The Edge on the 1MDB Financial Mess


May 17, 2015

The Edge Report on why 1MDB Directors must be held accountable

1mdb-kgpandan-tmi-030315.jpgThe Edge has published a four-page special pullout detailing six questionable transactions that it says must be explained by the 1MDB directors. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 17, 2015.The Edge has published a four-page special pullout detailing six questionable transactions that it says must be explained by the 1MDB directors. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 17, 2015.

lodin-wok-kamaruddinThe Edge Business Weekly says in its latest issue that past and present directors of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) must be held accountable for all the decisions that have created the financial mess it is in today.

It said although controversial businessman Jho Low had a hand in certain dealings, ultimately, decisions were made by the board of directors and management.

The Edge has published a four-page special pullout detailing six questionable transactions that it said must be explained by the 1MDB directors.It added that both the Public Accounts Committee and auditor-general should refer to the report in their investigations into 1MDB. – May 17, 2015.

– See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/edge-on-why-1mdb-directors-must-be-held-accountable#sthash.pDSawJZC.dpuf

Ownership is Nine Tenths of the Law


May 8, 2015

Phnom Penh by The Mekong

Ownership is Nine Tenths of the Law–Nepotism, Cronyism, and Kleptocracy

Where else than in Malaysia do the meek, the majority and the middle class get steamrolled by the rulers of the country. They do not speak out and they slowly watch their country get taken away from them bit by bit, just like lambs led to the slaughter.

Such a scene is currently being played out by the plight of those fighting to preserve Bukit Kiara and epitomizes what happens throughout Malaysian society.

When the Great Wall of Kiara was put up, there were a number of people who said it was a great conspiracy, that as soon as it was up, the outer perimeter would be developed. In particular, this would be done by people who were in collusion with Jabatan Landskap Negara (JLN) and those in the government directing them. Sure enough, that has now started to happen.

On side eastern side facing Desa Sri Hartamas, a developer of Kiara View has started building a monstrosity of a house immediately below the view known by many as “Lookout”. If you go to the plans on their web site (http://www.kiaraview.com.my/seninusantara.htm), you also see a new building depicted with an even higher development touting a view of downtown KL, something that is uncannily similar to the viewpoint smack on the boundary of the Kiara fence and where those who frequented Kiara would often take a breather as they took in the sights of the Petronas Towers and Menara KL.

Also abutting this area is a development by Impiana Land & Development Sdn Bhd known as “Serene Kiara”. Stay tuned to see what their plans are for the areas surrounding Bukit Kiara.

As some of you will have seen in recent news and on social media sites, bulldozers have gone into the northern area just beyond the Pencala Tunnel. Without permits in place, they destroyed large swaths of what use to be a pristine network of trails used by kampong folk, trail runners, wildlife photographers and mountain bikers. The bulldozers went in from Pencala in a fashion that no one would have known about. No sign posts indicating that there was a development in progress and a solitary bulldozer track that went in steeply up the slope, shooting eastwards through the trees until it got into the valley on the other side. The bulldozer did not stop there. It proceed forward following the same trail that outdoors enthusiasts have used for decades, ending up just before the small kampong houses that are below Kiaramas Ayuria.

Yet again, another pristine stream has been permanently destroyed, more trees have come down, and this is only the tip of the iceberg for this area. Eventually, it has been discovered, 115 bungalow lots will be built in this area.

Hold onto your seat. Qiana Development Sdn Bhd owns this particular patch of land. For those of you who do not know, the man behind Qiana is Dato’ Haris Hussein Onn, the brother of YB Datuk Seri Panglima Hishammudin Hussein Onn (our current Minister of Defense) and cousin of our illustrious Prime Minister, Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak. Dato’ Haris also happens to be the son of the 3rd Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Hussein bin Dato’ Onn. When you do an ROC search on Qiana, you also find that the majority of shares in the company is owned by Impiana Land & Development Sdn. Bhd., which is also owned by Dato’ Haris.

Now do people start to see the links between the fence, the government and developers?! Don’t take my word, you can see the shareholding structure for both Qiana and Impiana below.

It is only a matter of time before Berjaya also bulldozes the area within the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Centre, without warning. They have already started dramatically raising fees for the equestrian centre members, and they have tried to squash any form of dissent or awareness being made by members. Will Measat (owned by Ananda Krishnan) be the next ones to follow suite and destroy yet another parcel of land in Kiara? Who is conducting the surveys north of the fence on a section of trail known for decades as Janie’s Addiction? Will that be next?

When will it stop? When will those within the Government of Malaysia, Vincent Tan (Berjaya), Ananda Krishnan and others say enough is enough?To start thinking long term, of their legacy, and the legacy that will be left behind for future generations. Green lungs, places of beauty and a quality of life that is needed for all of us.

