27 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Malaysiakini

The house seemed dreary. When the gates opened, the yard was lit only by the light coming from inside.

It was markedly different from the night of March 8, 2008 and the day after.

At the time, the two-storey building in Bukit Segambut was filled with people.

Most of them were happy, while the rest were still in disbelief that Selangor, Kedah, Penang and Perak would fall into the hands of Pakatan Rakyat.

In Kelantan, meanwhile, PAS retained its control of the state.

But yesterday, the house was dreary, and that bleakness was felt when Nurul Hana Anwar recounted how she compiled the book ‘My Dear Papa’.

“It is very personal,” she said.

The book is a compilation of notes, photos, and collages that portray Anwar Ibrahim as being more than a politician.

‘I still feel papa’s absence’

Anwar is already a household name in this country. When the police brought him from his home – then in Bukit Damansara – to Bukit Amam, Nurul Hana was only six-years old.

“I didn’t know anything but I knew something was going on,” she told Malaysiakini.

Because of the incident 17 years ago, Nurul Hana admitted that she had been traumatised. The feelings were indescribable.

Now in 2015, her father was locked in prison again as though repeating history from 1998.

“I still feel papa’s absence,” she said.

Asked about the process of producing the book – which started out as a college project – she said she felt touched when sees images and words from Anwar and what is written about the former deputy prime minister.

“It was not to the extent of dropping tears, but I was touched,” she said.

Asked if there are any feelings of grudge, Nurul Hana said what is documented is sorrow.

“Grudges, no. Mama said everything is Allah’s will. There is a blessing behind it.

“Allah will not impose a test that we could not bear,” she said.

Not interested in joining politics

Nurul Hana hopes the book can help people understand that Anwar’s struggles still continue even though the former opposition leader is now behind bars.

She also hopes the book ‘My Dear Papa’ would offer some insight into another side of Anwar.

In the collage, Nurul Hana has also decorated it with some notes and some of her own poetry.

Asked if she is interested in joining politics, Nurul Hana promptly answered, “No.”

Perhaps Malaysia has nothing to lose if she joins politics, as her mother Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and sister Nurul Izzah had done.

Nevertheless, the book seems to suggest that it would be a loss if Nurul Hana diverts attention away from her interest in the arts.

‘My Dear Papa’ is published by Gerakbudaya Enterprise and will be launched by national laureate A Samad Said at the publisher’s premises in Petaling Jaya tonight.

In conjunction with the launch, the books will also be sold at a discounted price today.

27 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Forbes

The feeling that Malaysia is now in an abyss is real. Malaysians fear terrible things are happening to them and their country because of poor leadership. The man who – rightly or wrongly – will be blamed for all of Malaysia’s woes will unfortunately be the current prime minister.

In June this year, the minister responsible for transforming the Malaysian economy – Idris Jala – in an open letter to Bloomberg , complained that he hardly recognised the country that Bloomberg columnist William Pesek was writing about. In the open letter, Idris Jala provided a robust rebuttal to William Pesek’s derisive commentary on Malaysia.

Last week, Prime Minister Najib Razak was compelled to assert that Malaysia is not a failed state as public outrage reached a crescendo. Some even suggested that Malaysia is heading towards both a dictatorship and a  failed state. Najib Razak countered with statistics and examples.

Both the prime minister and his minister for economic transformation are correct that – on balance – the available analyses suggests that the Malaysian economy is healthy and the prime minister is not yet a dictator. Yet, both men also know that despite evidence to support their arguments; and after spending hundreds of millions of ringgit to prosecute their case, and also improve the prime minister’s image, the majority of Malaysians still think little of him, his administration and the country’s performance. After the fatal mistake where he admitted that he “accepted” $700 million from a foreign donor (after first denying it) for the ruling party’s political activities (a story that is still unfolding), significant portion of his own supporters (from the United Malays National Organisation/UMNO) have also lost faith in him. This is most unfortunate for Najib Razak, but also his cabinet and the Barisan Nasional. 

