Whither Sarawak As CMSB shares Nosedive?


May 24, 2018

Whither Sarawak As CMSB  shares nosedive?

 

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According to Bernama, the present Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abang Johari, has confirmed that the Editor of this website is still banned from entering the state.

He has not yet made up his mind whether to revoke a ban slammed on the writer, along with a number of prominent agency journalists back in 2008, after they visited Penan blockades protesting against the logging of their indigenous lands.

Perhaps the sense of threat in the minds of the leading party PBB and its BN allies as they contemplate how to respond to the changed political scene, is related to this week’s release of a statement by the state’s largest conglomerate CMSB, largely owned by the family of the Governor Taib Mahmud.

CMSB’s shares went into a nosedive on Friday as the likely implications of proposed anti-corruption reforms on the favoured position of this company sank in with shareholders. Those shareholders fled, showing a plunge of prices after lunch of 30%, before trading was suspended to stem the panic.

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Explaining the shameful event, the CEO of the company, Isac Lungan, could not have been more frank in his view that revelations over the years by Sarawak Report could affect the profitability of the company in a new cleaner ‘reformasi’ environment.

In a management note to investors he said the catastrophic collapse had been caused by factors, of which the first was the combined effect of the Bruno Manser Fund offer to release research first published on this website and also the decision of the federal government to unblock Sarawak Report, which has articles spanning a number of years covering corruption in the state, including its largest company.

CMSB statement

“The following in our view, has led to the steep sell-down:

1.  Bruno Manser Fund’s offer to share information and unblocking of Sarawak Report website:

Possible reaction to an article carried by the Star Online portal stating that the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) is willing to share information with the new Pakatan government on the Tun Taib family as a basis for reopening of investigation.

This followed a report on Thursday 17 May 2018 that news portal Sarawak Report, which has been known to release anti Tun Taib family (as well as anti-CMS) related articles, has been unblocked. The Sarawak Report website was blocked by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in 2015. The news they publish is now widely available for the general public to access, including reports portraying CMS negatively.”

The statement, which then goes on to list various other anti-corruption demands issued by opposition MPs in the state as being further threats to the company, is a open acknowledement that CMSB does not see itself as being in a particularly strong position to refute criticisms of cronysm and corruption with regard to the Taib family connection.

 

Otherwise, the threats of a small NGO and reappearance of a small online portal would not  create such a devastating impact.

Johari Cannot Make Up His Mind?

What the admissions of CMSB and the waverings of Abang Johari prove is first that Taib still holds a continuing grip over business and politics in Sarawak and second that the present Chief Minister and his PBB followers have not been able to make up their minds about whether to throw their lot in with the new guys in charge in KL or to cling to the crumbling BN coalition, which still holds sway in the state government.

It is weak and vacillating behaviour that will not impress local voters, who will be entering state elections in the next couple of years or so. Admitting that he has yet to formulate a position on such a crucial matter as whether or not it supports the new federal government has revealed Johari to be every bit as stunned and indecisive as Najib was on election night.

The longer this Chief Minister fails to make up his mind about the political direction of the state that was once known as BN’s ‘safe deposit’, the less safe that ‘deposit’ is likely to remain.

As for Taib, much in the way that Najib railed against Sarawak Report over 1MDB, claiming dark plots and plans for an ‘overthrow of the state’, the former Sarawak Chief Minister had responded equally disproportionately and irrationally after he lost the urban vote in 2011, largely because of devastating corruption allegations online, followed up by opposition progress in the 2013 general election.

Not long after that disappointing election, Taib had marched into the state parliament and singled out Sarawak Report along with other NGOs as a dangerous force. He accused the website of seeking to overthrow the state and of malicious slander ‘poisoning the minds’ of the ‘simple people’.  The raging CM even went so far as to suggest that SR’s motive involved a plot to re-colonise Sarawak and to steal its remaining oil revenues!

It was following this somewhat unhinged and disproportionate rant that Najib apparently saw his chance to remove Taib from the position of absolute power that he had held as Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Planning Minister of Sarawak for over three decades.

