Archive for category Corruption

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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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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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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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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Do we have to wait until 1MDB scandal become the norm in Malaysia which will see the country competing with Somali, North Korea, Afghanistan and Sudan for the last four spots on the TI CPI?

Those who still believe in the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and suffer from the illusion spread by Najib in his 2016 New Year Message that the Prime Minister’s twin world-class RM2.6 “political donation” and the RM55 billion 1MDB mega scandals have been resolved and are no more issues need only to refer today’s news portals, both locally and internationally, to realise how wrong they are.

It is supreme irony that Najib’s very own Ministers are among those in the forefront debunking the Prime Minister’s delusion that his twin mega scandals are no more issues as they had been resolved.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said that 1MDB was the exception in the anti-graft movement among Malaysian companies, claiming that most other Malaysian companies have made good progress in improving transparency.

Goodness me, do we have to wait until 1MDB scandal become the norm for all GLCs in Malaysia which will see the country competing with Somali, North Korea, Afghanistan and Sudan for the last four spots on Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index? Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Najib getting stronger and stronger with scandal after scandal?

The embattled Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib has won another victory with the toppling of Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir as Kedah Mentri Besar and his replacement by Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah.

With a State Assembly of 36 State Assembly representatives, 21 from Barisan Nasional and 15 from the Opposition comprising PAS 8, PKR 4, DAP 2 and Amanah 1, Mukhriz’s position as Kedah Mentri Besar would be untouchable if he could secure the support of at least four UMNO/BN Assembly representatives (including himself).

This is because with 17 out of 36 State Assembly votes, the Bashah faction would not be able to muster the necessary majority to force a change of the Mentri Besar without convening a State Assembly meeting for a vote-of-confidence vote.

The UMNO/BN machination to get rid of Mukhriz as Kedah Mentri Besar must ensure that it collectively commands 18 votes, as in a 18-18 tie, the un-elected Speaker would be able to cast his vote on the side of the Bashah group to topple Mukhriz.

Any other scenario would be unthinkable, as it would mean that Mukhriz had been forced to step down as Mentri Besar by a minority of UMNO/BN Assembly representatives.

It is indeed a great paradox in Malaysian politics, that Najib seems to be getting stronger and stronger despite “scandal after scandal”. Read the rest of this entry »

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The world is closing in on Malaysia’s insular ruling elite

by Greg Earl
Australian Financial Review
Feb 3 2016

There was a time when a Malaysian leader only had to slug it out in the opaque but tough forum of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to remain in power.

And tough it certainly has been, with a leader or rising deputy ruthlessly shoved aside usually amid outbreaks of Malay chauvinism about once a decade during the almost 60 years UMNO has been in power.

Prime Minister Najib Razak produced a masterful performance at the party conference late last year drawing on Malay feudal notions of loyalty and more modernist Islamic principles to fend off a corruption scandal, a weak economy and criticism by his deputy.

Last week the Attorney-General Apandi Ali seemed to take his cue from the conference and declare that there was nothing more to investigate about one of the world’s most amazing political funding sagas in which the Saudi royal family put US$680 million in Najib’s private bank accounts in the run-up to the 2013 election. And after a budget adjustment to cope with the emerging market uncertainty, the attorney-general appeared to clear the way for the prime minister to celebrate his 40 years in politics. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal: You Couldn’t Make It Up

By WILLIAM PESEK
Barron’s Asia
February 3, 2016

While Swiss and Singapore officials turn up the heat, Prime Minister Najib Razak hides his head in the sand.

I don’t know who Najib Razak’s friends are in Saudi Arabia, but I sure want a few.

Who wouldn’t covet a pal or two willing to toss you $700 million as a “gift,” no strings attached? That’s at least the Malaysian prime minister’s story, and he’s sticking to it. Politicians overseas, meanwhile, would sure love to have Najib’s electorate. Since the Wall Street Journal broke news of his good fortune, Najib has displayed a fatalistic willingness to take an entire economy down so he can stay in office. And his party harbors little fear of losing power.

