4 September 2015

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4 September 2015

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TMI

Seorang lagi aktivis anti-rasuah global memberi tekanan ke atas Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak untuk berterus-terang mengenai derma RM2.6 bilion dalam akaun bank peribadinya, berkata “taktik melambat-lambatkan” yang digunakan untuk menghalang siasatan tidak akan berkesan dalam jangka masa panjang.

Pengasas Bersama Transparency International (TI) Michael J. Hershman berkata, ketidakupayaan Najib menangani soalan mengenai sumbangan itu menjejaskan kredibiliti sebagai perdana menteri.

“Nasihat saya kepada perdana menteri adalah jangan berselindung, tidak menghalang keadilan kerana ia tidak berkesan.

“Katakan yang sebenarnya tentang dari mana wang itu datang dan tangani tuduhan itu. Dan jika beliau melakukan sesuatu yang salah, minta maaf dan berhadapan dengan akibatnya,” kata Hershman di Persidangan Antarabangsa Pencegahan Rasuah 16 (IACC) di mana Malaysia menjadi tuan rumah.Katanya, sebarang penangguhan tidak akan menghilangkan semua dakwaan.

“Perkara sebenar akan diketahui dan daripada pengalaman saya, lebih cepat ia dikeluarkan adalah lebih baik bagi tertuduh dan negara,” katanya.

Hershman berkata penjelasan yang diberikan setakat ini tidak cukup baik.

“Jika ia datang dari Timur Tengah, daripada siapa? Bila ia diterima dan untuk tujuan apa? Ini adalah soalan yang sangat mudah,” kata Hershman.

Tambahnya, memandangkan Najib mempunyai kawalan akaun, beliau pasti tahu dari mana ia datang.

“Tiada sebab menubuhkan panel untuk siasatan. Hanya beritahu kebenaran. Nyatakannya secara publik,” katanya.

Reaksi awal Najib terhadap laporan The Wall Street Journal berhubung wang dalam akaun beliau pada awal Julai adalah penafian mengambil dana daripada 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) untuk kepentingan peribadi.

Kemudian, Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) mengesahkan dana sebagai sumbangan politik daripada seorang penderma Timur Tengah.

Najib dan pemimpin Umno yang lain kemudian mula mengatakan dana itu adalah untuk kepentingan parti, dan beliau sebagai presiden parti mempunyai kuasa memegang wang sebagai amanah bagi pihak Umno.

Tetapi Hershman berkata Najib terlepas peluang bercakap kepada penonton global pada IACC.

“Beliau terlepas peluang menjelaskan kebenaran di sini. Saya menghormati beliau dan percaya terhadap integriti beliau. Saya masih bersedia untuk mempercayainya tetapi beliau perlu tampil ke hadapan dan bercakap benar,” kata pegawai TI.

Beliau juga menegaskan Najib melakukan banyak perkara bagi SPRM, sambil menambah ia adalah salah sebuah agensi anti rasuah dibiayai terbaik di dunia dan ia sebahagiannya disebabkan dasar-dasar Najib.

Hershman ialah seorang daripada ahli panel pada sesi bertajuk “Fighting Corruption by Authorities: What worked and what went wrong” di IACC yang diadakan di Pusat Konvensyen Antarabangsa Putrajaya.

Persidangan 3 hari ini dihadiri 1,000 perwakilan dari 130 buah negara berakhir esok.

4 September 2015

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TMI

Despite Umno leaders dismissing the RM2.6 billion in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bank accounts as not a big deal, Transparency International chairman Jose Ugaz said it has all the elements of “grand corruption”.

The globally renowned anti-graft fighter said grand corruption has three characteristics: it is committed by those in very high positions of power, involves huge amount of money, and has an impact on human rights.

Speaking at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Ugaz said the RM2.6 billion that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak received in his personal bank accounts was an example of grand corruption.

