Thanks to Apandi, Najib will be attending US-ASEAN Summit in California with two dubious credentials – not only political leader who with largest RM2.6 billion “donation”, but whose government is tightening the screws on OSA

Thanks to Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would be attending the US-ASEAN Summit with United States President Obama in Sunnylands, California next week (15-16 Feb) with two, and not just one, dubious credentials – not only as the political leader in ASEAN and the world with the largest RM2.6 billion “donation” in his personal banking accounts, but also the leader of a government which is tightening to screws on the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to stop all leaks of official information on corruption, fraud, negligence or abuses of power in government.

In fact, Najib might be very bad influence at the US-ASEAN Summit and international conferences, for some might be tempted to think that if Najib could get away with the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal in his personal banking accounts without being guilty of any criminal wrongdoing and in tightening the screws on the OSA to prevent any expose on government abuses of power, negligence, fraud or corruption, Najib should be emulated as an example.

If democracy, human rights and good governance are to be among the topics of the US-ASEAN Summit in Sunnylands, California next week, Najib is not the best candidate to represent Malaysia.

Najib would be placed in a better position for the US-ASEAN Summit if the Cabinet today had heeded my suggestion that it should take a policy stand to stop the Attorney-General Apandi in his tracks by making clear that the Attorney-General has no sanction or authority from the Cabinet to draft amendments to the OSA to increase criminal penalties to punish and deter whistleblowers and journalists for information leaks to combat corruption, particularly grand corruption. Read the rest of this entry »

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The world’s biggest oil trader thinks we may never see $100 oil again

by Will Martin
Business Insider
FEB. 8, 2016

The price of oil might never go above $100 per barrel ever again, and will stay beneath $60 for as long as ten years, according to the boss of the world’s biggest independent oil trader.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Ian Taylor, CEO of Vitol Group said: “It’s hard to see a dramatic price increase. You have to believe that there is a possibility that you will not necessarily go back above $100, you know, ever.”

The price of Brent crude, the European benchmark, peaked at around $140 in 2008 before crashing as low as $45 per barrel in early 2009.

It then recovered substantially, and traded around the $100 mark for nearly three years between 2011 and 2014.

However, since summer 2014, the huge supply glut in global markets, driven by OPEC, has forced prices down as low as $28 per barrel. Right now, both major benchmarks are hovering between $32-35 per barrel. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hasan Arifin should explain whether he had received any directive to wrap up PAC’s 1MDB investigations and submit a favourable PAC report to the March Parliament after the adverse national and international firestorms to the AG’s exoneration of Najib and announcement to make OSA even more draconian?

Something happened in the 17 days between January 21 and Feb. 7 that transformed the “cari makan” Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Datuk Hasan Arifin, from a laggard dragging his feet on the PAC’s 1MDB investigations and even saying that the PAC cannot keep its deadline to submits its 1MDB report to Parliament next month into to a “speedster” who want the PAC investigations to be wrapped up this month so that the PAC report could be submitted to the March meeting of Parliament.

The only thing that is relevant to the Prime Minister Datuk Najib Raza’s twin mega scandals that happened during this period were the two actions by the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali firstly, his announcement on January 26 exonerating Najib of any criminal wrongdoing and that no charges would be brought against him in both the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International scandals and secondly, his interview with Sin Chew Daily on 6th February where he made the shocking disclosure that the Official Secrets Act (OSA) would be amended to impose heavier penalties on whistleblowers and journalists to deter them from leaks of government information to combat corruption, particularly grand corruption.

In both instances, Apandi ignited two international firestorms within a fortnight and Malaysia’s international image and credibility had never been reached such a low ebb in the nation’s 59-year history.

Hasan Arifin should explain whether he had received any directive to wrap up PAC’s 1MDB investigations and submit a favourable PAC report to the March Parliament after the adverse national and international firestorms to the AG’s exoneration of Najib and announcement to make the OSA even more draconian?

Hasan’s fervor in wanting to wrap up the PAC’s investigations into 1MDB and the comments by the Deputy Foreign Minister and a former PAC member, Reezal Merican Naina Merican, that the release of the PAC report on the 1MDB in Parliament nextmonth would bring closure to the 1MDB issues are not good signs that the PAC Report on 1MDB would be an independent and credible one? Read the rest of this entry »

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IMF report on Malaysia, politically correct but revealing

– Ramon Navaratnam
The Malaysian Insider
9 February 2016

The preliminary International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff report on the Malaysian economy was published by the press on February 5.

The report followed intense IMF annual consultations held between January 11 and 22 in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching. Pity Sabah was left out.

