Malaysians are forgetful

July 25, 2017

Malaysians are forgetful about scandals, that is why they keep coming back from Mahathir to Najib Razak

by R.Nadeswaran


Forex, Maminco, Cowgate, Mara, FGV, 1mdb…what next?


COMMENT | Dr Mahathir Mohamed recited a sajak (poem) entitled ‘Melayu Mudah Lupa’ (Malays forget easily) at the 2001 UMNO General Assembly. After 16 years, is it still appropriate or does one word need to be changed?

Replacing “Malays” with the “Malaysians” would better describe how events and scandals of yesteryears have been consigned to the burial grounds and entombed.

But even the dead can be awakened for political expediency. After 30 years, the ghost of the foreign exchange market (forex) losses, said to run into billions of ringgit, has arisen from the grave – with hopes of it demonising the leading opposition figure, Mahathir.

So, a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) has been set up and will soon start the proceedings, in the hope of establishing a host of facts. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this – perfectly legal. Using provisions provided in the Federal Constitution, the system allows Joe Public to have privy and access to the reasons for decisions to the commitments made by our leaders and their reasons for doing so.

But what can RCIs do? What does our government do with the findings? What happens after the findings? Will they bring about changes or will they be consigned to gather dust in some steel cabinet in Putrajaya?

There have been many, but let’s look back at just two. The first was on the VK Lingam video and the other was the RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah.

V.K. Lingam–Vincent Tan’s Correct, Correct, Correct Lawyer–Fixing the Judiciary with Tun Ahmad Fairuz

In 2007, a five-man panel chaired by the former Chief Judge of Malaya, Haidar Mohamed Noor, examined a video clip allegedly of lawyer VK Lingam (photo) being involved in the manipulation of judicial appointments.

Subsequently, Lingam was barred from practising in 2015, but he has since challenged the decision of the Bar Disciplinary Committee, which found him guilty of interfering with judicial appointments. The case is scheduled to be heard next month.

In 2013, the former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Steve Shim, chaired a five-man panel to investigate “Project IC”, in which citizenship was allegedly given unlawfully to illegal immigrants in Sabah during the Mahathir administration for electoral support.

‘Project IC probably existed’

After hearing 211 witnesses and recording more than 5,000 pages of evidence, the panel concluded that “Project IC” probably existed. It recommended the formation of a permanent secretariat, along with either a management committee or a consultative council, to address the issue of illegal immigration in Sabah.

But the immigrant problems still continue to prosper across the porous borders between Malaysia and The Philippines.

Against such backdrops, what would yet another RCI bring about? For a while, the proceedings will be the talk of the town, after which, it will enter into a sleep mode to be awakened when yet another scandal surfaces on our shores.

The Cowgate Scandal–The Gatekeeper got awa ,thanks to UMNO

Can someone update Malaysians on the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp)? On July 25, 2013, NFCorp chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail (photo) told a press conference that Japanese company, Kirimitonas Agro Sdn Bhd, had agreed to purchase its entire shares and related companies, and accordingly take over all the assets and liabilities, including the RM250 million loan with the Malaysian government.

Two weeks earlier, the then Finance Minister II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, told Parliament that the government had recovered RM79.9 million from the RM250 million it loaned NFCorp.

Ahmad Husni said the government also sealed NFCorp’s assets worth RM23.3 million – two pieces of land in Putrajaya, two units of real estate in Menerung Township Villa and three plots of land in Gemas.

“Out of the RM250 million, close to RM80 million has been received and RM170 million is yet to be received,” he said when winding up the debate for his ministry on the motion of thanks for the Royal Address in the Dewan Rakyat then.

Ahmad Husni said the Finance Ministry took three steps to resolve the NFC project controversy, namely bringing the case to court, taking over or getting back the amount owed and the assets, and finding a new company to continue the project.

And they drive around in their Porsches…

What happened to the real estate that was seized? Can someone give Malaysian taxpayers a status report on the case? After all, RM250 million belonging to the people was given in loans and surely, the least we can expect is some decent, truthful answers. No need for an RCI to tell us how the money for cattle breeding was used to buy luxury condos and property.

Almost two years ago, Mara, its associated companies and senior officials were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They were involved in a multi-million ringgit scandal where buildings (student accommodation) in Melbourne were bought at inflated prices and the difference filtered down to some people’s pockets.

Police reports were made; the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission briefly detained a couple of people, and the Mara Chairperson was replaced. So, what happened to the investigations? Have the crooks been brought to book? Some of them are driving around their Porsche cars, acting as if nothing ever happened.

The construction of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) was the biggest financial scandal in the country prior to the emergence of an entity called 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). Six people were charged and all were acquitted. But, if no one is guilty, then the question is: Where did our money go?

The government continues to service the loans taken by the developer. Even as this is written, the Port Klang Authority (PKA) owes the Treasury billions of ringgit. By the year 2051, PKA’s commitment will accumulate to RM12.4 billion. How is it going to get the money? As a regulatory body, its revenues are meagre. Did anyone think about an RCI to get to the bottom of the issue? Bottom line: The loan will be written off and we, the people, will have to bear that burden.

Image result for The Mother of All Malaysian ScandalsThank You MCA and MIC–Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua

There are dozens of other instances or issues that may not be of the magnitude of the forex losses but have made headlines that require some form of inquiry. The obvious one is the 1MDB, which has made headlines all over the world for the wrong reasons.

