19 September 2016

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The Australian- Amanda Hodge (17 September 2016)

Lawyers for jailed Malaysian ­opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will seek house arrest for the ailing 69-year-old if a final legal review of his second sodomy conviction fails next month.

Anwar is serving a five-year jail sentence for sodomy after he was convicted in March 2014 in what has been widely condemned as a politically motivated and ­legally compromised trial.

US lawyer Kimberley Motley said Anwar’s legal team would again highlight the lack of DNA evidence and inconsistency of his accuser’s testimony in the October 12 appeal — the last legal recourse to overturn his conviction.

“Of course we want to get him released, period, and are going for an acquittal. If that doesn’t work we will try for house detention which is allowed under Malaysian law,” said Ms Motley, who is best known for her work in ­Afghanistan including the early release just last month of a former Australian soldier, Robert Langdon, serving time for murder.

Anwar was initially ­accused of rape by a young male intern to his People’s Justice Party (PKR) on June 28, 2008.

He was eventually convicted of a lesser charge of sodomy, still a criminal offence in Malaysia, ­despite four separate doctors finding no evidence of forcible anal penetration of the alleged victim.

During the trial it was discovered that rectal swabs taken from the victim were compromised by a senior police officer who opened the tamper-proof evidence bag and — against instructions — placed the DNA in his filing cabinet rather than the police freezer.

It was also revealed that Mr Saiful met Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, at the time deputy prime minister, and at least one other government official on June 24, 2008 — two days before he alleged the sodomy took place.

The day after meeting Mr Najib, he met privately a senior police officer who had been ­involved in Anwar’s earlier sodomy trial.

Mr Saiful waited two days after the alleged incident ­before reporting it at a local hospital.

Ms Motley says Mr Najib should be called to the witness stand to explain what was discussed during that meeting, two days before Mr Saiful apparently went to Anwar’s house with a tube of KY jelly — the reason he gave in court for having suffered no physical injury from the incident.

While the case was “riddled with problems”, one of the most critical was the issue of evidence tampering by police, she said.

“Why would a senior police ­officer tamper with evidence? He was instructed to refrigerate it. ­Instead he opened it and stuck it in his filing cabinet for several days,” she told The Weekend Australian.

“There is no evidence of anything that convicts. I don’t know of any court where this would have led to a conviction.”

Ms Motley, who joined Anwar’s legal team just this month, was initially refused access to her client but finally met him on Wednesday during which he ­appeared “active but tired”.

“He’s trying to keep his spirits up. He is obviously preparing for (the review) but he’s not necessarily expecting a victory,” she said.

“Every single step of the way has been a fight. There’s a lot of ­intimidation going on.”

Two of Anwar’s legal team face sedition charges for speaking out on his case and others are under investigation.

His daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar was also arrested and ­investigated for sedition last year after speaking out in parliament against his conviction.

A legal white paper on Anwar’s case, released in May, said the former deputy prime minister — first convicted of sodomy in similarly politically motivated ­circum­stances under former strongman Mahathir Mohammad — weighed less than 66kg and was in constant pain from spinal injuries sustained during a police beating after his first arrest, and a more ­recent shoulder injury. The one-time heir apparent fell out with Mr Mahathir over the Asian financial crisis of 1997. He is kept in solitary confinement, allowed just one hour each week with his lawyers and one non-contact visit with family every three weeks.

Supporters point to the fact the second sodomy allegations came just two months after Anwar’s political disqualification ended, and three months after he led the opposition parties to their best election result, depriving the ruling UMNO for the first time since 1969 of a two-thirds majority.

In the 2013 election, despite the ongoing sodomy trial, the opposition secured more than 50 per cent of the vote but was unable to form government because of ­alleged gerrymandering of electoral boundaries.

The sodomy claim also came at a time Mr Najib was under ­pressure over allegations linking him to the murder of glamorous Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaaribu.

3 September 2016

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Malaysiakini -Zikri Kamarulzaman  (3 September 2016)

Incarcerated former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim asks more about political developments than about his family whenever they visit him in prison, his wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail revealed.

“Sometimes I feel sad when he asks more about our struggle, our party and our (opposition) pact, than he asks about our family.

“But I have accepted the fact that I am only Anwar’s wife, and that Anwar belongs to all Malaysians,” she said at an anti-1MDB organised by PKR in Sabak Bernam, a town located in the northern tip of Selangor, last night.

The roadshow coincided with the 18th anniversary of Anwar’s sacking as deputy prime minister.

Anwar was sacked by then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, after he started speaking out against corruption and nepotism within the government.

Seven months later, in April 1999, Anwar was sentenced to six years in jail for sodomy. He was released in 2004, but was jailed again, for Sodomy II, in 2015, and is currently serving a five-year sentence in the Sungai Buloh Prison.

Critics have said that the charges against him were politically motivated, and were meant to stem Anwar’s influence against the government.

He has been instrumental in forming the now-defunct opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat, which denied the ruling coalition BN its two-thirds majority in Parliament in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.
The coalition fell apart after Anwar was jailed, and after former PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat passed away, DAP and PAS clashed on issues and DAP officially declared Pakatan dead in June 2015.

