What a Shame, Fellow Malaysians


August 6, 2015

What a Shame, Fellow Malaysians

We should be in shame but we are not. The majority of us can beDin MericanX bought by Najib using state money for a piddly sum of RM500, for which we told to be grateful to an openly corrupt Prime Minister. Are we that cheap? Obviously, some of us are, especially UMNO members and supporters with their leaders taking a big share of the loot.

Public servants are being harassed by the men in Blue Black uniforms led by a fawning Inspector-General of Police for doing their duty. Yet we have not a word from the Chief Secretary of the Government.

KOTA KINABALU 03 Disember 2014. Ketua Setiausaha Negara, Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa (dua dari kiri) menunjukkan buku laporan pada sesi pembentangan Laporan Suruhanjaya Siasatan Pendatang Asing di Sabah di Kota Kinabalu. NSTP/Malai Rosmah Tuah

Chief Secretary to Malaysian Government

One would have expected a certain Ali Hamsa to stand up for the public service and take a tough stand on harassment by the Royal Malaysian Police of MACC officials. In stead,  Mr. Hamsa becomes a stooge of the corrupt Najib. He was the man who delivered a message to Attorney-General Gani Patail  to the effect that the latter has been fired, in total disregard of Article 145  of the Malaysian Constitution.

The Governor, Dr Zeti Aziz of Bank Negara Malaysia, too is being dragged into the mud,  and her staff are accused of leaking vital information on Najib’s personal banks accounts (and Rosmah Mansor’s as well).

Politicians like my MP Tony Pua (DAP) and my young and brave friend MP Rafizi Ramli (PKR) were summoned to Bukit Aman for questioning and  the former had his passport taken away from him. For attempting to get to the bottom of  the 1MDB scandal and the RM2.6 billion Najib heist of  state funds, they and our public officials were treated  like common criminals.

Rahman-Dahlan-Clare-Rewcastle-Brown

Even activist Clare Rewcastle Brown was not spared from being hounded by our Police for her Sarawak Report revelations on 1MBD and the Najib bank accounts. On attempts by our authorities to have her extradited to Malaysia, she  has this to say:

I have been asked for response on this latest move by the Malaysian authorities to attempt to extradite me by issuing a warrant for my arrest, which they say they will pass to Interpol.

My first comment is that this action could hardly be more counter-productive on the part of a government that is seeking to assure the world that it is a sane democracy.

My action has been to publish information, which some in power do not like. Yet, the ‘crime’ they are accusing me of is of “an activity detrimental to democracy”. It is they who are being detrimental to democracy by suppressing free speech and arresting people for questioning people in authority.

I am still unclear whether the agents of the Prime Minister are accusing me of “forging false documents” or obtaining documents through “criminal leakages”, since they have simultaneously accused me of both in the past few days and have been rounding up all sorts of senior investigators who try and find out who might have passed me such leaks.

They need to make up their minds about this before they bring their charges and they really ought to produce some substantive and convincing evidence of their other accusation that I am part of some international plot intent on falsely accusing the Prime Minister of crimes for reasons unknown.

I am merely an investigative journalist who has been doing my job, by unraveling one hell of an international scandal involving people in high places and the grand larceny of public monies.

It’s as simple as that – no plot and no vested interest. The interest of the public is my motivation and duty. Conversely, the public are at liberty to reach their own conclusions over what has motivated the recent actions of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, who has spent the past few days, sacking, removing and arresting just about anybody who has been officially engaged in investigating the scandal I have been reporting on – the missing billions from 1MDB. Moreover, he has not just attacked my blog and myself, but other reputable news organisations, closing down two papers in Malaysia.

If the Prime Minister had nothing to hide in this matter and if my reports were false there would be numerous more orthodox and far less disruptive methods of dealing with me than sacking his Deputy Prime Minister; sacking the A-G; closing down the PAC and dismissing members of his cabinet. He could simply have issued libel proceedings or he could have produced evidence (e.g. correct bank statements and transfer documents) that would have shown my reports to be untrue.”

Clare has more guts than Hamsa Ali and all the top civil servants put together.