It was no secret that his power and wealth irked the new Prime Minister, who nonetheless used him as a model for his own subsequent pillaging of public coffers.  Taib was booted upstairs into the Governor’s mansion on a vague understanding that it brought immunity.

What Do The People of Sarawak Want?

As they weigh up their best options for the future Sarawak’s ruling parties ought not to be placing a priority on the perceived dangers of incomers, such as SR, BMF or civil rights and reform campaigners from Malaysia.

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Sarawakians have access to information and can form their own opinions with or without such visitors these days.  The Chief Minister needs to listen to what people are now asking in the coffee shops or commenting online.  There has been very vocal concern from the moment of the election that the state could yet again be left out of the progress that is now sweeping federal changes.

People want to know if the programme to root out of corruption and open up of freedoms will reach their state and Abang Jo needs to finally get off the fence and decide if he can afford to ignore that yearning.

Source: http://www.sarawakreport.org/2018/05/whither-sarawak-as-cmsb-nose-dives/

Malaysia’s Najib: Long Political Career Ending in Disgrace?


May 22, 2018

Malaysia’s Najib: Long Political Career Ending in Disgrace?

by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com

When a dozen police cars showed up in front of the home of former Prime Minister Najib Razak late in the afternoon on May 16, it may have finally spelled the end of an audacious nine-year reign as premier and a political career that began in 1976 and now looks like ending in disgrace.  According to a Kuala Lumpur source,  the primary focus of the investigation is SRC International, a 1Malaysia Development Bhd. subsidiary established in 2011 by Najib to pursue strategic energy investments overseas. It ran into a river of red ink amid scandal. An arrest, the sources say, could be in days or perhaps weeks.

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Najib was elected to fill the seat of his late father, Prime Minister Razak Hussein, at the age of 23, becoming the youngest person ever elected to Malaysia’s parliament. Now 64, he has done a tightrope dance for decades away from accusations of a long string of crimes, not least of which is allegedly participating in the theft of a reported US$4.5 billion from the state-backed investment concern that he founded in 2009 with the help of the flamboyant Penang-born financier Low Taek Jho, who remains on the run somewhere on the planet.

In addition to that, however, there is the residue of a US$141.3 million kickback through Najib and his best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, in the purchase of US$1 billion of French submarines that are virtually useless because Peninsular Malaysia’s waters are too shallow to allow them to be used effectively.  The death of 28-year old Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu, reputed to have been a former Najib paramour, has never been properly solved.  Two executives of a subsidiary of the French munitions maker DCNS have been charged in Paris with bribing Najib and Razak Baginda has been charged as well.

Also, the family of the late Ambank founder Hussain Najadi, who was shot dead in a Kuala Lumpur parking lot in 2013, is demanding a proper investigation of the death. Pascal Najadi, Hussain’s son, has alleged that the slain banker was killed because he was complaining about irregularities in financial transactions at the bank. It is the same bank where US$681 million alleged to have been stolen from 1MDB ws deposited into Najib’s personal account in 2013.  Pascal Najadi has issued a formal plea to Mahathir to reopen the assassination via a royal commission.

With 1MDB, the deposed prime minister has kept investigations at bay in Washington, DC, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and states in the Middle East, claiming the US$681 million in his Ambank account came from a grateful Saudi royal family grateful for Malaysia’s supposedly tough stance on jihadis. He

According to local news reports, four properties of Najib’s were raided including condominiums and the prime ministerial office from which he was ousted in a landslide election on May 9 despite a harsh redistricting designed to keep the opposition at bay.  In the end, the Barisan Nasional  led by his United Malays National Organization received only 31 percent of the vote, not enough to overcome the political traps he and his lieutenants had set for the Pakatan Harapan opposition headed by his implacable critic, the nonagenarian former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib and his grasping, portly wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been placed on an immigration blacklist to prevent them from fleeing the country. Mohamed Apandi Ali, the attorney general he appointed hurriedly to forestall a threatened prosecution, has also been sacked.  A chartered airplane scheduled to take the Najibs out of the country was blocked. It is a long way down for a man who golfed with the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and did a grip-and-grin with Obama’s successor Donald Trump.

