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Sunday, January 31, 2016

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.

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