Our credibility is at an all time low, so low that even families of MH37o air crash who lost their loved ones, especially those in China, refused to accept  the statement that “Malaysia Airlines would like to sincerely convey our deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers on board Flight MH370 on the news that the flaperon found on Reunion Island on July 29 is indeed from Flight MH370”. Why? We have been lying and cheating too often. –Din Merican

Malaysia: A Nation devoid of Ethics and Decency

by Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: Several years ago, a ‘pakcik’ at a stall near my house pointed to the news flashes on Buletin Utama while talking with me, and asked: “See what kind of values we are passing on to our next generation!”

Obama-David-Julia-Najib

He was referring to how, during the lead-up to the last general election, a group of politically-motivated individuals were tearing up some posters in front of the television camera. That was during the heat of the general election.

Today, I am seeing a different set of problems. Based on the latest statements by the special operations division director of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), Bahri Mohamad Zain, it appears to me that we are fast descending into becoming a nation that no longer knows how to differentiate white from the black and right from wrong.

What is happening?

Bahri’s (photo) team was working round-the-clock to investigate SRC International Sdn Bhd “day and night since fasting month”.

The former 1MDB subsidiary came under the spotlight when exposes were made that RM42 million had ended up in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s bank accounts between late last year and February this year.

Instead of pursuing the main culprit, they are now being hunted down. Bahri and his team have become the victim of a counter-investigation into the so-called ‘criminal leak’ of a draft charge sheet purportedly for Najib with regard to the SRC case.

The present Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali had dismissed that the charge sheet was false, but DAP’s Tony Pua has asked how can then could it be a “criminal leak”?

The Arrogant IGP

Meanwhile, Bahri’s men have been ‘arrested’, but Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar calls it differently; at the very least, the MACC investigators are being hindered from carrying out their task, after certain documents and laptops belonging to the team had been confiscated by the Police.

Bahri is quoted as saying that Police actions have affected their probe into SRC International, which is in violation of Section 48 of the MACC Act.

From the perspectives of the rakyat, I personally wonder what is happening to our nation. Are we becoming morally corrupt and bankrupt at the same time? Do we no longer have a conscience to help us to differentiate between right and wrong? What legacy do we want to leave to our children and future generations of Malaysians? Most of us are old, and there is little that we can do. It is ultimately the younger generation of Malaysians who would have to stand up and be counted.

Investigators now being hunted and smeared

There are also attempts by certain unknown parties trying to try to smear the reputation of investigators such as Bank Negara governor Zeti Aziz (photo) and her deputy Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, MACC’s Deputy Chief Commissioner (Operations) Mohd Shukri Abdull, Sarawak Report portal owner Clare Rewcastle-Brown, The Edge media owner Tong Kooi Ong and its publisher Ho Kay Tat.

Strangely, an (apparently partisan) portal has named the press secretary of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Sufi Yusof  as one of the 13 alleged conspirators, but chose not to mention the former Prime Minister himself. This is probably because of the obvious fear that it would cause huge repercussions.

What I see is that suddenly the graft-busters have become the victims and being accused of conspiring. They become the ‘hunted’ under a section of the law that ironically should be used against those who try to remain in the corridors of power despite losing the people’s support.

Nazir Razak2
In the same blog which is currently being ‘built up’ to look like another whistleblower site, even the brother of Najib,  Nazir Abdul Razak, has come under attack. In short, anyone who is a critic of the present administration becomes a victim of smear campaign.

I suspect soon, the site will be given its prominence by certain parties and appear to be the whistleblower website that all Malaysians look up to. I am told it is not only one site, but several in the offing. The attempts are obvious – to turn white into black and black into grey.

Complaining about corruption

Malaysians are always complaining that corruption has become part of our culture. It is not true that nothing can be done to purge the corrupt in our corridors of power.

Corruption

The nation is in its rebirth pangs. As we hope to see a new Malaysia emerging, and becoming strong and competitive globally, what is really comforting is that in Malaysia, we still have many like Bahri and his men. I quote Bahri, who said: “You may have (political) powers, but I have Allah.” With Bahri, I stand. Will you do the same? It is now or never.

Malaysia: Leaving Office with Dignity and Grace


August 5, 2015

Malaysia: Leaving Office with Dignity and Grace

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: As diplomacy is a branch of politics, it is part of the diplomatic arts of the genre that a practitioner has to have it in his person to grant gracefully what he no longer has the power to withhold.

