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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How much is Brazen Sky 'units' worth now? Putrajaya won't say

Putrajaya has refused to reveal how much the so-called Brazen Sky "units" are worth or reveal which institution is its custodian.
A parliamentary written reply on the matter by the finance ministry spoke only of 1MDB's oft-repeated plan to repay its debts, but made no mentioned of the Brazen Sky "units".
This was despite the question posed by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua which read: "I urge the Finance Minister to state the value of the 'units' owned by 1MDB subsidiary Brazen Sky Ltd and the name of the institution which is the 'custodian' of the said units."
It is unclear what type of business Brazen Sky is involved in, but it remains a major part of the 1MDB saga and a key component of US Department of Justice investigations on 1MDB-related assets.
When under pressure from critics, 1MDB had in 2015 revealed that RM6.1 billion of the RM42 billion loaned by the company were channeled into Brazen Sky as "investment funds".
According to a press release by 1MDB in late 2015, the Brazen Sky "units" were originally valued at US$2.318 billion in September 2012 and was originally managed by a Cayman Islands-registered fund.
The "units", said the company, were the result of various equity and murabaha loan investments involving 1MDB's first joint-venture (JV) partner London-based PetroSaudi International Ltd.

This deal involved US$1 billion investment by 1MDB, raised through government-bank bonds by 1MDB's predecessor, Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA). The JV was ratified on Sept 28, 2009 and terminated just six months later.
1MDB claimed that US$1.412 billion has been redeemed, but the complicated nature of 1MDB's books and the fact that there has no financial statements since 2014, made the balance of the "units" difficult to determine.
Putrajaya, which wholly-owns 1MDB through Minister of Finance Inc, has also not been transparent on the financial institution which is currently managing the Brazen Sky "units".
Previously, Brazen Sky was supposed to be managed by BSI, but that bank was shut down in 2016 by the Singaporean authorities over money laundering and other misconducts.
In a statement today, Pua lashed at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is also the finance minister, for refusing to answer his question and instead speaking about 1MDB's debt-repayment plans.
"He might as well have added that the sun rises from the East and sets in the West.
"The minister's answer could have been less than 10 words, and it would have answered my question perfectly: Value of units, and name of bank," said Pua.
Pua said his question to the finance minister was perfectly valid because 1MDB had stated publicly in April that the Brazen Sky "units" would be "monetised" to repay a debt to Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).
A balance of US$602 million must be paid by Dec 31. The first tranche, due on June 31, was substantially delayed. -Mkini

Budget 2018 sending 'mixed and wrong signals', says economist

Budget 2018 appears to have a "sprinkling of mixed and wrong signals", although it is not completely devoid of economic sense, said political economist Shankaran Nambiar.
As an example, he pointed out how the government had partially reversed its previous cuts to public university funding in Najib’s budget announcement last Friday.
"If the signal of that policy (on university funding cuts) was meant to convey the message that universities need to be innovative in raising their own funds, this has been backtracked to some extent in this budget by awarding additional grants," Shankaran told Malaysiakini.
"It is, however, reasonable that Universiti Malaya receives a special allocation in view of their improved performance since they have demonstrated productivity based on some metrics," added the senior fellow at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research.
Shankaran also highlighted the "huge dole-outs" for civil servants in the new federal budget.
He said this is "politically comprehensible, but not sensible" at a time when the debate is on reducing the size of the civil service, increasing civil servants’ productivity, and, more generally, reducing operating expenditure.

He also noted that some of the areas that have received ad-hoc and short-term treatment are housing and healthcare.
"It is way overdue to introduce a health financing scheme, rather than selective relief for, say, dialysis," said the author of the book "Malaysia in Troubled Times", which was published by Gerak Budaya earlier this year.
"Civil servants and the police are not the only groups that need affordable housing; a comprehensive plan has to be laid out for the middle- and lower-income population, as a whole," he added.
"We really need to be concerned about access to healthcare and greatly improved services for the average Malaysian rather than to focus on medical tourism or creating a medical speciality hub," he stressed.
Shankaran said the budget misplaces its priorities and seems pre-occupied with appeasing as many groups as possible, on all bases - ethnic, sectoral, occupational, and regional.
This move, ahead of the elections, which must be called by mid-2018, seems to have "blunted the edge" of potential gains from better economic circumstances next year.
Income tax as major revenue source
Meanwhile, Shankaran pointed out that two major factors helped explain the expansiveness of Budget 2018: better predicted growth in 2018 and the upcoming general election, which will probably be held next year.
On the back of an expected increase in GDP, Najib can count on incomes to rise, and income tax will be the major source of government revenue, he said.
"This gives the budget the freedom to be generous, forsaking some amount of economic sense for short-term political gain."
Some of the positive aspects about the budget as observed by Shankaran include the emphasis on building infrastructure, targeted fiscal expenditure to support the disadvantaged, and the income tax cut.

