Archive for April 3rd, 2016

Malaysia’s big central bank challenge

Nicholas Spiro
Nikkei Asian Review
March 29, 2016


Emerging Asia’s central banks are sitting pretty, especially when compared with their Latin American counterparts.

Many of South America’s monetary guardians have been forced to raise interest rates aggressively over the past several months to combat a sharp rise in inflation, but emerging Asia’s central banks have been able to loosen monetary policy, with rate cuts in India, Indonesia, Taiwan and, most conspicuously, China.

Yet for Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank, these are challenging times. Read the rest of this entry »


Counter-radicalisation (3) – A disarming approach

April 2nd 2016

Can the beliefs that feed terrorism be changed?

ACCORDING to Peter Neumann, a terrorism-watcher at King’s College London, experience points to three common features in successful efforts to wean someone off extremism. He must already have inner doubts; trusted people, whether imams, friends or relatives, must be involved; and he must be offered an alternative peer group. He may also be more concerned with personal problems or geopolitical grievances than matters of theology.

Still, given that IS’s appeal lies in a perverse but seductive form of religion, some of the counter-argument has to be religious. How to persuade a jihadist, or somebody tempted by jihadism, that there might be better, and truer, ways to understand Islam than the murderous fanaticism of IS and similar groups? Read the rest of this entry »

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Counter-radicalisation (2) – Talking cure

Apr 2nd 2016 | NICE

France puts its faith in secular authorities to help fight radical Islamist ideas

IN THE 15 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, many attempts have been made to draw people away from the jihadist world-view, involving health, social and security services; national and local authorities; and secular purveyors of advice as well as religious ones.

Saudi Arabia lavishes cash on suspected terrorists who co-operate with its deradicalisation programme, setting them up with jobs, cars and even wives.

Efforts by Indonesia’s government have been intensive but snarled up in the wider problems of a corrupt prison system; as in many countries, local initiatives have done better than central ones.

In Western democracies schemes have targeted both those suspected or convicted of terrorist offences and those thought to be at risk of going down the same path. Read the rest of this entry »

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Battle of ideas: Counter-radicalisation (1)

Apr 2nd 2016 | VILVOORDE

In the first of three articles about Western countries’ attempts to counter Islamist violence, we look at a Belgian programme for disaffected Muslim youngsters

“IT WAS a time-bomb; merely a matter of when,” sighs Rafiq, a young man who runs a newspaper shop in Vilvoorde, just north of Brussels. Surrounded by papers with pictures of the bombers who killed at least 32 people in the Belgian capital on March 22nd, Rafiq says he is sure more will follow in their footsteps. “In Molenbeek it’s all out in the open. It’s well-known that terrorists live there. Here, it’s more hidden.”

Vilvoorde is less notorious than Molenbeek, a suburb of Brussels that has become synonymous with jihadists and their sympathisers. Yet it has at least as troubling a history. Between 2012 and 2014 it is thought to have produced more recruits for foreign jihadist groups, as a share of Muslim residents, than anywhere else in western Europe. With a big Muslim population, and conveniently located on the AntwerpBrussels railway line, it proved an easy hunting ground for recruiters for Islamic State (IS). Security officials believe that 28 young locals had left for Syria by May 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

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No room for opportunism in politics, says Kit Siang

by S Thayaparan
30 Mar 2016

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

INTERVIEW | This is the second part of an interview with DAP leader Lim Kit Siang on why he is willing to work with his nemesis, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in the ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign.

The first part appeared yesterday.

DAP has always struggled with the perception and Umno propaganda that it is a “Chinese” entity. Do you think that the DAP has made some missteps that gives credence to this perception?

DAP had never aspired to be a Chinese or non-Malay party. Right from the beginning during DAP’s formation in 1966, DAP had pledged itself to pursue a Malaysian Dream, not a Chinese Dream, an Indian Dream or a Malay Dream.

This is why DAP is the first political party in the country to be Pan-Malaysian, establishing branches in Sarawak and Sabah before any other political party in the country.

All through the past five decades, DAP had been accused of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam by Umno, because of Umno fear that the DAP will be able to make inroads into Umno spheres of influence with our Malaysian political appeal, transcending race, religion or region.

No political party seeking support from all Malaysians can be anti-Malay or anti-Islam, or for that matter, anti-Chinese, anti-Indian, anti-Dayak, anti-Kadazandusun or anti-Buddhism, anti-Christianity, anti-Hindiuism or anti-Sikhism.

The battle against such lies and falsehoods had been a particularly uphill battle for the DAP because we had to face the full onslaught of the Umno juggernaut with its control and ownership of the mass media, particularly in the era before the advent of Internet, news portals and the social media.

However difficult the terrain, DAP had never wavered from our objectives and principles that the DAP had been formed not to fight for any one race but for all races and Malaysians in the country!

This is why right from the beginning, starting from the first general election in 1969 contested by the DAP, the party had always put up a multi-racial and multi-religious slate of candidates.

In fact, in the 1969 general election, two Malay state assemblymen were elected, one in Perak and the other in Negri Sembilan. In the past 11 general elections, DAP had elected Malay members of parliament and state assembly representatives in peninsular Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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First time Dr M accused of being my puppet, laments Kit Siang

by S Thayaparan
29 Mar 2016

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

INTERVIEW | Very few Malaysians can say they have they lived up to the second part of the famous John F Kennedy quote “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” as DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has.

After decades of wrestling with his political adversary, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for the soul of Malaysians after years of being on the receiving end of the all-encompassing power of the Umno state, the honourable gentleman from Gelang Patah, found himself part of a joint declaration along with Mahathir, calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

While the DAP has enjoyed a political resurgence with a newly awakened electorate, the long struggle against the Umno state has not diminished the enthusiasm and vigour of one the few people who can credibly claim title to elder statesmanship.

