`

THERE IS NO GOD EXCEPT ALLAH
read:
MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku

LOVE MALAYSIA!!!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

When will we respect the people’s will?

We have forgotten that ours is the government of the people, for the people and by the people, in essence and in substance, whether we like or not.
COMMENT
malaysiansBy TK Chua
Former minister Rafidah Aziz said our “system” is broken due to “human weaknesses as well as greed. The system can only function to the level of the dedication and commitment of those entrusted with the responsibility as custodians of, and functionaries in, that system”.
While it is a good observation, there is more to it than that. Those entrusted with positions of responsibility have not only failed to live up to expectations but have created diversions along the way to entrap the public into their “shadow plays”.
When a certain public official argued that his powers and actions were based on the Federal Constitution despite the obvious abdication of public responsibility, we foolishly went along with his justifications and the subsequent court judgment based on these very provisions.
We forget that the Constitution, in essence, exists to protect the well-being and the rights of the people against the tyranny of the state. But, as it stands, the Constitution is now an instrument used to protect the government from culpability and accountability. This is a Constitutional government turned upside down and I think we are wasting valuable time and energy engaging in this endless baloney.
Then we have numerous interpretations on what constitutes a legitimate government. We have different “ways” to interpret whether a head of government has lost his support or legitimacy. We had this problem in Perak and it went all the way to the highest court of the land. The same was repeated in Selangor and now we have a similar debacle brewing in Kedah.
Our problems seem endless because we have largely ignored the will of the people in this equation. We have forgotten that ours is the government of the people, for the people and by the people, both in essence and in substance, whether we like it or not. If we ignore this, we are going to have endless problems.
When investigating wrongdoing, we split hairs over procedures, jurisdiction and inter-government decorum. Some potential but privileged wrongdoers are given protection in the name of “fairness” and secrecy. Those given the authority to investigate are heavily restricted and the power to prosecute is based on personal discretion. There is no need for transparency, public accountability and most important of all, the truth.
What baloney is this? Why adhere to official channels, inter-government decorum and secrecy when these lead us nowhere? When a well-respected foreign government reveals issues or concerns, it demands we pay attention to ascertain the truth, more so when we are not talking about disclosures from a half-baked Attorney-General from Timbuktu.
There are just too many unanswered questions in Malaysia today.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.

New Shahbudin: Istana irked by Ministers annoying people

The source of the country's problems is not the dumb Ministers who are the butt of public jokes but the person who appointed them and continues to keep them in government, writes Shahbudin Husin.
TMJKUALA LUMPUR: It’s not the norm for the Istana to openly criticise Ministers who are generally considered not only less than intelligent but have even become the butt of jokes among the people, said a political analyst in his latest blog posting.
“Previously, the Istana has generally avoided getting mixed up with government administration. The last thing that they would do in the past was to openly criticise the government and Ministers.”
It seems things are very much different during the Najib Administration, observed Shahbudin Husin the analyst. “The people continue to poke fun at Ministers, especially those considered not so intelligent, and this has made the Istana sit up and take notice.”
The latest incident, said the analyst, was the Tuanku Mahkota Johor (TMJ) openly criticising Ministers who appear to be less than intelligent and, as a result, are generally the butt of jokes among the people.
The TMJ, he added, said that it was important that the government took steps to improve the system in the country by dropping several Ministers whom the people have concluded are more suitable to be comedians.
“Malaysia, the TMJ pleaded, also needs Ministers who can serve the people and are not focused on filling their pockets.”
It would not be necessary to list all the errant Ministers one by one as the people already know who they are from their public statements and responses, said Shahbudin. “The question that arises is how did these people manage to become Ministers.
“Who appointed them, despite knowing that they lack gray matter, and worse still, keeps them in government?”
If those who shouldn’t be in government continue to remain there, said Shahbudin, questions can also be raised on the calibre of the person who appointed them and continues to keep them in government. “Obviously, the person who appointed them is also not up to standard as far as intellect goes.
“Those who are not too smart will generally appoint people who are even dumber than them to avoid looking bad. In this way, the boss appears smarter, even if he is the best of the worst.”
However, said the analyst, those who are smart will only appoint the brightest and best in their administration since they would not want the public to perceive them as being a bad judge of character or underestimating their intellect.
In summation, the leader is the one who must be faulted, wrote Shahbudin, and is the overarching reason why the country’s systems are in such bad shape.
“The answer lies in getting rid of the person who continues to appoint these people as Ministers.”

