Archive for May 11th, 2016

Abu Dhabi’s IPIC demands more Malaysia compensation as debt row deepens

Wed May 11, 2016

Disputes between Abu Dhabi state-owned International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) and the troubled Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB intensified on Wednesday, with IPIC saying there was a fresh default by 1MDB.

IPIC claimed that 1MDB and the Malaysian government now owe it more than $1.2 billion after a complex series of agreements between the two former partners went sour.

The latest turn came on Wednesday, when IPIC [INTPV.UL], said it had to stump up a $52.4 million coupon payment after 1MDB defaulted on $1.75 billion on bonds due in 2022.

1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) said it had “more than sufficient” funds to make the interest payments on that bond and another $1.75 billion declared in default in April, but did not due to its dispute with IPIC.

1MDB has been locked in a dispute over its obligations to IPIC under a debt restructuring agreement reached in June. Read the rest of this entry »

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Battling Apathy and Ignorance for a Prosperous Malaysia

By Anas Alam Faizli
11th May 2016

Slightly over 200 years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte said, “I fear four hostile newspapers than a thousand bayonets.” Napoleon Bonaparte was an emperor and a military genius of his time. He faced impossible odds during his military conquests. He had fought 25,000 Ottomans with 6,000 French troops in Egypt and had also confronted the combined Armies of Austria and Russia in Austerlitz. His empire stretched from Spain, Northern Africa to the borders of Russia.

Yet, despite all that, he feared editors. Why? Because editors can control and influence ideas, words and debates. He feared domestic dissent. He wants full control. He even said that, “I want to create an educational body that will steer the way the French people think!”

Napoleon went on to establish public schools in an effort to further craft and dictate how the French would think and act. What Napoleon did through public schools is effective but he undermined and put a stop to human creativity and intellectualism. The same concept was later adopted by the French, as far west as the Americans, and eventually by the whole world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call to Najib to present White Paper on 1MDB in next week’s Parliament and to set aside three days for debate on it, as well as PAC Report on 1MDB

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday a failed initial public offering (IPO) exercise, as a result of being “attacked”, was the main reason why 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) encountered problems.

He said 1MDB used the debt funding approach to operate its business, which required an IPO to be undertaken in the shortest possible time. The authorities did not foresee that 1MDB would come under relentless “attacks”, which resulted in the IPO exercise could not be carried out, hence the cashflow problems.

Was this the real reason why 1MDB had exploded to become the nation’s first global financial scandal, keeping the nation constantly in the international limelight for massive transborder financial frauds, irregularities and money-laundering?

Or was the Economic Planning Minister, Datuk Sri Abdul Wahid Omar more to the point when he admitted last month that 1MDB model of low capitalization and huge borrowings was unsustainable from the very start.

What was the “original sin” of the 1MDB global financial scandal – the IPO failure, the unsustainable model of low capitalization and huge borrowings or something more fundamental, conceived right from the beginning as a mega global scam that has triggered investigations by several countries on international embezzlement and money-laundering to the tune of some USD11 billion stretching from Singapore to the United States? Read the rest of this entry »

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Elections in Malaysia – Rumbles in the jungle

May 7th 2016 | KUCHING

A cakewalk in Borneo is a boon for Najib Razak— at least for now

IN A hut on stilts on the island of Borneo, a dozen skulls hang in a cage. They are those of long-dead victims of the Dayaks—indigenous tribes whose members make up the majority in Sarawak, a sprawling Malaysian state. Once thought to harbour protective spirits, the heads are now tourist curios. Few indigenous people still live in the communal dwellings such relics guard, and those who remain hang Christian crosses on their doors.

This month many Malaysians would like to see the Dayaks take one last scalp. Sarawak’s state election on May 7th is a chance for voters to rebuke Najib Razak, Malaysia’s unpopular prime minister, who has spent much of the past year denying that hundreds of millions of dollars which entered his bank accounts were wangled from an ailing national investment firm. Investigations into 1MDB’s dealings are under way in half a dozen countries; some of its borrowings are in default. Yet parties loyal to Barisan Nasional, Mr Najib’s coalition, will probably retain a crushing majority in Sarawak’s state assembly. That prospect illuminates the prime minister’s resilience, which outsiders find bizarre. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s Najib Has Little to Cheer Over Sarawak Triumph

By Luke Hunt
May 11, 2016
The Diplomat

The election win is rooted in local rather than national factors.

