At least five Tuns think Najib should step down as Prime Minister – how many Tan Sris are of such thinking?

Yesterday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Umno needs more leaders and prospective leaders who are likeable and adaptable so that they can suit themselves to the environment and the people to ensure the party’s victory in the next general election.

As a result, I specially went through the 19 UMNO leaders in the 37-strong Najib Cabinet, and it is difficult to find more than one person who might qualify to be “likeable and adaptable” who can save UMNO from doom in the 14GE – the Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Mustapha Mohamad, but who is so sidelined from the centre of UMNO power politics that he cannot even save UMNO from PAS in Kelantan state general elections.

Until three months ago, second Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah might have qualified to be a “likeable and adaptable” UMNO leader to win back UMNO support, but he has proved to be so malleable as Cabinet spokeman for the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal (according to Tan Sri Muhyiddin in his last speech as Deputy Prime Minister to the UMNO Cheras Division on July 26, 2015) that he blotted his copybook and his credibility as a honest and trustworthy politician is in tatters.

It is indeed ironic that Najib is now talking about the need to have “likeable and adaptable” UMNO leaders to win back popular support for UMNO in 14GE when in his recent Cabinet reshuffle after sacking Muhyiddin as DPM and Shafie Apdal as Rural and Regional Development Minister, he promoted into the Cabinet or increased their public profile and importance in the Najib government people who are the very antithesis of his definition of “likeable and adaptable” leaders who can win back lost popular support for UMNO. Read the rest of this entry »

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The politics of division – a Malaysian rhetoric

Philip George
Malaysiakini
Aug 28th, 2015

COMMENT Being a politician is like playing a game. This is especially so in developing countries, where politicians have the ability to shape the history of a nation and determine how it may progress in the future.

Therefore, the use of rhetoric by leaders trying to persuade and garner support of the public, so that they may be able to implement their vision, is part of the game. But as the times have changed, so much the rhetoric used to convince the populace who have entrusted their futures and the future generations into the hands of an elected few.

Rhetoric can no longer be used in the same way it has been in the past. This lesson is noticeably being learnt in Malaysia.

With a growing urban population strengthened by the extension of 21st Century media, Malaysia is showing gradual signs of an evolving participatory democracy, vaguely resembling the evolution of the British democracy in the 19th Century. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bangkit lawan penzalim adalah wira, kata Mufti Perlis

The Malaysian Insider
29 August 2015

Menjelang perhimpunan Bersih 4 hari ini, Mufti Perlis Datuk Dr Mohamad Asri Zainul Abidin berkata, sesiapa yang bangkit menentang si zalim yang kuat ataupun pengkhianat yang berkuasa, maka dia pastinya seorang wira.

Baginya, jika hanya wanita yang ramai dalam perhimpunan ini, ia memalukan, katanya yang dipercayai merujuk kepada pengerusi Bersih 2.0, penganjur Bersih 4, yang merupakan seorang wanita iaitu Maria Chin Abdullah.

“Memalukan bagi sesebuah masyarakat ataupun pihak jika tiada wira lelaki yang muncul, sebaliknya hanya wanita yang berani tampil bersuara dan bertindak,” kata beliau yang lebih dikenali sebagai Dr Maza. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Malaysia’s Politics Amid the 1MDB Scandal

The Diplomat talks with Bridget Welsh about Malaysia’s corruption scandal and its implications for the country.

By Prashanth Parameswaran for The Diplomat
August 28, 2015

Bridget Welsh is a Senior Research Associate of the Center for East Asia Democracy of National Taiwan University, an Associate Fellow of The Habibie Center and a University Fellow of Charles Darwin University. She has written extensively on Malaysian politics among other issues in Southeast Asia.

She recently spoke with The Diplomat’s associate editor Prashanth Parameswaran about a high-profile corruption scandal – known as the 1MDB scandal – which implicates Malaysia’s current prime minister Najib Razak and could have profound implications not only for the country’s embattled premier, but its politics and economics more generally. An edited version of that interview follows.

Let’s start by talking about the scandal itself. There have been allegations that Najib had mismanaged funds linked to the debt-ridden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Some have called the 1MDB scandal the biggest financial scandal Malaysia has experienced in its history. What is your view on how we should understand its significance?

The 1MBD scandal is the most serious scandal to affect Malaysia’s leadership directly, as it involves inadequately explained and accounted for funds deposited into Najib’s personal bank account alleged used for a deeply flawed general election in 2013. While charges of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power have occurred before – particularly in the scandal-ridden administration of Najib – and have been tied to efforts to maintain political power and secure wealth by those in power, this scandal raises broader concerns about the integrity of Malaysia’s political institutions and the leadership’s economic governance. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib Razak, patrician premier mired in scandal

David Pilling
Financial Times
28th August 2015

Accusations swirling around the prime minister have transfixed Malaysia, writes David Pilling

This weekend tens of thousands of Malaysians will pour on to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to shout the name of their prime minister, Najib Razak. They will be coming not to praise him, but
to bury him. Among the most popular chants is likely to be “Tangkap Najib”, or “Arrest Najib”.

