Is Malaysian Parliament one-sided and partial where Ministers and senior government leaders like PAC Chairman cannot be referred to Committee of Privileges for lying and the Speaker only a “yes men” to such breaches of parliamentary privileges?

Is the Malaysian Parliament one-sided and partial where Ministers and senior government leaders like Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman cannot be referred to the Committee of Privileges for lying and the Speaker only a “yes man” to such breaches of parliamentary privileges?

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Azalina Othman had committed a double contempt of Parliament when:

• firstly, she lied when replying to the DAP MP for Bagan Lim Guan Eng on Monday that PAC members were informed about the deleted lines from the PAC Report on 1MDB because of correspondence from Bank Negara on April 6 that its information was “confidential for the purpose of intelligence only and not for court usage or public report”; and

• secondly, when she defended her first lie with another lie by claiming that DAP MP for PJ Utara and PAC member Tony Pua’s statement that the PAC Chairman, Datuk Hasan Arifin had “never at any point of time communicated with PAC members on any developments subsequent to the meeting on April 4” before the PAC Report on 1MDB was presented to Parliament on April 7, 2016 was “untrue and without any basis”.

In their joint statement in Parliament on Thursday, the Deputy Chairman of PAC, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (MP – Kepong) and the four opposition PAC members have confirmed that they had never been informed of any Bank Negara correspondence of April 6 before the tabling of the PAC Report on 1MDB on April 7.

The PAC Chairman Hasan Arifin has also committed a grave breach of parliamentary privilege in tampering with the PAC report on 1MDB. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysians should speak up to oppose Najib’s plan to turn Malaysia into a national prison where critics and opponents of the Prime Minister and Government are prohibited from travelling freely overseas

Yesterday, I had asked whether there will be any Minister who will resign on a matter of principle if the Cabinet today is not prepared to countermand the arbitrary and undemocratic ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and DAP National Publicity Secretary and MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua from free travel overseas.

I have not heard of any news that any Minister or Deputy Minister is resigning his or her post in protest against such lurch towards undemocratic and arbitrary practices which have so far been the hallmark of communist and closed societies, representing a major and fundamental difference with democratic and open societies.

Is Malaysia an open and democratic society or has it regressed to become an autocratic and closed society like the North Korean communist regime?

This is a policy question which should involve every Minister and Deputy Minister in view of the “hair-raising” undemocratic and arbitrary decisions to bar critics and opponents of the Najib government like Maria Chin and Tony Pua from free travel overseas.

The Malaysian Parliament itself has become a farce if MPs like Tony Pua and civil society leaders like Maria Chin could be denied their fundamental and democratic right to travel freely overseas. Read the rest of this entry »

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UMNO/BN can only be defeated in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-elections if there is a “game changer” giving the two by-elections unprecedented national significance and importance

After the 11th Sarawak state general election on May 7, the country is poised for the two Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-elections next month.

Everybody’s first option is to have a one-to-one contest with UMNO/BN in the two by-elections, but this may not be a feasible or even the best political choice.

I have said that although the inability of Pakatan Harapan to campaign as one united team was a cause of great disappointment not only in Sarawak but also in Malaysia, the results of the Sarawak state general election showed that the multi-cornered contests involving Pakatan Harapan parties had not materially affected the outcome of the state election results.

Regardless of whether Pakatan Harapan had been able to present an united front, the results of the 11th Sarawak state general election results would have remained largely the same – Adenan Satam as Chief Minister of Sarawak, Barisan Nasional Sarawak forming the Sarawak state government with continuing two-thirds State Assembly majority and the question to be decided on the May 7 polling day was whether there could be a strong, effective and principled Opposition grouping in the Sarawak State Assembly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib’s Ministers have been very busy indulging in sophistry, prevarication, obfuscation and downright evasion instead of being true and frank about the RM50-55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” global financial scandals

Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Ministers have been very busy indulging in sophistry, prevarication, obfuscation and downright evasion instead of being true and frank about the RM50-55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion global financial scandals.

It would be difficult to find a denser statement than the one made by the Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Salleh Said Keruak that the Wall Street Journal cannot convince Malaysians if it does not reveal the sources of its stories.

In fact, WSJ must thank Salleh for giving greater publicity to its latest report about Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz’s purchase of a RM137 million property in London is now part of the 1MDB probe by international investigators.