The funds transfer, Ugaz said, was comparable to illicit funds that flowed to major banks such as the United Kingdom’s HSBC and France’s BNP Paribas.Activists have in the past claimed that HSBC had funnelled money from illegal logging in Sarawak, while a US court had fined BNP Paribas US$9 billion for moving billions of dollars to countries labelled as sponsors of terrorism.

Last month, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed that Najib had received the RM2.6 billion from an unnamed Middle Eastern source for an unspecified purpose.

“If that money is meant to help the poor and it did not go to them, then that impacts their human rights,” Ugaz told The Malaysian Insider on the sidelines of the conference.

“He has not explained, for what and where the money came from and what he was to do when he received it.

“He must also prove that the money is not illicit or that it comes from an illicit source. Political parties should not receive money that comes from illegal origins,” Ugaz said.

Following revelations of the transactions into Najib’s accounts, critics have demanded his resignation.

They also rubbished his explanation that it was to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), saying the terrorist group was formed much later after 2013, when the transactions took place.

The Umno president has defended the “donation”, saying it was for his party.

Najib’s supporters in Umno, such as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, had said that the funds were not a big issue, while Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor described it as “normal” for party presidents to hold funds in trust.

The RM2.6 billion “donation” has been a hot talking point among speakers at the IACC.

On Wednesday, Ugaz said Malaysia’s commitment to tackle corruption could not be taken seriously as long as there was no satisfactory explanation on the matter.

He noted the replacement of Malaysia’s attorney-general “who was critical of the government”, suspension of the task force probing into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue, arrests of graft investigators and suspension on a newspaper.

“These are not the actions of a government that is fighting corruption,” Ugaz had told the conference of top anti-graft authorities, experts and activists from around the world.

4 September 2015

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TMI

Datuk Seri Najib Razak should step down and allow investigations into the US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) transferred into his accounts to proceed without undue influence, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) coalition has said.

UNCAC coalition chairman Manzoor Hasan said Najib staying in power could jeopardise the probe, even as the prime minister’s supporters insist that critics should simply wait for the investigation to be completed.

“In an ideal world, you would want to see the prime minister stay, and the investigation happen. But I think the reality is that if they don’t step down, the process of investigation can be influenced and could undermine the whole process.

“If you apply the natural, legal principles when a person is being investigated, normally that person steps down so a clean independent investigation can take place,” Manzoor told The Malaysian Insider when met at the sidelines of the ongoing 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Putrajaya.When asked whether Najib should step down, he said, “Yes, I would certainly say so for the interest of fair investigations.”

Manzoor described Najib’s decision to stay in power as “strange”, but added that it was neither new nor uncommon for a world leader to do so.

“I think this is where civil society and media can play an important role and put pressure on the government to change the principles and rules that apply,” he said.

Manzoor added that the action taken against investigating officers in Malaysia went against the spirit of UNCAC – a legally binding international anti-corruption instrument adopted by the UN general assembly in October 2013.

Malaysia signed the document on December 9, 2003, and ratified it on September 24, 2008.

“If you have to implement the convention internationally and nationally, the independence of a commission, like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), is very critical.

“If the independence is not there, the whole investigation can be undermined, as in the case of Malaysia – with the investigating officers transferred, the leadership is arrested.”

He said agencies such as MACC were merely labelled as independent, “but, in spirit, they are controlled by the same political elite which runs the country and which is also involved in grand corruption”.

The UNCAC coalition, which Manzoor chairs, is a global network of 350 civil society organisations in over 100 countries committed to promoting the ratification, implementation and monitoring of UNCAC.

Yesterday, Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim, the chairman of Malaysia’s anti-graft advisory board, said MACC was still investigating the case and that everyone should wait for the commission to complete its probe.

Tunku Abdul Aziz added that MACC was as “independent as you can get”.

4 September 2015

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TMI

Datuk Seri Najib Razak dan 5 lain termasuk AmIslamic Bank akan diminta mendedahkan maklumat berkaitan dengan saman PKR terhadap perdana menteri kerana melakukan kesalahan pilihan raya berhubung RM2.6 bilion yang terdapat dalam akaun bank peribadinya.

