Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category


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Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said the state government in no uncertain terms reject any claim by the Philippines on the state.

“I have made our stand on this matter before. Let me once again clearly state that we do not recognise or acknowledge any claim by the Philippines or any other country on Sabah,” Musa said.

He was responding to remarks made by a member of the Philippines Consultative Committee, Aquilino Pimentel Jr, which was reported in the media recently.

It was reported that Pimentel, who was appointed to review the 1987 Constitution, said he would propose the inclusion of Sabah in the Philippines as part of the country’s shift to a federal system of government.

He said Sabah is part of Malaysia and has chosen to be and would continue to be a part of the sovereign nation since the state became party to its formation.

”The people in Sabah choose to be in the state because it is in Malaysia. We have been enjoying peace, stability and economic prosperity within Malaysia,” Musa said in a statement today.

Earlier, Malaysia rejected the proposal by a member of a Filipino government committee to amend the Philippine Constitution to include Sabah as the “13th federal state” of the Philippines.

“Malaysia is aware of remarks made by Mr Aquilino Pimentel Jr, a member of the Philippines’ Consultative Committee, which appeared in the media on the claim on Sabah recently,” said Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman in a press statement.

“The Government of Malaysia reiterates its position that Malaysia does not recognise and will not entertain any claims by any party on Sabah. Sabah is recognised by the United Nations and the international community as part of Malaysia since the formation of the Federation on 16 September 1963,” said Anifah.

“Therefore, statements such as these will only expose the ignorance of history and international law of those who make them, as well as potentially harming the excellent bilateral relations which Malaysia and the Philippines currently enjoy,” Anifah added.

Aquilino Pimentel Jr is a member of a 25-member government consultative committee tasked with reviewing and proposing amendments to the Philippines 1987 Constitution. A key proposal is switching to a system of federal government from its current model where power is centralised.

“There should be a way that is acceptable under international laws to assert our claim to Sabah,” Pimentel, a former senator, told local ABS-CBN News network in an interview on Tuesday.

Pimentel’s proposal for the new federal government includes 12 federal states – Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Minparom, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Bangsamoro, Metro Manila.

He reportedly said the government can add Sabah as the 13th federal state later on.

In 2013, some 200 men from the southern Philippines landed in Sabah and battled Malaysian security forces for more than a month in a bid to stake an ancient claim of the territory for the Sultanate of Sulu.

Scores died in the fighting. At least two Malaysian police officers were beheaded by the invaders.

Sabah on Borneo island joined Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963.

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We Can’t Talk About the Terrorists:
An Ethnography of Silence in the East Coast of Sabah


by Vilashini Somiah
20 December 2017

 

As an anthropologist, I see my work as necessary in gaining deeper and more insightful perspectives of how communities work and find meaning in their own existence which includes its inherent tensions and contradictions. It is an employment that requires thorough, objective observation, and simultaneously expects the ethical preservation of agency of those you study. And although I’ve always acknowledged the importance of studying Sabah’s suppressed narratives, it was only as an anthropologist that I found the intellectual fulfilment I so desired. It is a field that I’ve been in keen apprenticeship of for over seven years. This article highlights one of those narratives from my most recent time spent in the field.

My good friend Indah* and I were lounging on the veranda of her beautiful colonial home in Sandakan one hot April afternoon in 2016 when the conversation of alien danger began; the idea that foreigners are themselves the biggest cause of danger and malice in their host country. Although both of us were mostly unconvinced by this premise, our talk was solely inspired by the recent Abu Sayyaf sightings in Sabah waters, linked to the presence of hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants in Sabah.

Indah tells me her frustration on the matter boils down to how badly the matter is handled, which is due to the lack of trust authorities have for locals in the East coast of Sabah. “Vils” as she often calls me, “decent people live here. Real people just trying to survive. This town isn’t the danger zone but it’s been labelled one. Politicians think they’re protecting us, but we just get brushed aside. We should be involved too, you know.” I have always appreciated how Indah speaks so passionately about Sandakan. She, like many other residents I’ve met, feels deeply for the town, one that is rich in natural resources and history. I am empathetic and ask “Why can’t something be done about agency and leadership here?” Indah clicks her tongue in irritation.” No one wants to listen to the east coasters, Vils. They just think we’re sleeping with the enemy.”

Something in her tone made me believe her. In retrospect, I must have heard it on repeat from a variety of voices. My time spent conducting ethnographic fieldwork in the town had introduced me to many other participants that had in one way or the other highlighted the frustration of being politically invisible despite the active roles they take in combating possible extremism in their home. The conversations that follow were not easy to capture; not for the participants lack of eloquence, but simply due to their inability to openly trust, and thus, such frank exchanges about terrorism in Sabah are rare. It is my sincerest hope that this article is able to capture just an essence of the honesty and pride of the participants I’ve met.

 

Teaching for Safety

Teacher Mir*, a 31-year-old Sabahan of Orang Sungai descent, has dedicated almost a decade of his life to the education of undocumented children in Sandakan. Every morning before sun break, Mir has his breakfast at the church mess hall and bids his family goodbye before heading off 15 kilometres by van into the palm oil estates within the district. The journey takes much longer than it should as roads are potholed by lorries and hardly ever fixed.

