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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The 1MDB Deceit

Sheila Majid is Najib's red herring

Timing is everything. When Sheila Majid tweeted about the high cost of living, she was saying nothing new. Many people who moaned about rising prices before had largely been ignored.
But this time, all hell broke loose.
The day after her tweet, Rizal Mansor, the aide to the self-styled “First Lady of Malaysia” took aim at the singer, and others followed suit.
This Sheila onslaught is Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's red herring.
First, the distraction. Criticising Sheila was to deflect the rakyat from the real story, which is the announcement by the US attorney-general Jeff Sessions the day before about 1MDB being kleptocracy at its the worst in history.

Second, when Najib paid homage to Donald Trump last September, he was probably hoping that buying Boeing jets and investing EPF money in the US would somehow influence the US president, or the Department of Justice (DOJ), to slow down the investigations into 1MDB. It failed.
Celebrities are very influential people and Sheila may have a powerful message for her fans, but Najib had a more immediate worry: the DOJ.
Najib relied on his foreign advisers, who probably thought that the Washington trip would increase his popularity at home. That too failed.
When the previous US attorney-general Loretta Lynch stepped down, Najib was probably hopeful, perhaps, unaware that the DOJ is largely independent from the office of the American president.
In Malaysia, the Prime Minister's Department (PMD) has its pudgy fingers in every pie - from religion to defending Sabah's eastern seaboard. The heads of the various departments under the PMD cannot belch without Najib knowing about it.
Najib's Washington trip backfired, as evidenced by Sessions' much-reported announcement about 1MDB being the worst kleptocracy, Najib has also failed to halt the DOJ investigation.
At the Global Forum on Asset Recovery in Washington, Sessions said, "Each one of us, whether we are prosecutors, judges or legislators, have a responsibility to pursue for the common good for the people we serve.
“And whilst we have limited jurisdiction, we must recognise that the consequences of our actions are felt around the world.
"You can be sure of this, the US will do our part. And we urge every government to do their part as well."

Sessions (photo) said that America and "all of us" would need to work together, in a cooperative spirit, with our law enforcement forces around the globe, to achieve successes that benefit all of us.
"Nearly half of the US$3.5 billion in corruption proceeds we have restrained is related to just one enforcement action.
“That action was related to a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB,” he added.
The US attorney-general also alleged that Malaysian officials and their associates – which presumably includes Jho Low – had been on a “lavish spending spree” to buy real estate, artworks, an American music label and a luxury yacht.
Sessions also mentioned the complex series of opaque transactions involving fraudulent shell companies, stressing that 1MDB was "kleptocracy at its worst."
The DOJ would provide justice to the victims of these alleged schemes, and he added that the best evidence were simple things, like bank, flight and telephone records. It has also increased its staffing levels and created two new units dedicated to foreign information requests.
'Prosecutors have the evidence'
Sessions said, "If they are not properly shared between nations, then justice cannot be done or is delayed… It is essential we continue to improve this kind of information sharing... We must do more to expedite mutual legal assistance request... These requests ensure that prosecutors have the evidence they need to bring a criminal to justice."
His remarks must have hit Najib like a bombshell. Hence, the attack on Sheila was necessary, because there is nothing like a good distraction to bury bad news.
But there is more. On Dec 6, PKR's Sivarasa Rasiah, a panel member in the forum called "Anak Muda Cari Jho Low," posited that Malaysia had not requested legal assistance from DOJ, because the FBI had not forwarded information about 1MDB.
The Subang lawmaker also said that Singapore’s investigations alleged that Eric Tan and Jho Low are the same person, and that he had used the alias in his financial dealings. The country, he added, is only doing the bare minimum to apprehend the culprits responsible for 1MDB; and that what it does do is only to protect its reputation as an international financial and banking centre.
Sivarasa also noted that Malaysia has sufficient laws to track down Jho Low and Riza Aziz, with extradition treaties and laws to seize assets, but that these men are allegedly “protected,” largely by China.
Additionally, he claimed that the bulk of 1MDB money is still in American, Swiss and Singaporean banks, and that as much as US$7 billion is allegedly missing from 1MDB.
This is money that was allegedly stolen from the rakyat, while the interests from the money borrowed by 1MDB are being paid from taxpayer money, a burden the people can ill afford.
If any of the above is true, then is it any surprise that they want to distract from Sessions' announcement?

