A World of Scandal Descends on Malaysian PM

A World of Scandal Descends on Malaysian Prime Minister

Najib beset by investigations in Switzerland, France, Saudi Arabia

The world outside of Malaysia appears to be coming apart for Prime Minister Najib Razak, with announcements on Jan. 26 by Swiss authorities that as much as US$4 billion has been stolen from the state-backed 1MDB investment fund, and a report in France that two officials of a state-owned defense contractor were indicted in December for bribing Najib in the 1996 US$1 billion purchase of French submarines.

The events followed a disastrous press conference on Jan. 26 by Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali supposedly clearing Najib of wrongdoing over RMB2.82 billion (US$681 million) that had ended up in his personal bank account in 2013. Enterprising news photographers using telephoto lenses caught pictures of the papers he was waving during the press conference. The papers actually described a money trail of millions of ringgit of public money that flowed into Najib’s personal accounts.

Apandi Ali’s assertion that the money came from the Saudi royal family has been met with widespread derision. In all, the aftermath of the attorney general’s press conference presents a picture of a government desperately scrambling to contain a widening scandal. The Saudi government is said to be investigating the assertion that the royal family had made the donation, which is felt to be highly unlikely, especially in the light of the Swiss investigation.

Najib Stonewalls

If the world outside is coming apart for Najib, however, he has done his level best to try to contain news of the scandal inside the country, blocking critical international news organizations including Asia Sentinel and Sarawak Report. This week the government also blocked the enormously popular blog platform Medium for reprinting Sarawak Report articles, although those articles represent a tiny fraction of the blog platform’s output by thousands of bloggers, many of whom merely publish recipes or stories about their cats.

In addition to blocking Asia Sentinel and Sarawak Report, the government in July 2015 suspended the influential business publication The Edge and its sister paper for three months for printing details of the 1MDB mess. Police in May arrested journalists from the news portal Malaysian Insider and in November raided the offices of another, Malaysiakini. It has recently toughened laws against online media. Nonetheless, both published the news of the Swiss action.

The mainstream media, including radio, television and newspapers, all of which are owned by government-aligned political parties, have been put on notice to be careful of what they air or print. The government has charged opposition politicians with sedition for seeking to investigate the various scandals and sought to curb public statements of critics by threatening them with jail – including the 90-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the man who engineered his ascent to the top job by driving his predecessor, Ahmad Abdullah Badawi, from office.

Najib and Apandi Ali have silenced Malaysian Anti-Crime Commission investigators and pigeonholed an investigation into the movement of money by Central Bank Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

Any of the scandals would have driven another person from office. But Najib, backed by his tenacious wife Rosmah Mansor, has stonewalled all challenges, charging racism or a cabal by unknown dark forces outside the country to push him out. He is said to be seeking a public relations firm to polish his image in preparation for elections in 2018.

But Stonewalling won’t Stop Outside Probes

But the tone of the two new investigations by prosecutors in international courts may be something else. Other probes are moving forward by the US government for money-laundering and in other countries as well. While Najib continues via patronage, bribes or makework jobs to receive the solid backing of the UMNO cadres who elect him, the international problems he faces could make it a new ballgame. It is too early to tell.

A World of Scandal Descends on Malaysian Prime Minister
January 30, 2016 – Asia Sentinel


End Anwar Ibrahim Incarceration – Human Rights Watch

Malaysia: End Anwar Ibrahim Incarceration

Imprisonment of Opposition Leader Makes Mockery of Claims of Democracy

(New York) – On the first anniversary of Anwar Ibrahim’s incarceration on politically motivated charges, the Malaysian government should unconditionally release the former deputy prime minister and political opposition leader, Human Rights Watch said today. The Malaysian government should also ensure that Anwar can access appropriate medical services while imprisoned and facilitate necessary overseas travel to treat the serious ailments he reportedly suffers from in prison.

“Malaysia’s conviction of Anwar Ibrahim was politically motivated, and he’s already suffered through a year in prison from this travesty of justice,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Every day that Anwar is behind bars, confidence in the Malaysian justice system further erodes. The government should release Anwar and repeal the country’s abusive and archaic sodomy laws.”