Now 61, with receding grey hair, neatly trimmed moustache and bespoke suits, Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, to give him his full title, can seem a dapper liberal with progressive views on economics and racial harmony. “Najib is the best hope for moderation and reform,” says Sholto Byrnes, senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

Yet there is another side to Mr Najib, who has been prime minister since 2009, says John Malott, a former US ambassador to Malaysia. The real man, who at 23 became the youngest parliamentarian in his nation’s history, is, he says, neck-deep in the racially divisive, money-soaked politics of the United Malays National Organisation, which has governed
continuously for nearly six decades. The “fake, Najib”, he says, is the product of millions of dollars spent on slick public relations. Read the rest of this entry »

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All about the issues, not yellow, words or numbers

COMMENTARY BY JAHABAR SADIQ, EDITOR
The Malaysian Insider
29 August 2015

Before 6pm yesterday, one of the best jokes in Malaysia was in the form of a riddle. It went like this: why did the chicken cross the road?

Because Tun was on this side.

But after 6pm yesterday, the better joke was that wearing anything yellow with “Bersih 4” was now illegal.

One specific colour, one specific word and one specific number.

Of course, this isn’t the first time such a ban has been gazetted. It happened for Bersih 2 way back in 2011. People ignored it then, people will ignore it now. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Braces for Protests Against Prime Minister Najib

By JAMES HOOKWAY
Wall Street Journal
Aug. 28, 2015

Malaysian police were bracing Friday for what is expected to be a massive weekend protest in Kuala Lumpur against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s management of the economy and the growing debt problems at a state investment fund.

Authorities said the planned protest is illegal while the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, a government agency, said in a statement it would block websites promoting or encouraging the demonstration, which is set to begin near Merdeka, or Independence, Square in the center of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. The government also announced that it was against the law to wear yellow T-shirts in support of the rally.

The moves reflect Mr. Najib’s growing resolve to stay in power after it emerged that nearly $700 million was deposited into his bank accounts shortly before 2013’s national elections. Last month he sacked then-Deputy Premier Muhyiddin Yassin after Mr. Muhyiddin called on Mr. Najib to explain the worsening situation at the investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB. Mr. Najib also promoted four members of a parliamentary committee investigating 1MDB to the cabinet, meaning they could no longer stay on the panel. The following day, he replaced the country’s attorney-general, who was also involved in an investigation into 1MDB, ahead of his scheduled retirement date in October. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia political crisis poised for street showdown

Michael Peel in Bangkok and David Pilling in Hong Kong
Financial Times
August 28, 2015

Malaysia’s growing political crisis is on the brink of a showdown as tens of thousands of protesters prepare to pour on to the capital’s streets in an effort to topple Najib Razak, the scandal-hit prime minister.

The mass demonstration this weekend known as Bersih — or “clean” — is aimed at forcing the premier’s resignation, after it emerged that unexplained payments of almost $700m were made into bank accounts in his name.

The country’s anti-corruption commission has said the money was from unspecified Middle Eastern donors, rather than Malaysian state coffers. But critics claim the transactions are linked to huge debts run up by a state investment fund, whose troubles some see as emblematic of the misrule of the premier’s long-dominant United Malays National Organisation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia braces for major protests against PM Najib Razak

BBC News

Thousands of Malaysians are set to protest in the capital Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere, calling for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down over a financial scandal.

He has faced public anger over a $700m (£455m) payment made to his bank account from unnamed foreign donors.

It was discovered last month during a probe into alleged mismanagement at the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Final hours for Najib to decide whether he is warring against his own people, when Malaysians come in peace to the Federal capital, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to reaffirm the Malaysian dream of freedom, justice, solidarity and national unity in Merdeka Proclamation 1957 and Malaysia Proclamation 1963

Sad and pathetic that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, should be struck by xanthophobia, the irrational fear of the colour yellow, second time in five years.

The first time was during Bersih 2 of 709 (July 9, 2011) and the second time the last-minute ban by the new Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, of the use of yellow with the words Bersih 4 in whatever form.

This does not reflect a self-confident people-oriented democratic government but a government in deep panic wobbling on the last legs of popularity, credibility and legitimacy.

No wonder the nation’s history of almost six decades has never seen a government more fractured, an UMNO more fractured and a country more divided! Read the rest of this entry »

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What Malaysians want is for Najib to break his silence on the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal which has hogged both national and international news

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has finally broken his silence over the Bersih 4 rally, criticizing organisers for timing the demonstration in a way that it would clash with the Merdeka celebration.