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For three years, since the 1MDB scandal broke into the open, Najib has played whack-a-mole, putting out fire after fire to keep the scandal at bay. He kicked out prominent members of UMNO, including Muhyiddin Yassin, the party deputy leader and the country’s deputy prime minister. He delivered lavish bribes to top UMNO cadres to keep them from voting him out of power as party leader. He fired Abdul Gani Patail, the attorney general who headed a 2016 investigation into his crimes. A lead investigator in that case ended up in a cement-filled oil drum in a river. That case has never been properly investigated.

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Mahathir told local reporters he is working with both Switzerland and the United States, which is carrying out an extensive investigation by the US Justice Department’s kleptocracy unit into 1MDB, to seek the return of embezzled funds. So far, Justice Department officials have sequestered more than US$1 billion in assets that appear to have been stolen by Najib, Jho Low as he is universally known, and other parties.

It wasn’t just the theft, but the utter flamboyance of it. For several years, there were reports of partying on a vast scale by Jho Low, pouring Cristal champagne into a succession of blondes and escorting Rosmah in New York. Rosmah is said to have bought a pink diamond  bracelet worth more than US$25 million that the US is seeking to get back.  Money was used to produce the lurid Wolf of Wall Street,  starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Paintings by French masters, a Bombardier jet, the 300-foot yacht Equanimity that the US is still trying to get its hands on, condos in New York and homes in Beverly Hills were all part of the haul, much of it now in the hands of the US government although the justice department is still sleuthing in southern California for more.

 “The focus on corruption is important, because we need to get back money which is still in Switzerland, the US, Singapore and maybe Luxembourg. For this, we will contact the governments of the countries to recover the money there,” Mahathir told reporters.

 

In addition, there is a metaphorical time bomb awaiting Najib in the Villa wood Detention Center in Sydney in the form of Sirul Azhar Umar, one of Najib’s former bodyguards and one of the convicted killers of Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was central to the submarine scandal

Sirul has been in the detention center since 2015 after he was detained by Australian authorities following his flight from Malaysia while he was temporarily freed from prison there on appeal of his murder sentence. In 2013, as Asia Sentinel reported at the time, Sirul first talked to reporters and told them he could name the person or persons who offered him and his fellow elite police commando Azilah Hadri.

That was before Hasnal Reza Merican, an UMNO Youth division leader, and Hisham Kamaruddin, a former deputy prosecutor who represented Sirul during his original trial, rushed to Australia to shut him up, conjuring up the specter that lawyers for Malaysia’s biggest political party were advising a convicted murderer. Since that time, UMNO lawyers have been in regular contact with Sirul, who has stopped singing.

Now that UMNO has lost the election and the opposition has taken over, the question is whether those UMNO lawyers have any continuing hold on Sirul – especially since the new government is aggressively seeking to clean out the stables. Australian authorities now are expected to demand that Sirul prove he didn’t mastermind the killing if he is to be granted a protection visa to get him out of prison. UMNO lawyers once again met with Sirul shortly before the election to ask him to keep his mouth shut.

Altantuya, then the jilted mistress of Abdul Razak Baginda, Najib’s best friend and the person alleged by a now-dead private detective to have been her lover earlier, was believed to have been pregnant when she was killed and her body blown up with C4 explosive, possibly to hide the fact that she was pregnant.  Her father, Setev Shaariibuu, a Mongolian university professor, has long demanded justice for those who planned her death.

A full catalog of the misuses of Malaysian public funds and institutions would take more than there is time for.  Three contracts let when he was defense minister appear to have produced at least US$300 million and probably more, either for him or for his friends in UMNO. Opposition figures told Asia Sentinel previously that the three contracts were one for Russian Sukhoi jet fighters, a second for the submarines and a third for navy patrol boats.

That wasn’t all. According to a think tank at the time, the shopping list “included battle tanks from Poland, Russian and British surface-to-air missiles and mobile military bridges, Austrian Steyr assault rifles and Pakistani anti-tank missiles.” Given military contract overruns, it can easily be assumed that there was a sweetener involved with every one of them.

It is unknown if Malaysia has the time and effort to look at all of them. 1MDB, by itself, is spectacular enough.