On February 10, 2015, Malaysia’s Federal Court upheld a Court of Appeal verdict that Anwar was guilty of sodomy under the Malaysian penal code. Anwar was taken into custody and immediately began serving a five-year prison term. A request for a pardon was turned down in March 2015. An appeal of that denial has yet to be decided.

In November 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Anwar’s imprisonment violated prohibitions on torture, or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Specifically, the Working Group found that an “adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Ibrahim immediately, and ensure that his political rights that were removed based on his arbitrary detention be reinstated.”

Police arrested Anwar on July 16, 2008, based on a complaint from Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a political aide, that Anwar had consensual sex with him. The original trial was plagued with serious fair trial concerns, including the prosecutors’ unwillingness to provide defense lawyers with access to medical and other evidence against their client. Nevertheless, the High Court acquitted Anwar on January 9, 2012, ruling that DNA samples that were central to the prosecution’s case had not been handled or maintained properly and thus were possibly contaminated. The High Court judge said the only other major evidence was the alleged victim’s statements, which were uncorroborated.

The government appealed and on March 7, 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Anwar to five years in prison. The appeal court hearing, originally scheduled for April, was hurriedly moved to March 6-7. The verdict and sentencing hearings were conducted on the same day despite defense counsel requests that they be given more time, including provision of medical evidence. The sentencing hearing was conducted after a one-hour recess on a day of proceedings that had lasted until 5 p.m.

Anwar’s conviction disqualified him from running for a state assembly seat in Selangor on March 23. Had he been permitted to run and won the seat, he would have been eligible to seek the position of chief minister of Selangor state, a development strongly opposed by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Anwar’s five-year sentence also carried a subsequent five-year ban on running for office after being released from prison under Malaysia’s elections law, which imposes a ban on anyone who is imprisoned for more than one year – effectively ending his elected political career. Soon after Anwar’s imprisonment, the multi-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance he had led fractured.

“Anwar’s conviction and imprisonment removed a major political threat to the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak,” Robertson said. “The conviction effectively removed a charismatic opposition leader, already in his late sixties, from politics for a minimum of ten years.”

February 8, 2016 – Human Rights Watch
Malaysia: End Anwar Ibrahim Incarceration


Troubles resurface for Malaysia’s Najib in Europe

A case involving allegations of high-level bribery, blackmail, betrayal and the murder of a glamorous Mongolian socialite in Malaysia has resurfaced in France, only days after Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak was cleared of corruption charges at home.

French prosecutors have charged a French businessman involved in Malaysia’s $US2 billion ($2.8 billion) purchase of two French-Spanish built submarines with paying illegal kickbacks to a Malaysian official linked to Mr Najib, according to the French newsagency AFP.

Mr Najib, who was defence minister at the time of the purchase, has denied any wrongdoing but the case has been the subject of hot rumours and speculation in Malaysia’s social media during his seven-year rule.

The French report named Ferrari-driving Malaysian businessman Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Mr Najib’s best friends and policy advisers, as the person who allegedly received the kickbacks.

While the submarine deal was being negotiated, Mr Baginda was the lover of 28-year-old Mongolian socialite Altantuya Shaariibuu who was murdered by two of Mr Najib’s bodyguards in a patch of jungle in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur in 2006.

Ms Shaariibuu was dragged from a car, knocked unconscious and shot twice in the head, according to court testimony.

She had begged for the life of her unborn baby and then her body was wrapped in C4 explosives and blown up, ensuring the fetus was destroyed, along with the identity of the father.

Ms Shaariibuu, who was abducted outside Mr Baginda’s house, had reportedly demanded $US500,000 to remain silent about her knowledge of the submarine deal.

French authorities who opened an investigation into the submarine purchases almost four years ago have issued an indictment against Bernard Baiocco, 72, the former president of Thales International Asia, according to an AFP report in the French language, that was translated by the Malaysiakini news website.

In 2008 a Malaysian judge sensationally dropped a charge of abetting murder against Mr Baginda, even before any evidence was heard at his trial.

