Archive for July, 2017

30
Jul
17

Is PM Najib Abdul Razak trapped?

Is PM Najib Abdul Razak trapped?

COMMENT | The ratio of controversies in the upcoming general election versus the previous election in 2013 is probably 50:1 in Malaysia right now.

In the last general election, the key issue was just the ability of the opposition front, then known as Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Coalition), to unite as a major electoral pact.

Can three parties, representing the interests of the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others, cohere as a common unit that can weed out the corruption in Malaysia?

Some were convinced, others were not. As it turned out, the (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak’s) government led by Umno emerged from the electoral fray triumphant. But it barely won with enough votes, it actually lost popular votes.

Umno scraped through, by gaining 47.38 percent of the popular voters, while the opposition had the remainder 50.87 percent. Had it not for the gerrymandered constituencies, Umno would have lost. Instead, despite receiving less popular votes, the Umno-led government had 59.90 percent of the 222 seats in the parliament, registering 133 seats win.

In the upcoming 14th general election, Najib is facing a tall order again. Some issues are insurmountable, such as 1MDB, as billions have been allegedly swindled or stolen out of the company.

It is arguably one of the largest corruption, malfeasance and abuse of power case in the world, and will, therefore, invite the scrutiny of the US Department of Justice further, not forgetting at least 6 other jurisdictions that include Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK and Germany.

As things are, the Umno-led government has to contend with 50 issues which neither Umno nor Barisan Nasional (BN), can resolve over the next few years. Invariably, both are entering the impending 14th general election with excessive baggage.

Among them are the 1MDB scandal; the imposition of a six percent GST on all transactions; the mysterious US$681 million that found its way into Najib’s private bank account; the phenomenal rise in the cost of living; the fluctuating prices of oil; the depreciation of Ringgit Malaysia; the prosaic and daily difficulties in making ends meet.

Indeed, one might add the suspension and depletion of the Mara scholarship; the drastic cuts in the subsidy of academic studies; the reduction in the value of bargain with foreigners over the sale of Bandar Malaysia; plus the drop in the Malaysian’s reputation abroad.

Some issues even verge on the rise of the cost of the Hajj to Saudi Arabia; as well the institution of the all-powerful National Security Council Act in 2016, despite the cautionary advice and wisdom from the Council of Rulers, which can suspend the electoral process in Malaysia.

More alarmingly, the public universities’ education budget has been slashed by more than 40 percent, with more than 6,000 professors either not renewed of their contracts, retired, or retrenched.

There were also cases, where very profound Professors with years of experience of research and teaching, were offered a fraction of the salary that they use to earn just to retain them and their expertise.

Of course, some accepted it, many rejected it as this is a great insult to their professions and them, personally.

Invariably, Najib has tried to pacify the simmering anger from the ground in 54 parliamentary constituencies, and 92 state constituencies in Felda, first. Last Sunday, Najib announced a raft of measures – worth up to RM1.588 billion – that can provide much economic relief to the disgruntled Felda settlers.

No one knows if the pre-election goodies can reinforce the position of Umno, as Felda has traditionally been its stronghold anyway. But it has been customary of the opposition, especially since 2008, to urge the voters to take all the goodies from the Malaysian government, only to vote the opposition alliance come the polling day, as the logic is, it is their money anyway.

But for sustainable living and benefits, it is better for them to place their bets on the opposition alliance as it seeks to free the Felda settlers from a very “feudal” existence that accentuates continuous dependencies on the giver.

…more
Is PM Najib Abdul Razak trapped?
Rais Hussin
28 July 2017 – Malaysiakini

29
Jul
17

Speaker’s rejections of 1MDB questions don’t hold water

Speaker’s rejections of 1MDB questions don’t hold water

Petaling Jaya Utara MP says none of his questions were rejected because they were ‘sub judice’.

COMMENT

Three days after the furore of the Guinness Malaysia Book of Records-breaking feat of rejecting more than 30 questions in relation to 1MDB, Parliament speaker Pandikar Amin finally broke his silence.

He argued that Parliament questions are “subject to rules and procedures”.

“If the questions are accusations, assumptions, offensive, or made up, of course, I will throw it out,” the speaker said.

He also argued that questions in the House can’t be sub judice and affect court cases such as the civil forfeiture suits brought on by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

Unfortunately, while the reasons he gave may have sounded reasonable at the first instance, they do not stand up to any scrutiny when you conduct an objective evaluation of some of the questions posed.

I had a record five questions rejected – more than anyone else, and the most I’ve had rejected in any parliamentary sitting over the past eight to nine years.

None of my questions were rejected because they were “sub-judice”. I was careful to avoid my questions being canned for the above reason, invalid as it might be, when drafting my parliamentary questions.