The IMF report was too politically correct but nevertheless revealing.

IMF mission chairman Dr Alex Mourmouras in his press release subtly suggested that the Malaysian economy faced multiple shocks including “political developments and capital outflows”.

Both these factors reveal that in addition to external problems, there are also serious internal issues within our power to control and overcome.

But how much have we done to overcome these critical domestic issues? Read the rest of this entry »

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Is the 30-man demo at the Penang Chief Minister’s Chinese New Year Open House yesterday the first “handiwork” of the new czar of UMNO cybertroopers, Ahmad Maslan?

The 30-man demo at the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng’s Chinese New Year Open House at the SPICE Arena in Penang yesterday is most intriguing not only as a “no brainer” but whether it is the first “handiwork” of the new czar of UMNO cybertroopers, Ahmad Maslan.
An “intelligent” person would not have anything to do with such an unMalaysian demonstration.

Firstly, it crossed the line which should not be violated by anyone who claims to be a Malaysian by showing open and extremist contempt for another Malaysian’s racial or religious festivities and sensitivities, as this is the first known such demo since Merdeka in 1957 at the Open House festivity whether Prime Minister, Chief Minister or Mentri Besar to celebrate Chinese New Year or Hari Raya Aidilfiltri.

Secondly, the grounds for the protest were so outrageous and preposterous that no top UMNO or Barisan Nasional dare to seen publicly associated with them, as nobody in sane mind would have any respect for such personalities.

Such demonstrations are in fact an attack on the competence, efficiency and professionalism of the Prime Minister, the entire police, Special Branch, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara and the Attorney-General’s Chambers that they did not know about the scandal of RM1.2 billion donation from Israel to the DAP for the 13th General Election in exchange for an Israeli naval base in Port Dickson. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let the Cabinet meeting tomorrow be a showdown over whether to give sanction to AG Apandi to draft amendments to increase penalties under the OSA to deter whistleblowers and journalists from combatting corruption, particularly grand corruption

Malaysians are aghast at the reaction of the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamid who seemed to side with the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali who wants to amend the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to impose heavier punishments on whistleblowers and journalists to deter them from leaks to combat corruption, particularly grand corruption in Malaysia.

Zahid even slammed those who opposed and criticized Apandi for gunning for whistleblowers and journalists, accusing them of “trying to politicize” the Attorney-General’s interview with Sin Chew Daily where he announced proposals to increase penalties under the OSA 1972 to include life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the rotan to deter whistleblowers and journalists for leaking and publishing information about corruption.

Zahid said the Attorney-General’s decision should be respected, adding:

“The AG’s agenda is to enforce the law and not to politicise an issue and be inundated with the politicised interpretation of the issue, and this should not be seen as a political issue by anyone, including the opposition.”

Zahid cannot be more wrong.

Apandi’s proposals should be pilloried and castigated to the maximum extent possible by all national stakeholders as they signal a dangerous lurch towards dictatorial rule in the country and go against everything that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had promised when he became the sixth Prime Minister some seven years ago.

Is Zahid unaware of Najib’s pledge to make Malaysia “the best democracy in the world” and in particular, the Prime Minister’s statement in September 2011 about the “political transformation” his government was undertaking from the aspects of human rights because of “the increasing maturity of the people”.

Now that Zahid is the Deputy Prime Minister, it may be useful for him to read up on Najib’s various pledges and promises of reform he made in his first six years as Prime Minister. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thanks to Najib, the focus before, during and after the Chinese New Year of Monkey 2016 firmly and solidly on Najib’s world-class twin mega scandals

Far from having been resolved and ceasing to be issues, thanks to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the focus of Malaysians before, during and after the Chinese New Year of Monkey 2016 is firmly and solidly on Najib’s world-class twin mega scandals on the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM55 billion 1MDB.

There are not only no signs that Najib’s twin mega scandals will end as the premier issues any time soon, all indications point to the reverse – that the twin mega scandals would bulk ever bigger in magnitude and impact to haunt and hound the future of Malaysia as the fulcrum of the country’s multitude of political, economic, good governance and nation building crises.

Almost every day, new angles are surfacing to decry the dismal failure to give full and satisfactory accountability so as to put to rest Najib’s twin mega scandals, which only serve to highlight the great gulf between the profession and reality of Najib’s National Transformation Programme objective of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”.

In the past 24 hours, the questions that surfaced include: Read the rest of this entry »

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Would a person like Najib have survived as China’s top leader with two mega scandals swirling around him causing the country to be named No. 3 in world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015” and the subject of investigation by seven different countries, including by US FBI, whether he is a kleptocrat?

