Before concluding that the Panama papers are the Holy Grail of global corruption, certain facts must be viewed in perspective – one that the journalists involved in the expose have been careful to articulate but readers may have overlook due to the seductive conclusions big names tend to offer.

The papers are essentially records maintained by a law firm in a tax haven showing how several individuals used its services to set up entities and investment vehicles. Independently, this may not be a crime in several jurisdictions as the journalists have pointed out. But if properly investigated, they may reveal how some of those named might have used the route to evade rather than avoid taxes.

Beyond the fact that the records of one law firm are now out in the open, their disclosure, a remarkable journalistic feat by any measure, must be obvious that neither the presence nor the role of overseas tax havens are exactly a secret. They exist, as they have for a long time, and are used as much for avoidance as they are for straightforward evasion. While the Malaysian government has not been quick to announce a probe, it must view these disclosures in the backdrop of its avowed and largely unfulfilled objective of rooting out black money, especially money salted away overseas. In this context, the response of the Bank Negara Governor has been disappointing.

The ways of Malaysia’s rich and famous are increasingly becoming public knowledge. Prominent Malaysians’s, including one of the prime minister’s sons, Mohd Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir’s son Mirzan Mahathir, even Kamaluddin Abdullah son of another former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, owning offshore companies in Panama is just the latest of the unraveling, and adding them to the likes of Vladimir Putin, David Cameron, Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif among others.

Insofar as Malaysia is concerned, the onus is on tax and enforcement authorities to probe the names and information that have come into the public domain and evaluate these against declarations and filings made by the named individuals before reaching definite conclusions. This exercise must be concluded with urgent despatch, as any delay would in the event of a default deprive the exchequer of revenue. Equally, if the transactions are kosher, a delay would prolong an infamy. The suspicion here is that because of the nebulous nature of tax laws and the frequent amendments made by governments, many of these transactions will fall in the large grey space that almost by design exists between the black and white of the legal framework. In jurisdictions outside Malaysia, especially those where public persons must maintain the highest standards of probity, the revelations are bound to cause upheavals, as indeed they already have in Iceland. They are unlikely though to cause more than momentary discomfort to political figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin or Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, individuals who have in the past brushed aside such charges with disdain.

Panama is a small sliver of a country in Central America joining North and South America. Its immediate geographical neighbors are Costa Rica in the north and Colombia in the south. It is the narrow isthmus that separates the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. A 77 kilometers long manmade canal capable of accommodating large ships joins the two oceans. The revenues from this were for long the nations biggest source of income since the canal opened in 1914.

Panama soon found that becoming a tax haven that assured investors of their privacy provided a more lucrative income. The proximity to the Americas, and the balmy Caribbean islands, and countries like Colombia with its huge cocaine production and export business, and Latin America’s many kleptomaniac tin pot dictators made Panama even more attractive. Till not long ago after the overthrow of Panama’s General Manuel Noriega the Canal Zone was under the protection of US troops and that too served as an incentive for Americans seeking an offshore tax haven.

Panama as a tax haven offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a fairly politically and economically stable environment. Tax havens also provide little or no financial information to foreign tax authorities. This in short is the reason Panama is so important to our moneyed people who have good reason to hide their real wealth.

This leaves us to ask: Why do the rich want to hide their wealth? Well, simply because they are not as wealthy as they appear to be. And if they honestly declared their true wealth they would not only be liable to pay more income tax but could also open many of them to various charges of corporate fraud and malfeasances that could earn them hefty prison terms. So the income they cannot declare gets hidden in a tax haven. The big bucks are made and salted away.

A good part of this money is round tripped back to Malaysia via nearby Singapore. Not surprisingly in 2015 the top FDI investing countries was Singapore. Singapore is the home of hundreds of corporate entities that act as a pass through for funds being held overseas for Malaysians or Malaysian entities. Singapore is little more than cutouts for monies held in other more distant tax havens like Panama, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Lichtenstein. The smaller the country the more pliable the officials.

According to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington DC based think-tank; Malaysians were estimated to have illicitly sent out $73 billion in 2015. Where does this money go? Countries like Switzerland that offer banking secrecy usually do not pay any interest on such deposits. So money goes to corporations in tax havens from where they are invested in businesses world over. Ever wondered how many local successful businessmen managed to get so big overseas, so soon?

