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Saturday, June 24, 2017

TURMOIL IN UMNO AS WARLORDS SMELL THE END OF THE NAJIB ERA: BEHIND THE RIDICULOUS POLITICAL STATEMENTS, ONLY MO1’S SPINNERS, WIFE & COUSIN DEFEND HIM AGAINST DOJ

1MDB is a four letter word that is extremely vulgar, not only to the ears of the people and the opposition, but to the government. Many in the government are sick of it. Thus when investigations related to 1MDB emerge time and again, many resort to burying their proverbial heads in the sand.
As the saying goes: “Siapa makan cili akan merasa pedasnya” (Those who consume the chillies will feel the heat).
Thus, who stood up to defend Malaysia? Oddly enough, no one. At least no one of any importance. The MO1, who Abdul Rahman Dahlan, an Umno Supreme Council member and now a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had identified as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak sometime in September last year, had decided to say nothing detailed.
Granted that the latest revelation of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is another reputational hit on the good name of Malaysia, why has the PM (using Rahman Dahlan’s official declaration of MO1 as the PM) been silent? He needs to take it head-on to check the disrepute that is being associated with Malaysia due to 1MDB.
In law, ignorance cannot be used as an excuse. Well, the same goes for silence. Silence cannot be equated with freedom from guilt. Thus MO1’s quiescent approach to the DOJ revelations is quaint, to the say the least.
As a public official, indeed, an elected member of parliament from Pekan, it goes without saying that the PM should be the first to respond. After all, the good name of the country is being put under scrutiny.
Yet, it was left to Mohd Puad Zarkashi to deny the allegations. Does anyone even know Puad Zakarshi at all, let alone the fact that he is a member of the Umno Supreme Council?
With due respect, if anyone should defend the PM at all, that responsibility should go to Deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
But, then again, where was Zahid Hamidi when he was badly needed to defend both the PM and the good name of Malaysia? Again, the deputy PM was silent.
Therein lies the rub: both could be ignoring the national interest of Malaysia, which goes to the heart of the reputation of the country, which in turn could affect the rating of Malaysia in the international financial system, as decided by Moody’s or Standard and Poor’s, affecting the costs of capital through increased interest rates. Or, the PM and deputy PM have taken to conceding that it is pointless to defend the indefensible.
Thus, the job of defending Malaysia on 1MDB went to the third tier of wannabes.
Those old hacks who still wanted to climb the slippery pole of public office, with the goal of being made a senator, potentially a Dato Seri or Tan Sri, were the ones who continued to fend for the PM.
Thus one sees the likes of Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim and black propagandists like Lim Sian See and Raja Petra Kamarudin taking to the public gallery to support the PM.
When the attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali himself does not take any legal action, one wonders why other jurisdictions internationally have all found the sordid dealings of 1MDB to be incriminating. Some have been charged, found guilty and sentenced. Some banks were closed or fined. In Malaysia, nothing, zilch. All kosher!
Quiet as a mouse
Now, beyond the usual suspects from Umno spinmasters and the Attorney-General’s Chambers who still support MO1 – this despite the truths that have surfaced – there are others who have chosen to defend MO1 by not defending him at all!
Instead of reviving the Public Accounts Commissions (PAC), neither the backbenchers nor the ‘cari-makan’ chairperson of the PAC have called for more investigations.
Nur Jazlan Mohamed, the deputy minister of home affairs, was quiet as a mouse too, although he was once the head of PAC, and a trained accountant to boot. He does know a lot and at one time was seen as a hero for wanting to refuse any promotions to ministerial position, to finish the PAC work on 1MDB. Hardly days later, he fell to the temptations of position and relevance and the rest is history.
If he had wanted to tear the DOJ’s financial broadsheet apart, he could have done so with ease. But the son of the late Mohamed Rahmat, one of the most astute politicians in Malaysia, stayed silent.
Indeed, why the seeming silence and insouciance when the evidence of luxurious acquisitions and pink diamonds are mounting by the day, if not minutes?
Shouldn’t PAC be the first to say: Let’s revisit the terms of our reference, and look into the issues anew?
Yes they should, and they must. But they also know that the DOJ will probably do a better job of uncovering the missing billions.
Thus, by not saying a thing, they are also telling Umno, that “we are not supporting the PM cum party president anymore.” This is why Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Pakatan Harapan stand a chance to be the next government. There is a simmering turmoil in Umno.
Those who defended MO1 were the wife of MO1 and his own cousin, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Other than the MO1’s own kindred spirits, all have left MO1 to his own devices to face the music in Umno, and in due course, the general election too.
RAIS HUSSIN is a Bersatu supreme council member and head of the party’s policy and strategy bureau

