Archive for category UMNO

Najib’s desperate shuffle for survival

By Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
Jul 31, 2015

COMMENT Najib Razak’s cabinet reshuffle was an expected step in the repertoire of many measures that the prime minister has used to stay in office.

In this manoeuvre, he has removed the immediate leadership threats among the Umno hierarchy, closed down the two avenues of negotiation involving the 1MDB scandal, and purportedly strengthened the ‘strongman’ dimensions of his leadership.

Many argue this Mahathirian move has secured Najib’s position by neutralising challengers. I disagree. In fact, Najib’s measures of late reveal weakness – not strength – and are likely to deepen his leadership crisis.

With the reshuffle, Najib has forged new alliances among the various factions in Umno. In the Umno party elections of 2013, Najib made a strategic alliance with Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s appointees and the former premier’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin to secure dominance over internal party opposition seen from the Mahathir Mohamad camp.

Najib managed to position considerable loyalists as division chiefs in the party contests, but did not fully secure control over the Supreme Council or have a majority of division chief loyalists on his own, relying heavily on allies to shore up his position. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will there be some 20 UMNO MPs and 20 BN MPs from Sabah and Sarawak prepared to join with some 80 MPs from DAP, PKR and Gerakan Harapan Baru to form a new coalition government with a new Prime Minister with new policies to save Malaysia from becoming a failed state?

It is becoming a popular refrain from top government circles in the past few days alleging that there is an international conspiracy plotting the toppling of a serving Prime Minister by “criminalizing” him, as if the Najib government is preparing the ground for a new dragnet of arrests, using Section 124 of the Penal Code on the new-fangled crime of “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” which can send a person convicted for the offence to jail for up to 20 years.

The latest person to join in this government chorus is none other than the new Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali who, in his fourth day as the top law officer of the government early this morning, dismissed the purported draft of a corruption charge sheet against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, published on whistleblower website Sarawak Report, as false.
Apandi went on to declare that the alleged draft corruption charge against Najib point to “a conspiracy to topple a serving prime minister by criminalising him” and warning “stern action against the perpetrators” as “the full force of the law will be applied without exception on any that are found guilty”.

In fact, more than a dozen names have been circulated in the social media in the past few days of persons from the press, Parliament, the “special task force” on the 1MDB which is a multi-agency constituted by Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Royal Malaysian Police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers alleging that they are going to be picked up in the crackdown on these plotters of the international conspiracy to “criminalise” Datuk Seri Najib Razak and to topple the elected Prime Minister of Malaysia – and it really surprises me that the Inspector-General of Police who have been issuing all sorts of warnings to various quarters in the social media seems to be blissfully unaware of such sites and their activities.

This is why in the past two days, I had specifically asked whether Malaysia is on the brink of a “new Dark Age” and another round of attacks on the independence, integrity and professionalism of the national institutions which had suffered and had not fully recovered from the earlier round of attacks on the national institutions in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can the prime minister survive?

– Greg Lopez
The Malaysian Insider
30 July 2015

The president of Umno is always the prime minister of Malaysia. It is Umno who decides who becomes the prime minister. Leadership crisis in Umno always has serious implications to national leadership and Malaysia.

The leadership crisis within Umno occurs almost every decade. The outcomes of these leadership crises are balanced as the context is important in determining the survival of the incumbent.

The first leadership crisis happened almost as soon as Umno was established.

Leaders from Umno’s Islamic Department left in 1951 to form the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party of Tanah Melayu, now known as the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party or PAS. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier

by BINOY KAMPMARK
CounterPunch
JULY 28, 2015

He is, like many of his colleagues in the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), a stubborn barnacle. The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has struggled cleaning up the mess that ensued after revelations that he has been effectively ransacking the Malaysian state during his time in office. Pity a country with natural resources, and government policies that pride connections over industry; sleeping partners over industrious ones.

The so-called 1MBD revelations have done much to tarnish, and possibly sink Najib in the kleptocratic maelstrom. The 1Malaysia Development Bhd, Fund or 1MDB, has been riddled with rotten apples, and there always was a looming question as to whether one of them came from the PM’s office. Najib, for one, founded the body while heading its board of advisors. During the course of his stewardship, the government investment fund accumulated a weighty $11 billion in debt. Promised ventures have not taken place: the failure to develop the Tun Razak Exchange project, and the lack of promised contributions from partners.