Peguam Michelle Sunita Kumar yang mewakili 6 plaintif berkata, permohonan mendapatkan dokumen akan disampaikan kepada defendan sebagai susulan kepada saman sivil PKR bertujuan membatalkan keputusan pilihan raya di kerusi yang dimenangi Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) semasa Pilihan Raya Umum ke-13 (PRU13) pada 5 Mei 2013.

Permohonan penemuan juga disampaikan kepada AmIslamic Bank Bhd, Affin Islamic Bank Bhd dan Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, yang bukan pihak dalam saman itu.

Pihak-pihak terbabit mempunyai 14 hari bertindak balas kepada permohonan penemuan itu – prosedur yang membolehkan satu pihak mendapatkan pendedahan wajib dokumen dan maklumat lain yang berkaitan dalam prosiding sivil daripada pihak lain, atau bukan daripada pihak berkenaan.Antara penemuan dokumen yang diminta daripada Najib adalah resit RM2.6 bilion daripada Tanore Finance Corp ke dalam akaun peribadinya, resit RM42 juta daripada SRC International Sdn Bhd ke dalam akaun peribadinya dan penyata bank bulanan dari April 2009 bagi 3 akaun yang disimpan AmPrivate Bank.

Semalam, Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur memerintahkan Najib memfailkan pembelaan kepada saman utama sebelum Oktober 1.

3 September 2015

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Perutusan DS Anwar Ibrahim mengenai penubuhan Amanah pada 1 September 2015

DS Anwar Ibrahim telah menyampaikan perutusan berikut melalui peguam beliau pada 1 September 2015:

“Saya telah dimaklumkan mengenai niat penubuhan Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) seperti yang telah diumumkan Sdr Mohamad Sabu semalam.

Penubuhan sebuah parti pembangkang baru yang komited kepada perubahan dan reformasi merupakan satu petanda baik bagi politik matang yang mengetengahkan kebertanggungjawaban demokratik.

Amanah akan terus mengukuhkan pembangkang diperingkat nasional, bersama KEADILAN, PAS, DAP; dan kami akan memperluas muafakat ini termasuk kepada NGO-NGO lain yang komited dan yang berkongsi matlamat yang sama.

Fokus kini adalah untuk memberikan Rakyat satu alternatif yang berdaya maju, berasaskan kedaulatan undang-undang dan nilai-nilai demokratik.”

Fahmi Fadzil
Pengarah Komunikasi KEADILAN

1 September 2015

MEDIA STATEMENT

DS Anwar Ibrahim’s message to the public on the formation of Amanah on 1 September 2015

DS Anwar Ibrahim conveyed the following message to the public through his lawyers on 1 September 2015:

“I am informed of the intention to form Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) which was announced by Sdr Mat Sabu yesterday.

The formation of a new opposition party committed to change and reform, augurs well for the mature politics of democratic accountability.

Amanah will further strenghten the national opposition, together with KEADILAN, PAS, DAP; and we will expand this cooperation to other committed NGOs which share our common objectives.

The focus now is to offer the rakyat a viable alternative, based on rule of law and democratic values.”

Fahmi Fadzil
KEADILAN Communications Director

1 September 2015

1 September 2015

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Al Jazeera

Malaysia’s pro-democracy rally shows a country deeply divided along ethnic lines.

The human sea of yellow swarming though the streets of Kuala Lumpur on the weekend looked, at first glance, like an overwhelming show of people power directed against a government and a prime minister deeply imperilled by political and financial scandals.

But the rally, smaller in number than hoped for and lacking a representative ethnic mix, served only to show that democracy in Malaysia is more troubled than many previously thought. 

A splintered opposition failed to mobilise supporters on the scale hoped for and those who did turn up – and without a doubt, there were tens of thousands of them – were predominantly from the minority ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

That these groups have legitimate concerns is a valid reason to protest. But to the large ethnic Malay support base of the beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak, this was a startling show of opposition towards the status quo and the rule of the Barisan Nasional coalition. This, of course, is exactly what Najib was hoping for.

Malay culture under threat?