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). BlogTwitter.- Mkini


MELAKA – The Melaka state government has given a reprieve until the New Year celebration to dismantle the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ replica, built at the Portuguese Square in Ujong Pasir, here.
State Transport, Project Rehabilitation and International Trade Committee chairman, Datuk Lim Ban Hong said the reprieve given to the Kampung Portugis Development and Security Committee (JKKK) was decided at the recent state executive council meeting.
“I received a letter of appeal from JKKK Kampung Portugis in November, asking the state government to reconsider the dismantling of the statue and the reprieve is given for the good of the state government and the villagers,” he told reporters after the Melaka Syariah Lawyers Accreditation ceremony here today.
Also present were Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron and Melaka Chief Syariah Judge Datuk Mohd Radzi Abd Latif.
Lim said after being given the reprieve, the JKKK Kampung Portugis had to find to suitable location to shift the statue and the application should be made to the local authority for approval.
The Portuguese community had put up the replica to enliven the Christmas celebration this year. However, it was erected without prior approval from the Melaka Historic City Council (MBMB), and in a public parking area which can pose risks to the public.
— Bernama


PETALING JAYA – The Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) said the oil and gas (O&G) industry’s risks to the banking system remained limited as it only accounted for about 6.5% of total exposure.
The association said in a statement today that the delinquent loans ratio for the O&G sector stood at 0.1% while impaired loans ratio increased to 5% in the third quarter of 2017, due mainly to cash flow issues observed in service providers in certain upstream segments.
“Corresponding figures for the second quarter of 2017 were 0.2% and 4.5%.”
The association was responding to an article in a business weekly entitled “ Oil and Gas Conundrum” published over the weekend, which highlighted financing issues faced by oil and gas corporations here.
Nonetheless, ABM said its members have remained supportive and will continue to provide access to financing for viable businesses including O&G sector.
“All O&G cases have been given due consideration by the banks. Credit evaluation is conducted on O&G companies similar to loan applications by any other industries.”
ABM highlighted that feasibility studies such as stress test analyses, due diligence and credit evaluation are conducted as part of the standard assessment procedure to determine the eligibility and viability.
“Common reasons for loan rejection beyond ineligibility include incomplete loan documentation and inadequate supplementary information required to support banks’ assessment of cash flows and financial buffers of companies.”
ABM said the banking industry together with Bank Negara Malaysia have been engaging with the Malaysian Petroleum Resources Corporation to better understand developments in the O&G sector and also to disseminate information on avenues for assistance available for financially distressed companies.
“Viable corporate borrowers with multiple financial creditors can approach the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee for assistance to work out feasible and market-driven debt resolutions through mediation.”
The association added that viable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are facing financial difficulties, can seek assistance from the Small Debt Resolution Scheme.
“Assistance offered include restructuring or rescheduling of financing facilities and provision of financing (where appropriate) to stabilise business cashflow whilst SMEs implement business turnaround plan.”
ABM comprises of 27 commercial banks in Malaysia.
– Sundaily