"The support for entrepreneurship is also commendable.
"The infrastructure development projects and those directed at Sabah and Sarawak are noteworthy.
"They make both political (given the timing) and economic sense," he quipped.
But Shankaran noted that what is less comprehensible is the lack of support for companies as compared to households.
"It has been tough path for manufacturers over the last year, and they could have been rewarded with tax cuts to shoulder the burden of higher production costs," he said.
"Incentives for the manufacturing and services sector may have made more sense than for the adoption of Industry 4.0 since Malaysia is valiantly negotiating the transition from 2.0 to 3.0".
Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution, which focuses on automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Industry 3.0 and 2.0 refer to previous industrial revolutions that focused on computers and automation, and mass production respectively.- Mkini

Registration of army voters: Military must answer, says minister

Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said today that allegations of soldiers being registered as voters at uncompleted or closed down army camps should be answered by the military.
"They (the military) will not transfer soldiers unless there is enough accommodation. But if I answer it, it will become political.
"Let the military answer it themselves. I will leave it to the chief of the Armed Forces, as the end user of these camps," Hishammuddin said at a press conference at the Tun Hussein Onn Memorial in Kuala Lumpur.
He said this when asked to respond to the revelation by Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong yesterday that 1,051 army voters have been transferred to the Segamat camp, which is still under construction.
At the same time, Hishammuddin also rubbished allegations that the transfers could have been done to bolster support for Barisan Nasional in the forthcoming 14th general election.
"Nobody in their right mind will want to go somewhere that is not conducive to live in and we (the government) will be crazy to transfer soldiers without the housing because they will go there and they won’t vote for us," he said.
[More to follow]

- Mkini

See a doctor, Saravanan tells MIC man accused of soliciting sex

A video clip of an MIC branch leader who was forced to resign for allegedly soliciting sex from a teenager meeting with Deputy Youth and Sports Minister M Saravanan is making the rounds on Facebook.
Accompanied by his wife, the man tried to “seek help” from the former party deputy president.
In the video, Saravanan can be seen telling the man to "immediately see a doctor".
"You are sick. This is a sickness. Listen to me.
"The sickness may become worse, you know where it will lead? To peek at your own children when they are sleeping.
"A lot of people who rape their daughters, it's not because of sexual urges, but because of this sickness," Saravanan had told the man.
When contacted, Saravanan said the meeting took place at the MIC headquarters' service centre in Kuala Lumpur.
"I was at the HQ and I terjumpa (happened to meet) him.
"I heard that he had disturbed others and so on, so I asked him why he did this.
"He said he had mental problems and did not realise what he was doing," said the deputy minister, adding that he then told the man to seek professional help.
The deputy minister explained that he did not lodge a police report on the matter as it is the victim who must do so.
"I can't do anything... if anyone else (other than the victim) does a police report, the police will ask for proof.
"So my advice to the victim is to lodge a police report," Saravanan said.
Selangor MIC Youth chief D Kajendran said that police reports would be lodged against the individual in several states.
"There will be no cover-up. The police must take action against this man for victimising so many girls," Kajendran told Malaysiakini.
The man's case came to light following the viral circulation of a telephone conversation between the former branch leader and a woman.
The man had told the woman that he would secure employment for her daughter if the girl slept with him.
In the eight-minute 49-second clip, the man boasted to the mother that he had helped a lot of girls who had just completed their SPM examinations secure jobs after sleeping with them.
"Please tell me the timing and where, and how long the session can last. If she's not interested, please tell me, I will drop this offer, as there are a lot of other girls waiting," he said.- Mkini


