The MACC-Rosli Dahlan Case resumes on June 12, 2015

May 28, 2015

Phnom Penh

The MACC-Rosli Dahlan Case resumes on June 12, 2015

by Hafiz

Former Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department Director, Ramli Yusof claimed in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today that then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had charged lawyer Rosli Dahlan a day before Hari Raya in 2007 so as to prevent Rosli from helping him.

Testifying during re-examination by Rosli’s counsel Chethan Jethwani, he further claimed that it was clear that former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan and current Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail were trying to fix him up.

“Rosli (photo) was engaged by us (the Police) when the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) did not want to draft affidavits by myself and six other Police officers against underworld kingpin Goh Cheng Poh. He (Rosli) helped file the affidavit (a habeas corpus application) against Goh.”

“They were trying to fix me and get to Rosli. They were trying to prevent Rosli from helping me and that is why they charged him first. I am the suspect, not Rosli. I am the prime suspect (in the non-declaration of assets). They should have charged me from the start,” the former top cop added.

In his witness statement, Ramli said the Police and then Deputy Home Minister Johari Baharom had engaged Rosli to draft the affidavit in reply. They also roped in senior lawyer C Vijiyakumar to help draft the necessary affidavits to oppose Goh’s application. “I saw this as fait accompli as normally, it is the AGC’s task to file the affidavit,” he said.

Passed files illegally

Ramli also questioned the manner in which the ACA arrested Rosli where they stormed his law firm and handcuffed him although he was not in any way violent. Rosli was charged on October 12, 2007 with non-compliance with the ACA’s notice to declare his assets while Ramli was charged about three weeks later on November 1, 2007.

Goh, or ‘Tengku’ Goh, was alleged to have had links to Musa, and Ramli testified yesterday that an unauthorised Gani  had demanded confidential files on police informants in that case and passed it on to the ACA.

Ramli was testifying in Rosli’s RM50 million suit against the Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission (the successor of the ACA) for wrongful detention and arrest.

Ramli said he had earlier met Gani with then Deputy Inspector-General of Police Najib Abdul Aziz and former head of prosecution at the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden.

“I had protested strongly against surrendering this file as I told them it is only the Home Minister and the Police officer handling (the case who) having access. I myself do not have access as it contains secret information about the informants.

“Najib (and) Yusof agreed with me. However, three days later, an ACA officer came to my office and issued a notice demanding that the files be given to Gani. “I went there and I strongly protested again but relented, in giving it to the A-G. The A-G then gave the file to the ACA,” he said.

Protest letter

Ramli said he wrote a letter dated August 23, 2007, to Gani to state his strong protest against having to hand over the file.The witness said that normally police do not give their files to the ACA and the ACA also applies the same procedure with the Police. He further claimed the ACA used the information to turn over the statements given by the informants and that led to Goh’s release.

Six officers who were under him and responsible in arresting Goh were charged with fabricatingAbu Kassim evidence. Eventually, all six, along with Ramli and Rosli, were acquitted of the charge.

He also claimed that Goh, or Tengku Goh, had links with Musa. In support of his theory, Ramli told the court that Goh’s habeas corpus affidavit said the arrest by Ramli’s men was illegal as it was not approved by Musa, and he was already cleared by the AG and the ACA.

Barred from promotion

Yesterday, Ramli also testified that he was destined to be the next IGP but was thwarted. Today, he revealed that this was disclosed to him by former IGP the late Bakri Omar, and former senior police officers Wahab Sulaiman and Mohd Sidek Ali, who were members of the Police Commission.

He said it was the Police Commission which is tasked with recommending senior officers to become the IGP and its deputy.

“Bakri called me in September 2006 and he said the commission is recommending me to be the next Deputy IGP before he retires. This is again verified by the two other members of the commission mentioned previously,” he said.

However, at about the same time, Ramli alleged that Musa (photo) used another kingpin by the name of Moo Sai Chin to claim that Moo had bribed Ramli in 1999.

This, he said, led to internal Police investigations on him and a further probe by the ACA, which affected his promotion. Ramli added on June 26, 2007, Musa issued a letter to him barring him from accepting the DGPP, a customary award given by the Police department, as there was an ACA investigation on him. “I replied to Musa’s letter on July 2, where I told him I was never informed of investigations done against me and the ACA had not investigated me,” he said. Soon after that, he said the ACA began probing him.

Hearing continues before Justice Su Geok Yiam on June 12.

May 28, 2015

Phnom Penh

Corruption is the Root of Malaysia’s Scandals and Problems–Lessons to Learn

by P.


QUESTION TIME: Malaysia had no major financial scandals – as in billion-ringgit ones – until the infamous case of Bumiputra Malaysia Finance or BMF emerged in the early eighties and captured the imagination of the press and the public.

Before we are a bit quick to point the finger at former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad  for that, let’s point out that Mahathir became Prime Minister only in 1981, after BMF, Bank Bumiputra’s wholly-owned Hong Kong subsidiary, started loaning money to George Tan’s Carrian group, eventually amounting to RM2.5 billion in all.

The loans were made between 1979 and 1983, which means that loans continued to be made to Carrian even after Mahathir became Prime Minister, implying that Mahathir cannot be totally absolved.

Carrian was a rising star in the Hong Kong property market then but subsequently went bust, making it the biggest bankruptcy in Hong Kong at the time. The scale of the scandal was simply enormous and record-breaking, putting Malaysia on the top of the list in terms of banking failure at that time.

The question is what was a unit of Bank Bumiputra, a bank set up to provide bumiputras access to funding as part of the effort to increase their participation in business, doing lending money to a Hong Kong property group? This was at that time, the largest banking scandal in the world and the interest in it spiked further when a Bank Bumiputra senior officer sent to Hong Kong to investigate was murdered and his body dumped in a banana plantation.