The paucity of Malay protesters played directly into Najib’s hands, strengthening his core Malay support base with a mass visual display claiming that ethnic Malay heritage and culture are under threat.

The prime minister, who was not in Kuala Lumpur during the protest, deemed the protesters “shallow and poor in their patriotism and love for their motherland“. Malaysia’s ethnic groups, and thus Malaysia itself, are looking more and more divided.

The timing of the rally, which was the fourth held by the Bersih civil society group that campaigns for free and fair elections, is also no coincidence.

On Monday, Malaysia will celebrate Merdeka Day, the annual celebration marking its independence from Britain in 1957.

For those taking part in the rally, this patriotic holiday is a chance to look back at the past and focus on what kind of Malaysia people want for the future. For the government that has been the sole holder of power since independence, however, patriotism means a chance to display their Malay identity and reinforce the nationalist narrative that surrounds independence celebrations.

Public dissatisfaction has been brewing in Malaysia for the past months as the economy slows and political scandals escalate.

The street protests come amid allegations of Najib’s mismanagement of the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development fund (1MDB), a faltering economy with a plunging currency, and allegations of impropriety over a 2.6 billion Malaysian ringgit ($700m) “donation” deposited into Najib’s personal bank accounts. Najib denies allegations that he used public money for personal gain.

Colourful symbol

In the lead-up to the protest, the government used almost every lever available to deter protesters. They ruled the rallies illegal, saying correct permissions had not been sought, banned internet sites that mentioned the protest, and even tried to ban the yellow shirts that were to become the colourful symbol of the protest.

These heavy-handed scare tactics may have served to keep some protesters away. But the rally’s failure to mobilise a crowd representative of Malaysia’s ethnic groups highlighted the widening religious and ethnic polarity in Malaysian politics, as well as the weakness of opposition groups plagued by infighting and disagreements over the place of religion in multiethnic Malaysia.

In the past, Bersih rallies could count on numbers mobilised by opposition parties for a good turnout. The Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), with one million members nationwide, is no longer part of the opposition after a fallout with former opposition allies, who represent mainly ethnic Chinese and Indian interests.

Perhaps the best result in the aftermath of the Bersih 4.0 rally is to instil in the ruling UMNO leadership a sense that the prime minister is no longer electable. But the UMNO party leadership conference, the forum that could vote him out as leader, has been delayed for 18 months.

Patronage politics

The other hope is in a vote of no confidence that could be moved by opposition politicians when parliament resumes in October. However, it seems unlikely that it will garner enough support.

Malaysia has shown repeatedly that the prime minister does not need the people’s support to survive. Patronage politics is deeply ingrained, and the recent sackings of senior politicians are a stark reminder of what lies in store for those whose loyalty is questioned. For now, it seems Najib is likely to survive and lead his party into the next election.

Despite the show of force, with military hardware and armoured water cannon trucks lining the protest route, there was little violence and few arrests. Previous rallies saw street scuffles, the use of water cannon and tear gas along with hundreds of arrests.

Whether intentional or not, the Malaysian police have managed this rally with a light hand, perhaps driven by a belief that the protest is essentially harmless. After cracking down hard before the rally, the authorities seemed content to sit back, show the world that they can effectively manage public discontent – and then do nothing.

Democracy in Malaysia is the poorer for it.

 

1 September 2015

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Quartz

bersih-rallies-in-kuala-lumpur-august-2015

This weekend tens of thousands protestors gathered in Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere calling for political reform in Malaysia. They were joined twice by 90-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, who ran the nation for more than two decades and has—like many of the protestors—called for the removal of embattled prime minister Najib Razak, whom he helped put in power.

The rallies ended just before the nation’s Independence Day, which takes place today (Aug. 31).

Najib is under pressure after last month’s revelation that nearly $700 million found its way into his bank accounts shortly before the close-fought 2013 general election. He claimed the money was donated by an unnamed Arab family. He sacked his deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who called for the truth on 1MDB, and he’s worked to silence publishers, journalists, and others.

