Talkback

Sarawak's Oil Is Too Important For Hasty Rulings, So Why The Upset Abang Jo?

The Sarawak chief minister’s office, in a statement, said it was informed of the postponement of the suit pending a decision by the Attorney-General’s Chambers on whether the federal government should intervene.

“The Federal Court has acceded to the request by the federal attorney-general for a postponement of the hearing to enable him to consider whether the federal government ought to intervene in this case.

“It is surprising that Petronas which made the application and sought an urgent hearing thereof, has made no objection to the postponement of the hearing of the case,” he said.

Petronas had applied to the Federal Court for leave to commence proceedings against the Sarawak government, which hearing was to have taken place tomorrow. It will now take place on June 21.

Petronas wants a declaration from the Federal Court that it is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources and industry regulator throughout Malaysia, including Sarawak.

Our comment

Why does the Sarawak Chief Minister appear to be surprised and almost disappointed that the attempt by Petronas to apparently rush through a Federal Court judgement in favour of the highly dubious signing over of all of Sarawak’s oil has now been postponed?

Given that the move to get this ruling appeared to be little short of a legal mugging of his state administration, timed to be rushed through straight after the election and before a counter-case had been prepared, it ought to have been the Chief Minister at the forefront of the call to slow things down and not left to the newly appointed Attorney General Tommy Thomas.

Instead, the people of Sarawak have yet to hear a squeak from this PBB led state government about what its legal position on the case even is. So, does Abang Jo support the position of Petronas?  If he does not support it, why was he not the first to ask for more time to enable the state to adequately counter Petronas’s case?

There is also the not inconsequential matter of the as yet unreformed nature of the top judiciary.

This is an issue that is worth billions of ringgit to the public of Sarawak. It represents the difference between prosperity and poverty.  After all, for the last fifty years, under the auspices of the highly controversial and legally dubious present agreement, signed by the present Governor’s uncle, all the state’s oil revenue has gone to the federal purse, with virtually no benefits in terms of cash or development ploughed back into the state from whence the resource came.

Ought Abang Jo not be taking the opportunity to right this wrong, get more money for Sarawak and fight the best possible case against Petronas?  Or are the people to expect a similar backroom deal to the one inflicted by his predecessor, who chose back in 1974 to cosy up to KL instead?

Give Najib Enough Rope!

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s warning against a hasty charge on the 1MDB scandal proved there is no solid evidence on the matter, former premier Najib Abdul Razak said today.

“He said without solid evidence, and if I am found not guilty by the courts, then all allegations and actions by Pakatan Harapan all this while will be questioned by the people.

“By saying this, Mahathir has admitted that Harapan made allegations against me without solid evidence.

“Now they want to justify their allegations by looking for ‘evidence’ whether it is true, fictitious, or made up,” Najib wrote on his Facebook.

Mahathir had warned yesterday that haste in charging Najib could end up seeing the latter go free.

Najib said the remarks also proved that the alleged charge sheet against him in mid-2015 was not real, and part of a conspiracy by some in government to overthrow him.

 

Our comment

There is a well known tactic where a sly operator will allow a fool enough rope, so that he hangs himself.  In this case Dr M is the willy strategist and Najib the goose.

Najib apprears admirably to be falling into the trap of using the licence that is being given him in order to condemn himself: infuriating everyone as he shoots his mouth off, claiming innocence in all directions, when the evidence of mass corruption is plain for all to see.

This man needs to face reality for his own good, but having been pampered and flattered by all those around him since his early 20s, owing to accident of birth, it is probably an impossible request.  He will remain in his own bubble till the end of his days, listening to whoever is prepared to continue to humour his self-delusions.

Meanwhile, every time he tells another lie, engages in another treacherous conspiracy or ticks off his successors for not telling lies themselves he is figuratively pulling the noose around his own neck and digging his own grave.  This is because he is usefully providing his eventual prosecutors with plenty of evidence of his total lack of remorse for the way he conducted himself while in office.

Police And Princes Have No Place In Politics

VETERAN newsman A. Kadir Jasin will be investigated for sedition and criminal intimidation for his blog post on the expenses incurred by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, said the inspector-general of police.

Mohamad Fuzi Harun said three police reports have been lodged against Kadir, who is also Bersatu supreme council member.

“We have received three so far, in Selangor and Kelantan, and an investigation paper has been opened.”

Our comment

It is a colonial hangover, nearly a century out of date, that there are still people in Malaysia ready to charge down to the police station with all their political gripes. On the other hand, if the IGP himself is prepared to give such people the time of day and newspapers to make coverage, why not? It’s cheap publicity.