But does the government have the political will and determination to get the bottom of all these, especially the Mother of all Scandals?


The Prolific Fault-Finder faces an uphill battle against Najib Razak

May 30, 2015

The Prolific Fault-Finder faces an uphill battle against Najib Razak

by Terence

Mahathir-Vs-NajibCOMMENT: Probably the most prolific fault-finder ever in Malaysian politics is Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The faults he has found in others have led to the deposing of one Prime Ministers (Abdullah Badawi) and the replacement of three Deputy Prime  Ministers (Musa Hitam, Ghaffar Baba and Anwar Ibrahim).

This harvest of position-forfeiting flawed individuals is the most extraordinary collection of the fallen a decapitating politician is responsible for. However, in focusing on his third prime ministerial quarry, Najib Abdul Razak, Mahathir’s finds his modus operandi has been well learned and, as a result, a counter of some effectivity is being deployed.

Balthasar GracianThe going is not so easy for Mahathir this time and that is because his adversary has mined some insights from Balthasar Gracian whose understandings of the springs and wheels of political mechanics exceeded Niccolo Machiavelli’s from whom the former Prime Minister has, undoubtedly, learnt an awful lot.

Nobody learns the art of politics from a book, The Prince, certainly not PM Najib whose reading tastes must run to books on management which explains the plethora of managerial jargon in his administration.

It’s unlikely that Najib has ever heard of Gracian, a Spanish Jesuit, an aloof and aphoristic cleric more concerned with worldly affairs than with a spiritual vocation he conceived in the 17th century. In ‘The Oracle’ (1647), Gracian prescribed the route to power. The good priest wrote: “To enslave our natural superiors by the use of cunning is a novel kind of power, among the best that life can offer.”

No doubt, Najib considers Mahathir his natural superior; the oleaginous way he has, until recently, tackled his predecessor has made it difficult for the older man to get Najib in his cross hairs with something less than charity.

That’s probably why there was a time-lag of six months between Mahathir’s withdrawal of support for Najib, announced last August, and an outright declaration of hostilities, made two days after Anwar Ibrahim was consigned by the Federal Court to Sungei Buloh on February 10.

Mahathir has moved with more lethal alacrity when it suited him. It was a mere week between his public humiliation of then Deputy Prime Minister Anwar at the opening of the UMNO building in Penang in late August of 1998 and Anwar’s sacking from party and government in the first days of September that year.

Till the last, Anwar has hoped that what was sinister but hidden in all the preceding weeks would not arrive at the abrupt and cruelly public denouement it did in September.

Mahathir is a systematic and relentless man, moving step by step, stage by stage towards the attainment of his goals. Nothing is spontaneous, everything is planned. Not for nothing was he, a medical doctor, the first occupant of the PM’s office from the sciences and not the humanities, as his three predecessors in the post were.

The scientific habit of holding facts in solution marks his approach to political affairs: he owes no allegiance to what is true, except that which it suits him to say, at any one time, is true.

A plum pudding of a chance

Both Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Mahathir’s second prime ministerial casualty, and now Najib let go a plum pudding of a chance to nail the Mahathir when they had the opportunity.

Abdullah shelved the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s (RCI) report of March 2008 on the Lingam videotape which recommended that legal action be taken against Mahathir and a slew of political and judicial officials for offences that included case- and judge-fixing. Those were no small offences. You only allow someone to get off the hook on those charges if you cared not for what the let-offs do to the system.

Even graver than the fault of case- and judge-fixing is that of granting shady foreigners citizenship, just so their votes can help win elections. In addition to electoral fraud, the sins here savour of treason.

Paspor IndonesiaYet, Najib and his cohort of senior civil servants and former and serving judicial officers contrived to shunt the Royal Commission of Inquiry into illegals in Sabah from arriving at a conclusion that would have been disastrous for Mahathir though the testimony adduced before the RCI moved more plausibly towards indicting Mahathir than the tendered evidence that he committed a sexual crime moved against Anwar in his trials for sodomy.

Fat chance you get any favours from Mahathir for let-offs you grant him once he has already decided that you are his next target.

However, it now seems that the Najib forces have an arrow in their quiver: the newly-formed Citizens Governancefor Accountable Good Governance (CAGG) has asked Mahathir to account for the billions of ringgit in taxpayers’ money that were squandered during the 22 years (1981-2003) that he was PM.

In a nice display of chutzpah, the NGO’s spokesperson Mohd Zainal Abidin said they are not taking sides and would go after other Prime Ministers, including Najib, once they are done with Mahathir.

Mohd Zainal threatened to file a citizen’s lawsuit for the amount of RM50 billion against Mahathir should he not explain the ventures that incurred losses of over RM100 billion under his prime ministerial watch.

This development only means that Mahathir’s battle to oust Najib is more steeply uphill now, with the onus of eviction of Najib on reasonable grounds falling more onerously on Mahathir himself.

Given that Mahathir is the unrelenting sort, he will not give up but will have to come up with more compelling reasons than he has thus far offered for Najib’s ouster.This is now a clash between a relentless force and an immovable object with not a little guile, a la Gracian, behind it.

Who is going to win is not as important as the vitalness of an inevitable byproduct: the battle will destroy in the Malay mind what it has been hard for it to grasp – that UMNO has been more blight than boon to its long-term future.

If that happens, it will be a supremely good upshot.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for more than four decades. A sobering discovery has been that those who protest the loudest tend to replicate the faults they revile in others.