The end-result of the entire hugely complicated affair was that few people were brought to account and even the main person involved in the scandal, George Tan, spent just three years in jail. BMF’s then chairperson  spent a long time fighting extradition to Hong Kong from the UK.

Eventually he pleaded guilty in Hong Kong, but in an interview with Malaysia’s The Sun in a pub in London, he disavowed any wrong-doing in 2008, saying he was the fall guy. According to Lorrain (photo), Bank Bumiputra was getting deposits of RM50 million a month from national oil corporation Petronas and had nowhere to put it to use. Hence Hong Kong and the Carrian loans.

Much like 1MDB, it looks like a money-making scheme gone wrong. The underlying problem was a total lack of proper governance at the bank and the movement of money out of it. Was it a desire to make money for the bank and hence for the country or was it a plot to siphon out money for the benefit of individuals?

There have been many others scandals since – too many to go into detail in this article. Bank Bumiputra’s rescue several times in the billions of ringgit, Maminco, Perwaja Steel, Malaysia Airlines’ sales and repurchase, the Renong debacle, the huge forex losses at Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in 1992 – they all held one thing in common, the breakdown of corporate governance due to political interference.

The BNM scandal is worth going into in some detail. While official accounts put it at around RM10 billion, other estimates place it at around RM30 billion, the actual figure masked by adjustments to reserves, accounting tricks and even the alleged depreciation of the ringgit to improve BNM’s reserve position in ringgit terms.

Another dubious first

In BNM’s case, it was a political decision – Mahathir gave the go ahead for BNM to take positions – speculate in other words – on the foreign exchange market, to obtain gains for the country. That’s unheard of for a central bank, and BNM is probably the first and only central bank to have engaged in such activities on such a scale among the central banks of the world – yet another dubious first and a record breaker for Malaysia.

The shame is that except for this one blemish, BNM has been largely a well-managed and run central bank with impeccable people at the top with a reputation for integrity. It has been a reliable watchdog, keeping the nation’s banking system from spiralling down out of control under some of the worst economic conditions.

But the interfering hand of the politician – in this case Mahathir – and the approval of clearly taboo practices for central banks sullied that and resulted in covert foreign exchange operations that few knew about even within the bank and the huge losses of billions of ringgit eventually which could no longer be hidden.

It is worth remembering that all of the other ones apart from the BMF scandal occurred during Mahathir’s long 22-year tenure as PM. Even the BMF scandal ran for part of Mahathir’s time, when loans were actually increased to the Carrian group in an attempt to recover money eventually.

Mahathir’s successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had few such large scandals but there were many allegations of patronage made with respect to his son, son-in-law and brother, and also references made to the so-called fourth floor boys – a coterie of close advisers who were supposed to have great influence in decision-making. But to Abdullah’s credit, it was under his tenure that the government-linked companies (GLCs) transformation programme was started, an ambitious attempt to reform GLCs many of which were being managed badly with former civil servants at the top.

Khazanah Nasional, which is wholly-owned by the government, under Azman Mokhtar and which held many of the GLCs under its umbrella spearheaded the transformation, by bringing in professional managers as well as setting KPI targets, standards and rulebooks, amongst others.

Even the GLCs which were not under Khazanah were subject to scrutiny and new standards. There was a tremendous improvement in performance, accountability and adopting best practices although there was and still is greater room for improvement.

But his successor Najib Abdul Razak negated a huge part of the transformation when along came 1MDB, first formed as Terengganu Investment Authority or TIA, which in a space of five years had assets, many of them dubious and unverifiable, of RM51 billion and liabilities of RM48 billion. It was built on a towering edifice of debt never before seen in Malaysia, much of it guaranteed by the federal government.

1MDB is wholly-owned by the Minister of Finance Inc and is not subject at all to all the governance procedures required of other GLCs. It operates rather covertly, makes no public reports like Khazanah does yearly beyond what is required by statute and gives very little information of its operations.

Now evidence has surfaced in the form of an amendment to 1MDB’s memorandum and articles of association (MAA) in August 2009 that requires major financial commitments and other major decisions by 1MDB to be approved in writing by the prime minister.

If this had continued to be in place the question arises as to whether he had given approval to all of 1MDB’s major transactions. If he has not, that implies that many of 1MDB’s transactions would have been directly against the MAA.

As we saw this is not the first time such a lack of governance has happened in Malaysia. The question is why does it continue to happen.

The root causes

One root cause is the continued abuse of the bumiputera agenda. Such was the case with Bank Bumiputra where others took advantage of the bank, set up to help bumiputeras gain access to funding, to channel funds into Hong Kong for their own purposes leading to massive losses of money.

In subsequent years, Bank Bumiputra continued to lend money to well-connected bumiputra owners many of whom never repaid their loans, eventually making the bank bankrupt. That included UMNO which owed Bank Bumiputra RM300 million at one time for loans associated with the Putra World Trade Centre.

In the guise of helping bumiputras, much money was siphoned off out of financial institutions but very few people were brought to book. Such practices were accepted as part of the ordinary course of business.

Other reasons for such covert operations are to raise political slush funds which could be used during elections, although many suspect a huge part of these funds go into individual pockets where they are tacitly accepted as a part of patronage politics. Such reasoning and the channelling of funds into the pockets of party bigwigs around the country muffles criticism of the practices from within UMNO.

Also much of the public funds are wasted and lucrative contracts and concessions are awarded to privileged businessmen who contribute to party funds. Often, these businesses inflate construction prices to cream off profits while the inflated figures allow them to charge more for services they provide.

The underlying problem is the system – as long as there is money politics and excessive powers vested in the hands of the executive it will continue to happen over and over again. As long as no one is brought to account for past transgressions, it will encourage more people to cheat; after all what do they have to lose?

We simply need a commitment to cut corruption and patronage from the top downwards if things like 1MDB are not to happen again. If that’s not forthcoming from the current government despite all the pressure put on it, the public needs to exercise its democratic rights.