This is where the Panama’s of the world come in. There was a time when Panama in Malaysia was synonymous with a man’s wide-brimmed straw hat made from the leaves of the Toquilla tropical palm tree. That Panama is long forgotten. Today’s Panama is synonymous with offshore corporations and assured secrecy. The times have changed.


I cannot resist the temptation to reproduce this letter below, because, this is exactly how most of my Sabahan friends feel about this much hyped up movie “OLA BOLA”.

Here goes….

I was at the Stadium Merdeka on 6, 1980 when James Wong scored the winning goal against South Korea. With this victory, we qualified for the Moscow Olympics.

I therefore made it a point to go and see the hyped movie Ola Bola, a movie based on the true story of the victorious team and to relive that magical moment when two fellow Sabahans created and scored the winning goal for Malaysia.

I came out of the cinema hall feeling rather despondent. This was a true story that was altered and twisted for reasons best known to Director Chiu Keng Guan and his scriptwriters.

Ever since I was young, it was always drummed into my head that we must render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

So when Chiu Keng Guan decided to credit the winning goal to Khalid Ali in his movie and not to James Wong, that was a total disappointment.

That was a white lie and went against what I was thought to believe about giving credit when it is due.

Chiu has “dismissed complaints about factual inaccuracies by pointing out that the film is just inspired by true events”, what rubbish!

Did I read that correctly? True events? Was it not James Wong that scored the winning goal?

Was the score not 2-1 in favour of Malaysia and not 3-2? If the story line is based on “true events” how could anyone ignore the truth?

To give credit where it is due, the film was well executed. The cinematography was great. The story-line of comradeship and determination was excellent and this is 1Malaysia at its best.

There were Chinese, Indians, Sikh, Malays, West Malaysians and East Malaysians all coming together as one to bring glory to the Nation.

The movie showed us what true grit and determination can achieve.

But to change what was the one magical moment that we are all know belongs to James Wong is totally unacceptable by any standard.

Either the film’s Director deliberately changed the facts upon instruction to fit a political master race agenda in order to enjoy Finas funding or he and his scriptwriter did not do enough research on that game and the history behind it. Why they did that is best left to the imagination.

There is a lot of negative perception about this including if there was a hidden agenda behind changing the actual goal scorer from James to Ali. This is a question best left to Director Chiu and his scriptwriter to answer.

For me personally and the thousands of football fans who were there in  Stadium Merdeka you will NEVER, ever convince us that it was not James Wong who scored the winning goal for Malaysia.

You can try taking glory away from James but you will never take away what is etched in my memory – that one magical moment in time when two SABAHANS combined together to produce what was possibly the highest achievement of the Malaysian football team of the 80s.

Thank you Hassan! Thank you James! Shame on you Chiu and Astro!

Note : This letter came out in the Daily Express Sabah


Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman in a meeting recently said – “Sabah of my dream is a vibrant, prosperous State where peace prevails and the people, irrespective of  race, creed or religion, live side by side in harmony and prosperity. I dream of a corruption free society and a people fully developed to take their rightful place in the bigger Malaysian society and propelling our beautiful State and country forward. I would like to see the government of the day being governed by people who, in turn, are governed by God. As Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” My government has that courage.”

I felt very refreshing to know the kind of Sabah our present Chief Minister dreams of. “My government has that courage”, the Chief Minister said.  Read the below two articles by The Daily Express and The Star and you will know why he has the courage.
This is reported by Daily Express

Political instability, the State Government’s inability to formulate long-term development plans for Sabah and a stormy relationship with the Federal Government in the past were among reasons why it was necessary for Umno to expand its wings to Sabah.

Recalling the events 25 years ago, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who is also Sabah Umno Liaison Committee Chairman, said it is crucial that young leaders contemplate the party’s historical entry into the State which was made possible after Sabahans realised they needed a new political model which could unite the people after unhealthy excessive politicking which put too much emphasis on racial interests.

Sabah Umno seized power from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) which was then in the opposition in 1994.

“During those days, this change was no longer a choice but a demand, because we understood that instability and disunity benefit no one. This is why we see Umno as a new hope because of its track record in the peninsula.

“We hoped that Umno would be the glue that unites the people as it had done in the peninsula, and thus bring stability to our region which would mean, development in all aspects for the State,” he said.

Musa said this in his speech at the Sabah Umno Silver Jubilee celebration at the Umno Building, Monday.

