Archive for the 'Scandals' Category


Mahathir claims ousting Najib is on the cards

Malaysia’s Mahathir claims ousting Najib is on the cards

KUALA LUMPUR — Mahathir Mohamad insists there is a real possibility of a new government coming to power when Malaysia goes to the polls later this year.

Speaking to The Nikkei at his office on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital on Monday, Mahathir, who now leads a coalition of four opposition parties, said the mutual goal of unseating Prime Minister Najib Razak was of far greater importance than any differences they may have.

“This is what they called the mother of all elections,” said the 92-year-old former prime minister. “It will be very big and the possibility of changing the government is there. For the first time, the opposition is very united.”

The Pakatan Harapan, or “Alliance of Hope,” is an unlikely collection of politicians. Some, such as Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party, were jailed during Mahathir’s 22 years in power.

Anwar, once seen as Mahathir’s chosen successor, is serving a five-year sentence on sodomy charges that many believe were fabricated — his second incarceration for a similar offense.

“This is more or less like the saying, ‘your enemy’s enemy is my friend,'” said Mahathir.

The veteran politician appears to have united a once fragmented opposition, a role once played by Anwar, even managing to gain broad consensus on seat allocation for the election, which must be called by June 24.

The coalition has agreed for Mahathir to be appointed prime minister should the bloc win, but make way for Anwar when his prison term ends in June. Anwar, however, will still need a royal pardon in order to become leader.

“Anwar will be the next prime minister after me,” assured Mahathir, refuting allegations that his return was designed to pave the way for his son Mukriz to take over.

“I wanted to retire but things were not right,” he said. Malaysia’s image, he continued, had been tarnished by Najib’s alleged links the multibillion dollar scandal surrounding state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Najib has repeatedly denied any involvement in the scandal and said it had been turned into a concentrated campaign to sabotage the economy for political gain. He has admitted there were “failings” at the fund, but these lapses of governance had been rectified after investigations.

Regardless, Mahathir insisted the country would get “worse” if Najib stayed in power, and that he just wanted to put Malaysia back on track.

He also accused the current administration of blurring the lines between the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.

January 29, 2018
Malaysia’s Mahathir claims ousting Najib is on the cards


The unanswered questions behind Felda’s Jalan Semarak deal

The unanswered questions behind Felda’s Jalan Semarak deal

IN a surprise move last week, the company at the centre of Felda’s latest scandal volunteered to hand over plots of land it received in a suspicious deal two years ago.

But instead of bringing the issue to a close, this sparked more burning questions from Felda’s critics, such as Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and Anak, a group representing Felda settlers.

Ownership of the 16 plots of land, worth RM270 million, was transferred to Synergy Promenade Sdn Bhd (SPSB). The firm was appointed by Felda to build the Kuala Lumpur Vertical City (KLVC) project on the lots in Jalan Semarak.

The transaction was considered dubious by legal experts as normally, a developer is only hired to build the project while ownership remains with the original owner.

Felda did not receive a single sen in the land transfer.

Following a flurry of police reports and assurances of an investigation from the government, SPSB said last week it would return ownership of the land to Felda at no cost.

Arguably, the biggest question still is:

* Are heads going to roll over the transfer?

This is because, as Felda chairman Shahrir Samad said, the transfer was known and approved by members of Felda’s board and officers in subsidiary Felda Investment Corporation (FIC).

But critics have also said senior government officials would have known about the transfer given that Felda is such an important agency and the land concerned was government-owned.

From the offset, Shahrir said there were elements of fraud in the deal and lodged a police report over it.

To date, police have questioned several individuals, including Mohd Isa Samad, the Felda chairman at the time of the deal.

* Who are Abd Rahman Soltan and Noraini Soltan?

Rafizi said these two are the registered as owners of SPSB, according to the firm’s 2015 financial statements filed with the Companies Commission in October 2017.

Each had shares amounting to RM7.5 million respectively in the company as of December 2015.

According to its financial statements, the little-known company’s assets included a luxury car worth about RM615,000, computers (RM9,000) and office equipment (RM13,000), Rafizi said.

The statements also revealed that both directors had about RM100 million in the Pilgrim Fund’s Board (Tabung Haji) and a bank.

* How did SPSB, a little known developer, manage to get ownership of the land in the first place? How did it land the plum KLVC project?

Rafizi alleged that SPSB’s records show that the company did not register any land as its assets. But what it does have is RM100 million in cash in Tabung Haji and the bank.

He asked whether the directors transferred ownership of the Jalan Semarak land to themselves and used it as collateral to get a RM100 million bank loan.

* Why is Felda still in business with SPSB?

Shahrir said the KLVC project will continue even with the police probe hanging over the entire issue. He said the terms of the project would be renegotiated.

