May 13, 2015
Phnom Penh by The Mekong
It is very naive of all of us to expect Minister Paul Low, a former President, Transparency International -Malaysian Chapter and prominent businessman to uphold the principles of good governance which he once championed when he was at Transparency International. As the saying goes, suckers are born everyday. We are all suckers today, and that includes yours truly here in Phnom Penh.
Like my good friend and former colleague at Bank Negara Malaysia and Sime Darby, Tunku Abdul Aziz, and Pemandu chief, Senator Idris Jala of the infamous Transformation Blues Spin, Minister Low has soiled his reputation. I guess,the temptation to be an apologist for the corrupt Najib Administration is too hard to resist. Credit, therefore, must go to our Prime Minister for being able to co-opt people who he can use to pillage our country. Najib is good as this sort of thing,but not at leading and governing our country.
It is men like Low, Aziz and Jala and others in our civil service, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney-General Office, the Auditor-General’s Office and the Police Force who are ensuring that Najib Razak remains in office despite persistent calls for his resignation from civil society activists and a growing number of Malaysians at home and abroad. Together with UMNO leaders who are afraid to criticise the Prime Minister’s policies and actions for fear of losing their business contracts and other perks, they have collectively let the nation down. Personal interest overrides considerations of public duty, justice and integrity and the future of our nation..As a result, Prime Minister Najib to do as he pleases with our national coffers.
Today is May 13. It was the day in 1969 which shook the foundations of our nation and caused Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak to initiate policies and programmes to eradicate poverty and restructure our economy to eliminate the identification of race with economic function. The New Economic Policy was to promote national unity through economic growth with distributional equity. After decades of the NEP, we remain disunited as ever.We divided according to class and status and political affiliation.
The politics of race and religion is being pursued by our politicians, while economic justice remains a distant dream. Income disparity between the rich and the privileged and the oppressed middle middle class and the poor has become very glaring.
While we remember today those who lost their lives in the 1969 riots, we must remember its lessons and vow never to allow self serving politicians to split us asunder again. Let us also be aware that the seeds of discord remains embedded in our body politic.If we allow our differences to be exploited by irresponsible politicians for their personal gains, the future of our wonderful country will be bleak.–Din Merican
Minister Paul Low is Najib’s highly paid crony
by Shane Feuntes@www.freemalaysiatoday.com
The people expected more from Paul Low because of his formerly reputable track record as an activist against corruption. “We expected more because he doesn’t belong to any political party and doesn’t have to compromise his principles,” said Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.
Instead, he added, the people were sorely disappointed because Low has not only failed to carry out his duties without fear or favour; he has become an apologist for the Najib administration despite the sheer scale of grand larceny in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). “Malaysians are disgusted that Low has succumbed to the perks and privileges of his ministerial office.”
Pua, who is also DAP National Publicity Secretary, pointed out that Low as the Transparency and Accountability Minister did absolutely zero to check the abuse, embezzlement and pillage of the RM42 billion indebted 1MDB, and “yet he has the cheek to tell the people to wait patiently for the Auditor-General’s Report.”
Low, he recalled, was the President of the Malaysian chapter of Transparency International (TI-M) when he was recruited by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak after the 13th General Election to exercise oversight on “transparency and accountability”.
Despite the severity of the scandal, the seriousness of the crime and the utter failure of checks and balances in the 1MDB excesses which have resulted in massive loss of public funds, he reiterated that the so-called “Transparency and Accountability” Minister has done absolutely zero to ensure transparency in the company’s transactions and accountability from the ministers, directors and management in 1MDB.
He was commenting on Low telling the people via Bernama on Tuesday, “not to prejudge” and “wait for the audit report” by the Auditor-General (A-G). “Even so, the A-G was only instructed to review the financial accounts of 1MDB in March this year.”
He has two questions:
Why did Low ignore every single criticism and every warning bell sounded by the Opposition, the media, and other critics, in and out of Parliament, for the last two years about the impending 1MDB disaster? Was Low sleeping for the last two years?
Pua conceded that the other ministers were equally culpable by failing to pull the handbrakes on the escalating crisis, but Low was undoubtedly the single biggest disappointment and failure.
“We can understand UMNO ministers blindly cowing to the wishes of their all-powerful president for that is in their political DNA,” said Pua. “We can’t possibly imagine the MCA ministers to even decipher, understand and figure out the 1MDB financial fiasco, much less expect them to ask intelligent questions during the Cabinet meetings.”
He reminded that the people were shocked speechless with the brazen and blatant embezzlement in 1MDB where billions of ringgit was embezzled from the state-owned firm by the now infamous Jho Low.
As a result, he stressed, 1MDB was now laden with more than RM42 billion of debt which it was unable to repay and was desperately shedding assets to raise short-term capital to service its debts.
This year alone, continued Pua, 1MDB had to beg private investors arranged by local billionaire, Ananda Krishnan, to provide a short-term loan to repay an overdue RM2 billion in loans from Maybank and RHB Bank in February. “The government was forced to proved an emergency “standby facility” of RM950 million which was immediately drawn down by 1MDB.”
Now, he added, the people were up in arms because local financial institutions managing public funds, Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) and Kumpulan Wang Amanah Persaraan (KWAP), had purchased land from 1MDB at prices up to 43 times what 1MDB paid to acquire them from the Government.
“1MDB was even desperate enough to dispose of its lucrative concession to build a 2,000MW power plant to Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) before even a single brick is laid,” said Pua. “The project was won last February via a controversial tender exercise.”