Similar in vein to hundreds of learning centres throughout the east coast of Sabah, Mir’s learning centre aims to provide the most basic of elementary education for children otherwise rejected from our local schooling system. This particular learning centre hosts over 200 children and, together with Mir, are taught by 11 other teachers from the Sandakan and Kinabatangan district. One Tuesday morning sometime February this year, he invited me for an after-school tea session at the canteen. Conversations with Mir were always so engaging because he never self-censored and I appreciated that. As the discipline master, Mir has a reputation of never mincing his words and a stern demeanour. On his way over to the canteen, he waves his rotan (cane) at the children to behave but because school was over, the children run away from him, giggling.

We talked mostly about his students; sustaining children through the six years of education requires plenty of effort on the parent’s part but job losses, village raids or deportation can hinder them from ever returning the following year. Before gulping the last mouthful of cold tea, I ask how he finds the motivation to continue teaching in such unpredictable conditions. He tells me, “I teach here to fight off terrorism for Sabah”. I found his dramatic answer surprising but altogether humbling. How does teaching counter the violence from the sea, I ask. By now our jovial chatter has given way to a strange heaviness and Mir continues:

“Aku bilang sama anak-anak, jangan durang jadi pangganas. Berabis kami cikgu-cikgu mengajar di skolah, ada pulak dia mau main timbak-timbak? Bardosa bah. Pangganas jadi bagitu krana teda durang dikasi pendidikan atau paluang dalam hidup. Walaupun sikit sja pemberian kami, biar ikhlas mau kasi anak-anak ini masa depan. Tapi Puji Tuhan, segala keringat kami ada juga untungnya. Teda budak-budak kami pernah terjebak dengan racun sabagitu.” (I told the children, don’t become terrorists. The teachers here give their all to educate them and they want to go around shooting people? That’s a sin. People become terrorists because they weren’t provided education or opportunities. We can’t offer much, but at least these children now have a future. Praise God, our hard work has paid off. None of our students have ever joined such a poisonous act.)
Several of the teachers feel the same way. They see their work as an effort in countering terrorist activities in Sabah that have grown significantly present with the years. I acknowledge the importance of this view and suggest the teachers spread the word to other willing Sabahans, but they are hesitant. Mir’s 25-year-old colleague, Yasmin*, shares with me her thoughts:
“Di Sabah, paling sensitip punya isu ini lah- Abu Sayap atau ISIS. Pasal urang takut kalau-kalau durang sudah disini kah? Anak- anak di skolah mimang ndak salah, tapi mana tau kalau kawan atau kaluarga durang yang pendatang mungkin terjebak? Lagipun, kalau cakap kuat-kuat pun, nanti ditangkap krajaan bah. Jadi, diam-diam sajalah kami.” (In Sabah, the most sensitive topic is that of the Abu Sayyaf or ISIS. Perhaps people are afraid if they’re already here. The children here are innocent, but who knows if family or friends who are also irregular migrants might be involved? And if we talked about it publicly, the government might arrest us. It’s better to just keep quiet.)
Learning centres for undocumented children are constantly under the monitor of the state and will receive regular visits for an update on local problems and information on parents. This is to be expected and the teachers have always complied and given their fullest cooperation where it is ethical. Yet, Mir and his colleagues feel that no matter how they may contribute to the safety of Sabah, no one else, including himself, is brave enough to discuss the terrorist problem openly. “I want to talk about the kidnappings or Abu Sayyaf, but I don’t dare. Because we teach these children, we might be accused of knowing inside information, but I don’t. I’m frustrated because we feel we cannot discuss this openly in our own state.”
 

One Town, Two Worlds

I encountered a similar stance from Sakinul*, a 42-year-old Suluk businessman, and one of the first friends I made when I began work in Sandakan. For over 26 years, he has made a living from buying cheap fish and shellfish from the market and reselling them in estates and slums on the outer periphery of town. Communities that he frequents are that of irregular migrants, many of whom would not dare venture into town for fear of getting arrested.On a daily basis, he is assisted by his second wife, an irregular migrant from Zamboanga and although he himself is Malaysian, their four children were given foreign birth certificates and told to return to the Philippines if they ever wanted to be documented. Sakinul tells me he worked very hard to make it happen but the costs (and risks) were too high. Thus, the children continue to live with the same irregular status as their mother. Due to this predicament, they are teased by their documented neighbours for being potential terrorists and this never fails to break their father’s heart.

Sakinul is in no way an isolated case. In fact, my time in the field has introduced me to a large number of Malaysian Sabahans who have or are currently cohabiting and leading domestic lives with irregular migrants or undocumented persons. On a cultural level (despite religious practice), a town like Sandakan is able to accept such union despite knowing the repercussions. However, the legal implications have not escaped them and I find many marriages between citizens and irregular migrants often living low-key lives, in hopes of avoiding the prying eyes and directed questions of the authority. However large these numbers may be, these family units remain vulnerable to accusations of threats and state security. Yet fascinatingly, it is these very same Sabahans who seem most invested in ridding Sabah of its terrorist problems. Similar to that of teachers at learning centres, their effort to combat extremist activists is a result of their close relationships with members of the irregular migrant community.