Wan Azizah, who now heads Pakatan Harapan – the new coalition made up of PKR, DAP and PAS-splinter group Amanah – said the opposition can achieve what it has in the past, if the coalition members put aside their differences and sacrifice their efforts for the nation.

“If Anwar can get the opposition to sit down and work together to defeat Umno-BN, then we (the opposition) can do it too, today,” she said, adding that PKR welcomed the presence of Umno offshoot Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in the opposition.

Bersatu pro-tem president Muhyiddin Yassin was among those present at the event.

3 September 2016

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NURUL IZZAH ANWAR
3 SEPTEMBER 2016 (Sinar Harian)

PADA malam 10 Ogos lalu, saya sempat merenung jauh ke tembok Penjara Sungai Buloh yang suram – menyembunyikan genggaman rindu serta sayu – tinggalan sejarah reformasi yang juga disulami realiti terkini.

Malam itu, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, ayahanda kepada kami enam beradik menyambut kelahirannya yang ke-69, walau jeriji besi 13 lapisan memisahkan kami buat masa ini. Seakan-akan deja vu melihat wajah sahabat, taulan, kenalan, teman, keluarga, semuanya seperjuangan.

Zaman silih berganti, namun sesiapa saja yang lantang berprinsip dalam menegakkan kebenaran menentang kezaliman masih lagi diperlakukan tanpa keadilan oleh parti pemerintah. Ayah saya merupakan salah seorang mangsa kebobrokan sistem. Kali pertama ketika beliau diperlakukan dengan tidak adil, yang kekal terpahat sebagai memori hitam adalah pada tahun 1998.

Ayahanda telah ditahan di bawah akta ISA tahanan tanpa bicara, disusuli dakwaan palsu yang menyebabkan beliau dijatuhkan hukuman penjara 6 tahun lamanya. Yakni, setelah saban tahun berlalu, diakui bahawa dakwaan palsu tersebut merupakan konspirasi politik berskala mega. Kerana lantang bersuara dalam mendedahkan salah urus tadbir negara, beliau sekali lagi dijatuhkan hukuman penjara 5 tahun di Sungai Buloh.

Pengalaman terdahulu, bermula dengan hampir 2 tahun ditahan di Kamunting semasa zaman mahasiswa – mengetuai protes di Baling pada tahun 1974, menjadikan jumlah beliau dipenjarakan di Malaysia adalah 13 tahun.

Tiga belas tahun merupakan tempoh yang signifikan sebagai fasa transisi pembelajaran. Bayangkan tempoh pengajian bermula dari pra sekolah 5 tahun sehingga tamat pengajian menengah pada umur 17 tahun. Bahkan, analogi yang lebih universal adalah tempoh 13 tahun itu sudah melebihi jumlah diperlukan untuk planet Jupiter mengelilingi Matahari!

Begitulah jika hendak dikira betapa lamanya tempoh itu, di mana satu perlima daripada hayat ayahanda diluangkan di penjara. Namun demikian, demi prinsip menolak penindasan yang berterusan, serta membuka ruang lingkup terhadap ke arah keadilan dan pemantapan demokrasi, berundur daripada prinsip tidak sekali.

Menerusi usaha beliau yang berterusan untuk mengangkat nilai keadilan sosial menerusi demokrasi dan dimulakan dengan seruan Reformasi mula bertapak di Malaysia. Sorotan krisis ekonomi dan politik pada 1998, reformasi kekal teguh dan tak lapuk dek zaman sehingga kini. Arakian, kini merupakan masa yang lebih relevan apabila reformasi diangkat sebagai keperluan dalam menyelamatkan masa depan Malaysia.Semangat Reformasi adalah satu agenda jelas dan takkan pernah luput.

Ketika diheret pergi, beliau sempat berbisik kepada saya bahawa perjuangan untuk rakyat perlu diteruskan bersama rakyat. Pada 1998, saya yang ketika itu remaja berumur 18 tahun nekad untuk menceburi politik. Dengan tunjuk ajar daripada ibu, dukungan daripada ahli keluarga, serta sokongan tak berbelah bahagi daripada rakyat, saya menyahut seruan perjuangan reformasi.

Hampir dua dekad telah berlalu, saya masih menggalas gelaran ‘Puteri Reformasi’ yang saya fikir amat berat untuk membawa anugerah sebesar itu, dan jujurnya telah saya usahakan sehabis daya. Gelaran itu adalah lebih daripada sekadar nama. Ia merupakan simbol pengiktirafan terhadap usaha yang digalas oleh ayahanda dalam membawa Malaysia ke tahap demokrasi yang sihat dan prinsip-prinsip asas keadilan demi Malaysia yang lebih baik. Lapan belas tahun lamanya, saya telah menggalas tanggungjawab ini dan membawa semangat perjuangan reformasi terus dipertahankan.

Agenda reformasi yang saya kira menjadi sebati dengan identiti semenjak memegang tampuk taklifan sebagai ahli Dewan Rakyat dan ibu kepada dua cahaya mata. Untuk masa yang telah berlalu dan tahun-tahun yang akan datang, saya tetap dan akan berterusan menjuarai isu berkait rapat dengan demokrasi, untuk mengetengahkan isu hak asasi manusia berkenaan wanita, isu kesaksamaan hak antara gender, memperkasakan golongan belia dan perlindungan kanak-kanak.

