MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Congress to set bumiputera agenda soon, says Azmin

PARLIAMENT | A congress will be held by the government to discuss the bumiputera agenda while ensuring distributive justice for the non-bumiputera.
This is announced by the Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali today when winding-up the debate on the royal decree in the Dewan Rakyat today.
"A congress on the future of the bumiputera and the nation will be held soon where we will gather economists and experts from various sectors," he said.
"This is to discuss the steps that need to be taken to strengthen the status of the bumiputera while at the same time ensuring distributive justice for other ethnicities," he added.
He said the bumiputera had yet to achieve a 30 percent equity in the corporate sector.
"As of 2016, the bumiputera only earned RM6,267 in household income compared to RM8,213 earned by the non-bumiputera," he said.
He added the non-bumiputera comprised 36.3 percent of skilled workers out of the total workforce, a figure higher than their bumiputera counterparts which was at 29.4 percent.
He also claimed transactions in the commercial and prime property market was higher for non-bumiputera than for bumiputera.
The Pakatan Harapan government is currently reviewing the New Economic Policy (NEP) which was implemented since the 1970s and New Economic Model (NEM) which was slated to replace it in 2010.
Azmin reiterated that the status of these economic policies would be included in the mid-term review of 11th Malaysia Plan which will be tabled in Parliament by the end of the year.
He said the government has engaged with various stakeholders for their inputs.
[More to follow] - Mkini

MPs slams EC official for giving Cambodian polls the thumbs up

Election Commission member Md Yusop Mansor's glowing assessment of the recently concluded Cambodian election, which the international community described as a farce, has been described as an embarrassment for Malaysia.
In a joint statement today, Subang MP Wong Chen and Klang MP Charles Santiago said they, as members of the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights caucus, were embarrassed by Md Yusop's assessment.
They said that Md Yusop's assessment also did not augur well for the two upcoming by-elections in Malaysia.
"We urge the government to reform the Election Commission (immediately) to ensure that all commissioners are truly committed to free and fair elections.
"We understand that we cannot interfere with other Asean countries, but we urge the government to commit to promoting democracy in Asean, consistent with the Asean Charter.
"The non-interference policy also means that we cannot send observers to support elections, which is clearly unfair and undemocratic," said the duo.
They were referring to a series of tweets by Channel News Asia correspondent May Wong which cited election observers from Malaysia, Russia and India claiming that the elections were fair.
Wong (photo) cited Md Yusop telling a press conference after the elections that the process was 'very transparent', "very fair", "democratic" and "credible".

Md Yusop was also cited as commending the openness of the vote-counting process and on how he wanted to share this idea in Malaysia.
Cambodia People's Party won the election by a landslide, giving its leader Hun Sen a fifth uninterrupted term as prime minister since 1998.
Prior to the elections, Hun Sen had shuttered dozens of radio stations and closed down Cambodia's leading English newspaper The Cambodia Daily.
He also dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue party, the country's main opposition party, and jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha over charges of attempting to topple the government by illegitimate means.
Hun Sen's party has also been accused of using cash handouts and ordering employers to provide a three-day paid holiday, among other incentives, to encourage a high voter turnout.
Cambodia's National Election Committee (NEC) had claimed that a record-setting 82 percent of the country's 8.3 million voters had turned up as voting closed.
The NEC had claimed that it invited 220 election observers from 52 countries.
However, Australia's Griffith University researcher on Southeast Asia Lee Morgenbesser told Reuters that some of these observation groups such as the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation were "fake”.
During the May 9 Malaysia elections, the EC had also been accused of inviting suspicious groups and representatives from authoritarian countries to observe the elections. - Mkini

Najib defends RM5m payment for Arul, says took big cut to join 1MDB

Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak today defended a RM5 million bonus (ex-gratia) payment granted to former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy.
This was after Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday revealed that Najib had endorsed the payment when he was the prime minister and finance minister.
Asked to respond at the Parliament building lobby today, Najib said Arul Kanda was earning more before he joined 1MDB.
"Because he was earning much more when he was working in a bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). So he took a big cut to join 1MDB.
"So you must see it in the context that whatever was paid to him was much smaller than what he was earning before he joined 1MDB," he said.
Najib added that Arul had also done his job in managing the state fund's debt.
"He was successful in reducing the debt from RM50 billion to RM30 million. So he has accomplished that which was part of his responsibility," said Najib.
According to Lim, Arul Kanda was paid RM2.5 million in January and another RM2.5 million in June this year.
Najib is 'MO1'
Arul Kanda was the public face of 1MDB and had embarked on a nationwide roadshow to rebut allegations against the company.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) believes at least US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, part of which was laundered through the US financial system.
It said the money was used for the benefit of a top government executive identified only as “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1), 1MDB officials and their family members and associate.
Umno leader Abdul Rahman Dahlan had previously confirmed that “MO1” was Najib, though the former premier has denied any wrongdoing or taking public funds for personal gain. - Mkini