P Gunasegaram is founding editor of KINIBIZ which produces an online business news portal and a fortnightly print magazine.

Prime Minister Najib’s Economic and Financial Powerhouse–Impressive Captains

May 28, 2015

Phnom Penh

Prime Minister Najib’s Economic and Financial Powerhouse–Impressive Captains

Horse-trading, money changing hands, contracts finalising, projects reviewing and the list goes on. That’s what is happening now, as the mother of all scandal – 1MDB – about to enter another new month this year. Bets are on the table that by hook or by crook, Pprime minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor may have a smooth sailing after all.

 In fact, Najib and Auntie Rosy are ready to pull Mahathir and his family down together, if that’s what it will take to win this war. Clearly, only one team will emerge victorious, and the loser will not be able to get a “face-saving” exit this time. With the present social networking age, the loser will be remembered in a disgraceful manner.

1MDB RM42 Billion - Thank You For Your SupportWhat’s rather amazing is the fact that Bank Negara (Central Bank) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz was the only individual who had not spoken about 1MDB scandal, until today, despite the institution being dragged into the drama by Najib numerous times. First, Najib cried 1MDB money couldn’t be repatriated back home because the central bank would make a big issue out of it.

 Subsequently, Najib bitched that BRIM, a project where Santa Claus gives away free cash to people, was actually an idea from the central bank, not from his administration. Still, Zeti didn’t raise a finger but kept an elegance silence, as if she was sleeping on the job. Today, she finally opens her mouth.

Apparently, Zeti had received a report from MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) about an account linked to the debt-ridden strategic investment firm at the Swiss-based BSI Bank. As expected, she wouldn’t reveal anything, using “confidentiality” as the excuse. Governor Zeti should know better than anyone else about “helping” Najib Razak, so let’s hope she doesn’t do something stupid.

 Besides forming alliances and recruiting betrayals, this war of the century – Mahathir vs Najib – will see losers being wiped out not only from the political landscape, but also about business cronies losing everything. Hence, the stake is not merely RM42 billion of 1MDB debt alone, but billions of new business contracts.

Besides forming alliances and recruiting betrayals, this war of the century – Mahathir vs Najib – will see losers being wiped out not only from the political landscape, but also about business cronies losing everything. Hence, the stake is not merely RM42 billion of 1MDB debt alone, but billions of new business contracts.

Najib vs Mahathir - WarLike it or not, this “Clash of the Titans” does not only affect politicians and businessmen, but also small investors such as stock market traders, speculators, gamblers, punters or whatever name you wish to call yourself. If Najib wins, the status quo remains. But if he losses, which is very likely, you may want to avoid certain stocks or companies related to his cronies.

 Could that be one of the reasons why his own brother, Nazir Razak, appears to be on the enemy’s camp? Actually, it makes perfect sense to distance himself from big brother Najib. The stake is simply too high. It’s a foolish move to defend his own brother, and in the process losses everything in CIMB, the same way Rashid Hussein lost RHB because he aligned himself with Anwar Ibrahim.

Malakoff IPO - Billionaire Syed Mokhtar EmpireGet ready for a super lengthy write-up on Najib Razak’s cronies below. This is not a complete list though. But some cronies such as Vincent Tan (Berjaya Group), Quek Leng Chan (Hong Leong Group), Teh Hong Piow (Public Bank Berhad), Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, Ananda Krishnan are considered as UMNO-cronies, not Najb-cronies.

 { 1 }  Nazir Razak, 49

  • CIMB Group Holdings Berhad (KLSE:CIMB, stock-code 1023): Chairman
  • Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB): Director
  • Employees Provident Fund (EPF): Chairman of the Investment Panel Risk Committee
  • Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre: Executive Committee member

Najib Razak Cronies - Nazir RazakNazir Razak, the youngest brother, is the most well known. He obtained a Master of Philosophy at Cambridge University. He is a career banker, joining CIMB Investment Bank almost 20 years ago and rising through its executive ranks to become its CEO in 1999. Perhaps the most business-savvy within the Razak family members, Nazir is infamous for his controversial acquisition of Southern Bank from owner Tan Teong Hean.

Following the merger of CIMB and Bumiputra-Commerce Bank, to become Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd (BCHB), Nazir became CEO of the merged group and later Chairman of CIMB Group. Informed observers widely believe Nazir advises Najib on finance and economic policy issues. However, the relationships between all the Razak brothers with PM Najib are in a bad shape due to wife Rosmah Mansor.

 { 2 }  Ahmad Johari Razak, 59

  • Ancom Berhad(KLSE: ANCOM, stock-code 4758): Non-Executive Chairman
  • Hong Leong Industries Berhad(KLSE:HLIND, stock-code 3301): Non-Executive Director
  • Daiman Development Berhad(KLSE: DAIMAN, stock-code 5355): Non-Executive Chairman
  • Sumatec Resources Berhad (KLSE: SUMATEC, stock-code 1201): Non-Executive Director
  • Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (KLSE: MRCB: stock-code 1651): Independent Director
  • Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad: Director
  • Daiman Golf Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Courts Mammoth (M) Berhad (delisted-privatised): Non-Executive Chairman

Najib Razak Cronies - Ahmad Johari RazakJohari Razak, the second eldest brother and a close friend of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah. He is a lawyer and senior partner at Shearn Delamore & Co, a large law firm  located at Wisma Hamzah-Kwong Hing, Kuala Lumpur. His areas of practice include corporate and commercial joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions; corporate restructuring; and the listing of public companies.

He was believed to play a vital role during the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis, which saw the collapse of Pakatan Rakyat state government. This enabled brother Najib Razak scored important brownie points, as a great political tactician, at least in the eyes of UMNO members.

Coincidentally, 1MDB, currently in hot soup over RM42 billion debt scandal, had lendings from a consortium of six foreign banks led by Deutsche Bank. With the prospect of 1MDB declares a default over the syndicated loan amounting to US$975 million, Deutsche Bank Singapore and other banks such as BSI Singapore, RBS Coutts could seek early repayment.

