1. #341
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Malaysia 1MDB scandal: Foreign investors take fright as walls close in on PM Najib Razak

    Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib RazakMOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

    The walls are closing in on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. As the embattled leader reels from the 1MDB scandal and revelations that $681m (£470m) was transferred into his bank account by Saudi Arabia, France announced on 4 February that prosecutors would investigate claims that he took kick-backs as part of a US$1.2bn (£0.8bn) arms deal. As his political rivals circle, Razak looks increasingly vulnerable.

    Najib set up the 1Malaysia Development Bhd in 2009 to bolster Malaysia's coffers and turn the capital, Kuala Lumpur, into an economic hub but critics – including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed – say that the fund lacks transparency and took on too much debt.

    It is sad that investors shy away from Malaysia even when Ringgit is at the cheapest in nearly 20 years. Too many scandals have been exposed recently.
    - Abas al-Jalil

    1MDB has angrily denied that the money was transferred to Najib or that the fund is insolvent, while Najib has hit out at his political opponents, including Mahathir: "Let me be very clear: I have never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents. At no point have those making these allegations offered any evidence [...].Not once has the source of these documents ever been shown," he wrote on Facebook.
    That argument was bolstered when in early 2015, it missed $11bn (£7.5bn) of payments it owed to banks and bondholders. When the Wall Street Journal disclosed that $618m (£426m) was transferred from the fund into Najib's personal bank account a scandal erupted, forcing the prime minister to claim that the money had been a donation from Saudi Arabia, which was confirmed after an investigation by Malaysia's anti-corruption commission.

    But now the US authorities have waded into the debacle, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the FBI was investigating allegations of money laundering at 1MDB and the New York Times revealing that a US Federal jury was looking into Najib. The fund has told the BBC that it was not aware of any US investigation into its actions.

    It comes at a difficult time for Malaysia, both financially and politically. China's slowdown and low oil prices – Malaysia's main export is palm oil – has hit the country's economy while a new goods and services tax (GST) has been wildly unpopular. The political landscape has become increasingly undemocratic with Najib dismissing political opponents and at least one major opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, jailed on spurious charges of sodomy.

    More about Najib Razak

    Now investment is tapering off as international firms shy away after the 1MDB scandal, despite the fact that the Malaysian currency – the ringgit – is at historic lows: "Before, it was easy to convince foreign investors and companies to invest and form joint ventures in Malaysia, but lately they prefer to avoid dealings with government-linked companies or institutions," said Abas al-Jalil, chief executive at Amanah Capital Group in Kuala Lumpur.

    "It is sad that investors shy away from Malaysia even when Ringgit is at the cheapest in nearly 20 years. Too many scandals have been exposed recently."

    The next national election in Malaysia isn't until 2018 but Najib will have his eye on local elections in just a couple of months. The first of these will be in the state of Sarawak, a largely autonomous state but one that supplied just enough seats to the prime minister's UMNO so that he could secure a majority in government. The controversy surrounding 1MDB could persuade voters to align with the opposition coalition, Alliance of Hope.

    Dennis Ignatius, a career diplomat who was Malaysia's high commissioner to Canada between 2001 and 2008, told the Globe and Mail this week that the Malaysian public had had enough of Najib and the corruption that seems to stick to him like a bad smell.
    "Malaysia is a nation in deep paralysis, a dysfunctional democracy, if it can still be called one. Allegations of massive corruption at the highest levels of government have caused a serious crisis of confidence in the government and in its ability to lead the country forward at a very challenging time," he said.

    "The Attorney-General's decision to absolve the Prime Minister of any wrongdoing in connection with the alleged donation ... has not gone down well with a populace already weary and wary of the ability of our institutions to act professionally and with due diligence. There is widespread dismay, anger and disillusionment."


  2. #342
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    6 FEB 2016

    Yak won't take the rap

    Yak Won't Take The Rap

    6 FEB 2016

    The world learnt about the sort of salary that your friendly Singapore bank manager can hope to earn, when Mr Yak Yew Chee deposited his court papers yesterday.
    No less than SNG$27 million in salary and, more importantly, bonuses in just four short years roared the news headlines.


    $1 million salary and $10.4 million bonus in 2014 – for what?

    Another revelation that came out from the highly informative dossier, dumped by Mr Yak before the courts was that, despite him being on what was repeatedly described as “unpaid leave” since April 2015, the bank had nevertheless being sending him monthly salary cheques of $83,000.
    The cheques, instead of normal bank transfers, were a handy concession by the bank, because he could cash them abroad, where his accounts were not frozen like they are in Singapore.

    Yak provided the court with copies of the cheques to show just how generous his BSI employers were (above). The documents also showed that to begin with Yak had signed an agreement to take this so-called “unpaid leave” in May and to cooperate with the bank.
    Agreement that was to turn sour

    However, friction had already broken out between his legal advisors and the bank, with Yak making plain in April that his understanding that the measures being taken were to prepare the bank in case of an allegation being made against it and to protect him were not being upheld.

    Yak’s legal team claimed he was being let down by his superiors who were anticipating action against BSI

    Yak was apparently being kept on the payroll in order to ensure his continued cooperation with the bank. However, the email trail makes clear he was suspicious of his employers motives in case they pinned the blame on him.

    Was this the real reason he took his case public?

