PAS bound to lose Kelantan without Umno’s help, DAP MP predicts

PAS bound to lose Kelantan without Umno’s help, DAP MP predicts

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 – PAS may likely lose Kelantan in a three-cornered fight against Umno and Pakatan Harapan in the next polls, DAP MP Liew Chin Tong predicted today rebutting the Islamist party’s goal to retain the east coast state.

Liew said PAS may be forced to form a political pact with Umno to defend Kelantan if it is not part of the Pakatan Harapan and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) front as the Islamist party will not be able to stand alone as a strong “third force” in Malaysian politics.

“In the battle for the Kelantan state assembly during the coming general election, PAS may not be able to maintain its third force ambiguity. The fact is PAS may be compelled to form an electoral pact with Umno in Kelantan, whether by choice or expediency,” Liew said in a statement.

“If PAS and Umno can’t find an agreement to form an electoral pact, and decide to fight each other – while Pakatan and PPBM form a coalition to put a single candidate in each seat – no one would be certain of the outcome of the seats, especially the marginal ones,” he added.

The Kluang MP said Parti Amanah Negara may pose a challenge in 10 out of PAS’ 32 incumbent state seats, while PPBM can do so in five out of 12 seats held by Umno, resulting in both PAS and Umno not having the luxury to contest against each other.

Liew said PAS and PKR had won just 55.26 per cent of the popular vote compared to 44.62 per cent by Barisan Nasional (BN).

Out of the 32 seats won by PAS, 13 were won with less than 55 per cent votes, while the same happened with nine out of Umno’s 12, he said.

“In other words, 23 of 45 Kelantan seats – slightly more than half – are marginal seats which would be vulnerable for the PAS government if Pakatan Harapan and PPBM put up a formidable coalition while Umno and PAS fight it out against each other,” he said.

PAS bound to lose Kelantan without Umno’s help, DAP MP predicts
February 1, 2017 – MMO


US$3 million spent to launch “The Wolf of Wall Street” even before production started

Red Granite zips lips on claim by real ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ personality

The man whose biography the film ‘Wolf of Wall Street film’ is based on has come out with a stinging criticism of the movie’s producers, calling them “criminals”.

However, Red Granite Pictures declined to respond to the remarks by former stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

“We have no comment,” a Red Granite spokesperson told Malaysiakini via email.

Belfort made the disparaging remarks about the production firm in an interview with Swiss financial news site finews.com last Thursday.

“The movie’s a huge success, and then it turns out the guys who financed it were criminals. And this guy Jho Low.

“Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio, who portrays Belfort in the movie) got sucked in. Leo’s an honest guy.

“But I met these guys, and said to (my fiance) Anne (Koppe)‚ ‘these guys are f***ing criminals’,” Belfort said.

Red Granite chief executive Riza Aziz – the stepson of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak – and Low are central figures in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) civil forfeiture suits involving 1MDB.

The DOJ claimed that Red Granite received US$64 million (RM283.5 million at current rates) that was traced back to 1MDB.

The production firm has denied knowingly using illicit funds to finance production of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.

Belfort claimed he knew something was off about the people behind the award-winning movie when they held a launch party at the Cannes Film Festival even before production started.

“They must have spent US$3 million (RM13.29 million) on a launch party.

“They flew in Kayne West, and I said to Anne, ‘this is a f***ing scam, anybody who does this has stolen money’.

“You wouldn’t spend money you worked for like that,” he said.

He added that once the film went into production, the producers had offered to give him US$500,000 to go to Las Vegas to spend time with DiCaprio.

However he said he refused and was thus sidelined from media coverage of the film.

Red Granite zips lips on claim by real ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ personality
30 Jan 2017 – malaysiakini


Felda seeks to soar like an eagle – on one wing

Felda seeks to soar like an eagle – on one wing

YOURSAY | ‘It needs to sell assets to stabilise cash flow, yet it has money to invest in Eagle High.’

Felda selling assets to stabilise cash flow, says Shahrir

Ipohcrite: Poor Shahrir Samad, what has he gotten himself into? Selling assets to stabilise cash flow indeed. Like selling a hotel that generates cash for you? That’s doing the exact opposite.

He can’t even make a statement that comes across as having an iota of common sense. Just tell it as it is – Felda is selling assets to fill the large hole of debt that it has fallen into.

Don’t try to sugar coat it with some absurd explanation.