Say what you like about the first and fifth prime ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi respectively, both had the good grace to yield their positions when the pressure became too much for them to fight back or withhold. Giving up power when one is at the top of the ‘greasy pole’ – in British PM Benjamin Disraeli’s felicitous phrase – has never been an easy thing to do.

Term-limits became the American way of getting occupants of the presidential office to quit. Although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was popular enough to win four elections (1932, ‘36, ‘40 and ‘44), the US Congress had the good sense subsequently to limit their president to two consecutive four-year terms.

The British style exchews term-limits but their system enjoys built-in insurance against longevity for an unpopular leader. The reigning political party has a tradition of pressuring the incumbent Prime Minister to quit when he or she is seen as having become a liability. This is determined as the certain expectation of defeat should the party go into approaching polls with the same head honcho.

By forcing out Margaret Thatcher (photo) in 1991, the ruling British Conservative Party relied on that puissant tradition of self-surgery to remove an inficted tumuor. When the Labour Party did almost the same in 2007 to Tony Blair, like Thatcher a three-election winner, it showed that the tradition of removal of a leader who has become a liability made it unnecessary to impose constitutional term-limits.

Malaysia is a long way from arriving at this tradition, though the long dominant political party, UMNO, has a custom where the President yields office, with whatever grace he can muster, when the pressure against him reaches the point where a schism threatens upon his insistence on staying or risking a destructive contest for the Presidency.

Founding Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had been under intense pressure from UMNO’s Young Turks, led by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, to quit after the May 13, 1969 race riots. The Young Turks, whose ranks included Musa Hitam and Abdullah Ahmad, later a proponent of the Malay dominance school of thought, pressed for the replacement of the Tunku by his deputy in both party and government, Abdul Razak Hussein.

The third PM, Hussein Onn, also left voluntarily in 1981 after a brief five years in office. He said his leaving was because of poor health but there was speculation he was offended at the party’s appeal for a royal pardon for a popular chieftain whom he shunned, that was relayed to the Agong without Hussein’s say-so.

The fifth PM, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, decided like the Tunku, to withdraw in 2009 rather than risk a schism that loomed if he chose to put the party through what would have been a wrecking fight for the presidential post.

The nub of the argument

This is the nub of the argument levelled at UMNO President Najib Abdul Razak by critics from within his party: they say he, by reason of his mishandling of the 1MDB wealth fund, is an albatross around its neck if the party were to go into next general election with him in charge.

Najib is fighting back

His cohorts argue that there is nothing impugnable in the Prime Minister’s handling of 1MDB funds and that the huge sums that went into his private banks accounts were donations, not state funds. This view is now confirmed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe, but both the official party line and the MACC’s finding strain credulity.

Our system has been gutted of the checks and balances of parliamentary democracy where matters of this nature ought to be impartially resolved.

It’s no small paradox that the man who has been the loudest in calling out Najib for assorted transgressions over the 1MDB issue is Dr. Mahathir, the former PM most responsible for vitiating our system of democratic trammels on executive power. He left office after 22 years and three months as PM, during which span he built up the country’s infrastructure and hastened the pace of its economic growth but hollowed out its democratic underpinnings.

He left office voluntarily, if that description can be said to fit the exit of someone who had stayed as long as he did. He was not pressured to leave – he’s not the sort to buckle to such constraints – but generally people were glad to see him go. Now they are glad that he’s around, 12 years from his retirement – here it must be said withdrawal from office, not from work – if only to see what he will do in a situation where the Prime Minister is an albatross around the necks of party and country.

He will have to acknowledge that a predecessor whom he disliked and his own successor, whom he came to see was a mistake, did have a sense of noblesse oblige to party and country, which in both retirees’ contexts was the grace to yield when it was unwise to withhold.

It’s no small virtue and is set for posthumous enlargement simply from its stark absence in the current holder of the office.

Malaysia: The Mess Mahathir created


July 29, 2015

Malaysia: The Mess Mahathir Made

by  Dan Slater, University of Chicago
http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/07/29/malaysias-mess-is-mahathir-made/
Mahathir Lawan Najib

At least embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is right about one thing. The current mess in Malaysian politics is the making of his greatest nemesis, Mahathir Mohamad, who led the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist from 1981–2003. What Najib fails to fathom is that Mahathir has not produced this mess by criticising his leadership, but by paving Najib’s path to power in the fashion he did during his decades in office. Mahathir may believe that he can end the crisis by bringing Najib down. But history should judge Mahathir himself as the author of a long national decline that has culminated in this latest crisis.

