Malaysia

Written by  //  February 4, 2016  //  Asia  //  No comments

What the 1MDB scandal means for democracy in Malaysia
(Globe & Mail) Singaporean authorities this week seized a number of bank accounts linked to Malaysia’s beleaguered state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., as part of an ongoing international investigation into alleged corruption that has ensnared Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The move is the latest twist in a global investigation centred on an unusual payment of $681-million (U.S.) from accounts and companies linked to 1MDB into the private accounts of Mr. Najib, who founded and chairs 1MDB. As the investigations continue, Malaysia’s government has undertaken a widespread crackdown on dissidents and dismissed critical politicians – outraging human-rights groups. The eventual conclusion of a domestic investigation by the country’s Attorney-General – that the cash was a donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and has since mostly been returned – has not stopped other investigations by U.S. and Swiss authorities. …
Petronas, Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas company, is set to be the largest foreign investor in British Columbia through its proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project. What do you make of it, given the price of oil and what’s happening to politics in Malaysia?
Dennis Ignatius, a career diplomat who was Malaysia’s high commissioner to Canada between 2001 and 2008, and is now an advocate for human rights and democracy, replies:
As with other oil corporations, there will be pressure to review investment strategies, hold off on new investments or delay existing ones. With regards to its planned investments in Canada, I suspect that Petronas will dig in for as long as it can. As its CEO has said, even in bad times, oil corporations need to invest with an eye on the future. However, I personally would not be surprised if a decision is taken to quietly delay the project for now, given the current market situation, as well as Petronas’s financial position.
27 January
Saudi gift to Malaysia PM Najib Razak ‘for election campaign’
(BBC) The $681m (£479m) deposited in the bank account of Malaysian PM Najib Razak by Saudi Arabia was to help him win the 2013 elections, a Saudi source says.
Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Mr Najib of allegations of corruption on Tuesday after ruling that the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.
Mr Najib had denied that the money came from state investment fund 1MDB.
The Saudi source said the donation was made amid concern in Riyadh about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
(Vox) Malaysia’s utterly bonkers corruption scandal, explained

2015

Ending Impunity: People. Integrity. Action
The 16th IACC will take place in Putrajaya, Malaysia, from the 2nd – 4th September 2015. The Conference will be jointly hosted with the Government of Malaysia, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and the Malaysian Society for Transparency and Integrity (TI Malaysia).
The theme of the conference is Ending Impunity: People. Integrity. Action. We will welcome 800 participants from around the world to join us for plenary debates and workshops to discuss what we can do to end impunity for corruption.
The International Anti-Corruption Conference is the world’s premier global forum for bringing together heads of state, civil society, the private sector and more to tackle the increasingly sophisticated challenges posed by corruption.

24 September
Alleged scandals surrounding Malaysian PM could have several consequences
With a prime ministerial scandal burning away and acrid smoke shrouding huge swaths of Malaysia, one could be mistaken for thinking the government in Kuala Lumpur was quite literally going up in flames.
The smoke, of course, comes from forest fires illegally set to clear land on the nearby island of Sumatra. But it does provide a suitably gloomy backdrop for what’s happening to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Mr. Najib, who has become increasingly unpopular, leads the United Malays political party and a coalition that has effectively controlled Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957 – partly through electoral gerrymandering and censorship of the media. Despite other actions that make him unfit to lead a democracy, such as repeatedly jailing his main political opponent (a former deputy prime minister) on trumped up sodomy charges, he now finds himself at the centre of an ever-expanding series of corruption probes that have brought Malaysian politics to a standstill – and also threaten to bring his pseudo-authoritarian rule to an end.
22 September
THE REAL WOLVES OF WALL STREET! The Boys From Aabar And Their Friends From Malaysia
Following persistent probing from Sarawak Report the Prime Minister’s son Riza Aziz announced last year that the funding for his film company’s US$100 million dollar production, The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, had come from an individual – Mohamed al-Husseiny, the then Chief Executive of the Abu Dhabi wealth fund Aabar.
It was perhaps the first public acknowledgement that the boys from Aabar were signing cheques that went way above the pay-grade even of a sovereign wealth fund manager.
And it also flashed a red alert over a blatant conflict of interest. Riza’s step-dad, Najib Razak, was in the middle of negotiating a series of extremely shadowy, yet eye-wateringly huge, bond issues for 1MDB in tandem with the very Aabar fund that al Husseiny was managing.
18 September
Malaysia Fund 1MDB’s Missing Money Problem Grows
Mystery deepens about fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak
(WSJ) Questions about a troubled Malaysian state investment fund and missing money in the Middle East have widened to include nearly $1 billion more.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that officials in Abu Dhabi were trying to understand why a $1.4 billion transfer that the fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., said it made to a counterparty in the Middle Eastern emirate wasn’t received. Now, those officials are questioning a further $993 million that 1MDB reported it paid to the Abu Dhabi fund, the International Petroleum Investment Co., but which also appears to be largely missing, people familiar with the matter said.
Officials at IPIC didn’t respond to requests for comment. Officials at 1MDB didn’t respond to requests for comment before this article was published online, but afterward said the source and purpose of the payments were clear: to settle the termination of some options that had been issued to IPIC.
The questions deepen the mystery around 1MDB, which was set up by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to invest in Malaysia’s economy. The fund is struggling to repay more than $11 billion in debt and is at the center of a corruption scandal that is destabilizing Mr. Najib’s government.
16 September
Malaysians worldwide demand prime minister’s resignation

As the Malaysian diaspora grows and expands, we might expect this diverse community to continue “cultivating international solidarity” around critical issues unfolding in Malaysia. This approach to citizenship and nationalism reaches continually outwards. It crosses international borders, as well as city and county lines in countries that are now home to Malaysians overseas.
Invoking their right to free speech and public assembly around the world, Malaysians are using their position as global citizens to draw international attention to conditions in Malaysia. They are also choosing to stand in solidarity with Malaysians at home.
(The Conversation) Late last month, Malaysians at home and abroad participated in extended public demonstrations. Protesters were calling for government and economic reform, clean elections, the right to public protest and the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak. …
Concerns over civil liberties, political transparency, and economic stability are often linked in Malaysia. The country was formerly one of Asia’s “tiger economies.” In the early 2000s, it was the United States’ 10th largest trading partner. As of 2013, it ranks 20th in this category. In addition, Malaysia is a key player in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The economic ties between Malaysia and the United States have weathered a history of political scandals. The controversial imprisonment of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has drawn international critique for years. The government also continues to enforce severe restrictions on freedom of speech.
Related political and economic developments have long frustrated Malaysians at home and abroad. The Bersih 4 demonstrations were spurred by the allegation that approximately US$700 million was transferred into Najib’s personal account from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund. Najib’s decision to replace cabinet members and the attorney general investigating the scandal shattered what remaining confidence Malaysians had in his government.
4 September
Scandal-hit Malaysian PM Najib drops speech at anti-corruption conference
Facing multimillion-dollar graft allegations, the timing of the international summit could not be worse for Malaysia’s prime minister
(The Guardian) Malaysia’s prime minister has quietly cancelled his appearance and keynote speech at an anti-corruption conference after organisers warned him he would have to respond to allegations surrounding how millions of dollars had come into his personal accounts.
“The prime minister did cancel his appearance at the conference. We told his office that if he came he would face hard questions,” Neil Martinson, director of communications at Transparency International, told the Guardian.
The summit was agreed to be hosted just outside Kuala Lumpur months before reports emerged that $700m (£456m) linked to the debt-laden state fund 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) had allegedly entered Najib Razak’s personal accounts.

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