Report: Jho Low crops up again in latest China episode of 1MDB saga

The latest episode of the 1MDB saga, this time involving entities in China, has seen fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho's name cropping up yet again.
The alleged mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal is said to have had a central role in negotiating the Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd (SSER) pipeline project, which is believed to have been used to launder funds to bailout 1MDB.
This is according to an unnamed former Malaysian official, who worked in the Prime Minister's Office, who was cited by The Wall Street Journal.
The official said former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak had met with Low to discuss projects with China in May 2017, on the sidelines of the Belt and Road forum in Beijing.
At the time, Beijing's China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau had received funds for the project.
A current Malaysian official said that one of Low's associates in 1MDB later attended a meeting to discuss the pipeline project.
It was reported yesterday that funds from a China Exim Bank loan meant for the RM9.4 billion SSER project were allegedly laundered to pay off 1MDB debts.
WSJ cited current Malaysian officials who believed that a portion of the US$2 billion loan had been channelled into a series of shell companies before ending up in Silk Road Southeast Asia Real Estate Ltd, a China company based in the Cayman Islands.
Silk Road's sole beneficial owner is reportedly a Middle Eastern investor, whom the officials believe to be an associate of Low.
It has also been revealed that Silk Road had on Aug 24 last year paid 1MDB 4.25 billion yuan (RM2.7 billion), ostensibly to purchase the state-owned fund's 234 acres of land in Ayer Itam, Penang.
However, Silk Road never received the land it had paid for, as the Penang state government had imposed a freeze on the property.
The Aug 24 transaction for 1MDB's land last year took place just six days before 1MDB paid the first tranche of a US$1.2 billion settlement with Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC)
The SSER project fell under the spotlight when the new Pakatan Harapan government revealed that SSER had paid the pipeline contractor China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau US$2 billion (RM8.13 billion), or 88 percent of the project value, even though less than 15 percent of the work had been completed. - Mkini

Pre-GE14 timing for judges BTN courses 'coincidence'

The Chief Registrar's Office of the Federal Court (PKPMP) today confirmed that judges and court staff were indeed made to attend a series of National Civics Bureau (Biro Tatanegara, BTN) course before the 14th general election.
However, the office clarified that the timing of the courses was a mere “coincidence” and that neither of the courses were political nor meant to "indoctrinate judges".
“The modules planned for this courses were under our purview, not just BTN.
“The modules had team-building and generic (activities) and were aimed at increasing patriotism and team spirit as well as instilling moral values into the PKPMP community.
“We would like to stress that the planned modules were not political in nature and were not intended to indoctrinate judges’ thinking,” PKPMP said in a statement today.
The office also stressed that the courses had been planned in advance and that it was by “coincidence” that they were held in the months leading to the election.
This was in response to a Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) claim that a few months before the May 9 polls, Sessions Court judges were made to attend a BTN course, which the group called a propaganda tool for the previous BN regime.
A few days later, the LFL revealed that staff of the Palace of Justice (POJ) in Putrajaya as well as in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam courts, were also made to attend a BTN course, this one just a week after the sessions court judges has theirs.
It was alleged that those attending the course were impressed upon the importance of BN maintaining power while the rakyat would suffer under Pakatan Harapan.
The lawyers' group had expressed concern that forcing judges to attend such courses could constitute a threat to judicial independence. 
Attendance was compulsory
The first 'Latihan Transformasi Negara' (National Transformation Training) programme was held from March 16 to 18 at BTN’s Akademi Kenegaraan in Kuala Lumpur.
Today, the PKPMP admitted that two more similar courses were held in partnership with BTN on March 23-25 and April 6-8, respectively.
The office also confirmed LFL’s claim that attendance had been compulsory at these courses.
“We would like to clarify that Sessions Court judges and Magistrates are considered public servants under Article 132 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
“Thus, they are subject to circulars and rules that govern public servants, including the need to attend all training and courses,” it said. 
Cost-saving measure 
As to why it had collaborated with the controversial BTN, PKPMP said it had done so as a cost-saving measure.
“The PKPMP often works with government agencies like the BTN to save on costs required for organising training, as per the government’s policy on saving costs.
“Partnerships with other agencies is not something new and PKPMP has formed a close working relationship with other agencies including the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (Ilkap) and the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) for the purposes of organising training and courses,” it explained.
The BTN has long courted controversy, with allegations that it was being used by the previous BN regime to brainwash civil servants with government propaganda.
Harapan had in its election manifesto, stated that it would abolish the BTN.
However, it was reported earlier last month that it would be retained under the Prime Minister's Department. - Mkini