Anthony Chan: Yes, it just doesn’t jive. Felda needs to sell assets to stabilise its cash flow and yet it has money to make a huge investment in Eagle High Plantation.

Beh Tahan: “I think the hotel in Bayswater has matured in the sense that the value is up and we bought it when the pound (value) was quite low, less than five (ringgit to one pound) and now it is more than five,” said Shahrir.

The pound is more than RM5 because the ringgit has gone down, isn’t it? So where does the profit comes from?

RCZ: He quips and jokes when billions of government funds are lost by alleged mismanagement and theft.

Why is a company touted as having the second largest IPO (initial public offering) five years ago facing cash-flow problems?

Where did the cash go? Why was there a need to have purchased hotels in the first place when the palm oil industry, which is the core business of Felda, was not being taken care of?

Why and how is the Eagle High deal lucrative when the shares to be purchased are overvalued? Is there going to be a fire sale in two years’ time to dispose of this loss-making shares?

Why is Felda coming back from worse, and is it okay that it has gone that way in the first place?

We all know the Umno model. Take from Peter to pay Paul. When Paul is flushed with money, change the chairperson and take money from Peter again. And so, it will go on.

Appum: I like the way this new chairperson uses the term “it is government investment” so casually.

There must of justification in the way the government uses its funds, be it for operations or investments.

Such funds of the people (meaning the rakyat’s money) cannot be carelessly used, resulting in losses for the government.

Does it mean that the money of this state agency, which is essentially meant to help a certain section of Malaysians, can be thrown away like durian skins?

We all know durians like ‘Mau San Wong’ (Musang King) are expensive, yet its skins are of little value.

Is this the way the government treats the rakyat’s money? Is this the way massive allocations for these types of activities can be carelessly utilised?

There is no accountability and responsibility of and by the top-level management in the losses and careless decisions made by them. Are they not answerable to Parliament?

Clever Voter: Selling assets to raise cash may not be wise if the Felda board hasn’t done the following.

First, strengthen governance from the board downwards. This involves removal of ineffective board members, especially those from the government.

Second, review procurement practices and policies where independent audits must be done.

Third, look at its investment portfolio. It would be wrong to sell assets to pay dividends to win political support.

Speak for All: Yes, you are right, Shahrir. To stabilise cash flow in Felda, we need to sell every property that the agency holds.

It is a typical thinking for some Malay politicians – to sell everything today and don’t think about the future. They will even sell their souls and later complain that the non-Malays have stolen everything from them.

Wira: So the government money parked in Felda is to buy a non-controlling interest at Eagle High at a ridiculously high price?

You need to let taxpayers know how the money is parked. Since you claim to an expert in managing palm oil industry, we also need you to let us know if the investment is sound and in the best interests of the country.

Anonymous 2436471476414726: Umno, why don’t you ask for an RCI (royal commission of inquiry) on this issue? Something is not right in Felda. These are events which are happening now, not some 30 years ago.

Anonymous_1419577444: “Stabilise cash flow” is technical jargon to mean “company having cash flow problem”. “Matured assets” is just sugar-coating, which in English means “assets that can be sold for cash”.

What people should ask is whether or not Felda made any money from selling these “matured assets”? And if it made losses, then why sell now?

For instance, if it costs Felda RM300 million to buy those Maybank shares and now Felda sells them for RM280 million, then there is a loss of RM20 million.

Tell the Truth: Indeed, why sell assets that are making money for you?

Do you understand economics? Maybe the only economics you know is how to get more for yourself and let the government worry about settling the debt.

Realthistime: What does a full-time politician, who never had any commercial experience, know about rescuing Felda?

Demi Rakyat: GE14 is around the corner. There is a need for money to pay the Felda members to try to get their votes. This is what Shahrir has been sent by Najib to do.

Felda seeks to soar like an eagle – on one wing
18 Feb 2017 – malaysiakini


Past and present MCA leaders are movers behind the RM200 billion Carey Island project

Analyst: No need for RM200 billion Carey Island port

Port Klang Authority’s plans to build giant port received with skepticism by observers who say it will not impact Singapore’s port operations.

PETALING JAYA: Plans by Port Klang Authority (PKA) to build a giant port on Carey Island just to compete with Singapore has been criticised by analysts, The Straits Times reported.

The intended new port – to add to the capacity under the existing Port Klang operations which has reached almost maximum levels – is expected to cost RM200 billion according to PKA chairman Kong Cho Ha.

