecutor. The deputy public prosecutor and others involved in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission have been arrested. The Prime Minister moved four members of the 1MDB parliamentary committee into his cabinet, thereby shutting down all further proceedings even as the committee’s official report comes due. Opposition MPs have been prevented from leaving the country on their way to discussing 1MDB and the political crisis in Malaysia.

In all this turmoil, many of Malaysia’s most remarkable leaders and numerous ordinary people have spoken out on the need for the country to get back to its roots. The country again needs to have a government that runs for the well-being of its people. Malaysia’s current political leadership no longer articulates a vision that serves Malaysia’s people. Malaysia’s leadership is no longer one admired by and hopeful for others around the world.

One of Britain’s greatest friends – a former colony that admired and reflected the grand British ideals of democracy, Rule of Law, free speech, and egalitarianism – has gone rogue.

Gandhi quote

It does not take authoritarian autocracy to run a country into the ground. Regardless of the system of government, it takes only political elites out of touch with their people, a co-opted judiciary, an electoral process that even while open fails to surface progressive leadership, and a system that keeps to the law but fails to protect those speaking truth to power. Malaysia now has all of these sorry attributes.

Danny Quah is Professor of Economics and International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre at LSE. He had previously served on Malaysia’s National Economic Advisory Council, 2009-2011.

Malaysia is a perfect example of how not to build and run a nation


August 18, 2015

Yes, Mr. Pascal, Malaysia is a perfect example of how not to build and run a nation

by Joe Fernandez@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

The system has failed but political leaders and civil servants seem oblivious that the music has stopped for the game of musical chairs.

Moscow-based Investment Counselor Pascal Najadi has warned his former homeland in an emailed op-ed piece that while international confidence in Malaysia has plummeted, the powers-that-be are only worried about their own political survival, their offshore accounts and protecting their hoarded piles of cash unaccounted by the tax office. “The complete absence of leadership in such a situation is a novelty, arguably. We are observing the slow-motion crash of a nation, quite unique, especially in the case of Malaysia.”

pascal najadi2Keep Fighting for My Friend Hussain Najadi’s Justice

“Malaysia has a government that shines through by its absence and is confirmed defunct. The international community has totally lost respect and confidence in the Malaysian Government.”

What has been observed from afar, said Pascal, is a multilayered musical chair dance going on among the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, particular UMNO its main component. “The music has stopped weeks ago and the silence is deafening.”

Pascal, to those unfamiliar, is also the only child of murdered AmBank Founder Hussain Najadi. He wants to bring those who directed his father’s “politically-motivated killing” to justice.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, whose father and Second Prime Minister Abdul Razak was Hussain Najadi’s friend, has become his particular target through a faceBook campaign, #Justice for Hussain Najadi — AmBank Founder.

In an emailed brief Open Letter, adding to the op-ed, Pascal warned Najib that “your latest lie trying to make Malaysians believe that your AmBank Private Account credit in March 2013 of RM 2.6 billion was a donation by Saudi Arabia for the Malaysians fighting against the Islamic State (IS) was reckless and downright stupid”.

He pointed out that the US-led international coalition fighting against the IS started in the summer of 2014. “Malaysia has not been seen providing any troops,” said Pascal. “Your innuendo of changing dangerous state lies to the public and the world only makes things worse for you, your Cabinet, Umno, BN, and for all Malaysians. The ringgit and KLSE plunge continues. The bonds and markets plunge in Malaysia.”

“You should be ashamed in the face of God and yourself.” He reminded Najib that he has failed to address the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, the unexplained RM2.6 billion in his personal banking accounts at AmBank Islamic private banking services before the last General Election in 2013 and various other financial scandals. “The scandals are threatening the financial system with their huge debt overhang.”

Corruption2

Pascal, resuming his op-ed, said the epic political and economic meltdown of Malaysia will make perfect case studies for universities all over the world to ponder for decades to come. “Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz appeared in public, after weeks of absence, but only to put in a weak performance. She said nothing new except to express a determination to stay on.” She has failed to address and face the deep concerns on the part of international markets and partners in a time of crisis, he said.