Meanwhile, this incident provides a good example why the cited Sedition Law has to be on the list of outdated and oppressive pieces of legislation that must go. Newsman Kadir Jassin published a scoop, which appears to be the spending tab of the present Agong.  If so, that spending is roughly equivalent to that of the entire British Royal Household.

As one of the richest countries in the world, with around 80 million people, the UK is lucky to only have one royal family to maintain in such style.  The question is why was Kadir Jassin’s action inappropriate, let alone ‘seditious’, since the spending of every other constitutional monarch in the world (including Britain’s) is published every year?  Public money has to be accounted for.

Certainly, if what Jassin published simply is not true and the Agong thinks it undermines his reputation to be seen to spend so much, then the royal personage is perfectly entitled to sue and shame the newsman, doubtless for crippling sums of money.

However, if it is true, then the Agong must presumably consider his position defensible and have determined that people will not mind spending so much money on him.  He may be right, certainly in the case of the three people who ran to the police station.  They are clearly prepared to pay whatever is desired of them.

But, the people who have filed a report against Kadir Jassin appear to be arguing something entirely different, which is that Malaysians should live a lie.  It seems they think that the truth ought to be hidden about this spending, because they conclude that most people will not find it defensible.  That is a form of logic, that fits into a mindset that flourished pre-GE14 under the discredited, corrupted rule of UMNO/BM and has left the country bankrupt.

So, instead of hiding the truth and attacking honesty with outdated and oppressive laws, how about reforming matters and setting up the Agong with a reasonable budget, which Malaysians can afford?  Some people may not get ‘goodies’, but in return everyone gets an honest arrangement.

Certainly, none of this protesting at the police station does the Agong himself any favours. Rather it smacks of a political agenda that has nothing to do with law and order and everything to do with trying to cause disruption and muscle power through the back door, having lost hands-down in an election.

Whispering Campaign Against Proposed AG Smacks of Najib

‘Beyond ethnicity, serious concerns about choice of Attorney-General’.  FMT Reporters

It’s not merely a question of ethnicity, there are other concerns such as a possible conflict of interest, poor command of the national language and lack of understanding about the shariah.

Reservations over the possible appointment of constitutional expert Tommy Thomas as the new attorney-general may have to do with concerns about conflict of interest and problems in dealing with his day-to-day job, more than ethnic and religious factors, according to a highly placed source close to the government.

The source confirmed that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s choice of a non-Malay and non-Muslim as head of the Attorney-General’s Chambers has not sat well with some within Pakatan Harapan (PH).

But it was pure speculation “bordering on lobbying” to suggest that the disagreement had to do with Thomas’s ethnicity and religion, it said.

The source, who agreed to speak to FMT on the condition of strict anonymity, said many had pointed out that Thomas had been part of the legal team for Lim Guan Eng, the current finance minister.

Thomas appeared alongside Gobind Singh Deo when Lim challenged committal proceedings initiated by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali, in a case linked to the corruption charges against Lim.

He also represented the Penang government under Lim, when the state sued the Election Commission and the federal government to restore municipal elections.

“He had represented Guan Eng. This is a conflict of interest that is direct, clear and obvious,” the source said……

Our comment

An orchestrated whispering campaign seems underfoot, with anonymous writers and sources crawling out of the woodwork to spin conflicting stories designed to undermine the new Prime Minister’s choice of Attorney General.

The concerted villification bears the familiar hallmarks of tactics associated with the premiership of Najib. It can be deduced, therefore, that Najib and his remaining allies fear or resent the constitutional expert, Tommy Thomas, who has been put forward as a tough corruption-buster for the job.

He is not ‘Malay’ enough; he has not the ‘right sort’ of legal background; he is ‘pro-Chinese’, the sniping goes. This is all old-style, divisive talk to distract from real issues, such as whether the new AG will open a review of the apparent cover-up over the murder of Altantuya and other such dirty episodes from the recent past?

A key player in that apparent cover-up over Altantuya was Najib’s then lawyer Cecil Abraham, whose son Sunil went to school with the present Agong and represented him in a gruesome battle against his own father, the Sultan of Kelantan (who protested at being disregarded by his son as regent). The Agong reportedly calls Cecil ‘uncle’ and the father and son are amongst his known advisors.

Those advisors should be wary, if, as suggested by all the rumour-mongering, this Agong is indeed objecting to the cabinet’s choice for Attorney General, since it presents a glaring inconsistency to voters, who just elected the new government on an anti-corruption agenda. The Prime Minister has proposed Tommy Thomas, who holds a clean and decent reputation, for a two year term to tackle that agenda.