Also present were Umno Information Chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa, representing Umno Central, all Sabah Umno State and Federal ministers and Sabah Umno division chiefs.

Musa added that Umno did not come against the will of the people but to bring Sabah out of political instability and to bring with it development and progress for the State as well as unity and harmony.

“This is our history. This is why we chose Umno. And we have to remember this always.

Our purpose had always been for the people and our State and we have to explain this to our new generations so they will understand what they have inherited,” he said.

Since Umno officially came to Sabah on Feb. 22, 1991, the party had gone from strength to strength, increasing its number to 25 divisions, 5,676 branches and 546,879 members, making it the largest State component within the party.

Currently, six of the 11 State Cabinet ministers are from Umno while 31 out of 60 State seats in the last general election were won by Umno candidates.

Despite its giant grip on the State Government, Musa reminded Sabah Umno members not to relax because defending something is a lot harder than obtaining it.

“Once upon a time even though it was hard, our work was made lighter when we were clear about our objectives.

We knew and saw our common enemies and we shared a common agenda.

“But once we have achieved the success we wanted, we are worried that the unity and togetherness will be lost little by little because of personal interest. Moreover, we forgot that the victory must be defended.

“Therefore, it is important that we put the interest of the party before self and continue the struggle,” he said.

Musa said party leaders and members must not dance to the tune determined by the opposition but to keep the course while at the same time, start to contribute to the national agenda.

“As the captain of the ship and the State, I vow to continue the fight to safeguard the rights of the people and defend the State’s interest. After 52 years, it had always been our desire to see Sabah and Sabahans be given more significant acknowledgement in bringing Malaysia forward. We believe that cooperation and teamwork is the best way towards this goal,” he said.

Earlier, Musa also announced that he had asked the State Umno Information Secretariat to kickstart an initiative to publish a special documentary to record the legacy of Umno’s struggle in Sabah.

The documentary will, among others, detail the identity of each individual who had contributed to the party especially those who have passed away.

The initiative, he said, is crucial in order to ensure their past contributions are not forgotten and will forever be memorialised within the party’s history book.

And this is reported by THE STAR

Sabah Umno will never waver from its key struggles, including safeguarding the state’s rights, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman (pic) said.

He said the members had every reason to celebrate Umno’s expansion to Sabah 25 years ago as the party had stuck to its original intentions of doing so.

Musa, the Sabah Umno chief, said the party’s presence had resulted in political stability in the state.

He noted that Sabah had seen tremendous progress and development since Umno’s entry in 1991.

“No one can deny the fact that our party has had an excellent track record in Sabah,” Musa said when launching Sabah Umno’s silver anniversary celebrations at its headquarters here.

He said prior to Umno’s entry, there was much political instability in Sabah, frequent changes in government and no long-term planning and policies.

Musa said Sabah began sliding backwards in terms of development compared to Sarawak and other states.

“There was far too much politicking, and Umno provided a refreshing change,” he said.

Despite being just 25 years old, he said Sabah Umno, which has nearly 547,000 members in 5,676 branches and 25 divisions, had become a significant presence within the 70-year-old parent body.

Among those present at the celebrations was Umno information chief Tan Sri Anuar Musa.

Also present were former Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Sakaran Dandai, Information and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said and former chief minister Datuk Osu Sukam.



The Sabah government adopted a policy not to bring in Bangladeshi workers three years ago, said Minister of Human Resource Development and Information Technology Datuk Siringan Gubat.

He said the decision not to utilise Bangladeshis as foreign workers was made by the State Cabinet.

“There is no issue here. The policy still stands not to allow them to come in,” he said in a statement responding to a viral social media posting that claimed Sabah was allowing the entry of Bangladeshi workers.

He also said that people should stop fabricating reports and spreading rumours on such a serious matter just for political mileage.

Putrajaya today inked a deal with Dhaka to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers in stages over the next three years into the country. Under the deal, levy for Bangladeshi workers is to be fixed at RM1,946



Musa Aman has given assurance to the Chinese community in Sabah that the State government remains committed towards the development of Chinese schools, places of worship and cultural activities in the state.

Musa said the state government would continue to provide support and allocate financial assistance for the development of such facilities in the state.

“This is our promise to the Chinese community. The Government strives to improve the quality of life among the people, apart from maintaining harmony and stability in Sabah,” he said when addressing the ‘Ang Pow Festival 2016’ organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) here tonight.

