Archive for November, 2016

30
Nov
16

The corruption of Umno?

The corruption of Umno?

I attended a book launch on the ‘The End of Umno?’ because my good friend Saifuddin Abdullah wrote the foreword and invited me to attend. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the veteran Umno member and the best prime minister we never had; gave the keynote and launch address.

The book has four chapters contributed by four authors, and edited by Bridget Welsh. Other chapters are by other equally renowned scholars; John Funston, Clive Kessler and James Chin. The chapters are good reading with titles like:

Umno – From Hidup Melayu to Ketuanan Melayu

Umno – Then, Now – and Always

From Ketuanan Melayu to Ketuanan Islam: Umno and the Malaysian Chinese

Malaysia’s Fallen Hero: Umno’s Weakening Political Legitimacy

It is a good political and truthful outsider view about the history of Umno from its past to its natural and impending disastrous future. All speakers predicted the same fate to Umno, similar to Japan and India with their politically and morally corrupt political parties of power, authority, and ultimate final loss of control.

Tengku Razaleigh’s thesis

Given that this was only my second time hearing or being with Tengku Razaleigh; allow me to summarise his thesis because the Umno leadership of the future needs to hear his complete argument; assuming they understand English.

In Tengku Razaleigh’s view, Umno Baru started because the judges lacked wisdom; the High Court should have ordered regularisation of unregistered branches instead of declaring Umno illegal. In his view also the original spirit of Umno needs to be revived. Umno Baru is not the Umno of Onn Jaafar and the other such originalists.

Next he argued that the Conference of Rulers is still a relevant and significant part of both the Malaya and Malaysia Agreements. They are always a significant party and that singular constitutional amendment does not exclude them from their role as moral guardians of Malaysian Constitutionalism.

The MPs also have a role and responsibility of their Oaths of Office; to uphold, protect and preserve the Federal Constitution by which they took their oath. All MPs hold this responsibility to uphold the constitution as their supreme loyalty; as per Oath of Office. Even Umno’s supreme council cannot and should not overrule this truth. This moral role of all MPs and royalty needs to be better institutionalised for assuming full and moral responsibility.

To his mind and heart, our constitutional democracy and supremacy of the Federal Constitution specifically took a beating because of the policy of privatisation. Allow me to quote his most caustic description of the Malaysian political and policy problem today:

“The privatised corporate power became the defining factor in moving the country ahead, and in the process, makes a mockery of the sanctity and supremacy of our constitution. What we need to realise is that the country is not a corporation. We cannot conflate the two; for this would place corporate power above the constitution and the people. The problem and controversy surrounding the 1MDB issue is a classic example of the conflation.”

I fully and totally agree and I am amused that to date the federal government and all her agents and agencies, whether the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), or auditor-general, or Bank Negara Malaysia, could not observe this issue clearly to rectify the mess we are already sinking into. 1MDB is simply a bad example of such abuse of power.

Conflicts of interest as operating paradigm

The older Umno fought for the interest of others. The Rulers-in-Council also did the same. They all agreed that ethnic/race-based parties were needed and therefore included MCA and MIC with their concessions. The British agreed with all these with new Malayan leaders of that time.

But, today’s Umno is now corrupted to the core; by the spoils of corporatisation through privatisation. No agency is spared including the Federal Land Development Agency (Felda), which has a clear and specific bumiputera agenda; but, who cares right? It has also become a mere means to get rich through appointees and players.

The abuse of governance of this nation-state was fully institutionalised when the president of Umno and prime minister becomes also became the finance minister; 1MDB is only one small case in point.

The entire Finance Ministry is today a framework for “piratisation of public assets for private benefit”. In fact, today the entire nation and all her natural assets are up for grabs. Anyone who can is already doing this; all in the name of privatisation but which has become ‘piratisation’.

The cabinet as executive arm of governance appears to have lost its significance and meaning. For example, Act 355 is a major policy issue for the governance of this nation-state; apart from its abuse of the Federal Constitution. But, to the best of my knowledge, it was never presented to the executive branch of governance. How then can it be tabled in Parliament, or even placed on the agenda list; without a serious discussion at the cabinet? Are all ministers colluding then?

