Archive for December 16th, 2016

Thailand to free Swiss man linked to 1MDB scandal

South China Morning Post
14 December, 2016

Thailand will free a Swiss man jailed for blackmail in a case linked to a graft scandal engulfing the 1MDB Malaysian state investment fund, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Xavier Justo was jailed last August for attempting to blackmail his former employer PetroSaudi International, a Saudi oil firm allegedly involved in corrupt dealings with Malaysian fund 1MDB.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who launched the scandal-mired 1MDB, has been besieged by allegations that he and his cronies looted billions of dollars from it, prompting calls for him to resign.

According to Thai police Justo was jailed after demanding around US$2.5 million from PetroSaudi to return sensitive company data he claimed to have taken before leaving the firm in 2011.

He was arrested on the Thai island of Koh Samui in June 2015 and handed a three-year sentence.

But on Wednesday his lawyer said he will get out early after a mass prisoner amnesty. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ex-BSI Banker Seah Convicted of 3 Charges Tied to 1MDB Case

by Andrea Tan and Melissa Cheok
December 16, 2016

Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, a former BSI SA private banker, became the second person to be convicted in Singapore’s probe into alleged money laundering linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Judge Salina Ishak found Seah guilty of three charges in a Singapore state court Friday for aiding in forging documents and failing to report suspicious transactions allegedly related to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. Prosecutors are taking into account four other charges in seeking a two-week jail sentence for Seah, 45, while her lawyer Peter Low asked for a fine.

Imposing a fine for the “well-heeled” like Seah isn’t a sufficient deterrent, prosecutor Nathaniel Khng said in seeking the prison term. Seah’s conduct had harmed Singapore’s reputation, he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysian politics: ‘Mother of all battles’ shaping up

Yang Razali Kassim
Straits Times Singapore
DEC 15, 2016

The ruling Umno-led coalition faces a challenge from a new opposition alliance led by two former allies: Mahathir and Anwar. Despite Umno’s confidence, the ground may be far from sweet in the coming general election.

The mother of all battles is shaping up in Malaysian politics as beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak pulled out all the stops to defend himself in the face of a reconfiguring opposition.

Putting his dominant party, Umno, on a war footing at its recently concluded annual general assembly, Datuk Seri Najib resorted to the Islamic doctrine of wala – or loyalty to the leader – as he manoeuvred to rally support and ready Umno for a general election.

The enabler was his No. 2, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who started the ball rolling by pledging his own loyalty to Mr Najib, who has been under siege since the outbreak of the scandal involving state development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) last year.

Umno for the first time had to ward off an uprising against a sitting president led by a former prime minister and party president. In a single-minded drive to push Mr Najib out, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is leading a “people’s movement” to “Save Malaysia”. Having resigned from Umno in protest against Mr Najib, Dr Mahathir has joined the opposition, even reconciling with his former ally-turned-nemesis Anwar Ibrahim to revive their once powerful political partnership. Read the rest of this entry »

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After being regarded worldwide as a global kleptocracy, PISA 2015 should not be the second international infamy Malaysians have to suffer for the year 2016

Ten days are long enough for the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid to abdicate from his responsibility to explain the shame and infamy from the exclusion and rejection of Malaysia’s results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, described as the world’s school report.

Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Chong Sin Woon, raised eyebrows when he said yesterday that “A report being prepared by the committee conducting the mathematics, reading and science under PISA 2015 will explain the reason for the inadequate sampling which resulted in Malaysia’s disqualification”.

Let me tell Mahdzir – Just tell the truth. There is no need for a committee to crack its head as to how to “massage the message” of Malaysia’s disgraceful disqualification from PISA 2015 although 9,660 Form III students from 230 schools reportedly took part in the PISA 2015 tests.

If the Education Ministry tries to cook up a cock-and-bull story to put it in good light over Malaysia’s disgraceful exclusion and disqualification from PISA 2015, it bears the risk of double infamy when it is exposed a second time.

When the PISA 2015 results were released worldwide in London on 6th December, and Malaysia was excluded from PISA 2015 rankings although Malaysia took part in the PISA 2015 tests, I had on the same day called on Mahdzir to give “a full and detailed explanation”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Vulnerability Exposed by Dollar’s Ascent

Wall Street Journal
Dec. 15, 2016

Foreign investors are fleeing the country’s stock and bond markets

Malaysia has been one of Asia’s worst-hit economies amid the continued climb of U.S. interest rates and the dollar.

Foreign investors sold $5.3 billion of Malaysian stocks and bonds in November, the largest monthly outflow since September 2011, according to ANZ Bank. That is almost a quarter of the $22.1 billion pulled from emerging markets in the region, excluding China.

The bulk of the selling was in Malaysia’s bond market. The $4.5 billion of bonds sold by foreigners in November, in ringgit terms, marks the biggest monthly debt outflow on record, according to ANZ. Read the rest of this entry »

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