SOLO singer Zainal Abidin has appointed a lawyer to demand payment due to him for his performance at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games 2017 closing ceremony.
“After this non-payment issue went viral, 15 lawyers have offered their services to us for free. We have just met with a lawyer to demand justice.
“We cannot wait for a week because we want to resolve this quickly. If they pay up, we’ll close the case. If we file a suit, they will still have to pay,” Zainal’s manager, Angelina Asmali told The Malaysian Insight.
Angelina said Zainal, who is being represented by lawyer Mathew Thomas Philip, would not hesitate to take legal action if the event management company failed to respond to them by today.
The company had paid Zainal 50% of his fees and promised to pay the other half one week after the closing ceremony on August 30.
Zainal did not sign a contract with the event management company, as it was a reputable firm.
“Although we didn’t sign a contract, we had issued an invoice and we received (the first 50%) payment.
“We can use the invoice and Zainal Abidin’s singing footage as proof,” said Angelina.
She added that Zainal was gathering other artistes who had yet to receive their fee from the event management company.
“Come to us. We’ll fight for you. Why should we be afraid? We’re not blaming the government. We are asking for (what is due to us),” said Angelina.

Besides Zainal, popular emcee and singer Adibah Noor is also gathering the names of performers and service personnel who have not been paid.
The issue caught the public’s eye after Adibah took to Twitter on Friday to complain about the overdue payment.
Several hours after Prime Minister Najib Razak tabled Budget 2018 in Dewan Rakyat, Adibah tweeted: “I’m sad to hear my friends complain that they have not been paid for performing at the Sea Games Closing. The excuse given was ‘too busy with #Budget2018′”.
Her twitter post attracted more complaints from other performers and service personnel, who also claimed that they had not been paid.
Adibah said on Sunday that the National Sports Council secretary-general Lokman Hakim Ali had since reached out to her.
She then posted on Facebook: “Our voice has been heard by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. For those of you who are yet to be paid for services rendered for #SeaGames2017 please email me…”.
Other artistes, such as Faizal Tahir and Siti Nordiana, who also performed that night, declined to comment on the issue.
The Malaysian Sea Games organising committee (Masoc) chief executive officer Zolkples Embong said the committee had settled 70% of the payment for companies awarded contracts for the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in August and Asean Para games in September.
He said Masoc was “disappointed” by the complaints, and it aims to settle all outstanding payments by the end of this month.


PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is trying to protect Prime Minister Najib Razak from charges of corruption and funds misappropriation by ensuring that Umno wins the next general election.
And Hadi will work to ensure a victory for Umno even at the expense of PAS losing in the polls, said former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on his blog chedet.cc today.
To achieve his aims, Hadi will make use of Islam even though his efforts to implement have stalled, said the Bersatu chairman.
“They say they want to bring a motion on RUU355. But the reality is that it has been postponed again and again. PAS will continue to use RUU355 as a tool to gain political support,” said Dr Mahathir.
“Such is PAS. Before PAS, Malays were united and treated one another as brethren. The split among Muslims and Malays began with PAS but it wasn’t so bad until Hadi came out with his Amanat  .”
“Hadi has asked me to repent. But it is Hadi who needs to repent.”
The PAS president recently told Dr Mahathir to repent for the things he had done when he was the prime minister.
Hadi said Dr Mahathir had never acknowledged or apologised to those he had wronged.
Dr Mahathir today reiterated that a politician had no right to denounce those who did not support his party as “infidels”.
“Where in the Quran or hadith does it state that one is only a Muslim if one joins Pas?
“Are the 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide not considered Muslims  because they are not PAS members?” said Dr Mahathir.
He claimed that “Amanat Hadi”, the PAS leader’s fiery speech that declared that it was “jihad” to fight the government and that those who died doing that were “martyrs”, had contributed to the deaths in the Memali incident on November 19, 1985.
Four policemen and 14 more people, including Islamist militant Ibrahim Libya, were killed in a stand-off between law enforcers and Ibrahim and his followers in a village near Baling in Kedah
“Indeed, Hadi had done a lot of damage to Islam and Muslims in Malaysia. The split caused by Hadi has weakened the Muslims.
“I am aware that many of his (Hadi) followers are loyal to him. They are so obsessed with his teachings that they dismiss what is taught in the Quran and hadith. They accept what Hadi teaches without question,” said Dr Mahathir.
The Memali spectre has recently been raised in the media with parties on opposing sides hurling allegations and casting blame at one another.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government was ready to start a royal commission of inquiry into the siege, which had occurred during the reign of Dr Mahathir, who had retorted that such an inquiry would be welcome and it should focus on the role that Hadi had played in the tragedy via “Amanat Hadi.”.
– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com