As such, Sakinul, one of my more trusted informants, would tell me via text of activities in town that I might be interested in. In the most recent of news, an Abu Sayyaf leader and his members were captured in Kuala Lumpur and never one to hide his disgust towards terrorism, Sakinul is frank about the lack of elucidation in the news. “I personally believe the reports are not complete,” he says, “people have so many questions about them. Can you believe they were from Sandakan? I’m suspicious of this! But we have to be careful with what we say around the market, or we might look suspicious too.” “But you could open a good discussion about this.” I mentioned over the phone. Exasperatedly, he tells me:

“Apa bulih bawak barbincang oh? Kau pikir pulis mau kami bising-bisingkah? Ini Sabah style bah, kalau barang ndak bagus, jangan bukak mulut kau. Duduk diam-diam, tapuk-tapuk sampai round two. Kalau kau Suluk, berbini pandatang macam aku, kau cakap-cakap, di tangkap lagi kamu. Tapi, bila datang lagi pangganas mau putung kapala, start lagi lah – “Sabah bahayalah, kami bangsa abu sayap lah”. Urang pikir kami ni mau kah macam ni?” (What can we ever discuss? Do you think the police want us making noise? This is the Sabah style, if things aren’t good, don’t open your mouth. Sit quietly and hide till round two starts. If you are Suluk, and married to a migrant like me, and you talk openly, you will be arrested. But when the terrorists come to behead people, then the labels start again: “Sabah is dangerous, we share the same race as the Abu Sayyaf”. Do people think we like this?)
 

Deserving A Say

With Indah, Sakinul, Mir and Yasmin in mind, I must stress a respect for the counter narrative to this claim; that militant terrorism has had very little impact on the state of Sabah and will only succeed if we live in fear of the foreign ‘other’. In fact, despite recent headliners, towns throughout the east coast have done better than expected in its efforts to continue in normalcy. During my fieldwork from 2016- mid 2017, there were approximately five incidents involving terrorists in Sandakan and even with that, the chances of a local or tourist becoming a victim of terrorism was still rather slim. With its thriving ecotourism and maritime industry, Sandakan has attracted many from other districts to eke out a decent livelihood despite ongoing militant activities in the water borders. And on top of everything else, the state has repeatedly reminded Sabahans in the east coast that their safety against terrorism will continue to be a priority of the Malaysian government.

Regardless of political affiliation, many Sabahans tell me they sincerely appreciate the Malaysian government’s initiation of the ESSCOM (the Eastern Sabah Security Command) which protects the most vulnerable of areas from Kudat to Tawau. Yet, residents particularly in the east coast tend to suspend trust till the next major incident occurs, in silence. Throughout the years of researching irregular migrants in the east coast of Sabah, I’ve observed how discussing terrorism with poorer, working class local Malaysian residents reveals an array of unsaid insecurities that come across more powerless than most.

As it seems, the bigger issue to this is not why Sabah is a hotbed for terrorism but more so why there isn’t a greater collective ability to do more about it? Despite many state structures in place, and some grassroot attempts at eliminating future terrorists from emerging in Sabah, the already poor and sidelined Sabahans in the east coast lack the belief that there is an avenue to voice their concerns and anxieties openly and safely. Further exacerbating this is of course the social closeness between legitimate residents and their irregular ones, raising even more suspicion and distrust amongst security forces monitoring the ESSZONE.

From my conversations with Sabahans’ in the east coast, they see the state as dismissive and even punitive in addressing any criticism (constructive or otherwise). Even with the various state endorsed security apparatus in place, these communities still feel most at risk in the event of an attack or kidnapping. This is further exacerbated by the fact that these Sabah communities, both irregular and legitimate are never in isolation. Notwithstanding the mainstream narrative, Malaysian Sabahans particularly in the east coast have not and cannot lead a life separate nor distinctively different from that of their migrant neighbours, which makes vocalising these concerns and insecurities even harder and more dangerous.

Sabah shares with the Philippines one of the more volatile corners of the Malay Archipelago and coupled with the taboo subject of hosting approximately two million of Sabah’s irregular residents has not made solving the impending terrorist problem any easier. When public conversations are held on desires and intent for safety and security, they are usually held amongst the more privileged of us. But for thousands of non-urban, working class Sabahans living simpler lives, this freedom is imaginary and their agency is in needing to say more about their insecurities whenever and however necessary.

The first and most necessary step to figuring out the considerable human problem in Sabah is for the promotion of grassroot discussion. As long as we privilege more powerful and louder views than theirs, we dismiss ideas, knowledges and experiences from Sabahans like Mir and Sakinul that can and will assist in combating a slew of other neglected social issues including that of violent extremism.
*Names have been altered as per requested by participants.

 

Vilashini Somiah is a scholar, writer and filmmaker. Born in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, she has always had a keen interest for underrepresented narratives in Borneo and has focused a great amount of time understanding the different perspectives of these voices and their motivations.