Here in two parts, Lim Kit Siang, explains what is at stake when it comes to the machinations of the Najib state, boldly answers questions from a sceptic (the writer) and reminds Malaysians that while we must never excuse the sins of the past, we can move beyond them. Read the rest of this entry »

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World’s top banks in US government cross-hairs over dealings with Malaysia’s 1MDB

by Praveen Menon and Saeed Azhar
Australian Financial Review Weekend
Apr 3 2016

US Department of Justice officials have asked Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase & Co to provide details on their dealings with 1MDB, as global investigations into the troubled Malaysian state fund widen.

US Department of Justice officials also travelled to Kuala Lumpur to speak to senior bankers and other people with close links to the state fund, three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. They said JPMorgan and Deutsche were not the target of investigations at this stage, but had only been asked to provide details.

Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan declined to comment. The Department of Justice also declined to comment. Read the rest of this entry »

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After Teoh Beng Hock outrage and tragedy, is MACC determined it will never again become a political pawn to persecute the Opposition?

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must convince Malaysians that after the Teoh Beng Hock outrage and tragedy, for which there is still no closure for the Teoh Beng Hock family and justice-loving Malaysians for Beng Hock’s death at MACC premises, it is determined never again to become a political pawn to persecute the Opposition.

UMNO/BN leaders have accused the DAP Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, of corruption in the RM2.8 million purchase of his bungalow resulting from the sale of Taman Manggis land to KLDIC.

Two wrongs do not make a right, and if Guan Eng is guilty of corruption in his RM2.8 million bungalow purchase, the full rigours of the law should be applied. However, the maxim that a person is innocent until proven guilty must be scrupulously observed.

In this case, the allegation of Guan Eng’s corruption over the sale of Taman Manggis land to KLDIC has proved to be baseless, as the Taman Manggis land had been sold by the Penang State Government via open tender to the highest bidder.

Even the allegation that the DAP-led Penang State Government had “robbed” the people of low-cost housing in Taman Manggis had easily been debunked with the declassification of the State Exco minutes of the Gerakan State Government in 2005 and 2007 which showed that the government back then had no plans whatsoever to build homes for the poor. In contrast, the DAP-led Penang State Government had commenced a separate low, low-medium cost and affordable housing less than two kilometres away in Jalan S.P. Chelliah which is nearly 10 times the size of the land in Taman Manggis.

While two wrongs do not make a right, this cannot be an argument to justify MACC abuses of power. Read the rest of this entry »


Murky Malaysian money trail that funded The Wolf of Wall Street – report

Edward Helmore
2 April 2016

The FBI reportedly believes that $100m of the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film’s budget came from a Malaysian state fund for local economic development

Sources within the FBI have confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that more than $100m of the production budget for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street came from a Malaysian state fund connected to a scandal that has damaged a senior Goldman Sachs banker and led investigators to examine the lifestyle of a notorious New York playboy.

According to the Journal, FBI investigators believe much of the cash used to make the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film was never intended for the movie business. Instead, it originated with 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund meant to boost local economic development.

1MDB, the Journal reported, passed the money to Red Granite Pictures, a Hollywood production company controlled by Riza Aziz, stepson of the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, who set up 1MDB seven years ago.

1MDB also appears to be behind the lavish lifestyle of Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, a notorious New York party boy and friend of Aziz. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Secret Money Behind ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

By Bradley Hope, John R. Emshwiller And Ben Fritz
Wall Street Journal
April 1, 2016

Investigators believe much of the cash used to make the Leonardo DiCaprio film about a stock swindler originated with embattled Malaysian state development fund 1MDB

LOS ANGELES—Despite the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese, the 2013 hit movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” took more than six years to get made because studios weren’t willing to invest in a risky R-rated project.

Help arrived from a virtually unknown production company called Red Granite Pictures. Though it had made just one movie, Red Granite came up with the more than $100 million needed to film the sex- and drug-fueled story of a penny-stock swindler.

Global investigators now believe much of the money to make the movie about a stock scam was diverted from a state fund 9,000 miles away in Malaysia, a fund that had been established to spur local economic development.

The investigators, said people familiar with their work, believe this financing was part of a wider scandal at the Malaysian fund, which has been detailed in Wall Street Journal articles over the past year.

The fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, was set up seven years ago by the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak. His stepson, Riza Aziz, is the chairman of Red Granite Pictures.

The 1MDB fund is now the focus of numerous investigations at home and abroad, which grew out of $11 billion of debt it ran up and questions raised in Malaysia about how some of its money was used. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Wolf of Wall Street dragged into Malaysia corruption scandal

Rob Crilly, New York
The Telegraph
2 APRIL 2016

Even with Leonardo DiCaprio on board, The Wolf of Wall Street – an 18-rated film about financial corruption – struggled to find the backing it needed.

It took a little known production company, Red Granite, to take the gamble on such explicit material and come up with the $100m or so needed to bring the film to cinema screens.

Now that company has been swept up in a corruption investigation amid allegations that some of the money used to make the film was laundered from a scandal-hit Malaysian firm founded by the country’s prime minister. Read the rest of this entry »

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Donation or 1MDB funds? Luxembourg probe may uncover missing link

Nigel Aw
2 Apr 2016

Malaysians may be wondering why a tiny European country is joining the growing global investigation into 1MDB, but the outcome of the Luxembourg probe could have great bearing on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

To begin with, the Luxembourg investigation does not indicate that it has anything to do with Najib.

But the Luxembourg probe is significant as it may solve an important missing link – the connection between 1MDB and a number of entities which have generously pumped billions of ringgit, claimed to be donations, into Najib’s personal bank accounts. Read the rest of this entry »

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