UMNO Uses Whistleblower’s Arrest to Defend 1MDB


June 28, 2015

UMNO Uses Whistleblower’s Arrest to Defend 1MDB

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/umno-use-whistleblower-arrest-defend-1mdb/

Xavier Justo

Malaysia’s political establishment is using the arrest of Xavier Justo in Thailand to try derail questions over the ill-starred 1Malaysia Development Bhd Fund that go far beyond whether the whistle-blowing Swiss national did or did not steal and doctor documents and pass them to Sarawak Report, a critical blog run by a British reporter.

The United Malays National Organization has mounted a full-court attack on Sarawak Report and the Malaysian financial publication The Edge, threatening to crack down on The Edge’s printing license and driving a campaign through allied bloggers, the UMNO-owned New Straits Times and other media.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak himself threatened action against Sarawak Report, which responded angrily that there was no wrongdoing. At the same time, there appears to be a move to tie Mahathir Mohamad, the nonagenarian former premier and 1MDB’s fiercest critic, to allegations that the case against 1MDB has been doctored. 

For months, 1MDB has been under significant pressure both from the political opposition and some members of Najib’s own UMNO to come up with answers over what has become of RMB42 billion [US$11.3 billion] in liabilities the state-funded investment company has accrued since it came into being six years ago. Some sources in Kuala Lumpur say as much as RMB25 billion may be unrecoverable. Najib and company officials have been scrambling to find funds to meet regular interest payments, some of which have been deferred, apparently for lack of funds to meet them.

Thais Nab Justo in Koh Samui

Justo was arrested by Thai police in the presence of reporters and photographers from the UMNO-owned New Straits Times to record the event and print a front-page story accusing the “heavily tattooed Justo” of a long series of sins including theft and attempting to blackmail officials of PetroSaudi International, a controversial oil exploration firm closely connected to 1Malaysia Development Bhd, whose problems are said to threaten Malaysia’s entire financial structure. 

“This shocking story had the country talking,” according to the New Straits Times. “Who is Xavier Andre Justo? How could such a sorry figure have ignited a major Malaysian political storm? What motivated this man, so disconnected from the nation of Malaysia, to launch such a callous attack on our people without a thought for the consequences? The answer appears to be cold, hard cash. Greed can be a route to riches, but it can also be a dangerous road to ruin, as Xavier Justo is learning the hard way. Now, he finds himself in a Thai jail awaiting prosecution on charges of attempting to blackmail and extort money from his former employers; with further charges to follow in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.”

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi threatened to take action against Sarawak Report and The Edge, a leading financial and investment news publication, both of which for months have been breaking embarrassing stories on the parlous state of 1MDB’s finances and on the connections between flamboyant young financier Low Taek Jho and Najib. Jho Low, as he is known, and Najib were instrumental in establishing 1MDB in 2009. Najib remains as the fund’s chief financial advisor.

 Home Minister’s Threat

Zahid charged that The Edge and Sarawak Report had been “spinning the facts” over the state of 1MDB’s finances. The government is armed with colonial-era legislation under the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act to attempt to deny licenses to what it deems to be offending publications.  With Sarawak Report headquartered in the UK, however, Zahid’s threat remains an empty one.

Justo, who left PetroSaudi several years ago, somehow got back into the company’s computers to download 3 million emails that allege damaging information on the transactions with 1MDB and a company closely connected to Jho Low, as he is known.

There have been attempts to tie Justo’s revelations to Mahathir.  In a report by Malaysia Today, a blog also operated from the UK, Raja Petra Kamarudin said he had been told Sufi Yusof, Mahathir’s secretary, had made “a number of trips to Thailand over the past year to meet [Justo] and the Thai authorities are trying to establish this through immigration records.”

If the Thai authorities manage to establish that some of the documents and e-mails were, in fact doctored, Raja Petra wrote, “and that Sufi did make a few trips to Thailand to meet [Justo] and was aware of, or was a party to, this fraud, it is not going to look good for Dr Mahathir.

A Furious Brown  Answers

Clare Rewcastle Brown, the UK-based blogger who publishes the Sarawak Report, fired back with a furious 1,600 word riposte in which she threatened to sue for libel and defended on a case by case basis the documents that PetroSaudi officials alleged were doctored.