Kedah regency council meets 19 BN reps, media barred



The Kedah regency council has been holding a meeting with 19 BN assemblypersons since 2pm today at Wisma Darul Aman over the issue of state Umno's call to remove Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir.
The meeting is held following Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's meeting with the Kedah sultan to seek approval to remove Mukhriz as MB.
It is learnt that the Kedah sultan, who is also the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, has requested Najib to provide three more names as potential candidates.
Earlier, it was highly speculated that state Umno deputy chief Ahmad Bashah Md Hanapiah would be the new MB.
Bashah kicked off the Kedah MB crisis when he together with 14 division leaders called for a press conference to oust Mukhriz (photo), who started his term after the 2013 national polls when Umno wrested the state from PAS.
Mukhriz's removal appeared imminent as Bashah said he has obtained the majority - 19 out of 36 Kedah assemblypersons.
Najib also reportedly told the BN reps when he met them yesterday, to accept the new MB.
Reporters are not allowed into Wisma Darul Aman, Kedah state secretariat and state executive council building.
However, they were treated to packed chicken rice and mineral water by Ramli Hassan, who runs a restaurant in Alor Setar.
It is learnt that Ramli is a supporter of Bashah. -Mkini

Agong: Public should unite to face current challenges



The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah today reminded the people of the need to unite as one, casting aside racial and political differences to combat current challenges.
He said this was most important as the global economic situation was more challenging due to the drop in oil prices and property values.
“This global phenomena would surely have a direct impact on Malaysia’s economy, so I hope the people of Malaysia, especially those in the Federal Territories will continue working hard and with the determination to make our beloved Malaysia prosper.
“In this increasingly challenging scenario, I also pray that the people will unite and set aside racial and political differences, as well as foster closer times with each other,” he said.
The Agong was speaking at the investiture on the conferment of Federal Territory Awards in conjunction with the Federal Territory Day held at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur.
Also present was the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Haminah.
The ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor as well as all cabinet ministers.
The Agong also said that development planning and administrative management in all three Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan should be continued.
He said last year saw the implementation of many projects which benefitted the people including the Federal Territory Affordable Homes project and that of the 1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Project, as well as aid programmes for the homeless through the Homeless Service Centre in Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory.
Bumiputra empowerment programme drawn up
Meanwhile, the Bumiputera Economic Empowering programme at the Federal Territory level had been drawn up in line with the current economic situation which was more challenging, he said.
He added that the Kampong Baru Development Corporation also played a role in transforming Kampong Baru into a Centre for Malay Culture and Kuala Lumpur City New Economic Activity Enclave by 2035.
“Not forgotten is the Labuan Federal Territory which has a lot of potential from the aspects of tourism industry, financial offshore and international banking industry, logistics hub, public and private education institutions, marine produce and development of small and medium-scale industry products.
“I hope these activities will be continued for the benefit of the people especially in the Federal Territory,” he said.
The Agong also reminded the award recipients this year to preserve their honour and good name in order to retain the prestige of the awards they were conferred.
Armed Forces chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, who was awarded the Darjah Seri Utama Mahkota Wilayah (SUMW) which carries the title Datuk Seri Utama, led the list of 322 award recipients.
Other recipients of the SUMW included the former mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Elyas Omar, while Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mah Siew Keong received the Darjah Seri Mahkota Wilayah (SMW) which carries the title Datuk Seri.
Today, a total of 131 recipients will receive their awards while the remainder would be accorded theirs on Wednesday.
Bernama