Contrary to those power-crazy individuals who crave titles, both former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Ali did the right thing by returning the awards given to them by the Selangor palace.
This is also far better than those who have received awards, but are being charged in court for allegedly being involved in money laundering or corruption cases.
Recently, the nation was shocked over the case of a Datuk Seri who was arrested for assaulting three People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) members. After posting bail, he was re-arrested in a drugs case. I have always wondered why the ruler concerned who awarded him the title did not temporarily suspend the title.
Umno Sungai Besar division leader Jamal Md Yunos is another good example of a Datuk Seri who has been arrested on several occasions. He has also messed up his own reputation with his involvement in extreme forms of protest and by hogging the headlines with his antics.
Together with Mohd Ali Baharom (or “Ali Tinju”), Jamal (photo) has become a bane to Umno’s efforts to win the middle ground.
There were also a number of other cases in the past in which people were using the Datuk title despite being told that their dubious titles were not recognised.
A former boss of mine in the education line, for example, was using the title for a long time before he finally got his title.
This raises a lot of questions about why some people are so adamant about the use of their titles, and why others who did not even get any awards try to impress upon others that they have been awarded a certain title.
As far as I know, Selangor has made it very clear that its titles are not to be taken for granted. This is laudable, as control over the awarding of titles has to be tightened further; otherwise, you can easily hit a Datuk by tossing a stone into any crowd.
People with such titles, either genuinely deserved or not, should consider following the examples set by Mahathir and Siti Hasmah.
Dr M’s statement being politicised  
What Mahathir had said about the “Bugis pirate” is nothing but a polemic that politicians are using almost daily.
In my humble opinion, Mahathir was not referring to the Selangor palace or the Bugis community in general. To ordinary rakyat, the former prime minister was merely referring to just one man, but somehow this has been politicised.
The Chinese community, for example, has been called “pendatang”. We have become the punching bags of Umno politicians for so many years, and we know when the general election is drawing near because that is the time when all the insults are spun into some nice and juicy statements.
For example, Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali is notoriously remembered for giving away white packets to some old Chinese folks during a Chinese New Year function that he hosted. To the Chinese, white envelopes with money represents “pak kam” or money given to the families of the deceased.
Also, recently, a headline in Utusan Malaysia, “Apa lagi Cina mau?” has now been interpreted by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Razali Ibrahim to mean, “What else does the Chinese community want in order to support Umno?”.
If that had been the intention, Umno should have said so when the headline first appeared on Utusan Malaysia’s front page in 2013. Why did they not do anything until this year’s Umno annual general assembly?
If Mahathir was merely referring to just one man, then the right thing to do is to deal with the rotten apple and send it to where it belongs instead of allowing it to spoil the whole basket of fruits.
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.
– M’kini