“Sarawak Report will be demanding satisfaction over these false allegations of ‘tampering,’” she wrote. “We suggest these misrepresentations are added to the list of potentially criminal activities by PetroSaudi, whose false charges on this point currently number amongst the allegations that have landed [Justo] in a jail in Bangkok.”

The blog, Brown said, “has closely researched the extremely serious and libelous allegations, which claim documents relating to our coverage of the PetroSaudi 1MDB joint venture were ‘tampered’ and ‘distorted’ in order to ‘creatively alter’ the truth. We can now prove that these allegations are demonstrably untrue, by examining the evidence on which they were based.

So, she wrote, “our message to those who have accused us is check your facts before you sound off your accusations and start to worry about libel suits, if you have defamed us or an innocent man who is now in jail. We can confirm that there is zero evidence brought forward so far to substantiate the claims of ‘distortion’ made over the past 48 hours by the New Straits Times and taken up by certain media, bloggers and UMNO politicians.”

Indeed, she charged, “the little evidence that has been provided by these parties can be shown to confirm the exact opposite, which is that there has been no tampering of documents. Even so, people who could also have made the very same checks have falsely alleged that Sarawak Report and the Edge newspaper lied and deliberately misled readers with ‘distorted’ information about 1MDB’s missing billions.”

The New Straits Times, she said, never bothered to substantiate “grave and libelous charges” by showing their readers the actual evidence.

“As Sarawak Report pointed out yesterday, we corroborate our claims, so why can’t they? The reason turns out to be that it is startlingly easy to show that the claim is completely untrue.”

1MDB: Where is the RM42 billion?


June 1, 2015

1MDB: Where is the RM42 billion? Just give us an honest answer and stop the bull, Mr Prime Minister

by Scott Ng@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Confused NajibSome days, I really do wonder what happens up in Najib’s office at Putrajaya, where I imagine a veritable horde of PR consultants, headed by Lim Kok Wing, work tirelessly to try to salvage the much damaged reputation of the Prime Minister. Sweat on their brows, they toil into the late hours to find answers to the questions thrust at the Prime Minister day in and day out, hoping to find a way, any way, to counter the vicious onslaught of Mahathir Mohamad.

I do feel pity for the PR team. They have great odds stacked against them. But then another FAQ appears on Najib’s website that makes me slap my head in disbelief and I remind myself that they’re paid handsomely for their services and thus should be castigated in full measure for their failure to get the Prime Minister to make the right moves.

As blogger Jebat Must Die points out, the FAQ is misleading and, once again, fails to actually answer the questions it purports to answer. For one, it’s riddled with semantics instead of answers, like Najib’s “explanation” for the unaccounted billions that should be in 1MDB’s coffers.

Mr Prime Minister, no one said that the money was a “loss” as that would mean that there would be a paper trail to bad investments or sudden market fluctuations. What we’re asking is, where is the money?

It is quite weird that so much money could just vanish into thin air, and Jebat makes a good point in pointing out that 1MDB purchased RM15 billion worth of assets. If those billions came from the RM42 billion that 1MDB is in debt for, there should be RM27 billion left, aside from the company’s RM51 billion in assets.

For that matter, there is also the extremely valid question of why the 1MDB cannot seem to handle its own corporate crisis communication, leaving our beleaguered PM to answer all queries. You’d think that a company worth billions would invest in a crisis communication team since scandals and such are bound to come up every once in a while. One really has to wonder how much time Najib has for actual governance while he runs around putting out 1MDB’s fires.

The Prime Minister seems unable to get anything right, trying his hardest to pass the buck for the 1MDB to whomever he can shunt it to (most recently, the Auditor-General) only for it to blow up in his face. Jebat makes another great point in recalling that Najib truly is a career politician with no real-world experience, and as history has shown, pampered elites are quite usually disconnected from the rest of the world.

UMNO-TBH Goons

Attempting to attack Mahathir without answering his questions directly is not a viable method of discrediting the former Prime Minister, especially since those same questions are echoed by the general public, the opposition and civil society members. In releasing so-called answers that fail to address the questions, the Prime Minister seems to be taking us for fools yet again despite the public contempt for his previous FAQ, which suffered the same delusional disconnect from reality.

