Najib Razak is hardening Malaysia’s democratic political arteries

by Greg Earl
Australian Financial Review
29 July 2015

Malaysia was once the beacon of modernity in post-colonial south-east Asia, but it is now increasingly at the front line of an unnerving decline in government stability across the region, with Thailand under persistent military rule, Myanmar winding back an open election and Indonesia turning distinctly economic nationalist.

And, after sacking his independent-minded deputy on Tuesday, Prime Minister Najib Razak​ is looking a lot like Monty Python’s Black Knight as he refuses to acknowledge that his country is facing big questions over its ability to deal with corruption scandals.

He’s now sacked the man who might have replaced him, removed the minister overseeing an investigation getting too close to home, closed the country’s most innovative newspaper and is threatening to sue The Wall Street Journal just when US officials are doing their best to keep Malaysia inside the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade zone. And that’s not counting dismissing the relentless campaign by former strongman Mahathir Mohamad to tear down all his successors.

But reshuffling his ministry on Tuesday to neuter potential rivals and a corruption investigation, Najib scarcely even conceded a flesh wound. Read the rest of this entry »

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The elephant in the room

Khairie Hisyam Aliman
Malay Mail Online
July 27, 2015

JULY 27 — On Sunday, Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan published a 26-point comment on his Facebook page on the suspension of The Edge and the scandal around 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In that posting Datuk Abdul Rahman, also the federal housing minister, makes a long argument for the suspension and other things. You can read it here.

But the heart of the current scandal remains simple.

As BN’s strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman would surely be strategically well aware of the best and most strategic question to strategically answer in order to strategically kill most of the speculation going around on the current scandal, which has evolved beyond just 1MDB.

Did RM2.6 billion in money, not units, make its way to personal bank accounts belonging to the prime minister as alleged by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)?

Yes?

No?

That’s all we need to know first and foremost. We don’t need yet to hear about what the money was or was not used for, if the transfer happened. Nor do we need yet to hear about whether there was personal gain involved, if the transfer happened. Just yes or no for starters. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Speech That Got Deputy Prime Minister Sacked

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Why are the lawyers in Cabinet silent about Gani’s sacking as Attorney-General when it is patently unconstitutional and an affront’s to Malaysia’s commitment to uphold the rule of law

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin accepts that it is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to sack the Deputy Prime Minister and to remove any Minister from the Cabinet.

It is for the court of public opinion and history to judge whether the Prime Minister had made a colossal political blunder or had made a brilliant political move.

But has the Prime Minister the prerogative to sack the Attorney-General, the highest legal officer of the land, on his whims and fancies without regard to due process?

The answer must be a firm “No”, for Article 145(6) of the Malaysian Constitution makes it very clear that the Attorney-General “shall not be removed from office, except on the like grounds and in the like manner as a judge of the Federal Court” and Article 125(3) lays down the procedure for the removal of a Federal Court judge, which requires the equivalent of a judicial tribunal to adjudicate his removal whether on the ground of breach of the code of ethics or of inability, from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause, properly to discharge the functions of his office.

The immediate and instant sacking of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as Attorney-General, in the manner of the announcement yesterday morning by the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa without Gani even knowing about it beforehand is clearly unconstitutional and an affront to a country which upholds constitutionalism and the rule of law. Read the rest of this entry »

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If PAC probe into 1MDB grinds to a halt, it will be best proof that the overriding objective of the Cabinet reshuffle yesterday was to block, frustrate, sabotage or drag out investigations into biggest financial scandal in nation’s history

Any attempt to halt the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigations into the 1MDB scandal will be the best proof that the overriding objective of the Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the sacking of the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister and the Minister for Rural and Regional Development (one UMNO Deputy President and the other UMNO Vice President) for asking questions about 1MDB which all thinking Malaysians are asking, is to block, frustrate, sabotage or drag out investigations into the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history.

I am surprised at Datuk Nur Jazlan’s acceptance of the appointment as Deputy Home Minister, for it was only ten days ago that he said publicly that he would rather finish his task as PAC Chairman in the PAC investigations on 1MDB first before accepting any Cabinet appointment.

He even said that this was the first time the chair of the PAC is held by a chartered professional accountant and he wanted to use his experience in politics, accountancy and corporations to steer the PAC especially in the 1MDB issue.