Why should the PM be thwarted when the rulers and previous Agong did nothing in 2015, after the previous Attorney General was marched from his office at gun-point and forceably ‘retired’ from his post by Najib Razak, in order to protect himself from charges over 1MDB? That move was unconstitutional, yet there was not a murmur from the rulers.

Instead, the then Agong tamely appointed a notorious legal crony put forward by Najib, Apandi Ali. Apandi proceeded to conduct himself shamefully, bowing to preposterous excuses from the tainted PM and refusing to cooperate with officers from the MACC and Central Bank, who demanded charges must be laid.

Indeed, just before the election, the present Agong renewed the tenure of that same Apandi, who by then was derided worldwide for refusing to cooperate with law enforcers from the United States, Singapore and Switzerland, seeking to retrieve billions stolen through 1MDB on behalf of Malaysians, who were not being served by their own government.

Only now, when an unblemished and upright senior law officer is being proposed for the job is it being alleged that the Agong and some rulers are making objections on spurious grounds, presumably on the urging of advisors who may themselves be tainted. Given the clear delays, it is time for the Agong to act to dispel such dangerous gossip and end the apparent indecision.

Malaysians voted decisively last month in favour of a clean up. They do not want to have to conclude that people close to previous corrupt ways continue to have undue influence over high-level appointments or that petty excuses and ill-founded objections are being made to keep a corruption-buster out of the post of AG.

Questions Over Najib's US Lawyers

EMBATTLED Najib Razak has engaged the services of a team of top US lawyers, including former attorney-general John Ashcroft and star litigator David Boies, in a clear sign of concern that the widening global probe into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) could snare him and his family members.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has been investigating the alleged siphoning of funds from the state-owned entity for several years and even tagged Najib as Malaysian Official 1, but he had enjoyed immunity from criminal charges as the prime minister of Malaysia.

So, even though the DOJ probe stirred occasionally and captured the headlines, he was largely nonchalant about the US probe and even made a widely-publicised trip to the White House last September.

Things have changed drastically since May 9…..

Sources told The Malaysian Insight that also part of the high-powered legal team is Matthew Schwartz. He spent a decade as a prosecutor in New York and handled several high-profile cases including the investigation of ponzi king Bernie Madoff.

Our comment

Sarawak Report would humbly like to suggest that there are questions to be raised about Najib Razak’s choice of hot shot American lawyers to fight his cause.

Doubtless, Sarawak Report has to tread carefully to avoid expensive arguments about what one is and is not allowed to say about practitioners of the law, some of whom appear to think they are themselves exempted, by virtue of occupation.

However, the possibility of conflict of interest in the case of ‘star litigator David Boies’ appears to loom.  After all, Mr Boies was an active participant in an investment company named Panavista, which was funded by Riza Aziz and managed by Riza’s personal ‘wealth manager’ Debra Whelan.

Riza Aziz, who is Najib’s step-son, gained most of his income from 1MDB, according to the investigations.

One of the lawyers in the partnership headed by Boies was also none other than “high powered” Matthew Schwartz, who has been the main lawyer for much of Riza Aziz’s recent defence work and who personally attended global meetings about projected multi-million dollar investments by Panavista.

The overwhelming likelihood, therefore, is that Mr Boies and Mr Schwartz have themselved profitted from the ill-gotten money, which might be seen to complicate their defence of the man behind the conspiracy, namely Najib.

'Ordered To Kill Others Also' - Sirul Ought Not Expect To Dictate Terms About His Sentence

Sirul also said there is stigma attached to him because of that one case [murder of Altantuya].

As a police officer and later with the Special Actions Unit, he pointed out that he had apprehended and killed others in the line of duty under orders.

“I do it for the country, as all is done under orders. That is how the unit works. But I am upset when people accuse me, or say something bad about me and my family,” he said.

The job with the Special Actions Unit, he added, had destroyed his family life, as he had to divorce his wife in 2003. He retained custody of his two children, however….

Sirul has been in detention at the Immigration and Border Protection Department’s facility in Sydney for the past three years, after the Federal Court found him and chief inspector Azilah Hadri guilty of Altantuya’s murder.

In another exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, Sirul said that the key witness who had not been called was his former superior, Musa Safri, the aide-de-camp of Najib, who was deputy prime minister at the time.

This was cited as the main reason for the Court of Appeal’s acquittal of Azilah and Sirul.