The rallies called for clean elections, clean government, the right to dissent, a strengthened parliament, and the rescue of Malaysia’s faltering economy. They were named Bersih, after the Malay word for “clean.” Organizers put the number of protestors in Kuala Lumpur at 200,000 on Saturday and 300,000 on Sunday, while authorities—who had declared the rallies illegal beforehand—said the number was closer to 25,000.

With the gap between estimates so glaring, one post shared drone footage from an anonymous source showing the crowds from above.

Malaysians and their supporters were also marching around the globe, including in London, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and other cities:

The amounts involved in the transfers to Najib’s accounts have captivated Malaysians being asked to tighten their belts to help reduce the nation’s budget deficit. In April Najib’s administration implemented a highly resented consumption tax of 6% on all goods and services. Late last year it removed subsidies for gasoline, diesel, and sugar, and it plans to continue cutting others, including for liquefied petroleum gas and cooking oil.

Meanwhile Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor—dubbed “the first lady of shopping”—has been likened to Imelda Marcos for her extravagant buying binges abroad.

1 September 2015

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Mkini

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Asmabi Mohamad has agreed to recuse herself from hearing Anwar Ibrahim’s judicial review application for him to challenge the Pardons Board petition disallowing his and his family’s petition for his pardon.

Justice Asmabi made the decision in her chambers after hearing submissions from lawyers Latheefa Koya and Shahid Adli Kamaruddin, as well as from senior federal counsel Suzana Atan.

With the decision today, the case for leave (permission) for judicial review will be heard before another judge.

“Basically, the judge agreed with the application and the ?matter will now be referred to the managing judge for it to be brought before another judge,” Latheefa (photo) said.

“Justice Asmabi gave the order in terms and no orderwas made on costs. She also recused herself in Anwar’s suit against Election Commission for not being allowed to vote in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election,” she added.

Anwar has applied to recuse Justice Asmabi on grounds that she was the senior federal counsel ?representing the government and then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his suit for unlawful dismissal and sacking when he was deputy prime minister in 1998.

1 September 2015

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Mkini

The massive Bersih 4 rally that took place in the heart of Kuala Lumpur on on Aug 29 and 30 can be described as tremendous success considering the number of people who took part in it.

It is estimated about 500,000 people were involved and many spent the night sleeping on sidewalks and pavements. Bersih also took an international profile, with similar rallies held in some of the cities worldwide.

Yes, Bersih succeeded in highlighting its objectives of: reforming the corrupt and decadent electoral system, reviving institutions that have become defunct and most importantly, the removal of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for his involvement in massive corruption related to the disbursement of 1MDB funds.

Unlike earlier Bersih movements, this time there were no untoward incidents involving the police or other law enforcement agencies. The police were surprisingly well-behaved and disciplined.

The actual Bersih rally is over, at least for the time being. Whether Bersih 5 will take place or not will depend on the whether the government takes initiatives to speed up reforms in the country.

Of course, the hardest thing will be to expect Najib to resign from his post. There are no indications that Najib will resign from the pressure exerted by Bersih.

In fact, there are already overt and covert signs that Umno and other Malay extremist organisations will use the large presence of the Chinese in the rally to drum home the point that Bersih was a Chinese-initiated movement to topple the Malay leadership.

Former DAP vice-chairperson and the current adviser of MACC, Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim has provided a completely racial twist to the recent Bersih rally. He lamented that the large presence of Chinese in the rally indicated that it was attempt on the part of them to humiliate and dishonour Malays during Merdeka celebrations.

Needless to say, the sizeable presence of Malays and Indians probably, or conveniently, never caught the eyes of Tunku Aziz!

In the coming days, weeks and months leading up to Umno division general assemblies, we can expect Utusan Malaysia to build up and propagate its racial theories about how Chinese are going to take over the leadership from the hands of Malays, in other words from Umno.

Was Mahathir’s presence of any help?

We can’t say for sure whether the presence of the former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was something that was helpful to the Bersih movement as whole. The man who had nothing but contempt for protests and demonstrations suddenly turned to support the “cause of the rakyat” in this Bersih rally.