To be sure, Najib’s fingerprints are all over the current mess. The proximate source of the crisis has been the collapse of Najib’s pet sovereign-investment company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). This has caused Malaysia’s stock market and currency, the ringgit, to plummet in turn. All this has transpired amid credible allegations that the prime minister siphoned an eye-popping US$700 million into his personal bank account.

But this road toward ruin commenced with Mahathir, not Najib. It is vital to realise that Mahathir rose to power in blessed circumstances. Malaysia’s economy had been growing healthily for decades, thanks to the prudent economic management of a highly capable bureaucracy. Governance and tax collection were effective, and debts were few. Natural resource wealth, including oil, was professionally stewarded. A decade of muscular redistribution to the country’s ethnic Malay majority had restored social stability after the race riots of 1969. Incoming foreign investment was copious and about to mushroom even further. Mahathir commanded one of the most cohesive ruling parties (the United Malays National Organization, or UMNO) and coalitions (the Barisan Nasional, or BN) in the world. The regime was authoritarian, but not intensely repressive or disliked in comparative terms. In short, Mahathir was holding a winning hand when he became Prime Minister in 1981.

Then came the debt. Obsessed with following in the footsteps of Asia’s technological leaders, Mahathir began borrowing heavily to fund his ‘Look East’, state-led heavy-industrialisation program. Privatisation was part of his growth package, but the beneficiaries were businessmen of loyalty more than talent. When the global economy went into recession in the mid-1980s, patronage started drying up. UMNO split, largely in reaction to Mahathir’s strong-armed style of rule. Mahathir’s two most talented rivals, Tengku Razaleigh and Musa Hitam, bolted from UMNO despite their deep personal ties to the party, mostly to get away from Mahathir himself. Mahathir responded by launching a police operation under the pretext of racial tensions, imprisoning and intimidating political rivals, and cementing his autocratic control.

Hence by the late 1980s, all of the defining features of Malaysia’s current crisis under Najib’s leadership were already evident under Mahathir. The regime was increasingly repressive. The office of prime minister was becoming a haven of autocracy. Ethnic tensions had been reopened to political manipulation. The economy was worrisomely indebted. UMNO was shedding some of its most capable leaders. This was the beginning of Malaysia’s sad national decline, under Mahathir’s watch and at his own hand.

Fast-forward a decade and all of these syndromes would recur in even nastier forms. The Asian Financial Crisis of 1997–98 punished Malaysia for the unsustainable dollar-denominated debts it had accumulated under Mahathir’s single-minded push for breakneck growth. Mahathir blamed everybody but himself for the crash. He sacked and imprisoned his popular and gifted deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, largely for his temerity in suggesting that Malaysia needed deeper reforms to regain economic health.

najib-low-yat2

Mahathir didn’t pull Malaysia out of its crisis with economic reform or adjustment, but with more and more borrowing and spending. This was possible because Malaysia was still sitting on the fiscal reserves it had been amassing for half a century, since the British colonial period. Mahathir grandiosely claimed that his imposition of capital controls had saved the economy. But capital flight had basically run its course by the time controls were implemented. Mahathir imposed them to facilitate political repression as much as economic recovery. The spectre of anti-Chinese riots in neighbouring Indonesia was then callously manipulated to keep ethnic Chinese voters in the BN fold in the 1999 elections.

Hence even before the turn of the millennium, Malaysia was hurtling down the very trajectory of decline we are witnessing in the current crisis. Like Mahathir, Najib assumed autocratic control over the economy and embarked on reckless borrowing and investment schemes, especially 1MDB. Like Mahathir, Najib unleashed a torrent of repression under antiquated security laws to protect his own position amid rising criticism from civil society and from within UMNO. Like Mahathir, Najib has recklessly played the ethnic and religious card as his position has weakened. And in consummate Mahathir style, Najib has now even sacked his deputy, Muyhiddin Yassin, for questioning Najib’s repression of the media in response to the 1MDB scandal. In sum, Mahathir has nobody to blame more than himself as he watches Najib drive Malaysia even further into the ground.