After some investigative digging on the part of the Sarawak Report and Wall Street Journal, a link was supposedly established between Najib’s personal accounts held at AmPrivate Banking in Kuala Lumpur and the 1MDB money trail. Amounts totalling $US681,999,976 (RM2.6 billion in local currency) was wired from the Singapore branch of the Swiss Falcon private bank owned by Abu Dhabi fund Aabar into the AMBank account on March 2013 ahead of the General election. Such is the nature of “strategic partnerships”.

Then came the amount of RM42 million stemming from the notorious SRC International Sdn Bhd, another company with links to 1MDB. The money also happened it find itself in Najib’s accounts and came from unaccounted funds provided by the public pension fund KWAP.

The exposure has produced more than a flutter in Malaysian politics. Malaysiakini mocked the prime minister’s reaction to questions on the scandal as he left an open house gathering with former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi: “Okay lah.”[1] Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s mess is Mahathir-made

Dan Slater
East Asia Forum
29 July 2015

At least embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is right about one thing. The current mess in Malaysian politics is the making of his greatest nemesis, Mahathir Mohamad, who led the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist from 1981–2003. What Najib fails to fathom is that Mahathir has not produced this mess by criticising his leadership, but by paving Najib’s path to power in the fashion he did during his decades in office. Mahathir may believe that he can end the crisis by bringing Najib down. But history should judge Mahathir himself as the author of a long national decline that has culminated in this latest crisis.

To be sure, Najib’s fingerprints are all over the current mess. The proximate source of the crisis has been the collapse of Najib’s pet sovereign-investment company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). This has caused Malaysia’s stock market and currency, the ringgit, to plummet in turn. All this has transpired amid credible allegations that the prime minister siphoned an eye-popping US$700 million into his personal bank account.

But this road toward ruin commenced with Mahathir, not Najib. Read the rest of this entry »

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“High Noon” in Malaysia – who will be left standing?

Its High Noon in Malaysia.

Who will be left standing after the political showdown in UMNO?

What is expected in the next few days will be played out in the next few hours.

A look at the front-page headlines of the mainstream media today shows that the Malaysian people are being prepared for this High Noon: Read the rest of this entry »

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The long-awaited political breakthrough

— Koon Yew Yin
Malay Mail Online
July 26, 2015

JULY 26 — Gerakan Harapan Baru, Parti Progresive Islam — whatever name is finally decided for the breakaway group of Pas moderates and progressives — will not matter. What matters is that a new political force is being set up to provide Malaysian Muslims with an alternative to Pas and UMNO in the coming elections.

This move by PAS reformers is possibly the most important development to take place in the country’s political system for a long time. Why do I say this?

Well, most Malaysians especially non-Muslims, we have only had a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea since 1957 in terms of Muslim based parties. That is a choice of UMNO or PAS.

UMNO plays racial cum religious politics; PAS plays religious cum racial politics. We had what is referred to as Hobson’s choice or in simple English, no choice in choosing the government. This ‘take it or leave it’ option to voters is finally going to change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Edge Group Publications Suspended

By John Berthelsen
Asia Sentinel
July 24, 2015

Government action comes as owner, publisher, say they obtained documents through a ruse

The Edge Financial Daily, the country’s leading financial newspaper, and The Edge Weekly have been suspended from publishing for three months by Malaysian authorities for reporting on the scandal-tarred 1 Malaysia Development Bhd development fund that authorities said was “prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion.” It also stated that the reporting on 1MDB was “likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest.”

The suspension is unprecedented. Last week, the government also blocked The Sarawak Report, written by Clare Rewcastle Brown from the UK, which has been equally critical of the government. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has been tied directly to the scandal by reports that US$680 million had been spirited from 1MDB-related companies into his personal accounts.