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali allowed a rare but very insightful though frightening peep into his mind in his interview with Sin Chew Daily today.

Apandi’s interview deserve fuller dissection and analysis, but for the immediate moment, what warrants immediate response is the revelation that the Attorney-General is mulling laws to increase the punishment of those who leak state secrets and journalists who report, and that the Attorney-General’s Chambers is proposing to amend the Official Secrets Act 1972 to include life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the rotan as punishments.

Apandi said: “In some countries, the leaking of official secrets is a serious offence, like in China where it carries the death sentence.”

Apandi insisted that should journalists protect or refuse to reveal the sources by invoking journalistic ethics, they will be considered collaborating with a potential saboteur.

“We may charge journalists who refuse to reveal their sources.

“I am not joking. If I have 90 percent of evidence, I will charge the journalist, editor, assistant editor and editor-in-chief. I am serious, no kidding. We have too many leakage of secrets in Malaysia.

“The right to know is not granted by the constitution.”

This must be the first time the Attorney-General of Malaysia expressed admiration and envy for the laws and system in China, as it had never been done by his predecdessors. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mystery of Najib Razak’s $990m donor deepens in Malaysia

Lindsay Murdoch
Sydney Morning Herald
February 7, 2016

Bangkok: Mystery has deepened over the circumstances in which almost $US700 million ($990 million) was secretly deposited in the personal bank account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The country’s attorney-general, Mohamad Apanda Ali, has declared the money was a donation from one of the nine sons of the late Saudi king Abdullah, but insists the motive is nobody else’s business.

“Why are people asking for the reason for the donation? You have to ask the donor. He has billions in his coffers … if he wanted to give the money, what’s the problem?” Mr Apandi told the Sin Chew Daily newspaper.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir says he does not think the money came from the Saudi government or that it was a political donation.

“It is a private Saudi citizen, I believe, and the funds went into an investment in Malaysia,” Mr Jubeir told The New York Times. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s curious corruption case

By: Simon Wilson
Money Week
06/02/2016

A state fund transferring a $681m donation to the PM’s account, dissenting ministers sacked and $4bn misappropriated – Malaysian democracy is under threat, says Simon Wilson.

What’s going on in Malaysia?

The government of Prime Minister Najib Razak has been rocked by a huge corruption scandal that gets more bizarre with every new twist, threatening to blow a hole in Malaysia’s credibility with international markets. At its heart is a state investment fund known as 1MDB, set up at Razak’s behest shortly after he came to power in 2009, and whose advisory board he chairs. Its purpose
was to borrow money so that it could attract foreign investment to stimulate Malaysia’s economy.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, which has been at the forefront of investigating and reporting the scandal, while 1MDB was good at borrowing money, it has been less adept at actually investing it. In early 2015, it defaulted on payments on the roughly $11bn it had raised from international investors, setting off alarm bells and sparking investigations into the fund. Read the rest of this entry »

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No End to Scrutiny Over Millions Sent to Malaysian Leader’s Accounts

By AUSTIN RAMZY
New York Times
FEB. 5, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — After Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of corruption charges involving hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in his bank accounts, Mr. Najib issued a statement of his own.

“The matter has been comprehensively put to rest,” he said last week. “It is time for us to unite and move on.”

That has not happened.

Instead of answering the questions about the money and its possible links to a heavily indebted Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, the attorney general’s announcement has only sharpened them. Read the rest of this entry »

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France Probes Possible Bribes in 2002 Malaysia Submarine Sale

Geraldine Amiel and Pooi Koon Chong
Bloomberg
February 5, 2016

French financial prosecutors said they have started a formal probe into whether bribes were paid by Thales SA officials to secure the sale in 2002 of two submarines to Malaysia for more than $1.2 billion.

Prosecutors placed former Thales International Asia President Bernard Baiocco under investigation for “active corruption of foreign governmental officials” and are seeking to determine if “kickbacks” were used to win the contract, a spokesman for the French national prosecutor’s office said Friday, asking to remain anonymous in line with office policy.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was defense minister in 2002, is a suspect in the case, a French official said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The Financial Times reported earlier that Najib is suspected of receiving one of the bribes, along with his associate Abdul Razak Baginda.

Najib’s office said the allegations were “baseless smears for political gain.”
Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Anti-Graft Efforts Haven’t Put Investors at Ease

Andrea Tan and Pooi Koon Chong
Bloomberg
February 5, 2016

Bank accounts frozen. Bankers quizzed. As offshore authorities seek to track money flows involving Malaysia’s troubled government investment fund, fresh questions are rising about doing business in the country.