Tengku Razaleigh warned that the government cannot simply table issues and concerns, after support of the Umno supreme council. Such lack of transparency and abuse of good governance principles needs complete review to check the other arms of governance; including by the Conference of Rulers.

Therefore, Bersih

Given this ugly reality of the blatant abuse of governance today by most in authority, is it unreasonable for civil activists to mobilise Bersih? After all Bersih now only wants the following five claims:

Clean general elections

Clean governance

Strengthening parliamentary democracy

Embolden and enable Sabah and Sarawak

The right of peaceful protest by citizens

Are we really asking for much more than Tengku Razaleigh?

…more
The corruption of Umno?
1 Nov 2016 – malaysiakini

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29
Nov
16

Ten Years on, Altantuya’s Murder Remains Unexplained in Malaysia

Ten Years on, Mongolian Beauty’s Murder Remains Unexplained in Malaysia

It will soon be 10 years since Altantuya Shaariibuu, a jet-setting Mongolian translator and party girl, was murdered sensationally in a patch of jungle outside the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Petaling Jaya on the night of Oct. 19, 2006. Although two elite policemen were convicted of killing her, the party who ordered her execution has never been identified and justice remains unfulfilled.

The 28-year-old beauty’s death has connections to one of the biggest scandals in Malaysian history although that scandal has since been superseded by another that dwarfs it – the disappearance of as much as US$7 billion, lost from the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. Investment fund.

Both of those scandals can be laid directly on the doorstep of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The death of Altantuya Shaariibuu also has disturbingly close relations to the Prime Minister, through the people who killed her.

At the time of her death, Altantuya had just been jilted abruptly by a prominent defense consultant and Najib’s close friend, the married Abdul Razak Baginda, after accompanying him to France in the later stages of an agreement by the French defense giant DCN to sell two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia for US$1 billion. Najib is widely believed to have been along on the trip.

French prosecutors have alleged that €114 million in kickbacks were routed to the United Malays National Organization, the country’s leading political party, through a company called Perimekar that Razak Baginda had established just prior to the transaction. Another €28 million was routed to a Hong Kong-based company called Terasasi Ltd. whose principal officers were Razak Baginda and his father. Two French officials have been charged in court with bribing Najib, who was defense minister when the Scorpene transaction took place.

According to the documents obtained by Asia Sentinel, the money was passed on with the knowledge of then-French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. French officials identified Altantuya as a translator during the final preparations between the two governments to hand over the vessels to Malaysia. A French official later paid for a trip by Razak Baginda and Altantuya to Macau on holiday.

According to a sworn statement by the late private investigator Perumal Balasubraniam, Razak Baginda told him he had in effect inherited Altantuya from Najib himself. According to Bala’s statement, Najib at the time was defense minister and expected to become prime minister – and a Mongolian beauty and mistress wouldn’t have looked good.

Altatantuya acknowledged in an undelivered letter found in her hotel room after her death that she had demanded US$500,000 from Razak Baginda in “blackmail” although she didn’t say what the blackmail threat referred to — her threats against the family or possibly her knowledge of the Scorpene transaction.

The true identity of the persons who ordered the woman’s gruesome death – shot twice in the head, and then her body, believed to be carrying an unborn child, was blown up with military explosives – has never been learned. The destruction of her body is believed to have been an attempt to demolish the fetus’s DNA. Although Najib’s aide-de-camp at the time, Musa Safri, was the man contacted by Razak Baginda to “do something about her,” according to Razak’s statement taken directly after her mangled remains were discovered, Musa was never either questioned by police or called as a witness.

At the time of Altantuya’s death, the two killers, Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar and Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, were members of the elite Unit Tindakan Khas (the Malaysian Police Special Action Force) that protected Malaysia’s top leaders, including Najib, the man who ordered the purchase of the submarines.

