Archive for the ‘Najib Tun Razak’ Category


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!

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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.

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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.

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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.


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By DATUK SERI MUSA AMAN 

SABAH recorded its highest number of tourist arrivals last year. There were 3.427 million visitors, who spent an estimated RM7.25 billion based on receipts generated.

The amount was money paid for flights, rooms, transport, food, services and souvenirs they brought home to remind them of their trip to the “Land Below the Wind”. This contributed an extra 10 per cent to the state’s economy.

For this, I applaud the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, as well as industry stakeholders. Kudos to the minister in charge, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

The remarkable achievement was made possible with hard work and perseverance, as well as the belief that we have what it takes to be a world-class destination.

Hard work — through the aggressive promotional activities carried out by the ministry via its “engine room”, the Sabah Tourism Board under the stewardship of Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

Hard work — by working hand in hand with the related government agencies, private sector, service providers, retailers and communities that depend on tourist arrivals.

Perseverance — by believing that despite the challenges we face, Sabah is gifted with a natural setting that attracts many to its shores, mountains, rivers and jungles.

Perseverance — that despite all the brickbats, we have strived harder to present our charms, host our guests and do our best to serve them while they are here.

Another key factor is how the ministry, along with the board and other agencies, has strategically embraced digital marketing to promote the state. We have come a long way and put in a lot of effort to become a destination of choice.

The state has also received a lot of help from the federal leadership under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has always been in awe of Sabah’s natural beauty.

Infrastructure development and the injection of funds have helped put in place the roads, airport runways, hotels, and electricity and water supply needed to play host to visitors.

To be on a par with world-class destinations, the state has embarked on endeavours, such as the Tanjung Aru Eco Development plan, to rejuvenate the iconic beach in Kota Kinabalu.

Federal approvals for flight arrivals have helped tremendously in boosting tourist arrivals, too.

Last year, four airlines commenced direct flights to Kota Kinabalu International Airport, where today, 13 foreign airlines have direct connections from 16 international locations.

There was a threefold increase in chartered flight arrivals, from 76 in 2015 to 210 last year, bringing in 25,627 passengers.

On our shores, there were 37 cruise and naval ships that called to port in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau, bringing in more than 33,000 visitors.

Our international relations with foreign countries have helped encourage tourist arrivals.

Friendly ties with China resulted in a double-digit growth in arrivals from the country, with 374,939 visitors. There was also an increase in arrivals from South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brunei.

Domestic tourist arrivals are another important factor, with nearly 2.3 million people from other states having made Sabah their holiday destination.

All these will require better roads, communication lines and security. With greater development in the pipeline under the Barisan Nasional government, we can expect better connectivity that will allow more of Sabah to be explored.

We have anchor attractions, such as the majestic Mount Kinabalu; the islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Sakaran and Tun Mustapha marine parks in Kota Kinabalu, Semporna and Kudat, respectively; and, wildlife, such as orangutans at the Sepilok sanctuary in Sandakan and proboscis monkeys in Sukau and Bilit, Kinabatangan.

Other prime destinations include the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas.

We have seen new interest developing in adventure hiking trails in Kiulu, Tambunan and Penampang; the food industry, with visitors trying out fresh seafood and local delicacies; tamu grounds; and, cultural events.

Visit Tambunan Year 2017, for example, was envisioned by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to promote the interior district as a tourist destination. The initiative is commendable.

It is our duty and responsibility, as the host, to provide the best we can so that every visitor leaves with pleasant memories and experiences from their trip to Sabah — and return.

**The writer is Sabah chief minister



To claim that things are getting better in their tenure and because of them is an old Prime Ministerial habit. A PM is undoubtedly a very important person in our dispensation. The office is vested with great authority and there is an aura about the incumbent that often fools even the cameras whose lights seem to caress rather than expose the object of their focus. Our system of government, with so much power of patronage concentrated in one person, ensures that mostly fawning and obsequious people who constantly whip up a lather of simulated adulation surround the Prime Minister. PM’s consequently confuse the power of patronage with the power that ensures compliance. It is small wonder when our supreme leaders start thinking of themselves as King Canute’s who can order the waves about.

The reality is that like the ocean’s waves, economic waves too are cosmically controlled and PM’s are like King Canute’s who futilely wave their hands about. Happily most PM’s realize this and make sure they are seen waving their hands appropriately with the tides of growth and the ebbs of inflation. But once in a while we get a leader who actually believes that the waves are obeying him. That is when we enter dangerous waters.

I recently attended an event that Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed. Unlike most other PM’s with the exception of Tun Dr Mahathir, he came promptly at almost the appointed minute and walked briskly to his place on the dais. He listened as the host, with a wry sense of humor, exclaimed how fortunate Malaysia is to be united as never before under one charismatic man. The Prime Minister looked on expectantly and the audience was suitably primed to roar its approval.