Salleh cannot be more wrong when he suggested that WSJ reports have no credibility unless they reveal the sources of its stories, as it is the Prime Minister and his ministers who have been haemorrhaging from a credibility crisis since the 1MDB global scandal burst on the global scene more than a year ago, till today there is considerable truth in the claim that “For foreign media, Malaysia now synonymous with kleptocracy”. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Malaysia that could be

Michael Vatikiotis
Straits Times
May 15, 2016

Shortly after I arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 1991 as newly appointed bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic Review, I was introduced to a Malaysian journalist then working here for The Straits Times in Singapore. We worked in a country well known for its disdain for the foreign media; and we were particular targets because our publications were deemed by the government to be biased against or even hostile to Malaysia.

Partly because of the common challenges we faced, but perhaps mostly because we enjoyed eating nasi kandar and roti canai at street- side stalls in Kuala Lumpur or on the many outstation reporting trips we took together, we became good friends.

A quarter of a century later, my close friend Kalimullah Hassan is no longer a journalist – neither am I. Our beloved profession has been much affected by the decline of advertising revenues and the rise of social media. But Kali, as all his friends know him, remains as passionate and concerned about his country as he was when we drove for long hours around rural constituencies in out-of-the-way parts of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu covering by-elections.

So when I read his newly published collection of columns and recollections, many of those earnest discussions and arguments we had over steaming cups of teh tarik in the 1990s came flooding back to me. There is his great pride in Malaysia’s ethnic diversity, his deep concern about the divisive racist rhetoric of contested politics and the corrosive impact of patronage and corruption in high places.
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Did regulatory slips ‘enable’ the 1MDB scandal?

The Business Times, Singapore
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WITHIN the span of six years, 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) debt had ballooned 10 times to RM50 billion (S$17 billion) and its business deals are now the subject of probes in seven jurisdictions, including Singapore. Could the mammoth scandal around the state-backed fund have been averted?

The answer is “Yes”, given the events at the strategic investment firm from the outset, which ought to have set off alarm bells at various government agencies, regulatory authorities and financial institutions.

In fact, had there been vigilance and proper checks and balances in the first place, the 1MDB controversy could well have been nipped in the bud. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will any Minister resign tomorrow on a matter of principle if Cabinet is not prepared to take a policy decision not to emulate communist countries and closed societies by countermanding undemocratic ban on Maria Chin and Tony Pua from free travel overseas?

The Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that the issuance of a passport is a privilege and not a right.

Nur Jazlan’s argument is flawed, for the right to free travel (which includes the right to a passport and to travel abroad) is a fundamental human right recognized by universal human rights declarations, whether Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or Article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Nobody claims that such a human right is absolute, as it is limited like all other human rights under certain circumstances, but the government must act bona fide, fairly, honestly and honorably and not guilty of arbitrary abuses or excesses of power.

The ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from travelling to South Korea to receive the Gwangju Prize on Human Rights Award and on DAP National Publicity Secretary, MP for PJ Utara and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member, Tony Pua from travelling overseas are clear examples of such abuses of power and egregious violation of human rights in Malaysia.

This a major regression of human rights in Malaysia, as it marks a lowering of human rights standards which had never been contemplated or practiced by the five previous Prime Ministers of Malaysia – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Razak, Hussein Onn, Mahathir and Abdullah. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stepson of Malaysia’s Najib Razak Bought $34 Million London House With 1MDB Funds

By SIMON CLARK, GEORGI KANTCHEV and BRADLEY HOPE
Wall Street Journal
May 19, 2016

Investigators believe that money from the Malaysian fund was used to buy home in 2012

The stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak bought a £23.25 million ($33.6 million) house in central London in 2012 with money originating from the troubled Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., according to people familiar with the situation.

The redbrick four-story house, built around 1900, is part of a row set back from the road and protected by security gates, a short walk from Malaysia’s diplomatic mission in London’s exclusive Belgravia neighborhood. The registered owner of the house is Qentas Holdings Ltd., a company based in the British Virgin Islands. Mr. Najib’s stepson is the beneficial owner, the people familiar said.