During the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997/98, then Malaysian prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Tun Mahathir) managed to successfully pin the blame for Malaysia’s economic woes on the Jews. Najib Razak is attempting to do the same, but does not have the required conditions that favoured prime minister Tun Mahathir. There is no crisis that he can appeal too. There is/are no external force/s that he can pin the blame on. He is being attacked by people from within his own party for what they perceive as unforgivable mistakes that are weakening the Barisan Nasional and UMNO further; and that this mistakes are of his own making. The majority of Malaysians have long registered their preference for another coalition and leader.

The leadership of Barisan Nasional and the present cabinet strongly backs Najib Razak. Beyond that small but powerful circle, support is thin. He is now being made the scapegoat for the Barisan Nasional’s, the UMNO’s and the country’s poor performance. All calamities befalling Malaysia and Malaysians are now being placed at his feet.

Despite being a prized product of the UMNO and Barisan Nasional system, Najib Razak is now a curse to many within the system that produced him.  The son of the architect of  the New Economic Policy and an UMNO thoroughbred, Najib Razak once glorified, is now hounded by the very people who made him the king of the hill. He has become a plague. It is no longer 1MDB but the prime minister that is the symbol of everything that is wrong with Malaysia.

On the 29th and 30th of August, 2015, rallies have been organised not only in Malaysia, but all over the world by Malaysians calling for Najib Razak’s resignation.

Will Najib Razak survive the weekend?

Stay tuned.

Note: (1) I am holding off my article on the intra- and inter-institutional fights for awhile as I await new information. (2) Videos of grassroot UMNO leaders openly (and sometimes rudely) calling for his resignation are available on the internet. Here is a selection: [Video 1; Video 2; Video 3]. While other videos[Video 4] have exhorted the importance to attend the rally to demand change [Video 5].

27 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

TMI

The record donations exceeding RM1.5 million collected by electoral reforms coalition Bersih 2.0 ahead of this weekend’s rally is an indication of the people’s wrath against the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, analysts said.

They concurred that the main fundamentals that would bring the crowd together on August 29 were the people’s frustration over the RM2.6 billion donation deposited into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts, the scandal over state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and economic hardships.

Analysts said a large turnout could be expected at the Bersih 4 rally, given the amount donated by ordinary Malaysians and also the sale of merchandise, including the 35,000 Bersih T-shirts, which were sold out within days.

Centre for Policy Initiatives chief executive officer Dr Lim Teck Ghee said most people felt Umno and BN were to blame for the socio-economic and political reversals and as such, a large turnout could be expected this weekend despite threats by the authorities.The donations from the public also indicate strong support for the rally and its objectives, he added.

“That so many members of the public are willing to contribute to the Bersih cause in a transparent and accountable way, and the disclosure that a full accounting will be provided, should be a lesson to the government and other stake players in our political system who have been less than open or dishonest about funds they have solicited and received,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider.

Independent pollster Ibrahim Suffian agreed, saying that going by T-shirt sales alone, a large turnout could be expected.

The executive director of Merdeka Center said that the RM1.5 million donation collected from the public by the organiser was unprecedented.

“Malaysians have always been generous, but mostly through philanthropy and for charitable causes. But in the past, they tended to shy away from donation for causes seen as political, and Bersih is seen as a political action.

“But this is an unprecedented amount, which means many ordinary Malaysians contributed with mostly small amounts.”

Ibrahim anticipates that participants this weekend would largely be an urban crowd made up of opposition supporters.

There would also possibly be a “new crop of demonstrators” made up of those who have not participated in such rallies before, he added.

“It will bring out a new crowd of people that have not come out before, such as white collar workers who strongly feel the need to participate.”

Ibrahim said that reasons for joining the rally would vary for the different demographics.

The Malay crowd, he said, would mostly be protesting against economic issues including the higher cost of living, as well as the goods and services tax (GST).

“There will be a multiple pull factor; for the urban crowd, their main reasons would be governance issues  such as the handling of 1MDB while the rural participants would be motivated to demonstrate  because of  economic hardships,” he said.

27 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Bloomberg

Prime Minister Najib Razak is taking a page out of the playbook of mentor-turned-nemesis, former premier Mahathir Mohamad. To stem a decline in confidence in Malaysia, he’s even tapping the expertise of Mahathir’s ringgit peg architect.

