Archive for August 29th, 2015

The politics of division – a Malaysian rhetoric

Philip George
Aug 28th, 2015

COMMENT Being a politician is like playing a game. This is especially so in developing countries, where politicians have the ability to shape the history of a nation and determine how it may progress in the future.

Therefore, the use of rhetoric by leaders trying to persuade and garner support of the public, so that they may be able to implement their vision, is part of the game. But as the times have changed, so much the rhetoric used to convince the populace who have entrusted their futures and the future generations into the hands of an elected few.

Rhetoric can no longer be used in the same way it has been in the past. This lesson is noticeably being learnt in Malaysia.

With a growing urban population strengthened by the extension of 21st Century media, Malaysia is showing gradual signs of an evolving participatory democracy, vaguely resembling the evolution of the British democracy in the 19th Century. Read the rest of this entry »


Bangkit lawan penzalim adalah wira, kata Mufti Perlis

The Malaysian Insider
29 August 2015

Menjelang perhimpunan Bersih 4 hari ini, Mufti Perlis Datuk Dr Mohamad Asri Zainul Abidin berkata, sesiapa yang bangkit menentang si zalim yang kuat ataupun pengkhianat yang berkuasa, maka dia pastinya seorang wira.

Baginya, jika hanya wanita yang ramai dalam perhimpunan ini, ia memalukan, katanya yang dipercayai merujuk kepada pengerusi Bersih 2.0, penganjur Bersih 4, yang merupakan seorang wanita iaitu Maria Chin Abdullah.

“Memalukan bagi sesebuah masyarakat ataupun pihak jika tiada wira lelaki yang muncul, sebaliknya hanya wanita yang berani tampil bersuara dan bertindak,” kata beliau yang lebih dikenali sebagai Dr Maza. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Malaysia’s Politics Amid the 1MDB Scandal

The Diplomat talks with Bridget Welsh about Malaysia’s corruption scandal and its implications for the country.

By Prashanth Parameswaran for The Diplomat
August 28, 2015

Bridget Welsh is a Senior Research Associate of the Center for East Asia Democracy of National Taiwan University, an Associate Fellow of The Habibie Center and a University Fellow of Charles Darwin University. She has written extensively on Malaysian politics among other issues in Southeast Asia.

She recently spoke with The Diplomat’s associate editor Prashanth Parameswaran about a high-profile corruption scandal – known as the 1MDB scandal – which implicates Malaysia’s current prime minister Najib Razak and could have profound implications not only for the country’s embattled premier, but its politics and economics more generally. An edited version of that interview follows.

Let’s start by talking about the scandal itself. There have been allegations that Najib had mismanaged funds linked to the debt-ridden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Some have called the 1MDB scandal the biggest financial scandal Malaysia has experienced in its history. What is your view on how we should understand its significance?

The 1MBD scandal is the most serious scandal to affect Malaysia’s leadership directly, as it involves inadequately explained and accounted for funds deposited into Najib’s personal bank account alleged used for a deeply flawed general election in 2013. While charges of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power have occurred before – particularly in the scandal-ridden administration of Najib – and have been tied to efforts to maintain political power and secure wealth by those in power, this scandal raises broader concerns about the integrity of Malaysia’s political institutions and the leadership’s economic governance. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib Razak, patrician premier mired in scandal

David Pilling
Financial Times
28th August 2015

Accusations swirling around the prime minister have transfixed Malaysia, writes David Pilling

This weekend tens of thousands of Malaysians will pour on to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to shout the name of their prime minister, Najib Razak. They will be coming not to praise him, but
to bury him. Among the most popular chants is likely to be “Tangkap Najib”, or “Arrest Najib”.

