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Thursday, July 28, 2016

BUSINESS AND POLITICS IN MALAYSIA: IT COMES AS A PACKAGE

mt2014-no-holds-barred
And the ‘disease’ is that those who control politics in Malaysia also control the businesses. And while in the past this was a purely Umno-Barisan Nasional disease, today the opposition has caught this disease as well and has, in fact, become worse than Umno-Barisan Nasional.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Last week, Malaysiakini published the article below, which hardly attracted much attention. Actually, this issue is what I have been talking about since the 1990s: how business and politics come as a package in Malaysia (just like how politics and religion cannot be separated for some people).
Edmund Terence Gomez has written quite a number of books (maybe about ten in all) — Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits (1997), Politics in business: UMNO’s corporate investments (1990), Money politics in the Barisan Nasional (1991), Political business: Corporate involvement of Malaysian political parties (1994) amongst some of them — and I would suggest you try to get your hands on them to better understand the issue (check out Amazon).
Today, Nurul Izzah Anwar said that the Penang state election is not important. What is important is 1MDB and that Malaysians must focus just on 1MDB and forget about everything else or treat them as secondary.
For a national leader and a Member of Parliament, that does not come across as a clever statement or smart thinking. I have said this before many times: stop trying to cure the symptoms of the disease. Cure the cause of the disease. And what Edmund Terence Gomez said in the Malaysiakini news report below should open your eyes as to what the disease is.
And the ‘disease’ is that those who control politics in Malaysia also control the businesses. And while in the past this was a purely Umno-Barisan Nasional disease, today the opposition has caught this disease as well and has, in fact, become worse than Umno-Barisan Nasional.
Now, is that not an irony of sorts? The so-called ‘moral police’, the opposition, is now the crime syndicate (but then the Malaysian police has always been the Godfather of crime anyway). And this was precisely why I said back in 2008 that we need a third force so that we can be the watchdog of the politicians from both sides of the political divide (and got whacked by Pakatan Rakyat for saying that).
I have said this before and I will say it again. In the past, Umno held cash, assets, investments and businesses in its own name. And this was necessary because politics is expensive and elections cost at least RM1.5 billion to finance — and even more now (said to cost RM2.5 billion) with the opposition even stronger now than before.
But after 1987 Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad decided to change the system and Umno divested its holdings and parked what it owned under proxies and nominees. And that was when Umno people rather than Umno itself became filthy rich.
In short, it was Mahathir who corrupted the system and caused the mess that we see in Malaysia today. And this is the man who is supposed to help clean up the country by ousting Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. And this is the man who is the new opposition leader and is going to save Malaysia. That is like putting the fox in charge of the chickens.
One day the truth will surface and the hanky-panky that is going on in Selangor and Penang (and even in Kelantan to a certain extent) will be revealed. Years from now some of you are going to look back and say, “Raja Petra Kamarudin was right all along after all. No wonder he was so angry with what he considered a betrayal by the opposition.” Yes, and I may be long gone and buried by then.
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Economist: Umno warlords out; GLCs, opposition in
(Malaysiakini, 21 July 2016) – The control of large portions of Malaysia’s corporate sector has been concentrated in the hands of the minister of finance over the past decade, at the expense of Umno warlords.
At the same time, according to the Universiti Malaya economist Edmund Terence Gomez, opposition elected representatives are being appointed as directors of state-owned enterprises, even though they had previously criticised such practices.
“We had a time when there was a very fragmented Umno. There were many Umno leaders who had a key presence in the corporate sector. They were a source of patronage… They were powerful. They were warlords with interests in the corporate sector.”
“That is not the case today. Today you see not a fragmented Umno control over the corporate sector, but a well-integrated executive controlling the corporate sector.”
“That is the shift. We have an executive who is also the finance minister; we are talking about an extreme concentration of economic and political control,” Gomez told a public lecture held in the university’s main campus today.
Gomez was presenting the preliminary findings of study of seven government-linked investment companies (GLICs) and the Top 100 public-listed companies in Malaysia, up to 2013.
The seven GLICs are Minister of Finance Inc, Permodalan Nasional Bhd, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the Employees Provident Fund, Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera, Lembaga Tabung Haji and Kumpulan Persaraan Diperbadankan.
The research was funded through a grant from the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), where Gomez is a fellow.
The professor of political economy said that in 1996, many directors in Malaysia’s Top 100 companies had links with Umno. This included the then Malaysian Airlines CEO Tajuddin Ramli, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who are now federal ministers, then New Straits Times Press group editor-in-chief Abdul Kadir Jasin and three of then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s sons.
Gomez said this as he zoomed past seven pages of slides filled with names of purportedly Umno-linked individuals, and the companies they headed.
Opposition parties too moving in
However, in 2013, there were only eight Umno members and four former Umno leaders in the list. Instead, the directors of these companies are mainly former bureaucrats.
At the same time, opposition leaders were beginning to show up on the list.
“Opposition parties that control state governments are taking their members of Parliament and state assemblies and making them directors of their GLCs. We are beginning to see evidence of that even among public-listed companies. It is a fact among non-publicly listed companies.”
“This is an issue we must talk about. Umno is moving out, and opposition members are moving in. Now this is an interesting change of events. How do you interpret this?”
“Are opposition members copying Umno, while Umno has moved on to do other things in different ways? We need to talk about it. I raise this now because opposition members used to be very critical of these issues, but are now doing the same,” Gomez said.
The two opposition members are Telok Kemang MP Kamarul Baharin Abbas and Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah. The two PKR parliamentarians are directors of Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd, which is linked to the Selangor government.
Meanwhile, GLICs have direct ownership over 427 companies as of 2013, Gomez said, whether as parent companies of a subsidiary, a golden shareholder or a minority shareholder. These include many high-value companies, which reflect the concentration of wealth that is taking place. These companies may also own other companies, even up to 10 companies down the chain.
Explaining how the phenomenon came into being, Gomez said he is not sure if Umno is even aware of the shift that has transpired. It started in the 1997 fallout between Mahathir and his protégé Anwar Ibrahim. In order to remove the directors who are Anwar’s supporters, Mahathir resorted to using GLCs taking over their companies. After that, there were not many bumiputera capitalists that the GLCs could transfer the companies to.
Since then, successive prime ministers continued Mahathir’s practice of holding both the prime minister’s and finance minister’s post because it has become so powerful.
Gomez said he is not against state-owned enterprises controlling a large swathes of the corporate sector, and argued that such companies have a social role to play. However, such extreme concentration of wealth with little check-and-balance is unhealthy, he said.