As a plunge in global financial markets this week deepened the ringgit’s slide and heightened comparisons with the Asian financial crisis, Najib unveiled an economic task force, echoing Mahathir’s National Economic Action Council in 1998. Members of Najib’s committee include business leaders and former Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who helped Mahathir design Malaysia’s now-abandoned capital controls and currency peg.

The move underscores the growing pressure on Najib to prevent a further loss of confidence as a political scandal and plunging commodity prices undermine an economy that by many measures has strengthened since the 1997-98 regional crisis. While Najib has vowed Malaysia won’t return to the capital controls or fixed currency regime that drew the ire of the International Monetary Fund 17 years ago, his government hasn’t yet been able to halt the exodus of capital from its financial markets.

“What makes the current situation particularly worrying” is the risk of a sustained erosion in confidence, said Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London. “The government is scrambling to come up with ways to stem the rot which, given Malaysia’s history of unorthodox financial measures, is weighing further on sentiment.”

Businessman Brother

Also on the task force is Najib’s brother Nazir Razak, chairman of one of the country’s biggest lenders, who has criticized the current administration. Other members include Azman Mokhtar, managing director of state investment company Khazanah Nasional Bhd., and Malayan Banking Bhd. Chief Executive Officer Abdul Farid Alias.

“The act of establishing a task force comprising of ‘old guards’ and ‘critics’ helps bolster credibility insofar that economic crisis management is relegated to a more apolitical sphere and is taking centerstage with a visible and experienced task force,” said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Bank Ltd.

Najib is grappling with allegations of financial irregularities at state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd., and has deflected Mahathir’s calls to resign as the debt-ridden fund’s woes contributed to investors souring on the country.

Foreign funds have dumped more than $3 billion of the nation’s shares this year and the currency has weakened beyond the peg set by Mahathir in 1998. The country has Asia’s worst-performing major currency this year.

Speculator Bets

Nor and Mahathir hatched a plan during the Asian financial crisis that would lead to the ringgit being pegged at 3.8 to the dollar in September 1998. That halted speculator bets that had caused it to plunge 31 percent in 12 months against the U.S. currency.

The IMF, which called Malaysia’s response “a step back” at the time, later acknowledged it was a “stability anchor.”

The ringgit climbed 0.4 percent to 4.2358 a dollar as of 8:57 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg. It reached 4.2990 Wednesday, the lowest since July 1998 and has weakened more than 17 percent in 2015.

“The ringgit is way undervalued, but it’s not fundamentals driving it; there’s some panic that’s being traded in the market,” said Gerald Ambrose, managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Sdn. in Kuala Lumpur. You can “wring your hands in the air or you can look at it as a good opportunity to buy assets at a significant discount to their fair value,” he said.

Weekly Meetings

Najib said Wednesday that the newest task force will meet weekly to find ways to minimize the impact of “any arising economic issues.” They will look at short- and medium-term strategies to strengthen the country, he said.

“Where the committee could likely make an impact is in reiterating the importance of sticking to the structural reform agenda, pushing areas where there are limited progress so far,” said Euben Paracuelles, a senior economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore. That may be better than “thinking about immediate policy fixes which institutions like Bank Negara Malaysia are in a better position to formulate.”

Malaysia has been struggling to boost confidence in its economy and finances since oil prices started slumping late last year. Other than allegations of irregularities at 1MDB, Najib is facing accusations of impropriety after it was disclosed that political donations ended up in his private accounts in 2013. The accounts have since been closed.

Newspaper Suspended

Nazir, 48, said in April the government needs to disclose more information about the liabilities of 1MDB to reassure investors in the currency and stock market even if it doesn’t pose a risk for the banking system. He has also censured his brother’s administration for suspending a newspaper which had questioned some of 1MDB’s business deals.

He used Instagram to voice his opinion on the ringgit’s decline, saying this month as the currency weakened beyond 4 per dollar that it’s a “terrible time to be distracted by politics and so much negative international media coverage.”