Salah satu usaha yang telah diinisiatifkan pada 2010 adalah Rang Undang-undang Persendirian memohon pembatalan kesemua 4 Deklarasi Darurat yang sering disalahgunakan oleh undang-undang lapuk, dan kerajaan kuku besi terutamanya seperti akta ISA.

22 August 2016

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Today marks 560 days Anwar Ibrahim has spent time behind bars. This past August 10th also marked his 69th birthday; the second year in a row Anwar is spending his birthday in prison.

Celebrating Eid in Sungai Buloh

On the 5th of July on the eve of Eid day, Anwar’s family and supporters gathered outside Sungai Buloh prison to “celebrate” Eid with Anwar.

Eid celebration comes after a month of fasting from dawn to dusk, a joyous occasion to celebrate a month of fasting, charity, obedience to god and reflections, spent usually with family and friends.

On that night gathering prayers was offered together to mark Eid celebration and opposition leaders and family members gave speeches to the supporters outside the gates of prison.

On the 7th of July in conjunction with the second day of Eid, Anwar’s family members were allowed to visit him at Sungai Buloh. The permission to visit allowed Anwar’s wife and children the opportunity to spend an hour together where they shared some customary Eid traditional delicacies.  Although short lived, it proved to be precious for Anwar’s family to spend some time together with Anwar for Eid.

Court Ruling On Eligibility To Vote

On the 15th of July, in a suit against the Election Commission (EC), the High Court ruled that Anwar has the right to vote even while in prison in line with the Constitution. Anwar claimed that he was denied his right to vote during the last Permatang Pauh by-election, which was vacated when he was sentenced to prison. However the High Court also dismissed the suit as the court ruled that the suit should be directed to the Prison Department for not providing the avenue to vote[1]

Anwar’s lawyer N. Surenden MP remarked “I also want to add that this decision also shows that up to now, that right has been denied because there has been no attempt by the EC to ensure that those prisoners who are qualified are taken out and arrangements made to ensure they can cast their vote,”. N. Surendan wanted a clear declaration by the High Court to ensure a similar incident does not repeat in the future.

Other Court Proceedings

In a defamation suit against the current Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, which was filed in originally in 2008, the High Court has allowed the case to be heard and will be calling Khairy Jamaluddin to testify on September 19. Anwar claimed Khairy uttered defamatory words during a speech in Lembah Pantai constituency, a Parliamentary seat held by Nurul Izzah Anwar[2].

On the 22nd of July, political blogger Papagomo failed in his final appeal to overturn a 2014 court verdict finding him guilty of defamation against Anwar. The High Court previously ordered Papagomo to pay 800,000 ringgit in damages[3].

The 1MDB Saga Continues

Anwar has been consistent in his opposition to endemic corruption within the ruling party and was among the first to have brought up the issue of corruption and shady dealings in the 1MDB scandal in 2010[4][5]. 6 years later the issue has now evolved into the biggest scandal in Malaysia’s history[6] and the Department of Justice of United States of America has opened an investigation to recover more than USD1 billion in money laundered through the American financial system[7]

Free and fair election advocacy group BERSIH has called for a mammoth rally after the DOJ 1MDB suit to pressure for Prime Minister to step down as he is deeply embroiled in the saga[8]

Since the incarceration of Anwar, Malaysia continues to be embroiled with scandals after scandals. Former Opposition Leader and Democratic Action Party(DAP) Member of Parliament, Lim Kit Siang quipped in his speech that “If Anwar had become Prime Minister in 2013, Malaysia would have been spared the agony of the protracted 1MDB scandal, there would be no DOJ lawsuit derogatory of the nation’s international reputation and Malaysia would be spared the latest label as a global kleptocracy.”[9]

Let us hope the ordeal of Anwar will end soon and his release will allow him to lead in rebuilding Malaysia. By removing Anwar from politics, the government has successfully eliminated a successful coalition that was capable of replacing the government during the next General Elections. We see growing calls from activists not to forget Anwar[10] while he languishes in prison and that his sacrifices must not go to waste in ensuring the struggle continues for a better Malaysia.

Till next month. Take care and thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Best

Khairul


21 August 2016

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KENYATAAN MEDIA

MCKK

Saya terima berita insiden keracunan makanan di sekolah lama saya, MCKK, di mana 56 pelajar telah mengalami masalah keracunan makanan.

MCKK sebagai sebuah institusi pengajian ulung di negara ini harus mengkaji semula semua aspek termasuk isu kebersihan serta pengendalian kantin untuk memastikan perkara ini tidak berulang.

Saya doakan para pelajar cepat sembuh.

RIO

Saya turut gembira menerima berita atlit-atlit negara memenangi 4 perak dan 1 gangsa di temasya sukan Olimpik di Rio. Tahniah diucapkan kepada semua.

Kepada pasangan terjun 10m Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong, pelumba basikal acara keirin Azizulhasni Awang, pemain badminton beregu lelaki Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong dan beregu campuran Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, dan Dato’ Lee Chong Wei, anda semua adalah hero Malaysia dan kita cukup bangga dengan anda semua!