Balik kampung exodus slows down traffic in major highways



Traffic flow along several major highways this morning is reported to be slow, an inevitable phenomenon every festive season.
A North-South Expressway Project Traffic Control Centre (PLUS) spokesman said northbound traffic along the North-South Expressway was at a crawl from Sungai Buaya to Bukit Beruntung, Bukit Beruntung to Bukit Tagar and Bukit Tagar to Lembah Beringin.
“Traffic is also congested along Lembah Beringin towards Tanjung Malim and Behrang as of 9am,” he told Bernama when contacted here today.
He said the situation was similar in the Slim River area towards Sungkai, Sungkai to Bidor, Bidor to Tapah, Tapah to Gua Tempurung, Gopeng to Simpang Pulai, Jelapang to Tanjung Menora, and Tanjung Menora to Sungai Perak.

As for southbound traffic, the only congestion was from Nilai to Seremban R & R, said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, a Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) spokesman said traffic congestion along the East Coast Expressway only affected the stretch from Gombak towards Bentong.
The public can access traffic updates through Plusline 1800-88-0000 and www.twittercom/plustrafik or LLM at 1800-887752 and www.twitter.com/LLMinfotrafik.
- Bernama 

After DOJ suits, Hadi decries 'foreign meddling' to win elections



From the fall of the Malaccan sultanate to foreign courts taking on 1MDB, history has taught that foreign meddling in national affairs will only bring detriment, said PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.
As such, Hadi said those who want foreigners to meddle in Malaysia's affairs for political gain are immoral.
"I am confident that those who invite foreigners to meddle in national affairs simply to win elections, their morals are unfaithful and ungentlemanly," he wrote in an open letter to all political parties today.
Hadi's letter comes two weeks after 1MDB made international headlines again after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to seize an additional US$540 million in assets acquired with funds allegedly misappropriated from the state investment fund.
Hadi said Malaysia's scandals should be resolved internally, regardless of how bad the country's internal systems.
"Don't repeat history to solve our internal problems such as BMF, Perwaja, Tabung Haji, EPF, and most recently the 1MDB issue (which people) happily cheer to be solved by courts in foreign countries.
"Whatever the (courts) decision on our internal problems may be, let our own courts or our people's court resolve it.
"As stupid and cruel as our internal (systems) are, let us bear (the burden) ourselves, and in the end due to our patience, (those who do wrong) will surely repent," he said.
MACC, police dodge issue
Among the new claims made by the DOJ are that US$620 million allegedly returned by an unnamed “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1) to a "donor" was instead channelled to Penang-born tycoon Jho Low.
Low then allegedly used these funds to purchase a US$27.3 million pink diamond necklace for MO1's wife.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said they will not be investigating the claim and has passed the responsibility to the police.
The police meanwhile have said they will not interfere with civil cases such as the one brought on by the DOJ.
Besides legal action in the US, the Luxembourg Financial Sector Supervisory Commission last Wednesday fined private bank Edmond de Rothschild 8.985 million euros (RM43 million) for lapses in preventing the alleged laundering of 1MDB funds. - Mkini

Friday, June 23, 2017

Funds from alleged tainted source to help Indians?