Khazanah blew RM80m in lingerie deal: Azmin to Najib

The nation's sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional had invested US$20 million (RM80 million) into lingerie, revealed Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali.
The disclosure was in response to former premier Najib Abdul Razak (BN-Pekan) disputing the allegation that Khazanah had strayed from its original objectives.
Najib had interjected when Azmin was delivering his winding-up speech for his ministry in the Dewan Rakyat to question Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's previous claim that Khazanah had lost its focus.
"In 10 years, Khazanah's assets had increased from RM33 billion to RM134.5 billion so in terms of wealth creation in the last 10 years, Khazanah had succeeded.
"I am not trying to defend my time as Khazanah chairperson but I would like to ask for clarification on how is it that Khazanah had supposedly strayed from its original objectives?" said the former premier.
Responding to this, Azmin pointed to Khazanah's investments in recent years.
"An an example, Khazanah invested almost US$20 million through an online retailer that sells lingerie... bras. In the end, the investment had to be written off. This was the smallest instance," he said.
A more serious instance, he said, was Khazanah having to write off RM3 billion in investments.
"There was an investment done through a private equity to take over a bank.
"As the discussions were not done directly with the bank but through the private equity, RM3 billion had to be written off," he added.
It was previously reported that Khazanah, together with two other partners, had wanted to acquire a 2.6 percent interest in Swiss Bank UBS. The investment was done through private equity group Olivant.
However, US Bank Lehman Brothers, which held the accounts of that investment, went bankrupt, causing Khazanah to lose the RM3 billion. It had since recovered half the sum.

Responding to Azmin, Mustapa Mohamed (BN-Jeli) said sometimes Khazanah's investments failed to generate the expected return but it should be acknowledged that there were good investments.
"We should show our appreciation for investments such as with Alibaba which has given big returns as well as investments in hospitals in Turkey and China.
"Today, IHH Healthcare Berhad is the second biggest hospital group in the world," said the former international trade and industry minister.
Khazanah's board of directors had last week offered to resign en masse after Mahathir's criticism. The government accepted the resignations.
Mahathir is now the chairperson of Khazanah whereas Azmin is one of its directors. - Mkini

Man killed after falling onto tracks at Puchong LRT station

Filepic is for illustration purposes
Filepic is for illustration purposes
PETALING JAYA: A man died after he fell onto the tracks at the Puchong LRT station.
The incident occurred at around 8am on Wednesday (Aug 1).
Serdang OCPD Asst Comm Ismadi Borhan confirmed the incident.
Police are still determining whether it was a suicide or an accident.
The body was removed from the scene at around 10am and train services resumed as normal.
More to come


PETALING JAYA – Former Umno division leader Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan has lambasted Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for undermining Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.
Khairuddin, who is now an Amanah member, said the former prime minister should look at himself in the mirror before undermining another leader’s capabilities.
“Mohamad Sabu has shown that he is capable of leading the Defence Ministry with integrity … this is the most important quality for a leader,” Khairuddin said in a statement on Tuesday (July 31).
He said Mohamad Sabu has been well received by the people, but people had rejected Najib in the 14th General Election.
Najib, who helmed the Defence Ministry for 14 years, had questioned Mohamad Sabu’s ability during a speech while campaigning for Barisan Nasional in the Sungai Kandis by-election.
“Our Defence Minister is a cartoon. He wears the beret like a cartoon. He gets into the warship and talks about fish curry.
“You are the Defence Minister. Talk about the country’s defence policies, not about fish curry. This is not defence minister material. This is a joker,” he reportedly said.