Victory for the incumbent at Malaysian state elections in Sarawak has been billed by the government-friendly press as a turning point for the embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak. The state poll was won by chief minister Adenan Satem and Najib was quick to claim the credit.

But any applause for Najib is misplaced and overlooks Adenan’s popularity, which was achieved on the back of promised reforms and his stand against corruption in the aftermath of his predecessor Taib Mahmud, who retired with his family ranked among the world’s richest following over three decades at the helm of Sarawak.

This weekend’s election was not a test of national policies. It was fought on local issues in a state, which legally is an equal part of a three-way Malaysian federation that encompasses neighboring Sabah and the Malaysia peninsula.

In the election, Barisan Nasional (BN), the ruling coalition which is led by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) which Najib heads, secured 72 out of 82 seats. UMNO has been the dominant party within BN at the federal level ever since Britain told Malaysia it was time to evolve into a country in its own right. That was almost 60 years ago and ever since then, politicians have enjoyed conflating the two political outfits when it suits their political purposes.

In this case, it is quite clear that Najib attempted to steal the headlines and craft national-level spin for a local story written by Adenan, who had earned high marks after Taib stood down by promising to respect the rights of the long-marginalized indigenous tribes, crack down on corruption and “put the fear of god into people who are dishonest.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Hobbled PM Taps Local Election Win For Support: Why It’s Not Enough

Ralph Jennings
MAY 10, 2016

Malaysia’s ruling coalition and embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak got some breathing room this month but aren’t out of the ICU.

Najib’s Barisan Nasional party won 72 of 82 state assembly seats in Sarawak on Saturday, indicating that the party’s coalition has a chance of holding parliament in national elections expected by August 2018. To carry on politically, Najib needs to rebuild his name. He has been suspected since last year of moving about $700 million from government-run development company 1MDB to personal bank accounts. The 62-year-old leader faces no formal charges, but based on suspicion alone a lot of people want him out after seven years as prime minister.

The state election, his party’s first contest since the bank account issue erupted, gives Najib a narrow margin to grapple his way back to good standing before the nationwide vote.

His continuation in power would mean more economic development, his thing all along. The well-off Southeast Asian nation of 30 million people relies mainly on resources such as gas and rubber but faces risks from drops in fuel prices and oil-related taxes that the World Bank says account for around 17% of public revenues. So it’s building up an Islamic finance sector, manufacturing (up more than 20% in 2014) and even a film industry.

The Sarawak victory is a quick fix for the leadership. It’s not necessarily enough to last through the national election, per analyst views. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will Adenan become the next Pak Lah?

The jubilation over Adenan Satem’s victory in Sarawak is somewhat reminiscent of the Pak Lah ‘tsunami’ in the 2004 general elections.

In the 2004GE, Pak Lah led the BN to victory by winning a historic 91% of parliament seats (199 out of 219) with 61% of the popular vote.

He went into the elections promising to clean up corruption in the country. He promised a collaborative approach by famously asking people to ‘work with him, not for him’.

He was helped by a delimitation exercise that added 26 parliament seats in 2003.

The opposition then also did not present a united front or a united coalition although three corner fights were avoided in the majority of seats.

But four years later, in GE2008, Pak Lah suffered a humiliating set back.

He was the first Prime Minister to lead a BN government that did not have a 2/3rds control of parliament. The number of opposition MPs increased fourfold from 20 (9%) in 2008 to 80 (36%). BN’s share of the popular vote dropped from 61% to 55%. Read the rest of this entry »


Burden of Malay Stereotypes in Academia and Business

M. Bakri Musa

This burden of self-affirmation and stereotype threat can crop up well beyond our formative years and at the most unexpected venues.

At one Alif Ba Ta Conference a few years ago, organized by the UMNO Club of New York and New Jersey in which I discussed self-affirmation and stereotype threat, a group of students confided to me their experiences in the special matriculation class preparing them for American universities. Midway through that class they were given a test. Those who excelled were sent abroad earlier.

Even though the class was filled predominantly with Malays, for the group selected to leave earlier, non-Malays were over represented. How do I explain that, the students inquired? I immediately sensed their burden of stereotype threat – Malay ineptitude in academics.