Yesterday, Kong told The Star that a new port was necessary to compete in the industry and also to vie for a bigger share of the container cargo trade from Singapore.

Following the announcement, analysts the Singapore daily had spoken to said there was no need for a new port, especially one intended to compete with Singapore.

“Creating another port that runs separately (to Port Klang) does not make sense. That is just bringing about excess capacity,” ST quoted G Durairaj, managing director of maritime and logistics consultancy PortsWorld, as saying.

He added that in a report by the World Bank that was commissioned by the Singapore government in 2015, it was stated that Malaysia did not need any new ports, especially on the west coast of the peninsula, because existing facilities have still not reached its capacity.

Besides that, Durairaj believes that such a move will have “minimal impact” on Singapore’s shipping sector.

“There is little chance that a new port would draw clients away from Singapore, pointing to factors such as critical mass and customer loyalty incentives,” he was quoted as saying by ST.

As a point of note, analysts said even the current ports in Johor, which are closer to Singapore, have not managed to make too big of a dent, adding that the global container-shipment industry has reached a plateau.

The bigger picture according to observers is that the west coast of the peninsula already has two major projects that will be taking off soon.

The ST report cites the RM12.5 billion Kuala Linggi International Port in Malacca, that will start construction in a few months, and the upcoming RM43 billion Melaka Gateway, that will include a deep sea port and cruise terminal, as reasons why even the Malaysian ports stand to suffer from intra-port competition.

“There will be excess capacity in a competitive environment, and that will eat into the current market share,” Durairaj told ST.

Meanwhile, the daily reported that the movers behind the Carey Island project are past and present MCA leaders, including Kong who had also served in the cabinet as transport minister.

It was reported last year that Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said his ministry was in talks with the China Merchants Group to discuss an investment into developing a deep-sea port in Carey Island.

Analyst: No need for RM200 billion Carey Island port
January 10, 2017 – FMT


Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC

Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC

Ghauth Jasmon says the university is already dipping into its reserves and will need to cut 2,000 jobs to survive.

SUBANG JAYA: The oldest university in Malaysia may be bankrupt in three to five years if “the right people” are not hired to raise funds for its operations.

This comes after the government slashed its funds by half, said former Universiti Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor Ghauth Jasmon.

He said UM received government aid of RM550 million yearly before funds were slashed two years ago.

“Now, UM face cuts of RM270 million. They are now dipping into their reserves as the top management are academicians (vice-chancellors or VCs).

“These VCs, appointed by the higher education ministry, have no clues as to how to raise money. They only have another three to five years’ of savings.”

He was speaking on the final day of the Asia Public Policy Forum 2017, co-hosted by Harvard Kennedy School and Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia.

Ghauth, who was the UM VC from 2008 to 2013, said there was no “income replacement” for the budget cuts. This was despite the university being informed by the government a decade ago of the intended reduction in aid.

He said UM has 5,000 academic and administration staff. To survive these budget cuts, they will have to remove 2,000 people.

“It’s not only UM. Other public universities are also facing the same problem. Professors going to retire or on contract have been told to end their services.”

There is a big crisis in universities but none of the VCs have the answers to cope with the huge budget cuts, he said.

“… Not the board or the top management of academicians. They are still renting out the gymnasium or organising competitions at the swimming pool. That is the sort of things they are doing (to raise funds).

“What is the solution? The public university is waiting to die. That’s is how I see it because I have not heard of any solutions.”

Ghauth predicts public universities will be forced to sell off their assets to make up for the shortfall.

He said this may lead to a large number of school leavers unable to continue their tertiary education, causing a huge social problem.

As for Universiti Teknologi Mara, it is facing cuts of RM946 million a year.

“UITM has 200,000 students. With almost RM1 billion in cuts from the operating budget, they might not be able to keep that (high a) student number. Where are the school leavers going to go?”

Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC
January 19, 2017 – FMT


1MDB Scandal: Talks Between Malaysia, Abu Dhabi Over Missing Money Break Down

1MDB Scandal: Talks Between Malaysia, Abu Dhabi Over Missing Money Break Down

Negotiations between government investment funds in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi over who is responsible for billions of dollars in missing money have broken down, according to people familiar with the matter, making it harder for the two funds to put the scandal behind them.

Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co. has said 1Malaysia Development Bhd. owes it about $6.5 billion after Malaysia defaulted on bonds guaranteed by IPIC and refused to pay back an emergency loan IPIC gave 1MDB in July 2015.