 { 3 }  Mohamed Nizam Razak, 56

  • Mamee Double-Decker (M) Berhad (delisted-privatised): Non-Executive Director
  • Yeo Hiap Seng (M) Berhad (delisted-privatised): Non-Executive Director
  • Other directorship: Synergy Track Sdn. Bhd., Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Bhd., Noah Foundation, Hong Leong Foundation, National Children Welfare Foundation, Yayasan Rahah, and Yayasan Wah Seong.

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohamed Nizam RazakNizam Razak studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford University. He was a stockbroker and CEO of PB Securities Sdn Bhd in the 1990s. He is currently a non-executive director in several once-publicly listed companies including Mamee Double-Decker (M) Bhd and Yeo Hiap Seng (M) Bhd, which have since been taken private.

 He used to serve as non-executive director at Hiap Teck Venture Bhd and Delloyd Ventures Bhd, and like brother Johari, Nizam is also a director of Deutsche Bank. Together with UMNO money carrier Syed Mokhtar they were once eyeing for the 19.4% stake in DRB-Hicom held by the family trust of late Yahaya Ahmad. Today, Syed Mokhtar owns DRB.

 { 4 } Mohamed Nazim Razak, 53

  • Hong Leong Bank Berhad(KLSE: HLBANK, stock-code 5819): Non-Executive Director
  • Hong Leong Capital Berhad (KLSE:HLCAP, stock-code 5274): Non-Executive Director
  • XiDeLang Holdings Limited (KLSE: XDL, stock-code 5156): Deputy Chairman
  • 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Berhad (KLSE: SEM, stock-code 5250): Non-Executive Director
  • Hong Leong Islamic Bank Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Other directorship: The Legends Golf & Country Resort Bhd., Batu Caves Centrepoint Sdn. Bhd., BTS Land Capital Sdn. Bhd., Century Tower Industries Sdn. Bhd., Digiport (M) Sdn. Bhd., etc

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohamed Nazim RazakNazim Razak, the fourth brother  who married former host of TV3’s Nona show, Norjuma Habib Mohamed, studied architecture in the UK. He is Chairman of Meru Utama Sdn Bhd, an outdoor advertising company that received a seven-year advertising concession in 2007 to advertise the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Low-cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

 Nazim is also a director of Eng Wah Organization Limited, a Singapore-based business involved in cinema operations, film distribution and rental of retail and office space. He is a Chairman of the Governing Council of Masterskill, a private University/College (the Pro Chancellor is Raja Azureen Raja Azlan Shah, the daughter of the late Sultan of Perak) and Director of OYL Industries (a subsidiary of Hong Leong Group of Companies).

 { 5 }  Tan Kay Hock, 67

  • Johan Holdings Berhad(KLSE: JOHAN, stock-code 3441): Chairman and CEO
  • George Kent (M) Berhad(KLSE:GKENT, stock-code 3204): Chairman
  • Jacks International Limited: Chairman
  • Iskandar Regional Development Authority: Member
  • Malaysian Humanitarian Foundation: Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Tan Kay HockWhen Tan Kay Hock, a golfing buddy of Prime Minister Najib Razak, was awarded the systems work for the RM1.1 billion Ampang light rail transit (LRT) line extension project in July 2012, it raised eyebrows because the company was better known as manufacturers and suppliers of water meters. Mr Tan denied his company, George Kent, won due to political links.

Now that his golfing buddy Najib is in hot soup over 1MDB’s RM42 billion debt scandal, will the Prime Minister expedite the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project before getting the boot? Most importantly, will Tan Kay Hock’s 25-years of “friendship” with Najib helps George Kent secure the jewel of rail projects?

{ 6 }  Shahril Shamsuddin, 54

  • SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad(KLSE: SAPCRES, stock-code 8575): Executive Director and President and Group CEO
  • Sapura Industrial Berhad(KLSE: SAPIND, stock-code 7811): Deputy Chairman
  • Sapura Resources Berhad(KLSE: SAPRES, stock-code 4596): Non-Executive Director
  • Sapura Secured Technologies Sdn. Bhd. (private division of Sapura Group): President and CEO

Najib Razak Cronies - Shahril ShamsuddinShahril Shamsuddin of Sapura Group and his family is well known to have a very good relationship with Najib’s family. His father, Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir, the founder of Sapura Group, was however aligned to former premier Mahathir Mohamad. Later, the merger between Mahathir’s son (Mokhzani Mahathir) Kencana Petroleum and SapuraCrest Petroleum forming today’s SapuraKencana in 2012.

However, both Mokhzani and Shahril couldn’t see eye to eye, due to differences of opinion between both co-founders in the running of SapuraKencana, not to mention about who really has better capability helming the country’s largest oil and gas services firm. Subsequently, Mokhzani resigned as vice chairman this year (March 2015).

{ 7 }  Mohamed Azman Yahya, 51

  • SymphonyHouse Berhad (KLSE: SYMPHNY, stock-code 0016): Group CEO, Founder
  • Symphony Life Berhad(KLSE: SYMLIFE, stock-code 1538): Executive Chairman
  • Scomi Group Berhad(KLSE: SCOMI, stock-code 7158): Non-Executive Director
  • PLUS Expressway Berhad(delisted in 2012): Non-Executive Director
  • Ekuiti Nasional Berhad: Director
  • AIA Group Limited: Non-Executive Director
  • Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB): Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohamed Azman YahyaMohamed Azman Yahya, director of Khazanah, and founder and group chief executive officer of Symphony House Bhd, an outsourcing firm. He is also the ex-CEO of Pengurusan Danaharta Bhd and sits on several advisory panels for the development of the capital market, venture capital, and public service delivery system.