27 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

AFP

It’s Malaysia’s $700 million question: who transferred massive amounts of cash into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts, and where is the money now?

But with Najib refusing to answer and concern that investigations have been stalled, thousands of protesters plan to demand his ouster this weekend, putting them on a potential collision course with police.

The demonstration could expose the breadth of public anger over Malaysia’s biggest political scandal in memory.

The Wall Street Journal’s revelation last month of Najib’s mysterious windfall has rocked his government and sent foreign investors fleeing Malaysian assets over the potential political uncertainty.

“You will see a sea of yellow in the streets this weekend,” said Wong Chin Huat, a leader of civil society alliance Bersih, referring to the group’s colours.

“People realise the country and economy are in a sad state and it’s being brushed aside by the government.”

Malaysia’s leading pressure group has brought out tens of thousands for past demonstrations that ended in clashes with police, most recently in 2012.

Police have declared the rally illegal, but Wong said at least 100,000 people are expected to press for Najib’s ouster over the scandal in the two-day rally.

“By hook or by crook, we will march,” he said.

‘Political donations’

Malaysians have been transfixed by months of allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared from deals involving heavily indebted state investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which Najib launched in 2009.

On July 2, the Wall Street Journal reported that nearly $700 million was deposited into Najib’s personal bank accounts beginning in early 2013.

Najib initially rejected the Journal report, and both he and 1MDB vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

But members of his cabinet and Malaysia’s anti-graft agency now acknowledge the transfers, calling them “political donations” from unidentified Middle Eastern sources, saying there was nothing improper but giving no further details.

The accounts have since been closed and the whereabouts of the money is unknown.

The official explanations are widely rejected by the public, said Malaysia politics researcher James Chin.

“Najib’s credibility is destroyed. None of these explanations are believed, so he is digging his heels in,” he said.

Alleging a “political conspiracy” by unnamed opponents, Najib recently sacked or reassigned officials who were investigating the scandal, and purged Cabinet members who called for answers.

A newspaper known for its 1MDB reporting has been suspended for three months and Najib last week sparked free-speech concerns by saying his government would step up Internet regulation.

This was to prevent anyone “being criminally defamed, and so that the Internet does not become an ungoverned space dominated by insults and untruths,” he said in a speech.

Najib’s office did not respond to AFP requests for comment.

Economic ‘crisis’ looming

The situation has accelerated an exodus by foreign investors already worried about Malaysia’s economy who now fear the scandal is dominating Najib’s attention, said Chua Hak Bin, head economist for Asian emerging markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“The government is focused on (political) survival, but the economy is in danger of slipping into crisis as a result,” said Chua.

“Investors can’t see the endgame, and that’s worrying.”

The ringgit currency has fallen 13 percent since the Wall Street Journal revelations.

It has dropped more than 30 percent over the past year to an 18-year low, partly on fears the energy-exporting country’s economic growth will be hit by faltering oil prices.

China’s recent currency devaluation has added further pressure.

Mahathir Mohamad, who led Malaysia from 1981-2003 and still casts a long shadow, has fiercely attacked Najib over the scandal.

He warned on his widely read blog recently that the “economy will collapse”, harming Malaysian consumers, unless the scandal is explained and confidence restored.

Political analysts say Najib will likely use his government’s leverage over key institutions to thwart investigations, and is expected to see off any internal challenges within his ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Less clear is the impact on the next elections, which are due by 2018.

In power since 1957, the government is already losing support over recurring corruption scandals, and UMNO’s use of racially divisive politics.

19 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

TMI

Jailed former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim pleaded with the home minister today to let his family and lawyers meet him in prison.

In a short verbal statement made after an appearance at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, Anwar asked Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi not to “abuse” his family members by denying them access.

“I urge Zahid to consider the matter of my family and lawyers. Everything is so restricted. If you want to abuse Anwar, I understand. That is not a problem.

“But don’t abuse my family. They want to meet me, but it is difficult. Allow them to meet me for a while. Don’t bar my lawyers either. Not even a notebook is allowed.”I appeal for Zahid to consider. Consider my family and the work of my lawyers,” Anwar said.