No comment, our AG is independent: Swiss embassy



The Swiss embassy in Kuala Lumpur has declined to comment on Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s criticism of the Swiss attorney-general's office (OAG).
According to a staff at the embassy, this is because the Swiss AG is an independent body.
"We can't comment because the OAG is independent from the government.
"The government also does not comment on open criminal proceedings," she told Malaysiakini.
According to OAG's website, the office is answerable to a supervisory authority appointed by Switzerland's legislative arm, the United Federal Assembly.
Zahid yesterday said the Swiss AG should have used "official" channels to request assistance in its probe regarding the alleged misappropriation of US$4 billion (RM16.6 billion) of funds involving Malaysian state firms and 1MDB.
By making a media statement, the deputy premier said it exposed the case to bias.
The OAG responded by saying it would not comment on political statements.
The Swiss AG's office announced last Friday that its investigations found "serious indications that funds have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies".
The revelation comes soon after attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of wrongdoing involving the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International funds in the prime minister's personal bank accounts.
Though Apandi said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations failed to discover elements of wrongdoing, detractors continued to cast aspersion on the case.
Following the decision, Malaysiakini quoted sources familiar with the investigations as claiming that MACC recommended three charges under Section 403 of the Penal Code.
Apandi's appointment as AG had also ignited speculation of an attempt to cover up the cases, since his predecessor Abdul Gani Patail was suddenly removed on health grounds after the transactions were exposed by the media based on leaked documents last July.
Gani was then leading a joint taskforce probing 1MDB.
The government has denied these allegations, while Najib has also maintained that he did not abuse public funds for personal gain.
The investigations also rekindled debate on the need for an independent AG as opposed to one who is appointed upon the recommendation of the prime minister and serves as both public prosecutor and chief legal adviser of the government, which creates a conflict of interest. -Mkini

Public have right to know developments on 1MDB probe

As Deputy Prime Minister, Zahid should welcome the Swiss request on 1MDB and not condemn it as being inappropriate, says Ramkarpal.
ramkarpalKUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh ventured in a statement on Monday that perhaps it would be best for Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi not to interfere with the jobs of the Attorney-Generals in Malaysia and Switzerland.
It’s hoped that the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) of Switzerland continues with its request publicly and not be influenced by Zahid’s remarks, he added. “Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali has said that he will cooperate with the Swiss OAG and the public has every right to know the developments in such investigations.
Ramkarpal was commenting on a statement by the OAG that it will not comment on Zahid’s claim that it had acted in an improper manner by issuing a press statement on its investigations into the misappropriation of USD4 billion involving Malaysian state firms and 1MDB. “As it’s a law enforcement body and judicial authority, it will not comment on political statements.
“This is most professional and welcome.”
Zahid’s statement that this was a ‘Government to Government” matter and, therefore, should not have been made public may send the message that the government has something to hide, warned the MP. “There’s nothing unusual or improper about one government publicly requesting another for information or for action to be taken on matters which concern both countries.
“We did just that in October last year when Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, publicly told the Indonesian Government to be stern and not compromise with any individual or company from any country which deliberately caused forest fires and the haze issue.
“The Minister did not make such a request to Indonesia through ‘official channels’ as the matter was in the public interest and affected both countries.”
The position is the same in this case which involves the OAG, pointed out Ramkarpal. “The said investigations that are being conducted by the Swiss OAG are certainly in the public interest as it may involve 1MDB and Malaysian state firms.”
As Deputy Prime Minister, said the MP, Zahid should welcome the OAG’s request and not condemn it as being inappropriate.

Ahmad Bashah: 19 from Kedah BN firm on change of MB

Kedah Umno deputy chief claims the 19 assemblymen reiterated their stand to the prime minister last night at a closed-door meeting.
Ahmad-BashahALOR SETAR: The 19 Kedah Barisan Nasional assemblymen who signed statutory declarations stating they had lost confidence in Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir are firm on him being replaced.
In claiming so, Kedah Umno deputy liaison chief Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah said he was made to understand the majority of the assemblymen had reiterated their stand in a closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak last night.
He said that the meeting, involving 18 assemblyman and the Kedah Speaker took place at Jalan Langgak Duta.
Jitra assemblyman, Aminuddin Omar, was absent.
“The 19 assemblymen are firm in their stand that they have lost confidence in Mukhriz. That was last night, today, I’m not sure if there are those who have changed their minds,” he told reporters when met at the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport in Kedah, where he was also greeted by his supporters this morning.
Bashah also said he was unaware of any appointment of a new Menteri Besar today, and brushed it off as rumours.
Meanwhile, Tanjong Dawai representative Tajul Urus Mat Zain called on all Kedah branch chiefs to abide by disciplinary rules and await explanations from their division chiefs.
Last Wednesday, 14 out of 15 Kedah division chiefs, led by Ahmad Bashah called on Najib to strip Mukhriz of his post as Menteri Besar and state Umno chief citing loss of confidence in the latter’s leadership of the state among others.