They were all rejected because of presumably questionable assumptions (“sangkaan”) or because they were a figment of my imagination (“buah fikiran”).

In a question, I had asked what is the current value of 1MDB’s investment in “units” previously valued at US$2.3 billion and who is the current “custodian bank”.

This wasn’t the first time I had asked the above question.

Although the replies given by the finance minister were never satisfactory, at least the question was never rejected in the past. Why was it rejected now?

Worse, both the finance minister(s) and 1MDB had released official statements with regards to 1MDB’s investment in these “units” which were previously held by BSI Bank as the “custodian bank”. Neither of these facts were “sangkaan” or “buah fikiran” on my part.

Therefore, the basis of rejecting the question is outrageous and a clear-cut abuse of the speaker’s powers. The only reason I could think of for the speaker to reject the question is to cover up possibly scandalous details behind the mysterious “units” investment.

Unless, of course, the speaker is now saying that the “units” were indeed a figment of Najib Razak, the finance minister’s imagination.

In addition, my question on whether the attorney-general (AG) had investigated the claims made in the latest DoJ suit to seize up to US$1.7 billion worth of laundered assets from 1MDB funds was similarly and incomprehensibly rejected because it was deemed a “sangkaan”.

Tan Sri Speaker, if you could read my question properly, I did not ask about the contents of the suit, nor did I presume the veracity of the facts raised by the US DoJ suit.

All I asked was whether the AG had investigated the very serious allegations which had severely damaged the reputation and honour of Najib and the Malaysian government.

After all, Apandi Ali himself has openly stated in the media that the suit filed by the US DoJ was “politically motivated”. The question I raised merely presented the opportunity for the AG to state his case.

Why was it really rejected? Was it because the AG had no case and the speaker wanted to spare Apandi the embarrassment?

…more
Speaker’s rejections of 1MDB questions don’t hold water
July 28, 2017 – FMT

27
Jul
17

Najib pressing the panic button

Najib pressing the panic button

THAT Prime Minister Najib Razak took to running down and lambasting Pakatan Harapan in the presence of some 900 local and foreign business leaders and investors is most unfortunate and smacks of desperation. He has indeed pressed the panic button!

Denouncing Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s legacy as being rife with cronyism and corruption is most ironical. When the entire world watches how puppet master Jho Low embezzled billions of dollars from 1MDB and laundered the proceeds around the globe, Najib should have exhibited more finesse and decorum.

The “bare-faced lies and misinformation” he accused the opposition of having manufactured “to damage Malaysia’s economy” are best rebutted by the conviction of few top bank officials in jurisdiction like Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

The three complaints of the United States Department of Justice speak for all. Lest he chooses to suffer selective amnesia again, will the true MO1 please stand up!

Never mind the pernicious corruption and endemic nepotism that have been very recently exposed locally in FGV and Mar, to cite a few, and the diversion of public funds from the likes KWAP and SRC to cover debt payment gaps. That his administration has a penchant for inflating project cost beyond market norms is an open secret.

In all fairness, we perhaps have no qualm about recognising whatever he has achieved. However, truth be told, his achievement pales and really nothing to shout about, when all the “so-called reforms” were unmistakably short-lived and aborted. Regrettably, it gave way to greed and dishonesty of the oligarchy, and fear of his own party.

…more
Najib pressing the panic button
26 Jul 2017 – Malaysian Insight

25
Jul
17

Is MRT’s true cost RM100 billion and who benefits from it, ask critics

Is MRT’s true cost RM100 billion and who benefits from it, ask critics

TODAY, the first phase of Malaysia’s largest infrastructure project, the MRT Line 1 Sg Buloh-Kajang line becomes fully operational.

But debate continues to rage among lawmakers and the Najib administration about its true cost and whether – with its hefty price tag – it will benefit the public in the end.

As pointed out by Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, the fact that a dispute has erupted in the first place over the actual cost of the project shows that there is little transparency over something with huge ramifications for the public.

If the Najib administration’s figures on the true cost of the MRT are questionable, what certainty is there that other mammoth projects, such as the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail and the East Coast Railway, will be priced accurately?

When Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the project in his Budget 2011 speech, he quoted a RM40 billion price tag.

It was understood that this was for all three lines – MRT SBK, Serdang-Putrajaya (MRT SSP) and the Circle Line – all of which are slated to be ready by 2020 at a total length of 141 km.

Chapter five of the 2011 Economic Transformation Plan handbook states that a preliminary cost of the whole project would be RM47 billion.

Of that total, RM36 billion would be for infrastructure and RM2 billion for expedited land acquisition. An additional RM9 billion would be needed for operating assets, such as rolling stock.