“Malaysia is a perfect example of how not to build and run a nation, an example of absolute proof that a corruption-built and led sovereign society will ultimately fail,” he continued. “This also goes for a two-tier class citizen structure imposed by the government.”

“Apartheid, as a political and social system, failed terribly and was banned and criminalized under international law after it’s last official practitioner South Africa back in 1994.”

Moving forward, he said the time has to come to clean up and rebuild an ill-designed house and to let law and justice prevail through the front door so that all citizens, and foreigners in the country, can benefit from security as equals under the law.

“No one can be above the law,” said Pascal in a reference to Najib. “Those who break the law will have to face justice.” No VIP jets, no safe passage, but a protected escort into the courtroom to face justice, he summed up.

Malaysia: Unity Government?


August 12, 2015

Gotch Ya, Najib

Malaysia: Unity Government

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com/blog/malaysias-mahathir-razaleigh-teaming-up-to-sink-najib/

Malaysia’s deteriorating political situation has driven two once-implacable foes – former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his onetime rival for UMNO party leadership Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah – together to try to form a unity government to remove current Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“There is a leadership crisis in Malaysia and the consensus is that only one candidate can end it,” said a longtime friend of Razaleigh who played a role in setting up a meeting between the two figures. “That is Ku Li [Razaleigh’s nickname], the only solution. The question is how to put together the mechanics of how it is to be done.”

Sources in Kuala Lumpur say Najib has dug in his heels and refuses to entertain the idea of stepping down voluntarily. It is believed that he has threatened to bring down other politicians and officials with him if he is forced out.

Friends and associates of Razaleigh have been trying for weeks to persuade him to join the effort to oust Najib. But the fact that the former enemies within the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) would seek common cause is an indication of how deep Malaysia’s political and economic crisis has become.

Dr M and Ku LiCan they form Unity Government

Mahathir and Razaleigh met Tuesday, August 11, the source said, adding that the biggest hurdle with be forcing a vote of no-confidence in the parliament.

The two believe they would have unanimous support from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, which holds 89 of the 222 parliamentary seats although some Parti Islam se-Malaysia votes would be questionable after the fundamentalist Islamic party split earlier this year. Attempts to reach Pakatan officials were unsuccessful.

Parliamentary dysfunction

The ruling Barisan Nasional holds 132 seats, but UMNO has only 88 of them. A general election is not due until April 2018 – unless events overtake Najib’s defenses.

“The Parliament is dysfunctional in that the speaker [Pandikar Amin Mulia] is not a democratic speaker,” said the source, a constitutional lawyer. “He controls parliament on behalf of the ruling coalition instead of being a neutral speaker.   He won’t allow a vote of confidence on an incumbent Prime Minister who has lost the confidence of the people.”

However, with rank-and-file sentiment growing restive in the face of a financial scandal linking Najib to irregularities in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad investment fund, some of the component parties in the BN could be open to changing horses. The Malaysian Chinese Association, for instance, has grown disenchanted with UMNO’s increasing embrace of fundamentalist Islamic views and Malay-first rhetoric. Christian parties in East Malaysia could also be up for grabs.

How much real clout the two elderly politicians have is unknown. Although Razaleigh, 78, has retained his seat in Parliament, he has been out of a leadership position since 1987, when he challenged Mahathir for the premiership and lost in a battle that split UMNO and guaranteed their enmity. Mahathir, 90, remains a more potent force, but he has been attempting to bring down Najib for more than a year, largely without traction.

Declining fortunes

However, the economic situation may play as much of a role as politics in forcing the issue. Global Risk Insights, the international risk rating agency, warned on August 12 that the 1MDB scandal has “shattered business confidence in Malaysia” and that the government has been distracted as a result from dealing with economic issues like the impact of falling global oil prices on oil-dependent Malaysia’s government debt. Household debt is climbing.