Earlier today, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar also told the media of restrictions placed on those wanting to visit Anwar, including his family members.

She said this had started the day Zahid revealed a plot by Barisan Nasional and opposition lawmakers to remove Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak through a statutory declaration.

Zahid is also deputy prime minister, but as home minister, oversees the Prison Department.

PKR chief whip Datuk Johari Abdul had also said that Anwar was being denied proper medical treatment for his various ailments, even though Najib had on June ordered the relevant authorities that treatment be given to the PKR leader.

Anwar at court today said that his son, who was going abroad soon, had been prevented from visiting him.

The jailed politician is serving a five-year term for sodomy after failing to get his conviction overturned in February.

19 August 2015

Pendapat

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TMI

PKR accused Putrajaya of blocking access to its jailed leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after an alleged attempt to topple Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was made public.

The party’s vice-president, Nurul Izzah Anwar, said prison authorities have denied visits by family members, doctors and lawyers in the past week, in a move that coincides with talk that Najib was facing a crisis within ruling party Umno.

“In the past week, especially after talk that a few Umno leaders had prepared statutory declarations, prison authorities denied us access to Anwar.

“He was not allowed visits from his famly, doctors and lawyers.”This is politically motivated,” the Lembah Pantai MP, who is also Anwar’s daughter, said during a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya today.

On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed there was a plot to topple the government and vowed not to let it happen.

He had said that he knew of an elderly Umno leader with “ambition” as the one leading the plot with the support of opposition lawmakers, and that they were seeking the signatures of MPs from both sides for a statutory declaration to change the government.

Today, Nurul Izzah said that on the day Zahid made the statement, prison officials had cancelled a visit by Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali to Anwar, who is still the state’s economic adviser.

“They cancelled the visit immediately, that very same day Zahid came up with his statement,” she said.

Nurul Izzah added that Anwar was also not allowed to go to the library in prison.

“They are also stopping opposition leaders like Lim Kit Siang, Rafizi Ramil and Azmin from greeting him when he came to court.

“And they shortened the time period (he has) with lawyers from two hours to 45 minutes,” she added.

At the same press conference, PKR chief whip Datuk Johari Abdul said Anwar was still being denied state medical care, adding that the former opposition leader was suffering from a shoulder injury.

“We object that he is being denied government medical care.

“The Home Ministry, Prison Department and hospital knows about the serious injuries he has. This is causing him constant pain and his shoulder needs to be operated on immediately,” Johari added.

He also criticised the government for disregarding Anwar’s plight despite the prime minister assuring that the former opposition leader would be given all necessary medical care.

“We have applied and appealed for treatment to solve the problem directly and also through the lawyers, but no one has responded to our appeals,” Johari said.

He urged that Anwar be allowed treatment by the family doctor and if found that he required hospitalisation, for the process needed to be facilitated speedily.

“The home minister, the Prison Department director and Putrajaya will be held  fully responsible over Anwar’s medical needs and any negative effect to his health as long as their appeals for him to receive treatment are ignored,” he added.

Last month, Anwar was admitted to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for treatment over a shoulder injury following a car accident last year.

Anwar is serving a five-year prison sentence which began in February after he failed in his appeal to the Federal Court against the conviction of sodomising a former aide.

19 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

TMI

The High Court will deliver on October 29 its decision on a defamation suit filed by former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

Lawyer Razlan Hadri Zulkifli said judge Siti Khadijah S. Hassan Badjenid fixed the date after meeting the lawyers in her chambers.

“Today we were called in for clarification but instead she decided on the judgment date,” Razlan, who is appearing for Anwar, told reporters.

Lawyers from both sides gave their submissions to the judge after the closing of the case in February.Anwar, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for sodomising ex-aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was present in court.

He filed a RM100 million suit against Anifah whom he said uttered defamatory words about him during a news conference in Washington with former United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Anifah then told reporters that Anwar offered him the post of deputy prime minister if he brought members of parliament (MP) from Sabah to topple the Barisan Nasional government which had won 140 seats in the 2008 general election.