    Jho Low links to 1MDB confirmed by his bank manager

    Yak’s now public court papers have certainly thrown a great deal more light onto how the various Singapore private banks were handling Jho Low and his related accounts and in the process have scotched for ever the on-going lie that the businessman had nothing to do with 1MDB after 2009, as has been doggedly maintained by CEO Arul Kanda and Low himself.

    Indeed, the proposed statutory declaration, which was being negotiated between Yak and his BSI employers in order to present the bank’s position to the investigating authorities, included the following damning points:

    “I have not at any time entered into any arrangement to give of cause to be given any Gratification …relating to the accounts held with the BSI group by Brazen Sky Ltd, Low Tak Jho, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, Aabar Investments PJSC and/or their respective affiliates….

    We would clarify that the additional parties named are closely linked in the matrix of business relationships involving 1MDB/Brazen and Low, and we trust your client would agree that Gratification could conceivably have involved them and would be willing to negate any such suspicion.”

    In other words BSI Bank were confirming that the affairs of 1MDB, Brazen Sky and Jho Low were inextricably intertwined… along with the bogus Aabar subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS Limited, which Yak also mentions in his statement (below).

    What the bank negotiated with Yak to say in his statement

    Yet, over the bridge in Malaysia, the Prime Minister and his diminishing coterie of die hard supporters continues to ban this website and bully other online commentators using ‘anti-terrorism’ laws, on the grounds that we are promoting “falsehoods”.

    To the contrary, according to 1MDB’s own bank, what we have said on this matter (as on several others) is now confirmed to be true. This may be why the PM’s tame AG has turned today tothreatening life imprisonment for leaking ‘state secrets’ instead.

    Yak’s “fantastic business success”

    Yak made his tell-all application to the court, purportedly to unfreeze his accounts, in order to pay bills in Singapore. However, the Singapore Commercial Affairs Department countered with an aggressive rebuttal.

    Responding to his application, the CAD pointed out that Yak had “squirrelled” over $5 million out into foreign banks before they had managed to freeze his accounts and that they had only some $7.91 million of his admitted $27 million in earnings under lock and key.

    That left a “staggering S$9 million unaccounted for” raged the authority, which therefore argued that Yak could quite easily pay his bills by repatriating some of the millions he had parked abroad.
    CAD confirms that BSI’s claim about unpaid leave was untrue

    In the event, the authority reached an accommodation with Yak at the last minute on Friday, agreeing that the banker could bring money back from abroad to pay his bills, without measures being taken to freeze it.

    It left the judge wondering why all this court time had been wasted… and the world’s media at liberty to examine all Yak’s dossier of insider documents laid before the court in the process.

    It seems that Yak’s real reason, therefore, may have been to counter what he plainly suspected were manoeuvres by the bank to make him the scapegoat for what he insists were decisions that went right up to the top of BSI. Certainly, the dossier proves that by January this suspended relationship manager for Jho Low and 1MDB was at loggerheads with his bosses.

    At issue were repeated demands by his line manager Hanspeter Brunner, CEO Asia, that Yak agree to attend the bank for questioning about a charge that he withheld information from his superiors about a ‘notice of security relating to one of the bank’s clients’.

    HansPeter Brunner and his legal team parried for months with Yak, trying to get him to cooperate in informal talks at the bank

    Other papers make it perfectly plain that this ‘notice of security’ referred to none other than the massive loan made by Deutsche Bank of nearly US$1 billion to 1MDB, to finance its debt repayments in late 2014.

    That loan was secured on the apparent US$1.03 billion alleged to be in 1MDB’s subsidiary account named Brazen Sky at BSI in Singapore, which Yak also managed.

    After Sarawak Report revealed in May that the Singapore authorities had found that Brazen Sky actually had no cash in that account, Deutsche Bank pulled the loan.

    In his correspondence with BSI, Yak himself claimed that he had done nothing without the approval of his bosses and that he had not referenced the said notice, because the client had told him not to proceed.
    I would have sought management approval if the client (1MDB) had confirmed they wished the arrangement to proceed …..Yak explains why he did not tell his bosses about the ‘security check’ which Deutsche Bank requested on the Brazen Sky account for its billion dollar loan to 1MDB

    In all the correspondence, in fact, Yak repeatedly claimed that his superiors at the bank were fully aware of all his transactions with these mega clients of the bank.

    Hanspeter Brunner CEO Asia, BSI

    Much of the increasingly hostile dialogue surrounded Yak’s plain reluctance to be called in for oral questioning about these matters by the bank and to sign their ‘notes’ on the proceedings without proper legal protection, full recordings and written questions in advance of any interrogation.

    Saying he “had experience” of the bank’s record in such matters, Yak made clear he was fearful that his bosses would use anything he said in the informal and unrecorded meetings to pin all the blame on him.

    In response, his superiors, whom we now know were still paying him and further offering a potential bonus payment if he cooperated with their wishes, expressed a growing anger and frustration over Yak’s refusal to cooperate, except on his own terms of written questions in advance and a full recording of the discussion being made.

    Tough words from BSI’s Hanspeter Brunner accusing Yak of “insubordination” while on his ‘unpaid leave’

    But, Yak was adamant that he did not trust his employers to make a fair record of the interview. If BSI had continued to pay him and discuss his bonus during this “unpaid leave” it wasn’t producing the desired cooperation.

    Thank you for your immense contribution

    Yak’s court deposition carefully contains ample evidence to back his point that far from being a rogue banker, he had been BSI’s star employee right till the moment when the regulators began investigating Jho Low’s accounts at the bank.