The U.S. Justice Department said last summer that some $3.5 billion was siphoned from 1MDB and used to fund purchases of real estate and other assets by associates of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and others. Mr. Najib and 1MDB have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and pledged to cooperate with any lawful investigations.

The 1MDB fund, set up in 2009 by Mr. Najib to boost Malaysia’s economy, is the subject of investigations in six countries. The Justice Department filed a series of asset seizure suits last summer against more than $1 billion worth of luxury real estate in the U.S. and U.K., artwork and other assets.

Abu Dhabi and Malaysia nearly reached a deal in December in which Malaysia’s government would immediately pay $1.2 billion as a first step to resolving the overall dispute, but Malaysia pulled out because advisers to the prime minister were dissatisfied with the agreement, according to the people familiar with the matter. Abu Dhabi expects to take the dispute, which has damaged the once close relationship between the countries, to arbitration, the people said.

Malaysia’s government and 1MDB declined to comment on the negotiations. A senior Abu Dhabi government official said the emirate had negotiated in good faith after a request from Malaysia to resolve the dispute by the end of 2016, but “that good faith dissipated when the new year began and there had been no material progress on any repayment.”

The disintegrating relationship between the two parties complicates efforts by Malaysia to wind down 1MDB and move on from the scandal, which investigators in three countries have called one of the world’s biggest-ever alleged frauds.

Credit raters say the Malaysian government can afford to cover any outstanding debts from 1MDB. But doing so could produce unexpected economic strains and pressure the Malaysian ringgit currency, among other risks, said Julian Wee, a markets strategist at National Australia Bank in Singapore.

Although 1MDB’s U.S. dollar bonds have been trading relatively steadily in the past few months and even rallied at the start of 2017, the ringgit has weakened 5.5% since the U.S. election. The International Monetary Fund ranks Malaysia’s foreign currency reserve adequacy among the weakest in emerging markets.

The dispute also keeps a spotlight on the role of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which was deeply involved with 1MDB’s fundraising, including the bonds guaranteed by IPIC. U.S. Justice Department investigators are trying to determine whether Goldman had reason to suspect that money it helped 1MDB raise was misused. Goldman has consistently said it did nothing wrong and had no way of knowing whether there might be fraud surrounding 1MDB.

At the heart of the Malaysia-Abu Dhabi dispute is a series of agreements in which the oil-rich emirate agreed to support 1MDB, including by guaranteeing some of its debt so that it would be easier for 1MDB to raise funds from global investors. 1MDB said it sent Abu Dhabi $3.5 billion as payments and collateral for those guarantees. But Abu Dhabi says it never received the money.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the funds instead went to a company in the British Virgin Islands set up to appear like a subsidiary of IPIC, before being distributed among several beneficiaries, including associates of Mr. Najib. The Journal also reported that hundreds of millions of dollars were deposited into Mr. Najib’s own bank accounts.

1MDB Scandal: Talks Between Malaysia, Abu Dhabi Over Missing Money Break Down
Jan. 20, 2017 – WSJ


Financial watchdog sanctions Coutts for 1MDB breaches

Financial watchdog sanctions Coutts for 1MDB breaches

Swiss financial watchdog FINMA has sanctioned private bank Coutts for breaching money-laundering regulations in its business relationships with Malaysia’s scandal-tainted sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

“Coutts has seriously breached money-laundering regulations by failing to carry out adequate background checks into business relationships and transactions associated with Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB,” FINMA said in a statement on Thursday.

FINMA said it ordered the bank to disgorge unlawfully generated profits of CHF6.5 million ($6.56 million) and will also consider opening enforcement proceedings against the bank employees responsible.

In December, Singapore’s central bank imposed a penalty of 2.4 million Singapore dollars (CHF1.7 million) on Coutts, which was sold by Royal Bank of Scotland to Union Bancaire Privée in March 2015, for money-laundering breaches related to 1MDB.
Ponzi scheme?

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said in January 2016 that it suspected misappropriations from 1MDB of around $4 billion and alleged in October 2016 that a Ponzi scheme may have been set up to conceal an alleged $800 million fraud.

Founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chaired its advisory board, 1MDB is the subject of money-laundering investigations in at least six countries including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said Malaysia will cooperate with the international investigations.

Financial watchdog sanctions Coutts for 1MDB breaches
Feb 2, 2017 – swissinfo.ch

Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
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?