CHINESE AND TAMIL SCHOOLS ARE NOT PUNCHING BAGS

img718.imageshack.us_img718_7825_vernacularschools
Johan James
Lately, a number of NGOs and political leaders have been giving wrong opinions about vernacular schools. This is absolutely a disservice to the Rakyat where foundations were laid by these schools 50 over years ago. According to them, these schools are hampering our interracial relations. Much of these narrow-minded opinions given by the so-called educated politicians are without any empirical evidence. Do they really care about national integration? They neither care about national integration nor the sentiments of the other races in this country. These self-centered politicians are desperately running after high positions in the government at the expense of other races.
Although there are people who suggest single stream schools to unite the multiracial society, mere suggestions are insufficient for nation-wide implementation. It’s easier said than done. In actual fact, the need for Chinese and Tamil Primary schools in this country, especially in Peninsular Malaysia, is determined by the  unique-demography of Malaysians – comprised of Malays, Chinese and Indians. Despite not being the majority, the Chinese and Indian voters frequently become the decision-makers in many constituencies. Therefore, going against them would cost the ruling government dearly during elections. This has been well understood by the ruling government. And that is why they are strongly against the Single Stream Schools and assures that vernacular schools will remain.
On the global front, no one can deny that the People’s Republic of China and India are ever-expanding economic giants. On top of this, Mandarin is the number 1 widely spoken language in the world. And Tamil ranked 17th among the top 30 widely spoken languages in the world. Therefore, it is imperative to learn these ancient and far reaching languages – not only for economic gain but also to thwart threats to our national security.
On the other hand, China is expanding its power in South China Sea – claiming ownership over the Spratly Islands. Apart from China, Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Philippines also want their fair share of the Spratly islands’ rich deposits. Nevertheless, China’s military presence in the South China Sea has relatively dwarfed the claims by the other countries, at least until the interference of the US Navy.    
Even though, there is not much threat from India, mastering Tamil will definitely help to keep the Indian nationals especially the Tamils with terror links at bay. In other words, they will be monitored much more effectively by security personnel with the ability to reading, writing and speaking in Tamil. Besides that, a large number of Tamil-immigrants are entering the country illegally to escape atrocities in their home country. So, command in Tamil is a blessing in disguise for the immigration department to stop those illegal immigrants and the syndicates bringing them in.  
Another important issue are the prospects for vernacular school teachers, should they be enrolled in the Single System Education. They have no option but to face intense competition from teachers from the rest of the Chinese, Tamil and Malay schools. Not to mention the workload they are going to face in the face of the Single Stream Education System. Another worry is that Single Stream schools would probably become an obstacle for Chinese and Tamil students to learn the important scientific and mathematical terminologies in their respective mother tongues.
Instead of threatening the Non-Malays by the flat Single Stream Education system, the ministry of education should promote the existence of the vernacular schools and let them flourish. And most importantly, let the Malaysian education prosper in its own way without emulating foreign systems which are seemingly successful. We Malaysians should preserve the uniqueness of our education system.
Unity should not be forced by abolishing vernacular schools, since our students of various races already mingle around well during their secondary and tertiary education. The education system should tell the students the contributions of the major races on the economic, social and political fronts. It should also highlight the great achievements of them in order to strengthen unity among them.
Should the non-Malay students’ command over the Malay language be found to be declining, there are plenty of methods to improve it. Policy makers should not make Chinese and Tamil schools their punching bags for the declining standard of the Malay language among the minorities. However, I’m very sure that the Tamil and Chinese schools never neglected their responsibility to train their students to master Bahasa Melayu. As a former Tamil School student, I’m pretty sure about this.   
Vernacular schools are something to be proud of by multiracial Malaysians. These schools should be preserved as the very foundation for the noble idea of seeing unity in diversity, as oppressing them would cause the opposite effect.

Mohd Najib and the Geopolitics of 1MDB

A Kadir Jasin

THE British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) might have corroborated the narrative that the US$680-million credited into personal accounts of the Prime Minister, (Datuk Seri Mappadulung Daeng Mattimung Karaeng Sanrobone) Mohd Najib bin Abdul Razak, was donated by Saudi royal house.

The mainstream media and the pro-Umno cyber troopers might have gone on a feeding frenzy devouring the “good news”.

Let us quickly recap. There are three intertwining issues involving the PM’s namely the alleged US$680-million donation from Saudi Arabia, the 1MDB scandal and the transfer of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd to his personal accounts.

But the relief provided by the Attorney General (Tan Sri) Mohamed Apandi Ali and the endorsement by the BBC proved to be short-lived. Mohd Najib’s bad luck is far from over. Bad news is piling up.
Global backlash to Apandi's gallantry
Soon after Apandi Ali’s generous gestures of absolving the PM of all charges, two pieces of bad news made their way into the global media.