Malaysian armed forces “ready” and waiting instructions from leadership
to play role after Trump recognised Jerusalem, said the defence minister.
Hishammuddin said Muslim-majority nation’s military prepared
did not elaborate why military in state of readiness.
insisted Trump’s decision “slap in face for entire Muslim world”.
we have to be prepared for any possibilities.
M’sian Armed Forces always ready
waiting for instructions from top leadership, said defence minister.
Najib called for unity in Muslim world to rally against US
My comments : 
The OIC is meeting on Wednesday. 
My view is the US has already told the Saudis what to say. 
The Saudis have told the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait etc what to say. 
The US has also already told the Pakistanis what to say. 
The US Ambassador here would also have either directly spoken to moron or Anifah Aman. The script has been decided.
Here is a comment about this thing sent to me by a former Cabinet Minister:
Can’t expect much from a slow learner addressing other slow learners. 
ln boleh-land,  Umno assembly can declare war against another country. 
Did he consult the military before declaring the war? 
Cant expect anything from an empty head.
He was bluffing the Umno delegates 
MOl said M’sia-US ties not affected by Jerusalem issue.    
See how hypocrites talk.  
No wonder Allah warn us against the hypocrites and hates them.
In front of MCA,  MOl  said DAP can’t form government so vote for MCA.  
ln front of UMNO,  MOI said DAP  will take over  govt and Kit  Siang will be PM.  
Cowgate woman said same thing.
  1. MOl said if opposition wins then  Mara, TH and other agencies will be gone.
  2. Sultan Selangor said Rulers and Constitution will protect Malays.  
  3. We know who is lying.
  4. Selangor and Penang are under opposition and Malays there are doing fine. 
  5. Only slow learners from Umno are complaining.
  6. And their “onion friends” from Kelantan support what MOl is saying.
  7. And  we all know how Kelantan Malays are suffering. 
  8. Hadi and MOl deserve each other.
Sorry – on Jerusalem, if Umno and govt are serious then they should ask OlC to hold emergency meeting.  Erdogan of Turkey is now chairman of OlC and has said Jerusalem is a “red line”.  
And after Trump announcement  he said  “Hey Trump! What do you want to do?”
What kind of approach is this? 
Political leaders do not stir things up if they seek to make peace.
And what about our Bugis warrior ??   
Bugis Warrior  should call for OIC emergency meeting and move a resolution that 
  • all members of OlC recall their ambassadors from Washington 
  • immediately stop all investments in America 
  • from now only trade with fellow OlC members, Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
This is real test if  MOl is really a Bugis warrior and serious about Jerusalem 
My comments :   Firstly what is an “onion friend” from Kelantan? 
Indeed MO1 has declared Donald Trump his golfing buddy. So nothing is going to happen about Donald Trump moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Just hot air to fool the kampong Malays in UMNO. 
The UMNO General Assembly has declared war on Israel. Shouldnt it be a Cabinet decision before we can send our soldiers off to fight any wars anywhere. How does a political party have the power to declare war on another country?
We have created unnecessarily bad publicity for ourselves again.
Folks, this final part is only for those of you who can think seriously.  
Lets focus on the real issue here. 
Was there really a magical, four legged, winged animal that could fly into the sky?
Did this magical, four legged, winged animal really transport a human cargo to anywhere?
Did this magical, four legged, winged animal really make a pit stop in that contested city?
Hence making that contested city a “holy” spot on earth? 
There is absolutely no evidence that there was a magical, four legged, winged animal that could fly into the sky.
Magical, four legged, winged animals that could fly into the sky were first mentioned in Hindu mythology. Later the idea spread to the Persians and the Greek “Pegassus”.  The Hindus called such an animal a ‘khamdenu’.  Here are some pictures:
1. The Hindu khamdenu –   a magical, four legged, winged animal that could fly.  The Hindus have stories about the khamdenu that go back more than 3000 years.
The khamdenu – the earliest known ‘four legged 
flying animal story’ –  from before 3000 years ago.
2. The Greek ‘Pegasus’. 
The Greek Pegasus is a mythical winged divine stallion that could fly, and one of the most recognised creatures in Greek mythology.   First Mentioned: 750-650 BC.   Mythological Origin: GreeceThe Greek version appeared much later than the Hindu khamdenu. Obviously the Greeks were “inspired” by India ??
So folks, if this magical, four legged, winged animal did not exist in history, then what are you fighting over? 
This is only for those of you who can think.
If you cannot think, then go and sit under a tree and chew on something.  I really cannot help you.
–  http://syedsoutsidethebox.blogspot.my