The ringgit, having fallen through the psychologically important RM4:US$1 barrier, is one of the globe’s worst performing currencies. The raid on the currency from global traders appears to be picking up speed, with the ringgit weakening to RM4.25 to the US dollar before the central bank used enough reserves to drive it back down to RM4:03. Banks have begun to limit retail withdrawals to RM3,000 and currency traders say there is a shortage of foreign currencies as people seek safer havens in the dollar.

In the meantime, Najib may be losing his grip on UMNO. He still has the loyalty of a large number of the 191 divisional cadres, mostly through vast payments that provide them with electoral resources and jobs between elections, but the grass roots are another matter.

An extraordinary video went viral earlier this week, for example, of a young woman going postal on Najib during an UMNO women’s wing gathering in Langkawi, accusing Najib in a screeching voice of having “urinated on the 3 million UMNO members. He needs to be sent for medical treatment.” The video has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

Sleazy trail

BERSIH, the reform NGO, has ordered what it hopes will be a massive rally for August 29. Mahathir is urging people to attend and has suggested they bring water bottles to mop up the tear gas. The Police have threatened to block the rally.

The focal point of the whole mess is 1MDB, which was set up as a state-backed investment fund in 2009 with the advice of Jho Taek Low, the young Penang-born tycoon and friend of the Najib family. In the intervening years, the fund, as a result of what appears to be extraordinarily bad management, has run up debts that by some estimates have reached RM50 billion, an unknown amount of that unfunded.

Najib in anxiety

In early July, the Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal reported that US$680 million was transferred from unknown sources through a complex web of transactions to Najib’s personal bank account at AmBank in Kuala Lumpur prior to the 2013 general election. Sarawak Report has released graphic details on the flow of millions of ringgit through banks, companies and government agencies linked to 1MDB into accounts held by Jho Low, as he is known, and other accounts.

Najib has said the money was not for his personal use, leaving others to hint that it came from Middle Eastern sources to be used in the 2013 election. But sources have told Asia Sentinel that at least RM1billion flowed out from Najib’s accounts overseas. Neither the source of the money nor its final destination is clear. Certainly, given the relatively small amounts needed to fund electoral races in Malaysia, it would seem impossible to spend such a huge amount

On his blog, Che Det, Mahathir ridiculed the idea that the money came from unknown Arab sources, saying “his claim that Arabs donated billions is what people describe as hogwash or bullshit. Certainly I don’t believe it and neither can the majority of Malaysians if we go by the comments on the social media. The world had a good laugh.”

 

Malaysia: Grave concerns among academicians, intellectuals (G-87)


August 10, 2015

Comment: It started with G25, followed by G33 (and God knows what else that joined the herd)din-merican-and-dr-kamsiah1  and now G87.  My wife, Dr. Kamsiah and I were signatories to the G33 statement.  On this, I was approached a few days ago via email by my respected young academic-civil society activist  and friend at the University of Malaya . Having read it, I informed him that the statement was a weak one. So, I politely declined.

I wanted a very strong message to the Prime Minister. For example,  I expected the statement  to ask for his resignation, and not repeat the political opposition’s suggestion that Najib Razak should go on leave to enable investigators to work without  interference from the Prime Minister’s Office or be intimidated by his presence in the country. In his reply, the academic told me   that if the statement was tough, nobody would sign it.

In my view, the 4-member Task Force has almost completed its work. The PAC is also getting close to getting at the truth behind the 1MDB scandal based on the Auditor-General’s Interim Report and other documents at its disposal. When it became too uncomfortable as the noose was tightening, the Prime Minister reacted swiftly with the Cabinet reshuffle which saw the removal of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for daring to speak up, the illegal sacking of the Attorney-General,  the harassment of the Governor,  Bank Negara Malaysia and her staff, and the dismemberment of  the MACC team which was  investigating the SRI-1MBD link and the rm2.6 billion “donation” that went into the Prime Minister’s personal bank account.

Calling the Prime Minister to “come clean” is utter waste time and effort.  We know he will not. If so, why call him to account for all  the shenanigans in 1MDB and his administration. It will be asking him to commit political suicide.