One was the indictment in France of the former Asian boss of French weapon maker Thales,Bernard Baiocco, 72, for allegedly paying kickbacks to Mohd Najib’s former aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, in relation to the purchase of two Scorpene submarines for the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The other, the office of the Swiss Attorney General, on January 29, issued a press statement saying, among other things, that as much as US$4 billion might have been misappropriated from 1MDB and transferred to Swiss bank accounts.

It said various former Malaysian public officials and both former and current officials of the United Arab Emirates were involved.

Michael Lauber: Swiss Attorney General
It appears that Apandi’s decision to absolve the PM of all wrongdoings has made things worse for him. Now foreign governments and their enforcement agencies are tightening the screws on Mohd Najib and companies and people linked to him and to 1MDB. It signals that they do not give much credibility to Apandi’s decision.

Investigations into suspected crimes relating to 1MDB have either been completed or are progressing in such jurisdictions as Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the USA.

Mohd Najib and wife being welcomed in Zurich, Switzerland, last year
A Grand Jury has been establish in the USA to investigate suspected money laundering offences in the purchase of expensive real-estates in New York by the PM’s associate, Jho Low, and his stepson Riza Abdul Aziz. Riza is the son of (Datin Seri Paduka Puan Puti Reno) Rosmah Mansor from her previous marriage.

The Swiss AG had requested the assistance of his Malaysian counterpart who happens to be Apandi. It is interesting to see how he is going to wrangle out of this one.

(When the case of alleged corruption involving the late (Tan Sri) Eric Chia was being investigated by the then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed himself appealed to the Swiss authorities to cooperate. Chia was charged but found not guilty).

Would Mohd Najib dare to do the same? Would his AG extend the fullest cooperation to the Swiss and other foreign authorities?

Geopolitics and Diplomacy 

What is not often discussed is the geopolitical and diplomatic implications the alleged RM2.6-billion donation and the 1MDB money trails.

Apart from decimating our credibility and national esteem abroad, these and other related scandals are affecting our geopolitical standing and stance.

The claims by Mohd Najib’s supporters and the endorsement by the BBC that the Saudi donation was to help Mohd Najib win the 2013 general elections and to fight the Ikhwanulmuslimin (Muslim Brotherhood) are particularly disconcerting.

Late Saudi King also supported Mohd Najib
If these claims are true, two extraordinary events had taken place – the involvement of a foreign entity in our domestic affairs via election funding and our clandestine involvement in fighting Muslim Brotherhood.

The BBC report might have strengthened the claim that the money was indeed a donation from the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and, possibly, other members of the Saudi royal household.

But it raises question about the legality and appropriateness of the donation.

One, does the acceptance of the donation mean that Mohd Najib has clandestinely allowed a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process?

Two, is it the policy of Umno-led Barisan Nasional government to join Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations in the fight against the Brotherhood?

As of last year, the Brotherhood was considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. On the other hand, the Brotherhood is seldom mentioned as a terrorist organisation in Malaysia and the extent of its presence here is not widely known.

Some sources also linked the Saudi funding to the fight against ISIS or Daesh. But ISIS a recent phenomena and was not a major force at the time when the donation was supposed to have been made.

Assuming that both are correct – joining Saudi in fighting the Brotherhood and ISIS – the implications of the donation to our geopolitical stance, diplomacy and security are wide-ranging and potentially explosive.

Consider the following:

1. Our election is funded by a foreign sovereign entity (the House of Saud) and our geopolitical stance is influence by it.

2. It is the first time in history that Umno and the BN officially acknowledged that their election campaigns are funded by a foreign entity.

3. It is now known to the whole world – including to the terrorist organisations – that we are being funded by the Saudi royal family to fight them.

4. Is it the policy of the Saudi royal family to publicise its funding of foreign leaders in its global fight against terrorism?

Our sovereignty and security could be in jeopardy as a result of these expose and the continuing investigations around the globe.

Apandi’s extraordinary decision is doing more harm than good to Mohd Najib and, more importantly, to the country.

As another effort to savage the PM’s tattered image and prove his innocence, Apandi should charge those involved in “clandestinely” transferring RM42 million (plus another RM27 million) from SRC International Sdn Bhd to his personal accounts and helping to pay his credit card spending. After all it was Apandi himself who “revealed” these facts to the Press.