In his statement of claim, Anwar alleged that Anifah’s claims were baseless, unfounded and grossly negligent and had been widely reported in local and foreign media.

On November 27, Anifah took the stand and said businessman Datuk Ishak Ismail, a close associate of Anwar, offered him RM100 million to bring 10 MPs from Sabah to join Pakatan Rakyat and topple the federal government.

Anifah said he felt cheap when the offer was made by Ishak, a former KFC deputy executive chairman, at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur hotel.

Anifah, represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, brought eight other witnesses.

19 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

TMI

While Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Cabinet reshuffle last month may have achieved the “unified team” he was seeking in the face of probes into his bank accounts, global funds have been voting with their feet.

The ringgit has slumped 6.3%, the benchmark stock index lost 9.4% and sovereign bond risk jumped to a four-year high since the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on August 3 said Najib had received RM2.6 billion from donors and not state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). The conclusion failed to help 1MDB’s bonds, which are trading at 81 cents on the dollar.

PineBridge Investments LLC has cut Malaysian sovereign bond holdings, while Schroder Investment Management Ltd says it’s too early to buy Asia’s worst-performing currency, as political uncertainty clouds the outlook for an economy rocked by plunging oil prices and an emerging-market selloff.

Najib had denied taking money for personal gain and has counter-attacked against what he described as a campaign to oust him, by reshuffling his Cabinet, suspending a leading newspaper and seeking the arrest of a newsletter’s founder.“By sacking everyone who criticises him, prime minister Najib is putting himself more in the spotlight from an international investor perspective,” said Anders Faergemann, who helps manage US$10.6 billion (RM43.25 billion) of emerging-market debt at PineBridge in London.

“We are increasingly worried about the outlook for Malaysian government bonds due to the ongoing 1MDB scandal and have recently reduced our exposure further.”

‘Unified team’

The UK-based Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal last month reported on documents that almost US$700 million may have moved through government agencies and companies linked to 1MDB before ending up in accounts bearing Najib’s name.

A warrant is out for the arrest of the Sarawak Report founder under laws relating to false statements and acts detrimental to democracy. Lawyers for Najib sent a letter criticizing the Journal report. Malaysia’s Edge newspaper has been suspended from publication as the government said its coverage of the events threatened public order. Publishers of all three media outlets contested the criticism.

On July 28, Najib said he needed a “unified team” when he removed Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin from his Cabinet, shortly after the deputy prime minister called for “the real truth” on 1MDB.

His rural development minister also fell in the shuffle, while attorney-general Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who helped to lead a 1MDB probe, was replaced for “health reasons”.

Amnesty International described Malaysia as a human rights “black hole” in May after the arrest of opponents on sedition charges.

Under attack

Najib, who chairs the advisory board of 1MDB, has resisted calls from former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to step down over the RM42 billion in debt amassed by the fund.

The anti-corruption commission said the money in Najib’s accounts was from donors in the Middle East and not 1MDB. It said it wouldn’t disclose their identities and planned to question Najib about the funds. Malaysian opposition party, PKR, announced on August 12 that it would be suing Najib, saying his coalition breached campaign spending limits during 2013 elections.

Najib said last week that while there are rules on such expenditure, there are no laws on funding. He said better legislation is needed. His office didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment. 1MDB said in a statement that it had investor support for its reorganisation plans.

Malaysia, Brazil

“1MDB maintains regular contact with its bondholders, via meetings and conference calls,” the statement said. “The vast majority of our bondholders are fully aware of our current strategy and the on-going execution of our rationalization plan, and we are pleased with the support they have provided.”

La Francaise Des Placements, which sold almost half of its 1MDB debt in April, see similarities between the controversy and allegations involving Petroleo Brasileiro SA that has led to protests against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. While the fund doesn’t expect a default, the current climate makes it “difficult to buy,” she said.

“As emerging-market fund managers, we are more or less used to difficult stories,” said Yasmine Ravai-Mans, a senior La Francaise Des Placements fund manager in Paris.

But if the money was used for other purposes than the national interest, she said, “it will not be just a regular case of corruption, it’ll be a huge scandal.