Musa also stressed on the importance of avoiding any acts that could bring about a negative impact on unity and stability in Sabah.

According to Musa the people of Sabah would not be able to move forward with its aspirations to develop and bring more progress to the State if they were embroiled in issues that hampered unity efforts.

Such actions, he said were irresponsible and brought about impacts that would deter Sabahans from improving their socio-economic status.

“Our aim is to create more development both for people who live in urban and rural areas,” Musa added.

Musa also called on the Chinese community in Sabah to continue supporting the present State Government and together to bring more development to Sabah.

He believed that political stability, unity, harmony and tolerance were factors that would hasten the development process in Sabah. — Bernama


Kota Kinabalu: The passing of La Salle Brother Datuk Charles O’Leary once again poses the calling for Sabahans, especially from Tanjung Aru’s La Salle School, to take up the vocation of being a La Salle Order of Teachers Brother.

Bro. Charles’ top regret was no student of Sacred Heart or La Salle schools had the calling, thus far, to pursue what he dedicated as a vocation all his life, although there were Malaysians from other schools who had served under him when he was Principal of La Salle Secondary School like Bro. Yohan and Bro. Justin who was from Tambunan.

He had hinted so to many people, including his students, but none seemed to have had the calling. Fr. Cosmos Lee, one of his students, who eulogised in the homily at the funeral of Bro. Charles, is among the few who became members of the clergy.

Fr. Cosmos Lee said during the funeral Mass: “I am not sure if Bro. Charles would have agreed with the Archbishop asking me to deliver the homily as I was among the few who dared to stand up to him.”

Bro. Charles once jested that if La Salle brothers were allowed to get married, probably there would be more than a few from the La Sallian family who would take up the calling in health and poverty and devote their life to God in the service of education for the young.

He had experienced the church’s trial and tribulation from the Usno era when the work permits of some foreign priests were not renewed and had to leave Sabah to the present challenges posed by extremist elements.

After the fall of the Usno regime, the new Chief Minister of the Berjaya administration Tan Sri Harris Salleh arranged small part of the funding for the construction of the school senior block hall.

Harris also lifted the Usno ban on Chinese cultural activities like unicorn and lion dances, which benefited the school as the renowned La Salle Lion Dance Troupe raised funds from performances for the construction of the school’s senior block canteen first besides others.

In many ways, the fear felt by some complacent and ignorant Sabah civil servants for Harris’ inspection tours during the Berjaya regime was what La Salle School students felt under Bro. Charles’ watchful eyes.

They appeared unreasonable and at times punitively harsh, but that’s what Sabah requires from a leadership perspective to get things done and achieved amid an environment of mediocrity and apathetic attitude, as a saying goes: “Progress depends on the unreasonable man…”

It may be that being the non-populist example of Bro. Charles as an educationist exemplar is too hard to follow for the younger generations. But the challenge is still open for Sabahans to consider the La Salle Order as a life vocation in the service of our youths.

Following are some of the late Bro. Charles’ sayings: “Stars shine and they show the way to safety, security and maturity, and that is the work of teachers whose vocation is to touch and form minds and hearts.

I wanted to be a star with a small ‘s’ no doubt, so that I could and can form and mould young minds and hearts and prepare them for life both here and hereafter.

God has blest me in my life and work and I would not forfeit the peace, satisfaction and fulfilment I have acquired in my calling for anything else that this world might offer. To God be the Glory.” – (Bro. Charles M. O’Leary F.S.C.)

DAILY EXPRESS SABAH

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Musa Aman become Chief Minister in March 2003 on the plank of development. At that time the Sabah government inherited empty coffers; and an inertia prevailed in almost every sector of development. The government had its tasks cut out for it- giving Sabah the development path, it was craving desperately, while putting the state’s economy back on the tracks. The state has an irony since its very inception. The irony is that it has been endowed with rich natural wealth yet it miserably failed to leverage upon this wealth due, mainly, to lack of requisite infrastructure and bad governance.

True to its promise with the people the Musa government made successful efforts to set things right in priority sectors including roads, irrigation, electricity, water supply, agriculture, tourism, employment etc while at the same time improving the fiscal health of the state. A special feature of this endeavour has been that in last 13 years with Musa as chief minister development did not suffer slackness at any point of time; and there has been a continuity in development process.