Wallahuaklam.

RAFIDAH THE ‘GOVERNMENT’S CONSCIENCE’, SAYS PM’S BROTHER

Rafidah-Aziz
CIMB group chairman Nazir Razak also dubs the former Umno minister as the voice of moderation, transparency and good governance.
(Free Malaysia Today) – Rafidah Aziz is the “government’s conscience”, said renowned banker Nazir Razak, who also praised her as a “strong voice for moderation, transparency and good governance”.
Nazir, who is the brother of Prime Minister Najib Razak, said this about the former Cabinet minister in an Instagram post yesterday.
He also posted a black and white photograph of his late father former premier Abdul Razak Hussein shaking hands with a young Rafidah and wondered out loud: “Did he know that she would go on to lead Wanita (Umno), become the region’s longest serving and best trade minister, and then after retirement, emerge as the government’s conscience and strong voice for moderation, transparency and good governance?”
Rafidah served as the International Trade and Industry Minister from 1987 to 2008, and also served in the Umno supreme council for 38 years.
Of late, she has been vocal about current issues in the nation, often taking to Facebook to voice her displeasure against the administration.
She had earlier this month voiced her admiration for Razak, who she said had made “developing the nation and its people” his goal.
On his part, CIMB group chairman Nazir has also put up various Instagram posts showing his disappointment about the turn of events in the country.
In an earlier post, Nazir had written: “The future terrifies me: I just can’t see how our institutions can recover, how our political atmosphere can become less toxic, how our international reputation can be repaired.
“I think we have to pause, fix our moral compass and deal with our structural problems holistically. I believe we need a National Consultative Council 2 now.”

Don't use schools as political tools - lesson for Muhyiddin



Schools should be independent and free from political control.
That's the lesson the opposition hopes former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin learnt after he was barred from speaking at an event at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan USJ4 in Subang Jaya yesterday.
"I hope they realise now how schools should never be used as political tools and I repeat what we have been saying all along - set our schools free!" Selangor state assembly speaker Hannah Yeoh said in a Facebook posting today.
Yeoh (photo) then welcomed Muhyiddin into the club of politicians who are not allowed to speak at schools.
"Welcome to the club. Pakatan Harapan elected representatives have been highlighting this injustice since 2008," she said.
Yeoh made headlines in 2008, after she was barred from attending an event at her alma matter, Sekolah Menengah Subang Utama, shortly after she first became the Subang Jaya assemblyperson.
She is still barred from schools to this day, she said, and has to resort to giving any assistance, including cheques, outside school grounds.
Practice a hindrance
Penampang MP Darell Leiking, who also said he has been barred from schools, said this practice by the BN-led government is a hindrance to elected representatives who wanted to carry out their duties.
"The same government Muhyiddin is part of, had warned schools, community halls, many government agencies and local authorities from opening their doors to us albeit we are logically supposed to speak with them and be part of administering the constituency," Darell said.
Muhyiddin posted on his Facebook page yesterday that SMK USJ4 school administrators told him they “received instructions from certain parties not to allow (him) to speak”.
He said he had expected this to happen but noted he still managed to mingle with those who attended the launching of the local youth football league, organised by the Kelab Sukan Komuniti Subang Jaya at the school.
Muhyiddin was dropped from cabinet along with Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal when they voiced out their concerns over state investment firm 1MDB. -Mkini