Minister rebuts TMJ, says Felda must generate own income

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The government today denied allegations by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim that the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) has deviated from its original purpose of eradicating poverty.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told reporters in Putrajaya that Felda was encouraged to generate its own income and be more financially independent.
“Felda has never deviated from its original path. Felda, from the beginning, has been restructuring the community (by) providing land for Malays who had no land to boost their income, and others.
“When Felda engages in business, it does not mean that it is deviating from the original path. Felda, once upon a time, when it was formed, received a lot of financial assistance and support from the government,” said Ismail, as quoted by online portal Free Malaysia Today.
The Johor prince, in a posting on the Johor Southern Tigers Facebook page yesterday, accused Felda of taking money meant for the people to enrich contractors and high-ranking company officials.
“Felda was established by the late Abdul Razak Hussein to eradicate poverty. However, today, money meant for the settlers is being spent unnecessarily to enrich certain contractors within Felda and also allowing a few people holding high posts in Felda to make money.

“This is a clear case of taking money from the poor,” Tunku Ismail said in his posting.
Commenting further, he reiterated that Felda must now generate its own income, just like any other government agency.
“That is why we engage in businesses and other ventures.
“Felcra used to be fully funded by the government and the government (also) asked Felcra to generate its own income,” he said in reference to the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority. - Mkini

Experts: Unusual for 1MDB to warn against relying on its financial statements


It is unusual for 1MDB and its auditor Deloitte Malaysia to temporarily withdraw the state investment fund's 2013 and 2014 audited financial statements, two financial experts said.
In response to the civil forfeiture suit initiated against 1MDB-related assets by the United States' Department of Justice, 1MDB said on Tuesday that its 2013 and 2014 audited financial statements should no longer 'be relied on' until allegations made by the DOJ were determined in court.
Deloitte Malaysia made a similar stand the following day.
1MDB also announced that Deloitte is quitting as 1MDB's auditor, making it the third audit firm to part ways with 1MDB since its inception in 2009.
Financial analyst Phua Lee Kerk said in corporate practice, a company need not publicly announce such decisions.
“The audited company just needs to report to its shareholders. It doesn't need to tell the world that the (financial) statements can no longer be relied on,” the corporate consultant told Malaysiakini.
The purpose of the dual announcements by 1MDB and Deloitte could be to protect goodwill and avoid blame, Phua added.
“Why do both companies need to issue statements? It's because they may want to cover themselves.
“If I am the client, I will say the auditor did not do their job. The audit firm, of course, will tell the public that it did no wrong.”
Asked whether 1MDB and Deloitte were pointing fingers at each other over the financial statements, he agreed.
“Yes. You could say that,” said Phua.
'Don't blame Deloitte'
Concurring with Phua, chartered accountant Koong Lin Loong said the withdrawal of the audited financial statements was unusual.
However, Koong said Deloitte should not carry the blame.
In the ruling on United Kingdom's Caparo Industries plc vs Dickman, he said, the House of Lords ruled that the conventional auditor had no obligation to pursue an error in a company.
“The ruling said the auditor is not an investigator, and would not actively search for problems. The auditor is appointed to check the accounts.
“The auditor needs to fulfill two criteria - the audited statement must comply with Malaysia's Company Act, and must meet accounting and auditing standards.”
Koong said an auditor checks the accounts based on the client's documents in an accounting period.
Should the auditor find no wrong in the company's account at that relevant time, the audited statement is deemed correct at that point, he added.
For example, an auditor, in 2014, is responsible to verify a company's accounts for 2013, based on the accounting year's documents. But he does not bear the responsibility for errors discovered in the future.
“To the auditors, the statement is correct at that point in time. If something happens after the account was audited and somebody sues the company in 2016, that is not the auditor's business as it had fulfilled its obligations,” Koong explained.
Not forensic auditor
Koong reiterated that Deloitte was performing the duty of an external auditor and not as a forensic auditor in verifying 1MDB's account.