Musa Aman had a job to do, and he did it as well as he could by presenting a RM 3.49 billion budget for 2016.

In his State Budget 2016 proposals Musa Aman has proposed a RM3.49 billion budget which comes with a surplus of RM29.9 million.The budget comes with an estimated revenue collection amounting to RM3.520 billion.

I was full of trepidation because of the huge expectations from the Budget. This was clearly a make or break Budget for the Musa government as it would have lost the benefit of the doubt, which it has enjoyed until now, as last year Sabah tabled a surplus budget of RM3.812 billion with a surplus of RM49.2 million. Moreover, the fear was that with the Malaysia’s ringgit currency slid past 4.0 to the US dollar for the first time in 17 years, pounded by concerns over Malaysia’s economic growth and political uncertainty stemming from 1MDB, heightened by Malaysia’s deteriorating terms of trade, high debt, and a fragile fiscal position highly dependent on oil-related revenue, the Sabah government could get scared and veer away from the path of developments. It is indeed to the credit of the Sabah government that they have proven our fears to be unfounded with another surplus budget for 2016.

Themed “Prudent Budget, The People at Heart”, Musa’s budget proposal emphasised on the need to consolidate existing state resources with a demand for effective and efficient management. It makes sense when Musa said the government formulated the 2016 budget by taking into account the global economic environment. “Even though the rate of economic growth is somewhat slowing down in Asia and globally, the state’s economic fundamentals still remain strong, due to our wealth of natural resources such as crude oil, palm oil and forest products that are still in great demand in the world market. “However, it cannot be denied that as an economy dominated by the production of major commodities such as crude oil and palm oil, the state revenue collection could be affected due to fluctuation in commodity prices and foreign exchange rates, Musa said in the State Assembly.

The Budget is replete with forward looking whose cumulative positive impact will be significant in the coming years. For me the five most important features of the Budget are:

First, its emphasis on infrastructure development by proposing an allocation of RM1.373 billion. Of these RM441 million will be allocated for economic development, RM212.7 million for social development and RM44.56 million for administration. This is buttressed by allocating RM1.5 billion for special expenditure. Infrastructural development is given the attention it deserved.

Second, agriculture sector which is Sabah’s main economic strength will be given top priority with an allocation of RM456.9 million. Out of which RM169.85 million will be allocated to carry out various agricultural development projects including the Permanent Food Production Park project, Agriculture Research Programme, Paddy Planting Development Project, Rubber Replanting Programme and Palm Oil Downstream Industry Development. Even fisheries sector will be allocated RM47.76 million to increase fish production and fishery products to 423,360 metric tons per year.

In addition the Chief Minister announced that the livestock sub-sector was allocated RM122.8 million. Livestock sub-sector recorded a gross production valued RM1.106 billion last year and expected to increase this year hence reducing the State’s food bill from year to year.

Third, the Budget’s focus on improving the business environment especially for the micro, small and medium enterprises is laudable. This includes providing infrastructure amenities and creating a conducive environment to all investors in the existing industrial parks such as Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP), Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu and Sandakan as well as Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park (Sogip).

In fact in the industrial and manufacturing sector, the state registered a total investment of RM572 million in manufacturing this year of which RM92 million represents foreign investment involving 28 companies and generating 1129 job opportunity. Since 2011, total investment in manufacturing and industry sector had achieved a total value of RM13.9 billion, generating 11,115 job opportunities.

Fourth, the Chief Minister cum Finance Minister has shown that he is not beholden to any fiscal dogma and has his attention focused sharply on the need to raise investment. He has demonstrated this by opting for a more moderate glide path even though the States’s economy growth is expected to register a moderate growth of around 3.5 to 4.5 per cent.

Fifth, the chief minister has allocated a total sum of RM290.08 million for the implementation of programmes in eradicating poverty and improving the peoples well being. More than 20 villages under Program Kampung Sejahtera (PKS) are being planned to be developed for 2016. This shows the government is always sensitive to the people’s plights and taking steps and measures necessary to ensure the welfare and prosperity of the people are safeguarded.

That the Budget has not disappointed, despite the high expectations, is in itself creditable. More creditable is that it has not succumbed to populism despite ringgit sliding, low oil prices, 1MDB fiasco, Ranau earthquake and the Abu Sayaff kidnapping. The Musa team has done well to make this a growth and investment oriented Budget while at the same time retaining and indeed increasing outlays on social welfare measures.