Investigators believe that money from the Malaysian fund known as 1MDB was used to buy the house in July 2012. The Wall Street Journal has previously reported that Riza Aziz, a film producer and stepson of the Malaysian leader, used money that originated from 1MDB to buy $50 million worth of properties in New York and Los Angeles and to finance the 2013 movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Azalina has committed double contempt of Parliament when she defended her lie in Parliament in her reply to Guan Eng on the PAC Report on 1MDB

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Azalina Othman had committed a double contempt of Parliament when she defended her lie in Parliament in her reply to DAP MP for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng, claiming that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members were informed about the deleted lines from the PAC Report on 1MDB.

In her written reply on Monday, Azalina had lied that PAC Chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin had informed or showed PAC members letter from Bank Negara Malaysia which stated that the information provided to the PAC was confidential for the purpose of intelligence only and not for court usage or public consumption.

DAP MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua, who is a PAC Member has described Azalina’s answer as a lie, making very clear that after the the final PAC meeting on April 4 which approved the PAC report on 1MDB for publication, Hasan “never at any point of time communicated with the PAC members on any developments subsequent to the meeting on April 4”.

I have spoken to the Deputy Chairman of PAC, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (MP – Kepong) and he has confirmed that what Pua said was true and factual, and that PAC members were never informed about Bank Negara’s letter before PAC Report on 1MDB was tabled in Parliament on April 7, and that Azalina had told a lie in Parliament.

Thus, when Azalina yesterday denied that she lied to Parliament when she said PAC members had been informed about the deleted lines in the PAC report on 1MDB, and that Pua’s statement was untrue and made without any basis, Azalina had committed a double contempt of Parliament. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for public inquiry into the tragic helicopter crash during the 11th Sarawak general election causing the death of six people, including a deputy minister and another MP

The 11th Sarawak state general election has ended on May 7 polling with fairly expected results, the re-election of Tan Sri Adenan Satem as Sarawak Chief Minister, the formation of the new Sarawak State Government by Sarawak Barisan Nasional and the failure to deny Adenan two-thirds majority in the 82-seat Sarawak State Assembly.

I had publicly predicted these three results after Nomination Day on April 25, and I was not greatly surprised by the outcome of the 11th Sarawak state general elections.

One of the disappointments of the 11th Sarawak state general elections was the inability of Pakatan Harapan to campaign as one team, and which saw multi-cornered contests even involving Pakatan Harapan parties, but the results have shown that it had not materially affected the results of the Sarawak state general election.

A combined and united Pakatan Harapan in the Sarawak state general election would have found it difficult to regain the 15 state assembly seats won by DAP and PKR five years ago in the 2011 state general election, but there is no doubt that the failure to present an united front by Pakatan Harapan parties caused great disappointment all-round and should be a lesson to all Pakatan Harapan parties for the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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Would Azalina refer herself to the Committee of Privileges for lying in Parliament or would there be an Acting Minister in the PM’s Department appointed to be in charge of parliamentary affairs to refer Azalina to Committee of Privileges?

Would the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Azalina Othman Said refer herself to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges for lying in Parliament, or would there be an Acting Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department appointed to be in charge of parliamentary affairs to refer Azalina to the Committee of Privileges?

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member and DAP MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua has made a very serious charge that Azalina had lied in replying to the DAP MP for Bagan Lim Guan Eng that PAC members were informed about the deleted lines from the PAC Report on 1MDB.

Pua said Azalina lied in Parliament when she said in her parliamentary reply on Monday that the PAC Chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin had informed or showed PAC members letter from Bank Negara Malaysia which stated that the information provided to the PAC was confidential and not for public consumption.

Azalina had replied to Guan Eng that Hasan had received Bank Negara’s information which stated all the information given was “confidential for the purpose of intelligence only and not for court usage or public report” and that all PAC members were informed of the matter via a letter penned by the PAC chief to the deputy governor of the central bank on April 6.

I have received confirmation from the Deputy Chairman of PAC, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (Kepong) that PAC members were never informed about the matter by the PAC Chairman on April 6 and that Azalina had told a lie in Parliament. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid Hamidi should tender apology to Maria Chin and Tony Pua and take immediate action to restore their fundamental democratic right to travel freely overseas

The ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from travel overseas confirms the age-old maxim “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and the need for constant vigilance as well as effective checks-and-balance against abuses and excesses of power.

But what has come as a surprise is that the former PAC Chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed should be afflicted by this human failing so quick and fast less than a year after his appointment as Deputy Home Minister when he said yesterday that the government need not have to give reasons for barring Maria Chin from leaving Malaysia.