Lawyers expect Mr Baginda will be called to testify at a French hearing.

“We feel very encouraged and happy to hear the case has moved forward and that French investigators have arrived on a very important finding and a key French official has been formally indicted,” Cynthia Gabriel from the Malaysian human rights organisation Suaram was quoted as telling Malaysiakini.

Troubles resurface for Malaysia’s Najib in Europe
January 30, 2016 – Sydney Morning Herald


Normal for Swiss to inform public about criminal cases, say lawyers

It is normal practice for Switzerland’s prosecuting authority to announce the progress of criminal investigations, especially for high-profile cases, a lawyer says.

Datuk N. Sivananthan, who is counsel at the International Criminal Court, said Switzerland practised greater transparency on such matters and took steps to keep the public informed.

“I see nothing wrong about it as they are very open about it,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Sivananthan was responding to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s statement that the Swiss attorney-general (A-G) should not have made public his request for Malaysia’s help with its investigations into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Zahid’s remarks came after Swiss A-G Michael Laubner’s press statement on January 30 that some US$4 billion (RM16.8 billion) may have been misappropriated from Malaysian companies. The discovery was made in the course of investigating two former 1MDB officials and others on suspicion of bribery involving foreign public officials.

Zahid, who is also home minister, said such details should have been kept private between the two governments.

“I had hoped that information like that would be conveyed through official government channels because it is on a G-to-G (government-to-government) basis.

But Sivananthan said the Swiss A-G had not made any incriminating remark by announcing his findings and by requesting assistance from Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Sivananthan said Malaysia was obliged to assist the Swiss authorities if both nations have a treaty on mutual legal assistance.

“We are bound to provide the assistance required if both countries have signed an agreement.”

If there was no formal agreement, then Malaysia has the discretion to extend assistance on a goodwill basis.

“You will have to check with the Attorney-General’s Chambers what is the current position,” he added.

However, any reluctance on Malaysia’s part could create the perception that there was something to hide in the eyes of the international community, he said.

“The Swiss authorities may not cooperate with Malaysia in future should our investigators need to collect evidence in that county.”

Normal for Swiss to inform public about criminal cases, say lawyers
1 February 2016 – TMI


RM137 million Scorpene consultation fees?

I got €30 million, Razak Baginda says over Scorpene consultation fees

Abdul Razak Baginda, the political analyst acquitted of abetting in the 2006 murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu, said he received €30 million (RM137 million) as consultation fee in Malaysia’s purchase of two Scorpene submarines from France, the Financial Times (FT) reports.

“It was a legitimate agreement. I did my job and I got paid for it. And I never paid any official,” the former aide of Datuk Seri Najib Razak was quoted by FT as saying, adding that the deal’s execution spanned eight years.

Najib was defence minister at the time of the US$1.2 billion arms deal, which has been riddled with allegations of corruption and kickbacks.

Razak’s confirmation comes as French prosecutors launched a formal probe into Najib, a week after it opened a case against Bernard Baiocco, the former president of Thales International Asia, who together with another French defence firm DCNS, had sold the submarines to Malaysia.

The French investigation centres around allegations that Baiocco paid kickbacks to Najib through Razak.

Baiocco’s lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne confirmed to FT that Razak got payment for lobbying work in the US$1.2 billion arms deals, but denied it was corruption, adding that prosecutors had no proof to show Najib received the payment.

The French probe comes hot on the heels of the Swiss attorney-general’s request for assistance from Malaysia, after its probe into transactions linked to troubled 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) revealed that some RM4 billion involving Malaysian government companies was misappropriated.

I got €30 million, Razak Baginda says over Scorpene consultation fees
5 February 2016 – TMI


Swiss derail Msia’s attempt to downplay 1MDB fiasco

Financial Times says Swiss criminal investigation is indicative that they have concerns Malaysian government is “trying to bury” the scandal.

PETALING JAYA: Intense scrutiny on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) is showing no signs of letting up, now that a Swiss criminal investigation is underway to get to the bottom of a possible USD4 billion having been misappropriated.