The 2015 Najib Cabinet

Neither Najib nor any of his current plausible replacements appear capable of reversing Malaysia’s decades-long decline. Herein lies perhaps Mahathir’s worst legacy of all. By forcing the three most capable politicians beside himself out of UMNO during their prime, Mahathir ensured that only relative lightweights would command leading positions in Malaysia’s most powerful political institution. If Malaysia is to exit this crisis on a path to restored health rather than steeper decline, the political and economic reforms first demanded in the reformasi movement of the late 1990s will finally need to put in place: either by a new generation of leadership within UMNO, or by Malaysia’s repressed but resilient political opposition.

Dan Slater is associate professor in political science at the University of Chicago.

Figuring out the Day of the Long Knives


July 29, 2015

Malaysia:: Figuring out the Day of the Long Knives

by Kim Quek@www.malaysiakini.com

PM and Former DPM

It is all too apparent that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s lightning move to remove the Attorney-General and reshuffle his cabinet on July 28 was done for the singular purpose of neutering criminal investigations and impending prosecution arising from the 1MDB scandal and the RM2.6 billion in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

By removing A-G Gani Patail and offering cabinet positions to members of the parliamentary accounts committee (PAC), Najib hopes to avert impending prosecution and postpone imminent PAC hearings on key players in 1MDB, which in all certainty, will expose the alleged multi-billion heist that will grievously hurt Najib.

Sacking of AG highly dubious

The so-called sacking of Gani is heavily tainted with unconstitutionality, illegality, deceit and malicious intent. The circumstances of the announcement immediately aroused suspicion. It was announced on July 28 by national news agency Bernama through a one-sentence  tweet stating that Gani’s services as A-G were terminated on July 27 due to health reasons, quoting the Chief Secretary of the Government. When  he was asked on July 28, Gani said he had no idea that he had been sacked.

ganipatail

Questions galore: Why wasn’t Gani (photo above) informed? Why wasn’t there a letter of termination from the Head of State Agong, who is the only authority to appoint or to remove the A-G? If Gani had to stop work due to health reasons, why were we told that Gani would still continue to serve as a legal staff till his statutory retirement date in coming October? And why had Gani never complained of ill-health?  And why didn’t PM Najib announce that he had ‘sacked’ Gani?

As the A-G is designated by the constitution (Artiicle 145) as the sole decision-maker as to whether a person should be prosecuted, the independence of his position is guaranteed by mandating his termination through a tribunal appointed by the Agong. Hence, the currently unceremonious ‘dumping’ of Gani is obviously an unconstitutional move.

Sabotaging investigations and prosecutions

Conspiracy theories abound as to why Najib had to act like a desperado. Is it to avert an immediate prosecution which only the AG had the power to execute – keeping in mind that there have been a series of arrests arising from the investigations of the special task force probing the twin scandals of Najib’s RM2.6 billion and the 1MDB fiasco? The task force is made up of the Chiefs of Police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Bank Negara, co-ordinated by the A-G.

Nur Jazlan and PAC Politics of Betrayal

Another body hot on the heels of these scandals is the Public Accounts Committee, which is due to grill the current and former CEOs of 1MDB starting from August 4, and also to hear two former directors of 1MDB who resigned in indignation over the theft of US$700 million immediately after signing an allegedly bogus joint venture agreement with PetroSaudi in September 2009.

Nur JazlanPAC Chairman sold out to Najib

Immediately after the cabinet reshuffle on July 28, where PAC chairperson Nur Jazlan Mohamed (photo) and three other members were offered positions in the cabinet, Nur Jazlan announced a suspension of PAC hearings pending appointment of new members in the next parliamentary session commencing in October.

Thus in one lightning swoop, Najib had apparently incapacitated the pursuers of the scandals and immunise himself from harm, and perhaps hopefully, to bury these scandals.

If Najib succeeds, Malaysians will have to bury their heads in shame, and the credibility of this country will suffer a grievous and irreparable blow.

Who would still trust a country where the Prime Minister can escape unscathed with RM2.6 billion allegedly unaccounted for in his bank accounts and tens of billions of ringgit of public funds evaporated into thin air through a so-called sovereign wealth fund, of which he is allegedly personally responsible?