Her Phd research is centred on issues of deportation, irregular migration and socio-political mobility surrounding the Sulu Sea.


If we consider the political scenario of Sabah, we find very few effective and influential leaders. The reason being, the majority of the political parties are still using the old ways of influencing the voters with religion and race based politics and we lack leaders with strong development agenda coupled with tough decision-making capabilities. To stay at par with the fast changing world, we cannot rely on politicians who have been using the traditional political games for their own benefits. But, there have been some leaders who have been successful to eliminate the stagnancy of the political borders and proved themselves as influential leaders focused on the development and a work-oriented approach.

Tan Sri Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of Sabah, has been one of the most inspiring leader who has emerged in the Sabah political landscape and given a ray of hope to Sabahans.

Musa Aman, became the Chief Minister of Sabah in 2003. He has proved his credibility and capability by fulfilling all the promises made during the elections in the past 14 years. Another differentiating factor for Musa has been his clean image and zero tolerance towards corruption. Although his stance has been one of the reasons for a feud with some of the former senior party leaders, Musa Aman has proved his toughness by taking strict actions whenever required. This clean, clear and straight approach certainly puts him in a different league of his own.

When it comes to development, no other CM or Menteri Besar in the country can match up to Musa’s level. Under his regime, various exemplary infrastructure projects have been undertaken and initiated, the major projects include Sabah Pan Borneo Highway a 706-kilometre highway upgraded from a two-lane dual carriageway to a four-lane, the building and upgrading of roads included three multi-level interchanges in Kota Kinabalu, the multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Aru Eco-Development project which will transform Tanjung Aru into one of the region’s best tourist spots. And as of Sept this year, the number of projects approved is 647 namely 304 extension projects and 343 new projects. Among the projects are the, rural clean drinking water and electricity supplies, rural roads and people’s housing programme.

Other initiatives such as parks, cycling tracks, stadiums, promotion of rural tourism, tree plantation drives and even releasing of baby sea turtles hatchings and the free Wifi service in Kota Kinabalu has gained Musa a large following and a feeling of belongingness even with the youth of the state.

The launching of the first Malaysia Art School (Sekolah Seni Malaysia) Sabah at the Sandakan Education Hub is another example. The love of art and music among Sabahans is obvious and the setting up of the art school in Sandakan has provided space and opportunity for youngsters who want to pursue their studies in arts. Sabah is known for its different ethnics, races and cultures and Sabahans are also known to be talented in arts and singing. Sabah is a rich repository of art, culture and traditions and the state government under Musa has committed to preserve and further promote it and the youth can play a vital role in this direction. Hence, this art school in the Sandakan Education Hub will not only ensure that  Sabah traditional cultures such as dances will not be lost in time, but it will also provide opportunities for Sabahans to enhance their talents in arts. Besides, music is food for the soul and Sabah is universally acclaimed for its diverse folk songs and versatile musicians.

The chief minister knows the youth are the key players in the process of development and the state government has to empower them with positive perspectives so as to fully harness their potential. And hence, providing training,  adequate employment and self-employment opportunities to the youth of the state was the prime concern of the state government.

When it comes to the younger generations and people concerned about development using new-age technologies, Musa Aman has made a mark for himself, which is next to impossible for anyone else to achieve. With the digitization of various government departments, a host of useful apps for information and faster grievance redressal, instant assistance and help for emergency situations, Musa has made the best optimal utilization of technology for the modernization of the state and benefit of the people. Although we usually hear the terms women safety and empowerment frequently in the political manifestos, it has been actually implemented in Sabah with schemes like Sabah Women TH50 an entrepreneurial programme ‘Creating Millionaires Among Young Women Entrepreneurs (Cream)’ and Micro Credit & Usahawan Desa.

According to so many Opinion Polls, Musa is ranked as one of the best Chief Minister across Malaysia. So, when we come to his comparison with the past CM’s of the state, nobody stands even close to him for consideration. If we take into account the upcoming general elections expected before May 2018, the CM candidate for Gabungan Sabah is Dr Jeffrey Kitingan while Shafie Apdal being the CM candidate for PH Warisan plus. Considering these leaders, Musa definitely comes as a preferred choice for the people due to his clean image and orientation towards development.

After 14 years Musa has not only proved to be a successful leader whose agenda is development and modernization but also he has displayed a strong political acumen. His ideology of “Work says it all”, displays his confidence of the several positive developments undertaken by him. Previously, Sabah used to be in the news only for the wrong reasons and various controversies surrounding the CMs, but due to the efforts and personal character of Musa, the perception of people has changed towards Sabah, Sabah is seen in a good and positive light. While it becomes difficult to compare any existing and potential candidate with him for the position of the Chief Minister of Sabah, if we take into account the previous 12 chief ministers of Sabah ( Faud Stephens, Peter Lo, Tun Mustapha, Mohammad Said Keruak, Harris Salleh, Pairin Kitingan, Tun Sakaran Dandai, Salleh Said Keruak, Yong Teck Lee, Bernard Dompok, Osu Sukam and Chong Kah Keat), Musa Aman certainly emerges out as one of the best and most influential CM until now.