Mahathir said he supported the people’s cause but not Bersih. His attendance at Bersih 4 was a classic case of taking the opportunity to ride the wave to remove Najib and revive Umno, but he showed no interest in the reforms that the country badly needs.

Participants could have welcomed his presence, but are fully aware that his sole purpose in attending the rally was to revive Umno, an Umno that will behave and dance according to the tune he sets!

Now, with the rally over, what is going to happen? Are we going to expect major changes to the nature of the country’s administration? Will Najib’s days in office be numbered? There are no clear answers to these and many other questions that are foremost in the minds of Malaysians.

Changes not expected overnight

Bersih leaders do not expect changes to take place overnight as these will take time to gain momentum. But at least the Bersih leaders have played a role in bringing together thousands of Malaysians to the streets in wanting change and a better future for them and their children.

Bersih, whatever, its limitations, has defied norms by telling and emboldening Malaysians to come together as one in demanding for change. For Bersih, politics should not be left to the politicians, however, well-meaning they are.

Even if the majority of the participants were Chinese, it does not negate the fact that they were there as Malaysians and citizens. They did not flock together as a Chinese group organised by some Chinese leaders.

In fact, many of them members of the middle-class and not even members of the DAP! Sorry, DAP does not have the monopoly on how the Chinese behave.

Chinese and Indians were eager to participate not because they belong to particular ethnic groups, but because they are victims of the political, social and economic system. It is only normal for Chinese and Indians to take up a more active role in the Bersih movement, given their own predicament in the country.

Years of independence have not assured these two communities a meaningful place that they call it home. Often being reminded as “pendatang”, the stigma alone is enough to galvanise these two communities to spring to action!

It was noticeable that the lack of Malay participation was conspicuous in Bersih 4. In fact, Malay participation increased on the second day and a variety of factors were responsible for this.

First, the absence of PAS in Pakatan Rakyat was the major factor behind the lack of large-scale participation of Malays. Second, confusion in Malay circles about the split in PAS and the process toward the formation of a new party could have added a damper on their participation in Bersih 4.

Rally essentially an urban phenomenon

Third, related to this was the absence of concerted mobilising strategies on the part of the Malay opposition forces to galvanise Malay support for the Bersih rally. Fourth, the incarceration of Anwar Ibrahim in Sungei Buloh could be another reason why Malays were not mobilised enough.

Fifth, the Bersih rally was essentially an urban phenomenon. It was the inability to attract rural Malays that could explain why non-Malays outnumbered Malays!

In actual fact, examining the Bersih rally from the point of ethnicity does not make sense at all. Thousands of Malays, Chinese and Indians who attended the rally in yellow were merely interested in political change. They attended the rally only with this in mind. They did not go to Kuala Lumpur as Malays or Chinese or Indians.

They went as Malaysians and citizens of the country. It isunderstandable and not understandable as to why some so-called learned persons, like Tunku Aziz (photo), would stoop so low and beyond imagination to provide a racial twist.

Were Chinese, Malays and Indians there to question Malay political power in the hands of Umno? What about the speeches by some prominent Malay leaders? Were they there to question Malay political power?

Let us not question the integrity of Malaysians who took part in the Bersih 4 rally in Kuala Lumpur. Let us not put Malaysians in the familiar and dangerous ethnic pigeon-holes!

It is the inability to capture of dynamics of societal interaction that allows racists and extremists to cast doubts and aspersions against a movement that has sprung up to take Malaysians to a new and more progressive level of thinking, away from the primordial sentiments!

28 August 2015

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The Telegraph

Some 2,000 delegates from around the world will gather in Malaysia next week for the world’s top anti-corruption meeting, but they will no longer be hearing from the leader of the host country

For Najib Razak, the Malaysian prime minister beset by controversy over nearly £450 million paid into his personal bank account, the timing of a global anti-corruption conference in Kuala Lumpur next week could not be more awkward.

The embattled leader has now quietly cancelled his scheduled speech to 2,000 delegates on the opening day of the International Anti-Corruption Conference that his country is hosting.