I sometimes wonder what it is that these Umno fellows eat and drink. I would not have thought that such self-delusion could be possible unless one was scoffing “special” mushrooms on a regular basis.
For example, Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki took offence with some comments made by Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran.
He must resign, the youthful fellow yells. His comments are divisive and seditious and will cause disharmony amongst the people. And if he doesn’t resign, he must be sacked, he screams.
What did the minister say? It depends how you want to interpret it.
Basically, when speaking in Tamil at an event in Nilai recently, Kulasegaran said that Indians have been on the Malay Peninsula for hundreds of years, as proven by the Hindu ruins in the Bujang Valley.
He then went on to assert that Indians were not “pendatang” but instead “they” were.
The question is, who is the “they” he was referring to? The minister said he was referring to those who would call Malaysian ethnic Indians “pendatang”.
People like the Umno Youth chief would say Kulasegaran was referring to all Malays. If such is the case, then it is super offensive and the minister’s head must roll.
Wow. Such hypocrisy. How many times have Umno ministers been unapologetically racist, telling non-Malays to leave the country and “go back to where they belong”? Have these people been fired or forced to resign? Of course not.
(Incidentally, the Human Resources Minister has apologised if he caused offence.)
And even now, the Umno machine (with their best pals from PAS) go on about how it is better to vote for someone Malay and Muslim regardless of his capability or indeed his integrity.
If anyone plays the race card, it is Umno and those of their ilk (which now seems to include PAS).
So please, Umno Youth leader, do us a favour and spare us your righteous anger.
I know that race and religion is all these sort go on and on about because it is all they know.
They scream about Malay rights and Muslim rights being under threat without defining those terms and without offering any evidence such a threat even exists.
This is what they do. This is the only thing they know how to do.
But Malaysians can rise above that. We can, all of us, regardless of ethnicity, see that when those who are intellectually bankrupt go on and on about some imaginary problem based on race and faith, it is because they have nothing to say of any actual intellectual value.
We changed our government in a peaceful manner. We showed to the world that democracy can work. Even when the odds are stacked against you. Even when the system is designed to ensure the victory of one side over the other.
We showed the world that if enough of us come out and vote and if enough of us take the trouble to do the hard work of PACAs (polling agents and counting agents), we can make a difference.
I am now somewhere in Yorkshire – in the West, where democracy is taken for granted and where people are so complacent that their laziness to even go out and vote has put Britain in the madness of Brexit and the Americans in the madness of Trump.
We have already shown how we can change things, despite the odds, by sheer effort of enough people.
Now we need to show that sustainable change can occur and we can move away from the vile and regressive with patience and reason.
We have to make small-minded voices redundant by firmly and surely working in a manner to benefit all Malaysians and not use the poisonous and toxic narrative of race and faith that only serves the few.
WRITER: Azmi Sharom (azmi.sharom@gmail.com) is a law teacher. 