Khusus buat Azizulhasni, anak Dungun yang telah mengatasi segala kekurangan dengan cekal dan tabah untuk merangkul pingat gangsa bagi lumba basikal acara keirin, yang juga merupakan pingat pertama diraih negara di sukan Olimpik Rio. Saya harap saudara akan terus berusaha untuk meningkatkan mutu dan menjadi inspirasi kepada anak muda yang lain.

Para atlit negara membuktikan bahawa dengan usaha dan cita-cita, kita mampu mengharumkan nama negara di persada dunia.

Anwar Ibrahim
21 Ogos 2016

18 August 2016

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SAIFUDDIN ABDULLAH -15 OGOS 2016 (Sinar Online)

10  Ogos lalu ialah hari lahir Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang ke-69. Kerana beliau tahanan politik, maka, ia disambut di penjara. Pada malamnya, saya menyertai isterinya Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, keluarganya dan kira-kira 500 penyokongnya meraikannya di depan penjara Sg Buloh. Kami berucap, berpuisi, menyanyi dan memotong kek hari jadi.

Sebelum giliran saya, aktivis mahasiswa Anis Syafikah (penganjur demonstrasi #TangkapMO1 di Dataran Merdeka pada 27 Ogos ini) berucap. Beliau menghujah tentang betapa zalimnya keadaan, di mana pejuang rakyat, Anwar, merengkok di penjara sedangkan perompak rakyat, Najib, berseronok di Putrajaya.

Memandangkan ramainya mahasiswa/belia pada malam itu, dan teruja dengan ucapan Anis, dan kerana dua hari kemudiannya (12 Ogos) adalah Hari Belia Antarabangsa, maka, saya memilih untuk berucap tentang Anwar sebagai bekas pejuang mahasiswa/belia.

Anwar diperkenalkan kepada saya oleh senior di Kolej Melayu Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) semasa Sudut Pidato pada 1975. Ketika itu Anwar Presiden Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM) dan Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) dan dipenjarakan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) kerana demonstrasi bersolidariti bersama petani-petani Baling yang menderita miskin, pada hujung 1974.

Beliau bekas pelajar MCKK. Pada 1968-1971, beliau menuntut di Universiti Malaya dan menjadi Presiden Persatuan Bahasa Melayu UM (PBMUM) dan Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar-pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM). Pada 1971, beliau mengasas-bersama Abim.

Anwar berperanan pivotal memberi nafas baru dan kepemimpinan unik terhadap gerakan mahasiswa/belia di kampus, dalam masyarakat, di peringkat nasional mahupun antarabangsa. Beliau terkenal dengan kekentalan keyakinan dan tindakannya yang dipandu kekuatan idealisme, aktivisme dan intelektualisme.

Suaranya tentang “memperkasa bahasa, kesusasteraan dan kebudayaan Melayu”, “gelombang kebangkitan Islam”, “jurubicara umat”, “ejen perubahan”, “yang kaya bertambah kaya, yang miskin bertambah miskin” dan “menegakkan kebenaran dan keadilan” disambut hangat para mahasiswa/belia dan rakyat.

Beliau memperjuangkan bahasa kebangsaan sebagai medium pengajaran di universiti, mendesak agar mahasiswa diizinkan berpolitik dan mengetuai NGO-NGO menentang cadangan kerajaan mengetatkan Akta Pertubuhan yang akan mengongkong suara rakyat.

Anwar menjadi tokoh muda nasional. Di samping itu, beliau juga dihormati di pentas antarabangsa. Pada 1975-1982, beliau anggota pimpinan Himpunan Belia Islam Sedunia (WAMY). Pada 1970-1971, beliau anggota panel penasihat belia kepada Setiausaha Agung PBB.

Beliau telah menonjolkan ciri demokratnya dengan mengartikulasi prinsip-prinsip demokratik, perwakilan dan berdikari. Sebagai anggota pimpinan Institut Pemikiran Islam Antarabangsa (IIIT), beliau dikenali sebagai pemimpin-intelek Muslim yang moderat dan progresif. Beliau juga terkenal kerana menganjurkan toleransi agama dan keharmonian hidup bersama antara pelbagai bangsa dan agama.

Baginya, ilmu dan pendidikan adalah premium. Ketika mahasiswa, beliau menjalankan kempen kesedaran bagi meningkatkan taraf pendidikan pelajar-pelajar luar bandar dan miskin bandar. Sebaik bergraduasi, beliau menubuhkan Yayasan Anda Akademik, sekolah swasta-kebajikan bagi menyediakan peluang kedua bersekolah menengah untuk pelajar-pelajar daripada keluarga yang kurang kemampuan. Beliau menerbitkan majalah Potensi (SPM), Diskusi (STPM) dan Panji Masyarakat (sosio-politik).

Beliau menjuarai sistem pendidikan Islam yang moden dan bersepadu. Maka, lahirlah Taski Abim, yang diikuti Seri dan Semi (sekolah rendah dan menengah), sehingga, kini, Dar al-Hikmah.

