Archive for October 23rd, 2015

Malaysia’s Mahathir: strongman turns activist to unseat former protégé

Oliver Holmes and David Munk in Kuala Lumpur
23 October 2015

‘Father of modern Malaysia’ brought down two former allies groomed to succeed him. Can he topple prime minister Najib Razak, his most stubborn heir?

He makes a most unlikely blogger. And, for many, an even more unlikely full-throated advocate of freedom of speech.

But that is the role Mahathir Mohamad has carved out for himself in Malaysia, the nation he is credited with transforming into a regional economic powerhouse.

As he enters his 91st year, he has become the country’s most prominent and undoubtedly most effective activist.

He has come out of retirement to throw allegations of arbitrary arrest, throttling of the press and corruption against current prime minister Najib Razak – similar to accusations that were lobbed against him during his own premiership from 1981 to 2003.

Sitting in his cavernous office and surrounded by gifts from world leaders, the man whose two decades in power are described by rights groups as autocratic has slipped seemingly with ease into his new role. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysian PM Najib used state funds for ‘bribery’, says former leader Mahathir

Oliver Holmes and David Munk in Kuala Lumpur
23 October 2015

Mahathir Mohamad launches fresh attack on scandal-hit former ally in interview with the Guardian

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has accused his protégé and current premier Najib Razak of driving a debt-ridden state fund into the ground by using it for bribery.

In an interview with the Guardian at his office in the administrative capital Putrajaya, Mahathir said Najib had confided to him months ago that “cash is king”, during a terse meeting in which Mahathir told the man he once groomed for the country’s top post that he had lost his support.

“What he is telling me is that bribery is OK. If you bribe with a few dollars, I suppose it doesn’t work, but if you give [money] to a person who has never seen a million ringgit he will turn around,” he said, referring to the local currency.

Najib is battling for his political life after media reports said investigators had found that nearly $700m (£456m) linked to the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) state fund was transferred into the prime minister’s private bank accounts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reality check on Malaysia’s lofty S&T achievement, goals

Natalie Heng

If one were to take the press release issued by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) on 28 September at face value, one could be forgiven for assuming its lead announcement about Malaysia’s GDP per capita exceeding for the first time the average of all nations was somehow connected to developments in the country’s science, technology and innovation scene.

The press release notes down the role of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), run jointly by MIGHT and the New York Academy of Sciences, in advising how science and innovation should be incorporated into Malaysia’s ambitious goal of upping its GDP per capita to reach the threshold of developed country status by 2020.

The press release alludes to a variety of collaborations and initiatives to reach this goal, featuring selective quotations from the Global Innovation Index (GII) report crediting Malaysia as an innovation achiever in the last four years.

Despite all this talk, there are long-standing challenges that form a bottleneck to Malaysia’s success when it comes to fulfilling our S&T potential. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal: Political Intrigue, Billions Missing and International Scrutiny

Wall Street Journal
Oct. 23, 2015

Investment fund is under investigation in five countries

HONG KONG — A scandal involving a government investment fund in Malaysia is drawing world-wide attention and has led to calls at home for the ouster of the country’s prime minister. It is also affecting U.S. diplomacy in a strategically important part of Asia. The fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, is under investigation in five countries.

It is a story of political intrigue, backroom politics and billions of dollars in missing money. At the center of it all is Prime Minister Najib Razak, who founded 1MDB. A Malaysian government probe found that nearly $700 million moved through banks, agencies and companies linked to 1MDB before being deposited into Mr. Najib’s alleged private bank accounts ahead of a close election. The source of the money is unclear, though in August, Malaysia’s anticorruption body said the funds were a donation from the Middle East. The donor wasn’t specified.

Here’s a primer on Malaysia, 1MDB and the scandal that has drawn the interest of investigators from around the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mahathir probably the next victim of the 1MDB Monster stalking the land devouring critics

I said in Parliament yesterday that I was the latest victim of the 1MDB “Monster” stalking the land devouring critics.

Parliamentary conventions, practice and procedures have been shoved aside to achieve the objective to suspend me from Parliament for six months, although the proper parliamentary procedure and practice would be to refer me to the Committee of Privileges to ascertain whether what I said in Parliament when seeking clarification from the AMANAH MP for Sepang, Mohamed Hanipa bin Maidin was a “contempt” of the Speaker and Parliament, or whether the Speaker was misguided when he alleged that I had accused him of “deliberately” abusing his powers and sabotaging the Public Accounts Committee investigations into the 1MDB scandal.

On Wednesday, I had submitted to Parliament the following motion under Standing Order 43 to review the Speaker’s decision in August to stop the PAC from continuing its 1MDB investigations:

“Under Standing Orders 43 and 99, this House resolves that the ruling of the Speaker in August 2015 prohibiting the Public Accounts Committee under its Deputy Chairman, MP for Kepong, from continuing its proceedings to investigate the 1MDB scandal until the Chairman of the PAC has been appointed is wrong, an abuse of power and incompatible with the objective in having a Public Accounts Committee which enjoys credibility and respect of Malaysians for its commitment and conscientiousness to ensure that all government and public finances uphold the highest standards of integrity.”

Although my notice of this motion has become academic with my suspension from Parliament yesterday, had I also committed contempt of Speaker and Parliament in submitting such a motion to the Speaker on Wednesday, in total contravention of parliamentary convention, and practice and procedure? Read the rest of this entry »