Zeti’s imminent exit highlights succession risks



For 16 years, Malaysia’s internationally-lauded central bank governor bolstered the economic credibility of a country otherwise facing a slew of emerging market challenges, ranging from currency crises to a commodities markets crash.
As Zeti Akhtar Aziz prepares to step down as head of Bank Negara Malaysia in April, questions about succession are framed by uncertainties clouding the Southeast Asian economy, notably a collapse in commodity prices and a political scandal that has drawn international scrutiny, according to market participants.
They say their angst centres on three key risks - the future of the central bank’s current independence, policy continuity and the competence of Zeti’s replacement. If the central bank cuts rates too early or too fast, it could spur capital outflows from Malaysian debt. On the other hand, a rate rise to defend the currency could hurt the economy.
“People are hoping that the successor will be as credible as Zeti has been,” said Brian Tan, an economist with Nomura. “But we don't know who is on the list and some people worry the replacement will be politically motivated.”
Neither the central bank nor the government responded to Reuters’ requests for comment on potential successors or concerns around succession.
So far this year, Malaysia’s currency and bond markets have enjoyed a degree of calm after being battered in 2015. Similarly, forward markets in the ringgit, Asia’s worst performing currency last year, don’t appear to be pricing in rough weather post-April.
Some of the issues hounding Malaysia in 2015 have faded, notably the political scandal around allegations of graft at the debt-laden state fund 1MDB and a revelation that about US$681 million (RM2.6 billion) was deposited into Najib Abdul Razak’s personal bank accounts.
While an ongoing Swiss probe into 1MDB's activities shows wider concerns around the fund are yet to be resolved, some say more immediate domestic political risks for the economy have retreated after Malaysia’s attorney-general last week cleared Najib of corruption.
Foreign capital has also returned to the ringgit bond markets while Malaysian exports have remained robust.
Another comforting factor is that BNM’s independence is sanctified by the law, which institutionalises the bank’s autonomy for the formulation of monetary policy.
“The independence issue would not be an institutional one because some of the institutional anchoring has been done. It will be more to do with coziness between the government and the central banker,” said Vishnu Varathan, an economist with Mizuho Bank. He noted a lack of clarity around succession could impact sentiment in broader markets as Zeti’s term draws to a close.
Big shoes to fill
There’s been no official word on who could replace Zeti.
Among names of contenders floating around in local media are those of deputy central bank governor Muhammad Ibrahim, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economic Planning Abdul Wahid Omar, the Malaysian ambassador to the US Awang Adek Hussin and the secretary-general of the Treasury at the Finance Ministry Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah. None of them commented on the matter when approached by Reuters.
Zeti said in November she expects the new BNM leadership after her would be “excellent” because of the various processes existing to evaluate successors. She added that there were internal candidates for the job but did not name specific individuals.
When approached by Reuters last week, Zeti declined to comment on potential successors, but said she had no immediate plans to take up any new role.
“I will not take on any new assignments. I will focus on writing,” she told Reuters on Friday.
The central bank governor is formally appointed by the Agong of Malaysia, who has a symbolic role in the constitutional monarchy. The tenure of the governor is for five years.
The appointment is made on the advice of the federal cabinet, ostensibly the prime minister.
A source close to the government said the economy is Najib’s biggest concern and that would guide the search for the next governor. The source said a significant number of strong candidates have already been lined up, both within the central bank and outside.
Still, investors are worried about whether Zeti’s competence can be matched.
“It’s very hard to distinguish Zeti from the BNM. We’re sort of delving into uncharted territory here in terms of her successor,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economics research at HSBC in Hong Kong.
“But the BNM seems to be fairly cautious. Malaysia has fared quite well by keeping interest rates stable over time and rarely moving, and I suspect the successor will want to maintain that winning formula.”
The daughter of celebrated Malaysian academic Ungku Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid, Zeti was handed the reins of the central bank at the peak of the Asian financial crisis in 1998.
She was appointed governor in May 2000, becoming Malaysia’s first woman central bank governor.
She steered the economy through the years when the ringgit was pegged, even dealing with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad who dismissed the idea of an independent central bank, and through the global financial crisis in 2007.
Under Najib, she was able to push for more autonomy for the central bank, winning Bank Negara plaudits from the international financial community for being one of Asia’s most independent central banks.
Reuters

'Changing PM will benefit country, not removing Mukhriz'



Changing the prime minister as opposed to changing the Kedah menteri besar would bring about more benefit to the country, notes a PAS parliamentarian.
Commenting on the current Kedah political imbroglio, Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar questioned whether current Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir’s weaknesses had larger repercussions than Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s faults and weaknesses.
“Will toppling Mukhriz be beneficial to the country’s economy?
“Will executing Putrajaya’s political agenda against Mukhriz lead to the recovery of our economy, the strengthening of our currency and the increase of the country’s income?
“Will we regain foreign investors’ confidence in Malaysia? Will the removal of Mukhriz solve the rising cost of living faced by the rakyat?” asked Mahfuz in a series of questions today.
The people of Kedah, said Mahfuz, do not care about the potential candidates for the menteri besar post.
“What the people of Kedah are questioning is the need for changing the menteri besar.
“Therefore, I am puzzled why is it so hard for Najib to understand what the people of Kedah really want,” he said.
Although several Umno MPs, state assemblypersons and division leaders may be blind followers, the majority of Kedah people are not like them, said Mahfuz.
“The plot to topple Mukhriz has disturbed the Kedah political peace,” he added.
The current political imbroglio in Kedah started after the Jan 20 press conference led by Kedah Umno deputy chief Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, who claimed that the state's Umno grassroots have lost confidence in Mukhriz's leadership and called for him to be replaced as state Umno chief and menteri besar.
He was accompanied by 12 division chiefs and two division deputy chiefs at the time.
Bashah claimed that Mukhriz had failed to unite the party, lacked strategic planning for the next general election, failed to lead and mobilise the party's machinery, as well as failed to manage the state administration effectively.
The move was seen as a proxy war between Mukhriz's father Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Najib.
Najib reportedly met the Kedah Regency Council last Friday and had supposedly proposed three individuals to be Mukhriz's successor. -Mkini