Tong Kooi Ong, the owner of The Edge Group, and Ho Kay Tat, the publisher, have both been threatened with arrest. Ho was forced to report to the police on July 22 and was questioned for two hours over the paper’s publication of a 3,800 word on July 21 report describing in deep detail, with flow charts, how money had flowed out of 1MDB into PetroSaudi International, a Middle East-based oil exploration company, and that US$1.83 billion allegedly was stolen by company officers and others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib intends to roll on, not over

Economist
Jul 25th 2015 | KUALA LUMPUR

Soldiering on – Malaysia’s prime minister battles claims of corruption

WHATEVER the truth of them, the accusations levelled against Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, have astonished a country that some had thought inured to scandal. In early July the Wall Street Journal reported that it had seen documents produced by government investigators suggesting that nearly $700m from companies linked to a troubled state-backed investment fund had been paid into what they believed to be Mr Najib’s personal bank accounts. With worries about an oil-dependent economy, the controversy is the last thing Malaysia needs.

The allegation is that the money was received shortly before the general election in 2013, in which a coalition dominated by Mr Najib’s party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) scraped home, despite narrowly losing the popular vote. The prime minister helped launch the fund, known as 1MDB, in 2009 and chairs its board of advisers. It has acquired land and power plants, yet has struggled to service debts of around $11 billion. The firm’s affairs were already the subject of official investigations, but until this month no one had claimed to have evidence that the prime minister himself had received any money. Read the rest of this entry »

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Keris waving: A decade later

— Liew Chin Tong
The Malay Mail Online
July 20, 2015

JULY 20 — A decade ago on 20th July 2005, the then Umno Youth chief Hishammudin Hussein gave his infamous keris-wielding speech during the Umno Youth General Assembly, in a gesture that has come to symbolise Umno’s turn to right-wing politics since then.

His act of Keris waving is arguably the image that defined the last decade of Malaysian politics. Coupled together with Umno’s right turn, it paved the way for Umno’s dramatic decline.

The Keris waving act was part of the push to the right by certain groups within Umno during the 2005 Umno General Assembly.

The resolution of the said General Assembly was the introduction of a “Malay Agenda” and the reintroduction of the New Economic Policy, which had been downplayed in the early 1990s .

The keris waving act and Umno’s right turn did not gain Umno much new Malay support as the Malay middle ground dislikes harsh and extreme acts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia PM Najib ready to take on raging bull Mahathir

Rowan Callick
Asia Pacific Editor
The Australian
July 18, 2015

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been under political siege for the two years since ­support for his UMNO-led ­coal­ition, which has ruled since independence in 1957, slid to less than 50 per cent at the last election.

The attacks — from outside and from within his own political camp — have intensified in recent months, becoming increasingly more personal, with a series of claims of corruption.

He has now begun to fight back, launching — and threatening to launch — defamation cases within Malaysia and overseas, ­including against Fairfax newspapers in Australia and The Wall Street Journal.

The opposition grouping led by Anwar Ibrahim attracted more voters at the 2013 general election, but failed to win power due to the gerrymander that gives rural ­ethnic Malay voters an overwhelming advantage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia should develop a “hysteria index” to monitor which Minister is the most hysterical in the defence of the Prime Minister in face of mounting exposes about the 1MDB and other scandals

A new political phenomenon seems to have developed in Malaysian politics especially at the Cabinet level – with the competition among Ministers as to who could become more hysterical in the defence of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the face of mounting exposes about the 1MDB and other scandals.

Without going too far back in time, the two Ministers competing to be the most hysterical Minister in the past three days are indisputably the Minister for Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and the Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

Self-styling himself as Barisan Nasional strategic communications director (which no other BN leader apart from Najib would have heard of), Abdul Rahman went into an overdrive in championing a dubious mercenary character thinking that he could deliver a “killer blow” to the Opposition and therefore found a path leading to his unstoppable political elevation to the stratosphere of Najib’s political empire. Read the rest of this entry »

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Overcoming the legacy of patronage politics

By Bloomberg editors
10th July 2015

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may very well be, as he insists, innocent of charges that nearly US$700 million (RM2.65 billion) in government-linked funds ended up in his personal accounts. But his handling of the scandal thus far has only underscored weaknesses in the Malaysian political system.

The accusations against Najib revolve around the finances of 1MDB – a debt-ridden state investment company whose advisory board he chairs. In early July, the Wall Street Journal reported that hundreds of millions of dollars may have moved through agencies linked to 1MDB and landed in accounts controlled by the prime minister.

Najib has alleged a political conspiracy to undermine him and vowed not to resign. He’s threatened to sue the Journal, while Malaysian police have launched a probe into how reporters obtained the evidence for its story. The Journal has said it stands by its reporting.