Anwar ikon perjuangan mahasiswa/belia. Sehingga hari ini, mahasiswa/belia sentiasa berada dalam pusat mindanya. Beliau amat memahami akan pentingnya pemimpin pelapis. Sebab itulah beliau melahirkan sekian ramai ahli politik muda Keadilan, termasuk sebagai Ahli Parlimen dan Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri.

Justeru, adalah bertepatan sekali untuk kita mendedikasikan Hari Belia Antarabangsa 2016 kepada Anwar.

18 August 2016

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BY ACHARA ASHAYAGACHAT . 15/8/2016 (BANGKOK POST)

Citizens of Thailand are not alone in the region when it comes to having to put up with dialogue-averse strongman leaders looking to consolidate authoritarian power.

The 15 million people of Cambodia have been watching the same movie starring Hun Sen, and featuring a muted soundtrack of dissent, for 30 years. Political repression is the order of the day ahead of local elections in 2017 and national elections the following year.

The brazen daylight slaying of activist Kem Ley last month in Phnom Penh could be a sign of things to come. Authorities arrested the shooter who claimed the crime arose from an unpaid debt. However, it is no surprise that few people believe that story.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, already suffering from the self-imposed exile of leader Sam Rainsy, face an intensifying legal assault that has landed more than 20 critics of the government in jail. Then there is the murky “sex scandal” that has ensnared four members of the human-rights group Adhoc, a National Election Committee member and a UN staffer. It has prompted 59 NGOs to denounce the “farcical use of both the criminal justice system and state institutions as tools to intimidate, criminalise and punish the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and civil society”.

Malaysia is no less ferocious in dealing with its critics.

When the United Nations conducted its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights in Malaysia, the government accepted 60 recommendations but so far only 20% have been implemented, says an NGO coalition monitoring the UPR process. More worryingly, it said, in cases in cases relating to 57% of the recommendations there have been increasing rights violations, and a trend toward growing impunity.

Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak continues to crack down on freedom of expression and other civil and political rights to tame criticism of the gross mismanagement of the state fund 1MDB, and to ensure his political survival for the next election due before August 2018.

An amended Sedition Act and a new Prevention of Terrorism Act have also empowered police to use unnecessary or excessive force when arresting opposition leaders and activists.

The Najib government is reacting to rising public discontent over issues ranging from allegations of corruption to the treatment of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim with a wave of repression, often relying on broad and vaguely worded criminal laws.

In Thailand, meanwhile, the military shows signs of continuing its thick-skinned and belligerent behaviour. It has rejected calls for the revocation of the arbitrary power allowed under Section 44 of the interim constitution, which remains in effect even though a new constitution was adopted in the Aug 7 referendum.

“The referendum is not a blank cheque for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to use power more arbitrarily,” said a civil society network combining former foes from red and yellow camps and including environmental groups and academics.

A junta statement even used the word “contempt” to express the government’s view of some international critics of the referendum process, who noted how severely the “Vote No” campaign had been curbed. Voting day itself may have proceeded smoothly, but overall the referendum was far from free and fair.
Now, instead of the promised return to democratic civilian rule, the new constitution facilitates unaccountable military power and a deepening dictatorship.

It contains provisions that will make it extremely difficult for a single party to win a majority in the 500-member lower house. This will allow 250 NCPO-selected senators to play a critical role, including choosing a prime minister, who will no longer have to be an elected MP.

In addition, the NCPO will reserve Senate seats for its key members, including the defence permanent secretary, supreme commander, the army, navy and air force chiefs, and the police commissioner-general.

 

Both the new government and parliament will also be required to adhere to the “20-year reform plan” that the majority of the people had no role in drafting.

Yes, the charter was supported by 16.8 million voters, but that means some 33 million eligible voters either voted against both referendum questions, spoiled their ballots (more than 900,000) or did not turn out at all.

So now the curtain is rising on a new movie, but not the action fare we’re accustomed to, for the next five years — at least. Let’s call it For Reform With Love. What kind of reviews can we expect from the majority of Thais if the next junta-backed government can’t sustain the economic and political stability we crave?

 

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18 August 2016

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BY GIDEON RACHMAN  AUGUST 11 2016 (BusinessDayLIVE)

SOMETIMES one or two events can change the political mood all over the world. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison in February 1990 came just three months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Those two events inspired democrats and liberals across the globe.

Sadly, the international mood now is much less optimistic and much less friendly to democracy. The current mood has been shaped above all by the collapse of the Arab spring of 2011 into bloodshed and anarchy. Autocrats all over the world, above all in Russia and China, now point to the Middle East as an example of the dangers of premature democratisation.

The politicians who captured the spirit of the early 1990s were inspirational democrats such as Mandela, Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia and liberal reformers such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin in Russia. Today, the leaders who seem to embody the spirit of the age are autocrats with scant respect for democratic values — men such as Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the presidents of Russia and Turkey; as well as Donald Trump, a trash-talking demagogue who has somehow become the Republican nominee for president of the US.

The figures confirm the general impression that this is a bad period for democrats. Freedom House, a think tank that issues an annual report on the state of democracy, argues that political freedom has been in global retreat for the past decade. It reported earlier this year that in 2015, “the number of countries showing a decline in freedom for the year — 72 — was the largest since the 10-year slide began”.