Our comment

Sirul has made some highly relevant points in yet another ill-advised outburst from his prison cell.  The first is that the key witness in the Altantuya case, who needs to be hauled before detectives and then deposed in court is his former Special Actions Unit boss, Musa Safri.

Musa Safri was the man in charge of Najib’s protection at the time of the murder and we already know he was tasked with managing the problem over Altantuya’s threats to Razak Baginda. Later he escaped being called as a witness (or rather suspect) and went on to be promoted.

The key question Musa Safri is required to answer is who instructed him to order his juniors to kill Altantuya and why? Evidence that the young woman appeared to be pregnant and was claiming she knew who the father was seem relevant in this context of a motive.

Sirul has raised another shocking matter, which Sarawak Report has already heard of through other sources.  He has stated that his ‘Special Actions Unit’ was tasked with other murders also.  What Sirul describes are known as extra-judicial killings. It is a hallmark of brutal dictatorships that have abandoned the rule of law.

The key witness so far kept out of court, Musa Safri, needs to give detailed responses on this matter also.

As for Sirul, he pulled the trigger and took the cash.  By this stage his testimony is of limited value given his constant lies and willingness to continue to play Najib’s games in return for cash, instead of confessing to the truth over his months in detention in Australia.

Sirul needs to realise that what he has to say no longer counts for much.  He needs to change his mindset if he thinks he can continue to blackmail and bargain over the terms of his just punishment – now Malaysia has returned to the rule of law.

Honesty Beats 'Tact'

New Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng would do well to remember he is no longer an opposition politician, as while his vocal tell-all approach on the 1MDB scandal certainly wins points for honesty, it is having the opposite effect on investors…

Instead, the writer said it only risked leaving investors with an “uncertain fiscal outlook”.

“Investors are uneasy about things getting out of hand. Already, foreigners have sold out on the nation’s stocks for 13 consecutive days.

“For Lim to declare in his first press conference that government debt has exceeded one trillion ringgit ($251 billion) because of a sly public bailout of 1MDB gets him full marks for honesty, but not for tact.

Mukherjee’s opinion also ran in line with that of Najib, who warned his successor that revealing the nation’s debt level at RM1 trillion without providing adequate details would only alarm the credit rating agencies and investors’ confidence.

Meanwhile, Arul Kanda today said he is mulling legal action against Lim, as the former felt the claims made against him by Lim were unfair and did not accurately represent his answers to the ministry.

Our comment

To suggest that it is better for the Finance Minister to continue to lie ‘tactfully’, in order to gull investors is preposterous.

The run on stocks came after investors realised they had put money into Malaysia based on lies by the previous Prime Minister cum Finance Minister and an administration that failed to stand up to his autocratic power.  Some have been panicking to hear that Malaysia’s economic position is not the rosy picture that Najib had deceitfully pretended it was.

More fool them. Wiser investors had already seen through the blatant dishonesty, which was the reason why the ringgit plunged in 2015 after the 1MDB scandal. The recent partial recovery owed to currency manipulation and false assurances by Najib.

What sort of foundation is deceit towards building future prosperity and why should this new government continue with the cover-ups and thereby inherit the blame for Najib’s excesses?

As the new Finance Minister and his team set proper standards of openess and honest management in Malaysia, confidence and investors should soon come back.  Thanks to Najib’s legacy the transition may be tough in the immediate future, but the smart money ought to return soon enough.

The fundamentals for the future are being laid to bring long-term confidence back to Malaysia and that has to start with a frank assessment, followed by steps to ensure efficient and transparent governance (see, for example, the minister’s home state of Penang).  That is what investors like to deal with, not lies.

As for Arul Kanda, nothing would amuse Malaysians more than to see him attempt to sue the Finance Minister for suggesting he has been telling lies.

Khairy - How Can Moral Failure Be A 'Mistake'?

The “mistake” of not speaking the truth in order to protect former Umno president Najib Abdul Razak is one he will have to live with for the rest of his life, said party Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin.

In an interview with Channel News Asia, the Rembau MP said he wished that he had told Najib that the grassroots had rejected Umno, after former deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Mohd Shafie Apdal, were “purged” from the party.

“We didn’t want to bell the cat. Nobody, after Muhyiddin was purged, after Shafie was purged… Nobody wanted to acknowledge we have a problem. That was a terrible mistake on our part….

“This must not happen again, we must not ever allow our leaders in Umno to be detached from reality and not ask tough questions. If we continue with our feudal mindset of protecting the leader from the truth, Umno will go extinct,” he was quoted saying

Our comment

Failure to stand up to Najib was not a ‘mistake’ it was a moral failure.

