Archive for July, 2016


After the United States Department of Justice filing of two lawsuits to seize more than US$1 billion of assets which it alleged were purchased using funds siphoned from 1MDB, here is a very interesting piece written by a Malaysian-born Dr Bakri Musa, a surgeon practicing medicine in the Silicon Valley, California.

 

The Malay Shame and Tragedy That Is 1MDB

M. Bakri Musa

http://www.bakrimusa.com

Imagine had Prime Minister Najib Razak responded differently to the US Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture lawsuit and said instead, “I have instructed my Foreign Minister to seek clarification to determine who this “Malaysian Official 1” so we could investigate him. I have also directed the Attorney General to review the evidence in the DOJ complaint.”

As for 1MDB, imagine if its spokesman had responded, “We view with deep concern allegations that assets meant for our company, a public trust, had been corruptly diverted. We seek clarification on who 1MDB Officials 1 and 2 are to make sure that they are no longer in our employ. We will review our policies to ensure that such pilferages as alleged by DOJ if they did occur will not recur. Additionally, we are engaging legal counsel to protect our interests in the American trial.”

Instead, what Malaysians and the world heard last Wednesday were irrelevant and meaningless statements to the effect that neither Najib nor 1MDB are the defendants in the suit. True and obvious, needing no response or clarification. The defendants are the owners of those seized assets which are alleged to have been acquired with funds corruptly siphoned from 1MDB, a GLC of which Najib is the Chairman.

The responses from Najib, his ministers, and 1MDB only brought shame to themselves, to Malays, and to Malaysia.

As for the defendants, their options are either not to contest the suit and thus forfeit those assets, or fight it. Negotiated settlement is unlikely. This is the biggest asset forfeiture in US history; Attorney-General Lynch is out to make a point to corrupt kleptocrats everywhere in these days of complex cross-border money laundering.

Before this, the biggest forfeiture involved the giant telecom company, Amsterdam-based Vimpel.com, and individuals close to the president of Uzbekistan. The Uzbeks ignored the suit while the company pleaded guilty to the criminal charges. Rest assured that those defendant Uzbeks won’t be visiting Disneyland or Las Vegas any time soon!

This 1MDB corruption may be a legal case but politics is never far off the radar in Putrajaya and Washington, DC, as well as in the potentially more volatile international arena.

No-Contest Option

Not contesting would save substantial legal fees and other costs, as well as the not insignificant personal hassle factor. Those aside, the biggest advantage would be not further exposing the defendants and others, legally as well as in many other ways, during the pretrial discovery and trial. Spared a trial the identity of “Malaysian Official 1” will never be known, at least not officially, a crucial consideration in Putrajaya.

The loss of those assets, even though in the hundreds of millions (in US dollars, not worthless ringgit), is at least quantifiable. However, even the Sultan of Brunei could not shrug off a loss of that magnitude.

Choose this option and Reza Aziz, one of the defendants who according to court documents is also related to Malaysian Official 1, would be well advised to pack up and find a country that does not have extradition or tax treaty with the US. He also had better get used to a much less luxurious lifestyle.

Were Reza to pursue this course, at least in his old age he could regale his grandchildren with stories that he once owned a glittering condo in Manhattan and shared drinks with Hollywood stars in Las Vegas.

That would also be a very Malay story. At Kampung Baru today there are many elders who look with nostalgic gaze at the skyscrapers in the Golden Triangle and lament, “Ah, itu cerita dulu!” (Those are old stories!)

The US Government would recoup its considerable costs from those assets. Rest assured there would be itemized bills for every paper clip and DOJ lawyers would be charging senior partners’ rates. Even after factoring that there will still be substantial loot left. By statute, that belongs to the people of Malaysia.

If Najib is still Prime Minister, do you think those Americans would be dumb enough to return those millions to the same scoundrels? America could not disburse them to Malaysian NGOs either as most are not sympathetic to UMNO. That would present a delicate diplomatic problem. On the hand it could prove to be the most sophisticated and effective exercise of “soft power,” more powerful than “boots on the ground” in effecting regime change.

At any rate don’t expect those Monet paintings to hang on the walls of kampung huts any time soon.

Contesting the Forfeiture

Contesting would be no walk in the park. It would be expensive, protracted, and risk uncovering details that could trigger criminal charges. American lawyers are not cheap and potential defense attorneys would want their substantial fees paid upfront and from “clean” sources. With those assets tied, Reza better have other fat bank accounts. Even if he were to receive help from his “Malaysian Official 1” relative, Reza’s defense attorneys would insist, and need unchallenged documentation, that the money is legitimate and not siphoned public funds.

The earliest a trial could begin would be a year or two hence, in time for the UMNO Leadership Convention or worse, the next Malaysian election. A trial would also risk exposing the identity of “Malaysian Official 1, a consideration for Putrajaya.

Being a civil case the burden of proof for the prosecution is lower, merely the preponderance of evidence, not the much higher “beyond a reasonable doubt” of a criminal trial. The burden also shifts to the defendants to prove that those assets were acquired with untainted funds.