Malaysian journalists, particularly in Sabah, were urged last night not to give room for news stories based on mere allegations or made up of lopsided information or half-truths.

Sabah Chief Ministeri Musa Aman said journalists reports should be based on solid facts and not speculation which would paint the wrong picture and cause unnecessary concern or even panic.

“At a time when information, albeit true or false, is available at the press of a finger, the media now has more responsibility to ensure their reports are accurate,” he said at the Kinabalu Shell Press Awards here on Friday night.

Musa said journalists have a constructive role to play in society by not only reporting news and providing information to the public, but also to act as an important intermediary between the government and the people.

He said the media influenced people’s way of thinking, besides having the power to change the social and political landscape of a nation.

“This tool should be used wisely and for the betterment of society. Using it in a different direction and in an irresponsible manner could spell disaster,” he added.

The chief minister also presented the six main awards to the winners of the Press Awards.

– BERNAMA


‘Rumble in the Jungle’ and ‘Thrilla in Manila’ rank among the finest in boxing’s history

Reggie Jackson was a left-handed slug-hitting baseball player whose consistent post-season success earned him the nickname ‘Mr. October’. Jackson hit 563 home runs and his World Series batting average was so much better than his regular season average that he became something of a legend.

But there is another American — arguably the best known sportsman in the planet and one whose influence went way beyond the boxing ring in which his legend grew and grew and grew — to whom October is a very special month. Two of the peerless Muhammad Ali’s greatest victories came in the month of October.

On October 30, 1974, Ali stunned the world of boxing by knocking out the seemingly indestructible George Foreman in Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The author Thomas Hauser best captured the impact of that moment when he said that it “inspired more global joy than any other athletic achievement in history.’’ That may have even been an under-statement, for such were the worldwide celebrations that followed.

A year later, on October 1, 1975 — exactly 40 years ago today — ‘The Greatest’ outlasted his greatest opponent after 14 brutal rounds of gladiatorial severity in what was billed as ‘The Thrilla in Manila’. Ali later said that it was the closest he had come to death.

“You get tired. It takes so much out of you mentally. I was thinking in the end. Why am I doing this?’’ Ali was quoted as saying the morning after the Manila fight in his hotel suite by Mark Kram of Sports Illustrated.

Total respect for Frazier

“What am I doing here against this beast of a man? It’s so painful. I must be crazy. I always bring out the best in the men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I’ll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I am gonna tell ya, that’s one helluva man, and God bless him.’’

For all the taunting and teasing, for all the insults that Ali consistently threw at ‘Smokin Joe’ from the beginning of their epic three-fight (Ali won the second and third) rivalry, there was no boxer that Ali had more respect for in his entire career.

After Eddie Futch, Frazier’s trainer, threw in the towel at the end of Round 14, Ali hailed his opponent as the “greatest fighter of all time, next to me.’’

If those two October slug-fests rank among the finest in the sport’s history, then a lot of things contributed to making them very, very special.

The most powerful nation on earth was shamefacedly pulling out of a war in which it was never going to triumph, in Vietnam. And Americans craved for any kind of diversion that would help them forget the folly of a faraway conflict from which some of their most courageous young countrymen were returning, not as heroes, but looking like zombies in need of serious psychiatric care.

Inspirational icon

And Ali, as a celebrated conscientious objector, was at once hero and villain but a demi-god among African-Americans and anti-war protesters in colleges across the country — as well as to millions of youngsters around the globe.

Put off once because Foreman had cut his eye in training, ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ in the brutal dictator Mobutu’s impoverished capital city of Kinshasa saw many critics hit out at Ali — apparently in his own cause — for signing what they thought was a suicidal contract to fight a man whose arms looked like boulders supporting an over-bridge.

Many feared for the 32-year-old Ali’s safety as he trained in the forests of Zaire, holed up in a small village about 80 km from Kinshasa. Going into the ring, he was a 40-1 outsider with the bookmakers; and that’s as bad as it can get in a one-on-one contest of any kind.

But Ali, steeped in intense self-belief, had his own plans. And they became clear as the fight made its way towards rounds four, five and six. Leaning on the ropes, his back bent like a question mark, the great man soaked up everything that Foreman threw at him.

Then, when the moment came, Ali grabbed it. As Foreman began to visibly tire, his feet heavy, and his mind a mess, Ali moved in for the kill and felled his opponent with a single right, without even bothering to follow up with a couple of more punches even as Foreman slumped.