 Despite his supposedly wide experience in charge of national asset management, he couldn’t do anything to help the once rotting Malaysian Airline Systems. However, Azman Yahya, one of Najib’s six trusted individuals, was allegedly conspired with Nor Mohamed Yakcop and cheated Halim Saad in a UEM-Renong takeover deal back in 2001.

 { 8 }  Rohana Mahmood, 61

  • Paramount Corporation Berhad(KLSE: PARAMON, stock-code 1724): Non-Executive Director
  • AMMB Holdings Berhad(KLSE: AMBANK, stock-code 1015): Non-Executive Director
  • Sime Darby Berhad(KLSE: SIME, stock-code 4197): Non-Executive Director
  • RM Capital Partners Sdn Bhd (spin off from Ethos Capital): Chairman and Founder.
  • AmInvestment Bank Berhad: Non-Executive Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Rohana MahmoodRohana was the chairman and co-founder of Ethos Capital, a RM200 million private equity firm, which through its Ethos Consulting was involved in the National Automotive Policy that resulted in the abuse of APs to selected individuals associated to Khairy Jamaluddin, son-in-law of former prime minister Abdullah Badawi. Among all cronies, Rohana Mahmood stands out as deeply embedded in the Najib family’s commercial interests.

Together with Omar Mustapha Ong, a former special assistant to Najib Razak, they once had their eyes on EPF’s RM300 billion fund to manage. She and another close aide of Najib, Abdul Razak Baginda (linked to gruesome murder of Mongolian Altantuya), are co-founders of an independent think-tank, Malaysian Strategic Research Centre. Najib was chairman of the think-tank, now disbanded.

 { 9 }  Azman Mokhtar, 54

  • Axiata Group Berhad (KLSE: AXIATA, stock-code 6888): Chairman and Non-Executive Director
  • Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB): Managing Director and CEO
  • Iskandar Investment Berhad: Chairman

Najib Razak Cronies - Azman MokhtarAzman was Managing Director and co-founder of the infamous consulting firm BinaFikir, which proposed WAU (Wide Unbundling Asset) in 2002 to save ailing Malaysian Airline System (MAS). Amusingly, under his poor leadership, MAS made bigger losses. Azman then proposed Penerbangan Malaysia Berhad (PMB), which also lost money.

Azman Mokhtar, who is running Khazanah, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund which in effect controls CIMB along with the country’s national pension scheme, is one of six trusted individuals personally picked by Najib for ideas on issues ranging from economy, capital markets and general business soon after Najib was appointed Finance Minister.

Comically, the supposedly genius Azman Mokhtar couldn’t turn around MAS for the second time, in a MAS-AirAsia share swap exercise. He probably has the longest list of “failed” restructuring and business ventures – tuna fishing venture losses of RM120 million, Parkway Holdings’ RM935 million losses, and whatnot.

 { 10 }  Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, 61

  • Konsortium Transnasional Berhad(KLSE: KTB, stock-code 4847): Chairman and Managing Director
  • Transocean Holdings Berhad(KLSE: TOCEAN, stock-code 7218): Chairman and Managing Director
  • V.S. Industry Berhad(KLSE: VS, stock-code 6963): Non-Executive Director
  • JT International Berhad: Chairman
  • Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL): Chairman
  • Nadicorp Holdings Sdn Bhd: Chairman
  • Trisilco Folec Sdn Bhd: Chairman

Najib Razak Cronies - Mohd Nadzmi Mohd SallehMohd Nadzmi, the chairman and MD of express bus operator, Konsortium Transnational Bhd. The former Proton boss was called upon by the Government in 1996 to revive the ailing public transport company. He is one of the six trusted individuals personally picked by Najib for ideas on issues ranging from economy, capital markets and general business soon after Najib was appointed Finance Minister.

He was former PM Mahathir’s prodigy and has expertise in transportation. Nadzmi had tried bidding for Proton numerous times, when the national car maker’s profits came under pressure. German’s Volkswagen and American’s General Motors had held talks with Proton management but the sensitive issue of “over-protection” ownership hindered any further strategic alliance.

 { 11 }  Mohd Salleh Bakke, 61

  • Sime Darby Berhad(KLSE: SIME, stock-code 4197): President, Group CEO
  • Eastern & Oriental Berhad(KLSE: E&O, stock-code 3417): Non-Executive Director
  • Sime Darby Property Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Yayasan Sime Darby: Non-Executive Director
  • Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER): Director
  • Other directorship: Sime Darby Energy & Utilities Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Healthcare Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Plantation Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Industrial Holdings Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Bhd., Eastern & Oriental Bhd., Sime Darby Energy Sdn. Bhd., Sime Darby Motors Sdn. Bhd.

Bakke was formerly the Group President & Chief Executive Officer of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad. His previous directorship and chairmanship involvement included Permodalan Nasiona Berhad (PNB), Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional, Bank Islam Malaysia, Lembaga Tabung Haji and whatnot.

But none of the above beats his latest “involvement”, or at least his “knowledge” about the explosive 1MDB’s RM42 billion debt. Bakke was the chairman of 1MDB from 11-Aug-2009 till his resignation on 19-Oct-2009. So, was he involved in the approval of US$700 million, allegedly siphoned to Good Star Ltd, a company owned by Jho Low?

 { 12 }  Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, 61

  • Affin Holdings Berhad(KLSE: AFFIN, stock-code 5185): Deputy Chairman
  • Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Berhad (KLSE:BHIC, stock-code 8133): Chairman
  • Boustead Holdings Berhad (KLSE:BSTEAD, stock-code 2771): Deputy Chairman and Group Managing Director
  • Boustead Plantations Berhad (KLSE:BPLANT, stock-code 5254): Vice Chairman
  • Pharmaniaga Berhad (KLSE:PHARMA, stock-code 7081): Chairman
  • 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB): Chairman
  • Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT): Chief Executive
  • Other directorship: UAC Berhad, MHS Aviation Berhad, FIDE Forum, Badan Pengawas Pemegang Saham Minority Berhad, Affin Bank Berhad, Affin Islamic Bank Berhad, Affin Hwang Investment Bank Berhad and AXA Affin Life Insurance Berhad.