SELANGOR’S case against the Election Commission on new electoral district boundaries is a bellwether for when 14th general election (GE14) will be called.
There are two scenarios, and both depend on what the Selangor government decides.
On Monday, the Appeals Court had ruled that the EC can proceed with the final stages of the initiative to redraw the boundaries of electoral constituencies which had been started in 2016.
Pakatan Harapan leaders accuse the ruling Barisan Nasional of abusing the EC’s work to redraw the electoral boundaries – also called delimitation or redelineation.
They claim that the delimitation proposals are unfair and that it will create more ethnically polarised, Malay-majority parliamentary seats.
PH lawmaker Dr Ong Kian Ming claims that the EC’s proposed delimitation is aimed at giving BN an edge in its quest to retake Selangor in GE14.
PH is attempting to temporarily halt the process by filing a suit against the EC via the Selangor government, which is ruled by PH parties.
Monday’s ruling was a defeat for PH. If Selangor does not appeal against the ruling at the Federal Court, the EC can now submit its report on the new boundaries to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib will then table it in the current Dewan Rakyat session, which ends on November 30.
Only a simple majority of 111 MPs is needed to approve the new boundaries, said political scientist Dr Wong Chin Huat. BN has 132 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.
According to the 13th schedule of the Federal Constitution, once it is passed in the Dewan Rakyat, the Yang Di Pertuan Agong must sign off on the new boundaries – a process which normally takes up to a week.
If that happens, the new electoral boundaries will be used in GE14. In this scenario, BN would call for the general election at any time after the start of December.
In scenario No. 2, the Selangor government decides to take the case to the Federal court.
It is learnt that Selangor government officials are still discussing whether to proceed with this route.
Once Selangor files a suit at the Federal Court it could again, temporarily halt the EC’s work and the commission would have to wait for the court’s judgment before proceeding.
Federal Court cases of this nature usually take at least three to four months to clear said a constitutional lawyer familiar with the process.
Najib as head of BN would not be able to table the new boundaries at the current Dewan Rakyat sitting.
Assuming the Federal Court renders a judgment favourable to the EC by next year, PH has no more recourse to delay the delimitation exercise.
The EC could then submit the delimitation documents to Najib who can then table it at the March-April Dewan Rakyat meeting.
Wong argues that the delimitation exercise does not necessarily benefit the BN.
“The delimitation only makes things more volatile. If there is a small shift in sentiment, BN can either win big or lose big.”
This was illustrated in the 2008 election, Umno, BN’s vote share declined by 30% but it lost 70% of its seats.
“So with the delimitation BN can gamble on getting back two-thirds majority in Parliament if it does well. If it does not, and the opposition is consolidated, it can lose power.”
– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com


PETALING JAYA – Fitch Ratings, which considers the Malaysian government’s revenue projections optimistic, warned of downside risk to it in anticipation of slower external demand and sensitivity to global oil prices.
The rating agency in its latest report affirmed Malaysia’s sovereign rating at ‘A-’ with a stable outlook in August, but highlighted the importance of continued fiscal consolidation given the government’s high debt ratios.
In contrary, local economists opined that the government’s projections are relatively conservative, which provide room for growth in revenue collection.
Fitch said Malaysia’s 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast of 5.0%-5.5% assumes that strong recent momentum will be maintained, but there could be some headwind from cooling external demand.
“The government’s upbeat growth forecast and optimistic revenue collection targets are key to its expectation that direct tax collection will increase by around 7% and GST revenue will rise by 5.5%.”
It noted that any shortfall in revenue collection would most likely be offset by corresponding expenditure cuts to meet the deficit target and therefore unlikely to be big enough to knock it off its deficit reduction path next year.
Having said that, it stressed that the medium-term target of achieving a near-balanced budget by 2020 would require a step-up in consolidation efforts in 2019 and 2020, which is not unattainable.
“We expect the fiscal deficit to continue narrowing over the next few years and project federal government debt – which was 50.9% of GDP in June 2017 – to remain on a downward path and therefore stay below the authorities’ 55% self-imposed debt ceiling, but slightly above the 49% ‘A’ median.”
Meanwhile, despite a dramatic drop in the federal budget’s share of oil and gas revenue in the previous few years, Fitch said Malaysia’s government revenue remains sensitive to oil price movements.
The government forecasts a total dividend of RM16 billion from Petronas in 2017, up from an initially budgeted RM13 billion. It is expected to rise to RM19 billion in 2018.
“This assumes the crude oil price will rise to US$52/barrel in 2018, up from US$50 in 2017, which is broadly in line with our own expectation,” the rating agency said.
Nonetheless, Fitch said Budget 2018 strikes a balance between providing measures that will be popular ahead of an election, and sticking to a path of fiscal consolidation. It said the fiscal deficit of 2.8% of GDP for 2018 is in line with its expectation.
Fitch also foresees that off-budget infrastructure spending may continue to rise, with a corresponding increase in contingent liabilities.
– Sundaily