In October 2015, questions began to be raised over these early RM40-47 billion estimates, when DanaInfra Nasional Bhd (DanaInfra) said the MRT Line 2 alone was estimated at RM42 billion.

DanaInfra is the government’s special funding vehicle for infrastructure projects tasked with raising funds for them. It announced that it was raising RM50 billion through a debt programme to pay for MRT Line 1 and MRT Line 2.

But in December 2016, when Najib launched the MRT Line 1 (SBK), Rafizi said the true cost of the whole scheme would be twice the amount first quoted.

Najib said the 51km MRT Line 1 cost RM21 billion and the government had saved RM2 billion from the original price tag of RM23 billion.

Rafizi said based on calculations from publicly available documents, all three lines could cost a total of RM124 billion. This is a far cry from the RM40 billion first announced by Najib or the RM47 billion stated by the ETP.

On December 24, 2016, the owner of the MRT project, Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) released a statement saying that the earlier RM40 billion was “no longer relevant”.

“We wish to make clear that this figure was derived from a conceptualised proposal back in 2010. The amount did not include electric trains and related systems, as well as land acquisition,” MRT Corp said.

The RM40 billion price tag was originally submitted in a 2010 private sector proposal to the government for an MRT project to be built concurrently, based on 2009 prices, the company said.

It said in 2012 the MRT Line 1 would cost RM23 billion and that the second line was estimated at RM32 billion.

Feasibility studies for the MRT Line 3 are still being carried out.

Rafizi is sticking to his original assessment that the total cost of the project would be about RM100 billion.

MRT Corp’s own revelations showed that two out of its three lines are already costing more than the RM40-47 billion announced by the Najib administration.

…more
Is MRT’s true cost RM100 billion and who benefits from it, ask critics
17 Jul 2017 – Malaysian Insight

23
Jul
17

Umno is panicking after PH line-up announcement

DAP: Umno suffering hysteria after PH line-up announcement

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak is trying to assure the Umno, BN grassroots that they should not abandon a sinking ship, says Lim Kit siang.

PETALING JAYA: DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang says the latest statements by the prime minister, deputy prime minister and other Umno ministers following the announcement of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council last Thursday, makes it obvious that the ruling party is panicking.

Likening their comments to Umno being under a “hysteria attack”, Lim said it was obvious that the new PH structure, logo and leadership line-up has had such an impact on the ruling Umno/Barisan Nasional government.

Over the past few days Prime Minister Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak, Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Rural and Regional Development), Anifah Aman (Foreign Affairs), Mohamed Nazri Aziz (Tourism and Culture) and Khairy Jamaluddin (Youth and Sports) have either released statements or responded to questions on the PH line-up.

“They just did not believe that it was possible for Pakatan Harapan leaders to resolve their differences, and that a reconciliation between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim was at all possible,” Lim said.

On Friday, Salleh was first off the mark, questioning why none of the highest posts in PH went to a DAP leader despite the party having the most number of MPs in the coalition.

Lim, who is Gelang Patah MP, then said Ismail Sabri Yaakob suggested a non-Malay from DAP could be the next prime minister because the Malays will be split three ways – BN, PAS and PH – leaving DAP with the most seats, and the constitutional right to decide who will be prime minister.

“Yesterday, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman warned Barisan Nasional supporters to expect revenge if the opposition forms the next government.

“Khairy Jamaluddin also invented a new propaganda line, claiming that DAP, as ‘the party which holds the most parliamentary seats in the Dewan Rakyat will decide on Pakatan Harapan’s policies and manifestos’,” Lim said.

“Let me assure them that the DAP is not sidelined in Pakatan Harapan, that no single political party can decide and dictate the Pakatan Harapan’s polices and manifestos, and that there will be no revenge binge by Pakatan Harapan when it forms the Federal Government in Putrajaya.”

The DAP parliamentary leader also found Salleh’s latest statement on PH being “doomed without PAS” as “most revealing of all”.

“Salleh is actually trying to assure the Umno/BN grassroots members that they should not abandon a sinking ship but continue to hope that Umno/BN could still be re-elected as the federal government in the next general election (GE14).

“No wonder Najib and UMNO have been working so hard to woo PAS.”

Lim said, with the new PH logo, structure and leadership council being announced and the move to register the opposition coalition, it is less likely that Najib will call for GE14 anytime this year.

…more
DAP: Umno suffering hysteria after PH line-up announcement
July 17, 2017 – FMT

21
Jul
17

The Economist: Strange no one found responsible in Malaysia over 1MDB deals

The Economist: Strange no one found responsible in Malaysia over 1MDB deals

Report questions why PKR’s Rafizi Ramli is the only person so far with a conviction related to 1MDB.