Najib Razak Cronies - Lodin Wok KamaruddinThe mention of LTAT and Boustead will easily give away the type of business Lodin specialises in. He’s essentially the “Chief of the Armed Forces Fund Board”, making him very powerful and super rich. His Boustead Heavy Industries was notorious for getting all the contracts building military ships for the government, but can never delivered them (*grin*). But that was just the tip of an iceberg.

 What many didn’t realise was the fact that Lodin Wok was one of the directors of Perimekar Sdn Bhd until 2010, when the explosive procurement of two French-made submarines was revealed. The Scorpene scandal, which involved RM534.8 million in commission, and later the gruesome murder of Mongolian Altantuya speaks volumes about Lodin’s relationship with Najib. He also sits on the boards of Affin Bank Bhd, one of Perimekar’s bankers.

 { 13 }  Ismee Ismail, 51

  • Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad(KLSE: TAKAFUL, stock-code 6139): Chairman
  • TH Plantations Berhad(KLSE: THPLANT, stock-code 5112): Non-Executive Director
  • BIMB Holdings Berhad(KLSE: BIMB, stock-code 5258): Non-Executive Director
  • Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad: Non-Executive Director
  • Edra Global Energy Berhad (formerly known as 1MDB Energy Group Berhad): Director
  • Lembaga Tabung Haji: Group Managing Director and CEO
  • 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB): Director

Najib Razak Cronies - Ismee IsmailIsmee Ismail began his career at Arab Malaysian Development Berhad in 1987. He later joined the Shell Group of Companies in Malaysia and held various positions including the Head of Forex and Banking of Shell Malaysia Ltd and Group Accountant of Shell Malaysia Trading Sdn. Bhd.

 He is currently the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Lembaga Tabung Haji. Prior to that, he was the Chief Executive Officer of ECM Libra Securities Sdn Bhd and a Director of ECM Libra Capital Sdn Bhd. What’s in the limelight now is the prospect of Tenaga Nasional Berhad bailing Edra Global Energy Berhad, to the tune of RM16 billion. Did he also has his hand in Tabung Haji’s recent acquisition of 1MDB’s lands?

 { 14 }  Robert Kuok Hock Nien, 92

  • PPB Oil Palms Bhd (KLSE: PPB, stock-code 4065)
  • Malaysian Bulk Carriers Berhad (KLSE:MAYBULK, stock-code 5077)

Najib Razak Cronies - Robert KuokWith net worth of US$12.4 billion (Forbes, May 2015), the world’s #110 richest but Malaysia’s richest man, Robert Kuok is a legend. His empire – Kuok Group – controls a fleet of listed companies in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. PM Najib Razak used to visit “Uncle Kuok”, who was a childhood friend with second Prime Minister Tun Razak.

Together with third PM Hussein Onn, the trio’s friendship went back to their school days at Raffles School Singapore. Interestingly, Singapore’s first Prime Minister – Lee Kuan Yew – was one of their classmates. Although Robert Kuok has brilliantly diversified most of his fortune out of Malaysia, there’re still some “leftovers”.

 { 15 }  Other Public-Listed Companies / Financial Institutions

  • 1MDB - Bail Out Progress Report - EPF, KWAP, Finance Ministry, Tabung Haji, TakafulTenaga Nasional Berhad (KLSE: TENAGA, stock-code 5347):- possibility of bailing out 1MDB’s Edra Global Energy Berhad to the tune of RM16 billion
  • Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF):- RM200 million bond investment in 1MDB; RM1.5 billion investment in Panglima Power Sdn Bhd (PPSB)and Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd (JEV).
  • Retirement Fund Inc. (KWAP):- Invested RM1.4 billion in 1MDB’s various subsidiaries: Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, 1MDB Energy Limited, 1MDB Global Investment Limited, and Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd (JEV). There was also the controversial sale and leaseback of a commercial office tower with 1MDB Real Estate Bhd (1MDB RE)
  • Lembaga Tabung Haji:- has invested RM920 million bond in 1MDB’s real estate development Bandar Malaysia and last month, bought 0.63ha from the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) financial district.

‘The Daemon Knows,’ by Harold Bloom

May 27, 2015

Phnom Penh

NY TIMES Sunday Book Review

‘The Daemon Knows,’ by Harold Bloom

Read Bloom, and you may be led to suppose it so. “Walt Whitman,” he writes, “overwhelms me, possesses me, as only a few others — Dante, Shakespeare, ­Milton — consistently flood my entire being. . . . Without vision, criticism perishes.” And: “I rejoice at all strong ­transports of sublimity.” And again: “True criticism recognizes itself as a mode of memoir.” And finally, emphatically: “I believe there is no critical method except yourself.” It is through intoxicating meditations such as these that Bloom has come to his ­formulation of the American Sublime, and from this to his revelation of the daemon: the very Higgs boson of the sublime. Bloom’s beguiling daemon can be construed as the god ­within; he is sire to the exaltations of apotheosis, shamanism, Gnosticism, Orphism, Hermeticism and, closer to home, ­Emerson’s “Self-Reliance.” He is made manifest through the voice of poets and in the chants of those weavers of tales, like Melville and Faulkner, who are kin to ­poets.

Harold BloomDaemon Knows,” the enigmatic title of Bloom’s newest work of oracular criticism, is strangely intransitive. What is it that the daemon knows? We are meant to understand that the daemon is an incarnation of an intuition beyond ordinary apperception, and that this knowing lies in the halo of feeling that glows out of the language of poetry. “To ask the question concerning the daemon is to seek an origin of inspiration,” Bloom asserts, and his teacherly aim is to pose the question in close readings of 12 daemon-possessed writers whom he interrogates in pairs: Whitman with Melville, Emerson with Dickinson, Hawthorne with Henry James, Mark Twain with Frost, Stevens with T. S. Eliot, Faulkner with Hart Crane. He might well have chosen 12 others, he tells us, reciting still another blizzard of American luminaries, but dismisses the possibility “because these [chosen] writers represent our incessant effort to transcend the human without forsaking humanism.” (A question Bloom does not put — we will approach it shortly — is whether shamanism, Orphism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism and all the other mystical isms, including the idea of the daemon, do in fact cling to humanism.)