    Indeed, the documents show, he was praised from the very top for his “fantastic success” in bringing in business by none other than Dr Alfredo Gysi, the Swiss boss of the BSI group, who sent him a personal letter of congratulation at the end of 2011.

    Incidentally, it was shortly after Yak joined in September 2009 that Jho Low had opened his ADKMIC account and several other personal and business accounts at BSI and started transferring half a billion dollars from his RBS Coutts Zurich Good Star account to BSI.

    Was this the reason for the plaudits?

    CAD records recording the Jho Low company accounts brought to BSI in 2011, along with an $11 million personal account

    “Hanspeter told me about the fantastic business success you achieved in the last few weeks…. He also told me this was done in close teamwork.. thank you for your immense contribution not only to the growth of our new Asia business but to BSI Group as well” gushed CEO, Dr Gysi.
    Personal accolade from the ultimate boss of BSI in Switzerland Christmas 2011

    Yak’s bonus incentives

    It should be remembered that Yak transferred to BSI from Coutts Singapore, from where he had earlier managed Jho Low’s accounts and it can be surmised that one of the reasons he was engaged on a handsome starter salary of $500,000 a year was for the very reason that he was bringing a very wealthy set of clients.

    You shall be a Senior Relationship Manager – starter salary $500,000

    One can also only conclude that the extraordinarily rapid salary increases that Yak subsequently achieved at BSI and his enormous bonus payments were likewise owing to the immense amount of business his clients, by now not only Low, but Low’s related 1MDB, Aabar and SRC accounts were bringing in too.

    His declaration, devised in collaboration with his bosses at the bank, that he did not receive any ‘Gratification’ from these clients as an incentive for handling these accounts would therefore seem to be entirely plausible. After all, Yak was receiving plenty of gratification from his own employers for managing these transactions, so what further incentive did he need?

    Don’t make me a scapegoat

    Sarawak Report therefore suspects that the reason why Yak Yew Chee has chosen to place all this material in the courts and before the public eye is to attempt to protect himself from being singled out by BSI Bank and the prosecutors as a lone ‘rogue banker’ in this affair.

    His misdeeds, if there were misdeeds, in handling suspect transactions by politically connected individuals linked to public funds were known about and ultimately approved by the hierarchies of both BSI and earlier Coutts bank, according to Yak

    Don’t make me the scapegoat – senior management knew everything says Yak!

    Certainly, records show that neither Coutts nor BSI initiated proceedings to investigate the multi-million dollar suspicious transactions managed by Yak until the regulators moved. They rewarded Yak handsomely instead.

  3. #343
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    The Najib effect

    Not only Malaysians should be worried about rotten politics and a divisive prime minister

    Mar 5th 2016 | From the print edition

    ONE of South-East Asia’s richest and hitherto most stable countries, Malaysia ought to be a beacon. Its constitution is liberal, and its brand of Islam generally tolerant. Its diverse, English-speaking population, combining ethnic Malays, Chinese and Indians, gives it zest and vim. Yet under the prime minister, Najib Razak, the country is regressing at alarming speed. Its politics stinks (see article), its economy is in trouble, and there are worrying signs that the government is not above stirring up ethnic and religious divisions.

    For the past year allegations of corruption have swirled around Mr Najib. They centre around hundreds of millions of dollars that made their way into his bank accounts before the most recent general election, in 2013 (see article). Investigators are looking into whether the money is linked to a troubled state investment firm, 1MDB, whose advisory board Mr Najib chairs. He denies wrongdoing. His attorney-general has ruled that the money was a legal donation from an unnamed Saudi royal, and that much of it has been returned.

    For Malaysians, the precise nature of what happened is not the main point. Mr Najib presented himself as a liberal out to remake the sleazy system of money politics by which the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has held power since independence. He was to open up a crony economy. And he was to do away with repressive colonial-era laws, such as that for sedition.

    Now Mr Najib’s credibility is in tatters. Facing inquiries around 1MDB, he has engineered the retirement of a pesky police chief, replaced an attorney-general and promoted members of an inquisitive parliamentary committee into the cabinet, where they can do less harm. Far from loosening colonial laws, the government is wielding the sedition law with new zeal. It is blocking news websites and hounding opponents (the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, is in prison on charges of sodomy). Even yellow T-shirts have been outlawed since citizens protesting against corruption took to wearing them. The more Mr Najib cracks down, the more he alienates those who were once inclined to support him.

    Foreign investors and others should be worried. The government is floundering in its responses to a sharp slowdown in the economy and to a falling currency. Cheap oil has hurt Malaysia, but its wretched politics will hold it back more in the long run. The government is now using dog-whistle politics to appeal to its ethnic-Malay, Muslim base, and is refusing to distance itself sufficiently from Islamists seeking the introduction of harsh sharia punishments. Pro-government bigots in the street have told ethnic-Chinese Malaysians to “go back to China”. This is dangerous. Malaysia has seen race riots before, and could see them again. Nearby Singapore, with its different mix of the same ethnic groups, should also be alarmed.

    1 Massive Development Balls-up

    Malaysia’s problems run deep. UMNO is out of ideas and seems incapable of rejuvenating itself. The fractured, rudderless opposition does not have the winning combination to overcome UMNO’s gerrymandering and harassment. And the next election is anyway still two years away. Restoring confidence will be tricky. But for as long as Malaysia is governed in the style of Mr Najib, ordinary Malaysians will suffer and their country will be deprived of the standing that it surely deserves in the world.