I do not know what made Nur Jazlan change his mind and renege on his public undertaking, especially as he was only offered a Deputy Ministership and not a full Ministerial appointment, but he is guilty of conflict-of-interest when he said yesterday that the PAC probe into the 1MDB is now on hold until the next Parliamentary meeting which is not scheduled to meet until Oct. 19. Read the rest of this entry »

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Facing corruption scandal, Malaysian PM fires officials investigating him

Aljazeera
July 28, 2015

Critics say Najib Razak is trying to avoid prosecution amid allegations that he received $700 million in state funds

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, stung by allegations that he received some $700 million in government money, fired the attorney general who had been investigating him and a deputy who has been among his most prominent critics on Tuesday.

Najib is under increasing pressure over leaked confidential documents that allegedly show the money, from state investment fund 1MDB, went into his personal accounts.

Najib announced over national television Tuesday that his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin will be replaced by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a Cabinet member who will also retain his home minister portfolio. Earlier Tuesday, the government announced it had terminated the services of Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail.

Najib said he also dropped four other ministers to strengthen his administration and ensure they can “work as a team.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Mr IGP, please spare us your nonsense!

By Martin Jalleh

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Call for emergency meeting of Parliament before August 31 for a confidence vote on Prime Minister Najib and his new Cabinet and to ensure comprehensive and unfettered investigations into 1MDB scandal and WSJ reports

The sudden Cabinet reshuffle today, sacking Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and four other Ministers, following the morning shocking sacking of Tan Sri Gani Patail as the Attorney-General more than two months before his retirement on 6th October are the latest panic efforts to salvage the rapidly sinking UMNO/BN coalition which had governed this country for 58 years.

The Cabinet reshuffle today has been described as “rearranging the furniture on the sinking Titanic” and future history will vindicate this description.

The Cabinet reshuffle is not designed to produce a more competent, efficient and professional Cabinet which can save Malaysia from becoming a failed state because of rampant corruption, socio-economic inefficiencies and injustices, and the failure of good governance, but to give Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak a new lease of political life by removing from the Cabinet Ministers who threaten his political future by demanding that the Prime Minister should give proper public explanation and accountability for the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal and the Wall Street Journal allegation that RM2.6 billion had been deposited into his personal accounts before the 13th General Election.

The important Education Ministry has again been split into two Ministries, one for Education and the other Higher Education, but looking at the Ministers and Deputy Ministers assigned to these two critical Ministries, I fully understand the feeling of the Selangor State Assemby Speaker Hannah Yeoh when she tweeted: “I look at the Education Ministry and I want to cry for our children sake.”

My disappointments at the lack of Ministerial leaderships in both the Education and Higher Education Ministries after the reshuffle are summed up in my tweet: “Not inspiring developments that Malaysian education can restore glorious past.”

But the sine qua non dictating the sudden Cabinet reshuffle is not any higher notions of taking Malaysia to greater political, economic, educational and social heights of achievement, but purely to consolidate Najib’s power position by removing all possible threats to his political survival. 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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Najib’s Nixon Moment

M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com)
28th July 2015

The Special Task Force and Parliamentary Committee investigating 1MDB (Najib Administration’s business entity) are missing the crux of the matter. They are distracted by and consumed with extraneous and irrelevant issues, either through incompetence or on purpose, as being directed to do so.

The consequence is that what was initially a problem of corporate cash-flow squeeze has now degenerated into a full-blown scandal engulfing not only Najib’s leadership but also the national governance. The only redeeming feature is that for once a national crisis does not parallel the country’s volatile racial divide, despite attempts by many to make it so.

Torrent of ink has been expended on that tattooed Swiss national now in a Thai jail, the suspension of The Edge, the threatened lawsuit against the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and the blocking of the Sarawak Report website. These are but distracting sideshows. Even veteran and hard-nosed observers and commentators are taken in by these distractions.

The central and very simple issue is this: Did Prime Minister Najib divert funds from 1MDB to his private account as alleged by WSJ and others?

The issue is simple because it requires only a brief “Yes” or “No” response. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andai Watergate di Malaysia: satu imaginasi ringkas

Mohsin Abdullah
The Malaysian Insider
27 July 2015

Sebut Watergate umum terus kaitkan dengan skandal politik besar di Amerika Syarikat (AS) pada 1972. Ramai tahu kisahnya. Maka tidak perlu saya mengulangi apa yang orang sudah tahu. Bagi yang “lupa” atau mereka yang mahu imbas kembali sila google.