The mix of politics, money trails, central bank investigations would rank it close to Petrobras in terms of how toxic it is to emerging-market investors.”

‘Trust deficit’

The ringgit has tumbled 22.7% in the last 12 months and slid to a 17-year low of 4.1340 per dollar on Monday. Local-currency sovereign debt handed investors a 8.4% loss in dollar terms this month, the worst performance among 16 emerging markets tracked by JPMorgan Chase & Co indexes. The cost to insure the securities for five years using credit-default swaps climbed to 180, the highest since 2011.

“There’s a growing trust deficit with the current leadership,” said Chua Hak Bin, a Singapore-based economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which sees the currency dropping to 4.28 by the end of 2016.

“Without confidence returning on the leadership and government, investors will be reluctant to jump into the currency and the markets.”

Overseas investors cut holdings of Malaysian debt by 2.4% in July to a three-year low of 206.8 billion ringgit, central bank data show. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index lost 10.3% this year as foreign investors pulled US$3.3 billion.

Restoring confidence

The nation has to show “a greater tolerance towards democracy, fighting corruption and a conservative monetary and fiscal policy” to restore confidence, said Christian Wildmann, a fixed-income portfolio manager at Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH in Frankfurt.

Malaysia’s 10-year sovereign yield has jumped 23 basis points this month to 4.30% and Wildmann sees its rising to 4.7% by year-end.

Moody’s Investors Service is standing by its A3 rating on Malaysia with a positive outlook as Najib’s administration hasn’t reversed reforms despite the “increased political risk,” said Christian de Guzman, a vice president in Singapore.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition lost the popular vote in the May 2013 general election, even as it kept a parliamentary majority. The next general election must be held by 2018.

Schroder Investment is among fund managers that view the probes as just one of the challenges for an economy that expanded at the slowest pace in almost two years in the second quarter.

“The domestic situation on the political side is uncertain,” said Rajeev De Mello, who oversees about $10 billion as head of Asian fixed income in Singapore. “But the other problems are the falling oil prices and commodity prices, which do impact Malaysia.”

Merrill’s Chua said politics may affect economic management. There are doubts that when central bank governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz finishes her term at the end of April she will be replaced by someone as “independent and credible,” he said.

“Investors cannot see the end-game,” he said. “Anybody who questions the prime minister has basically been sidelined.”

14 August 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

14 Ogos 2015

Saya mengingatkan pimpinan Universiti Islam Antarabangsa supaya:

1. Mengingati semula semangat pertubuhan universiti.
2. Fahami pergolakan politik masakini yang mendesak kewajipan agar waras dan adil dalam membuat sebarang keputusan.

Jangan menzalimi minda mahasiswa-mahasiswi dengan kerakusan kuasa.

PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM

14 August 2015

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Pendapat Anda?

Stanford

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, imprisoned since February, is the focus of a pledge signed by 40 scholars and public figures lamenting his mistreatment and urging his immediate release.

The “Global Call for the Release of Anwar Ibrahim” condemns Anwar’s persecution by the Malaysian authorities and their ongoing repression of freedom of speech and assembly.

Anwar is serving a five-year prison sentence on a sodomy charge that virtually all observers believe was politically motivated. The pledge, released by Anwar’s family on Monday, marks his 68th birthday and almost a half-year spent in jail.

Stanford professor Donald Emmerson, who has known Anwar since the 1980s, welcomed the circulation of the pledge. “Even if the Malaysian government ignores the petition,” Emmerson said, “it is important for the international community to show that Anwar is not alone.”

Anwar’s ordeal dates back to 1998 when, as deputy prime minister, he had a falling out with then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who drove him from office for apparently political reasons.

Malaysia’s current prime minister, Najib Razak, has continued this record of political persecution despite protests from around the world. Amnesty International has designated Anwar “a prisoner of conscience.”

Emmerson, who leads the Southeast Asia Program, joined Anwar on a panel in Nov. 2014 entitled “Islam and Democracy: Malaysia in Comparative Perspective,” hosted at Stanford by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL).

Following that event, Anwar traveled back to Malaysia despite signs pointing toward his possible arrest.