Now 61, with receding grey hair, neatly trimmed moustache and bespoke suits, Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, to give him his full title, can seem a dapper liberal with progressive views on economics and racial harmony. “Najib is the best hope for moderation and reform,” says Sholto Byrnes, senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

Yet there is another side to Mr Najib, who has been prime minister since 2009, says John Malott, a former US ambassador to Malaysia. The real man, who at 23 became the youngest parliamentarian in his nation’s history, is, he says, neck-deep in the racially divisive, money-soaked politics of the United Malays National Organisation, which has governed
continuously for nearly six decades. The “fake, Najib”, he says, is the product of millions of dollars spent on slick public relations. Read the rest of this entry »

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All about the issues, not yellow, words or numbers

The Malaysian Insider
29 August 2015

Before 6pm yesterday, one of the best jokes in Malaysia was in the form of a riddle. It went like this: why did the chicken cross the road?

Because Tun was on this side.

But after 6pm yesterday, the better joke was that wearing anything yellow with “Bersih 4” was now illegal.

One specific colour, one specific word and one specific number.

Of course, this isn’t the first time such a ban has been gazetted. It happened for Bersih 2 way back in 2011. People ignored it then, people will ignore it now. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Braces for Protests Against Prime Minister Najib

Wall Street Journal
Aug. 28, 2015

Malaysian police were bracing Friday for what is expected to be a massive weekend protest in Kuala Lumpur against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s management of the economy and the growing debt problems at a state investment fund.

Authorities said the planned protest is illegal while the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, a government agency, said in a statement it would block websites promoting or encouraging the demonstration, which is set to begin near Merdeka, or Independence, Square in the center of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. The government also announced that it was against the law to wear yellow T-shirts in support of the rally.

The moves reflect Mr. Najib’s growing resolve to stay in power after it emerged that nearly $700 million was deposited into his bank accounts shortly before 2013’s national elections. Last month he sacked then-Deputy Premier Muhyiddin Yassin after Mr. Muhyiddin called on Mr. Najib to explain the worsening situation at the investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB. Mr. Najib also promoted four members of a parliamentary committee investigating 1MDB to the cabinet, meaning they could no longer stay on the panel. The following day, he replaced the country’s attorney-general, who was also involved in an investigation into 1MDB, ahead of his scheduled retirement date in October. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia political crisis poised for street showdown

Michael Peel in Bangkok and David Pilling in Hong Kong
Financial Times
August 28, 2015

Malaysia’s growing political crisis is on the brink of a showdown as tens of thousands of protesters prepare to pour on to the capital’s streets in an effort to topple Najib Razak, the scandal-hit prime minister.

The mass demonstration this weekend known as Bersih — or “clean” — is aimed at forcing the premier’s resignation, after it emerged that unexplained payments of almost $700m were made into bank accounts in his name.

The country’s anti-corruption commission has said the money was from unspecified Middle Eastern donors, rather than Malaysian state coffers. But critics claim the transactions are linked to huge debts run up by a state investment fund, whose troubles some see as emblematic of the misrule of the premier’s long-dominant United Malays National Organisation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia braces for major protests against PM Najib Razak

BBC News

Thousands of Malaysians are set to protest in the capital Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere, calling for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down over a financial scandal.

He has faced public anger over a $700m (£455m) payment made to his bank account from unnamed foreign donors.

It was discovered last month during a probe into alleged mismanagement at the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Final hours for Najib to decide whether he is warring against his own people, when Malaysians come in peace to the Federal capital, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to reaffirm the Malaysian dream of freedom, justice, solidarity and national unity in Merdeka Proclamation 1957 and Malaysia Proclamation 1963

Sad and pathetic that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, should be struck by xanthophobia, the irrational fear of the colour yellow, second time in five years.

The first time was during Bersih 2 of 709 (July 9, 2011) and the second time the last-minute ban by the new Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, of the use of yellow with the words Bersih 4 in whatever form.

This does not reflect a self-confident people-oriented democratic government but a government in deep panic wobbling on the last legs of popularity, credibility and legitimacy.

No wonder the nation’s history of almost six decades has never seen a government more fractured, an UMNO more fractured and a country more divided! Read the rest of this entry »

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