…more
Ten Years on, Mongolian Beauty’s Murder Remains Unexplained in Malaysia
October 17, 2016 – Asia Sentinel

29
Nov
16

Suaram: Solitary confinement of Maria torture by default

Suaram: Solitary confinement of Maria torture by default

Suaram says the conditions in which the Bersih 2.0 chairperson is kept are a clear case of inhuman treatment, if not outright torture, which is a recognised crime under international law.

PETALING JAYA: Even if the police did not actively interrogate Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, the absence of interrogation has not absolved the police of the crime of torture, says Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

“We are appalled by the statement made by the Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar claiming that the police would not abuse Maria Chin Abdullah and that he would personally see that she is not mistreated in detention,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy in a statement today.

He said the solitary confinement in which Maria was kept was by its own merit a clear case of inhuman treatment, if not torture.

The human rights organisation said it was also shocked by the IGP’s admission that such treatment was accorded to all Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 detainees, the same Act Maria has been detained under.

“The implication of such a practice implies that the police are actively and openly utilising torture as part of its operations,” he said.

Sevan reminded the IGP that the use of torture was a recognised crime under international law and that the right to be free from torture was a non-derogable right.

Furthermore, he said, the detention conditions experienced by Maria clearly contravened the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of prisoners.

“There is no ground for the IGP to claim that the detention conditions experienced by Maria comply with international standards,” said Sevan.

“We reiterate our condemnation of the arrest and detention of Maria and call for her immediate and unconditional release.

“Failure to do so would only serve to further sully the reputation and integrity of the Royal Malaysian Police.”

…more
Suaram: Solitary confinement of Maria torture by default
November 27, 2016 – FMT

28
Nov
16

How Maria’s Sosma detention saved Bersih 5

How Maria’s Sosma detention saved Bersih 5

COMMENT As some have said, Bersih 5 was a flop in many ways, most visibly by the turnout which was considerably smaller than the 100,000-strong touted.

By Malaysiakini’s own reckoning, 40,000 was on the ground that day, though police said there were only 15,000, and some other media estimated even fewer than that.

The fatigue of strenuous politicising had made things difficult perhaps as Bersih, more and more, seemed at times deviated from its purely non-partisan path, in particular the appearance on the podium by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a polarising figure.

This probably turned off quite a few of those who once ardently stood in the NGO’s corner. Though in spirit perhaps, they still hold the thumbs up.

And as the experiment with the TangkapMO1 rally showed, interest from the public was at its lowest ebb. Which made large-scale demonstrations something difficult to pull off quite well.

But symbolically, it was a victory of sorts for bridging the racial divide – while Bersih 4 was labelled as being dominated by the Chinese minority, this time around it was less marked.

Though I personally believe, in Malaysia at least, to mobilise 40,000 demonstrators, is a success itself.

But all that aside, Bersih 5 would have not made the splash it did and given the sustained media coverage worldwide had Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah not been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma).

Had authorities arrested her and released her with all the rest, it would have not put much of a wrinkle on what most people already expected.

After all, it is standard modus operandi for authorities to arrest the usual suspects and harass rally organisers to frighten all the rest.

Tempered with the professional conduct of cops on the rally day itself, the pre-emptive arrests and raids mounted would have just been seen but not quite noted.

But by continuing to detain Maria under Sosma, a law more suited to suspects linked to terror threats, the government is making her a martyr and turning it into a rallying point for Bersih’s cause.

And stories about her sleeping on only a wooden pallet without blankets nor mattress, under lights that won’t go out, either true or exaggerated, would help to build sympathy.

Every day that Maria spends inside her solitary cell is another beating of the drum in Bersih’s name.

Hundreds of new recruits will now walk in her stead and thousands more will support a cause they would earlier ignore.

And instead of shining brightly for one glorious moment and then disappearing back into the oblivion of Malaysia’s short-term public consciousness, the Bersih 5 rally continues to live in media coverage, as well as the tributes and vigils held for Maria.

And instead of just the usual “rabble rousing” foreign media like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Maria’s visage now graces a page on Time magazine and other foreign reports.

While locally, whatever a certain minister would say, she is a hero that the people will now look up to.