Pun begitu, bercakap mengenai Watergate dua nama timbul dengan serta merta. Bob Woodward dan Carl Berstein. Kedua-duanya wartawan akhbar The Washington Post yang membongkar skandal itu dengan “bantuan” pemberi maklumat misteri yang mereka gelar “Deep Throat”. Lantas menyaksikan pelbagai siasatan dijalankan sehingga membawa ke Kongres.

Memendekkan cerita yang panjang, kemuncaknya ialah Richard Nixon, presiden AS ketika itu terpaksa meletak jawatan pada 1974. Woodward and Berstein menjadi terkenal. Mendapat bermacam pengiktirafan termasuk memenangi Anugerah Putlizer. Dan buku buku yang mereka tulis menjadi best seller. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tak mengapa jadi ‘Mugabe’, asalkan terus berkuasa

Amin Iskandar
The Malaysian Insider
26 July 2015

Tiada berita lebih besar di Malaysia minggu ini selain penggantungan permit penerbitan akhbar mingguan The Edge dan harian The Edge Financial Daily.
Mana tidaknya, petanda sesebuah pemerintah atau kerajaan itu menuju kediktatoran adalah menekan media atau menutup surat khabar, sesuatu yang pernah dilakukan diktator-diktator “ulung” Asia Tenggara seperti bekas Presiden Indonesia, Suharto.

Ironinya, jika dahulu majalah Tempo “dikerjakan” Suharto kerana laporan tentang skandal pembelian kapal perang, akhbar The Edge kini digantung kerana menyiarkan laporan tentang syarikat sarat hutang 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Alasan digunakan Suharto pada ketika itu untuk menutup Tempo dan beberapa akhbar lain yang melaporkan skandal “anak emasnya” B. J. Habibie sama seperti digunakan Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) iaitu memudaratkan ketenteraman awam!

Pada masa sama, “ikan-ikan bilis” berkait dengan 1MDB satu persatu didakwa di mahkamah.

Mungkin juga semua ini hanyalah kebetulan akan tetapi menghairankan “jerung besar” seperti Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak yang didakwa The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) menerima RM2.67 bilion wang 1MDB dalam akaun peribadinya tidak pula berdepan apa-apa siasatan atau tindakan. Read the rest of this entry »

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In times of crisis, truth is first casualty

Khoo Ying Hooi
The Malaysian Insider
27 July 2015

There is a saying that in war, truth is the first casualty.

No one expects journalists to risk their lives for a story. Yet, if the media constantly come under attack, we risk an information crisis.

Media, also popularly known as the fourth estate, can influence public opinion and shape policy direction.

It is a double-edged sword especially for politicians. It can help one to get unconditional publicity, at the same time it could also ruin a politician’s life.

Last week we were slammed with news of the three-month suspension on The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily beginning today (July 27), just few days after the authorities blocked access to Sarawak Report that has been extensively covering the 1MDB controversy. Read the rest of this entry »

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1MDB has become 1Malaysia Disaster Bhd, consuming UMNO/Barisan Nasional Federal Government but it must not be allowed to destroy Malaysia!

When the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi issued a statement on Saturday night that he was mulling action against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, including calling for her extradition from United Kingdom for the “crime” of foreign interference in the internal affairs of Malaysia, he was rightly mocked for his presumption in expecting the British government to “play ball” with such a silly notion merely because Claire had exposed a multi-billion dollar financial scandal in Malaysia.

As DAP MP for Segambut Lim Li Eng has pointed out, this is a “big bluff” when those involved in least four high profile cases were now abroad – sex blogger Alvin Tan, Facebook activist Ali Abdul Jalil, Malaysia Today operator Raja Petra Kamaruddin and former policeman Sirul Azhar Umar, who was convicted for murdering Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

But apart from the ludicrousness of Zahid’s extradition suggestion, I see a more sinister aspect – the thoughts behind such a ridiculous idea, as the Home Minister cannot be so dumb as to believe that his extradition proposal would have any traction with the UK Government.

The question all discerning Malaysian should be asking is whether a plot is being hatched to launch as wide a dragnet as possible to implicate the maximum number of critics of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the biggest financial scandal in the country, the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, to rope them in and even charge them for participating in an international plot to topple the elected Prime Minister of Malaysia?