Prime Minister Najib Razak, under siege but fighting back, has beaten the war drums for a do-or-die general election that is just around the corner. Will we see UMNO returned to power, or be replaced for the first time?
Malaysian politics reached a climax over the 9 December 2017 weekend as UMNO, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, went into battle mode to face the impending general election. The 14th election must be called anytime between now and August next year but widely expected to be in the first quarter.
The dominant narrative emerging from the annual UMNO general assembly is a do-or-die “Mother of All Elections” the second time in five years this phrase has been used. BN must not only win big, but also snatch back the two-thirds supermajority it first lost in 2008 and failed to recover in 2013. Is this narrative a reflection of UMNO’s growing confidence of retaining power? Or chest-thumping to whip up the morale of the party that has seen in recent years a series shocks and setbacks, internally and nationally?
UMNO Getting Stronger?
Amidst the current flux in politics, two significant views are emerging. The first is that UMNO is indeed recovering and consolidating itself following the outbreak of the 1MDB scandal in 2015. The serious knock-on effects on BN are obvious given the centrality of UMNO as leader of the coalition. After all the man in the eye of the storm is the prime minister and UMNO president, Najib Razak.
Arising from the crisis, UMNO under Mr Najib has split yet again, leading to the rise of the breakaway Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, also known as PPBM or Bersatu. This new party has among its ranks former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin who was sacked for questioning Mr Najib on 1MDB, and former chief minister of an important Malay belt state, Kedah (Mukhriz Mahathir).
More fundamentally, the UMNO split – the fifth in its 71-year history – has also altered the national political landscape, with Bersatu entering into an unprecedented alliance with the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition, spiritually led by the jailed Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister and UMNO Number 2 himself. The net effect is the unthinkable reconciliation between allies-turned-foes Dr Mahathir and Mr Anwar, and the convergence of one former premier, two former deputy premiers and at least one former chief minister in common opposition to Najib. It is not always that Malaysians see so many high-level former UMNO leaders going into combined opposition against a sitting prime minister, a point not missed at the UMNO assembly.
Despite the split in the ruling party, the expanding opposition alliance and the widening international spillover of the 1MDB scandal, Prime Minister Najib seems secure for now. Such is the power of incumbency. In fact, the UMNO assembly further entrenched the positions of Mr Najib and Mr Zahid with the passing of a resolution to have no contests for their posts when UMNO’s party elections are held possibly next year.
Mother of All Elections 2.0
The second view is that Mr Najib is actually on much shakier ground than he would admit, and that the coming general election will indeed be a “do-or-die” electoral battle whose outcome will be critical for his survival. “It is not just another general election,” said Mr Najib. If BN wins again, it could well mean the breakup of the PH opposition, given its current state of fragility; while Mr Najib will be confirmed as the most wily sitting prime minister since Dr Mahathir.
But if for some reason, voters grow tired of all the political shenanigans but chose to remain silent until they decide to vote against UMNO and BN, then Mr Najib will not only be out of power; he could end up in deep trouble. The stakes are indeed very high for him.
While UMNO leaders have touted the criticality of winning back the two-thirds majority, the reality is that many people are sceptical this will happen. Even UMNO leaders talked about this super-majority goal with some guard. Mr Zahid said it is not enough to rely on the strengths of UMNO and BN alone. Mr Najib spoke about the critical need to win over the third group of “persuadable voters” that is “significant to BN” – the “fence sitters”. In other words, UMNO is really not sure of a win this time. Indeed, rarely has Mr Najib talked about “the risk of UMNO and BN losing, and losing everything”.
What If the Opposition Wins?
There are at least two key sources of disgruntlement against the UMNO-led ruling coalition: rising cost of living which some UMNO leaders are in denial of; and issues of ethics and governance. There are undercurrents of unhappiness among the political and business elites as well as the ordinary public who may well form a significant group of fence-sitters.
Overall, many Malaysians at this point are rather resigned to more of the same. They are so used to the political longevity and entrenched power of UMNO, and by extension BN, that they might not want to rock the boat. They may want the opposition to take over but are afraid of the unknown. Many therefore might either spoil their vote, or stay at home and not face an excruciating dilemma at the ballot box.
This may not be the best outcome for Malaysian politics. But for those who are deeply troubled by what they perceive as the growing rot within the system, a regime change would not be as scary as it seems. In other words, they may be prepared to try out a new government and give it a chance to do things differently. The role of an effective, viable and respected opposition is crucial in this regard.
If the alternative government delivers, it will be voted back to power. If it fails, voters can bring UMNO and BN back to rule. A stint out of power may not be bad for UMNO’s soul; it could lead to serious introspection and much needed rejuvenation.
This model of politics is not new. There have been long-serving political parties that have been voted out but came back to power better. Japan’s LDP is one example. Other countries where long-serving parties have been dethroned but play influential oppositionist roles instead are Indonesia’s Golkar, Taiwan’s Koumintang and India’s Congress. Is this the crossroads that Mr Najib is talking about?
WRITER: Yang Razali Kassim is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
– https://www.eurasiareview.com