  4. #344
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    The art of survival

    As Najib Razak digs in, disillusion among Malaysians grows

    Mar 5th 2016 | KUALA LUMPUR | From the print edition

    ONLY standing room is left at the civic hall in Petaling Jaya in the western suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. Inside 1,000-odd middle-class Malaysians have gathered to consider the fallout from a corruption scandal that has buffeted the country since July. “The whole world is laughing at us,” says a retiree watching from the back rows.

    At the heart of the scandal are hundreds of millions of dollars that for unclear reasons entered bank accounts belonging to the prime minister, Najib Razak (see article). You might think such a revelation would unseat Mr Najib and spell ruin for his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which has held power since independence. Instead, Mr Najib appears to have strengthened his grip, by purging critics within the cabinet and police. On February 29th the grand old man of Malaysian politics, Mahathir Mohamad, stormed out of the party in disgust. Dr Mahathir was prime minister for 22 years until 2003 and was once a fan of Mr Najib. No more.

    Across the country, dissidents are feeling nervous. Last year at least 15 people, mostly dissenters in politics and civil society, were charged under a noxious colonial-era sedition law that Mr Najib had once promised to repeal. In late February authorities blocked one of Malaysia’s most popular news websites hours after it reported that not all Malaysia’s graft-busters are convinced that the prime minister has committed no crime. A new anti-terror law entitles the prime minister to nominate broad “security zones” in which police powers may be extended—a handy tool for crushing protests, critics say. The attorney-general is mulling stiffer sentences, including caning, for people who leak government secrets.

    It has all appalled many urban and professional Malaysians. It has also made stars of the government’s most vocal critics. At the forum in Petaling Jaya, fans seeking selfies crowd around Tony Pua, an opposition MP whom police have banned from leaving the country; at dinner afterwards people at neighbouring tables insist on paying for his meal.

    Malaysia is “essentially two countries”, says Ben Suffian, a pollster. Outrage is widespread in the cities, with growing numbers of young, liberal ethnic-Malays as well as most of the ethnic-Chinese and ethnic-Indian minorities who make up about a third the population. It is rarer in UMNO’s rural heartlands, where apathy is rife and where the party is trusted to defend racial laws designed to give the ethnic-Malay majority a leg-up.

    Over the decades this rural voter base has helped keep UMNO in power. Indeed party leaders have been more concerned to protect themselves from challenges from within UMNO. Loyalty is prized over ability, while patronage and convoluted party rules discourage upstarts. Mr Najib has been playing the system more ruthlessly than many imagined. Recent sackings of subordinates have sent a signal about who is boss.

    It is surely a relief to UMNO that Malaysia’s opposition has mostly bungled its chance to make hay from the affair. It had formed a loose coalition of three parties, reliant on an unlikely peace between two of them, a secular ethnic-Chinese outfit and a devout Malay-Muslim one. The opposition won the popular vote in a general election in 2013 but fell short of the number of seats required to take power because of gerrymandered constituencies. Yet rather than regroup and build momentum for the election that is due by 2018, it has been consumed by bickering. When tens of thousands of Malaysians rallied last August to demand Mr Najib’s resignation, they did so not under the banner of any political party but at the request of Bersih, an unaligned group that has long campaigned for clean politics and electoral reform.

    Rock solid, or rocky?

    Some people assert that Mr Najib’s hold may be shakier than it appears. Even in the countryside, worries about the economy have made the prime minister unpopular. Low oil prices have damaged Petronas, the state oil firm, slashing the amount of money the government can pour into development projects. A new sales tax has increased prices for many everyday items, while a slump in Malaysia’s currency, the ringgit, which has fallen by more than a fifth in the past 18 months, has put many imports out of reach. It all helps make some poorer Malays more susceptible to populists painting ethnic-Chinese and ethnic-Indian Malaysians as rent-seeking interlopers. But a new suspicion is growing among ordinary Malaysians that goings-on in Kuala Lumpur are affecting their own pocket books.

    As for the party, rivals whom Mr Najib has vanquished may yet bounce back. Dr Mahathir, who has long called for Mr Najib to step down, is scheduled to attend an unusual forum of grandees and politicos from across the political spectrum who are meeting in private later this month to discuss alternatives to Mr Najib. Wan Saiful Wan Jan, of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs in Kuala Lumpur, says that some UMNO bigwigs are backing the prime minister through gritted teeth. He says that a time may come when they say that enough is enough, especially when the party starts considering its strategy for the next election. Perhaps Mr Najib may risk calling a snap election before then, both to pre-empt conspiracy and to catch out the opposition before it can patch up its differences.

    For Malaysia’s rattled liberals, all this seems theoretical. Last year they watched plans evaporate for a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. They are doubtful that the current corruption scandal will ever unseat Mr Najib.

    Back at the civic hall in Petaling Jaya, the mood darkens as the evening wears on. Microphones passed around the floor reveal frustration and anger. One person insists that the opposition draw up a list of government officials who should face trial if the opposition takes power. A second, shaking with rage, frets that the opposition has “no chance” of winning the next poll. This is no time to give up hope, Ambiga Sreenevasan, a prominent lawyer, tells the crowd. Once the crisis is over, she says, “we must make sure this never happens to our country again.”

  5. #345
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    5 New Videos By WSJ That Simplify 1MDB Scandal Issues In 48 Seconds

    Published by Nandini Balakrishnan — 27 Nov 2015, 06:37 PM

    Wall Street Journal's 101 on Malaysia's biggest corruption scandal.