If you think that the plight facing Kiara is the only misdeed being done by those in power, think again. Here are a few shining examples:

• The 1MDB fiasco – current losses estimated at RM 20 billion to-date and no end in sight. Was this a slush fund set up in the Cayman Islands to enable BN an escape plan when they lose the next elections?!

• The destruction of the forests of Sarawak – how one person, notably Tun Pehin Sri Hj Abdul Taib Mahmud, who happens to be the Chief Minister of Sarawak, has amassed billions. This scandal can be seen at www.sarawakreport.org and an upcoming BBC News documentary that he has tried to block.

• The Port Klang/ PKFZ loss (which is now peanuts in comparison to 1MDB)

• The murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu – while the two former PGK have been charged with killing her and blowing her body up with C4, the ultimate person who directed them remains un-indicted and free to roam the world.

• Bruno Manser –who knows what has happened to this Swiss champion of Penan rights and environmental activism; he disappeared without a trace, unlike Altantuya.

• Bukit Gasing – another place of beauty that faced similar destruction as Kiara, and lost the battle due to individuals in the government profiteering in collusion with developers.

• Kemensah – the unbelievable news that a so-called “East Klang Valley Expressway” has been approved which will cut across this large swath of pristine jungle and a water catchment area.

A few pics to show you what surrounds Kiara:

Coming from Kiaramas Ayuria towards Pencala, the devastation begins.

Bulldozed track close to Kiaramas Ayuria; a section of Kiara that used to be a beautiful single track.

Looking at the entrance to the Qiana development works.

The fence on the northwest side of Kiara, where, adjacent to it, stands empty houses where owners couldn’t afford to upkeep them. Several are now boarded up.

One house facing the fence near TTDI which may soon be occupied again after years of sitting neglected.

The view at Lookout and a new building being constructed at the base of the steep slope.

Looking further into the distance at Lookout, you can see a dilapidated building that has been abandoned by the developer who went bankrupt. This section used to be another network of pristine trails.

And finally, looking up at the dilapidated project known as Matahari in Desa Sri Hartamas. At the time of this writing there are signs that this bungalow is getting a face lift.

Thanks to Cronyism, Nepotism and Corruption.

Obama in Malaysia: A Strategic Partnership?


by Joshua Kurlantzick via Council on Foreign Relations
April 8, 2014

During his upcoming late April trip to Asia, President Obama will visit two nations in Southeast Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines, in addition to stops in Northeast Asia. The White House already has been briefing reporters on the overall messaging of the trip, and the specific themes the president plans to hit in Malaysia and the Philippines. In Malaysia, it appears from several news reports and from speaking with several administration officials, President Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s self-promotion that Kuala Lumpur is a successful and democratic nation, an example of other Muslim-majority countries, and a force for moderation in the world. The president apparently plans to hit these themes despite the regional anger at Malaysia’s handling of the Malaysia Airlines vanished plane, which exposed to the world many of the problems with Malaysia’s governance.

No matter, say some Southeast Asia experts. Some of Obama’s advisors, and many Southeast Asia experts, are urging the president to use the trip to cement a strategic partnership with Malaysia and establishing a roadmap for the kind of higher-level strategic cooperation that the United States already enjoys with Singapore and Thailand, among other countries in the region.

This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing. According to this logic, if President Obama were to bring up such unpleasant issues as the Malaysian government’s crackdown on opponents over the past year or its unwillingness to reform pro-Malay policies that have entrenched a culture of graft and self-dealing at many Malaysian companies, that would sink the visit.

Under Najib, Malaysia and the United States have, on a strategic level, moved beyond some of the acrimony of the Mahathir and Abdullah years, and have made progress on a wide range of military-military and diplomatic cooperation. Najib definitely deserves some credit for this rapprochement, though growing Malaysian fear about China’s South China Sea policies are probably the main driver behind closer strategic ties with Washington.

But simply ignoring the disastrous Najib policies on human rights, political freedoms, and economic liberalization would not be a wise move by Obama. For one, it would play into the narrative that Obama cares little about rights and democracy promotion, a narrative that has gained significant force not only in Washington but also among many Southeast Asian activists and young people in general. And ignoring Malaysia’s opposition politicians, who won the popular vote in the 2013 national elections and enjoy their strongest support among young Malaysians, would be alienating the biggest growing pool of Malaysian voters. As in other countries in the region, like Cambodia and Indonesia, these young voters are increasingly favoring opposition parties or new figures like Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, breaking from long-ruling, autocratic parties. The United States should be cultivating these young voters who will prove critical to the region’s democratization. This new generation will eventually power the Malaysian opposition, in some form, to the prime minister’s office. It would be a shame if the United States president had ignored them, and their party leaders, before then.