“The (external) auditor audits the (company's financial) statements and supporting books. I think the auditor did no wrong.
“However, if you appointed (Deloitte) as a forensic auditor, then it might have committed wrong as that is a different scope of engagement.”
Forensic auditing carries a heavier obligation than external auditing. This is because the duty of the forensic auditor is to examine and evaluate a firm's or individual's financial information for use as evidence in court.

Please, please, please save Malaysia

Malaysia is stumbling because of its iniquity.
Correction, the iniquity of those charlatans who masquerade as leaders, spraying, spouting, (whatever) and drowning the people with their version of the truth.
We need new leaders.
Definitely, a new ‘Malaysian Official 1'.
A new inspiring leader who can shake up lifeless hearts and strengthen the yearning for justice, once again, in our beloved motherland.
Our present ‘Malaysian Official 1' has, persistently, betrayed us, Malaysians.
He has lied to us.
He has allegedly stolen from us.
But, he will not die, for us.
Rather, all of us will be burned alive at the stake, while he goes on riding the gravy train along with those poor, corrupted souls whom he has won over to the devil.
We need a whole new lot of leaders; we desperately do. We have no time to waste.
We are not a product of chance.
We are Malaysians, whose founding fathers, some eons ago, fought for us to be, free and not to end up a police state!
They fought for a free Malaysia.
One that would be plural, yet united in diversity; richly so.
Tunku Abdul Rahman, rightly said, “We are all Malaysians. This is the bond that unites us. Let us always remember that unity is our fundamental strength as a people and as a nation.”
Tan Cheng Lock, way back in 1926, had this to say, “Our ultimate political goal should be a united self-governing British Malaya... fostering and creating a true Malayan spirit and a consciousness among its people to the complete elimination of racial and communal feeling.”
VT Sambanthan reminded those who were debating on the draft constitution of the Federal Legislative Council, on July 10, 1957, “We belong to a plural society, and we should always remember that in such a society, we have to recognize that psychology has its own place. It is not enough if one’s own attitude towards a problem is good. It is necessary that we should see what reaction, what effect it would have on members of different communities.”
We can see, from above, all these true, blue Malaysians, irrespective of creed and colour, had just a common goal. No one had any vested interests. They all bravely, sincerely and humbly fought for all Malaysians, just so that all of us could be free - to, no longer live under a colonial regime.
Spiral to a police state?
But, come Aug 1, when the controversial National Security Act is set to be in force, will Malaysia down spiral to a police state?
Will the Act, which did not receive royal assent (treasonous, no?) be the death of what’s left of democracy in Malaysia?
It is the death of democratic Malaysia.
How far have we regressed?
We really need to cry for Malaysia.
Malaysia is... no more?
We need to go back to square one.
We need to uproot and to pull down; to build and to plant.
Let’s go back to the vision of our founding fathers.
Let’s daringly oppose general indifference.
Let’s shake our legs, no more!
The present charlatans at the helm espouse the ugly strategy of ‘divide-and-rule’, contrary to what our founding fathers had given up their whole lives for.
This has resulted in a governance of a comedy of sorts, or rather, errors.
These clowns at the helm, like most ‘Drumpfs’, just feel (Feelings, nothing more than feelings...), but know not the hard, cold facts or the reality, that Malaysia is or meant to be.
These ‘Drumpfs’ have run out of idea of practising real democracy, hence, we are now heading towards a police state, incarcerated by our own, not any foreign power!
What happened to the best democracy in the world?
Espousing ‘unity in diversity’
Michelle Obama, the real First Lady of the USA, couldn’t have said it better when she emphatically endorsed Hilary Clinton by including this, “We are, always, stronger, together.”
See, a real First Lady, would espouse ‘unity in diversity’, not ‘divide-and -rule’!
What happened to the Malaysian spirit of her youth?
Our motherland, our young and their future are held to ransom for Birkins, penthouses, parties, holidays, etc, etc, of ‘Malaysia Official 1' and his cohorts?
Has this band of thieves forsaken us for what is worthless?
Soon, nothing is worthwhile any more in Malaysia...
We are drowned in debts.
Shootings, killings, every other day. Is life so cheap now, in Malaysia?
Some of our youth are now proud to be toting guns, beside their IS comrades.
Why? Why? Why?
They find no more hope in their motherland?
IS is so much more attractive, perhaps; a lot more attractive than a band of thieves who steal from their own.
Our public servants, “Malaysian Officials 1, 2, 3, ...” are no longer seeking the will of their masters or that of their motherland.
Selling lock, stock and barrel of what is Malaysia by drowning her in debts, through their alleged thievery.
Things are so expensive now, even basic food items.
Our ringgit is in no-where land.
The old are worried while the young are anxious.
Every where we go, we hear voices of fear.
Voices of helplessness.
Voices of a people hurt; a people betrayed.
Have we no way out?
Are we just to lie down and cry ourselves to sleep?
To wake up and hope that what's happening is just a really bad dream?
We need every iota of the spirit of our ‘youth’, to fight this malaise gripping our beloved motherland.
We need every right-thinking Malaysian to step up to the plate; to be in total control of our own destiny and not allow those charlatans at the helm, destroy Malaysia till it is no more. (It is almost, no more...)
We need to rid our beloved motherland of those pests, chomping away at the pillars of a Malaysia, our founding fathers had envisioned and fought for us.
We need each and every one of us who call Malaysia, ‘Tanah Tumpah Darahku’, be they common folks like you and I, politicians from across the divide, our beloved royalty (please, we beg of you), every one, please come out to save Malaysia.
Do some thing.
Say some thing.
Do any thing.
Please, please, please save Malaysia.
Thank you and God Bless.