    • Malaysians are probably tired of listening about the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue that is most likely one of the biggest political corruption scandals Malaysia has ever faced.

    The truth is, the scandal in its entirety isn't particularly the easiest thing to digest - especially with new findings and allegations surfacing over the past year.

      • [COLOR=rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.]Image via The Wall Street Journal[/COLOR]
        WSJ's info-graphics on the suspected 1MDB money trail

    • The issue was first brought up on 2 July when news channels, Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal published reports claiming that a sum of RM42 million from the government owned strategic development company, 1MDB, has been transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal account in December 2014.

      Sarawak Report also claims that a grand sum of RM2.6 billion has been transferred into Najib's personal account right before the 2013 General Elections.
    • The issue has gained so much of international media attention to the point that it is currently being investigated by several American lawmakers including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Switzerland's Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and the America's Justice Department's Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative that is a designated department to investigate international corruption scandals.

    • Armed with creative visuals and infographics, New York's English daily, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has produced a series of easily digestable videos explaining the 1MDB scandal in a nutshell

    • The first video from the series, 'Five Things to Know About 1MDB' by WSJ, was published on 31 July and it raises five major questions on the issue:

      • 1. Why is Prime Minister Najib under scrutiny?

        2. Why did Prime Minister Najib shale up his cabinet?

        3. Why were the two newspapers (The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily) shut down?

        4. Has anyone been charged?

        5. What lies ahead for parliament's probe?

  6. #346
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    • Subsequently,on 23 November, WSJ went on to release five more videos detailing the growing scandal, in simple, bite-sized formats:
    • 1. Malaysia's 1MDB Decoded: Missing Billions
      • How $2.4 billion in payments from Malaysia’s 1MDB to the gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi appear to have gone missing.

    • 2. Malaysia's 1MDB Decoded: Growing Scandal
      • How the scandal around 1MDB is roiling Malaysian politics and has led to investigations inside the country and around the world.

    • 3. Malaysia's 1MDB Decoded: Get Me $3 Billion and Fast
      • How Malaysia’s 1MDB raised $3 billion quickly and quietly via Goldman Sachs during a tight national election campaign.

    • 4. Malaysia's 1MDB Decoded: The Prime Minister's Bank Accounts
      • How nearly $700 million ended up in bank accounts allegedly controlled by Malaysia’s prime minister during a tight national election campaign.

    • 5. Malaysia's 1MDB Decoded: Campaign Cash
      • How a multi-billion dollar power plant deal by Malaysia’s 1MDB is connected to spending during a tight national election campaign.


  7. #347
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Lines finally drawn in fight for Malaysia

    Published: 4 March 2016 9:59 PM

    The battle lines are drawn today as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gathered political and civil society leaders in his campaign to press for Datuk Seri Najib Razak's removal from power. – The Malaysian Insider pic, March 4, 2016.

    It took Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to force the issue for all Malaysians. He drew a line in the sand today, asking friends and foes to make up their minds once and for all.

    Get on his side to "Save Malaysia" from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's government or be the enemy and part of the Najib party – the ones defending the status quo as much as Dr Mahathir did when sacking Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim 18 years ago.

    Anwar has signed up to support his mentor-turned-nemesis's efforts. So has Lim Kit Siang and the DAP, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and the PKR gang, and activists, such as Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Maria Chin Abdullah.

    A total of 58 prominent Malaysians signed Dr Mahathir's Citizens' Declaration today. The only ones missing are those from PAS.

    Obviously, they have either decided to remain neutral or their absence is an implicit support for Najib.

    Over the next few days and weeks and months, perhaps more will sign up to show their support for Dr Mahathir and gang – united by a common cause rather than a genuine alliance of hearts and minds.

    The final number before the core group calls it a success will be interesting.

    What happens after that, the legal and permissible ways explored to unseat a sitting prime minister, will be a fascinating experience for Malaysia.

    True to form, Putrajaya has dismissed this grand alliance of mainly past and some present leaders. It says Malaysia is a democracy and the only way to change a government is through the ballot box.

    "Today, Tun Mahathir and his former enemies have demonstrated the depth of their political opportunism and desperation.

    "There is an existing mechanism to change the government and prime minister. It's called a general election. ‎And it is the only mechanism that is lawful, democratic and fulfils the people's will‎.

    "In 2013, the Malaysian people expressed their will and elected the current government, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak. If Tun Mahathir wants to change the government, he must follow democratic process and await the next election, in line with Malaysia's laws and Federal Constitution," a government spokesman said.

    Yes, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has forgotten what had happened in Perak in 2009 when three lawmakers crossed the aisle and instead of a snap election, it won the state by getting a show of support from its lawmakers and the rebels.

    Or for that matter, how Umno changes menteri besars in Terengganu and Kedah recently just by a simple show of disloyalty to the incumbent.

    But the lines are drawn now. Dr Mahathir and his friends against Najib and his core supporters in Umno, BN and perhaps some from PAS.

    It might actually take a general election to see who will win this battle, and the nearest is as early as 2018. But will the winners get to save Malaysia, and from what?

    And what has happened to Malaysia's youth? Will they let their ageing politicians drive the agendas of both sides or actually come forward and work to reform the structural issues that have led to a leadership that has yet to account for itself.

    That really is the question that needs a quick answer.

    The future does not belong to a winner from both sides of the lines drawn today. It belongs to Malaysians who want a government that is accountable for its actions, not one that does not walk its own talk. – March 4, 2016.