Did Apandi try to stop Swiss probe of 1MDB?



Over the past few days the world press has been filled with two different - and very damaging - stories about Malaysia. The first concerned attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali’s decision to close the case on the mysterious RM2.6 billion that was deposited in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts.
I say “mysterious”, because it still has never been explained who gave the money to Najib, what it was for, what they expected in return for such a huge sum, and why - if it was a “gift” to Najib and the nation - most of it was later transferred back overseas, to an unknown destination and for an unknown purpose.
Where is the money today, and who controls it? If the money really was for Umno or for combating IS influence in Malaysia, then it should still be in Malaysia. But it is not.
If, as others have suggested, it was for the general elections and to counter the influence of PAS because of its alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, then why are Najib and Umno cosying up to PAS today?
Apandi also made and announced another decision, which flies directly in the face of Malaysia’s international responsibility to combat money laundering, wire fraud, and corruption.
Financial and law enforcement authorities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Switzerland are still investigating various aspects of the many scandals surrounding Najib - his bank accounts, purchases of US real estate by Najib family members, 1MDB’s financial transfers, and the Scorpene submarine sales.
But with Apandi’s announcement, he was apparently closing the door to mutual legal assistance or cooperation with foreign governments.
Taken aback by Apandi’s actions, the Swiss authorities took the unusual step of issuing a public statement about the status of their investigation, and they appealed for cooperation from Malaysia. That is the second big story, which hit the headlines around the world, from Sydney to New York to London.
The Swiss no doubt did this for a number of reasons. Their press statement makes it very clear that they have uncovered some real wrongdoing connected to 1MDB and certain public officials and executives in Malaysia and abroad.
Second, Apandi reportedly had promised the Swiss legal cooperation when he met with them just last September. So the Swiss clearly were surprised when they read in the newspapers that Apandi had absolved Najib of any wrongdoing, suggesting that he would not cooperate with any international investigations.
Maybe Apandi does not take his international obligations to combat money laundering and corruption seriously, but today the Swiss certainly do.
What did Apandi tell Swiss AG?
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi now has said that the Swiss attorney-general should not have “gone public” with his information on 1MDB. He said that information like that should be conveyed through official government channels.
For myself, I think that the Swiss authorities took the only logical course of action. If they had sent their message through diplomatic channels, it never would have seen the light of day. Apandi and the Najib government would have buried it. So the only way to put pressure on the Malaysian government to cooperate was to “go public”.
As a result of the intense public criticism of Apandi’s actions, he now has agreed to cooperate with the Swiss on 1MDB. Hopefully, he will also agree to extend cooperation to the other foreign governments that are investigating 1MDB and Najib.
But the reality is, that will never happen, whether under Apandi or his reported successor, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah. That’s because the goal of both men is not to seek justice. Their goal is simple - they are there to protect Najib.
There have been many articles in the foreign press over the past few days, and there are some interesting “tidbits” here and there. To me, the most intriguing was in a Reuters report. It said:
“Sources familiar with the September discussion between the two law enforcement officials said the Malaysian official strongly urged (Swiss attorney-general Michael) Lauber to abandon his 1MDB-related investigation.”
In short, when Apandi met with his Swiss counterpart last September, he allegedly asked him to “abandon”, or stop the investigation.
The goal of any attorney-general should be to seek justice. But for Apandi, it was “stop your investigation”.
There can be no better indication of Apandi’s refusal to seek the truth and to seek justice - and his subservience to Najib - than his reported comment to his Swiss counterpart.
It is no wonder that the Malaysian people have reacted with such contempt for his actions.

JOHN MALOTT is a former US ambassador to Malaysia. -Mkini