For Bloom, the origin of inspiration is dual: the daemon who ignites it from within, and the genealogical force that pursues it from without. The bloodline infusion of literary precursors has long been a ­leitmotif for Bloom, from the academic implosion of “The Anxiety of Influence” more than 40 years ago to the more recent “The Anatomy of Influence.” Here he ­invokes the primacy of Emerson as germinating ancestor:

“For me, Emerson is the fountain of the American will to know the self and its drive for sublimity. The American ­poets who (to me) matter most are all Emersonians of one kind or another: Walt ­Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, John Ashbery, A. R. Ammons, Elizabeth Bishop, May Swenson, Henri Cole. Our greatest creators of prose fiction were not Emersonians, yet the protagonists of Hawthorne, Melville and Henry James frequently are beyond our understanding if we do not see Hester Prynne, Captain Ahab and Isabel Archer as self-reliant questers.”

Though Bloom’s persuasive family trees are many-branched, the power of influential predecessors nevertheless stands apart from daemonic possession. According to Bloom, the daemon — “pure energy, free of morality” — is far more intrinsic than thematic affinity. However ­aggressively their passions invade, it is not Whitman alone who gives birth to Melville, or Emerson to Dickinson, or Hawthorne to James, or Mark Twain to Frost; and certainly it is not the lurid Faulkner, all on his own, who rivals the clay that will become Hart Crane. Literary heritage is half; the rest is the daemon. “ ‘Moby-Dick,’ ” Bloom sums up, “is at the center of this American heretical scripture, our worship of the god within, which pragmatically means of the daemon who knows how it is done.” But there is yet another pragmatic demonstration to be urged and elaborated. “Hart Crane’s daemon,” he adds, “knows how it is done and creates an epic of Pindaric odes, lyrics, meditations and supernal longings without precedent.”Without precedent: Surely this is the earliest key, in Bloom’s scheme, to the daemon’s magickings.

Theme and tone and voice may have authorial ancestors; what we call inspiration has none. Turning to one of his two commanding ­touchstones (the other is Whitman), Bloom cites Emerson: “This is that which the strong genius works upon; the region of destiny, of aspiration, of the unknown. . . . Far the best part, I repeat, of every mind is not that which he knows, but that which hovers in gleams, suggestions, tantalizing unpossessed before him.” So when Bloom tells us there can be no critical method other than the critic himself — meaning Bloom — we should not take it as blowhard hyperbole. With Emerson, he intends to pry open the unpossessed and to possess it, and to lead the reader to possess it too: a critical principle rooted in ampleness and generosity.

In this way, the illustrative excerpts Bloom selects from the work of his hallowed dozen are more than concentrated wine tastings; they are libraries in little. In considering Hawthorne, he discusses — in full — “Wakefield” and “Feathertop,” two lesser-known stories, as well as “The Blithedale Romance,”  “The Marble Faun” and the canonical “The Scarlet Letter” and “The House of the Seven Gables.” In his descant on James, Bloom supplies entire scenes from “The Portrait of a Lady,”  “The Bostonians” and “The Wings of the Dove,” in addition to long passages of “The Jolly Corner.” And in crisscrossing from Hawthorne to James and back again, he leaves nothing and no one unconnected. “Where indeed in American fiction,” he asks, “could there be a ­woman loftier, purer, as beautiful and as wise as Hester Prynne? Isabel Archer is the only likely candidate,” though he goes on to lament her choice of the “odious ­Osmond.” For Bloom, Moby-Dick consorts with Huck Finn, and Emily Dickinson with ­Shakespeare, while Whitman underlies, or agitates, Stevens, Hart Crane and, surprisingly, T. S. Eliot.

Of all Bloom’s couplings, Stevens and Eliot are the oddest and the crankiest. ­Despite the unexpected common link with Whitman, the juxtaposition is puzzling. Bloom’s veneration of Stevens, ­sometimes “moved almost to tears,” is unstinting. “From start to end, his work is a solar litany,” he confesses. “Stevens has helped me to live my life.” Yet nearly in the same breath Bloom is overt, even irascible, in his distaste for Eliot, partly in repudiation of “his virulent anti-Semitism, in the age of Hitler’s death camps,” but also because of his clericalism: “Is it my personal prejudice only that finds no aesthetic value whatsoever in the devotional verse of T. S. Eliot? . . . His dogmatism, dislike of women, debasement of ordinary human ­existence make me furious.” In the same dismissive vein, he disposes of Ezra Pound: “I at last weary of his sprawl and squalor.” Nowhere else in this celebratory volume can such a tone — of anger and disgust — be found. Not even in Bloom’s dispute with what he zealously dubs “the School of Resentment” (the politicization of literary studies) is he so vehement as here.

Still, emotive disclosures are not foreign to this critic’s temperament. He has, after all, already told us that criticism can be a form of memoir. “I am an experiential and personalizing literary critic,” he explains, “which certainly rouses up enmity, but I go on believing that poems matter only if we matter.” Out of this credo grows a confiding intimacy: “The obscure being I could call Bloom’s daemon has known how it is done, and I have not. His true name (has he one?) I cannot discover, but I am grateful to him for teaching the classes, writing the books, enduring the mishaps and illnesses, and nurturing the fictions of continuity that sustain my 85th year.” A touching reminder of the nature of the human quotidian, its riches and its vicissitudes, its ­successes and its losses: tangled mortal life itself, pulsing onward in the daylight world of reality. But is this what Bloom’s exalted 12 have taught of how the daemon, that rhapsodic creature of “pure energy, free of morality,” is purposed? The daemon who is trance, who is the mystical whiteness of the white whale, who is harp and altar of Hart Crane’s bridge, and who enters solely into seers and poets? Can the daemon’s lover — who is Bloom — harbor the daemon in himself? Or, to put it otherwise: May the professor of poetry don the poet’s mantle?