The summit, which is organised by the Transparency International, the world’s leading anti-corruption organisation, is held every two years in different locations.

By chance, it will open in Kuala Lumpur as Mr Najib’s government is engulfed in allegations of corruption and financial impropriety surrounding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a scandal-plagued state investment fund.

The prime minister has strenuously denied any wrongdoing connected to the payments into his bank account or to 1MDB, which that has amassed debts of £7 billion since he founded it in 2009.

The prospect of the prime minister addressing the conference had delighted critics who are demanding his resignation.

His office has not explained why he is now sending along a junior minister in his place.

“It’s standard protocol of the International Anti-Corruption Conference to have the democratically elected head of state open the conference,” said Chris Sanders, Transparency International’s spokesman.

“His appearance would have provided an opportunity for the global anti-corruption community and Malaysian civil society, and media, to question the prime minister directly at the conference about the 1MDB affair and other recent events.”

Mr Najib pulled out of the summit as tens of thousands of protestors prepare to stage anti-Najib rallies in Malaysian cities this weekend. The protests are going ahead despite threats by police to arrest organisers as the gatherings do not have permits.

The scandal swirling around 1MDB took a new twist last month when it was reported that financial investigators had found a payment of nearly £450m into Mr Najib’s bank accounts.

The country’s anti-corruption commission said that the money was contributed by an unnamed donor, not by 1MDB, but officials said they were still investigating.

Mr Najib’s officials have said that the payment of nearly £450m, made through an Arab bank, came from a Middle East benefactor for political party use purposes before the last election. Mr Najib has denied any personal financial gain.

But the contribution of such a large sum – nearly as much as the £470m raised by Barack Obama to fight the 2012 US presidential campaign in the most expensive election in history – has only fuelled controversies.

Mahathir Mohamad, the former Malaysian prime minister who was once Mr Najob’s mentor, has been among the most vocal critics questioning the donation and leading calls for his resignation.

Mr Najib has accused Mr Mahathir of leading a conspiracy to oust him. His government has also said it is the target of a plot involving Clare Rewcastle Brown, the sister-in-law of Gordon Brown, who runs Sarawak Report, a London-based anti-corruption website.

As the scandals deepened, Mr Najib sacked his deputy prime minister and other Cabinet members who did not stick to the party line and replaced key anti-corruption officials.

With his government battered at the same time by economic woes as falling oil prices have pushed the ringgit currency to a 17-year-low, there has also been a crackdown on opposition media.

Malaysia on Thursday announced that it will block websites supplying information about and encouraging participation in the the protest rallies. The home minister had earlier said that the organisers from pro-democracy group Bersih were spreading “anti-government propaganda” that damaged the country’s image and hence was a threat to national stability.

27 August 2015

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MERDEKA! Support BERSIH!

There is a tide in our affairs which, unless we seize it, will see our voyage for democracy and rule of law in shallows and in miseries. This is the rising tide of corruption and electoral fraud; financial malfeasance; arrogance of power and transgression; and judicial impropriety!

It is therefore morally incumbent that Malaysians join hands in this effort and save Malaysia from the systemic crisis of governability.

Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim
27 August 2015
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MERDEKA! Sokong BERSIH!

Gegaran Merdeka menandakan berakhirnya pemerintahan penjajahan curang kerana penindasan dan kezaliman. Merdeka juga mengusung gagasan besar dan keyakinan baru; menegak keadilan dan negara hukum serta memacu pertumbuhan dengan jaminan pengagihan saksama.

Walhasil, Merdeka 2015 dinodai keserakahan dan ketamakan; ekonomi meruncing dan kehidupan rakyat terus melarat. Terdapat ketempangan luar biasa diantara cita-cita luhur kemerdekaan dan sekatan ke atas kebebasan rakyat. Institusi hukum tercemar dan kesenjangan pendapatan terus melebar.

Kita harus bertindak dan selamatkan Malaysia tercinta!

Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim
27 Ogos 2015

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