The least free part of the world is the Middle East, which is a bitter disappointment given the hopes aroused by the uprisings against autocratic regimes that broke out across the Arab world five years ago. Egypt is suffering under a harsher autocracy than the Mubarak regime that was overthrown in 2011.

Even in Europe, some of the freedoms won in 1989 are imperilled. In Poland and Hungary there has been an erosion of press freedom and judicial independence. In Turkey, on the borders of the EU, hard-won freedoms are being lost as journalists and judges are arrested in the wake of a coup attempt.

In parts of Asia, things have also gone backwards. Thailand experienced a military coup in 2014 and this weekend voted in favour of a new constitution that could cement the military’s control over politics. In Malaysia, liberals are in despair at the machinations of the scandal-plagued government, and Anwar Ibrahim, a prominent opposition leader, is once again in prison.

In the two most important autocratic powers — Russia and China — the governments are cracking down harder on liberals who dare to challenge the prevailing regimes. Last week, China issued long prison sentences for human rights lawyers in Tianjin and forced others into humiliating apologies. At about the same time in Russia, Yevgeny Urlashov, a prominent opposition politician, was sentenced to 12 years in a penal colony on corruption charges that appear to have been trumped up.

The problems of democracy have extended even into the US, the “leader of the free world”. Even if Trump fails to win the presidency, he has already done immense harm to the prestige and dignity of US democracy.

But amid all this bleak news, it is important to remember that not all the trends are pointing in the wrong direction. In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest when Mandela was released in 1990, has been freed, and the country’s first civilian-led government for more than half a century took power this year. Democracy seems well established in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country. And Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, last year saw its first presidential election in which an incumbent lost and then ceded power peacefully.

Most important of all, the evidence remains that, for all the cultural and economic differences between countries, ordinary people all over the world eventually get fed up of corruption, censorship, injustice and political violence. Just this weekend, people were out on the streets of Ethiopia, demonstrating against a government that has delivered rapid economic growth, but also sharply restricted political freedoms. In recent years, pro-democracy demonstrators have taken to the streets of Hong Kong and Ukraine to demand political and civil liberties.

The uncertain nature of the moment we are living through is captured by current events in SA, which played such an inspiring role in the 1990s.

Last week, the ANC, the party of Mandela, saw its support slump in local elections as voters reacted against the corruption and inefficiency of the government of President Jacob Zuma. The pessimistic view is that Zuma and his cronies will do whatever it takes to hang on, and that their machinations will further damage South African democracy. The optimistic view is that the ANC’s electoral troubles are an example of democracy’s ability to renew politics as voters turn to new parties such as the opposition DA.

The very nervousness of leaders such as presidents Zuma, Putin and Erdogan is telling. Behind their swagger lurks a deep insecurity. Autocracy might be making advances across the world. But it always ultimately sparks resistance.

2 August 2016

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Channel News Asia (2/8/2016) Melissa Goh

KUALA LUMPUR: A day after the controversial National Security Council (NSC) Act came into force, jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim filed an application in court on Tuesday (Aug 2) through his lawyer N Surendren to nullify the act that is said to be unconstitutional.

Anwar’s lawyer said he is also seeking an injunction to stop the implementation of the act that is said to give extensive powers to Prime Minister Najib Razak – who chairs the national security council – to designate any security areas and direct the police and armed forces to conduct arrest, search and seizure without warrants.

Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah who is also president of Parti Keadilan said the conference of rulers’ earlier request for a thorough review of the NSC Act must be respected.

“Anwar as the opposition leader is taking the lead, showing us the way forward. We must fight back, the conference of rulers specifically asked for a review but it wasn’t heeded, this is important,” she added when asked for the jailed opposition leader’s response.

Any action by NSC will also not be subjected to legal proceeding or actions.

While the government says the act will enable the various enforcement agencies to coordinate their responses in the event of a terror attack, civil rights groups and opposition leaders warn that the new act is easily open to abuse as too much powers are concentrated in hands of the prime minister.

Furthermore, the act is said to have usurped the powers vested in the traditional rulers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces under the federal constitution.

The NSC bill which was tabled in December 2015, was rushed through parliament and passed without obtaining royal ascent.

Under an amendment to the constitution, an act automatically becomes law after its gazetted for 30 days.

 

26 July 2016

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EuroMoney- Chris Wright  (Monday, July 25, 2016)

The US Department of Justice’s complaint seeking the recovery of assets related to the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB, is compelling reading. In a 136-page filing, a remarkable web of money transfers and illicit purchases is exposed. Several banks are involved in it and three more have since been rebuked by the Monetary Authority of Singapore for failing to implement proper money laundering checks.