 


This picture of Najib Tun Razak & wife visiting Anwar Ibrahim in the hospital has quickly spread on social media, shortly after the publication on Twitter. This is the picture which shows the suffering of Anwar Ibrahim, and has shocked and sadden even hardened observers.

Shared widely on social media today.

Anyway, I dont know why people think Najib Tun Razak’s visiting of Anwar Ibrahim in the hospital is such a big deal. First they torture him, then they visit him when he is suffering. Najib should do the right thing – Free Anwar, then we all can say Najib is ikhlas, Najib is magnanimous!

Time to free Anwar Ibrahim the Prisoner of Conscience!


Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman said Parti Warisan Sabah president Mohd Shafie Apdal should let MACC do its job in investigating alleged corruption involving the Rural and Regional Development Ministry during the latter’s tenure as its minister.

He said Shafie should be more composed in handling the situation, instead of hurling accusations at others and trying to implicate others.

“There is no need to act all panicky. There is nothing to fear if you are not in the wrong, like the Malay saying ‘Berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah’ (bold because you’re right, fearful if you’re wrong),” he told reporters today.

Musa said up till now, he had not said a word about the case despite being openly attacked in the latter’s political ceramahs and social media.

”However, today I feel compelled to say something because he tried to implicate me in Parliament by saying someone related to me got a project.

“I was not even aware of the project in question. I have a large extended family. I can’t stop those who are friendly to Shafie from getting projects,” he said.

image: https://i.malaysiakini.com/1171/4a701e5393f49dbd8d51ae0248bcb535.jpeg

He said Shafie (photo) should be more gentlemanly in his conduct and not use parliamentary immunity and diversionary tactics to remove the spotlight from himself.

He also said MACC has hauled in individuals from both sides of the political divide in its investigations of corruption cases in the country.

“The issue of this case being politically motivated does not arise because MACC has gone after people from the ruling party in many other cases,” he said.

He said MACC should be allowed to conduct its official investigation without fear or favour and certainly without all the dramatic ranting.

“Maybe some people have the time to whine and rant all over the place but I do not because I have a state to take care of,” he said.

– Bernama


Since our Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had received a US681 million donation from a Saudi prince, this story is appropriate but has no relations to the donation.

The sweeping campaign of arrests in the Saudi royal household appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 32, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman.

Among those arrested is Prince Alwaleed, who controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, has major stakes in News Corp, Time Warner, Citigroup, Twitter, Apple, Motorola and many other well-known companies. He also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world. Prince Alwaleed was giving interviews to the Western news media as recently as late last month about subjects like so-called crypto currencies and Saudi Arabia’s plans for a public offering of shares in its state oil company, Aramco. He has also recently sparred publicly with President Donald J. Trump. The prince was part of a group of investors who bought control of the Plaza Hotel in New York from Mr. Trump, and he also bought an expensive yacht from him as well. But in a twitter message in 2015 the prince called Mr. Trump “a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.”

As powerful as the billionaire is, he is something of an outsider within the royal family — not a dissident, but an unusually outspoken figure on a variety of issues. He openly supported women driving long before the kingdom said it would grant them the right to do so, and he has long employed women in his orbit.
In 2015 he pledged to donate his fortune of $32 billion to charity after his death. It was unclear Saturday whether Saudi Arabia’s corruption committee might seek to confiscate any of his assets.

Salman’s consolidation is reminscent of Aurangazeb’s. The four sons of Shah Jahan all held governorships during their father’s reign. The emperor favoured the eldest, Dara Shukoh. This had caused resentment among the younger three, who sought at various times to strengthen alliances between themselves and against Dara. There was no Mughal tradition of primogeniture, the systematic passing of rule, upon an emperor’s death, to his eldest son. Aurangazeb in turn killed Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja and Murad.

Aurangzeb was a notable expansionist and during his reign, the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent, ruling over nearly all of the Indian subcontinent. During his lifetime, victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to 4 million square kilometres, and he ruled over a population estimated to be over 158 million subjects, with an annual yearly revenue of $450 million (more than ten times that of his contemporary Louis XIV of France), or £38,624,680 (2,879,469,894 rupees) in 1690. Under his reign, India surpassed China to become the world’s largest economy, worth over $90 billion, nearly a quarter of world GDP in 1700. The decline of the Mughal Empire began soon after he died in 1707.

Photo

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men, was reportedly arrested in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Credit Ishara S.Kodikara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

LONDON — Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is sure to send shock waves both through the Kingdom and the world’s major financial centers.

He controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, with major stakes in News Corp, Time Warner, Citigroup, Twitter, Apple, Motorola and many other well-known companies. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

The sweeping campaign of arrests appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman.

At 32, the crown prince is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic and social policies, stirring murmurs of discontent in the royal family that he has amassed too much personal power, and at a remarkably young age.

The king had decreed the creation of a powerful new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, only hours before the committee ordered the arrests.

Al Arabiya said that the anticorruption committee has the right to investigate, arrest, ban from travel, or freeze the assets of anyone it deems corrupt.

The Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, the de facto royal hotel, was evacuated on Saturday, stirring rumors that it would be used to house detained royals. The airport for private planes was closed, arousing speculation that the crown prince was seeking to block rich businessmen from fleeing before more arrests.

Prince Alwaleed was giving interviews to the Western news media as recently as late last month about subjects like so-called crypto currencies and Saudi Arabia’s plans for a public offering of shares in its state oil company, Aramco.

He has also recently sparred publicly with President Donald J. Trump. The prince was part of a group of investors who bought control of the Plaza Hotel in New York from Mr. Trump, and he also bought an expensive yacht from him as well. But in a twitter message in 2015 the prince called Mr. Trump “a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.”

Mr. Trump fired back, also on Twitter, that “Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money.”

As president, Mr. Trump has developed a warm, mutually supportive relationship with the ascendant crown prince, who has rocketed from near obscurity in recent years to taking control of the country’s most important functions.

Photo

At 32, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic and social policies. Credit Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But his swift rise has also divided Saudis. Many applaud his vision, crediting him with addressing the economic problems facing the kingdom and laying out a plan to move beyond its dependence on oil.

Others see him as brash, power-hungry and inexperienced, and they resent him for bypassing his elder relatives and concentrating so much power in one branch of the family.

At least three senior White House officials, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were reportedly in Saudi Arabia last month for meetings that were undisclosed at the time.

Before sparring with Mr. Trump, Prince Alwaleed was publicly rebuffed by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who rejected his $10 million donation for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York because the prince had also criticized American foreign policy.

As powerful as the billionaire is, he is something of an outsider within the royal family — not a dissident, but an unusually outspoken figure on a variety of issues. He openly supported women driving long before the kingdom said it would grant them the right to do so, and he has long employed women in his orbit.

In 2015 he pledged to donate his fortune of $32 billion to charity after his death. It was unclear Saturday whether Saudi Arabia’s corruption committee might seek to confiscate any of his assets.

Saudi Arabia is an executive monarchy without a written Constitution or independent government institutions like a Parliament or courts, so accusations of corruption are difficult to evaluate. The boundaries between the public funds and the wealth of the royal family are murky at best, and corruption, as other countries would describe it, is believed to be widespread.

The arrests came a few hours after the king replaced the minister in charge of the Saudi national guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, who controlled the last of the three Saudi armed forces not yet considered to be under control of the crown prince.

The king named Crown Prince Mohammed the minister of defense in 2015. Earlier this year, the king removed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as head of the interior ministry, placing him under house arrest and extending the crown prince’s influence over the interior ministry’s troops, which act as a second armed force.

Rumors have swirled since then that King Salman and his favorite son would soon move against Prince Mutaib, commander of the third armed force and himself a former contender for the crown.


Life is all about imponderables. What was unthinkable a few years ago, can become the go to mantra of the present. This is all the more true of politics. Take Sabah, for example. Fourteen years ago, if anyone with some knowledge of Sabah’s ethos, its conundrum of frog-jumping politics and abysmal law and order situation in the east coast of Sabah where kidnapping-for-ransom works like a market, had suggested that the Sabah model of governance would one day be hailed for replication, he or she would have been considered loony. Ditto for somebody daring to compare the Sarawak model of development with that of Sabah, and deeming the latter a better standard.

But Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman changed that. Over fourteen years since 2003, he successfully steered Sabah Barisan National government through the stormy waters of coalition politics in a State where Christian Bumiputras have a 27 per cent population, and managed to return to power with landslide victories on 21st March 2004 (GE11), 8th March 2008 (GE12) and 5th May 2013 (GE13).

He managed this laudatory feat for Umno Sabah by holding together a coalition of Sabah based political parties PBS (Party Bersatu Sabah), Upko (United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation), PBRS (Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah), LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), together with Malayan based MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association), MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) and Party Gerakan (also known as a rainbow coalition), complete with Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoist, Animists and even Sikhs. And let me remind you that it was the women of Sabah, who voted for his return with a hitherto unseen gusto.

The improved law and order situation in Sabah after the formation of Esscom (Eastern Sabah Security Command) and Esszone (Eastern Sabah Security Zone), coupled with the deportation of 558,680 of illegals since 1990, and while still 6,226 illegals currently held in detention centres awaiting deportation, was responsible for enthusing Sabah voters. Esscom also had been able to thwart many kidnap attempts by cross-border criminals as a result of predictive intelligence and also the curfew imposed in seven districts in Esszone, all these have increased the support for the Sabah BN. Where law and order improves and the State functions in a better way, the best impact is felt by women and the minorities.

Both women and Muslim Bumiputras played a major role in the return of the Sabah BN over and over again. Across the board, there was patronage of Muslim voters for the coalition candidate, whether from Umno Sabah or the Sabah BN.

Increased aspirations and expectations, however, pose even more dilemmas to any dispensation, and the Umno-BN government in Sabah is no exception. Musa displayed the least exuberance at his election victories because he knew it came with massive responsibility. Spelling out the challenges before him, till now the development of Sabah has been central, in that hospitals, schools, power plants, dams, roads and bridges were built, electricity and clean drinking water and services improved. This benefited everybody. But now the Government has to bring in governance, which will be a challenge but Musa has done a fantastic job in this area over the last fourteen years.