“Anwar’s courage in the face of adversity is inspiring,” Emmerson said. “He could have chosen not to return from Stanford to Malaysia, thereby avoiding the risk of imprisonment. He could have gone into exile. Or asked for asylum outside Malaysia. Instead, he went home. How many of us, in his shoes, would have done the same?”

The pledge is attached below. Remarks and video from the CDDRL event with Anwar, Emmerson and Stanford’s Larry Diamond and Francis Fukuyama can be accessed here

13 August 2015

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New York Times

Less than 10 months into his term, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia on Wednesday fired four cabinet ministers, including crucial members of his economic team, in a much-anticipated reshuffle that reflected growing frustration with his government’s struggles to improve the country’s sluggish economy.

The economy is growing at its slowest pace since 2009, with gross domestic product rising only 4.7 percent year on year in the second quarter. The currency, the rupiah, is at its lowest level against the dollar since the late 1990s.

Mr. Joko has publicly expressed frustration at his government’s inability to spend more of the tens of billions of dollars earmarked for extensive infrastructure projects across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago. Analysts say he is counting on those projects to improve G.D.P.

Mr. Joko did not speak or make any statements after swearing in his new cabinet members on live national television.

The biggest casualty of the reshuffle was Sofyan Djalil, the president’s coordinating minister for the economy, who was replaced by Darmin Nasution, the former governor of Bank Indonesia.

Mr. Sofyan was reassigned to become head of the country’s national planning agency, which is also a cabinet position, replacing Andrinof Chaniago.

Rachmat Gobel, the country’s trade minister, was also replaced on Wednesday, by Thomas Lembong, a private investment fund manager.

In addition, Mr. Joko appointed Rizal Ramli, who served as coordinating minister for the economy more than a decade ago, as coordinating minister for maritime affairs, a sector that the president is counting on to help his economic turnaround plans.

Indonesia had among the highest economic growth rates in Asia between 2010 and 2012, at 6 percent or higher, but last month, the World Bank projected that growth for this year would be only 4.7 percent. The government had estimated economic growth at 5 percent or higher.

“I think the pressure on Joko Widodo’s government has been growing since a few months ago to restore confidence,” said Didik J. Rachbini, a prominent economist and former member of the National Economic Committee, which advises the president. “The market response to his first government was not much, but this should increase confidence and make the government’s coordination better in implementing economic policies.”

Mr. Joko, 54, won the presidency in July 2014 as a political outsider and “pro-people” candidate, and he is the first leader not to come from the military or the country’s aloof political elite. Yet he filled the majority of his cabinet with appointees from his governing Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, known as the P.D.I.P., and other political parties that backed his campaign. As a result, analysts say, Mr. Joko’s government has been gridlocked by an absence of coordination, as ministers act unilaterally and make public pronouncements about state policy that run counter to the presidential palace.

In addition, despite Mr. Joko’s openly courting foreign investment into the country during prominent visits to China, Japan and Singapore this year, his government has passed a series of protectionist trade policies and drastically increased tariffs on more than 1,000 kinds of imports, from beef to cars to condoms.

The appointment of Mr. Lembong, a Harvard-educated businessman, as trade minister, however, “is a hopeful sign that Indonesia understands the importance of open trade,” said Douglas Ramage, a political and economic analyst based in Jakarta.

Mr. Joko also moved to shore up his inner circle on Wednesday, appointing Luhut Panjaitan, his chief of staff and a former army general, to the powerful post of coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs. He also appointed Pramono Anung, a senior politician from the P.D.I.P., as his new cabinet secretary.

“He has brought into his inner circle in Pramono Anung one of the P.D.I.P.’s most professional and talented members,” Mr. Ramage said. “It will help to smoothen and professionalize the operations of the president’s office and improve the process of policy and legislative development.”

Mr. Anung is also a close confidant of Megawati Sukarnoputri, a former president of Indonesia and the current chairwoman of the P.D.I.P. Ms. Sukarnoputri handpicked Mr. Joko to be the party’s presidential candidate last year because of his high polling numbers and maintains significant political influence within the government.

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