Archive for May 19th, 2016

The Malaysia that could be

Michael Vatikiotis
Straits Times
May 15, 2016

Shortly after I arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 1991 as newly appointed bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic Review, I was introduced to a Malaysian journalist then working here for The Straits Times in Singapore. We worked in a country well known for its disdain for the foreign media; and we were particular targets because our publications were deemed by the government to be biased against or even hostile to Malaysia.

Partly because of the common challenges we faced, but perhaps mostly because we enjoyed eating nasi kandar and roti canai at street- side stalls in Kuala Lumpur or on the many outstation reporting trips we took together, we became good friends.

A quarter of a century later, my close friend Kalimullah Hassan is no longer a journalist – neither am I. Our beloved profession has been much affected by the decline of advertising revenues and the rise of social media. But Kali, as all his friends know him, remains as passionate and concerned about his country as he was when we drove for long hours around rural constituencies in out-of-the-way parts of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu covering by-elections.

So when I read his newly published collection of columns and recollections, many of those earnest discussions and arguments we had over steaming cups of teh tarik in the 1990s came flooding back to me. There is his great pride in Malaysia’s ethnic diversity, his deep concern about the divisive racist rhetoric of contested politics and the corrosive impact of patronage and corruption in high places.
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Did regulatory slips ‘enable’ the 1MDB scandal?

The Business Times, Singapore
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WITHIN the span of six years, 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) debt had ballooned 10 times to RM50 billion (S$17 billion) and its business deals are now the subject of probes in seven jurisdictions, including Singapore. Could the mammoth scandal around the state-backed fund have been averted?

The answer is “Yes”, given the events at the strategic investment firm from the outset, which ought to have set off alarm bells at various government agencies, regulatory authorities and financial institutions.

In fact, had there been vigilance and proper checks and balances in the first place, the 1MDB controversy could well have been nipped in the bud. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will any Minister resign tomorrow on a matter of principle if Cabinet is not prepared to take a policy decision not to emulate communist countries and closed societies by countermanding undemocratic ban on Maria Chin and Tony Pua from free travel overseas?

The Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that the issuance of a passport is a privilege and not a right.

Nur Jazlan’s argument is flawed, for the right to free travel (which includes the right to a passport and to travel abroad) is a fundamental human right recognized by universal human rights declarations, whether Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or Article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Nobody claims that such a human right is absolute, as it is limited like all other human rights under certain circumstances, but the government must act bona fide, fairly, honestly and honorably and not guilty of arbitrary abuses or excesses of power.

The ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from travelling to South Korea to receive the Gwangju Prize on Human Rights Award and on DAP National Publicity Secretary, MP for PJ Utara and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member, Tony Pua from travelling overseas are clear examples of such abuses of power and egregious violation of human rights in Malaysia.

This a major regression of human rights in Malaysia, as it marks a lowering of human rights standards which had never been contemplated or practiced by the five previous Prime Ministers of Malaysia – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Razak, Hussein Onn, Mahathir and Abdullah. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stepson of Malaysia’s Najib Razak Bought $34 Million London House With 1MDB Funds

Wall Street Journal
May 19, 2016

Investigators believe that money from the Malaysian fund was used to buy home in 2012

The stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak bought a £23.25 million ($33.6 million) house in central London in 2012 with money originating from the troubled Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., according to people familiar with the situation.

The redbrick four-story house, built around 1900, is part of a row set back from the road and protected by security gates, a short walk from Malaysia’s diplomatic mission in London’s exclusive Belgravia neighborhood. The registered owner of the house is Qentas Holdings Ltd., a company based in the British Virgin Islands. Mr. Najib’s stepson is the beneficial owner, the people familiar said.

Investigators believe that money from the Malaysian fund known as 1MDB was used to buy the house in July 2012. The Wall Street Journal has previously reported that Riza Aziz, a film producer and stepson of the Malaysian leader, used money that originated from 1MDB to buy $50 million worth of properties in New York and Los Angeles and to finance the 2013 movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Azalina has committed double contempt of Parliament when she defended her lie in Parliament in her reply to Guan Eng on the PAC Report on 1MDB

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Azalina Othman had committed a double contempt of Parliament when she defended her lie in Parliament in her reply to DAP MP for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng, claiming that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members were informed about the deleted lines from the PAC Report on 1MDB.

In her written reply on Monday, Azalina had lied that PAC Chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin had informed or showed PAC members letter from Bank Negara Malaysia which stated that the information provided to the PAC was confidential for the purpose of intelligence only and not for court usage or public consumption.

DAP MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua, who is a PAC Member has described Azalina’s answer as a lie, making very clear that after the the final PAC meeting on April 4 which approved the PAC report on 1MDB for publication, Hasan “never at any point of time communicated with the PAC members on any developments subsequent to the meeting on April 4”.

I have spoken to the Deputy Chairman of PAC, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (MP – Kepong) and he has confirmed that what Pua said was true and factual, and that PAC members were never informed about Bank Negara’s letter before PAC Report on 1MDB was tabled in Parliament on April 7, and that Azalina had told a lie in Parliament.

Thus, when Azalina yesterday denied that she lied to Parliament when she said PAC members had been informed about the deleted lines in the PAC report on 1MDB, and that Pua’s statement was untrue and made without any basis, Azalina had committed a double contempt of Parliament. Read the rest of this entry »


Call for public inquiry into the tragic helicopter crash during the 11th Sarawak general election causing the death of six people, including a deputy minister and another MP

The 11th Sarawak state general election has ended on May 7 polling with fairly expected results, the re-election of Tan Sri Adenan Satem as Sarawak Chief Minister, the formation of the new Sarawak State Government by Sarawak Barisan Nasional and the failure to deny Adenan two-thirds majority in the 82-seat Sarawak State Assembly.

I had publicly predicted these three results after Nomination Day on April 25, and I was not greatly surprised by the outcome of the 11th Sarawak state general elections.

One of the disappointments of the 11th Sarawak state general elections was the inability of Pakatan Harapan to campaign as one team, and which saw multi-cornered contests even involving Pakatan Harapan parties, but the results have shown that it had not materially affected the results of the Sarawak state general election.

A combined and united Pakatan Harapan in the Sarawak state general election would have found it difficult to regain the 15 state assembly seats won by DAP and PKR five years ago in the 2011 state general election, but there is no doubt that the failure to present an united front by Pakatan Harapan parties caused great disappointment all-round and should be a lesson to all Pakatan Harapan parties for the future. Read the rest of this entry »