Malaysia’s US$1 billion question


– Jakarta Post
The Malaysian Insider
3 March 2016

In a desperate attempt to unseat his former “golden boy” Datuk Seri Najib Razak from the premiership, former Malaysian leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced his resignation from the ruling Umno on Monday.

His move, however, will hardly impact Najib, because Dr Mahathir cannot deny that he was also, at least partly, responsible for the current political landscape. The resignation looks more like personal revenge against Najib because of his failure to abide by his former mentor’s instructions.

There are growing protests from civil society groups against alleged power abuses and rampant corrupt practices involving political elites and the ruling coalition government.

But the opposition is divided and even hostile within itself, while the government silences the disgruntled groups using the tactics of wealth and power distribution.

The Wall Street Journal dropped another political bombshell on Malaysia when it reported on Monday that Najib has US$1 billion in his bank accounts, US$319 million more than what the newspaper allegedly found in July last year.

By any standard, such a significant graft allegation is ridiculous and will damage the pride of Malaysia as a nation if the truth is not thoroughly disclosed to sceptical Malaysians.

Reuters quoted the paper as citing two unnamed people familiar with flows into Najib’s accounts and a person familiar with one overseas investigation, who said that more than US$1 billion was deposited from 2011 to 2013, far more than the US$681 million earlier identified.

The paper said global investigators believe much of the US$1 billion originated from the state fund known as 1MDB, but did not specify where the extra money came from or what happened to it. The government insisted last year that the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family and had been returned.

So far, Najib is still able to tame the protests and opposition because although many Malays, the country’s first-class citizens according to the constitution, are frustrated by the political situation, they are facing greater threats domestically from ethnic Chinese and Indians.

For Indonesians, who have embraced democracy since 1998, the way Najib explained the source of the money seemed unacceptable. It is hard for them to understand Malaysia’s situation, too.

Indonesia is definitely ready to share its democratic experience with neighbouring Malaysia. Of course graft is still plaguing Indonesia, but democracy makes it easier for acts of corruption to be publicly exposed. Hopefully Malaysia will not feel offended by this friendly advice. – Jakarta Post, March 3, 2016.

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  1. #1 by good coolie on Saturday, 5 March 2016 - 12:57 am

    Because we copied you lah! We copied batik and satay and kueh-kodok too.

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