 

Restoring the nation’s confidence


May 22, 2018

Restoring the nation’s confidence

 www.themalaymailonline.com
 

If it’s one thing that the entire period of 2004-2018 taught me, it’s how it feels to have low expectations in one’s nation.

I grew up in the era of Mahathir 1.0 (except we did not know it was 1.0 then!) and there was an air of confidence. Of course, being kids in school, we were not able to see the problems but that’s besides the point.

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The point is, we had a great deal of confidence in his administration and this translated into national pride. This, I can tell you, was an exuberant feeling.

Then came the lost years. Abdullah Badawi, Pak Lah, came into office enjoying a high level of confidence. The 2004 general election was proof of that.

However, his unenergetic leadership soon floundered and he was made into a laughing stock. He was also unable to handle the Islamofascists who ruined any chance of an interfaith council.

Pak Lah was told to leave after Barisan’s relatively disastrous performance in the 2008 general election where Barisan lost five states, later reduced to four. The period of Najib Razak had begun.

In 2009, when Najib came in, I recall a high level of confidence, especially from the Malay professionals who believed that Najib’s eruditeness was proof that he was very clued in. I was quite hopeful myself although by this time, I was unreservedly anti-Barisan.

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Then came the scandals. 1MDB was the whale of them, at least until the FGV scandals came to light. I recalled the feelings of buoyancy from the 90s when I read about 1MDB.

How the tables had turned and how we were now the laughing stock of the world whereas once we were admired as the darling of developing nations. When the 1MDB so-called investigations came to nothing, no one was surprised.

Like all Malaysians, I was hopeful when Tun Dr Mahathir led Pakatan Harapan to victory. I am quite sure that without Tun, BN would still be in power today and we would be in the doldrums.

What did worry me slightly was the execution of justice by the Mahathir 2.0 administration. The slow-moving machinery of the government  may slow down this process.

This would mean that people being investigated would be able to haul stakes and seek asylum elsewhere. There are no shortages of countries providing this type of asylum. No less a dictator than Idi Amin himself was able to live out the rest of his life in luxury.

However, Tun dealt with the matter swiftly. Being Tun, he had already planned things several moves ahead. He placed a travel ban on Najib and effectively had him under surveillance at all times. At the time of writing, Najib’s own house had been raided and several items seized.

The Auditor General’s report on 1MDB has also been declassified and downloaded so many times, the server is said to have crashed!

And this is what I mean. Confidence has been restored. The rakyat is now actively rooting for the nation.

At the end of the Najib administration, their confidence in the administration had been so down that when UMNO’s own status was called into question (due to breaking its own by-laws), we rightly expected no action to be taken and true enough – the case has been thrown out.

I applaud Tun on his swift actions. While the rakyat are rejoicing at the abolishment of the GST, to show us that past misdeeds will not go unpunished was a major win.

Now we feel no longer alienated by active stakeholders in the future of the nation.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

Fellow Malaysians–Lead a Life of Integrity


May 20, 2018

Fellow Malaysians–Lead a Life of Integrity

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I admire Rex Tillerson not because he was Secretary of State in the Trump Administration. He was never given the chance by the insecure and ego-centric  Donald Trump to prove his worth as America’s top diplomat. I believe, he could have done a great job in that role, given his education and experience in the private sector.

I respect him as Chairman, Exxon-Mobil, a Fortune 500 corporation, and for being a corporate executive with integrity. In his Commencement Address to his Alma Mater’s Class of 2018, he urges graduates of VMI to lead life of integrity (both personal and professional). The  Truth shall make us free, he said.

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Listen to Rex Tillerson so that we too shall be free. Let us make ourselves Malaysians with high standards of ethical leadership, and  build our country into great nation which is admired and respected by our neighbours in ASEAN and the world.  Yes, we can.–Din Merican

 

UMNO’s Implosion has begun


May 15, 2018

UMNO’s Implosion has begun

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

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Can this politician save UMNO?

In the 1999 Tenth General Election, UMNO lost many seats and its Barisan Nasional coalition reduced to a simple majority. Najib Razak, then widely touted to succeed Mahathir, squeaked through with the slimmest majority, thanks to the late arrival of “postal votes.”