Can our institutions – the Police Force, MACC (the anti-corruption commission), Central Bank and the Attorney-General’s Chambers – stand the shame of being cowed and neutered by a tyrannical hand in contempt of our constitution and law?

We must defend against authoritarianism

No, we must not allow this to happen, because we have too much to lose and too much to defend. The special task force must continue to discharge its sacrosanct duties honourably and diligently until the whole truth is uncovered and the culprits punished – with or without Gani Patail as A-G. They owe this to themselves and to the future generations of Malaysians.

As for the PAC, it should immediately resume hearings under the leadership of deputy chairperson Dr Tan Seng Giaw who shall act as chairperson in the absence of Nur Jazlan. With nine remaining members in PAC (out of a total of 13), there are more than enough members to make up a quorum (minimum is three).

This is the hour when all Malaysians must stand up to defend themselves against an onslaught, which if not repulsed, will turn the country into a failed state of corrupt dictatorship.

KIM QUEK is the author of banned book ‘The March to Putrajaya’.

 

Malaysia: Muhyiddin pays the price for misplaced Loyalty


July 29, 2015

Malaysia: Muhyiddin pays the price for misplaced Loyalty

by Scott Ng@www.freemalaysuatoday.com

KUALA LUMPUR 29 NOVEMBER 2012 - PRESIDEN UMNO, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tersenyum melihat Timbalan Presiden UMNO, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yang mempamerkan sepanduk `Saya Sayangkan PM' semasa Majlis Perasmian Perhimpunan Agung UMNO 2012 di Dewan Merdeka PWTC di sini hari ini. Gambar: MOHD NAIM AZIZ Pemberita: TEAM UMNO UTUSAN/KOSMO!Outfoxed by the Boss

And so the curtain comes down on Muhyiddin Yassin. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s decision to replace him with Zahid Hamidi comes as an act of retaliation for his aggressive speech to the Cheras division of UMNO, in which he disclosed that not only had he advised Najib to resign from the 1MDB Advisory Board, but also that none of the cabinet ministers had the faintest idea of what was going on in the scandal-ridden government-owned company.

Actually, a cabinet reshuffle has been an oft-whispered rumour for quite some time now. Najib has been looking to consolidate his power by surrounding himself with loyalists who will not question his actions and will defend him from the attacks of former PM Mahathir Mohamad and from the rakyat’s anger, particularly over the high cost of living.

Pundits had long suspected that Muhyiddin had his own agenda. Even before Sunday’s fate-sealing speech, he had already given less than subtle indications of his dissatisfaction with the way the 1MDB issue was being handled. At the height of Mahathir’s attacks on Najib, when it seemed like he was about to jump ship and pledge allegiance to the elder statesman, many were the voices that egged him on. Whether he expected to be sacked, or indeed was waiting to be sacked, only he can tell. But it is unlikely that he expected it to happen so suddenly.

What was underestimated was just how hard Najib would cling to power. Despite the scandals, despite the exposes, the Prime Minister has struck a stubborn, confrontational stance that is at odds with his famous silence.

After postponing the UMNO party elections, Najib probably sees his removal of dissent from his cabinet as the culmination of his master plan to leave his authority unchallenged, at least till the 14th general election, which must be held by 2018. He has chosen to surround himself with loyalists who have been defending him against attacks over the 1MDB scandal. So now we can no longer expect dissent from within the cabinet, at least not in public. It appears that there will no longer be any check and balance or any offer of a different perspective to Najib as he attempts to play the dangerous game of managing the 1MDB scandal while trying to pacify the rakyat, who are restless not only over the rising cost of living but also over his decision to brook no dissent from the media and from UMNO itself.

The real question now is how the Malay community will accept all this. The Malays have seldom taken kindly to the removal of one of their leaders in so stark a manner over a political dispute. The last time a Deputy Prime Minister was forced out abruptly, the Reformasi movement was born. Furthermore, it’s not as if the Malays don’t know a weakened leader when they see one. Najib’s move for political survival sends the message that he is not only ruthless, but also desperate to improve his situation. And desperation is weakness.