So I asked them what they had done between their school examination in November the preceding year until they were enrolled in that special class the following July. To a person they all replied “Nothing!” Yes, nothing!

Then I also asked them whether they had discussed with their successful and predominantly non-Malay classmates how they managed to do so well, specifically what were they doing from January till July when they started their matriculation classes together. The Malay students could not answer me. Obviously they never thought to ask or were too embarrassed to discuss that sensitive topic with their non-Malay classmates, or their teachers. For their part, their matriculation teachers, unlike my Mr. Peter Norton at Malay College in the 1960s during my Sixth Form years there, merely accepted the fact as it was. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Heavy Burden of Self-Affirmation and Stereotype Threat

M. Bakri Musa
11th May 2016

Our mind’s narrative of the world includes the perception we have of ourselves, and what we believe others have of us. The first is self-affirmation; the second, stereotype. Each of us is a member of some groups or other (race, profession, culture); thus we cannot escape from being stereotyped.

As for self-perception, like all other of our mental patterns this one too grew out of our experiences. Should we encounter something that does not conform to that mental picture we have of ourselves, we react like the patient with Cabgras delusion; we alter or ‘edit’ that information to make it conform to our pre-set pattern.

Our “self” narrative includes the stereotype others have of us, as with the colonialists’ “lazy native.” Not surprisingly, we often perform to those expectations, further reinforcing the stereotype. This vicious cycle continues, each cycle reinforcing earlier ones.

You have to work doubly hard and perform beyond well just to dispel the stereotype. Then even if you do succeed, there is no guarantee of escaping the stereotyping. It is a heavy burden to bear. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Superiority of Growth Versus Fixed Mindset

Bakri Musa
11th May 2016

The corollary to my earlier discussion is that it is far better to have a mindset with the capacity to grow and adapt than one that is fixated on its existing worldview. Harping on “changing mindset,” as our leaders are wont to do, is misplaced.

The Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck describes the two mindsets: the growth versus the fixed. They differ not only in their hypothesis of the outside world but also how they view their inner being.

Those with a fixed mindset view their talent and ability as fixed and tied to their innate ability. They view themselves as being governed by whatever abilities that they have been endowed with by nature. They are trapped by their biologic pre-determinism, which can be just as crippling as the more familiar religious variety afflicting simple villagers – “My fate is written in the book of life!”

The “book of life” of those with fixed mindset and are science-literate is the sequence of amino acids encoded in their DNA strands. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe that their fate depends on their ability to adapt and learn from new challenges and experiences, not on whatever nature has bestowed upon them through their chromosomes. To these individuals, opportunities are the flipside of crises, as the ancient Chinese wisdom would have it. Success depends on their ability to convert the latter to the former. Read the rest of this entry »

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1MDB – A wonderland saga

Tan Siok Choo
Making Sens
The Sun Daily
20 April 2016

“CURIOUSER and curiouser,” said Alice as she grew to more than nine feet high in Lewis Carroll’s fabled novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

This is the likely response of non-partisan readers of often contradictory articles about 1Malaysia Development Berhad (IMDB), the report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and strongly-worded statements by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

In a joint announcement on April 11, IPIC and its subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS (Aabar) categorically denied Aabar Investments PJS Ltd, established in the British Virgin Islands (Aabar BVI), is “an entity within either corporate group”. Both IPIC and Aabar also said they had received no payments from Aabar BVI.

In response, 1MDB said it was “curious” IPIC and Aabar had waited “until April 2016” to issue a denial and was surprised “neither IPIC nor Aabar has knowledge of, nor has benefited from, payments made by IMDB to Aabar BVI.”

Under a debt-asset swap agreement on May 28, 2015 involving Aabar, Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) and 1MDB, IPIC agreed to:
» provide US$1 billion to enable 1MDB to settle its liabilities;
» pay interest on the US$3.5 billion bonds;
» repay the US$3.5 billion bond; and
» forgive certain 1MDB debts.

In return, 1MDB would transfer to IPIC by June 30, 2016 assets with an aggregate value of all the sums paid by IPIC.

DAP MP Tony Pua says the value of assets 1MDB must transfer to IPIC total US$4.7 billion – US$1 billion to settle 1MDB’s liabilities, US$3.5 billion for the 2012 bonds and up to US$200 million in interest payments. Read the rest of this entry »

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