Contrary to the belief of many, the mysterious and late arrival of ballot boxes is not a recent phenomenon. It started long ago during Mahathir’s time when he led Barisan. In the current euphoria over Mahathir’s victory in defeating Barisan, it is good to be reminded of that fact.

I wrote then in my book The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics In Modern Malaysia that only Mahathir had the skills, courage, and personality to undertake the much-needed radical changes in UMNO. The party required revitalization even then.

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‘Brigadier-General’ Khairy Jamaluddin

I see no one in the current UMNO leadership who comes anywhere near Mahathir in ability. There are plenty of pretenders – Mahathir wannabes – the most showy being that ‘Brigadier-General’ Khairy. A genuine general would have committed hara-kiri after letting his troops down. Apologies alone would not do it.

Reading again now what I wrote then about Mahathir, I ponder the irony that by being out of UMNO he forced the most profound changes in his old party.

I suggested then that UMNO’s top priority was to remove the “no-contest” directive for the party’s top two slots. That regressive move was put in by – who else? –  Mahathir to reduce undue politicking, he claimed. Human nature being what it is, that rule merely moved those maneuverings underground and generated even more dangerous rifts.

As Mahathir was then anticipated to retire soon, that would have been a good time to implement the change. Alas that was not to be. As a consequence, UMNO and Malaysia were blighted by the inept leaderships of Abdullah and Najib. Being weak, they found that provision a convenient crutch.

I also suggested revamping UMNO’s Supreme Council. The party President could not control who gets voted into that body. However the President could appoint up to 15 members to complement the 25 elected. That is substantial. Mahathir could use that route to recruit new talents into the party’s upper echelons, a technique Tun Razak had used to great effectiveness. Instead, Mahathir selected the flunkiesAs for a successor, I had suggested that Mahathir buck tradition and pick someone other than his three vice-presidents. All three were duds. He had already fired his capable Deputy President, Anwar Ibrahim. Had Mahathir not picked Abdullah and Najib, the party would have been spared the current humiliation. The past precious decade and a half would also not have been wasted, and Malaysia would not be saddled by a trillion ringgit debt.

Mahathir also failed to address money politics. As UMNO was the ruling party, corruption in UMNO meant corruption in government. It is corruption, specifically of 1MDB, that brought Najib and UMNO down.

One initiative I proposed was decoupling party positions from governmental appointments. That is, once you are appointed to a government position, whether Prime Minister or local dog catcher, then you have to give up your party posts. That meant the Prime Minister would no longer be party President. During his time, however, Mahathir held both positions and made the government subservient to the party.

It is tough enough being a cabinet minister without also being UMNO Treasurer. Such a policy would also dilute and diffuse power, creating some semblance of checks and balances, both sorely lacking in UMNO (as well as in the government). Najib was Party President as well as Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Bad things could happen with the concentration of power, quite apart from the fact that you could not commit 100 percent to any one position.

A perennial divisive issue in UMNO (as well as other parties) is with the selection of candidates for the general elections. The current process is opaque and opens up avenues for local “war-lordism.” Worse, the process does not attract fresh capable faces.

I suggested that local divisions nominate four or five viable candidates, listing them in order of preference, and then have the central committee select one together with an alternate from that list, and only from that list. That mechanism accommodates both local input and a central quality-control mechanism. Those five could be selected by the local committee or be nominated through a mini election of its local members. That would also discourage “money politics.”

UMNO no longer attracts talented Malays, especially young professionals. Those who join do so to spearhead their otherwise lackluster careers. The not-so-terribly smart lawyers on becoming UMNO members get a crack at some high-profile cases and contracts. Accountants who could not attract private clients become chairman of PNB or Pernas. Likewise academics; they have nothing original published but upon joining UMNO they catapult to the Dean’s or Vice Chancellor’s office. Few physicians join UMNO because if you are a lousy doctor, joining UMNO would not bring you many new patients.

Talented individuals would not waste their precious time working their way up the party hierarchy. They are busy with their careers. So why not have a central admission pathway for them to bypass parochial and ever-jealous local divisional chieftains?