Now that documents have leaked that show Najib has to approve all major investments made by 1MDB, it seems like there truly is no road for his redemption. He is now personally answerable for all the bad investments, the vanished money, and all the baggage that comes with 1MDB, and no amount of out-of-touch FAQs can redeem a brand that damaged.

Fight on if you will, Prime Minister. Give us a good show, and keep us entertained. We’ve paid for it already, anyway. But when the inevitable happens, know that you were the architect of your own fall, not Mahathir, not the opposition, not the “liberals” your administration seems to sneer at, not civil society. You were your own worst enemy.

 

MACC’s Tunku Aziz responds to his critics and detractors


June 1, 2015

MACC’s Tunku Aziz responds to his critics and detractors

Din's MontageOne may disagree with Tunku Aziz about MACC. I too have been very critical of this  anti-Corruption watchdog (should I say lapdog of the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak?) and my views about its Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim and the Commission itself can be read in this blog. Just click corruption or MACC and you can read them or go the blog’s archives.

I have always said that MACC is a dysfunctional, sick and toxic organization. I once received a letter from MACC almost threatening me with legal action for remarks I made by this sweet talking Tan Sri Abu Kassim. By reading about  the late Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani and the current  legal battle between the MACC chief and Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, you will understand why MACC abuses power.

The MACC favours politicians in power but it is quick to investigate opposition parliamentarians, civil society leaders and others. It makes a mockery of the report of the Tech Beng Hock Royal Commission of Inquiry and the one concerning the infamous Correct, Correct VK Lingam video tape issue. MACC does not understand  accountability and transparency.

All that said, I am happy to put Tunku Aziz’s statement of May 29, 2015 on this blog. He has the right to express his opinion and defend his organization. Read it carefully and then comment on it.This blog is about freedom of expression with responsibility.

I know Tunku Aziz well and our friendship spans over several decades and we are still very good friends although we have different views on politics, economics, intermational affairs and social policy. I agree with him about governance and ethics. I also share his take on Tun Dr. Mahathir. But I disagree with him on Najib Razak, his policies and actions.

Tunku Aziz thinks that the Prime Minister is doing a good job.  But I do not.  On the contrary, in my opinion our Prime Minister is a weak and corrupt leader and has turned out to be an unmitigated national disaster and must therefore resign. I am also of the view that Najib should be investigated and charged for corruption and abuse of power. MACC is will not dare do it, of course since it reports to the Prime Minister. Dr. Mahathir too should be made to account for his 22+ years of misrule. –Din Merican

Tunku Aziz’s Media Statement

MEDIA STATEMENT as issued by Tunku Abdul Aziz in conjunction with a press conference held on Friday May 29, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. at the Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya.

tunku-aziz Let me say at the outset that it gives me absolutely no joy in having to say to Tun Mahathir Mohamad that by spewing scurrilous lies about 1MDB without any conclusive proof of wrongdoing by the Prime Minister or anyone else for that matter, he has reduced himself, in the eyes of many, to a figure of fun and ridicule.

His recent performance in Ipoh was admittedly most amusing and kept the audience in stitches, especially when he threw caution and good manners to the winds by repeating vicious rumours about Najib and his family. It was all too personal. Tun Mahathir Mohamad has to make up his mind whether he relishes the idea of being treated as a stand-up comedian or a responsible, respected and revered leader of men. On current performance he presents himself as an embittered, vindictive man who apparently is prepared to gamble with his reputation in pursuit of an unworthy cause bordering on obsession. His motive is suspect.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions. He froths at the mouth every time he accuses 1MDB of causing a staggering RM 42 billion to disappear without a trace. This, as it turns out, is pure fiction, of course. As matters stand today, the figure of RM42 billion that he has used with regular monotony to get at the Prime Minister is shown very clearly as a debt in the company’s books. Company borrowings are a normal part of operating a business as Tun knows only too well. For the sake of good order and in the larger interests of justice and fair play, Tun should eat humble pie, take a deep breath, admit his mistake and apologise to the Prime Minister and the top management of 1MDB whom he has maligned. And while he is about it, will Tun please also apologise to all Malaysians for misleading them?