Under the current agreement, Felda would get a minimum guaranteed return of RM500 million or 10% of the project’s gross development value, whichever is higher.

But Anak president Mazlan Aliman asked why Felda is still in business with SPSB.

The firm allegedly misused the power of attorney given to it – when it was appointed as KLVC’s developer – to transfer ownership of the land to itself.

According to Mazlan, even if SPSB decided to return ownership of the land, why would Felda want to continue dealing with such a company.

The unanswered questions behind Felda’s Jalan Semarak deal
25 Jan 2018 – TMI


1MDB scandal in BBC’s House of Saud episode on graft crackdown

Najib ‘guest stars’ in BBC’s House of Saud episode on graft crackdown

PRIME Minister Najib Razak has made an appearance in the latest episode of BBC’s “House of Saud: A Family at War”, a documentary series on the conflicted Saudi royal family.

“The Malaysian people are angry. They believe they have been robbed,” began the hour-long episode, which aired on Tuesday and which may be viewed online in the UK on the BBC website.

The second episode of the series traces the beginnings of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal, to a deal the seventh son of the Saudi King, Prince Turki Abdullah sealed in late 2009 to receive US$1 billion (RM4 billion) in investments via PetroSaudi International.

Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their children are shown in a picture with Prince Turki and Penang businessman Low Teck Jho, better known as Jho Low,on board the luxury yacht Tatoosh, where a plot was allegedly hatched to siphon money from the sovereign wealth fund.

Sarawak Report’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown is depicted in an interview telling the BBC that some US$700 million had disappeared from the fund.

Leaked documents showed that US$681 million was transferred to Najib’s personal bank account in March 2013, just before the 13th general election, Rewcastle said.

Prince Turki allegedly received US$77 million in commissions for his part in the scheme, according the leaked e-mails, the documentary said. These are the leaked emails that PetroSaudi has said were tampered with.

Also interviewed was DAP lawmaker Tony Pua, who said he had been tracking the scandal for eight years.

“We’re not talking about a million or two million. We’re talking about billions of dollars and yet the Malaysian government acted as if nothing happened. Absolutely nothing happened,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP in an interview in a coffee-shop.

“We were promised a tasty bowl of noodles full of meat vegetables and dumplings and the people would get to enjoy the feast,” Pua said, using a plate of wan-tan noodles to make his point.

“I was suspicious. We knew they’re going to siphon off the meat and and give it to themselves.

“But what actually took place, what really took place, was that not only did they take the meat, they took the dumplings, the whole bowl of noodles and the only thing they left for us to taste was the spicy chilli.”

Pua recounted the events after July 2015, when the Wall Street Journal broke the news alleging US$681 million of 1MDB’s money had been transferred into Najib’s account.

“Nobody believed it when it happened. Why would the prime minister be so stupid as to transfer that big an amount of money into his personal bank account? When I met people on the street, they said, ‘Nah that’s false news’. But later on, we discovered it was true,” Pua said.

The documentary said stolen funds were used to buy, among others, a hotel in Beverly Hills, a Monet painting and a US$33 million private jet.

“The cash had even been invested in a Hollywood movie. A film that just happened to be about rampant corruption and fraud,” the documentary narrator said, referring to the Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio

Prince Turki was recently detained during a crackdown on corruption initiated by the new Saudi crown prince, 32-year old Mohammed Salman. Hundreds have been arrested, including members of the royal family.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has also launched a criminal investigation into funds allegedly siphoned from 1MDB after filing to seize over US$1 billion in real estate and other assets allegedly paid for with stolen money.

The DoJ said between 2009 and 2015, more than US$4.5 billion belonging to 1MDB was diverted by high-level officials of the state investor and their associates.

The DoJ said the main beneficiary of the assets it was seeking to recover was “Malaysian Official 1 (MO1)” whose identity has since been confirmed as Najib by Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan Najib.

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing. Najib said that the money in his bank account was gift from a Saudi Prince and which had mostly been returned. He was cleared of wrongdoing by the Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali in January 2016. – January 19, 2018.

Najib ‘guest stars’ in BBC’s House of Saud episode on graft crackdown
19 Jan 2018 – TMI


Najib slammed for playing down 1MDB scandal

Najib slammed for playing down 1MDB scandal

CIVIL society groups and a lawmaker criticised Prime Minister Najib Razak for trying to soft pedal the colossal scandal at state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) yesterday.

They said the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) had called it the world’s biggest kleptocracy and other jurisdictions, such as Switzerland and Singapore, have taken legal action against banks and individuals for money laundering linked to 1MDB.

In contrast, Malaysia has not acted against anyone.