Najib could have made the Bersih 4 rally an outstanding part of the Merdeka celebrations, especially if he is ready to make an appearance at the Bersih 4 rally and have a dialogue with the Bersih 4 organisers and principal supporters on the state of democracy, economy and nation-building 58 years after Merdeka in 1957.

But what all Malaysians want from the Prime Minister is for him to break his silence on the RM2.6 billion donation scandal in his personal bank accounts, which had hogged both national and international news.

In the past two months, Malaysia have repeatedly made international headlines – but for all the wrong reasons which are either most unedifying to the nation or prejudicial to the good name and standing of Malaysia in international circles. Read the rest of this entry »

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Information Department Director-General Ibrahim Abdul Rahman should be sacked as an example that civil servants should not play the irresponsible game of their UMNO political masters to spread lies to incite race and religious sentiments and hatred

The Information Department Director-General Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman should be sacked as an example that civil servants should not play the irresponsible game of their UMNO political masters to spread lies to incite race and religious sentiments and hatred to try to perpetuate UMNO hold on power in Putrajaya.

In his FaceBook yesterday, Ibrahim shared a faked message which I was supposed to have made at a press conference at the DAP headquarters with DAP Acting Chairman Tan Kok Wai (MP for Cheras) and the DAP National Organising Secretary Anthony Loke (MP for Seremban), all donning the Bersih 4 T-shirts, declaring “Ini peluang kami untuk menumbang PEMIMPIN MELAYU DI BUMI MALAYSIA”.

This is a total lie as I never said or intended any such nonsense, as can be testified by the press corps who attended the DAP press conference on Bersih 4 rally on Wednesday, 26th August 2015.
Read the rest of this entry »

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What exactly are you waiting for?

— Kenneth Cheng
The Malay Mail Online
August 27, 2015

AUG 27 — If there is anything still worth salvaging for the ever sinking Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, It was undisputedly clear that all has been gone down the drain yesterday.

It seemed out of desperation and utter stupidity, he proclaims that Malays would be bastardised if UMNO is not ruling Malaysia anymore.

While the statement is not what the writer hopes to discuss, but he can’t help but feel amused because the Malays he has come to know in Singapore turned out just fine.

In fact the confident, faithful and gentle Malays that the author befriended in Singapore are everything that is antithesis to the term ‘bangsat’.

And every Malaysian should feel ashamed of the designation used by the unprimed-ministerial Prime Minister. Because neither any Malays nor any single human whom refuses to support his government are bastard. In fact the very word should only be confined in the realm of Game of Thrones, instead of being applied by politicians for his own political agenda. Read the rest of this entry »

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Internationally, it’s game over for Najib

John R Malott
Malaysiakini
Aug 27th, 2015

COMMENT Ever since he became prime minister in 2009, Najib Razak cut a very impressive swath overseas.

Armed with his impeccable English, a product of his British education, and dressed immaculately in his elegant bespoke British suits, Najib talked a good game. He traveled the world and spoke of how he wanted to reform Malaysia’s political and economic systems and transform his nation into a model for the world.

He spoke at the United Nations time and again of a Global Movement of Moderates, of which Malaysia would be the leader. He spoke of Malaysia as a tolerant nation that respected all religions and races.

In contrast to former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose trips were primarily to Third World nations, Najib actively courted the United States and European nations – the lands of Mahathir’s dreaded “orang putih.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Economy Faces Severe Strain

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Council on Foreign Relations
August 26, 2015

Like any Southeast Asian economy whose trade with China is a major foundation of growth, Malaysia was bound to suffer as the Chinese economy staggered and Chinese stock markets plunged. Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia-China two-way trade topped $100 billion in 2014.

But Malaysia now faces economic challenges far beyond the impact of the slowdown in the Chinese economy, as well as international investors’ apparent growing fear of emerging markets. Malaysia’s own stock market has plummeted this summer, and the Malaysian ringgit is reaching lows against the dollar not seen in nearly two decades—since the time of the Asian financial crisis. As John Berthelsen of Asia Sentinel noted earlier this week:

Malaysia’s central bank is clearly losing the battle to defend its national currency, the ringgit, which fell to RM4.2275:US$1 on Aug. 24 before recovering slightly on Bank Negara [central bank] buying…The Swiss bank UBS last Friday, Aug. 21, issued an alert saying the magnitude and speed of the currency’s decline ‘exceeded our bearish expectations,’ falling 24 percent against the US dollar over the past year.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak dodging anti-corruption spotlight

Lindsay Murdoch
South-East Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media
Sydney Morning Herald
August 28, 2015

Bangkok: Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has cancelled a speech at the world’s top anti-corruption conference as he refuses to explain $US700 million ($982 million) in his personal bank account.