    * Jahabar Sadiq runs The Malaysian Insider.

  8. #348
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    How Malaysia's push to stifle scandal questions backfired as journalists deported

    Malaysia's embattled prime minister Najib Razak is cracking down on critics as international probes into funding scandal intensify

    Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) shakes hands with supporters as he arrives at an event in Kuala Lumpur Photo: AFP/Getty

    By Philip Sherwell, Asia Editor

    9:58AM GMT 16 Mar 2016

    The Malaysian administration has waged an increasingly heavy-handed campaign to muzzle dissent and divert attention as a funding scandal and corruption allegations shake his administration.

    Earlier this week, Malaysia deported two Australian journalists who attempted to question the embattled prime minister Najib Razak about a $680 million payment into his bank account.

    ABC cameraman Louie Eroglu (R) and reporter Linton Besser (L) check in their passports at Kuching International Airport Photo: EPA

    The reporter and cameraman from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation were detained and threatened with charges after they approached the Malaysian leader at a public event to which media were invited.

    And Malaysian Insider, an outspoken news website critical of the prime minister, closed this week a few days after the government suspended its operations.

    The ABC journalists Linton Besser and Louie Eroglu were held overnight and told they faced charges of "obstructing a public servant" after they allegedly "aggressively tried to approach the prime minister".

    Mr Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing or personal gain in connection with the $680 million payment Photo: Reuters

    But the two men, who denied crossing any security line, were abruptly kicked out of the country on Tuesday. Video footage released by ABCafter their release appeared to confirm that they had merely called out questions to Mr Najib about the “hundreds of millions of dollars in your account”.

    The prime minister walked past stony-faced but the response of his security detail served to draw further attention to the scandal that has engulfed him for months.

    “The original knee-jerk reaction to arrest them demonstrates the incredible lengths that the authorities are prepared to go to protect prime minister Najib from any sort of hard questions about his actions,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

    “It's shameful that the Malaysian government is apparently willing to shred the country's already diminished reputation as a rights-respecting democracy to shield one man from serious allegations of malfeasance.”

    Mr Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing or personal gain in connection with the $680 million payment. His attorney-general also cleared him after concluding that the money was a “political donation” from the Saudi royal family.

    The mystery payments came to light during investigations into 1MDB, a debt-laden state investment fund that Mr Najib founded and oversees as chairman of the advisory board. The prime minister has also denied any inappropriate behaviour linked to the fund.

    With official explanations doing little to assuage the criticisms, Mr Najib’s woes have mounted in recent days. Even a social media campaign launched by supporters to publicise their backing for the beleaguered leader backfired badly.

    #RespectMyPM campaign hijacked

    But the attempted feel-good initiative rapidly turned to humiliation after the motto “#RespectMyPM” was hijacked and morphed into “#SuspectMyPM”.

    His family’s taste for the high life was thrust back in the spotlight after one of the world’s best-known disc jockeys complained that he was kicked off the turntables at Singapore’s top nightclub to make way for the prime minister’s son.

    In Britain, Malaysian students have launched a petition for the removal of Mr Najib’s portrait from a campus wall at the University of Nottingham, from where he graduated in industrial economics in 1974.

    And at home, Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s long-standing former prime minister and ex-Najib mentor, has launched a campaign with the Malaysian opposition to oust him.

    That new initiative by old political foes has infuriated Mr Najib whose spokesman declared the effort to “topple the democratically-elected government” was “against the law and the constitution”.

    But Mr Najib’s greatest challenge seems now to be posed by fast-moving developments in the growing array of foreign investigations into 1MDB, which has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

    US investigators intensify 1MDB investigation

    It emerged last week that America’s famously dogged white-collar crime federal investigators have issued a subpoena to Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs high-flyer in South East Asia.

    Mr Leissner returned to the US late last year for “personal leave” and then left the company this month. He had been in charge of the Wall Street giant’s operations in Malaysia when it advised 1MDB on a series of lucrative deals.

    The FBI and Justice Department now wants to speak to him as it gathers information about the role of Goldman Sachs as part of its investigation into 1MDB’s finances.

    Mr Leissner has not been available for comment when approached for his response to the investigation and subpoena. Neither the bank or its former executive have been accused of any wrongdoing.

    During their time in the region, Mr Leissner and his wife Kimora Lee Simmons, the fashion designer and former model, became close to Mr Najib and Rosmah Mansor, his wife.

    Ms Simmons, who was previously married to the hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, used social media to publicise her friendship with Ms Rosmah, who is renowned for her overseas shopping trips.

    American officials are broadening their investigations as they also dig into a Malaysian-linked money trail through New York.

    Malaysian playboy connection to artwork auctions

    They are reported to have been looking at a multi-million dollar New York shopping spree associated with Low Taek Jho, a playboy financier who is a close friend of Malaysia’s first family

    Jho Low, as he is known to all, burst into the Manhattan’s gossip columns when he sent 23 bottles of Cristal champagne to the table of Lindsay Lohan as she celebrating her 23rd birthday at a nightclub.

    He was reported to have spent $160,000 on bottle service in just one evening at another New York haunt and was regularly photographed in the company of glamorous young stars.

    Mr Low was a close friend of Mr Najib’s step-son Riza Aziz from their days at boarding school in Britain. In his early 20s, he made his name as a major investor and he soon started to attract interest in New York not just for his nightlife antics but also for his acquisition of up-market apartments and art masterpieces.