The ban on Maria Chin from travelling overseas is wrong on three grounds. Read the rest of this entry »

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Myths about the forthcoming Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-elections

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said that he would reshuffle his Cabinet.

Instead of reshuffling his jumbo-sized Cabinet of 36 Ministers, he should do some pruning and remove his Cabinet of deadwood and half-past six Ministers, starting with Najib himself relinquishing the Finance Minister’s portfolio and more than halving the number of Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department who now comprise some 30 per cent of the Cabinet.

How many of the 36 Ministers were in Parliament yesterday to pay last respects to two BN/UMNO Members of Parliament, Sungai Besar MP Datuk Noriah Kasnon who was Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities and Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-jl Anuar Wan Ahmad, who was also the Malaysian Palm Oil Board Chairman, in the minute of silence observed at the beginning of Parliament?

The first row of the first block in Parliament headed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and the Health Minister Datuk S. Subramaniam was totally empty while the first block was virtually empty!

Why were some 90 per cent of the jumbo-sized Cabinet absent in Parliament yesterday to pay the one-minute last respect to Noriah and Wan Mohammad Khairil?

There have been some myths about the impending Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-elections, with nomination fixed for June 5 and polling on June 18. Read the rest of this entry »

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Four ways for Najib and Parliament to redeem their abject failure to ensure responsibility and accountability for first global financial scandal in nation’s history

I have visited 130 parliamentary constituencies in the country in my nation-wide “Pantang Undur – Berani kerana Benar” nation-wide tour during my six-month suspension from Parliament in October last year.

Only three days ago, I visited Kuala Terengganu, Marang, Setiu and Besut in Terengganu and Pasir Puteh in Kelantan.

Wherever I went in the 130 Parliamentary constituencies in the past six months, Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region want the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razal to answer the two simple questions about his global financial scandal – where the money came from and where the money had gone to! Read the rest of this entry »

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Learning Islam From Muslims, and Muslims Learning Islam

Bakri Musa
16th May 2016

A Review of Shahab Ahmed’s What Is Islam. The Importance of Being Islamic

Second of Two Parts

In the first part of my essay I recalled Shahab Ahmed’s elegant albeit oxymoronic phrase “coherent contradictions” to describe the dizzying diversity and puzzling perplexities that are the norms in Islam, then and now.

As for “reforming” Islam, the current fetish among Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Ahmed did not have much praise or hope for these reformers, ancient or modern. This was not out of any Islam-does-not-need-reforming sentiment, rather that those reformers limited themselves to reading only the Text (Koran) and then were consumed with their arcane legalistic and hermeneutical interpretations. They ignored the “Pre-Text” and “Con-Text,” or more crucially, how Islam is believed, practiced, and contributed to by Muslims past and present, scholars and ordinary believers alike.

Or in Shahab Ahmed’s words, “how Islam makes Muslims as Muslims make Islam.” Much can be learned about Islam, and about Muslims, from just that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Victory and insecurity – Sarawak results and trajectories

By Bridget Welsh
13 May 2016, 11:25 am
Malaysia Kini

With the ‘landslide’ results of the Sarawak election last week, it would appear on the surface that Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has been given a political reprieve. His close ally Sarawak’s Chief Minister Adenan Satem secured an overwhelming majority of 72 out of 82 seats, or 87 percent of the seats.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition gained 8.3 percent of the popular vote, to a total of 63.7 percent compared to the 55.4 percent it won in 2011.

It would seem that the message sent across the world was that Sarawakians support the BN. They appear to care little for corruption, abuse of power, an electoral system that relies on massive vote buying, gross distortions of electoral constituencies and abuse of political position against opposition alternatives.

They were not moved by one of the most serious global money-laundering scandals. In fact, while this may be true for some of the electorate, this reading of the election is not complete.
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I have visited 130 parliamentary constituencies during my six-month suspension from Parliament and all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region want Najib to answer two simple questions about Najib’s global financial scandal – where the money came from and where the money had gone to!

This morning, I want to report to the voters of Gelang Patah that I have visited 130 parliamentary constituencies in the country during my six-month suspension from Parliament and I will return to Parliament tomorrow.

Only two days ago, I visited Kuala Terengganu, Marang, Setiu and Besut in Terengganu and Pasir Puteh in Kelantan.

Wherever I went in the 130 Parliamentary constituencies in the past six months, Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region want Najib to answer the two simple questions about his global financial scandal – where the money came from and where the money had gone to!