Khairy Jamaluddin and everyone in UMNO knew that Najib was criminally responsible over 1MDB, just the tip of the iceberg in a series of horrible crimes that Malaysia will now have to endure revelations about in detail.

This rogue leader and his wife were poised to take the country into the depths of dark tyranny in the course of their many cover-ups.  And yet the only people who could place a check on them, Khairy and his colleagues from UMNO, not only failed to act, they cheered the monsters on and facilitated the near destruction of a democracy.

Only thanks to the courage of Malaysia’s rag-tag opposition of brave individuals, who put aside their many differences for the greater good, and to the people who swarmed to support their sacrifice has the country been saved.

Making a mistake is one thing.  Failing to do what you know to be right and condoning shocking evil is another.

Fake News Laws and Democracy Don't Mix

What is fake news and what is not will be clearly defined, says Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the new government will not restrict on the press regardless of their leanings, but warned that any efforts to instigate the people will not be tolerated.

“Fake news laws will be given clear definitions so that news companies know what is fake news and what is not fake news.

“Even though we support freedom of the press and free speech, but there are limits. If they purposely try to create chaos, they will have to face action under specific laws.”

However, he said the government would not restrict any factual reports.

“If the press writes (factual) reports, even if makes the government uncomfortable, they are free to do so, we will not take action,” Mahathir said in a special televised address on RTM today.

Our comment

Dr M will remember how the authorities accused him of lying over his slashed plane tyres just a week ago.  They called it Fake News.

‘Facts’ in the world of science are usually established through being tried and tested. Even so, matters regarded as fact for decades can later be discovered to be false, usually thanks to dissenters who eventually proved their point. The context of human discourse is far more complex and changing still.  You cannot create a scientific ‘definition’ to govern such things and human society needs those dissenters to be able to voice their position.

There are already huge disincentives facing journalists and public persons when it comes to deliberately or mistakenly disseminating false information.  Firstly, a reputation once lost is hard to regain.  Secondly, there are paths to sue within a civil context.  That is enough.

Leaders ought not to fear a false bogeyman – the idea that some unknown person could suddenly spout nonsense that would have hoards running onto the streets.  For every purveryor of false information there is the check of a trusted voice of good sense to counter-balance the impulses of the people in these situations.

Only one phenomenon breaks that rule, which is the development of cults – mostly extremist versions of established religions.  Cults can stir up dangerous actions by the indoctrinated followers, fed daily on false information.  Hence, bombs on the streets of Europe and elsewhere.

However, there is terror legislation for these matters and dangerous preachers are a very different target to journalists and ought to be handled separately.

Journalists and citizens must be allowed speak freely and even be allowed to get it wrong, if they can show their intentions were to inform about something they genuinely had good reason to believe and are willing to correct and amend if found mistaken (as opposed to intended and malicious lies).  These are the principles that have now evolved after much pain and argument in most modern democracies and Malaysia would do well to join them.

After all, the alternative is far worse.  It gives power to people like Najib to tell people like Dr M that they are lying over slashed tyres, 1MDB and all the rest.

SR rests its case.

Another Illegal Handout By BN

Two hundred and sixty five settlers from Felda Palong Timur Dua and Felda Palong Timur Tiga will be receiving replanting incentives of RM4,000 each starting today.

This was announced by Segamat incumbent Dr S Subramaniam last night.

Subramaniam, who is also the health minister, said the announcement was made after receiving approval for the incentive from Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Subramaniam said he contacted the prime minister himself on the approval of incentive payments for the Felda settlers who had been waiting for four years.

“The prime minister gave his approval to resolve the matter and payment will start from tomorrow,” he said at a Felda carnival in Gugusan Palong Timur yesterday.

He said the payment would be completed before polling day on May 9, and expressed hope that the incentive payment would help lighten the burden of settlers

Our comment

Are FELDA folk willing to be played with like this?

They have to wait four years, only to finally get their RM4k on the day before the election – and are told to gratefully vote for the man who in 2012 told them he would make them millionaires.

Do they remember Najib’s promise to make them ‘stock market millionaires’?

That dream was to persuade them to surrender their birthright and their childrens’ inheritance in return for a one time payment that was a fraction of what their lands were worth.

Najib’s people soon made sure that all the money raised from the FELDA sell-offs had disappeared in ‘foreign investments’, meaning that its stock market value as crashed and those shares owned by the ‘millionaire’ settlers are now worth a fraction of what they were.

FELDA folk have no need to thank Najib with their votes!