    He is widely believed to be the buyer who laid out at least $141 million last May for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers”— the most expensive painting ever purchased at auction. He was also said to have conducted some head-spinning property deals.

    Mr Low has insisted that he has not acted improperly. His spokesman said last year that he helped set up 1MDB's forerunner, but he denied reports that he acted as an informal adviser to the fund and said that he made his fortune as an investor.

    The PM's step-son and the Wolf of Wall Street

    His friend Mr Aziz meanwhile emerged as a Hollywood financier, most notably helping to bankroll The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio as an unscrupulous financial fraudster.

    His production company issued a statement noting that he and his businesshad not engaged in any “inappropriate” activities after the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was looking into its funding.

    The investigations into the 1MDB fund that Mr Najib set up in 2009 are not limited to the US.

    In Switzerland, prosecutors said last month that they believed as much as $4 billion may have been stolen from Malaysian state-owned companies in funding that was earmarked for economic and social development projects.

    British, Hong Kong and Singaporean authorities are also investigating 1MDB’s activities.

    French submarine investigation

    And in a separate inquiry, French officials are pursuing allegations that bribes were paid in a lucrative submarine deal when Mr Najib served as defence minister.

    That French investigation has also put the spotlight back on one of the most salacious episodes in recent Malaysian history – the 2006 murder of a Mongolian model who was the girlfriend of a Najib associate involved in the submarine deal.

    Two government bodyguards, one of whom had once protected Mrs Najib, have been convicted of killing her and blowing up her body with explosives amid speculation that she was threatening to go public with damaging allegations.

    ‘The bodyguards have confessed,” said Dr Mahathir. “Bodyguards normally follow orders. So did someone give those orders?"

    Mr Najib has denied any involvement in the bribery allegations surrounding the Scorpene contract, but the French investigation is providing another challenge as the country also suffers a sharp economic economic slide.

    The prime minister hoped that he had put the scandals behind him last month when his attorney-general cleared him of any wrongdoing over the $680 million payment found in his bank accounts during the 1MDB investigation.

    But the explanation – that the money was a gift from the Saudi royal family for political purposes, that Mr Najib did not receive any personal benefit and that $620 million was later returned – did little to assuage questions.

    In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr Mahathir was scornful of that version. And he repeated his claim that the Najib-appointed attorney general had "no credibility" for clearing his boss of criminal wrongdoing.

    That assertion brought him a recent visit from the police as they investigated the country’s former leader for possible criminal defamation.

    “The police came here to my office, but I refused to answer their questions,” he said. “I told them that if they wanted to question me, they should do it in court, where everyone can hear what I have to say and my lawyers can question them.”

    He smiled and shook his head when asked if he was worried about a possible prosecution. “If I’m made to appear in court, I’ll be happy to answer,” he said. “They are trying to rule by intimidation, but I am ready for it.”

    Mahathir Mohamed's 'martyrdom mission' to topple former protege

    Dr Mahathir became an increasingly fierce critic of Mr Najib as the financial scandal deepened. “But he’s now moved into a martyrdom mission,” one political observer told The Telegraph. “He’ll do anything to bring down Najib.”

    The provincial doctor who went on to become the father of modern Malaysia laid out his plans in an interview in his cavernous office on the 86th floor of the Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest buildings when they were constructed during his rule.

    “I’ll work with anyone who shares the objective of getting rid of Najib Razak as prime minister,” he said. “Our country can no longer take this corruption.”

    Dr Mahathir talked to The Telegraph shortly after quitting the United Malays National Organisation, the party that has ruled Malaysia for the six decades since independence from Britain in 1957. A few days earlier, his son Mukhriz was forced out as a state chief minister by Najib loyalists.

    'The party is Najib vehicle'

    “The party has become a vehicle dedicated to preserving and supporting Najib in office, protecting him despite all the wrong things he is doing,” he said.

    “It became embarrassing to be a member and staying in the party would be a hindrance to what I need to do now.”

    Dr Mahathir said that a stream of “visitors” urging him to use his power and influence had called at his office, where arrivals are greeted with panoramic views of the modern city that he helped create.

    “People come to see me and asked me to act,” he said. “It’s my duty. They say that the prime minister is destroying the country.”

    The show of unity by anti-Najib forces was greeted with derision by a spokesman for the prime minister. “Mahathir and his former enemies have demonstrated the depth of their political opportunism and desperation,” he said, noting the Mr Najib’s critics must wait for the next general election, due in 2018, if they want to replace him.

    Malaysia's 'Game of Thrones'

    Mr Najib’s own brother has described this landscape of internecine warfare, where former foes unite and erstwhile allies feud, as Malaysia’s “Game of Thrones” – a reference to the television series about warring mediaeval nobility.

    The prime minister has maintained his tight grip on power since the scandal began by purging cabinet critics and cracking down on dissent from media and academics.

    As part of the crackdown, the authorities last year blocked access to Sarawak Report, a website run by former British prime minister Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law Clare Rewcastle Brown. The Malaysians later issued an arrest warrant for the London-based journalist, who was born in colonial Malaya.

    The government also blocked Malaysian Insider after it published a story saying that the state anti-corruption agency had found “credible evidence” to charge Mr Najib.

    The latest moves even prompted the United States to issue a rare but stern rebuke to Malaysia, a Western partner on trade and security deals, over its muzzling of the free press.