So who comes out of it in the best and worst shape? Here is a quick guide:

• Goldman Sachs. Mentioned extensively in the document, but that is no surprise, and the complaint does not tell us anything we did not already know. It confirms Goldman’s eye-watering fees and commissions. Of the $1.75 billion raised through bonds in May 2012, known internally as Project Magnolia, Goldman took $192.5 million, equating to 11% of the principal; and of the $1.75 billion it raised in October that year, known as Project Maximus, Goldman appears to have taken $113.74 million. Goldman is further embarrassed by the publication of emails between employees and a 1MDB officer: among them the odd revelation that Jho Low, a Malaysian national who advised on the creation of TIA, 1MDB’s predecessor, and one of the central figures of the scandal, addressed his Goldman contact – believed to be Tim Leissner, the former southeast Asia chairman, who left the bank in February – as ‘bro’. Crucially, however, Goldman is not accused of any wrong-doing in the complaint. It is alleged that, among other things, $577 million of the first bond deal was diverted to a Swiss bank account, which had nothing to do with 1MDB’s supposed purpose, but it is not alleged that Goldman knew that was going to happen. Nevertheless, Goldman’s problems are not over, as it is being investigated separately by the DoJ about whether it violated the Bank Secrecy Act in its work for 1MDB in 2012 and 2013.

• AmBank. Of all Malaysian banks, this is by far the most closely linked to the scandal, since it was at AmBank that the person referred to as “Malaysian Official 1” – understood to be prime minister Najib Razak – held his accounts. The complaint says that between March 21 and 25, 2013, $681 million was sent to one of these accounts, which had earlier received $50 million of other payments from accounts linked to diverted bond proceeds. Using a different AmBank account, just over $620 million was then sent back again in the other direction in August that year. These are the sums that the Malaysian attorney general notoriously described as a personal donation from the Saudi royal family, concluding that there was no case for Najib to answer. AmBank was also the originating bank for a number of transfers in 2011 from 1MDB to an account known as Good Star, which was beneficially owned by Jho Low and which the DoJ allege was used to launder more than $400 million of funds into the US: “after which these funds were used for the personal gratification of Low and his associates.”

• DBS, Standard Chartered and UBS. Although none are mentioned in the DoJ complaint, a day after its release the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced its own findings into 1MDB-related fund flows through Singapore. It announced “instances of control failings” in all three banks and in some cases “weaknesses in the processes for accepting clients and monitoring transactions. There was also undue delay in detecting and reporting suspicious transactions.” The MAS says there were lapses in specific processes and by individual officers: “The lapses were serious in their own right, and will be met by firm regulatory actions against the banks.” All three banks say they notified MAS with concerns about fund flows, so the MAS’s objection seems to be around the pace and detail with which these notifications happened and indeed that clients were accepted in the first place.

• BSI Bank was thrown out of Singapore in May by the MAS “in view of its serious breaches of AML requirements and poor management oversight, and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff.”

• Falcon Private Bank’s Singapore branch has also been under constant MAS scrutiny. The MAS’s latest announcement speaks of “substantial breaches of AML regulations, including failure to adequately assess irregularities in activities pertaining to customers’ accounts and to file suspicious transaction reports.” MAS says it is still examining information on Falcon from the bank’s Switzerland head office.

• Deutsche Bank also makes a significant appearance in the DoJ complaint. Deutsche handled a $1 billion-equivalent foreign exchange transfer from 1MDB into the bank account of a joint venture between 1MDB and PetroSaudi, of which $700 million was eventually diverted to the Good Star account. However the complaint does not explicitly criticize Deutsche here, instead accusing 1MDB senior management of making “material misrepresentations and omissions to Deutsche Bank officials”. The complaint prints a lengthy transcript of a 2009 call between a Deutsche Bank employee, a Deutsche Bank supervisor and a 1MDB officer, and another with a Bank Negara official. The exchange shows Deutsche asking questions, albeit somewhat toothless ones, about where proceeds were going and apparently being lied to.

• RBS Coutts also appears in this section, since it held the Good Star account into which the funds were being sent. According to the complaint, RBS Coutts records show that Good Star Limited was formed in the Seychelles in 2009 and that Jho Low opened the Good Star account at an RBS Coutts branch in Singapore in June 2009. Deutsche also handled a 2011 $110 million transfer from 1MDB to Good Star.

• JPMorgan and Wells Fargo also appear. JP Morgan (Suisse) held an account related to the contentious 1MDB-PetroSaudi JV (although this one appears to have been legitimate), and JPMorgan Chase was the correspondent bank for Deutsche’s and AmBank’s wire transfers that ended up in the Good Star account. JPMorgan was also the correspondent bank for transfers of funds from the Good Star account to the accounts of a Saudi prince who co-founded PetroSaudi, from which they were then apparently transferred to Malaysian official 1. Saudi Arabia’s Riyad Bank also enters the story here, as the Saudi prince in question had his account there. Wells Fargo was the correspondent bank on some transfers from the Good Star account to this prince, and is also linked to the purchase of a Bombardier aircraft using 1MDB funds. And Citibank is named as a correspondent bank which handled, among other things, funds that ended up in a BSI Bank account in Switzerland through which some of the bond proceeds from 2012 were alleged by the DoJ to have been diverted. One name that does not appear anywhere in the complaint is CIMB. Earlier this year Nazir Razak, the CIMB chairman and the brother of the prime minister, was linked to the scandal after he disbursed $7 million of funds to various politicians and political groups, apparently at the instruction of the prime minister, and believing them to have been legitimate campaign contributions. He stepped aside to allow himself to be investigated by his own board and by Ernst & Young and was exonerated by both. An interview with Nazir, including his views on the scandal, will appear in the September edition of Euromoney.