The Prime Minister then spoke and without much ado took the fight straight to the critics, a few of who like me were seated in the back row. He said: “For Malaysia to be at the top of the growth tables is an unusual situation. Obviously, there are some who find that difficult to digest and come up with imaginative and fanciful ideas to belittle that achievement.” This is unfair. But it is churlish to say that his critics do so because his government is perceived unable to resolve the debt-ridden government strategic investment arm, 1MDB’s RM46 billion debt or address the falling value of the Ringgit. To be truthful based on facts as perceived does not mean a person takes pride in belittling one’s own country? Is the next litmus test of patriotism going to be supporting the PM’s extravagant flights of fancy?

The Prime Minister’s case is that “Malaysia’s economic success is the hard-won result of prudence, sound policy and effective management.” He repeated: “Malaysia’s growth rate is acknowledged as the highest among major economies.” With evident sarcasm he added that his critics are confused when they say, “the growth rate does not feel right” and generously offered to alleviate the confusion with “facts in place of feelings.” The point here is no critic of any consequence ever argued that the growth rate “does not feel right.” They have just said that his government’s interpretation of the facts is not right.

Take GDP growth for instance. Few argue that the “real’ GDP growth is 4.97% as his government is claiming though there have been serious misgivings on how the GDP calculations were tweaked to jump growth a further 1%. The problem here is the use of the term “real.” In the real world the number that matters is the “nominal” GDP growth rate, which is a measure of current market prices.

For much of the past decade Malaysia’s nominal GDP growth was in the 4% range and corporate profitability growth was also in that range. Since inflation used to be in the 0.5% to 1.5% range, real GDP was in the 5% range. The present nominal GDP growth is 4.2%.

But the popular mood is determined by actual accruals and not by economic sleight of hand. In the real world it is the nominal GDP that matters. Corporate sales and profitability are calculated in nominal terms. Everyday commerce and business takes place in nominal terms. Government revenues are collected in nominal terms and levied on nominal incomes or sales. It is not a matter of feeling but the reality of life.

The fact is that 2015-16 has been a bad year for the Malaysian economy. In the budget for 2015-16 the government set a nominal GDP growth target of 5% . The nominal GDP growth turned out to be just 4.2%, which is below target. The real GDP growth of 4.97% is because of the collapse of world commodity prices and has little to do with the so-called “prudent policies.” Comparing apples with oranges can only fool some people for some of the time, and not all the people for all the time.

While on apples and oranges, food inflation is the inflation that matters to most people in this country where the average family expends over 60% of its income on food. This inflation has been well over 5% even though the government projected in the 2016 federal budget at 2% – 3%. Since the introduction of GST, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to measure inflation, has been on the increase. By the end of April 2015, the first month when GST was implemented, CPI increased 1.8 percent when seasonally compared to April 2014. In July 2015, four months after GST, CPI index was 3.3 percent higher than the same month a year earlier.

In his speech the PM also specifically referred to The Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) monetary aid which will be increased to RM1,200 next year from RM 1,000 under the 2017 federal budget. The BR1M allocation will cost the government RM6.8 billion, to be delivered to 7 million households. The PM then goes into Tun Dr Mahathir bashing and says that BR1M is not “dedak”, but rather, it is a sincere assistance from the government to prioritise the rakyat’s needs.

Look at theses figures, Goods and Services Tax (GST) to rake in RM39 billion in 2016 (3.1 percent of GDP) (2015: estimated RM27 billion from April). Malaysia’s fiscal deficit is projected to decline to RM38.8 billion or 3.1 percent of GDP in 2016 (2015: 3.2 percent). Oil-related revenue to drop 14.1 percent in 2016 due to lower global crude oil prices (2015: 19.7 percent). The federal government expenditure to increase 1.7 percent to RM265.2 billion in 2016 (2015: RM260.7 billion). Nominal GNI (gross national income) per capita to increase 5.6 percent to RM38,438 next year from 4.2 percent anticipated growth to RM36,397 this year.

One is tempted to dismiss this as just fanciful claims, but in these times when ones patriotism and professional integrity is apt to challenged for lesser lese majeste, it will be prudent to just say: It’s time to get real!

Meanwhile honest heart-centered Malaysians continue to struggle to make ends meet, their ideas, talents finding little or no nourishing context in which to flourish.


The Pan Borneo Highway has become a reality only under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said in the past, no Prime Minister “had the guts” to implement the mega project.

“We had asked for the Pan Borneo (highway) in the past, but no PM was brave enough to give it to us. I am not trying to talk bad (about others), but only PM Najib dared to give this to us.

“Barisan Nasional has a good track record and the Pan Borneo Highway is not the only example of their commitment.

“Based on (his track) record, our current PM is the most concerned over our welfare. He has given (Sabah) the most allocation, with thousands of millions, this is not a lie. Thank you sir,” Musa said during the launch of the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway Lahad Datu Bypass package here by Najib.

Musa said the support shown includes providing security assets, especially at the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone).