Whatever the facts of the case, Najib inhabits a system that has long suffered from allegations of cronyism. His United Malays National Organisation (Umno) has dominated the government since independence in 1957, in part through gerrymandering and affirmative-action policies that favor the Malay majority. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sudah sampai masanya orang kampung diberitahu perkara sebenar

Amin Iskandar
The Malaysian Insider
12 July 2015

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor mengatakan semalam “orang kampung” jangan menyangka kehidupan di kota besar Kuala Lumpur lebih baik berbanding di luar bandar.

Menurut menteri Wilayah Persekutuan itu, ini kerana kos kehidupan di kota besar jauh lebih tinggi dan menyebabkan sesetengah penduduk luar bandar yang mempunyai cita-cita untuk hidup mewah akhirnya menjadi gelandangan.

Benar apa yang dikatakan setiausaha agung Umno itu. Di luar bandar jika kita diwariskan tanah keluarga, sekurang-kurangnya kita ada tempat tinggal.

Barangkali sudah sampai masanya Tengku Adnan yang dikenali sebagai Ku Nan dan Umno memberitahu penduduk luar bandar perkara sebenar tentang Malaysia.

Selama ini, penduduk luar bandar hanya diberitahu “cerita-cerita yang indah” saja tentang Malaysia sehingga ramai tertipu dan berhijrah ke kota besar di Kuala Lumpur dan akhirnya merempat.

Oleh kerana kebanyakan penduduk luar bandar selama ini hanya mendapat berita daripada Utusan Malaysia, RTM dan TV3, mereka mungkin tidak berapa tahu tentang Malaysia yang sebenar. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cut losses in 30 BN bastions, DAP strategist says in polls gambit

The Malay Mail Online
July 10, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — The opposition should forgo 30 Barisan Nasional (BN) strongholds in its bid for Putrajaya and focus resources on 38 marginal seats to make Umno fall like dominoes, a DAP strategist said today.

Liew Chin Tong, the DAP election planner whose brazen plan to contest against Umno in its stronghold state Johor in Election 2013 saw Pakatan Rakyat taking five out of 26 seats, said the opposition should not stretch itself by trying to take seats where the odds of victory are low.

“Let’s be clear, elections are won or lost in marginal seats. For the new Opposition coalition to form the next government which is stable and with a strong legitimacy, defeating Umno in the Peninsula has to be the priority.

“But to cause Umno to fall like dominoes, we should not set our sights on its strongholds but work on where it is weakest: the marginal seats,” the DAP national political education director said in his analysis titled “The Peninsula Dominoes”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fissures appear in Umno as crisis deepens

By Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
Jul 10, 2015

COMMENT As Prime Minister and Finance Minister Najib Razak faces explosive allegations of embezzlement, corruption and electoral manipulation that go to the very core of his leadership and the legitimacy of his government, the country is plunged into yet another crisis.

Sadly crises have become common developments of the Najib government, whose responses to 1MDB even before the revelations by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) brought to the fore questions of economic mismanagement which has undermined the reputation of the Malaysia’s financial institutions.

For many, the issue at hand is what Najib will do – he has already done serious damage to the country and unfortunately every day he stays in office, his leadership negatively affects the country’s reputation. Not only is Malaysia’s international credibility is on the line, its currency, access to foreign capital and future economic prosperity are at risk.

Unlike his father, Malaysia’s second premier Abdul Razak Hussien, Najib has apparently chosen to put himself first rather than the country. During his tenure, Najib has distinguished himself from Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his effectiveness in using the country’s political institutions to strengthen his personal position. He has indeed taken the office of the prime minister to a new low.

Najib deserves a fair and impartial investigation of the allegations made by WSJ. This can be done if he opts to go on leave during the investigation period and appoints respected impartial individuals to lead the investigation. Neither of these have been done so far, as the approach has been to issue denials, thus raising suspicions of a potential cover-up, and this sends conflicting signals about the investigation.

In a ‘fox guarding the hen house dynamic,’ members of the task force assigned to investigate are neither impartial nor distant from developments. In some cases, their job was to review these bank transactions and as such should also be subject to an independent investigation in their failure to act before the WSJ report. The lack on impartiality of the task force does not build credibility, especially in international markets.