What correct channels are you talking about, Mr Prime Minister?


Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak lately has been giving statements that make no sense to the general public but hailed and echoed by his team of loyalists. What is wrong with the prime minister who is supposed to lead the nation but is allegedly cowed with fear, of himself or for the nation.
No leader would want his dirty linen being washed in the public, hence with the power he holds he will do whatever it takes to ensure the dirty linen is kept under wrapped.
What correct channels are the Prime Minister talking about?
Please be reminded, Mr Prime Minister, that many laws are being used now to curtail critics of the government and now encroaching into the supposing non-censurable Internet.
It is interesting to hear Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak urging the people not to take actions out of the legal boundaries and to use the correct channels to raise any differing views, but did not provide any solution as to how.
When you used laws against critics that are critically emphasised within the legal boundaries, what channels are left open?
Ever since the 1MDB scandal broke out, the rakyat have been wanting to know the truth and more so with allegation that RM4.2 billion from 1MDB were transferred into Prime Minister Najib’s personal accounts.The rakyat have been given all sorts of statements from various ministers and 1MDB with no one correct answer, instead it became more confusing with the US Justice Department’s (DOJ) lawsuit.
Can Prime Minister Najib advise the rakyat which is the correct channel to seek the truth when police reports have been lodged with no response, the attorney-general (AG) closed files, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) stayed mute, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report being neither here nor there and the auditor-general’s report being placed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA)?
Due to substantiated allegations by US DOJ of ‘Malaysia Official 1' alegedly siphoning RM$4.2 billion from 1MDB into Prime Minister Najib’s personal bank accounts, can you, Mr PM, tell us the right channel to find out who is ‘Malaysia Official 1' and if it is true that RM4.2 billion were deposited into your personal accounts?
Over to you, Prime Minister Najib, come clean and tell the whole truth personally, is this the correct channel you are talking about?
Fear of terrorists?
Najib Abdul Razak: “If we were to demonstrate... and suddenly there are disruptions by IS terrorists, what will happen? There will be anarchy,” quoted from The Star.
How can the prime minister talk at the same time that Malaysia practices constitutional democracy, yet actions such as street demonstrations were wrong.? Did he not know that the constitution was born after demonstrations were carried out urging Malaya’s independence from the British?
Why use public rallies as an example that terrorists will strike? You have now the most powerful law in the National Security Council (NSC) Act to fight terrorism as you insist of its need, then why the fear? Are you going to call off the Merdeka day celebration where thousands will be gathered? Cancel all football matches, concerts and functions where large crowd are expected?
Be sensible, Mr Prime Minister, terrorists can strike anywhere and it it your solemn duty to protect the nation and rakyat and not to curtail whatever because you fear the terrorists.
Before you, Mr Prime Minister, blame others of playing politics of hatred, look in the mirror. You requested for constructive alternatives to the government but how are the rakyat going to do so when all doors are closed if any suggestion that are not to your liking? Will you listen to this constructive alternative to the government and that is the urging for you to step down? - Mkini