Najib Razak: Interview on Al Jazeera


April 28, 2013

Najib Razak meets Veronica Pedrosa on Al Jazeera

Caretaker PM Najib Razak recorded an interview with Al Jazeera a few weeks ago, apparently, and it aired yesterday.

It will probably go down as one more of Najib’s election related blunders to go along with waiting so long to dissolve Parliament and campaign as a Presidential candidate in a Parliamentary election.

Najib_Aljazeera_interview

Few things about the interview. Firstly, Veronica Pedrosa did a great job. Interviewers frequently get intimidated in front of Heads of State or, out of respect, avoid asking the most obvious and difficult questions. Veronica did neither and I respect her for that.

Secondly, Najib’s body language was off for the interview from start to finish. His legs were shaking. He didn’t know what to do with his hands. His face showed, at times a lack of interest, and at other times a real sense of discomfort with the questions.

Thirdly, on content Najib probably scored a low C. At a general sense he did his best to present himself as someone in a position of leadership who has some grasp of the difficult issues facing his country. However, whenever the interviewer asked about specifics Najib gave answers that probably hurt him more than they helped him.

For instance when asked about debating Anwar Ibrahim, Najib said that there are many ways to engage with people in an election and he was focused on other ways. He said a debate “probably won’t happen”. Well, is it a probability or a possibility or impossible? His answer was weak and showed that after 2 years of avoiding facing Anwar head-to-head he still doesn’t have a good answer to the question.

When asked about the Allah issue I think Najib really botched his response. The first part of the answer probably would have been OK a it reflects a sort of flimsy, neither here neither there attitude of let’s just sweep issues under the rug and try to get along. But when Veronica pressed him on the comparison between Malaysia and Lebanon, Najib once again did not have a solid answer and just said in Malaysia we’re different just because and that’s that.

The problem is that Najib may not even believe the position on non-Muslims not using the world Allah in Malaysia is a valid position. He is a Western educated self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ who is hardly a hardliner when it comes to issues of religion. Yet on this one issue he needs to pander shamelessly to the ultra right Malay base. Even PAS has relented on the position and said there is no problem here. So Najib lost big time on this one.

Which brings us to PAS. It is quite “un-statesmenship” like to berate and attack the Islamic Party of Malaysia during an election like Najib did. Basically when asked “What does PAS stand for” Najib poured scorn on PAS as if it was some antique relic party that still used candles and push carts and wrote on papyrus and animal skins.

In actual fact, PAS is a very modern party going through an amazing internal transformation and has come out the other end far more willing and capable to adapt to the time then UMNO has thus far shown any capacity for. My sense is Najib’s distasteful comments about PAS, if they make it to the grassroots, will backfire among middle of the ground Malays who respect the positions that PAS takes but are focused on outcomes for the country.

I suggest you take 20 minutes to watch the interview. It’s telling how the Prime Minister, after four years in office, still lacks the confidence and composure to answer a few difficult questions.

By comparison Anwar Ibrahim gave interviews on  Al Jazeera and CNBC (above) 15 days ago and generally performed much better.–Din Merican

Najib offers the Masculine Touch as Shahrizat’s successor


April 8, 2012

Najib offers the Masculine Touch as Minister of Women Affairs, Family and Community Development

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Prime Minister Najib Razak today announced that he would assume the role of Women Affairs, Family and Community Development Minister.

This follows Wanita UMNO Chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s announcement on March 11 to step down as Minister when her term as Dewan Negara member ends on April 8 in the wake of the National Feedlot Corporation scandal.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, made the announcement at an event in Temerloh, Pahang today. The Prime Minister, however, did not say how long he would be acting in the post. Shahrizat is nevertheless keeping her Wanita UMNO chief post.

Najib said Shahrizat had pledged to continue giving her best as Wanita UMNO chief. “Shahrizat has promised me that as Wanita UMNO chief, she will assure a big win for the Barisan Nasional in the upcoming general election,” he said.

“I dare say that the people are gradually coming back to us, their affection for us is rising. Shahrizat emphasised the word ‘sayang’ (love) during her ministership, if the people give their support, it comes from their minds, but if they give their love, it comes from their hearts.”When it comes from the heart, the choice will definitely be the one and only (Barisan Nasional),” he said.

Najib said the people would be able to evaluate what had been accomplished by the government in an effort to improve their livelihood through various assistance rendered. He said the people could also gauge the promises fulfilled by the BN-led government compared to that of the opposition, which had failed to honour their election undertakings.

Shahrizat’s key supporter

Najib’s announcement today quashes speculation that Selangor UMNO Wanita chief Raja Ropiaah was earmarked to stand in as Shahrizat’s replacement.