This is definitely bad for Pakatan,
According to her Defence and Counterclaim statement that was provided for The Malaysian Insight, Rewcastle-Brown said she spoke to the former Bersih chairman in July 2016 regarding Najib, 1MDB and PAS.
“Ambiga had told the defendant that her sources, whom she said were reliable, had estimated the amount that had been paid was around RM90 million,” said Rewcastle-Brown in her court filing dated October 11.
Rewcastle-Brown’s defence was filed in relation to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s defamation suit against Rewcastle-Brown in April this year.
It shows that Sarawak Report, which is now known as a prominent pro-Pakatan “whistle-blower” website is an unreliable source of information.
I have never studied journalism but I know that one of the most basic things that journalists must never do is to reveal their anonymous sources.
They were supposed to protect their sources even if they have to go to jail to do so.
In this case Rewcastle-Brown should by right must protect Ambiga, who is her source, even if she was to be cited for contempt of court.
I’m quite sure the former Bersih chairman had wanted to remain anonymous when she told Rewcastle-Brown about Hadi allegedly taking money from PM DS Najib Razak. Otherwise, Sarawak Report would had quoted her from the start instead of putting her as just a source.
Now that it’s out in the open, Ambiga will come under public scrutiny for alleging that Hadi had taken money from PM Najib Razak in return of Pas’ support for BN.
She will have to testify in that court case in London or Hadi could initiate a separate legal suit against her here where she would likely be compelled to produce evidence or reveal her source.
When that happened, does Ambiga willing to protect her source if she has no evidence to support her allegation against Hadi? Is she willing to go to jail to do that?
Rocky was more direct when he asked,

Now, who will Ambiga throw under the bus?

Well, I seriously think Rewcastle-Brown and her Sarawak Report has now been TKOed by this whole thing.
Firstly, she should not have written such a serious allegation against Hadi based solely on just what Ambiga told her.
Instead, she should have double checked with other sources to corroborate the allegation before writing and publishing it.
To make an allegation based on the mere words of just one person who wished to be anonymous was very reckless and irresponsible.
Especially so when Sarawak Report has made its name worldwide as one of the main critiques of the Malaysian government and its leaders. International publications had quoted it in articles critical of Najib and the country.
Then, as I wrote above, by right Rewcastle-Brown shouldn’t had blown Ambiga’s cover as that effectively sealed Sarawak Report’s reputation as an untrustworthy source of information.
A whistle-blower shouldn’t blow the cover of its sources, okay.
Unless, of course if Ambiga herself doesn’t mind for her cover to be blown, which I doubt, as that would mean she herself will face legal troubles.
Now that it has come to this point, Ambiga should be ready to reveal her sources or produce evidence to support her allegation against Hadi.
Somehow, I doubt she can do that even if she wants to.
My bet is that she will go to court and says that she was merely speculating or even joking with Rewcastle-Brown about the whole thing and she didn’t expect what she said to be published.
Probably that’s the truth, anyway.
Whatever it is,  I think both Rewcastle-Brown and Ambiga will come out of this looking really bad.
Bare in mind, that story of Hadi taking money from Najib had been circulating and quoted numerous times by Pakatan people.
Now that the whole allegation looks more and more like a fake news, it surely doesn’t look  good for Pakatan at all.
People will start to doubt the other stories they told in their effort to oust Najib and the BN government.
The only way this could be prevented is for Ambiga to suddenly produce in court the hard evidence against Hadi which prompted her to make the allegation in the first place.
Hopefully, Ambiga will not just turn around and said she had heard it from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad or DS Anwar Ibrahim or Mat Sabu, etc.
If she does that, it’s really as if she is throwing the whole Pakatan under the bus.
Well, I believe Najib and the whole of BN scored a big one on this.
Too bad for you all Pakatan people.
– http://lifeofaannie.blogspot.my