Vel Paari, the treasurer general of the MIC, is making a fool of himself by defending the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for allegedly giving the party RM19 million from 2012 to 2014.
According to Sarawak Report, this money was not from Najib per se, but funds allegedly "stolen" from 1MDB. Apparently, even the Selangor MCA allegedly received RM10 million from funds linked to 1MDB.
Malaysians would have expected Vel Paari (photo), MIC's current general treasurer and son of the former leader S Samy Vellu, to have learned some important lessons from the alleged wrongdoings of his father.
But alas, this is not the case. While his father used to display the most obsequious role vis-a-vis Umno leaders, particularly the top echelons, Vel Paari is no different.
Of late he has become one of the staunchest defenders of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, over the 1MDB issue. The editor of Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle-Brown called him one of the top Malaysian "comedians" for drumming support for Najib for his colossal failure to manage 1MDB funds - funds meant for the welfare and well-being of all Malaysians.
Vel Paari is in his present position not because he has the right leadership credentials but because he has been put in the place by the current leadership of the MIC who are beholden to Samy Vellu. Without this family connection, Vel Paari would not even be considered for the post of a branch chairperson let alone holding an important post in the party's national leadership.
One of the primary reasons as to why Najib can still cling on to political power is simply because the allegedly ill-gotten gains from the 1MDB funds have been shared with members of the other BN component parties. Some would describe the alleged
Over the last few years, Sararak Report, has made a series of exposes about how the money was siphoned off from taxpayers contributions, who the beneficiaries were and why the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has initiated a series of lawsuits to recover the funds that were squandered from the 1MDB.
Among the MIC leaders, it was Vel Paari who came out strongly in his defense of the Najib. He said that there was nothing wrong for the MIC to receive funds from Najib as other prime ministers have done the same for the party in the past. He further added that the party even took money from Mahathir Mohammed when he was the prime minister.
While it is perfectly alright for the MIC or any other BN component parties to receive funds from the government, it is not alright if funds received are from tainted sources or money that was allegedly stolen from funds meant for the general benefit of the rakyat.

Vel Paari's defense of Najib is totally unjustified and grossly immoral. By defending Najib at all costs, he is prepared to forgo the pride and dignity of the Indian community, a community that has been abandoned by the MIC for nearly 60 years.
MIC will never learn lessons from history. Vel Paari is an example of a leader who cares little or nothing about the fate of Indians in the country, but who is prepared to defend Najib and Umno at all costs.

P RAMASAMY is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and the state assemblyperson for Perai - Mkini

Task force faced difficulty in getting documents in previous forex probe



The special task force into forex losses incurred by the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) three decades ago faced difficulty in obtaining evidence from the central bank due to legal constraint, said an official.
"Many information in respect of BNM operations on forex trading then was not available to the task force (during its proceeding) as it wasn't equipped with legal power," said the official who had knowledge of the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday.
According to him, certain Acts that governed the central ban, prohibited documents to be brought before the task force, chaired by the former chief secretary to the government, Mohd Sidek Hassan.
"Thus, the task force had recommended a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the forex losses," the official told Malaysiakini.
The task force, which was formed four months ago to come up with a recommendation for the government to take follow-up action on forex losses, had submitted its report to the cabinet on June 21.
On the same day, the Prime Minister's Office said the task force report showed prima facie case against the losses suffered by BNM in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Prime Minister's Office also said the task force found elements of a "cover-up and attempts to confuse the cabinet and Parliament".
Elaborating further, the official said the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had asked the ministers to speak up at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
"The cabinet came into conclusion that someone must be responsible for the forex losses. If you want to hold someone responsible, then you need to go further into the investigation," he said.
"And, there was the possibility of the cover-up from the executive (level then)," he noted," However, no name was mentioned in the cabinet meeting".
He said the RCI recommended by the task force and approved by the cabinet, should have the legal power to look into the BNM's documents.
The issue was revived this year when BN stalwarts compared the 1MDB scandal to the forex scandal, which occurred when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister.
The forex scandal also coincided with PKR de-facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's tenure as finance minister.
Anwar, DAP lawmaker Lim Kit Siang and former second finance minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop were called by the special task force headed by former chief secretary Sidek Hassan.
Nor Mohamed, who was the head of Bank Negara's forex trade operations in the early 1990s, resigned in 1994 following the losses.
Ahmad Don, the Bank Negara governor who took over after Nor Mohamed's resignation, estimated the losses to be as high as US$30 billion.

In 1998, Mahathir turned to Nor Mohamed during the Asian financial crisis, where he reportedly helped devise a controversial currency control which is largely credited to have stabilised Malaysia's economy amid regional turmoil.
Nor Mohamed then became the prime minister's special economic adviser and second finance minister under PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Despite being widely blamed for the forex scandal, Nor Mohamed is now deputy chairperson of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional. - Mkini

View China investments rationally, says Zeti



Former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz has called for a rational view of China's investments in Malaysia, amid concerns that national interests are being undermined and sold to the eastern superpower.
"Investments from China only account for 2 percent of Malaysia foreign investment. The rest are from US, Europe, Japan, and Korea.
"We must analyse this in a rational manner. As an economist, I will analyse it by case study," Zeti said in an interview with Sin Chew Daily.
China investments in Malaysia have been in the spotlight lately and is a hot topic among opposition leaders who claim that the government is selling the country off to cover its debts.
Commenting on this, Zeti said, "I don't know what their motive is, what I see is only the data."
She added investments from China could benefit the country if the money was pumped into the productivity and infrastructure sectors.
"But if the investment goes to the property sector, you must evaluate it," she said.
Property deals under spotlight
Among the China investments that are under public scrutiny include the Forest City project - a sprawling development in southern Johor whose clientele is almost exclusively from China.

Meanwhile, China's Dalian Wanda group is also touted to be a frontrunner for the master developer of Bandar Malaysia, a project deeply linked to 1MDB.
Besides this, the government has also been criticised for the 49.9 percent sale of national carmaker Proton to China's Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group.
Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had lamented the sale saying soon, the whole country would be sold.- Mkini

Zeti: Bank Negara could only impose the highest fine on 1MDB



Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said there was not much the central bank could do about 1MDB other than issuing "the highest administrative fine" in Malaysian history.
She said Bank Negara does not have the power to prosecute, though they are always ready to provide assistance to any institutions who can do so.
"(People) had higher expectations from us but Bank Negara does not have the power to prosecute.
"We do not have the power to fulfill the expectations on us, but we support the agencies which have those powers," she said, as reported by Sin Chew Daily yesterday.
"Bank Negara has already fined relevant agencies and financial institutions which acted against the law (in 1MDB's case). I would say, this is probably the highest fine in this country's history.
"This is what Bank Negara can do," she added.
On April 28, 2016, Bank Negara issued an administrative fine to 1MDB for failing to adhere to the Financial Services Act 2013. The state fund was given until May 30, 2016, to pay the fine.
However, Bank Negara has yet to reveal the actual amount of the fine imposed on 1MDB up till today as it is against Bank Negara protocol to reveal specific details in individual cases.
About two weeks after the fine was issued, the current Bank Negara governor Muhammad Ibrahim said they have ended their investigations into 1MDB's affairs as 1MDB has stated its commitment to pay the fine before the deadline.
In this first local interview since her contract as Bank Negara governor ended last April, Zeti also admitted that the 1MDB case was one of the most challenging things she had to handle in her stint as the governor.
Bank Negara's main responsibility in dealing with the 1MDB case was to ensure that the country's financial system was not damaged.
"Bank Negara has well-written laws, such as the Central Bank of Malaysia Act 2009, Financial Services Act 2013 and so on, to protect the financial system and ensure it is managed in a stable, transparent and healthy way," she said.
When asked if she was disappointed in how the 1MDB investigations turned out, she said, that as a Bank Negara officer, she has to set personal feelings aside to prevent it from affecting her duties.
"Bank Negara staff are not like other people. We have to learn to focus on the job.

"This is because our duty is to the rakyat and the corporate world, and not to our own personal feelings.
"When faced with disappointment, the support shared among members of the central bank is very important.
"We realise Bank Negara is very important to the country. We do not want it to be damaged. This is what I always prioritised," she said.- Mkini