And so it came to pass that for better or for worse, instead of discouraging more dissent, authorities are stoking the fires themselves.

…more
How Maria’s Sosma detention saved Bersih 5
26 Nov 2016 – malaysiakini

27
Nov
16

Malaysians underestimate the damage caused by the 1MDB scandal – the Economist

Malaysians underestimate the damage caused by the 1MDB scandal

But the opposition has to do more to win over urban Malays

FORTY thousand people wearing yellow shirts gathered in Malaysia’s capital on November 19th, to protest against corruption and impunity in government. The rally was orderly and restrained; the response of the authorities was not. On the eve of the protest, police arrested Maria Chin Abdullah, leader of a coalition of human-rights groups that organised the event. She was placed in solitary confinement, and can be held there for 28 days. Even by Malaysia’s dismal recent standards this marked a fresh low. Ordinary Malaysians should not stand by while their leaders undermine the rule of law so casually.

Ms Chin Abdullah’s detention was justified by an anti-terrorism law which the government had promised would never be used against political opponents. The true motivation was to stifle outrage over 1MDB, a state-owned investment firm from which billions have gone missing. In July American government investigators said they thought that $3.5bn had been taken from the firm and that hundreds of millions of dollars went to the prime minister, Najib Razak (who says he has never taken public funds for personal gain). The investigators’ findings corroborated exposés written by local and foreign journalists, who have been unravelling the saga for several years.

Elsewhere the scandal would have sparked a swift change in government. But the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has held power for six decades and enjoys broad support from Malaysia’s ethnic-Malay majority, some of whom resent their ethnic-Chinese and Indian compatriots. The party has devised many ways to protect its leaders from internal revolts, so Mr Najib found it easy to purge critics, delay a parliamentary investigation and replace an attorney-general said to have been preparing charges against him.

No one in Malaysia has been charged over 1MDB’s missing money. But a court has handed a prison sentence to an opposition politician who frustrated efforts to hush up the affair. The editor and publisher of one of Malaysia’s last independent news organisations face jail under a rule which forbids certain content published with “intent to annoy”. A competitor closed in March after authorities ordered its website blocked.

Mr Najib’s party is carelessly widening Malaysia’s ethnic and religious splits. Seeking to bolster support among conservative Malay Muslims, it is toying with a proposal to intensify the whippings which may be meted out by sharia courts. It has failed properly to condemn pro-government gangs that last year menacingly gathered in a Chinese part of the capital. Their leaders paint ethnic Malays as victims of sinister conspiracies—dangerous rumour-mongering in a country where politics is still defined by the racial violence of the 1960s.

Easily broken, hard to fix

Until now foreign investors have been fairly sanguine about the economy. But they are growing rattled. The ringgit has depreciated faster than other emerging-market currencies (see article). Last week the authorities asked foreign banks to stop some ringgit trading abroad, raising fears of harsher controls.

Rural ethnic Malays, a crucial constituency, feel that the scandal is a remote affair. Even some educated urbanites still favour Mr Najib’s government over the opposition, underestimating the damage being done by the scandal. If change is to come, the disparate opposition needs to do a better job of winning such people over; its fractious parties must overcome their divisions and present a plausible candidate to replace Mr Najib in a general election that could be held as soon as next year. Malaysia has always been an imperfect democracy, but the rot eating at its institutions is harming its international standing and its economic prospects alike.

…more
Malaysians underestimate the damage caused by the 1MDB scandal
But the opposition has to do more to win over urban Malays
Nov 26th 2016 – the Economist

27
Nov
16

UN’s Nelson Mandela Rule 45: solitary confinement shall be used only in exceptional cases

UN Human Rights Office calls for Maria’s unconditional release

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah should be released from her detention under a Malaysian law meant for security offences, the United Nations Human Rights Office (UNHRO) has said.

Its Asia spokesman Jeremy J Laurence said the use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) against Maria was worrying.

“The use of Sosma — Security Offences Act — against Maria Chin Abdullah — is very concerning. Security legislation should not be used against peaceful demonstrators.

“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Maria Chin Abdullah and other activists,” he said in an email response to Malay Mail Online this week.