26 July 2016

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21 July (Al-Jazeera)

A Malaysian opposition party leader has called on Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down following the lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department to seize $1bn in assets linked to the country’s scandal-plagued 1MDB state investment fund.

The Justice Department said on Wednesday that the assets were “associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated” from 1MDB, and included lavish real estate in Beverly Hills and New York, artwork by Monet and Van Gogh, and a business jet.

“I believe the Malaysian people want Dato’ Sri Najib to go on leave as prime minister so as not to create the perception of abuse of power or process to halt or hinder a full and transparent investigation on this very serious issue,” Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, president of the People’s Justice Party (PKR), said in a statement on Thursday.

Malaysia’s government should allow an independent commission investigate corruption claims outlined by the Justice Department, said Wan Azizah, who is the wife of jailed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The lawsuit alleges a complex money laundering scheme that the Justice Department said was intended to enrich top-level officials of 1MDB.

In a press conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the 1MDB funds were used as a “personal bank account”.

The fund is owned by the Malaysian government, but none of the lawsuits named Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

However, the case named Riza Aziz, the prime minister’s step-son, as a “relevant individual” in the case.

The lawsuits also named Najib’s friend, Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Sohail Rahman, speaking from Kuala Lumpur, said the prime minister’s office issued a statement overnight in response to the allegations.

As the prime minister holds the financial portfolio under which 1MDB operates, and many of his critics say he should have known what was going on “and many actually accuse him of being involved in this whole scenario,” Rahman said.

Ordinary Malaysians will likely be shocked by this US investigation, as the Malaysian government’s own probe of 1MDB has already ended, he said.

“The case in theory has been closed since October when the attorney general here in Malaysia said that there was no wrongdoing, and ordered the Malaysian anti-corruption commission to close the case.”

“However, this re-opens it from, certainly, across the Pacific, where the US now will go forward to try and investigate how these assets were bought,” Rahman said.

In the statement, the prime minister’s office said it would “fully cooperate with any lawful investigation of Malaysian companies or citizens, in accordance with international protocols, as the prime minister has always maintained, if any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception,” he added.

‘Money-laundering scheme’

The 1MDB fund was created in 2009 by the Malaysian government with the goal of promoting economic development projects in the Asian nation.

Instead, officials at the fund diverted more than $3.5bn over the next four years through a web of shell companies and bank accounts in Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the US, according to the justice department complaint.

Federal officials said more than $1bn was laundered into the US for the personal benefit of 1MDB officials and their associates.

The funds were used to pay for luxury real estate in the US and Europe; gambling expenses in Las Vegas casinos; a London interior designer; more than $200m artwork by artists, including Van Gogh and Monet; and for the production of films, including the 2013 Oscar-nominated movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

The complaint said that among those who profited from the scheme was the prime minister’s step-son Aziz, who co-founded Red Granite Pictures, a movie production studio whose films include “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

According to the complaint, 11 wire transfers totaling $64m were used to fund the studio’s operations, including the production of the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Leslie Caldwell, US assistant attorney general, said at the news conference on Wednesday that neither 1MDB nor the Malaysia people saw “a penny of profit from that film,” or the other assets that were purchased with fund siphoned from 1MDB.

Red Granite said on Wednesday that none of the funding it received four years ago was illegitimate and nothing the company or Riza did was wrong.

Authorities in neighbouring Singapore also announced on Thursday that they seized assets worth $240m in their own investigation of 1MDB-related fund for possible money laundering.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, as well as the city state’s Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Commercial Affairs Department said their investigation of the funds found “deficiencies” at several major banks, including “undue delay in detecting and reporting suspicious transactions.”

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Washington DC Kimberly Halkett said the investigation is likely to strain US relations with Malaysia, which President Obama had personally tried to cultivate, having played a round of golf with Najib during a visit to the country in 2014.

26 July 2016

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PUTRAJAYA, July 26 ? Blogger Papa Gomo has to pay RM800,000 in damages to former Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after losing his final bid to set aside the award.

This was after the Federal Court today dismissed Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris, also known as Papa Gomo’s leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court in awarding the amount to Anwar.

The Court of Appeal had on December 4 last year affirmed the High Court’s ruling.

A three-panel bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum rejected the leave application with RM10,000 costs after finding that the appellant’s case had no merit.

Also in the panel were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Hasan Lah and Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim.

The panel made the ruling after hearing submissions from Anwar’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya and counsel Amran Aminuddin who represented Wan Muhammad Azri.

On February 28, 2014, Anwar won his case at the High Court against Wan Muhammad Azri, who was ordered to pay the plaintiff RM800,000 in damages and RM50,000 in cost for linking him to a man in a sex video.

Anwar filed the suit against Wan Muhammad Azri on March 21 2013, seeking RM100 million in damages, alleging that the blogger had posted a series of four defamatory statements and images on his blog dated March 16, 17, 19 and 20, 2013. ? Bernama

 

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