Najib told investors yesterday that 1MDB’s problems were amplified by the opposition to attack the government.

“Now, I am not going to brush over this issue. There were indeed failings at the company, there were lapses of governance. There was valid cause for concern,” Najib said in his speech at Invest Malaysia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.

“This is why I ordered one of the most comprehensive and detailed investigations in Malaysia’s corporate history, one that involved multiple lawful authorities, including a bipartisan parliamentary body. Their findings were taken on board – and the company’s board was dissolved, its management team changed, and its operations reviewed.”

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua, however, said abroad, banks have been shut down and collaborators jailed for money laundering charges linked to 1MDB.

“(But) no action has been taken in Malaysia. Not even an attempt to recover the stolen funds. So what exactly was amplified?

“What about the missing US$4 billion (RM16 billion) or more which the US DoJ has identified as stolen from 1MDB to acquire luxury yachts, private jets, properties all around the world, rare and famous paintings as well as to produce Hollywood movies?”

Both Pua and anti-graft watchdog the Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) director Cynthia Gabriel said Najib has yet to explain DoJ’s assertions that US$681 million were transferred from 1MDB to his bank accounts.

“Was it ‘amplified’ because the purported Arab donor has disappeared after the US DoJ exposed the above transactions?” asked Pua.

Cynthia said the failings of 1MDB were caused by deliberate failed investments, fraudulent transfers and the use of offshore banks and shell companies, as well as the purchases of luxury properties and paintings.

Najib slammed for playing down 1MDB scandal
24 Jan 2018 – TMI


2017 in review for Felda – a need for change

2017 in review for Felda – a need for change

LETTER | Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) is concerned with the ongoing and seemingly endless saga of malpractice, corruption and breach of trust and duty cases lately affecting Felda – the last case reported being the questionable Felda “Semarak” land transfer deal.

In fact, the year 2017 can be perhaps be named as the “Felda Year” for the series of news of happenings which has caught the attention of us average Malaysians.

It appears that it is not only Felda investors (including the hardworking settlers and planters) and the public who are not happy with these cases – discontent seems to be seen from even within the Umno and BN circles.

It is believed that besides Khazanah and Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) groups of companies, the government-linked company (GLC) sector is the biggest source of threat to financial stability due to their being closely linked to political parties, and fraught with lack of good governance and transparency. There are also allegations and suspicion of widespread favouritism, cronyism and corruption in such corporate entities.

Lately, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) has taken drastic action by appointing professional subject matter experts to strengthen the composition of the FGV board and senior management.

But to actually make a change, there must be true and fearless intent to make sincerity and integrity an integral part of the corporate culture by setting the “tone at the top”.

To recap the sad narrative – the year 2017 started with the hopeful appointment of a new chairperson. The appointment was supposedly in line with the government’s desire to strengthen and solidify Felda’s leadership. Such noble intentions were very quickly called into question.

In April, Felda Investment Corporation Properties Sdn Bhd (FICP), a special purpose vehicle of Felda, acquired 37 percent of loss-making PT Eagle High Plantation Tbk. Settlers, analysts and investors showed their disapproval towards this acquisition done at a very high premium with a price that lacked financial and commercial justification.

A few months later, Felda’s current chairperson said Felda was merely an “intermediary” for the Malaysian government in the acquisition. Is this how Felda is to be viewed – an intermediary of the government?

Subsequently in June 2017, there was a management crisis at FGV where the MACC investigated several company officials for alleged corruption and abuse of power. The prime minister’s office also got involved, asking a former cabinet minister to look into the suspension of FGV’s top executives.

Its CEO denied wrongdoing and refused to step down as instructed by the then chairperson.

Shortly afterwards, FGV announced the resignation of the chairperson Mohd Isa Samad from the company and its subsidiaries and later was appointed the acting Land Public Transport Commission (Spad) chairperson. His appointment has continued to raise eyebrows amongst the public, bearing in mind his questionable “track record” in Felda.

In August, MACC arrested the said former FGV chairperson in a corruption investigation into FICP’s purchases of two hotels in London and Kuching between 2013 and 2015, said to be above their market value. Until today there has been no decision made yet on this case.

Later in Dec 2017, to cap the end of an eventful year for Felda, it was reported that there was a transfer of title for Felda’s 16-hectare land (the old Felda headquarters, Anjung Felda and Wisma Felda) at Jalan Semarak in Kuala Lumpur for which Felda did not receive a single sen.

The present Felda chairperson was reported to have described the matter as a “dubious deal” and discovered it in Jan 2016. On Dec 23, 2017, the prime minister vowed action to be taken against any negligence or misconduct in the land ownership transfer.

