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.”
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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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AG Apandi’s Islamic test must apply to both sides

By Martin Jalleh

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Let us rediscover our greatness as Malaysians

(2016 Chinese New Year Message)

Forty-six years ago, on New Year’s Eve marking the end of 1969 and the decade of the sixties, I wrote to the DAP founding chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin from political detention in Muar about the challenges of the future.

I ended my letter thus:

“It is our duty, the duty of every one of our members, branch, state and national leaders, elected representatives, to march in the frontline of the struggle to spread the word of a multi-racial Malaysia to Malaysians of all races, in both the urban and rural areas.

“Let us not shirk from our responsibility and duty to our nation, ourselves, our children and children’s children.”

This is in fact a challenge for all Malaysians for all times. Read the rest of this entry »

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UMNO bukan lagi pilihan anak muda

This is the cry of a young UMNO activist in Penang over the summary and ignomious removal of Mukhriz Mahathir as Kedah Mentri Besar:

“Selepas TSMY dan DS Shafie Apdal, Kini giliran Mukriz pulak.

Sibodoh yang tak faham politik pun bijak menilai kenapa.

Benar bahawa pemimpin datang silih berganti.

Kepentingan parti perlu diutamakan.

Tetapi atas kesalahan apakah Mukhriz Mahathir perlu dihukum sebegini rupa?

Hanya kerana Mukhriz Mahathir lantang bersuara?

Pemimpin kami diatas dah kurang mendengar.

Di pekakkan telinga, dibutakan mata dan masih dalam sindrom penafian.

‘Menjaga’ pemimpin Bahagian dengan beri habuan semata-mata untuk mengekalkan kuasa.

Kami bukan pekak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nazir warns of 1MDB scandal fallout

By Martin Jalleh

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Apandi has left behind questions aplenty!

By Martin Jalleh

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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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Malaysia PM tightens grip on ruling party after critic toppled

Michael Peel in Bangkok
Financial Times
February 3, 2016

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, tightened his grip on the country’s ruling party on Wednesday after the son of his predecessor, was toppled for what he claimed was criticism of the premier’s involvement in a financial scandal.

Mukhriz Mahathir, son of Mr Razak’s most high-profile critic Mahathir Mohamad, quit as chief minister of the northern state of Kedah after losing the support of his state assembly.

Analysts see Mr Mukhriz’s removal as another sign of Mr Najib’s political strength, despite the efforts of a clutch of senior figures and opposition parties to unseat him.

“It’s revenge for Mahathir Mohamad going against Najib,” said James Chin, director of the Asia institute at the University of Tasmania, who added that Mr Mukhriz was also seen as having performed badly during his three years in office. “Mukhriz had supported his father against the prime minister.” Read the rest of this entry »

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PM left red nosed by censorship protest

BBC Trending
Blog by : Tse Yin Lee , BBC Monitoring

A portrait that probably won’t grace the walls of the prime minister’s office

When Malaysian police warned activist and graphic designer Fahmi Reza that his Twitter account was under surveillance after he posted an image of the prime minister, Najib Razak, as a clown, they probably hoped such behaviour would stop.

But then members of an art collective, Grupa posted even more clownish images of the premier to express their solidarity with him and to champion the ideal of free speech.

The pictures have spread across social media with the hashtag #KitaSemuaPenghasut which translates as “we are all seditious”.

Fahmi’s mockery of the prime minister was part of a wider reaction to news last week, when the country’s attorney-general cleared Mr Najib of any corruption relating to a long-running financial scandal.
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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 Derides The Chosen One!

By Martin Jalleh

The World Derides The Chosen One!

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Najib, Malaysia’s Teflon PM

– James Chin
The Malaysian Insider
3 February 2016

For the past three years, every political pundit in Malaysia has been asked a simple question: when will Datuk Seri Najib Razak be replaced?

A year ago, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth and longest-serving prime minister, in power from 1981 to 2003, was gung-ho about his ability to get rid of Najib.

After all, it is on the public record that Dr Mahathir was largely responsible for the political demise of the first and fifth prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. There was no reason to think that he could not secure the trifecta, so to speak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bashah should produce his SPM certificate before the swearing-in ceremony to end once-and-for-all the rigmarole about whether he has SRP or SPM qualification

I am really baffled.

Is the Department of Special Affairs (Jasa) official, Lokman Noor Adam helping or hindering Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, the Kedah Mentri Besar-designate, when raising the controversy whether the latter only has Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP) or Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) qualification?

Bashah should produce his SPM certificate before the swearing-in ceremony today to end once-and-for-all the rather undignified rigmarole about whether he has SRP or SPM qualifications.

Unless Bashah could not produce any SPM certificate at all! Read the rest of this entry »

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Unsolicited Advice to Young Malaysians

M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com

I enjoy giving talks to Malaysian students. It is invigorating to be with the young; their passion, enthusiasm and idealism do rub off on me.

My hope is that when they become leaders they will hold as role models the likes of Hang Nadim and Hang Jebat, and emulate the giants in our history like Munshi Abdullah and Datuk Onn. I also hope that they will be as innovative as Ungku Aziz and Raja Petra, and like them, not be trapped by the conventional wisdom. Most of all I hope they will be as diligent and resourceful as Badri Muhammad.

In my advice to students, I remind them that their future is in their own hands. No one, not their parents, advisors on campus and the embassy, or sponsors back home, knows what is best for them. I tell these students that those other people may be sincere when offering their advice but they have not traveled the same path you have taken or experienced the challenges you have faced.

Most of all they will not be the ones to bear the consequences of your decision. By all means listen to their counsel, but in the end the decision is yours. About all the others could do after offering their advice would be to also offer you their prayers and best wishes. They should support, not veto your decision. 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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