The first hurdle was the long-pending land issue of land ownership and native customary right. Musa came up with the excellent idea of Communal grants to protect native rights to Native Customary Rights (NCR) land ownership. With the Communal Titles, land cannot be sold. There are plenty of cases where lands were quickly sold off, some even before approvals were granted, and for a mind-boggling small sum to outsiders. Communal Titles are not only a solution for the landless to own land, but a way of protecting rural folks from dubious people who entice them to part with their land for a measly amount.The only condition in Communal Tittle lands is that the land cannot be sold but passed down the family to develop on a long-term basis for sustained income that can lift the Natives out of poverty. So far 72 communal titles had been established involving 119,083 acres in 12 districts and have benefited 213 villages or 10,462 Sabah natives.

Next, Musa took on the role of just and fair enforcer by punishing civil servants guilty of corruption. Massive sums of money are being spent from Plan outlays … billions of Ringgit is being spent on various development schemes, there will be far greater opportunity to make money through corruption, and this will have to be checked and Musa is extremely hard on this and had even instructed The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to go all out on all those who are on the take, corrupt bureaucrats will be convicted, and their ill-gotten wealth and property confiscated.

Sabah’s Watergate Scandal is such an example. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission seized RM114 million worth of assets, RM53.7million in cold cash stashed in houses and offices from two senior Sabah Water Department officials on Oct 4 last year. The duo, a Director of the Water Department and his former deputy are being slapped with 34 money laundering charges.The sum seized was said to have been siphoned off from part of the RM7.5 billion allocated for rural projects in Sabah, channeled through the Federal Rural and Regional Development Ministry between 2009 and 2015, when Shafie Apdal was Minister.

Then again last week MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner, Dato Azam Baki claimed some RM1.5 billion of the allocated RM7.5 billion from the Federal Rural and Regional Development Ministry for basic infrastructure of road, water and energy for the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak for 2009 to 2015 was squandered. Some RM170 million in bank accounts and assets of the companies involved in the projects has been frozen by MACC.

A series of MACC seizures are the reason why administrative reforms should be put in place, especially with regard to Federal development funds. Musa Aman has been saying this all along year after year since he took office in 2003.

The rural infrastructure allocation system for Sabah needs to be streamlined by the federal government through the channeling of federal funds directly to the state government. This will enhance the effectiveness of project implementation, particularly rural development projects. The total allocation provided by the federal government to the state for rural development projects is more than RM6 billion for the period from 2010 to 2013, which is approximately RM2 billion per year, but where are the projects?

There is no justification for Federal to approve and implement projects in the State and not channel the funds to the State Government. The Federal Government should not be seen as usurping the authority of Sabah and creating a parallel government in the process, like what they did during PBS rule where contracts and payments were made direct by Federal Treasury to contractors in Sabah.

The funds for all Federal funded projects should be channelled to the Sabah State Government for implementation and monitoring. Sabah State government knows better the ground situation and has in-depth knowledge of local conditions and requirements. Definitely the State government can chart Sabah’s own development course to meet local needs and requirements.

Sabah’s model of development is a shining example of impeccable governance and indeed its anti-corruption measures should be replicated elsewhere in the country.

That naturally brings us to the possibility of Musa Aman emerging again as Sabah’s chief ministerial candidate in the next polls which will take place within the next six months. Clearly, his credentials, tough stance against corruption and clean public image have caught the nation’s fancy.


May 25, 2017― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lamented today over the sale of a 49.9 per cent stake in Malaysia’s national carmaker Proton, once the country’s source of pride, to Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

The former prime minister, who had founded Proton Holdings in 1983 in a bid to turn Malaysia into an industrialised powerhouse, said he could not be proud of Proton’s future success because it would no longer belong to him or to Malaysia.

“I am a sissy. I cry even if Malaysians are dry-eyed. My child is lost. And soon my country. Please excuse me,” Dr Mahathir wrote on his blog.

“Proton the child of my brain has been sold. It is probably the beginning of the great sell-out. The process is inexorable. No other way can we earn the billions to pay our debts. The only way is to sell our assets. And eventually we will lose our country, a great country no doubt, but owned by others,” added the country’s longest serving prime minister.

The deal between Proton parent DRB-Hicom and Geely was announced yesterday, with Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani saying that Proton would remain a national car because Proton would still have a majority hold of 50.1 per cent.

International newswire Reuters reported that Geely was expected to offer Proton some vehicle technologies in order to grow its sales overseas and to recover some of the global presence Proton had lost in recent years.

Proton reportedly dominated the domestic market by 74 per cent in 1993 at its peak, but saw its market share dwindle to around 15 per cent currently due to low-quality cars, poor after-sales service and tough competition from foreign automakers.

Dr Mahathir said he was certain that Proton would now be sold all over the world.

“It will be like Singapore. Malaysians are proud of this great city-state. If it had not been sold it would be, perhaps, as well developed as Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis. Then we cannot be proud of Singapore,” he said.