Brutal battle to the finish

A year on, in Manila, Ali and Frazier found new vistas in their own heart and soul; in an extraordinary contest in which boundaries were pushed back to the very limits, the two men went at each other as if they were ready to lay down their lives on that day. It seemed that nothing short of that would stop either of them.

Once again Ali proved what a resilient fighter he was; he stood up to the Frazier barrage time and time again. And finally, in the 13th round, Frazier’s mouthpiece parted company with him and went flying and Ali pummelled him into submission in the 14th round.

“What a great fighter he is,’’ said Frazier of a pugilist whose physical courage and tactical flexibility were unmatched among his peers. Great fighter or the greatest of all time?

This piece was written by Nirmal Shekar of The Hindu



Musa Aman is well known in Malaysia and across the globe as a leader who is totally committed to development and good governance. His record 3 terms as the Chief Minister of his home state of Sabah exemplifies Musa Aman’s commitment to a development Agenda, rising above all other political considerations. He ushered in a paradigm shift towards pro-people and pro-active good governance, bringing in a positive change in the life of many in Sabah. His tireless efforts were guided by the principle of Collective efforts, inclusive growth where each and every person was an important stakeholder in Sabah’s development journey.

When he took over as Chief Minister on 27th March 2003 Musa Aman did not have much time to settle into his new job. The state was reeling under the aftereffects of a severe cash crunch and there was nothing much in the State Treasury. Even Yayasan Sabah (YS) was badly in need of funds and retrenchment and Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) was the order of the day. The entire world had written off Sabah and it was believed that Sabah would take years to develop. Musa Aman proved them all wrong. In a record span of time Sabah was up and running and today it’s reserves in the State Treasury is more than RM3 billion and has become the cynosure of the world’s eyes.

Musa’s success as an administrator lay in his out of the box thinking. That’s why when he recently spoke to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak he emphasised that the Sabah State government needs greater autonomy for rural development projects.

The Sabah government wants autonomy in terms of planing, funding and implementation of rural development projects so that they can be completed and delivered on time. There are too many Federal agencies involved at the Federal level at the implementation stage that contributed to the delay of projects. Development of rural areas has been hampered due to delay in channnelling of funds, bureaucracy and politicking.

Billions of ringgit were channelled by the Federal Government for development projects involving rural roads, rural electricity, rural water supply and household assistance program via Shafie Apdal’s Rural Development Ministry in the past, but, there was so much hiccups and many projects were delayed and some have not even taken off. With greater control of development funds by the State Government, the planning and implementation of infrastructure projects would be more structured, streamlined and aligned with the State’s overall development objective. Hence by giving more autonomy, Sabah can plan and implement projects in a more holistic manner.

Sabah State Government knows the Sabah turf better. Besides, Sabah State Government is more than able to manage funds from the Federal. Sabah State Government under Musa has a good track record in managing its finance which is proven by Sabah having the best record of financial management in Malaysia for two consecutive years and awarded a ‘clean bill’ by the Auditor-General for 14 consecutive years as well as given ‘AAA’ ratings by Rating Services Berhad RAM for six years in a row. All these happened during Musa tenure.

It is Musa’s firm belief also that – “a Government does not have any business doing business”. What a government should do, however is to create a positive climate that will bring investment. Instances of these approaches were seen time and again, last year Sabah received RM2.4 billion from local investors and RM1 billion was injected by foreign investors and gave a boost to employment creation in Sabah. There was quantum jump in both the MoUs inked and the investment coming. Sabah development Corridor (SDC) has RM135 billion worth of cumulative investments, out of which, RM45 billion have been realised.

Musa did not have much time to catch his breath when he took over as CM in 2003 facing grave adversities and in challenging circumstances. But he rose to the occasion, turned every challenge into an opportunity and transformed Sabah into a state that not only Malaysia but also the entire world is today proud of.

This was told to me by Musa a long time ago but its so meaningful even now, “It is said that community who fails to learn lesson from the past lag behind. Our own experience is no different from this saying. We have to build a better Sabah by taking appropriate lesson from our own history. And we have to define the road today itself. The challenge before this ever-changing society and time is to turn change into progress. Like what Nelson Mandela said: “Vision without action is, but a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with the action changes the world”.

This piece came out in Daily Express Sunday Forum today 13th September 2015