He said the UNHRO also deplores the arrest of nine other Bersih activists ahead of the Bersih 5 rally on November 19.

Maria was arrested on November 18, on the eve of the electoral watchdog’s peaceful assembly. She continues to be detained without trial, under Sosma, while police investigate her under Section 124C of the Penal Code that criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

Commenting on Maria’s reported solitary confinement, Laurence highlighted the UN’s Basic Principles on the Treatment of Detainees, noting that efforts to push for either the abolition of solitary confinement as punishment or the restriction of its use should be taken and encouraged.

He cited the same principles which calls for the strict prohibition of “all disciplinary measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”, including closed or solitary confinement or other forms of punishment that may result in physical or mental health being compromised.

The UNHRO also highlighted the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners — also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules — in particular its Rules 44 and 45.

Rule 44 describes solitary confinement as confinement for 22 hours or more than a day without meaningful human contact, while Rule 45 states, among other things, that solitary confinement shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort and for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review.

The Malaysian Bar noted that Maria’s reported detention conditions were ”oppressive, inhumane and degrading”, adding that it appears to have gone against the Nelson Mandela Rules and highlighted its Rules 13, 14(a) and 21.

Maria, who is said to suffer from hypertension, osteoarthritis and high cholesterol levels, is reportedly being kept in a small windowless cell at an undisclosed location with the lights on 24 hours and without a mattress to sleep on.

Maria’s family had on Tuesday filed a habeas corpus application seeking for her release. The application will come up for case management in court today.

Police yesterday denied that Maria was treated badly and said her detention was in line with lock-up rules and the Prisons Act 1995.

…more
UN Human Rights Office calls for Maria’s unconditional release
November 24, 2016 – MMO

26
Nov
16

Jho Low the ‘gatekeeper’ to 1MDB, Singapore court told

Jho Low the ‘gatekeeper’ to 1MDB, Singapore court told

A Singapore court today was told that Penang-born businessman Jho Low was the “gatekeeper and adviser” to 1MDB.

Former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei testified that Jho Low brought “huge deals” to BSI Bank (Singapore) Ltd and that the deals were linked to 1MDB.

One deal involved US$100 million from SRC International in 2011 while another involved US$2 billion from Brazen Sky Ltd in 2012.

Both companies were subsidiaries of 1MDB at the material time. Since 2012, Finance Ministry Inc has taken over SRC International.

Yeo is on trial for witness tampering in Singapore’s investigation on 1MDB related transactions. He is scheduled to stand trial in April over money laundering charges, among others.

The deals were brokered by Yak Yew Chee, a senior relationship manager at BSI Bank, who then passed instructions to Yeo.

Last week, Yak pleaded guilty to forgery charges and the failure to report suspicious transactions. Yak was sentenced to 18 weeks’ jail and fined S$24,000 (RM72,850).

Yak was also made to forfeit a substantial portion of the millions he had earned from 1MDB related transactions.

The court heard that Yeo once worked with a corporate service company Amicorp to create the Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund, with BSI Bank serving as the custodian bank.

Brazen Sky invested US$2 billion in this fund, which was described to the court as a “high risk” fund.

The Brazen Sky account is of particular interest to 1MDB watchers because it was supposed to be account used to receive funds from 1MDB’s Cayman Island account.

The Cayman Island account itself was supposed to have contained funds redeemed from 1MDB’s botched joint-venture with PetroSaudi International which dates back to 2009.

1MDB, the brainchild of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, was hastily formed in 2009 and raised RM5 billion through government backed bonds.

A large portion of the money was put into a joint-venture with PetroSaudi International for investments in the energy sector. The joint-venture lasted only six months.

One of the most controversial part of the joint-venture was the fact that 1MDB channeled US$700 million to Hong Kong-registered Good Star Limited, a company allegedly beneficially owned by Jho Low.

This was described by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as the “Good Star phase”.

…more
Jho Low the ‘gatekeeper’ to 1MDB, Singapore court told
14 Nov 2016 – malaysiakini




Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
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?

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