Najib’s decision to hold onto power and stay in office compromises any investigation due to the inherent conflict of interests involved and this assures that any departure will be an even harder landing for himself, his family, his political party, Umno, and worst of all, the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Going on leave best of 3 options for Najib, says Musa Hitam

by V. Anbalagan
The Malaysian Insider
10 July 2015

Embattled Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has three options to consider for his immediate future as he wards off allegations that US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) was transferred into his personal bank accounts, Tun Musa Hitam told The Malaysian Insider.

The former deputy prime minister said Najib could: 1) remain in office and fight the allegations, 2) resign as prime minister and, 3) go on leave pending the investigations by a special government task force.

On a personal note, Musa said he would prefer it if Najib took the third option to allow for an open and transparent investigation.

Speaking exclusively to The Malaysian Insider yesterday, the 81-year Musa said he could no longer sit quietly as the issue gripped the nation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s PM Extends Feud to Mahathir’s Son

Asia Sentinel
July 2, 2015

Sources say government is delaying funds and slowing proposals in state Mukhriz controls.

The scorched-earth war between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his one-time mentor, former Premier Mahathir Mohamad, has extended to the northern state of Kedah, where Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, rules as chief minister.

The federal government in Putrajaya reportedly has cut budget allocations to the state, one of the country’s poorest, and is dragging its heels on a proposal by Mukhriz to build an airport in the city of Kulim which Mukhriz deems crucial to boosting the local economy. Reportedly other economic initiatives have been blocked through the federal government’s refusal to pay full land premium for land that Mukhriz is attempting to convert to industrial uses. He is also encountering sniping from Najib forces in the state over his performance as chief minister

It was his father, Mahathir, who paved the way for Najib to become prime minister, first grooming him as defense minister, and then, in 2009 playing an instrumental role in driving his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from power. Anointed by Mahathir, Najib became prime minister only to lead the Barisan in 2013 to the first loss of the popular vote since 1969, although it retained its majority in parliament through gerrymandering. Read the rest of this entry »

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Scandal in Malaysia

Wall Street Journal
July 5, 2015

Evidence that a state-owned fund diverted money to the Prime Minister.

The Journal broke the news Friday that Malaysian government investigators have discovered evidence of potential corruption involving Prime Minister Najib Razak. Almost $700 million linked to the state-owned investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, was allegedly transferred into his personal accounts. Neither the original source or ultimate destination of the money is clear.

Mr. Najib’s office put out a statement that “there have been concerted efforts by certain individuals to undermine confidence in our economy, tarnish the government and remove a democratically-elected prime minister.” It called the Journal article a “continuation of this political sabotage.”

The size of the alleged diversion is shocking, but the abuse of public entities for private gain is politics as usual in Malaysia. The scandal is a case study in the effects of one-party rule by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) on the country’s institutions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on progressive UMNO leaders to support the patriotic call for the scrapping of auction rights of “Patriot” number plates to Yayasan Patriot Negara Malaysia (YPNM)

I am pleasantly surprised that an UMNO State Assemblyman, Tengku Putra Haron Aminurrashid (Kempas – Johor) has spoken up against the ludicrous, disgraceful and most unpatriotic decision granting auction rights of “Patriot” number plates to Yayasan Patriot Negara Malaysia (YPNM) purportedly to promote “patriotism”.

Although the language used by the Kempas UMNO Assemblyman is rather down-to-earth, he undoubtedly expressed the feelings of the majority of Malaysians when he said that the Ministers who allowed an NGO to auction the “Patriot” vanity plates have effectively put “patriotism” on their “backside”.

Have decency, civility and good sense in Malaysia at the Cabinet level gone to the dogs that Ministers can approve such a mercenary and cheap-skate idea of auctioning “Patriot” number plates, as if those who used money to use the “Patriot” number plates are the greatest patriots in the country – even more “patriotic” than the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and ordinary Cabinet Ministers?

Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (who approved the hare-brained scheme when he was Acting Transport Minister) and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for the “Patriot” number plates auction decision and I fully agree with Tengku Putra Haron that “the application should have been shot down upon presentation”.

His question whether the Cabinet had approved the “Patriot” number plate auction scheme deserves an answer from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself. Read the rest of this entry »

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