“So, like the (Bahasa Melayu) term, we should not be ‘kacang lupakan kulit’. We should return the favour with our loyalty and support to the government,” stressed Musa.

Meanwhile this morning, launching the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway in Lahad Datu, Najib said he wants the Pan Borneo Highway project to become his legacy and something the Sabah folks will remember him by.

“Because I want to be remembered during my tenure as PM, that I gave this to Sabah. That this project is an effort under my administration for the people of this state,” he said at SMK Sepagaya here.

Chief Minister Musa Aman welcomed the decision by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to allow Malaysian vessels to enter the republic’s waters in hot pursuit of kidnappers.

“This is a positive development towards curbing kidnapping incidents in Sabah,” he said in a statement.

He said granting Malaysian security forces the permission to pursue kidnappers in Philippine waters would increase the chances of nabbing them.

The decision was announced after Duterte’s meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Putrajaya yesterday.

Musa said Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo’s decision to allow a similar move was a step in the right direction towards curbing cross border crimes.

The chief minister said he was also pleased to note that Duterte has agreed to the gradual repatriation of Filipinos who are staying illegally in Sabah.

“We hope for continued cooperation with both our neighbours, the Philippines and Indonesia, to maintain the peace and security and good bilateral and trade relations,” he added.

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The Sabah Government has its own ways, which have proven to work, in claiming its rights from the Federal Government as provided for in the Federal Constitution, said Chief Minister Musa Aman.

He said what was important now was that the way the state government had approached the matter all this while had borne fruit, compared with the “making noise” approach or publicity stunts that might not work.

“When we act on something, we don’t have to tell the whole world how we do it.

“We find that it is better to discuss when proposing something,” said Musa, who was responding to a question by Wilfred M. Bumburing (Independent-Tamparuli) during the Sabah Legislative Assembly here today.

Citing an example, Musa said the state managed to obtain 30% equity in on-shore oil exploration in Sabah through its negotiations with the Federal Government and oil companies.

“From zero (stake), we now own 30% equity regarding on-shore exploration. This has never happened before. This is what I mean by no need to make noise.”

Meanwhile, the state assembly was also told that main and technical committees were set up to review devolution of powers for the Sabah and Sarawak governments.

In responding to a question by Wilfred, Sabah’s Special Functions Minister Teo Chee Kang said both the national-level main committees would be jointly led by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman (for Sabah) and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri (for Sarawak).

He also said Anifah would lead the technical committee for Sabah.

Among the things to be discussed were to allow officers for Federal Government agencies in Sabah to make their own decisions without referring to Putrajaya and to give a bigger role to the state governments to decide its own projects, especially concerning location and priorities, he said.

The committee will also discuss holding interviews for civil service positions to be held in rural areas; reducing the public prosecutor’s powers under the Criminal Procedure Code to the State Attorney to prosecute offences under any ordinance or state enactment; and to allow Sabah and Sarawak to approve and to issue deep sea fishing permits, he said.


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


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.



The Sabah State Cabinet wants the relevant authorities to take drastic action to resolve once and for all the issue of illegal immigrants in the state, after the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) blamed “corrupt officials” and illegal syndicates for the state’s burgeoning foreigner population.

Chief Minister Musa Aman said the State Cabinet, with consensus, welcomed the release of the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah and supported the recommendations made to resolve the issue.

“THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UNDER PRIME MINISTER DATO SRI NAJIB TUN RAZAK HAS FULFILLED ITS PROMISE ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RCI AND TO RELEASE ITS FINDINGS,” he said after being briefed on the RCI findings and recommendations at the weekly State Cabinet meeting today.

He said these findings have been released by an independent panel that has heard and scrutinised the testimonies of multiple witnesses.

Musa said based on these findings, it was discovered that there were wrongdoings committed by individuals for monetary gain.

“These grievous acts were committed by irresponsible individuals who were greedy and they have been brought before the law for their crimes,” he said.

In moving forward post-RCI, he said it was important for concrete measures to be taken to ensure that these acts do not recur and any efforts by any syndicates that could undermine the sovereignty of this nation must be dismantled and face the long arm of the law.

He said the State Cabinet therefore welcomed the recommendations to set up a PERMANENT COMMITTEE on Foreigners to be co chaired by Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Zahid Hamidi and himself as well as a Working Committee on Foreigners to be chaired by Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

“We also call on relevant Departments and agencies to overcome any weaknesses and tighten any loopholes within their respective structures to maintain the integrity of their respective governmental functions and the ultimate objective, which is serving the people,” he said.

In the meantime, he said the State Government would continue to work hand in hand with the Federal Government to overcome issues dealing with illegal immigrants in the state.

He said the relevant authorities such as Police, National Registration department and the Immigration Department are working closely through statewide operations such as Ops Bersepadu to flush out illegal immigrants in the state.

“It is also my hope that our counterparts in our neighboring countries will assist us in this effort by facilitating the return of their citizens to their respective countries,” he said.