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Officials here are investigating whether the government of former Prime Minister Najib Razak used funds from a China-backed infrastructure program to help pay debts owed by the state investment fund at the center of one of the world’s biggest graft probes.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in July froze over $20 billion in Malaysian infrastructure projects that are part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative, saying the contract values appeared to be inflated, in what he called a sign of possible corruption.
Now, Mr. Mahathir’s government suspects cash intended for the projects was diverted through offshore shell companies and used to pay nearly $700 million of debt owed by 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, according to two government officials involved in reviewing the projects.
Malaysians associated with the Najib government, working with representatives of Chinese companies, appear to have arranged the diversion of funds, the officials said.
“Chinese companies may be involved in round tripping of major infrastructure projects in Malaysia that siphons off funds from these projects to help 1MDB,” Malaysia’s new Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told The Wall Street Journal. China’s foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, talked with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on Tuesday in Putrajaya, among discussions that a Malaysian official said were aimed at restructuring the terms of Chinese loans.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, talked with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on Tuesday in Putrajaya, among discussions that a Malaysian official said were aimed at restructuring the terms of Chinese loans. PHOTO: MALAYSIA FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK
Mr. Mahathir took office in May after pledging to voters to clean up the government, and has since moved quickly to restart investigations into what went on at 1MDB under his predecessor. Mr. Najib has denied any wrongdoing by himself or 1MDB, and an investigation by his attorney general cleared him. His representative didn’t respond to requests for additional comment for this article.
Malaysia, which is on the hook to repay billions of dollars to Chinese banks that financed the projects, is demanding that Beijing agree to restructure the terms, the two officials said. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, the latest in a diplomatic flurry aimed at working out a compromise, according to one of the officials.
In mid-July, Daim Zainuddin, an ally of Mr. Mahathir who is leading investigations into the matter, laid out Malaysia’s concerns about the loans in a meeting with China’s Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, according to a Malaysian official who was present. Scores of Chinese officials descended on Kuala Lumpur last week, and Mr. Mahathir is scheduled to meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing in August.
On Tuesday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in a regular press conference, called Malaysia an important partner, and didn’t elaborate.
China has used the Belt and Road initiative to compete with U.S. influence in Asia, helping build roads, bridges and ports at a time when the U.S. has scaled back development aid. But China’s infrastructure push also has been dogged by corruption allegations in some countries. China has denied a role in any such corruption.
Malaysian officials are focusing on a $2.5 billion agreement signed in November 2016 in which state-owned China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp., would build a series of petrochemical and gas pipelines on Malaysia’s main peninsula and in the state of Sabah on Borneo island.
Malaysia’s Finance Ministry said it had paid China Petroleum over $2 billion, drawing largely on loans from Export-Import Bank of China.
The Malaysian government suspects money from the project was used to pay debts for 1MDB, which is being investigated for graft in several countries including the U.S., the two Malaysian officials said.
Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for Jho Low, a financier who investigators say was involved in 1MDB schemes. Mr. Low is shown here in New York in 2014.
Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for Jho Low, a financier who investigators say was involved in 1MDB schemes. Mr. Low is shown here in New York in 2014. PHOTO: DEBBY WONG/CORBIS
The officials said their suspicions are based largely on the timing of the transactions ahead of a loan due date and the involvement of key suspects in the 1MDB scandal. Some money likely was taken by Chinese and Malaysian individuals involved in the deal, they said.
A spokesman for the China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau said that money it received for Malaysian pipelines was used for the project only. Export-Import Bank of China didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A former Malaysian official who worked in the prime minister’s office said Jho Low, a Malaysian financier who investigators say was involved in 1MDB schemes, played a central role in negotiating the pipeline deal and other Malaysia-China infrastructure projects. Mr. Low has denied wrongdoing; his representatives didn’t respond to requests for additional comment for this article.
U.S. and Malaysian officials believe Mr. Low organized a scheme to take at least $4.5 billion from the 1MDB fund between 2009 and 2015, which he and others allegedly used to buy mansions, jewelry, art, and to finance a Hollywood production company. Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Low, who is living in China and Thailand, according to people aware of his movements.
A day after he was arrested, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged in connection with the 1MDB scandal at a Kuala Lumpur court and released on bail. Photo: Getty
Investigators have said Mr. Low ran 1MDB from behind the scenes, and appeared to be protected by Mr. Najib, then prime minister, who allegedly received hundreds of millions of dollars of the fund’s money into his personal bank accounts. Mr. Najib’s attorney general said the money was a political donation that was mostly returned.
Mr. Najib was arrested in July on money-laundering charges related to 1MDB. He pleaded not guilty; he views the charges as politically motivated, a spokesman said.
The transactions now under scrutiny occurred when the 1MDB fund was in dire straits last year. Despite building up over $10 billion in debt, it had few assets. It also had a looming repayment of $1.2 billion to an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund, which had provided an emergency short-term loan to 1MDB in 2015 when the Malaysian fund was facing default.
In May 2017, Mr. Low met Mr. Najib on the sidelines of a Belt and Road forum in Beijing to discuss infrastructure projects involving China, according to the former Malaysian official who worked in the prime minister’s office. The official said Mr. Najib would regularly travel to China at the time to meet Mr. Low, who held no official government position.
By that time, China’s export bank had begun to provide funds to China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau for the Malaysia project, though Malaysia’s finance minister had yet to secure all the land needed for the pipelines, according to the two current Malaysian officials. Soon after, an associate of Mr. Low who had worked for 1MDB attended a meeting in Malaysia to discuss the pipeline project, said one of the officials.
The two officials suspect some of the $2 billion meant for the China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau likely went instead into a series of shells before landing at a Cayman Islands-based company called Silk Road Southeast Asia Real Estate Ltd. The company’s sole beneficial owner is listed as a Middle Eastern investor, the officials said; they believe he is an associate of Mr. Low. Investigators haven’t been able to locate the investor.
In August last year, Silk Road paid the equivalent of almost $700 million to take over a Malaysian Finance Ministry company whose only holding was 234 acres of land that had belonged to 1MDB, Malaysia’s Finance Ministry under the current government has said. The price was around twice what 1MDB had spent on the acquisition four years earlier.
The ministry, which previously was controlled by Mr. Najib and had taken over 1MDB as it ran into trouble, used proceeds of the sale to pay 1MDB’s debt to the Abu Dhabi fund, International Petroleum Investment Co. Ltd., or IPIC, the ministry now says.
All the transactions were carried out in Chinese yuan, which would have avoided triggering compliance alarms at U.S. banks, one of the Malaysian officials added.
Silk Road never took formal ownership of the Finance Ministry company that owned the land, which was in the northern Malaysian state of Penang. The land is still owned by Malaysia’s Finance Ministry.
About 13% of the pipeline project, now on hold, has been built, Malaysia’s finance ministry said. The 1MDB fund still has debt of around $8 billion.