Meanwhile, the daemon knows, and Bloom knows too, who are his most ­dedicated antagonists. They are those verifiable humanists, the rabbis who repudiate the kabbalists, who refute the seductions of Orphists and Gnostics, who deny the dervishing god within and linger still in that perilous garden where mortals dare to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and daemons of the sublime are passing incantatory delusions.

Well, never mind — at least while Bloom’s enrapturing book is radiant in your hand. The daemon knows, and Bloom knows too, that in Eden, birthplace of the moral edict and the sober deed, there ­never was a poet.

Literary Greatness and the American Sublime
By Harold Bloom

524 pp. Spiegel & Grau. $35.

Cynthia Ozick’s most recent book is the novel “Foreign Bodies.” Her new collection, “Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary ­Essays,” will be published next year.

A version of this review appears in print on May 24, 2015, on page BR1 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Shared Visions.

Mr Arul Kandasamy: No Excuses for not attending PAC Meeting

May 27, 2015

Phnom Penh

 Mr Arul Kandasamy: No Excuses for not attending PAC Meeting

You are a special Malaysian born in Sitiawan, Perak. You are being engaged by the 1MDB Board of Directors to deal with the company’s massive debt problems. The first thing you must do is to respect our laws and regulations. By failing to attend the PAC meeting in Parliament, for example, you have not shown any regard for our Legislature. You should have turned up up on time to respond to  questions directed  at you by the PAC chairperson and his colleagues. In stead, you chose to give the PAC chairperson a stupid excuse. If the incompetent Treasury failed to inform you of the meeting, YB Nur Jazlan cannot be blamed.

Arul, Lodin and NajibYou are appointed to do your job diligently and with integrity as your salary and perks are being paid by the ultimate shareholders of 1MDB, who are Malaysian taxpayers. The  Prime Minister is not your boss since he himself must be accountable the people. So you have no right to lie and cheat on his behalf. As someone who is purportedly an expert on financial matters, you know what your responsibilities and duties are. But you are obviously not what you claim to be.

I hope  you and your Chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin and other Directors will bear the full brunt of the law when the time comes. Prime Minister Najib cannot protect you since he himself will likely lose power when those UMNO party members wake up from their slumber and realise that they have been lied to and cheated and abused by their President. –Din Merican.


Stephen Colbert interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson

May 27, 2015

Phnom Penh

Stephen Colbert interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson


Have a great morning. My dear friend and former Wisma Putra colleague, Dato’ Hamzah Majeed, now a respected educator at Chempaka School Group told me that I should watch this interview with the man from Bronx, New York City. I just did and Neil deGrasse Tyson is an interesting and entertaining man of science.

To know his background, please read this: –Din Merican

MACC may try to expunge ex-cop’s evidence in Rosli Dahlan’s case

May 26, 2015

Phnom Penh

MACC may try to expunge ex-cop’s evidence in Rosli Dahlan’s case

 by Ho Kit

Cecil AbrahamThe civil action commenced by prominent lawyer Rosli Dahlan against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), formerly known as the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), is expected to take a new dramatic twist when the next witness, former Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) Chief Ramli Yusoff takes the stand.

Last Friday, counsel for MACC Cecil Abraham notified the court of his intention to seek that Ramli’s Witness Statement be expunged from the Court record. Lawyers say that such a move is highly unusual and the Court will usually reserve its power to expunge matters considered scandalous, frivolous, vexatious or which are otherwise an abuse of process.

It remains to be seen which parts of Ramli’s Witness Statement are said to be liable to be expunged and MACC’s basis for doing so.

Speculation is that MACC may want to prevent certain details in the case from becoming matters of public record. Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard on Monday the evidence of lawyer Harvinderjit Singh who told the High Court that the ACA had denied him access to his then client Rosli when the latter was arrested in October 2007.

“I went to ACA’s headquarters in Putrajaya between 4pm and 5pm as I was instructed by the partners from Rosli’s firm to find out two things, which were whether I could meet him, and when Rosli would be released from questioning,” he said during examination-in-chief by Rosli’s lawyer, Chetan Jethwani.

He said an ACA officer by the name of Sok One Ehsan, who was at the information desk, told rosli-dahlan1him that the senior lawyer was being questioned at the time.“I could not meet Rosli at that time,” he added.

Harvinderjit said he then later met deputy public prosecutor Kevin Anthony Morais at the office and sought answers from him as to when Rosli would be released.“I stopped him when I saw him at the lobby. Kevin told me that he will be released later at night,” he said, adding that Kevin also said to Harvinderjit that there was no need for the lawyer to be there.“However, Rosli was not released that night,” he said.

Rosli’s wife, Misni Aryani Muhamad, also testified, saying that she had brought food and clothes to the lockup for him to break fast and pray while under detention.

“I received a call from an officer after some time of waiting at the office,” she testified. “Rosli was on the phone.We only spoke briefly. After that, an officer came and took the food from me,” she said.

Misni said she later found out that Rosli did not get the food which she had brought him. Instead, he was given ‘stall food’ by ACA officers and suffered a stomach ache as a result.

She added she was told by two lawyers after midnight that her husband would not be released that night and that he would not be allowed to meet his lawyers either. “They said that Rosli would be charged in court (the next) morning,” she said.

Misni said upon learning that he was about to be charged, she broke down and cried. “When we reached home that night, I sought solace in prayers,” she testified.“I cried some more as I began to accept the fact that my husband was going to be charged,” she said.

The case is being heard before Justice Su Geok Yam.