KUALA LUMPUR: It seems odd, an article in The Economist says, that given the zeal of Malaysia’s watchdogs and corruption-busters, they have yet to find anyone responsible for the disappearance of billions of dollars from 1MDB.

It noted that government investigators in the US had applied to seize around US$1.5 billion worth of assets and items bought with money they say was siphoned from the firm.

It said a court in Singapore this week sentenced a banker to four-and-a-half years in jail in connection with the scandal, and Swiss investigators were also on the case.

“But Malaysia has convicted only one person: a whistle-blowing MP who leaked documents relating to the affair and who belongs – would you believe it? – to an opposition party.”

The article was referring to the 18-month jail term meted out to the PKR’s Rafizi Ramli by the Sessions Court in November last year over two charges of leaking a classified 1MDB audit report.

IMDB has consistently denied there has been any embezzlement.

The article said “Undemocratic”, “gerrymandered” and “fix-up” were good words to describe Malaysian politics, dominated since independence by Umno.

“So it was a bit rich for the prime minister’s spokesman to employ them when smearing a big opposition group this month. On July 7, the national registrar (of societies) confirmed that it had detected irregularities in a leadership ballot which the Democratic Action Party (DAP) conducted almost four years ago, and said it would be asking the party to re-run the poll.”

It said DAP’s supporters saw this as an effort to sow discord among the opposition, ahead of a general election due by next August.

The article said critics of Umno were used to run-ins with the authorities.

Anwar Ibrahim had been jailed for sodomy and lately, the article said, the police had “taken an interest” in DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. Lim is awaiting trial on two charges of corruption.

…more
The Economist: Strange no one found responsible in Malaysia over 1MDB deals
July 14, 2017 – FMT

20
Jul
17

US$1.03 billion that 1MDB supposed to invest in JV diverted to Good Star

Ex-BSI banker’s trial opens up Pandora’s box regarding 1MDB

Statement of facts produced in trial of Yeo Jiawei details the ways in which 1MDB money was moved around, including to an account owned by Jho Low.

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s investigations into ex-BSI banker Yeo Jiawei and 1MDB have revealed that Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, was closely involved in the setting up of a joint venture in September 2009 between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International Limited.

A report in The Edge Singapore details the intricacies of the transactions made involving 1MDB, based on what Singapore’s investigators have found.

The statement of facts presented at the trial of Yeo showed that there were inconsistencies in statements made by some of those involved in the transactions, including 1MDB and bank officials.

Yeo was sentenced on July 12 to four-and-a-half years’ jail for money laundering and cheating involving 1MDB transactions. He had earlier been sentenced to a 30-month jail term on charges of perverting the course of justice by tampering with key witnesses in order to frustrate investigations into his alleged involvement.

In total, The Edge reported, US$1.03 billion that 1MDB purported to invest in the joint venture had actually been diverted to Good Star Ltd.

Singapore investigators confirmed that Jho Low was the beneficial owner of Good Star. He owned the account from the time it was opened in June 2009 until its closure in September 2013.

Malaysian officials have maintained that Good Star Ltd was owned by Petrosaudi International Ltd.

The Edge report said on Sept 30, 2009, Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad was instructed by way of a letter, which was signed by the then-executive director of 1MDB, to transfer US$300 million to the joint venture’s JPMorgan (Suisse) SA bank account.

Another US$700 million was to be transferred to a bank account belonging to Good Star, this being RBS Coutts Bank AG (Zurich) bank account no 11116073, the report added.

According to the report, on Sept 30, 2009, in a telephone conversation with Deutsche Bank Malaysia, the executive director confirmed that the US$700 million was to be transferred to PetroSaudi as repayment of an advance owed by 1MDB PetroSaudi.

Subsequently, on Oct 2, 2009, the report said the then-CEO of 1MDB represented to Deutsche Bank Malaysia that “Good Star is owned 100% by PetroSaudi International Limited”.

In order to explain the inflow of US$700 million to Coutts compliance staff, Jho Low initially provided Coutts with an investment management agreement as evidence that Good Star was to invest the money on 1MDB’s behalf, the Edge reported.

He later provided Coutts with a loan agreement, which characterised the money as a loan from 1MDB to Good Star.

“The agreements provided to Coutts are inconsistent with each other, and both are also inconsistent with the explanation for the transaction given to Deutsche Bank Malaysia on Sept 30 2009,” said the public prosecutor in the statement of facts.

Between May and October 2011, Good Star received a further US$330 million from 1MDB, spread over four transfers.

…more
Ex-BSI banker’s trial opens up Pandora’s box regarding 1MDB
July 14, 2017 – FMT




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?

Archives