Talk of her possible ministerial role surfaced when Ropiaah’s name cropped up among the five leaders to be sworn in as senators tomorrow.

Ropiaah has earlier dismissed the speculations as “tall tales”. “I have not been informed of any appointment to be a minister,” she told Malaysiakini when contacted on Friday.When I become a senator on Monday, I will carry out my role to my best effort. I don’t want to say anything further than that,” she said.

Ropiaah, who is a Wanita exco member, is one of several vocal supporters of Shahrizat. Embattled Wanita chief Shahrizat had received calls from within the wing – in particular deputy Wanita Chief Kamilia Ibrahim – to step down over the NFC fiasco involving the alleged abuse of a RM250 million government loan by her family.

Kedah Politics: UMNO-BN needs a new Leader


March 31, 2012

Kedah Politics: UMNO-BN needs a new Leader

by Rashid Ahmad (03-30-12)@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Kedah Barisan Nasional (BN) has lost a chance to shake the PAS-led Pakatan Rakyat state government when it did not “exploit” the recent crisis in the state administration. Political observers said the internal conflict in Kedah PAS had split the party and made it “vulnerable” to outside attacks but BN did not seize the opportunity, thus making it difficult for BN to retake the state.

Kedah PAS, say some political observers, is being manipulated by two main players keen to helm the state administration and also by “outside forces”.They said Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak, who is from the old school of thoughts, is aligned to party president Abdul Hadi Awang. He is seen as the leader of the “fundamentalists” and is fighting hard against attempts from the liberals to take over the state administration.

Azizan’s “foes from within” – Kedah PAS Deputy Commissioner (I) Phahrolrazi Zawawi and Kedah PAS Deputy Commissioner (II) Ismail Salleh – are aligned to the liberals and they striving to push Azizan out. Words have it that the main reason for the attempted “mutiny” against Azizan is to find a place for Party Deputy President Mohamed Sabu to contest in the upcoming general election.

Mohamed Sabu or Mat Sabu, as he is popularly known, is said to be seeking for a seat in Kedah as he is not wanted in Kelantan, where he once stood as MP and won. The crisis, though resolved, is still a pain in the neck for PAS as Azizan is said to be still sticking to his decision not to entertain or recognise Phahrolrazi and Ismail as followers in the state administration.

Credible leader

So the split in PAS still exists but BN has failed to exploit it to enhance its chances of diluting PAS influence among the fence-sitters in the state.A political analyst, Ramli Mohd Yunus, said another BN weakness in the state was its failure to appoint a credible leader to lead Kedah as Menteri Besar if it comes back to power.

“Apologising [to the people for BN’s mistakes in the past] is one thing but the main thrust is to win back the hearts and minds of the voters, particularly Malays. This can be achieved if BN has picked a credible, MB-material leader who will helm the state if the coalition wins.

“Kedah Malays, including the Chinese who have blended well with the Malay culture, know past and present BN and UMNO leaders in the state very well.They want to hear and see from the Prime Minister himself who he picks to lead the state. The way I see it, if Najib picks the wrong man, the votes will go to the other side.If Najib picks the man they respect and know, then the votes will go to BN. So it’s the man who will lead the state as menteri besar that matters now, not issues,” he said.

Even BN leaders in Kuala Lumpur share the same views. Observers believe that Mukhriz Mahathir is the man who could gain the voters’ confidence.

Matter of personality

Ramli said that he too has heard from the grassroots members in the state and also from some Chinese voters that Mukhriz (left) is the man best suited to take over should PAS fall.

“Kedah Malays and even some Chinese still hold Dr Mahathir Mohamad in high regard and obviously they also respect his son Muhkriz.What they told me is that Muhkriz is a new man and even though he is naïve in politics, he has the charisma to lead the state. Moreover, he is clean. But BN must also not ignore Dr Mahathir in its campaign because from what I gathered from the grassroots members, his presence may bring Kedah back to BN,” Ramli said.

However, there are some local leaders in Kedah who would not take too kindly to Mukhriz’s elevation if Najib decides to tap his shoulder. But Ramli believes the resentment was normal and would fade in time.

“The important point here is that Kedah BN needs a charismatic leader, a new man who has no record whatsoever. In this case, if it’s Mukhriz, it will be easier to win the hearts and minds of the voters because they still respect his father,” Ramli said. “So in my opinion half the battle will be won if Najib picks Mukhriz,” he added.

Thus, the battle for BN in Kedah is a matter of personality – the man who will lead the state after the general election. It all depends on Najib who he wants in the driver’s seat. After all, BN Kedah needs just four more seats to win the state. BN now has 16 out of the 36 state seats (UMNO has 14, MCA one and Gerakan one).