There’s the “Twilight Zone” and there’s the “Malaysia Zone,” and just try discerning the difference. Najib-gate grew even more surreal last week when Malaysia’s attorney general suddenly cleared him of criminal or corruption charges. In a hastily-arranged press conference, Mohamed Apandi Ali said Najib had returned all but $61 million of that “donation” from the Saudi royal family. Somehow, Apandi kept a straight face as he declared the matter closed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabinet today must take cognisance and act on the government failure to resolve Najib’s twin mega scandals by end of last year and the national and international firestorm over Apandi’s decision to exonerate Najib

The Cabinet at its meeting today must take cognisance and act on the government’s failure to resolve Najib’s twin world-class mega scandals by the end of last year and the national and international firestorm over Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali’s decision to exonerate Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of any wrongdoing or crime and that no charges would be brought against him in both the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International scandals.

Far from Najib’s upbeat forecast in his 2016 New Year Message that his twin world-class mega scandals had been resolved and no more issues in the country, the very opposite occurred as his RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM55 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals have in the month of January 2016 mushroomed to unprecedented levels.

As a result, both Najib and Malaysia’s credibility and image have never suffered such serious dent, both nationally and internationally.

Four months ago, in a historic statement on Oct. 6, the Malay Rulers directed Putrajaya to ensure that 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal was thoroughly investigated and for those found guilty of wrongdoing to be punished.

The Malay Rulers also said that investigations must be made public in order to show that nothing was being hidden in the probe on the state-owned investment firm.

The Malay Rulers joint statement said: “The findings of the investigation must be reported comprehensively and in a transparent manner so that the people will be convinced of the sincerity of the government which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth.”

But none of the Malay Rulers’ concerns has been addressed, and not a single person had been punished for the world-class twin mega scandals which have given Malaysia the ignominious third ranking in the world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015” and caused Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index to plunge four places to No. 54 from No. 50 last year.

And nothing has been revealed to Malaysians about the investigations into the twin mega scandals “so that the people will be convinced of the sincerity of the government which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth”!

The promise by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who responded to the Malay Rulers’ Statement with the pledge that Putrajaya was taking proactive measures to address concerns raised by the Malay Rulers over 1MDB, have come to nought.

Hence the national and international firestorm over Attorney-General Apandi’s decision. Read the rest of this entry »

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Swiss 1MDB probe holds fat tail risks for Malaysia

By Una Galani
Reuters Breakingviews
February 1, 2016

It’s hard to bury a big scandal. That is the awkward lesson that Najib Razak is learning. The Malaysian prime minister is attempting to draw a line under a multi-pronged financial controversy that almost toppled him. But initial findings from Switzerland’s attorney general that around $4 billion may have been misappropriated from Malaysian state firms is a sharp reminder of the lingering threat posed by foreign investigations.

Even by the standards of Malaysian politics, it has been an extraordinary few days. On Jan. 26, the country’s chief prosecutor concluded that $681 million that was transferred into the Prime Minister’s personal account in 2013 was a donation from the royal family in Saudi Arabia, not money from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, an indebted fund he championed. Najib was cleared of graft. Three days later, however, Swiss authorities published preliminary conclusions from its own probe into 1MDB which found that billions may have been squirreled away between 2009 and 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia stifles dissent as public unrest grows

Jeevan Vasagar and Michael Peel
Financial Times
February 2, 2016

Malaysia’s government has been battered by international allegations of corruption on a grand scale — yet at home prime minister Najib Razak appears as secure as ever.

While Kuala Lumpur is under pressure from global regulators, with both Switzerland and Singapore shining a light on alleged misconduct, the prime minister’s tightened grip on power has raised concern about growing authoritarianism.

Over the past six months, as controversy raged over $680m transfers into his bank account, Mr Najib has replaced the country’s attorney-general and sacked a critical deputy prime minister. Meanwhile, his administration has imposed travel bans on opponents and rushed through legislation Malaysia’s bar council describes as a “lurch towards an authoritarian government”. Read the rest of this entry »

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