I apologise to the people of Gelang Patah for being suspended for six months from Parliament, not because I had stolen, robbed, murdered or guilty of corruption, but because I had wanted the Prime Minister to answer two simple questions about his global financial scandals – Where the money came from and where the money have gone to.

Six months later, Najib has not been able to answer these two simple questions, but his twin mega scandals have continue to mushroom to become ever more monstrous, with Malaysia topping the global charts as among the most corrupt nations in the world like the third place in international website, foreignpolicy.com’s ranking of the world’s “worst corruption scandal in 2015” at the end of last year, TIME magazine’s second ranking of “global corruption” in March or the Economist’s second placing in its second index of crony capitalism early this month.

Six months ago, we were talking about Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal and the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal – today, we are talking about Najib’s RM4.2 billion “donation” scandal and the RM50-55 billion 1MDB scandal! Read the rest of this entry »

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Johor should take over the baton from Sarawak to be the vanguard for political change in Malaysia

At the mid-point of the 11th Sarawak state general election campaign on April 30, I warned that seven of the 13 seats carved out of the 12 State Assembly constituencies won by DAP in last general election were in “danger list” for the May 7 poll.

A week later, on Polling Day, I was proved right when DAP could only win seven of the 12 seats won five years ago.

DAP Sarawak fought the 11th Sarawak state general election with two objectives:

(I) to defend and win the 13 State Assembly seats carved out of the 12 DAP seats
won in the last general elections; and

(2) to achieve a breakthrough in the Dayak-dominated seats to expand DAP support from the urban areas.

I had hoped that DAP candidate Modi Bimol could win the Tasik Biru state assembly seat, and that was why I was in Tasek Biru on Nomination Day.

But the combined artillery and firepower of the Barisan Nasional national and state “heavyweights” including the Sarawak Chief Minister and the Malaysian Prime Minister who led a long queue of State and Federal VIPS to descend on the constituency with monetary offers and other goodies, succeeded in foiling Modi from the DAP election breakthrough. In the event, Modi lost by 1,288 votes.

I had right from the beginning of the election campaign acknowledged that the 11th Sarawak state general election was not about deciding who would be the Sarawak Chief Minister and who would form the Sarawak State Government as both these questions had already been decided on Nomination Day – i.e. Adenan Satem as Sarawak Chief Minister and Sarawak Barisan Nasional as the Sarawak State Government.

I even said that the goal of denying Adenan two-thirds state assembly majority would be quite impossible, as it would mean the Opposition collectively electing at least 28 State Assembly seats in Sarawak. Read the rest of this entry »

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RM50 billion 1MDB scandal is equivalent to 100 years of Kelantan’s annual state budget

The Kelantan Amanah Chairman, Datuk Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah tells me that the annual budget for the Kelantan state is about RM500 million a year.

This would mean that the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal is equivalent to 100 years of Kelantan’s annual state budget – an indication of the enormity and magnitude of the nation’s first global financial scandal and why it is imperative that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is also the Finance Minister should accept immediate and full responsibility and accountability for the worst case of public governance in almost six decades of the nation’s history.

The 1MDB global scandal would be a leading issue in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-elections, with the nomination date fixed for June 5 and polling on June 18.

PAS contested on behalf of Pakatan Rakyat in both constituencies in the 13th GE in May 2013, with the PAS candidate losing by 399 votes in Sungai Besasr and 1,082 votes in Kuala Kangsar.

PAS candidates in the by-election in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar will not get more votes in either constituency in the 2013 general elections, as their votes can only be lower, as PAS has alienated considerable segment of voters in both constituencies and is no more a Pakatan Rakyat component party. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why is Najib absconding to UK next week when he should be in Parliament to give full and satisfactory accounting on the exploding 1MDB global financial scandal?

It has been reported that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak will be making a “working visit” to the United Kingdom from Sunday to May 18 to promote investment between the two countries.

It would appear that Najib’s overseas itinerary had been planned to enable him to avoid parliamentary responsibility and accountability with Parliament scheduled to reconvene on Monday.

Why is Najib absconding to UK when he should be in Parliament to give full and satisfactory accounting on the exploding 1MDB global financial scandal?

Why is Najib going away from the country when he should have given top priority to his attendance of Parliament among all his Prime Ministerial duties especially with the 1MDB scandal assuming such an explosive dimension? Read the rest of this entry »

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