The responses of UMNO leaders to the recent debacle have not been impressive. Najib rightly resigned immediately. He should do that but stay on until the party has its new leadership. Instead he tried to abscond after resigning. Acting President Zahid, with the backing of his Supreme Council (what’s changed?), was scheming to join the ruling coalition, however improbable or laughable that was. Vice-President Hishammuddin was silent, nodding to whatever Zahid (and Najib earlier) said. Women’s leader Shahrizat  A. Jalil mumbled about a post-mortem. Youth leader Khairy emphasized stabilizing the membership (thus inadvertently revealing that many are contemplating bolting) and being a good opposition party. He also talked about “collective responsibility.” Had he really believed in that and acted on it, he too would have joined Najib in resigning. As for Puteri head, she remained demure, like an ornamental princess.

I see nothing that would lead me to believe that UMNO leaders are ready, willing, or able to change. UMNO’s implosion has begun.

Azrene Soraya Ahmad on Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor


May 11, 2018

Azrene Soraya Ahmad (Daughter of Zero Lady of Malaysia)  on Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor

by Azrene Ahmad

Image result for Rosmah Mansor and Najib Razak

Bismillahirahmanirahim. Today (May 9, 2018) marks the end of an era of tyranny that many have prayed for. I grew up looking up to these two individuals, loving them and respecting them. There was a time when I would have walked through the fires of hell and back for them. As I grew older, I saw the selfishness and greed of one above all else.

I experienced firsthand emotional, physical and mental abuse at the hands of the one on the left. I witnessed firsthand the same abuse she caused onto the one on the right. I witnessed many trespasses, deals and handshakes these two made for the benefit of power and to fuel their appetite for greed. I witnessed the side deals made behind the back of the one on the right.

The amount of money in brief cases exchanging hands and being spent like water not for the benefit of the rakyat but to be spent like water on jewels, bribery of officials and used in the pursuit of gaining more power. Shamans, witch doctors, aesthetic doctors and the like walking the pathways of my home for one reason or another but mostly to bring to heel and gain dominion over their peers and over their family members, even to cause harm on those who were audacious enough to cross them.

The numerous offshore accounts were opened to launder money out of the country for their personal spending. The steel safes full of jewels, precious stones and cash amassed. Being made a cash mule or even crystal shoes mule carrying these quietly into and out of the country was no fun either, let me tell you. The countless attempts to sell me into marriage to the highest bidder or even persons with the highest position that will be able to help them gain political and social advantage.

The greed, avarice and pride that grew with each step that was gained closer to the top position. Nothing could stop their reign of terror and yet I stayed out of loyalty and duty. When this terror was then focused on me and became too unbearable a burden to carry, I decided to leave. Thus began my self imposed exile from this unfortunate family.

When I married the man of my choosing after exhausting all ways of trying to convince them to release me from my bond, my new family unit was harassed and exposed to countless cruel, intolerable, degrading treatment at the hands of one Rosmah Mansor and her collaborators. Unchecked, she engaged different government machinery, civil servants, media and members of Parliament to harass the family. Many other creative methods too were used to terrorise us and shut all ways of providing for the family and our children.

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Najib Razak : “Too scared of his bed partner to exercise any semblance of mercy”, says Azrene Soraya Ahmad

Throughout all of this and despite numerous attempts to seek help from the Prime Minister it was all to no avail. In fact, he covered his wife’s tracks instead. The one person who could have helped, refused to do so and turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. Too scared of his bed partner to exercise any semblance of mercy.

Just as he was too scared to stand up for the rights of the people when he realised something malignant had creeped into 1MDB but instead this family resorted to committing this disgustingly treasonous act of stealing from their people billions of dollars which they proceeded to use not just as their personal coffers to the detriment of the people but to bribe, extort, silence, maim, and kill.

 

Azrene Soraya Ahmad (Rosmah Mansor’s Daughter)

The day I left home, I left you a warning. That one who has been elected into office has power only at the will of the people. They are there to serve the people, not the other way round. There will come a reckoning when the people will punish you for your trespass on them. There will come a day when God will punish you for your trespasses the very people you swore to protect.