Talk of seeking extradition of Clare is just an icing for the cake of the allegation of an international conspiracy to topple the elected Prime Minister of Malaysia, as for advocates of this extreme option, it is not important whether the extradition request succeeds or not, but suffice for it to provide the “international character” to justify the wild allegation of an international plot to criminalise Najib Razak and topple the elected Prime Minister of Malaysia.

And into such a “plot on a plot”, all the critics of the Prime Minister and 1MDB scandal could be lumped together for allegedly committing “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy”, sabotage or treason for consorting with foreign elements in criminalising Najib and seeking to topple the elected Prime Minister – such as the Edge Media Group owner Tong Kooi Ong, Edge publisher and Group CEO, Ho Kay Tat, MPs Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli, even the former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, the Opposition leader in Sungai Buloh prison Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Najib’s brother Nazir Razak?

Far-fetched? We are living in dangerous times. Read the rest of this entry »

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“It Is The Government That Is Truly Jeopardising Public & National Interests”

By Martin Jalleh

“It Is The Government That Is Truly Jeopardising Public & National Interests”

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Malays say they join DAP for its struggle, not for power

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
26 July 2015

Far from being mere yes-men as alleged by an Utusan Malaysia columnist recently, the Malays who join DAP do not believe in self-entitlement but instead accept its culture built on merit, a Malay DAP federal lawmaker said.

These Malays are also academically accomplished and thick-skinned enough to endure and share the ideals of the party’s politics and “don’t expect a 30% discount on anything”, Raub MP Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz told The Malaysian Insider.

“They understand that elections to the CEC (central executive committee) are not a matter of being given a seat on the basis that a Malay is entitled to many things.

“You have to prove and earn it. Take the sons of Karpal Singh, for example. They are there because they are good, and they are not Chinese.”

Citing another example, that of Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto, Ariff said she was not in the party because she was the daughter of former DAP leader P. Patto, but because she was talented and genuine.

However, becoming a member of the democratic socialist party was a bold step for any Malay as he was opening himself to the vilest of condemnation, including being labelled the running dogs of the Chinese, betrayer of the Malay race, apostate and abandoning Islam, said Ariff, a former Umno assemblyman. 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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Welcome GHB’s sensible and Malaysian-centric stand that pressing issues of the country are political reforms and socio-economic injustices like the killing of Teoh Beng Hock and 1MBD scandal and not hudud implementation

I welcome the sensible and Malaysian-centric stand and approach of Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB) that the pressing issues of the country are political reforms and socio-economic injustices like the killing of Teoh Beng Hock and 1MDB scandal and not hudud implementation.

Khalid Samad, the GHB MP for Shah Alam, has told The Malaysian Insider that GHB would be consistent on this, which clearly differentiated it from PAS.

Khalid said:

“We won’t be doing a U- turn, not like PAS saying in the past that hudud is not a priority and then suddenly making it into something that is the only issue of concern.

“For Harapan Baru, it is not a priority, from our understanding it is the last item to be implemented when everything else is in place.

“There are other issues like national unity, the economy, political conflicts which has to be addressed. That would be the priority.”

I had in fact tried to save Pakatan Rakyat from from being killed by PAS Muktamar in June when two weeks before the PAS Muktamar, I proposed an Eight-Year “Save PR” Roadmap by all three PR parties – DAP, PKR and PAS – reaffirming the PR Common Policy Framework which had won the support of 52% of the electorate in the 13th General Election. Read the rest of this entry »

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I was offered $2.7m for stolen data: Ex-PetroSaudi employee Xavier Andre Justo on the 1MDB saga

Nirmal Ghosh
Straits Times
Bangkok
July 24, 2015

Ex-PetroSaudi employee says he was never paid what prominent Malaysian businessman promised him

Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo – who is now in jail in Thailand in connection with trying to blackmail his former employer, PetroSaudi, which is entangled in a huge scandal involving the Malaysian government – has claimed that he was promised US$2 million (S$2.7 million) in exchange for data he stole from his former employer.

He also told The Straits Times in a prison interview that he was never paid what he was promised by a prominent Malaysian businessman. Justo claimed a deal was reached in Singapore in February on the sale of the documents, which was followed by lengthy discussions on how he would be paid.

The group of people he met in Singapore to negotiate the sale of the data were named in a 22-page confession Justo made to Thai police. He showed a copy of the confession to The Straits Times. Read the rest of this entry »

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