Mr Najib was listed as a speaker to the up to 2000 delegates from more than 100 countries attending the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Kuala Lumpur next week.

But the Prime Minister’s photograph and biography have been removed from the website of the conference which the Malaysian government is hosting. Read the rest of this entry »

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No more Mr Nice Guy

Economist
Aug 29th 2015 | KUALA LUMPUR

Beset by scandal, Malaysia’s prime minister cracks down on dissent

DOWN a quiet lane in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, campaigners at trestle tables are doing a roaring trade in yellow T-shirts. The volunteers have already flogged more than 30,000 of the garments, which are becoming de rigueur for Malaysians planning to attend protests on August 29th-30th to demand the resignation of the country’s prime minister, Najib Razak. The protests are being organised by Bersih (meaning “clean” in Malay), a loose union of non-government groups calling for electoral reform. In 2012 police dispersed thousands of Bersih protesters with tear gas and water cannons and arrested about 500. This weekend’s rally in Kuala Lumpur, which authorities say is illegal, could yet go the same way. Maria Chin Abdullah of Bersih hopes that at least 200,000 Malaysians will protest in three cities. Malaysia’s political system, she says, “has really become quite rotten”.

The planned protests are the latest turn in a wild saga which has gathered pace since early July, when the Wall Street Journal reported that nearly $700m had found its way into bank accounts owned by Mr Najib shortly before a close-fought general election in 2013. Much has been made of the suggestion that the money is somehow linked to 1MDB, a state investment firm struggling to service debts of around $11 billion. Its dealings are now the subject of an investigation in Switzerland, through which some of its cash may have passed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Marching for my beloved country Malaysia during Bersih 4.0 this weekend

By Lim K.H.
Yahoo! News
27th August 2015

The villagers lined the street on both sides patiently waiting, hands behind their back holding a stone in each. It would be a matter of time that the Federal Reserve Units (FRU) or ‘Ang Thou Peng’ would arrive. They did. The FRU contingent arrived in their red trucks, and started marching in formation fully geared. The situation was tense. They marched down the road along Kampong Pulau or ‘Tua Lor Au’, as our village is called in Penang, within arms length of the people. It was a show of strength. Everyone waited patiently until one decided to release his stone with a good aim. Then all hell broke loose.

Villagers scrambled in all directions chased by the well-equipped police, who beat down anyone they could catch.

It got more violent by the day, as they introduced tear gas and eventually curfews to keep the villagers in their houses. Through the riot several canisters of tear gas fell through our atap rooftops into our kitchen when they were randomly fired from the street towards the village houses, forcing our family to take shelter.

What wrong have we done to deserve that treatment? The market strike in 1967 was a result of the currency devaluation. The weeks following the strike were fearful. Racial riots followed but how were they related? It was always easy to put the blame on race to stir up emotions and forget the real reason behind the events, in this case currency devaluation. The riots led to 24-hour curfews with short breaks for the purchase of food but shop shelves were empty. As an 11-year-old then, I could not fully understand the event or the implications of it, but living through the experience brought many lessons. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia: Why 1MDB Scandal Won’t Topple Najib

By Shuli Ren
Barron’s Asia
August 26, 2015

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak turned to the 1998 currency peg “old guards” to stabilize the sliding ringgit, while thousands are expected to turn up in a rally this coming weekend to protest against his role in the 1MDB scandal.

The Malaysian ringgit stabilized this morning after Bill Dudley, the New York Fed president, said overnight that a September rate hike was looking less likely. The ringgit has fallen from 3.60 in May to 4.23 recently.

Najib seems to be taking a page out of former premier Mahathir Mohamad‘s playbook. He appointed former Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who helped Mahathir design Malaysia’s now-abandoned capital controls and currency peg.

Meanwhile, large “Bersih 4.0″ rallies in Kuala Lumpur, Kinabalu and Kuching will likely hit global headlines this weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia PM Najib Razak ‘has to go’, says ex-leader Mahathir

David Pilling in Kuala Lumpur
Financial Times
August 26, 2015

Behind the political crisis engulfing Najib Razak, prime minister of Malaysia, lies nearly $700m that somehow made its way into his personal bank account. Behind that, according to leaked documents, lies a state development fund with $11bn in debts. Behind everything, however, sits a 90-year-old, for two decades the unassailable leader of this erstwhile Southeast Asian success story, who is doing all in his power to topple the present prime minister.

That at least is the claim of those around Mr Najib, who accuse Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s forceful former prime minister, of mounting what they describe as a coup d’état. “He has abused his position and done everything he can to undermine his successors just because his list of personal demands is not being met,” says a person close to government.

Mr Najib strenuously denies any wrongdoing or accepting money for personal gain. The funds in his account, he says, came from an unnamed Middle Eastern benefactor — an explanation endorsed by the country’s anti-corruption commission. Read the rest of this entry »

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