Najib’s latest actions are not those of a cold mastermind, but the flailing of a desperate man who realises the waters have risen so high that he is close to drowning. Nevertheless, his sacking of Muhyiddin does look like a sound political move given the disorganisation of the opposition and the lack of a unified front for the movement to oust him. But it is sound only for the time being, and probably a short time. Continuing in this high-handed manner will not do him any good in the way of gaining support from the rakyat. In fact, he is mistaken if he thinks that his reshuffled cabinet will be seen by the rakyat as more competent than the previous one.

Najib may have won the battle for now. He has wiped out dissent in his cabinet, fortified his position as Prime Minister, and taken steps to ensure he cannot be removed from office outside of a no-confidence vote in Parliament. He has used all the tools at his disposal in a way reminiscent of Mahathir, albeit with much less finesse. But he has a long way to go, and with this latest move, he may have given the anti-Najib movement something that it desperately needs – a figure to rally around who can step in to replace him.

Malaysia-The New Attorney-General


July 29, 2015

COMMENT: The appearance can be misleading. Malaysia’s newly minted Attorney-General, Mohamad Apandi Ali, 65, looks like someone belonging in the same class as  Chief Secretary Hamsa Ali and Treasury Secretary Siregar–men of mixed parentage.

Malays of mixed parentage  seem to be Najib’s favorite people forDin Merican and wife, kam senior posts in his government. Another  Malay who bears my family name, Reezal Merican, is now Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.  I suspect that this is because Malays of mixed parentage going back to Nor Mohamed Yackop and the late Governor Ali Abul Hassan of Bank Negara Malaysia during the days of the Mahathir Administration are apparently boss pleasers, and can be trusted to do their duty to the Prime Minister, our King and country (in that order) without fear or favour.

Of course, one’s parentage or ethnicity should have no bearing on any appointment be it in public service or in the business world. But in practice public service appointments are political decisions made by the Prime Minister, not strictly on merit.

Mohamad Apandi Ali, 65,In appointing a former UMNO man as Malaysia’s top legal man with powers under Article 145 of our Constitution, our Prime Minister is creating a dangerous precedent  and so is he in the case of the sacking of Gani Patail.

For all my criticisms of the former Attorney-General, I think Gani Patail’s unceremonious sacking violates the Article 145 (6). This hurried decision makes me suspect  that he may be on to “something big” with regard to the 1MDB scandal that could affect Prime Minister Najib’s political future.

Even the recent Cabinet changes reflect Najib’s quest for political survival and as such, it is a strategic move to have all his 1MDB bases covered. Loyalty is the criterion. So, there is nothing to be excited about the latest Cabinet reshuffle . “Nothing is more important than the needs of Malaysia and the people – I will always put their interests above all others,”says Prime Minister Najib Razak. Trust him? Given his track record since taking over from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2009, that statement is trite and hollow. Even the Marines (with due respects to the USMC) will not buy it.

It may be worthwhile to remind ourselves of Article 145 of the Federal Constitution which makes the Attorney-General  a powerful principal legal adviser to the Government.

Article 145 of the Federal Constitution provides:

(1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney-General for the Federation.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Attorney-General to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Cabinet or any Minister upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may from time to time be referred or assigned to him by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Cabinet, and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other written law.

3) The Attorney-General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.

3A) Federal law may confer on the Attorney-General power to determine the courts in which or the venue at which any proceedings which he has power under Clause (3) to institute shall be instituted or to which such proceedings shall be transferred.

(4) In the performance of his duties the Attorney-General shall have the right of audience in , and shall take precedence over any other person appearing before, any court or tribunal in the Federation.

(5) Subject to Clause (6), the Attorney-General shall hold office during the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and may at any time resign his office and, unless he is a member of the Cabinet, shall receive such remuneration as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine.

6) The person holding the office of Attorney-General immediately prior to the coming into operation of this Article shall continue to hold the office on terms and conditions not less favourable than those applicable to him immediately before such coming into operation and shall not be removed from office except on the like grounds and in the like manner as a judge of the Federal Court.

The new Attorney-General has awesome power and and with it, the heavy responsibility to uphold the Rule of Law, not Rule by a desperate Prime Minister whose only desire is to remain office by all and any means. As for his predecessor, we should ensure that the Najib administration observes the letter and spirit of Article 145(6) of our Constitution. –Din Merican