In court documents Reza Aziz claimed that the millions he received from some unknown Arab was a gift. An incredulous assertion that even his accountant did not believe him; hence the attestation from his “donor.” If this be a trial by jury, it would be tricky to convince an American juror, as with Reza’s accountant, that receiving millions from a stranger is a “gift.” Besides, the image of an Arab in America these days is far from pristine.

With a trial the testimonies of those professionals who had advised the defendants would be scrutinized. The Watergate Hearings of the 1970s exposed the unsavory activities of the various advisors. Many prominent lawyers ended being disbarred, including the President’s Counsel as well as a former Attorney-General.

A trial would highlight an ugly truth that could prove explosive in race-sensitive Malaysia. That is, Reza Aziz excepted, those corrupt Malays got only the crumbs while the gravy flowed to that Wharton-trained Chinaman. That won’t sit well with UMNO Youth’s “Red Shirts” or PERKASA boys.

A trial would also showcase the professionalism and meticulousness of American prosecutors and investigators. That would not make the former failed UMNO operative and now Malaysia’s Attorney-General look good. The Malay image is already battered by the amateurs at 1MDB.

From the perspective of international politics, it may be shrewd not to identify “Malaysian Official 1.” This forfeiture however, is not the only game. After all, Obama did not tee off with Najib that Christmas in Hawaii because he (Najib) was a Tiger Woods. It was part of Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” show, with Najib the prop.

There are other actors in this new shadow play. China is asserting itself, most visibly through military exercises in the South China Sea but more effectively elsewhere. Note the abrupt change of face at the recent ASEAN conference that had initially condemned China, and ASEAN’s collective silence on the International Court’s decision on the South China Sea dispute.

China too could play the Obama game, not on the green of Hawaii’s golf course but FELDA’s oil palm oil plantation. China could buy palm oil from Africa, and not offer inflated prices for those rusty 1MDB assets.

Najib now has to balance the interests of his stepson and former Beverly Hills real estate tycoon Reza Aziz versus that of FELDA settlers and their wooden huts. Not an easy choice!

The kampung boy in me longs to see a good fight by our modern-day Hang Tuah. Thus I challenge Reza to be jantan (man) enough to fight this US forfeiture.

Back to reality, the winners in this 1MDB shadow play are many and obvious. Reza is one, though not as big as he was before the forfeiture; so too Malaysian Official 1 as well as IMDB Officials 1 and 2. As for that Wharton MBA character, he could still savor his shark’s fin soup in Taiwan. The US DOJ too is a winner, and a very big one.

As for the losers, 1MDB is the obvious. Its current management should sue the previous board and management for incompetence as well as breach of fiduciary duties to recover some of the losses. Current management owes the company and Malaysians that much.

The other victims are less obvious. They include FELDA settlers now deprived of better schools, smart young Malays who excelled on their IB tests but now cannot go abroad, and those dedicated GLC Malay executives whose reputations are now tainted because of the shenanigans of those monkeys at 1MDB.

Those Malaysian officials who responded last Wednesday to the DOJ’s lawsuit and those Malays who still strenuously defend Malaysian Official 1 have yet to recognize these victims. That’s the terrible shame and great Malay tragedy.

http://bakrimusa.blogspot.my/2016/07/the-malay-shame-and-tragedy-that-is-1mdb.html

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In China they say that Buddhism came from India but was developed in China. As this sign does.

The two paintings are of the Bodhidharma who brought Buddhism from India to Luyong, then the capital of imperial China.

“Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China, and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of Shaolin Kung Fu. In Japan, he is known as Daruma.”

It is believed that he was a “South Indian from Kanchipuram district” and the third son of a great Indian king. His ambition lay in the Mahayana path, and so he put aside his white layman’s robe for the black robe of a monk. Lamenting the decline of the true teaching in the outlands, he subsequently crossed distant mountains and seas, traveling about propagating the teaching in Han and Wei.

If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.Bodhidharma

SOUTH CHINA SEA TENSIONS

Posted: July 20, 2016 in China, South China Sea, USA
Tags: ,

The USA is upping the ante by flying its Elint planes on the reclaimed islands. China is in a hugely jingoistic mood and their social media amply reflects this. If the People Republic of China government succumbs to these pressures and opts for retaliation ala Turkey and the Russian fighter, it will get a comeuppance it could never contemplate. The US Navy is by far the most powerful military force in the world and it is raring to go.

U.S. fighter jet flies over South China Sea

U.S. fighter jet flies over South China Sea

By Yuan Can (People’s Daily Online)    13:29, July 19, 2016

A U.S. E/A-18 carrier-based fighter jet lands on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the South China Sea on July 16, 2016. (Photo/mil.huanqiu.com)


The real reason Shafie Apdal resigned

 

This is what politicians like Shafie do. When they know they are going to die they announce that they are too principled to stay in such an unprincipled party and try to exit looking like a hero and then seek greener pastures elsewhere.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

“Justice is not being done. There is no justice in the way UMNO is being run,” said Shafie Apdal on resigning from Umno yesterday. And the media made it look like Shafie resigned over the 1MDB issue.