“Switzerland’s unusually aggressive intervention reflects international concern that the Malaysian authorities may have been trying to bury the story,” the Financial Times (FT) said in an article, citing Attorney-General (AG) Apandi Ali’s having recently cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of all criminal wrongdoing in the case of a RM2.6 billion donation he received in his bank accounts, which critics alleged was linked to 1MDB.

Commenting on the Swiss investigation was John Pang, a senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, who told the Financial Times: “This makes it very difficult for the Attorney-General to simply close off the investigation. It makes the Attorney-General’s statement difficult to credit.”

The FT report said however that Apandi had pointed out that the RM2.6 billion donation case and ongoing investigations into 1MDB, were two “entirely separate” matters.

The AG’s Chambers also pledged to “collaborate” with their Swiss counterparts in their investigations despite repeated denials by Najib of any misappropriation of funds or criminal wrongdoing as alleged by the investment fund’s critics, of which the prime minister is chairman to its advisory board.

The Swiss Attorney-General however has said there were “allegations of criminal conduct” in four cases involving 1MDB, in a period spanning 2009 to 2013, although none involved Najib himself as a suspect.

Swiss derail Msia’s attempt to downplay 1MDB fiasco
February 1, 2016 – FMT


Switzerland names the companies ‘linked to 1MDB scandal’

WHERE WILL NAJIB HIDE HIS FACE: Switzerland names the companies ‘linked to 1MDB scandal’

The Swiss attorney general’s announcement that $4 billion may have been misappropriated from Malaysian state-owned companies opened a new front in the troubles facing 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, the state-investment fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009.

Switzerland’s top prosecutor on Friday named a number of firms in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi in relation to the matter, but gave no details of their roles, if any.

The attorney general’s office said it is examining allegations of criminal activity from 2009 to 2013 relating to PetroSaudi International Ltd., a Saudi oil company; SRC International Sdn Bhd, a unit of Malaysia’s Finance Ministry; Malaysian companiesGenting Group and Tanjong PLC; and a joint venture between 1MDB and an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund called the Abu Dhabi Malaysia Investment Company.

The investigation is one of a series of global probes into 1MDB. A Malaysian government investigation last year found that almost $700 million entered Mr. Najib’s alleged bank accounts via agencies, companies and banks linked to 1MDB ahead of a close election in 2013.

On Tuesday, Malaysian Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said the largest chunk of money transferred to Mr. Najib’s account was a legal donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal familyand cleared the prime minister of any wrongdoing.

But a Saudi official said the country’s finance and foreign ministries had no knowledge of the donation. The Swiss attorney general on Friday raised concerns that Mr. Apandi’s decision to clear Mr. Najib would hamper its own investigation.

In a statement Saturday, Mr. Apandi said he was ready to cooperate with the Swiss probe. He added that a number of Malaysian entities are still probing 1MDB, including the police and Malaysia’s auditor general.

PetroSaudi said in a statement that it wasn’t the subject of any investigation and hadn’t been accused of criminal conduct. The company denies any wrongdoing, it said.

Attempts Saturday to reach SRC International and Tanjong were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for Genting declined to comment.

The office of Mr. Najib, who also heads the Finance Ministry, didn’t respond to requests for comment, but he has previously denied wrongdoing or taking money for personal gain. 1MDB on Saturday said it hasn’t been contacted by any foreign investigative agency and stands ready to cooperate with any investigations. It also has denied wrongdoing.

Here’s what we know so far about these companies and their alleged connection to the 1MDB scandal, based on a six-month examination by The Wall Street Journal.

WHERE WILL NAJIB HIDE HIS FACE: Switzerland names the companies ‘linked to 1MDB scandal’
Written by WSJ
1 February 2016 – Malaysia Chronicle

EU Resolution
on deteriorating
human rights
in Malaysia

22,000+ signatures
Cari makan syndrome:
Afraid to do the right thing in order to safeguard rice bowl.
Where have 2.6 stars gone?
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?
Real Poverty Rate in
Malaysia: 22.6%     ...more


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