When he was Prime Minister several massive scandals broke out. He cunningly side-stepped the Dr Mahathir and C Brownissue of accountability. He explained with that familiar self-satisfied smirk on his face that in the case of the loans given by Bank Bumiputra Finance (BMF) to the Carrian Group and two other Hong Kong companies, when someone who was ‘established’ in the business world asked for a loan, one should not scrutinise his application too closely. Tun perhaps needs someone to jog his memory a little. During his premiership, but for the grace of God and Petronas this country would have been left high and dry as a result of frenzied institutionalised gambling in several financially disastrous scams involving the Ministry of Finance, Bank Negara Malaysia, and the Employees Provident Fund among other agencies.

One of the biggest scandals in world banking history was the BMF affair that cost the country US$800 million. Other loans amounting to US$163 million were made to companies in Hong Kong. These were doubtful loans from the start and had to be written off. We are talking about the early eighties: and the losses if expressed in today’s value would be many times the amounts incurred some 30 years ago.

Then there was the ‘Tin Caper’ in which Malaysia played the star role of the ‘Mystery Buyer’ to make a killing by the apparently simple expedient of cornering the international tin market. That cost the country RM660.5 million in losses according to Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yeik, one time minister of primary industries .As if this was not enough, we followed this up with the most notorious financial scandal of all – the foray into the FOREX market using the nation’s reserves to gamble, leaving Bank Negara Malaysia dangerously exposed. Bank Negara Malaysia lost RM30 billion (RM58 billion at today’s value) in this gambling spree. Typically Mahathir denied responsibility and to this day he remains unrepentant, blasé, and unapologetic for the scandals that happened when he was the head of government. His manic gambling with Bank Bumi and BNM money scandalised monetary authorities around the world. Tun Mahathir lost heavily in the tin escapade which saw the collapse of the International Tin Council and the disappearance of the tin industry worldwide.

He effectively turned the once respected Bank Negara Malaysia, the Central Bank of Malaysia, into a rogue institution. In the event, RM30 billion, (RM58 billion in today’s terms) was lost. It took BNM at least 10 years to amortise, and close the books finally in 2003 on this, the most shameful betrayal of trust in our history. BNM was close to being brought to its knees given its colossal exposure and rapidly depleting national reserves. Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli in his affidavit claimed that he was ordered to buy MAS at a vastly inflated price so that the government could cover the Forex gambling losses.

As these losses have never been satisfactorily explained, I urge the government to reopen the Forex case to establish whether any laws had been broken by the Mahathir administration in using the reserves held by Bank Negara Malaysia for the purpose of currency speculation. Those responsible who are still living today should be called to account for their actions. The government owes the people of Malaysia who have been left to pick up the pieces from this financial disaster a duty to effect a proper closure. I will be making a police report to get things started.

Mahathir’s Supporter takes a shot at Tunku Aziz.

Former DAP Vice Chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim has apparently bitten off more than he can chew in taking potshots at former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who has questioned Najib Abdul Razak’s qualification to be Prime Minister and demanded that he step down. Mahathir’s beef with Najib is the scandal-ridden 1MDB, among others.

Former New Straits Times Political Editor Firdaus Abdullah, for one, has reminded Tunku Aziz in a series of tweets that those who stay in glass houses should not throw stones.“Don’t be a political prostitute cos you have an axe to grind,” tweeted Firdaus who also blogs as Apanama. “Don’t let me shame you.”

READ ON: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/06/01/dont-be-a-political-prostitute-tunku-aziz-told/

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.

 

UMNO leaders complicit in 1MDB cover-up


May 24, 2015

Phnom Penh

Umno leaders complicit in 1MDB cover-up

COMMENT

by Matthias Chang@ http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Najib and the Devil WomanThe Prime Minister cum Financial Minister (above), being a member of Parliament cannot be deemed ignorant of this fraudulent misrepresentation. Answers to parliamentary questions, whether from backbenchers or the opposition, are vetted before presented in Parliament. If the cash has been “diverted” or “unaccounted for” there is a basis for a charge of criminal breach of trust by all the relevant personalities involved in the transaction. There may also be elements of corruption.–Matthias Chang

It is elementary, Mr.Najib. You cannot be ignorant of what constitutes cash. Even a child knows what cash is, and when cash is deposited in a bank, the bank statement would reflect the cash deposited in the bank. Any paper or document other than cash cannot be deposited and reflected in a bank statement as cash.

Documents such as share certificates, treasury notes or bonds or other documents that are not considered as money, when deposited in a bank for whatever reason or placed in a fixed deposit box are never ever reflected in a bank statement.