That is actually not so. The deal is Umno would support one Vice President from East Malaysia and since there is no Umno in Sarawak and there is only Umno in Sabah then a leader from Sabah would be given one of the three Umno Vice Presidents’ seats.

So the Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman made sure that all 25 Umno divisions in the state supported Shafie. And many of the other 165 Umno divisions in West Malaysia also supported Shafie in solidarity with Umno Sabah. And that was how Shafie managed to win one of the three Umno Vice Presidents’ posts even though he is not really that popular in Sabah.

In short, Musa gave Shafie that post. And that was why Shafie won that post. But now Musa has withdrawn his support. So in the next party election two years from now Shafie will not be able to win even a supreme council member seat let alone retain his Vice President’s post.

Shafie knows his days are numbered. Even if Umno does not sack him from the party he will no longer be able to hold any position of importance in the party. He is finished.

So, before he gets sacked, or worse, before he loses his Vice President’s post and does not even win a supreme council member seat, he might as well save some face and resign.

It is better that he pretends he is a person of integrity and principles by announcing he is resigning for the sake of truth and justice rather than he gets pushed into retirement because he lost his Vice President’s post or gets sacked from the party.

This is what politicians like Shafie do. When they know they are going to die they announce that they are too principled to stay in such an unprincipled party and try to exit looking like a hero and then seek greener pastures elsewhere.

No, I will not give Shafie too much credit by writing my normal long article about him. It would be a waste of time and time better spent playing with my granddaughter, Lily. By the way, that is Lily in the photo below.

Lily

See here http://www.malaysia-today.net/the-real-reason-shafie-apdal-resigned/



(A Facebook picture shows Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri being served turtle eggs allegedly at the Restoran Indah Keranamu in Sandakan which went viral)

Media has always been a significant pillar of society. Media doesn’t just report happenings, it also builds public opinion. This puts the media in a powerful position in a democracy and wherever there is power there is a chance of misuse of that power.

In some countries, powerful media houses are said to have influenced election results by portraying people and events a certain way. In Malaysia too.

The media space has changed a lot with the emergence of social media. With social media, the public has eyes and ears everywhere. They are not limited to camera crews of a few TV channels or reporters of a few newspapers.

Social media is a platform that showcases public opinion such that it cannot be easily doctored. It reflects the pulse of society. Even traditional media channels keep an eye on ongoing social media trends.

In the recent past, we have seen so many top news stories originate from social media. Apart from highlighting issues that are socially relevant and crucial, social media has also exposed the disconnect between the government and the population. People are more aware of what our leaders are up to and exchange notes on how laws and policies affecting them are being made. Gone are the days when the government could pass laws behind closed doors without the public realising it for months. Thanks to the social media, discussion on political issues and implications is widespread and immediate.

Some politicians thrive on keeping communities apart and playing one’s interests over the other to secure their votebanks. As boundaries between people blur over social media, and they become more aware and better informed, this will no longer be easy to do. One needs to be more aware and alert while making speeches or statements. People see through any gimmick done with an ulterior motive and any sign of a narrow mindset comes in for severe criticism, just like the ‘kafir harbi’ issue.

Like all powerful tools, social media should also be used with utmost care and responsibility failing which it can cause damage to the society. In the recent terror attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey, terrorists used social media widely to plan and execute their attacks, 42 people were killed and injured hundreds of others. More recently, in Sabah, The Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), headed by Huguan Siou Joseph Pairin Kitingan had to lodge a police report against the “Majlis Himpunan Rakyat Membantah Penarikan MyKad” (Council of the Gathering of Citizens to Protest the Withdrawal of the MyKad) which was planing to hold an anti-RCI event in Kota Kinabalu on May 31, a poster on the event circulating in social media went viral, social media was used to spread panic and fear among Sabahans leading to the police report.

However, with its potential to bring people together, social media also holds immense promise as a tool for social change. We have recently seen many successfully executed protests organised over social media that have made the right impact,like Bersih the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, for the first time, the act of mass civil disobedience ran for 34 hours in Kuala Lumpur. Another application of social media could be to effectively utilize the vast diversity of human resource that Sabah has which is still lying untapped. For instance, in my SIB (Sidang Injil Borneo) church, somebody announces a dental camp in a locality on a date and others join, including doctors, dentist, dental nurses and even pharmacist. Likewise, somebody announces a tree planting drive or a cleaning drive and people support the initiative with their time or resources.

We are clearly passing through a phase of transformation. Sabah is a nation of youth who have a big role to play in that transformation.

Social media is a medium that connects them and gives them voice. This voice is growing louder. It is a welcome sign and I’m really glad Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has embrace the social media in a big way and he is very active on Facebook and Twitter and WhatsApp groups, and he regularly updates events and photos.