“Now we can be proud of Proton. With money and superior technology it will compete with Rolls Royce and Bentley. But I cannot be proud of its success. I cannot be proud of the success of something that does not belong to me or my country. Maybe other Malaysians will, but not me,” added the 91-year-old.

Anyway heard it through the grapevine that this is:

Proton Geely’s first model

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Read hear Dr Mahathir’s Chedet


The Sabah government upholds religious freedom and views seriously any issue that could jeopardise peace and harmony among the people of different faiths in the state.

To this end, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman hoped the National Registration Department (NRD) would immediately rectify existing weaknesses in the issuance of MyKad, such as inadvertent insertion of ‘Islam’ in the identification documents of non-Muslims.

He also wants a full report from the NRD on the extent of the problem in Sabah and the measures to be put in place to prevent a repeat of such errors.

“This looks like an administrative problem. Nonetheless, I want the problem to be rectified in a speedy manner by the relevant authorities,” he said in a statement here today, in reference to a recent claim on the issue by Sabah Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB) president Datuk Jerry Dusing.

Musa said while there were weaknesses in the NRD, the issue at hand should not be blown out of proportion.

“Certain quarters should not be so quick to state that the government has allowed religious radicalism to go unchecked far too long, supports religious intolerance and corruption as well as criminal activities like abduction,” he said.

He said it was highly irresponsible to make such public accusations especially when it came from religious quarters, adding that it could fan religious sentiments among the diverse communities that practise different religions in the county and state.

“Let me make this clear that there is no room for religious or racial intolerance in Sabah. We are a multi-racial and multi-religious state whereby the people live in peace and harmony,” he said.

He also said the state government gave millions to churches and mission schools as well as Chinese vernacular schools and temples.

“Please be more sensitive in making statements especially in such an ethnically and religiously diverse state like Sabah,” he said. — Bernama


By Datuk Seri Musa Aman

AS leader of this state, I am duty-bound to serve the people and ensure their needs are taken care of.

I accept the fact that there are limits to what I can achieve as the Chief Minister, but I try my best and accept criticisms where due.

But, when false allegations are hurled at the administration that I lead, I will not accept it without defending those who make sure my instructions are followed.

There are leaders who act, and those who pay lip service.

Recently, the opposition accused the Barisan Nasional-led government of clearing more than 100,000ha of forest reserves to be converted into oil palm plantations.

I have dealt with this by setting the record straight at the recently-concluded State Legislative Assembly sitting and reminded the opposition that their responsibility entails more than just criticising the government.

The government is open to suggestions that will bring progress to the state and benefits to the people, even if they come from the opposition.

But, I will not tolerate those who voice out baseless allegations to confuse the people or deliberately exploit issues for political mileage.

For those leaders who are sincere, I told them to come and see me if there are things they do not understand.

Preserving the forest is an important agenda for me.

One of the milestones in Sabah’s conservation effort was when the state resolved to protect the area that harbours the largest orangutanpopulation, as well as other wildlife in Sabah, in the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves.

After almost 60 years of continuous logging, this activity was phased out by the end of 2007.

While there were some sceptics, it sent a strong message on our seriousness about conservation.

To reiterate that we mean business, during an official visit by then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Deramakot Forest Reserve in June 2006, I announced that logging would be phased out in Ulu Segama, Malua and Kalumpang the following year.

The eventual halt to logging in the areas would translate to a forfeiture of at least RM1 billion in timber royalties to the state.

The move has led to 240,000ha being placed under Sustainable Forest Management for the conservation of orangutan and reforestation of an area that is also part of the broader Heart of Borneo due to its rich biodiversity.

Efforts have been put in place to recreate healthy and productive forests in these and other forest reserves, each with their own management plans.

In areas not fully protected, extraction of timber is done on a sustainable basis and high conservation value areas, such as watersheds, are protected for their many benefits.

Through Sustainable Forest Management, 53 per cent of Sabah, or 3.9 million hectares, of state land have been permanently set aside as Forest Reserves, Protection Areas and Wildlife Conservation Areas.

The state government has also decided to set aside 30 per cent of its total landmass, or 2.2 million hectares, as Totally Protected Areas, which we hope to achieve in the next few years.

The current 26 per cent has already exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of 10 per cent.

It must be noted that Sabah has restored and planted forests well over 600,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

On top of that, we also have the three natural gems in the form of the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas under the full protection of Yayasan Sabah.

The latest development to show our commitment is the scrapping of the proposed Sukau bridge across Kinabatangan river, after considering views about the environmental impact from various quarters, including non-governmental organisations and environmentalists.

The Sabah government has and will continue to promote the state as a hub for tropical rainforest research involving renowned international research organisations, such as the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, the Nature Conservancy of the United States of America, Sime Darby Foundation, Abraham Foundation, WWF-Malaysia IKEA, Petronas, as well as key local higher learning institutions.

We must grow and enrich our forests with a variety of timber species.

It will be most regrettable if we leave tracts of barren land to the future generation.

Musa Aman is the Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia.