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Monday, November 30, 2015

Gobind tells IGP: You're the coward



Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) today slammed Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, describing him a as 'a coward' for lack of police action against cops involved in a death in custody cases.
The lawmaker cited the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission's findings that police were responsible for the death of Syed Mohd Azlan Syed Mohamad Nor in a Johor police lock-up last year.
"I want to ask the IGP, you call people cowards but what action has been taken on this case which happened in a police station?
"Why has there been no action? Does the IGP dare to speak to victim's family? Has he even contacted them?
"Shame on the IGP, you yourself are a coward," Gobind told the Dewan Rakyat today while debating the home ministry's 2016 budget allocation.
Gobind was mocking the Khalid for calling Charles Morais a coward for fleeing the country after making an explosive statutory declaration implicating high-profile individuals.
Earlier this month the IGP vowed that the cops involved in Syed Mohd Azlan's death would not be protected and that an internal probe would be carried out and forwarded to the attorney-general's chambers for further action.
The EAIC in its investigations found Syed Mohd Azlan Syed Mohamed Nur, 25, was 'murdered' by police personnel who beat him up in the police station lock-up in Sungai Rengit, Johor on Nov 3, 2014.
The EAIC also found evidence that police personnel cleaned the scene of evidence of the beatings before the medical officers arrived to check on Syed Mohd Azlan.
[More to follow]
-Mkini

Greatest GE14 challenge - re-igniting hopes for change



MP SPEAKS The country is in unchartered waters with unprecedented fracture and fragmentation on both sides of the political divide – both with the Umno-led coalition of Barisan Nasional and the splintered Opposition.
The gravity of the political situation in the governing coalition is best illustrated by the warning by the Umno deputy president and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin at a gathering of 1,000 BN leaders in Pagoh on Sunday: that Malay support for Umno has dwindled to 30 percent, while 78 percent of Malaysians are dissatisfied with how the government is handling the economy.
Muhyiddin said the level of Chinese support for the government has also dwindled, from 13 percent in the last general election to only five percent at present.
Muhyiddin blamed Umno’s woes primarily on Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” twin mega-scandals and warned that if the Umno decline is not corrected within the next two years, it may lose in the 14th general election (GE14).
As Muhyiddin rightly pointed out, this is the first time that approval for the government among Malays has fallen below 50 percent since Merdeka Center began recording the data in February 2012.
These data were from an August poll by Merdeka Center in Peninsular Malaysia, which found that that only 31 percent of Malay voters were satisfied with the government - which is a drastic fall among Malay voters, as it had stood at 52 percent in a peninsula survey in January.
The government’s overall approval rating also plummeted to 23 percent, the worst since the Merdeka Center surveys on this started in 2012. In January this year, the Umno/BN coalition government’s approval rating remained at 38 percent, the same as the previous poll last October.
As for Chinese voters, only five percent approved of the government, compared to 11 percent this January.
The survey found only 17 percent of respondents were satisfied with how the government was handling the economy, compared with 78 percent who were dissatisfied.
What Muhyiddin did not say was that these data were from a Merdeka Center survey in August and that the results today, after more than three months, could be even more dismal, as public confidence in Najib as prime minister and the Umno/BN coalition government had plunged further in the interval – and the prime minister’s popularity rating even among Malay voters could have fallen well below 25 percent!
But does this mean that the Opposition is on the verge of taking over Putrajaya in GE14?
Far from it, for the Opposition has it own woes of crisis of confidence after the heyday of its hopes in GE13.
Highest watermark of hopes
GE13 in May 2013 was the highest watermark of hopes of Malaysians for political change and the end of Umno rule since Merdeka in 1957 and the beginning of a new Pakatan Rakyat federal government with a new prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim.
Although Pakatan Rakyat comprising DAP, PKR and PAS won the majority of 53 percent of the popular votes, Najib continued as the first minority prime minister, with the Umno/BN coalition winning 60 percent of the parliamentary seats despite getting only 47 percent of the popular votes.
The two years after the nationwide disappointment at missing the opportunity for political change in Putrajaya on the GE13 polling day of May 5, 2013, because of gerrymandering and unfair, unjust and undemocratic redelineation of parliamentary constituencies can be likened to a roller-coaster ride by Malaysians of high hopes for political change and virtual despair that such political change is possible because of an increasingly divided Pakatan.
After GE13, Pakatan existed only in name – as PAS decided to renege on its commitment to adhere to the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework as well as the Pakatan Rakyat operational principle of consensus.
PAS' refusal to accept Anwar
In retrospect, if Pakatan had captured the majority of the parliamentary seats and the mandate to form the federal government in Putrajaya in GE13, Pakatan would have been confronted with it first crisis even before the its federal government was formed, as the PAS president had refused to accept Anwar as the prime minister candidate.
With the history of the PAS president refusing not only to accept Anwar as the prime minister of Malaysia, but also PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the mentri besar of Selangor, as well as his decision to renege from the Pakatan Common Policy Framework, particularly on the hudud and local government election issues, what is the basis to hope that there could be a revival of Pakatan Rakyat cooperation and unity for GE14?
There is no doubt that Malaysians who had rooted for political change in GE13 went into the deepest and darkest despair at the demise of Pakatan Rakyat, for they see the hopes of political change being destroyed completely, at a time when the Umno/BN government has proved to be such a national liability and disaster.
However, the formation of Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) and establishment of Pakatan Harapan comprising DAP, PKR and Amanah have saved the political situation, filling the political vacuum and void caused by despair and seeming hopelessness for political change, with the country inundated by so many political, economic, good governance and nation-building scandals under the Najib premiership.
With the vigorous and vibrant advent of Amanah and Pakatan Harapan, Malaysians can dare to hope again that the goal of political change in Putrajaya is still possible and achievable in GE14.
My Ipoh friend, Koon Yew Yin, philanthropist and Malaysian social conscience, wrote an article in Malaysiakini on “How the opposition can win the next election”, suggesting that the winning formula is to ensure a “one-to-one” electoral contest in GE14.
After the failed Pakatan Rakyat experiment, electoral politics is not as simple and straightforward as it was in GE12 anf GE13.
I had previously said that if hudud had been a hot controversial issue in GE13, the BN would not only have regained its two-thirds parliamentary majority to redelineate electoral constituencies at will to consolidate its power hold in Putrajaya in GE12, Pakatan might have also lost Selangor apart from Kedah, and Johor would have reverted as an invincible BN “fixed-deposit” state.
The hudud issue has never been, and never will, be a vote winner in plural Malaysia based on past electoral evidence.
The issue is good governance
As an example, PAS and PKR won all the eight parliamentary seats and 28 out of 32 state seats in Terengganu in GE10 in 1999 because of the backlash against Umno, arising from Anwar’s arrest and the Reformasi movement.
But despite passing the state hudud enactment in 2001 (which DAP opposed), PAS and PKR only managed to retain one out of eight Parliament seats and four out of 28 state seats in GE11 in 2004.
With hudud as a hot, controversial issue in GE13, the damage for Pakatan in terms of non-Malay support would have been very decisive.
The total number of 89 parliamentary and 229 state assembly seats won by the three parties in Pakatan - DAP, PKR and PAS - in GE13 could have been slashed as much as to leave Pakatan only with 46 parliamentary seats (i.e. 23 DAP, 16 PAS and seven PKR) and 134 state assembly seats (i.e. PAS 62, DAP 57 and PKR 15).
In GE14, would the voters forget about the hudud and local government elections controversies raised by PAS, the PAS leadership’s refusal to endorse Anwar as the Pakatan candidate for prime minister and Wan Azizah as Selangor mentri besar? And the most recent developments, including the PAS president’s readiness to be Umno’s adviser and refusal of the PAS leadership to direct the PAS MPs to vote against Najib’s 2016 Budget?
We must not overlook the adage “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. We may be making a fatal error of judgment if we expect Malaysian voters to forget these bitter lessons of the past that caused the demise of Pakatan Rakyat, if the offer we can give the voters in GE14 is only an opportunistic alliance to topple the Umno-led coalition.
The great issue in Malaysian politics is good governance and an end to all the economic and political scandals, and if before GE14 the Umno-led coalition can promise to reform to focus on good governance, an opportunistic Opposition alliance just to ensure “one-to-one” electoral fight against BN could suffer a severe electoral debacle.
For these same reasons, the model of a two-opposition front formula used in 1990, when there was Gagasan Rakyat and Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah with Parti Semangat 46 as the one party in both alliances cannot be replicated.
The greatest challenge in the run-up to GE14 is how to re-ignite hopes of Malaysians for meaningful change in Putrajaya after the failure of the seven-year Pakatan Rakyat experiment.
In other words, how, in GE14, can Pakatan Harapan fully play the role that Pakatan Rakyat took in GE14.

LIM KIT SIANG is the MP for Gelang Patah and DAP Parliamentary Leader. -Mkini

Query on MACC's police report denying charge sheet on Najib



The Home Ministry has been urged to explain what progress has been made regarding the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's police report denying that there is a draft charge sheet against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) said this could have easily been used to dismiss a statutory declaration by Charles Morais claiming that his slain brother Kevin had left his signature on the charge sheet.
"One would have thought that when Charles made the allegations, police could have immediately say 'the MACC had made a police report on Aug 30, we have investigated and this are our findings'.
"But there has been no answer [...] It's not enough if we make a police report and then there's no answer, just silence," Gobind told the House today.
[More to follow]
-Mkini

Man pleads guilty to raping sister-in-law aged 11



A 35-year-old man has pleaded guilty over two charges of raping his 11-year-old sister-in-law.
The unemployed man made the plea at the Seremban Sessions Court yesterday, the New Straits Times reported.
He had allegedly raped the underaged girl at a house in Port Dickson on Sept 1 and Nov 23.
The accused could be jailed for a term not less than five years and a maximum of 30 years. He shall also be liable to whipping under Section 376 of the Penal Code.
The accused was unpresented. The court yesterday fixed Dec 30 for sentencing.
Malay daily Harian Metro last week reported that the man, who is married to a 14-year-old disabled person, was arrested for raping his wife’s sister.
It was reported that he made his underaged wife capture the alleged rape episodes on a video camera.
A source told the tabloid that the recording was then copied to VCDs by the man, who sold them to his friends.
The source said the matter came to light when the recording was circulated through mobile application WhatsApp.
It somehow found its way to the victim’s father. After querying his daughter, the man took her to lodge a police report at the Port Dickson police station. -Mkini

Pen drive 101: Ex-minister schools AG and IGP



Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has issued pointers to attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali and inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar on tackling the pen drive saga.
As for the AG, he said Apandi should speak to his predecessor, Abdul Gani Patail, and then dispatch an investigation team to the United States to examine the pen drive.
“Has he seen the pen drive that Charles (Suresh Morais) allegedly received from his brother (Kevin Anthony Morais)?
“The AG should not be so quick to rubbish serious allegations. He should be interested in the substance of the complaints, and not whether Charles is bankrupt or not.
“There is no need to foam at the mouth when someone makes an allegation about our leaders. There is no need to behave like a personal aide to the prime minister.
“Be cool and professional at all times,” he added in a blog post.
Last Wednesday, Charles revealed his explosive statutory declaration to the media, which alleged a conspiracy in his brother’s murder.
He also claimed to be in possession of a pen drive which details the cases Kevin, a senior deputy public prosecutor, was working on.
The US-based businessman alleged Kevin also told him he was involved in cases involving Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor.
Kevin had been seconded to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which
is probing the RM2.6 billion donation and SRC International’s RM42 million transferred into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
The prime minister has denied using public funds for personal gain.
Coward remark uncalled for
Meanwhile, Zaid also took a swipe at the police chief for branding Charles a coward for leaving the country after disclosing his SD.
“This is uncalled for. A more professional reaction would have been to acknowledge the seriousness of the accusation, and to pledge that an investigation team would be sent to Charles’ address in the US as soon as possible.
“His attack on (lawyer) Americk (Sidhu), who represents Charles, and sending the police to interrogate him is harassment that should not have been done by a top police officer.
“Why is Americk helping a client to draft a SD a possible crime, but not Cecil Abraham (in relation to the SD of the late private investigator P Balasubramaniam)?” he added.
Cecil is being investigated by a three-man Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board (ASDB) committee for professional misconduct for allegedly preparing a SD for Balasubramaniam, who was not considered his client.
The contentious SD was to counter Bala'subramaniam’s first sworn statement which had incriminated Najib and several other personalities in relation to the 2006 murder of Mongolian interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Balasubramaniam also happened to be Americk’s client.
Eight men have been charged in connection with Kevin’s murder, including an army doctor with the rank colonel. -Mkini

1MDB’s Edra sale - the math doesn’t add up



YOURSAY l ‘This looks like a loss of RM8.17bil, but Arul claims they’re making money.’
Anonymous_1421806811: Although I am not a keen admirer of former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad, I have to admit what he says make sense.
1MDB paid RM18 billion to acquire the power plants and sold it for RM9.83 billion and suddenly 1MDB debts are reduced by RM16 billion to RM18 billion.
Well, either this is Arulnomics at its best or 1MDB chief Arul Kanda is trying to pull a fast one on all of us. Whatever it is, it is still not giving us much confidence in the management of 1MDB.
Sleepy: My thought exactly - selling assets cheap that were bought expensive to benefit foreigners and to settle 1MDB debts.
Odin Tajué: Mahathir, I daresay your mind isn't working too well.
The claims made by Arul aren't for the consumption of people like you and the rest of the urbanites who have brains between their ears. They are meant for the Malays in the kampungs. Those Malays would believe him.
Remember, those Malays form Umno's vote bank, whereas urbanites with brains between their ears have rejected the party.
So you think his claims don't make sense. But what you can do about it? Too bad for you, he and PM Najib Razak call the shots.
Mushiro: Only Najib understands Arul's numbers. 1MDB had bought the power plants for RM18 billion and sold it for RM9.83 billion. And this is 100 percent of its energy assets.
This looks like a clear loss of RM8.17 billion, but Arul claims that they are making money on top of reducing the debt.
Kamalan: If they are not clever enough to understand how corporate world is managed, it’s better they just shut up rather than come out with a statement “we understand there is some real concern among the rakyat on the importance to solve 1MDB problem as soon as possible…”
I have doubts whether they have a clear idea of 1MDB problems.
Justine Gow: It is something like this. In 2014, a company bought a building at RM20 million. This year, in 2015, the company ran into trouble and was RM100 million in debt.
The newly appointed CEO of the company sold the building for RM5 million and used the money from the sale to reduce the debt.
The debt of the company is no doubt slightly less than RM100 million now, but is the company in a better shape now? Is the financial problem of the company now completely resolved?
Does the CEO care that the building bought only last year at RM20 million was sold at a big loss? The answer to all these questions is ‘no’.
As for the reason why the CEO does not care about the loss in the sale of the building, the building and the money do not belong to him.
Clever Voter: Imagine 1MDB as a cash till. The assumptions are cash flow is assured and no one will ever find out.
The cashier unfortunately lacks the technical skills to count and pays out more than earnings because someone has overestimated the cash flow.
But in the cyberworld, everyone knows. So the country has to be silenced and threatened. Mahathir is alone. That's sad.
Mob1900: Najibnomics following Mahathirnomics - the apprentice learned well after all.
Odin Tajué: You tell us that out of your RM42 billion debt, RM19.82 billion was denominated in ringgit and RM22 billion was denominated in US dollars.
These figures applied when the dollar was traded at around RM3.2. Say, RM3.3. Right or wrong?
At the time of commenting, the dollar is traded at RM4.27. Say, RM4.3. That means your dollar-denominated debt is not RM22 billion anymore but RM28.7 billion.
Therefore, your total debt is not RM42 billion but RM48.52 billion. This excludes interest to be loaded thereon minus whatever payments you have made, if any.
No, whatever you say, you are sinking. And sinking very fast.
Cinaputra: Excuse me for being dense. What happened to the money allegedly siphoned away into tycoon Jho Low's account? And have we settled tycoon Ananda Krishnan’s RM2 billion loan to 1MDB?
Good Man: How can we say 1MDB will face bankruptcy if China (CGN) is willing to buy Edra at RM8.3 billion? China knows that the potential of Edra.
1MDB has essentially 'broke even' on its investment through an international tender process, despite having to sell its assets whilst under sustained and misleading attacks from the opposition and Mahathir himself.
2Malaysia: Broke even after all these years? I thought the purpose of investments is to make money. -Mkini

Echoes from my past



“In history, truth should be held sacred, at whatever cost … especially against the narrow and futile patriotism, which, instead of pressing forward in pursuit of truth, takes pride in walking backwards to cover the slightest nakedness of our forefathers.”
- Col Thomas Aspinwall
Henceforth my commentary on our failing state will be sparse. Others are doing a fine job of wading into the murky Umno waters of Malaysia.
Since returning from my academic hiatus in Timor Leste or as my Indonesian friends refer to it as Tim Tim, I will be looking back on a life and professional career spent in the service of a country fast becoming foreign to me.
Everything old is new again. In diplomatic circles and amongst academics, the South China Sea, the efficacy of regional cooperation but especially the influence of China, dominates the discourse.
Depending on who you talk to, generally cynicism replaces what popular spin du jour the power brokers far more interested in political survival than regional stability are serving up. As one ambassador told me, “there is no country without a ruler”.
All this talk of an Asean community is merely propaganda for a neo-Cold War between hegemonic interests that small troubled countries find themselves caught between.
As the late S Rajaratnam (who was then serving as Singapore’s foreign minister) said at the formation of Asean - "a stable Southeast Asia, not a balkanised Southeast Asia. And those countries who are interested, genuinely interested, in the stability of Southeast Asia, the prosperity of Southeast Asia, and better economic and social conditions, will welcome small countries getting together to pool their collective resources and their collective wisdom to contribute to the peace of the world" - alluding to the powerful vested foreign interest that signified the Cold War.
The neo-Cold War dominated by American and Chinese interest, will eventually change the political and social landscape of Southeast Asia. Behind the political rhetoric and yes, the economic advantages brought upon by so-called regional cooperation, lays the dark truth that the constant struggle for individual autonomy and self-interests is in conflict with broader hegemonic stratagems.
Asean, or the Asean community, has to deal with a whole range of issues ranging from a black economy, human trafficking, political corruption and the very real threat of Islamic extremism. The feel-good economic numbers are not one part of the story; it is the least important part when it comes to maintaining regional stability and individual integrity.
Next area of global conflict
In the early 80s, I attended the Indonesian Naval Staff and Command College course (Seskol at Cipulir, Jakarta).
During a seminar about potential areas of conflict, I presented a seminar paper to the commandant of the Staff College and four senior officers from the Indonesian Navy. I posited that the next area of conflict would the South China Sea and gave detailed socio and political commentary about the realities of regional interests and conflicts.
The commandant, Vice Admiral Adang Safaat and two admirals chewed me up. They berated me on the fact that I did not acknowledge the efficacy of Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (Zopfan), another Cold War relic signed in Kuala Lumpur in 1971. Furthermore, they were horrified that I did not place emphasis on the bilateral joint military exercises amongst Asean countries.
The two colonels were strangely silent. After the presentation or humiliation as I saw it, the two colonels, Lt Col (Navy) Krisna Rubowo and a retired colonel of Chinese ethnicity who was an active participant of Indonesia’s war of independence (he facilitated the smuggling of arms from Singapore to the Freedom Movement in Indonesia), met me in private.
They told me in confidence that although they did not want to contradict their senior officers, they agreed with my summation. The South China Sea would be the next area of global conflict.
Before I go any further, I wish to speak of the enigma who is Abdul Haris Nasution. The former defence minister and security minister of Indonesia is a Batak from Sumatra and a member of Generasi 45, who fought and played a key role in the Indonesian War of Independence.
He was also a key player and confidant of Sukarno who was one of the founding fathers of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and a close friend of Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito.
He had written books on guerilla warfare informed by actual experience and on a personal level subjected to the worse of political infighting with the murder of his five-year daughter as collateral damage.
I will expand more on the nature of my friendship with the good general in subsequent pieces, but here was a man who was figuratively and literally scared by military and political life.
I needed a reality check. Was my paper the result of youthful anti-imperialism and seeing shadows where they were none? We were living in the nuclear age and those of us who served in the military felt the resulting anxiety most keenly. I needed the clear-sighted opinion of someone who was close to power but not enthused by it.
Systemic dysfunctions
General Nasution had the reputation of wanting to clean up corruption in the military and someone so inclined had very little use for pandering to conventional wisdom.
I took my seminar paper to General Nasution, who took them and told me he would review them. I got word to meet him a week later in his house. His house was not the palatial structures of most senior retired military personnel. It was small modest house; behind it, was General now President Suharto’s house when he was in the army.
Nasution (photo, in white shirt with author) agreed with my paper but with some caveats. Concerning Zofpan, he was skeptical as to how small nations, with small navies could “persuade” larger hegemons to maintain the integrity of Zofpan.
He was also skeptical on continued allegiances to so-called regional pledges of community building and neutrality when individual successive governments found it profitable to align their interests, with specific hegemons in lieu of maintaining regional solidarity.
The former defence minister was well aware of the political vagaries that were part of the reality of Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia’s own experience as (some would refer to as American proxyism) a pawn in American hegemonic interest in this part of the world, demonstrated the disconnect between regional harmony and state self-interests, that fuelled the Cold War and now the neo-Cold War.
What I took away from my discussions with people from various military and civilian disciplines at that time was a deep pessimism of speaking with “one voice”. This problem arises not because of diversity or even self-interest. This problem arises because of the systemic dysfunctions that plague individual Southeast Asian countries.
If you listen carefully, we can hear the same sentiment in what Rajaratnam cautioned, “we must also accept the fact, if we are really serious about it, that regional existence means painful adjustments to those practices and thinking in our respective countries.
“We must make these painful and difficult adjustments. If we are not going to do that, then regionalism remains a utopia."

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. -Mkini

Americk Sidhu: No clue about pen drive Kevin Morais sent



Lawyer Americk Sidhu says he does not know what's in the pen drive in the possession of his client Charles Suresh Morais that Charles claims holds incriminating information on high-profile individuals.
In a statutory declaration (SD) made on Nov 25, Charles said his murdered brother, deputy public prosecutor Kevin Anthony Morais, sent him the pen drive.
The police are due to question Americk today on his involvement in drafting the SD.
The lawyer disclosed that Charles had engaged his services in September, soon after Kevin was reported missing.
However, Americk said, he was not aware of any plan to make a SD until Nov 24, a day after Richard Dilaan Morais, the youngest brother of Charles and Kevin (photo), retrieved Kevin's remains from the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary.
The move thwarted Charles’ plan for a second post-mortem to be conducted on Kevin's body, after he had expressed dissatisfaction over the first post-mortem.
“He (Charles) came up with it (the SD) the day after Kevin's body was taken away. Before that, he wasn't going to make any SD at all.
“He was just so incensed that after being here (in Malaysia) for two months - trying to organise a second post-mortem – and then his brother basically just steals the body and takes it away, despite his brother knowing what was happening.
“So that's why, at the end of the day, Charles is very angry,” Americk told Malaysiakini when contacted yesterday.
Body found in cement drum
Kevin’s body was found in a cement-filled drum on Sept 16. On Sept 28, six men were charged with his murder and two others charged with abetting the crime.
Americk said he was aware of some of the details in Charles' SD prior being told to draft it, but not all.
However, he declined to elaborate on this, saying the information is solicitor-client privilege.
Asked about the contents of the pen drive, Americk said he did not know what was inside.
“Charles (photo) told me that everything Kevin told him on the phone would be put in a pen drive. That's all I know from Charles. Charles put that in his SD, so that's not confidential,” he said.
Americk told Malaysiakini that Charles engaged his services a few days after Kevin was reported gone missing on Sept 4, after being recommended by family members.
At the time, he said, Charles was still in Atlanta, United States, and had no specific request except to represent him in handling matters related to Kevin's disappearance.
He said he didn't realise it at the time, but it turned out that he and Charles were related in a way, and hence the relatives had suggested that Charles hires Americk.
He explained that his brother-in-law's mother turned out to be Charles' godmother, and he also came to know many of Charles' relatives when he was reading law in London.
Americk said he was not aware of any of these relationships when he agreed to assist Charles, until their mutual family members told him of this afterwards.
'High-level conspiracy'
On Nov 25, Charles signed the SD that Americk helped to prepare and held a press conference on it in Kuala Lumpur.
Charles claims in the SD that his elder brother Kevin was involved in preparing a charge sheet against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, and that there was a high-level conspiracy behind Kevin’s murder.
He claimed that his brother had related details about the investigation to him by phone, and subsequently, Kevin sent him a pen drive containing incriminating information.
“It is in safe custody in the US, with someone who has instructions to release it publicly should anything untoward happen to me for swearing this statutory declaration.
“The contents of this pen drive clearly and unequivocally reveal the investigation Kevin had been tasked with just before his untimely death, which implicates certain personalities who currently walk the corridors of power in Malaysia,” Charles states in his SD.
Charles declined to divulge the contents of the pen drive when asked during the press conference he held last week.
Attorney-general Mohd Apandi Ali dismissed Charles' claims as 'preposterous'.
Memories of Bala
Asked whether the drafting of Charles' SD brought him back memories of private investigator P Balasubramaniam's case, Americk replied in the affirmative.
“Yes of course. Déjà vu. I thought, 'Oh God, here we go again',” Americk replied.
Nevertheless, he said, he went along because that was what his client wanted.
Americk helped draft the SD of the late Balasubramaniam in 2008, in which PI Bala, as the late private investigator is better known, implicated Najib in the murder of the Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Bala made a second SD the very next day, recanting several paragraphs of the first SD related to Najib, and then promptly fled to India.
He returned in 2013 and claimed that the first SD was correct, but died of a heart attack in March that year, although he was supposed to campaign for the opposition in the looming general election.
Najib, on his part, swore he is innocent and that he never knew Altantuya, while authorities also dismissed Bala’s claims. -Mkini

Oil prices dip ahead of OPEC gathering

Image result for Oil prices dip ahead of OPEC gathering

NEW YORK - Oil prices finished a bit lower on Monday (Nov 30) ahead of an OPEC meeting expected to maintain policies that have kept prices down.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery ended down six cents at US$41.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent North Sea crude for January delivery shed 25 cents to US$44.61 a barrel.Friday's meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, though eagerly anticipated, is generally expected to maintain the cartel's policy of keeping production elevated in order to press high-cost producers out of the market.
Daniel Holder, analyst at Schneider Electric, described OPEC's "overproduction stance" as "firm" heading into the gathering. "An OPEC production cut might be welcome or even needed, but it's also unlikely," said Tim Evans, analyst at Citi Future.
"A split decision, with Saudi Arabia and its closest allies still insisting on battling for market share, remains the base case scenario, with an ongoing surplus as the result."
Oil prices have been in retreat from levels above US$100 a barrel since July 2014, with the decline accelerating after OPEC's November 2014 meeting signalled the group would keep output high. While analysts do not expect OPEC to alter course, some said there is an outside chance of a surprise that could lift prices. - AFP

WITH UMNO REVOLT IN FULL SWING, LAST THING NAJIB NEEDS IS GE14: How Najib could 'win' - by now a moot point?

WITH UMNO REVOLT IN FULL SWING, LAST THING NAJIB NEEDS IS GE14: How Najib could 'win' - by now a moot point?
With the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and RM2.6 billion ‘political donation’ crises looming and anti-Najib (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) forces aiming to remove him from office, there is one strategy open to the prime minister – a snap election, should he feel cornered.
This is a remote scenario, but one that is currently being drawn up now as a contingency in the Prime Minister's Office.
The forces of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – who Najib fired as deputy prime minister – have largely been neutralized, as well as the opposition, primarily through botched votes of no confidence and the attempt to block a second budget reading.
No Barisan Nasional (BN) votes drifted over to the opposition, indicating that this group’s influence within Umno/BN is negligible.
Dr Mahathir’s attempts to get BN members of Parliament to cross the floor on the budget were disappointing.
This shows how little influence the 90-year-old former prime minister really has within Umno today.
Consequently, it appears resistance to Najib has almost been destroyed before the Umno General Assembly, due to be held next month.
What made it worse was that PAS' votes may have drifted over to BN's side, through abstaining on these make-or-break votes as far as the opposition was concerned.
Only 77 of the 88 opposition votes were cast against the budget, showing complete loss of discipline and strategy.
The opposition has fallen into disarray ever since the jailing of former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim earlier this year.
His jailing didn’t make him a martyr or garner any massive groundswell of support for the Pakatan Rakyat, as Anwar had hoped, rather, it sowed seeds of destruction for the coalition, which doesn’t even exist today.
Furthermore, the death of former Kelantan chief minister Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has been very damaging.
With the destruction of progressive faction of PAS at party elections last July, and the Shura Council directive to cut ties with the Chinese-dominated DAP has destroyed the Pakatan Rakyat.
With PAS now split into two, the animosity with breakaway party Parti Amanah led by Mohamad Sabu (Mat Sabu), is leading to more hate than there is between PAS and Umno.
The death of Karpal Singh, long-time DAP secretary-general, is allowing some of the younger generation to voice out more.
However, the performance of Tony Pua has been an embarrassment to say the least. Lim Kit Siang has been neutralized with his six month suspension from Parliament.
The opposition has zero strategy and the Dr Mahathir forces appear lame. A man supposedly implicated in the murder of the Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, massive financial scandals and gross unpopularity actually appears stronger now than he did three months ago.
Voters are almost just as much disillusioned with the Pakatan Rakyat as they are with BN. The only thing that the opposition has going for them is their good governance in Penang and Selangor.
However, the effects of the PAS/Amanah split in Kelantan and the “Kajang Move” on voting intentions is yet to be seen.
What's more, it looks like PAS is quickly distancing itself away from the opposition, and how Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang will play the next election is still a big question, but three-cornered electoral fights, which will hurt the opposition, are a possibility.
How quickly PAS is losing ground to Amanah is not really known yet.
The only advantage of the PAS/Amanah split for the opposition is that they can leave behind the hudud bogey. PAS' efforts to implement harsh Islamic law in Kelantan has caused so much damage to the opposition coalition.
Although few political pundits foresee an early election, there are some definite signs that this option is on the table due to the way the 2016 budget was framed, and some of the rhetoric the prime minister has been making at both the Gerakan and MIC AGMs recently.
It is the writer's belief that if an election were held in the near future, it is possible the prime minister could pull off a victory for Umno and BN.
There are great advantages for Najib should he call and win an election.
  • He would be able to finally eliminate the anti-Najib forces from Parliamentary positions within Umno through his power to select candidates, and/or place candidates in unwinnable contests. There is no effective opposition leader at present.
  • He would be able to put in a final blow to crush the opposition (except DAP) and weaken them electorally.
  • Upon winning an election, he would have five years in office until 2021.
  • 1MDB and the RM2.6 Billion ‘political donation’ issue would sink into the background of a new Parliamentary term.
  • An election would be a good method to ‘unify’ Umno behind him.
  • The timing of an election, sooner rather than later, would put it out of the way before ‘harder’ economic times are upon us.
However, there are also a number of risks in the electoral strategy:
  • Anything can happen in politics, especially an election:
  • There is great likely of sabotage within Umno in many quarters, all across the country.
  • Najib is going through a period of intense low popularity (although this does not necessary mean it will be reflected in voting patterns).
  • The goods and services tax (GST) and devaluation of the ringgit are already causing great suffering in the electorate.
Having an early election is a major effort that would require great financial resources, organization, and effort. It’s also high risk, but the rewards would be great should Najib pull off a victory.
Certainly some signs of an election exist, the recent budget could be framed as an election budget, a national election could be coordinated with the Sarawak election due next year, the recent rhetoric coming from Najib concerning Chinese are not ‘pendatang’ to Malaysia, a divided opposition at present, the arrests of opposition members, and even the visit of US President Barak Obama to Malaysia has put out a positive signal for Najib.
Najib doesn’t need an election to defeat any external opposition. An election is the best method for him to eliminate opposition within his own party Umno.
Najib cannot win GE14, but the opposition can lose it, as we can see state by state.
PerlisThe BN looks set to retain the state of Perlis and hold three Parliamentary seats.
Parti Amanah Negeri will probably have difficulty organizing themselves in time for the next election, leaving the Arau Parliamentary seat open for the cashed up Umno warlord Shahidan Kassim to hold.
The only surprise in Perlis could be in the Kangar Parliamentary seat if locally popular PKR state member Chan Ming Kai opts to run in the seat.
Najib will most probably select a new chief minister candidate to replace the unpopular and lacklustre performer Azlan Man, who has put the local Chinese community offside.
Kedah: The Prime Ministers Department put in massive resources before the last election to win-over Kedah from a weak PAS Chief Minister Azizan Abdul Razak.
Kedah people have been very reluctant to accept ‘outsiders’ as chief ministers and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir is sharing the same affliction.
There is even some probability that Najib may select another candidate as chief minister this time round as well, especially as Mukhriz is the son of Mahathir.
Umno holds 10 Parliamentary seats in Kedah which should stand firm. PKR holds four and PAS one. With poor organization on the ground, PKR and PAS seats could be vulnerable. The Alor Seter seat may best be defended by a DAP candidate to hold on this time round. The DAP may be able to pick up three state seats, not enough to wrest government from the BN.
Penang: With a good showing Pakatan could pick up three BN seats in Penang, thereby wiping out all BN seats within that state.
Perak: Perak will be an interesting state with a number of seats in for possible change.
Bagan Serai will probably change hands to the opposition. Last election Kuala Kangsar didn’t turn over to the opposition because there was a three way contest.
This election the result may be different. Expect Bukit Gantang to see a three way contest with PAS and Amanah involved. Two other seats that have a remote chance of changing hands are Bagan Datok and Tanjong Malim.
SelangorThe Selangor Chief Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali is still holding the Pakatan Rakyat coalition together in running the government.
Due to the delicate balance of seats, it is necessary for him to do so. How Azmin faces the next election is something that even he hasn’t thought through at this point.
Although the effects of the ‘Kajang move’ are yet to be felt electorally, there is a high probability that the Pakatan coalition will hold Selangor and that not many seats will change between Pakatan and BN.
The complexity of the situation for Azmin is that PAS won state seats in constituencies with a high proportion of Chinese voters.
PAS cannot rely on this support this time around and it would be assumed that Amanah would take them over. PAS discussions with Perkasa and Umno, along with their unpopular hudud policy among Selangor voters will probably make the party irrelevant.
DAP could also pick up another two state seats, Semenyih and Kota Damasara which would make them the dominant party in the state chamber. Federally, BN stands to lose three seats, Hulu Selangor, Sungei Besar, and Kuala Selangor if there is even a slight swing away from them.
Hulu Selangor is particularly susceptible, held by the MIC where two independents spoiled the opposition vote last time around.
Negri Sembilan: Although there has been some reported discontent at branch level within Umno, there are unlikely to be any major seat changes within Negri Sembilan, unless massive sabotage occurs.
MelakaThere are unlikely to be any seat changes in Melaka.
Johor: Johor is a potential Achilles heel for the BN. Any swing against the BN could easily lead to a loss of up to 7 seats. The Muyhiddin factor will be crucial here, and it is unlikely that he would be running for Parliament under the BN banner.
The winners here would be the DAP.
Pahang: Najib’s home state of Pahang will be another battlefield with the possibility of five seats changing hands. At risk for the BN are the seats of Bentong, Bera, Cameron Highlands, and Lipis.
PAS holds Temerloh by a very small margin and a three way contest could bring this seat back to the BN.
TerengganuThe vote in Terengganu will be more interesting to see what happens to PAS. Most PAS seats, except for Kuala Terengganu were won by slender margins.
Three way contests in Teregganu could be a disaster for PAS/Amanah. Being PAS leader Hadi's home state, it will be interesting what voters think about his political positioning over the last few months. Umno could even gain seats in Terengganu.
Kelantan: The nightmare scenario for Pakatan would be where PAS and Amanah contest each seat and the BN wins by default.
That could wrest the state and allow to BN to pick up nine extra seats in the most optimistic scenario for them. This is an Achilles heel for the Pakatan Harapan.
In a straight fight scenario, PAS/Amanah could pick up to three BN seats, Machang, Ketereh, and Kuala Krai. With the retirement of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the seat would also be up for grabs by Pas/Amanah.
Sabah: The division of the opposition in Sabah is Chief Minister Musa Aman’s biggest asset. STAR, SAPP, and the Pakatan parties are running against each other ensuring a BN win.
If three and four cornered contests could be avoided seats like Kota Maruda held by federal minister Maximus Ongkili could fall.
Chief Minister Musa Aman has done a fair job governing Sabah and without any agreement within the opposition parties, there should be no upsets.
Sarawak: According to Medeka Centre research, the approval rating for the new Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem is 75%, while 68% are satisfied with the state government’s performance.
Approval rates of the CM are 68% within the Chinese community, and if these figures are any indication, it will be difficult for the opposition to make many inroads in Sarawak.
Federal Territories: It would be hard to see Putrajaya changing hands. However within the Klang Valley both Setiawangsa and Titiwangsa are two possible opposition gains.
Labuan should remain BN.
The current parliament comprises 133 BN seats (88 Umno, PBB 14, MCA 7, PRS 6, PBS 4, MIC 3, SPDP 3, UPKO 3, Gerakan2, PBRS 1, and SUPP1),  opposition Pakatan Harapan, comprising (DAP 37, PKR 29, PAN 60, with other opposition parties including (PAS 14, PSM 1, TERAS 1, and independent 2).
A new Parliament after an election will probably look something like 124 seats for the BN and 98 seats for the opposition.
However this doesn’t factor in the current troubles for Pas/Amanah in Kelantan and Terengganu, where BN could make massive gains, if three way contests occur.
If the three corner fight scenario occurs, PAS could deliver the BN a landslide victory.

One must remember that in Malaysia there is very little polling done, and the few public polls that come out are biased towards urban voters.
So, unlike other ‘democracies’ in Malaysia most political pundits and strategists are almost blind to public voter intentions, which makes any predictions difficult.
The only hope for both the opposition and anti-Najib forces to bring down the Prime Minister is through an election.
However the above analysis shows that this would not be an easy task.
An opposition win would require a new leader to appear out of nowhere, a rapid deployment of a branch network for Parti Amanah Negara, trust in the DAP with more seats allocated to them this time round, a high level of sabotage within Umno itself, and a minimum of three corner electoral fights with PAS.
Najib has complete control of the government, judiciary, and police.
All checks and balances have been broken down, which makes him secure. Short of a revolt emanating from branch level, nothing can remove Najib. Any hints of a revolt are being suppressed as I write.
This is his only Achilles heel.
This election, Najib will have to carefully select his candidates and pay people to undertake the electioneering, rather than rely upon party workers.
He has a number of dirty tricks up his shelve like potentially prosecuting Nurul Izzah Anwar for her fopar over her meeting with Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s daughter Jacel H. Kiram.
An election will be necessary for Najib at some time in the future to safeguard the business interests of his family and cronies, which is extensive.
This is so with nobody to trust in handing the reins of power to, and no possibility of immunity from prosecution.
An election is more a Dr Mahathir strategy than Najib’s style. He ran a full term after taking over from former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi back in 2009.
The option is ready in case it becomes a necessity, and Najib is ready. – TMI