The Minister of Finance, treasury officials, and members of the 1MDB Board of directors and its advisers are all experienced in finance and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be deemed ignorant of what is cash.

The balance sum amounting to US$1.103 billion is not some chump change and, when converted to Malaysian ringgit, would be more than RM3 billion. Therefore it is inconceivable that the Prime Minister, who is also the Finance Minister, and senior officials in the Ministry of Finance and Bank Negara do not know the difference between cash deposited in a bank and some “paper assets” to be held by the bank in Singapore, allegedly as custodian.

Therefore it is unpardonable that the Prime Minister, who is also the Finance Minister, and senior officials in the Ministry of Finance and Bank Negara do not know the difference between cash deposited in a bank and some “paper assets” to be held by the bank in Singapore, allegedly as custodian.

So when Ministry of Finance replied to Tony Pua’s queries in March 2015, surely its officials must have checked with the bank in Singapore or examined the relevant documents from 1MDB before confirming that 1MDB had “redeemed its balance of investment from the Cayman Islands in cash and transferred it to BSI Singapore”.

However, MOF has now issued a contradictory statement. A news report said, “The Finance Ministry has corrected its Parliamentary written reply in March that said the US$1.1 billion transferred by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) from Cayman Islands to Singapore was not in cash.

“According to the latest written reply to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, the Ministry said the money that was “redeemed” was in the form of assets in US dollars.”

We cannot but agree that this is the Malaysian scandal of the century. Heinous and despicable crimes have been committed.

Why?

  1. For MOF to have issued the statement in March, forged documents must have been presented to show that cash was in fact deposited. This was corroborated by the current CEO, who said recently that the bank statement reflected that cash was so deposited. But the bank in Singapore has denied that cash had been deposited.
  2. The criminal offence of fraud and forgery is prima facie established and all the relevant personalities concerned with this transaction must be charged and it is for them to offer their defence in a court hearing
  3. When the statement by MOF/Prime Minister was made in Parliament that cash was deposited when it was not true, the august house was misled by a fraudulent misrepresentation. It was a blatant contempt of the house. The entire country was misled. The rakyat was cheated and led to believe a falsehood.
  4. In the past, members of Parliament were suspended for making a mere misrepresentation with no adverse financial consequences to the country. The members were penalised because the misstatement constituted an affront to the integrity of the proceedings of Parliament as well as to Parliament itself.
  5. The Prime Minister cum Financial Minister, being a member of Parliament cannot be deemed ignorant of this fraudulent misrepresentation. Answers to parliamentary questions, whether from backbenchers or the opposition, are vetted before presented in Parliament.
  6. If the cash has been “diverted” or “unaccounted for” there is a basis for a charge of criminal breach of trust by all the relevant personalities involved in the transaction. There may also be elements of corruption.
  7. The period between the March 10 and May 20 announcements in Parliament would by any measure be construed as a period when there was a massive cover-up. And all those personalities involved are accomplices in this cover-up.

The Deputy Prime Minister, the heads of Wanita UMNO and UMNO Youth and the members of the party’s Supreme Council, have failed to demand answers and to insist on seeing all the relevant documents so as to verify for themselves the truth or falsehood of the allegations brought by all concerned citizens. They should have done so especially after the bank in Singapore had declared the banking documents showing cash was deposited was a forgery. Alarm bells ought to have rung loud and clear, but these leading members of Umno chose to bury their heads in the sand and slavishly declare their so-called undivided support to the Prime Minister.

The Board of 1MDB even had the audacity to threaten to sue any one who dared question its integrity. Shame on you, UMNO.

The Prime Minister must resign and if UMNO leaders do not demand the resignation of the Prime Minister and continue to use their public office to deny this irrefutable confession by the MOF then they are all complicit in this heinous crime.

All the UMNO leaders who have accused Tun Mahathir Mohamad of wrongfully criticising the Prime Minister and sounding the alarm bells and raising the red flag of imminent crisis should humbly seek forgiveness not only from him, but from the entire country. The rakyat demands a public apology and the culprits must be charged in court for their crimes.

Matthias Chang is a Barrister and once served as the political secretary of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Minister Paul Low is Najib’s highly paid crony


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.

Najib the Bugus WarriorIt 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.

May 13 1969 riotsToday 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

Paul-LowThe 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.”