Due to the seriousness of the scandal, the prime minister should impose a deadline on the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to complete investigations on this “dubious deal” which has taken such a long time to surface. They must take action without fear and favour.

To be sure the rakyat are watching and will judge to see whether all these current cases will be allowed to proceed with due legal process, or whether they will take a sudden turn and end up like other lost cases which were announced with much fanfare, only to end with a whimper. If this happens, the rakyat will surely suspect a “cover-up” and abuse of legal process and failure of the rule of law.

2017 in review for Felda – a need for change
4 Jan 2017 – malaysiakini


Turkey Of The Year: Why did FELDA buy 37% of Eagle High?

Turkey Of The Year: Why did FELDA buy 37% of Eagle High?

IT came as a surprise when the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) was reported to be in talks to acquire a 37% stake in PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk from Tan Sri Peter Sondakh’s Rajawali group. The deal was concluded for US$505.4 million or RM2.26 billion in April.

While FELDA attempted to justify the purchase — among other things, saying it got a 30% discount from Rajawali — most market watchers, analysts and industry players questioned the merits of the deal.

After all, FELDA’s 33% unit Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) had scrapped plans to buy the same block of shares upon the advice of two separate advisers, Bank of America and JP Morgan, for a variety of reasons. So why buy an asset its own unit had walked away from?

Apart from that, Peter Sondakh is known to be well connected in Malaysia, giving rise to talk that the deal may have been politically motivated.

To recap, in June 2015, FGV signed a heads of agreement with Rajawali to acquire a 37% block in Eagle High for US$680 million in a mix of cash and shares.

In 2015, the average crude palm oil (CPO) was RM2,258 per tonne, compared to RM2,670 so far this year — which indicates the offer to FGV would have been overpriced if a 30% discount was given after a rise in the CPO price.

The fact that it was FELDA Investment Corp (FIC) Properties Sdn Bhd — originally mandated to acquire non-plantation assets — that acquired the shares also raised eyebrows. Most would think FGV would be the natural choice to invest in plantation and agriculture-related assets.

So, did FIC Properties step in because FGV was advised against buying Eagle High?

The US$505.4 million for the 37% stake works out to IDR580 a share — a whopping 95% premium to Eagle High’s closing price at the time. With Eagle High now trading below IDR180, it means FELDA is sitting on a paper loss in excess of US$326 million.

Now, eight months after the acquisition, Eagle High’s market capitalisation is just below US$420 million, which means FELDA’s 37% is valued at just US$155.4 million — less than one-third what it paid.

Attempts by FELDA chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad to suggest that FELDA was an intermediary for the Malaysian government did not come across as a strong justification for the acqusition.

“We are representing the government of Malaysia on two levels — the management and board of directors of Eagle High,” he said in August.

FELDA officials also explained that the acquisition was made with government funding, which raised the question as to whether the agency would have been able to obtain the funding on its own.

But what is not clear is why this acquisition is so important that FELDA had to pay more than RM2 billion for it via a loan from the government?

Turkey Of The Year: Why did FELDA buy 37% of Eagle High?
January 01, 2018 –


Felda settlers want changes in leadership

Felda settlers want changes in leadership

Jempol Felda settlers complain of higher debts and lack of proper management.

PUTRAJAYA: The scandals affecting Felda and increasing debts are troubling settlers.

Abdul Rahman Ramli, 58, speaking on behalf of settlers from the Felda Raja Alias settlement in Jempol, claimed the management had “absolutely failed” in its administration of Felda.

Rahman was present at the handing-over of a memorandum to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to urge them to investigate how Felda’s Jalan Semarak land changed hands today.

“As a settler, it breaks my heart to see that the management has absolutely failed us.

“Not only that, there are various scandals that Felda have been implicated in.

“The debts of settlers are also going up. Some owe Felda thousands of ringgit,” he told FMT today.

Rahman suggested that perhaps it was time Felda changed its leaders, who were drawn mainly from Umno.

“I hope all Malaysians understand our situation and why we are upset by the alleged corruption in Felda.”

Rahman was disappointed the management cannot even show settlers their accounts.

“Even with all the technology available, they can’t do something so simple.

“This is disheartening and it keeps us in very low spirits.”

It was time the settlers spoke out against such bad management of Felda, Rahman, who is also Jempol Amanah chairman, added.

“We do not have to wait for Felda to be implicated in such mega scandals before we voice out our concerns. There’re just too many scandals, just one after the other.”

New leaders can make the change for the settlers, he believed.

“I honestly believe that this is not the end of the road for us, all we need are better leaders, new ones, and we can get back on the right track.”

He said if Felda continues to be involved in controversies, settlers will lose confidence in the present administration running things.

Felda settlers want changes in leadership
December 27, 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?