Crisscrossing countries from Switzerland to the U.S., Middle East and Singapore, investigators are chasing a trail of transactions linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd. With the probes potentially running for years, investors and analysts say it may damage the perception that Malaysia is trying to become a more transparent place.

The risk is political, economic and commercial. Debt-ridden 1MDB, which is in the process of being broken up, was touted as the vehicle for the government to spur growth, investing mainly in property and power generation. Prime Minister Najib Razak — who has faced a separate furor over a $681 million personal donation from the Saudi royal family — sits on its advisory board.

The premier was cleared of any graft, and $620 million of the funds were returned. He and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

“The scandal has thrown Malaysia’s governance failings – both political and economic – into sharp relief,” said Nicholas Spiro, a partner at London-based Lauressa Advisory Ltd. “The 1MDB scandal raises the stakes significantly.” Read the rest of this entry »

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AG Apandi’s Islamic test must apply to both sides

By Martin Jalleh

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Let us rediscover our greatness as Malaysians

(2016 Chinese New Year Message)

Forty-six years ago, on New Year’s Eve marking the end of 1969 and the decade of the sixties, I wrote to the DAP founding chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin from political detention in Muar about the challenges of the future.

I ended my letter thus:

“It is our duty, the duty of every one of our members, branch, state and national leaders, elected representatives, to march in the frontline of the struggle to spread the word of a multi-racial Malaysia to Malaysians of all races, in both the urban and rural areas.

“Let us not shirk from our responsibility and duty to our nation, ourselves, our children and children’s children.”

This is in fact a challenge for all Malaysians for all times. Read the rest of this entry »

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UMNO bukan lagi pilihan anak muda

This is the cry of a young UMNO activist in Penang over the summary and ignomious removal of Mukhriz Mahathir as Kedah Mentri Besar:

“Selepas TSMY dan DS Shafie Apdal, Kini giliran Mukriz pulak.

Sibodoh yang tak faham politik pun bijak menilai kenapa.

Benar bahawa pemimpin datang silih berganti.

Kepentingan parti perlu diutamakan.

Tetapi atas kesalahan apakah Mukhriz Mahathir perlu dihukum sebegini rupa?

Hanya kerana Mukhriz Mahathir lantang bersuara?

Pemimpin kami diatas dah kurang mendengar.

Di pekakkan telinga, dibutakan mata dan masih dalam sindrom penafian.

‘Menjaga’ pemimpin Bahagian dengan beri habuan semata-mata untuk mengekalkan kuasa.

Kami bukan pekak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nazir warns of 1MDB scandal fallout

By Martin Jalleh

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Apandi has left behind questions aplenty!

By Martin Jalleh

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The kleptocrats who steal from us

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
5 February 2016

Corruption is a definite problem that exhibits itself in different ways (duit kopi, gifts, donations, etc).

Alwyn Moerdyk, a lecturer in organisational psychology at Rhodes University, highlighted that in many countries, culture was frequently used to justify blatant acts of corruption.

Moerdyk noted the “act of giving is a natural process for humans and is an expression of gratitude for a benefit received or to cement a relationship. And while some societies claim that gift-giving is ‘part of our culture’, there was no need for outsiders to confuse it with bribery.”

However, one should understand the hidden motives behind these acts – depending on the size or amount of such gifts, the purpose of cementing existing relationships and to forge new ones can be a tricky issue that has caused many sleepless nights for many elected reps and government officials.

Economic prosperity and socio-political progress can only be achieved when governments are transparent and accountable to the people. Democracy upholds the firm notion that the rule of law is sanctified above everything else and the practice of corruption only destroys the foundations democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

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What the 1MDB scandal means for democracy in Malaysia

Iain Marlow
The Globe and Mail
Feb. 04, 2016

Singaporean authorities this week seized a number of bank accounts linked to Malaysia’s beleaguered state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., as part of an ongoing international investigation into alleged corruption that has ensnared Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The move is the latest twist in a global investigation centred on an unusual payment of $681-million (U.S.) from accounts and companies linked to 1MDB into the private accounts of Mr. Najib, who founded and chairs 1MDB. As the investigations continue, Malaysia’s government has undertaken a widespread crackdown on dissidents and dismissed critical politicians – outraging human-rights groups. The eventual conclusion of a domestic investigation by the country’s Attorney-General – that the cash was a donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and has since mostly been returned – has not stopped other investigations by U.S. and Swiss authorities. Read the rest of this entry »

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