    Dr Mahathir has now plunged back into the tumult of Malaysian politics at 90, an age when most former leaders would be enjoying a comfortable retirement, to throw his weight behind Mr Najib’s critics.

    “I expected more of him,” said Dr Mahathir of the politician he helped manoeuvre into power. “He has let us all down. We cannot let this continue.”


  9. #349
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Congratulations: you have managed to get Malaysia into the top 5 list for corrupt.

  10. #350
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    The noose is closing.

    Najib Razak 1MDB scandal: Former Malaysian attorney-general planned to lay charges against PM

    Four Corners

    By Linton Besser, Elise Worthington and Jaya Balendra

    Updated about 5 hours ago
    PHOTO: Questions have been raised over money deposited into Najib Razak's accounts (Reuters: Olivia Harris)
    RELATED STORY: 'If you go quietly it's OK': ABC reporter describes frightening detention in Malaysia
    MAP: Malaysia

    The former Malaysian attorney-general had put in place a plan to lay criminal charges of misappropriation against the Prime Minister Najib Razak before he was suddenly removed from office last year, Four Corners has confirmed.

    Key points:

    • Former attorney-general told officials he planned to confront Mr Razak
    • International investigations examining fund chaired by Mr Razak
    • Ex-PM says there is "no legitimate reason" for leader to have vast amounts of money
    • PM has not explained millions of dollars in bank accounts

    Abdul Gani Patail informed several senior officials on July 23, 2015 of his plan to confront Mr Razak at a cabinet meeting scheduled for July 29.

    But a high-level source with direct knowledge of the affair said the plan was leaked and both Mr Patail and the deputy prime minister of Malaysia, Muhyiddin Yassin — who would have replaced Mr Razak — were sacked.

    A Four Corners investigation which airs tonight will also broadcast new details regarding the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars into Mr Razak's personal bank accounts, which he has not accounted for.

    The ABC investigation made global headlines earlier this month when the Four Corners team were arrested trying to question Mr Razak about his extraordinary personal finances.

    There are currently at least four international investigations into billions of dollars that have allegedly leaked out of Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund, 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The Malaysian Prime Minister chairs the fund's advisory board.

    Do you know more about this story? Email

    The Swiss Attorney-General has announced that its investigation has uncovered a "sum suspected to have been misappropriated [which] amounts to around USD 4 billion".

    Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.

    VIDEO: Four Corners reporter speaks of his arrest in Malaysia(ABC News)

    "The criminal investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland (OAG) has revealed serious indications that funds have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies," the Swiss Attorney-General said.

    "So far four cases involving allegations of criminal conduct and covering the period from 2009 to 2013 have come to light ... each involving a systematic course of action carried out by means of complex financial structures."

    The controversy engulfed the Malaysian Prime Minister last year when it was revealed that an unnamed donor from the Middle East had deposited more than $US680 million into his account.

    In January, Mohamed Apandi Ali, the new Malaysian Attorney-General, said $US620 million of this money was a "donation" from Saudi Arabia which was subsequently repaid, and that Mr Razak's account was closed.

    He also shut down an investigation by Malaysia's anti-corruption agency into the affair.

    Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.

    VIDEO: Reporter Linton Besser questions Malaysian PM Najib Razak (ABC News)

    But Four Corners has seen bank records which show other deposits between 2011 and 2014 from mysterious individuals and companies both in Malaysia and overseas via both wire transfers and in cash.

    The records show that in mid 2013 the bank opened three new accounts in the Prime Minister's name, as well as regular pledges of money from a Saudi prince, including a promise of 50 million British pounds ($94 million) as late as June 2014.

    The former prime minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has recently mounted legal proceedings against his former protege Mr Razak for abuse of power.

    He told Four Corners there was no legitimate reason for a Malaysian political leader to have such large volumes of money.

    "This is wrong, this is totally wrong," he said.

    "A prime minister of Malaysia should never have that amount of money in his private account, if he has ... it must have come through some undesirable activity."

    Government 'pulling charges out of air'

    Political observers and human rights groups say the Razak regime has resorted to a crackdown against anti-government voices.

    Local newspapers and television stations rarely carry sceptical coverage of the Government, while an Al-Jazeera television reporter was deported from Malaysia last year.

    Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.

    VIDEO: Four Corners in Malaysia: 'No more questions please'(ABC News)

    Two weeks ago, a prominent and critical online news portal, Malaysian Insider, suddenly announced its closure.

    "They've resorted to sheer intimidation and threats," said Clare Rewcastle Brown, whose online Sarawak Report based out of London has led coverage of the corruption controversies surrounding Mr Razak.

    "They're pulling charges out of the air to throw at people, and shoving people in jail."

    In July last year, draft charges against Mr Razak were leaked to Ms Rewcastle Brown which alleged he did "corruptly receive a bribe in the sum of RM27 million", the equivalent of $9.5 million.

    Four Corners has independently corroborated the authenticity of this document. The program has also established that in its final iteration, the charge adopted for action by the former attorney-general was changed to criminal misappropriation.

    'This is unprecedented'

    Malaysia's former legal affairs minister, Zaid Ibrahim, told the program Mr Razak had many questions he had yet to answer.
    "You sack your deputy prime minister who just wanted to know what happened, you sack the attorney-general who I believe was putting a charge against you ... well, this is unprecedented," he said.
    "I don't think we will ever have, we will ever witness this kind of massive dismantling of the institutions of government to cover up crime."
    Mr Razak's office did not respond to questions from the ABC.
    More on this story:


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