The G87 statement  cannot be taken seriously. It will not change the Prime Minister’s DNA. In stead they should reflect on what an intellectual is. He is somene who has the courage to speak the truth, no matter how inconvenient, to power.  And I quote Edward W Said as follows to let you decide  if G87 fits the bill:

 “The intellectual is an individual endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for, a public. And this role has an edge to it, and cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d’etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.”― Edward W. Said, Representations of the Intellectual

In stead, these academics and intellectuals should get off their high horses and join the forthcoming BERSIH 2015 Merdeka rally. Please get out of your comfort zone and do something more substantial and meaningful. –Din Merican

Malaysia: Grave concerns among academicians, intellectuals (G-87)

http://www.malaysiakini.com

najib-and-muhyiddin-new-cabinet-300x168Muhyiddin and his ex-Boss

We, the undersigned, note with grave concern the allegations of financial abuse and corruption against 1MDB. We note that these allegations are directed at various forms of wrongdoing and have been raised by multiple sources, some of which have made public numerous documents to substantiate their claims.

We also note with increasing alarm that various individuals entrusted with the responsibility to investigate these allegations of wrongdoing, in particular the officials at the MACC, have now become the targets of harassment and a probable witch hunt.

Other incidents of significant concern include the sudden replacement of the Attorney-General, barely a few months before he was supposed to retire, and the abrupt dismissal of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The ensuing reshuffling of the cabinet has led to the paralysis of the Public Accounts Committee that was investigating 1MDB, further damaging the credibility of the multi-pronged investigation authorised by the Prime Minister himself.

Apart from these criminal allegations, we also note with alarm how 1MDB is currently burdened with a huge debt. Finance Minister II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah has estimated the amount of annual loan interests serviced by 1MDB as between RM2.4 billion and RM2.7 billion.

Millions of ringgit in daily interest repayment!

This means that its daily interest repayment amounts to millions of ringgit! The government owes the people a clear explanation as to how a state-owned company using public funds has come to incur such an astronomical debt, which continues to drain the wealth of our nation. The government must investigate and reveal those responsible for such gross mismanagement.

The issuance of a mere statement thus far, based on the Auditor-General’s Report that there has been no wrongdoing, is clearly unsatisfactory from the point of view of transparency and accountability.  It is equally a matter of public concern that, even though a denial of any wrongdoing has been issued by the Prime Minister, it has been officially revealed that there was a deposit of nearly US$700 million into his personal bank account and he, somehow, does not see the need to justify or provide further details about this massive amount.

We wish to state that, short of coming clean about the problems 1MDB is saddled with, no amount of counter-allegations of conspiracy to oust the prime minister from his office will be able to clear the air and the names of those involved.

We therefore urge:

1    The Prime Minister to go on leave, temporarily,  pending the investigation by the various agencies to ensure the credibility and integrity of these investigations;

2    The government and law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint and discernment and desist from carrying out repressive actions that could be construed as attempts at obstructing investigations and muzzling freedom of the press;

3    The government to make public all interim or preliminary reports produced by various agencies investigating 1MDB; and

4    For all persons exercising functions of public office and involved in the investigation to do so with impartiality and integrity.

We strongly urge the relevant authorities not to ignore the wide-ranging international and domestic implications and consequences – both in the short and long term – of a failure to address the serious allegations of corruption that arise from this series of events.

We believe the aggressive police interference with the work of the MACC, ostensibly to investigate  an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government, will have a huge negative impact on Malaysia’s international anti-corruption reputation, and affect bilateral and multilateral foreign relationships in transborder anti-crime cooperation efforts.

The total disregard towards openness and transparency may deter and dissuade further foreign direct investment into Malaysia, and any resultant capital flight will seriously jeopardise the international financial rating and reputation of Malaysia. The government must be advised, and act, accordingly.


This note is signed by 87 people, ranging from students to academicians, researchers, people in various professions, social activists and retirees. It was coordinated Professor of Media and Communication Studies Rom Nain and Associate Professor Dr Helen Ting.