In a scathing opinion piece penned for The Wall Street Journal, former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim rains criticisms on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Since Najib’s last electoral victory, which was "plagued by widespread allegations of gerrymandering, fraud and voter intimidation", Malaysia has taken a turn for the worse, Anwar wrote.
"Najib, who once promised democratic and economic reforms and pledged to allow 'the voices of dissent' to be heard, has doubled down on political repression.
"As former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and leader of the opposition, I am now in the fifth month of a five-year prison sentence that has been roundly condemned by governments and human rights groups around the world.
"I spend my days in solitary confinement in meditation and in the company of the few books that are allowed into my cell.
Meanwhile, allegations of corruption at the highest levels of Malaysian government have surfaced," Anwar says in the article published today.
In 2012, he said, the Internal Security Act was repealed by the Najib government with much fanfare, only to be replaced with the Prevention of Crime and Prevention of Terrorism Acts, which are equally, if not more, repressive.
Beyond encroaching on Malaysian citizens' fundamental liberties, he added the new laws also rob judges of their discretionary sentencing powers.
"Instead of abolishing the outdated and much-abused Sedition Act of 1948, as promised, Najib’s government has deployed it as a weapon of mass oppression.
"In the past 18 months, more than 150 Malaysians have been arrested and many charged with sedition for an array of activities, including accusing the government of voter fraud and criticising the verdict in my trial. The arrested include students, professors, journalists, cartoonists, activists, human rights lawyers and opposition politicians," he added.
1MDB saga and foreign investors
Anwar also trained his guns on the 1MDB saga, saying the "strategic development fund" founded by Najib in 2008 is under intense scrutiny.
"As this newspaper reported on July 2, Malaysian investigators 'have traced nearly US$700 million of deposits into what they believe are the personal bank accounts of Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak'. Neither the original source nor ultimate destination of the money is clear.
"A few weeks earlier, on June 18, this newspaper reported that during the 2013 election 1MDB ‘indirectly supported Prime Minister Najib Razak’s campaign’.
"The fund paid what appeared to be an inflated price for assets acquired from a Malaysian company; the company then contributed to a Najib-led charity that announced projects, such as aid to schools, that Najib was able to tout as he campaigned.
"After these two stories were published, Najib’s office put out a statement that ‘there have been concerted efforts by certain individuals to undermine confidence in our economy, tarnish the government and remove a democratically-elected prime minister’.
"It called the Journal articles a 'continuation of this political sabotage'. Not surprisingly, foreign investors are increasingly wary. Malaysia’s currency, the ringgit, recently fell to a 16-year low," he said.
'Sowing communal and religious animosity'
The former opposition leader also accused the Najib government of "sowing communal and religious animosity" among the Malays and the country’s large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.
He noted the ruling coalition blamed a "Chinese tsunami" for losing the popular vote in the 2013 general election, regardless of a study showing this to be false.
"And despite Najib's claims of moderation internationally, the state-run media have vilified Shiite Islam.
"Last summer the prime minister urged his ruling Umno members to be ‘brave’ like Islamic State fighters in Iraq, causing him to later explain he doesn’t support Islamic State or its radical brand of Islam.
"Such actions undermine the fragile fabric of Malaysia's multiethnic and multireligious society. In four decades in public service I cannot recall a time when racial and religious sensitivities have become so inflamed, and at the same time so poorly managed by the country's political leadership," he added.
Malaysia is ready for change
Anwar also said he remained in Malaysia "to face a difficult third bout of unjust incarceration" because the opposition believed in a brighter future made possible by good governance and the rule of law.
"We believe in the dismantling of Malaysia's system of race-based privileges that has devolved into nothing more than rent-seeking for the privileged few.
"We believe that corruption is a slow bleed that robs future generations of the education and business opportunities that will make them prosper.
"Most important, we are joined by a new generation of young, millennial Malaysians with a commitment to building an inclusive, democratic and economically vibrant country," he added.
Anwar warned of the real danger ahead where middle-income nations like Malaysia - "after several decades of economic mismanagement, opaque governance and overspending" - can devolve into failed states.
"The irresponsible manner in which the current leadership is handling religious issues to curry favor from the extreme right is fueling sectarianism.
"Increased political repression may drive some to give up on the political system altogether and consider extralegal means to cause change, thus creating a tragic, vicious cycle.
"Yet there remains a clear path out of this mess: a return to the underpinnings of the Malaysian Constitution, which preserves and protects the rights of all Malaysians; a devolution of power from the executive, whose role now resembles that of a dictator more than a servant of the people; elections that are truly free and fair; and a free media unafraid to challenge authority," he said.
Anwar believes that Malaysia is ready for change, and this is the reason he chose to remain here instead of fleeing abroad.
"I chose to stay and continue the fight for peaceful, democratic reform from my prison cell. This is not easy and puts a tremendous burden on my family.
"I am grateful for their love and commitment. While I am physically behind bars my spirit remains with them, the people of Malaysia, and people all around the world who continue the struggle for dignity and for freedom," he said. - mk
Anwar ramal Malaysia jadi negara gagal jika pentadbiran sekarang diteruskan
Is Najib serious in wanting to sue WSJ...
By now everyone on this planet knows that The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has made a very serious allegation against Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
The allegations may be true or false and only Najib is able to determine that.
If he really cares about protecting his reputation, he has no choice but to put the record straight by suing WSJ for defamation.
The issue now is whether he is willing to do that.
For the record, so far, Najib has sued several individuals for defamation. He has sued MPs Tony Pua, Rafizi Ramli and Nga Kor Ming; Dr Rosli Yaakob (Harakah); and Taufek Yahya (harakahdaily.com). All the suits have been filed in Malaysian courts.
It is interesting to note here that Harakah’s Rosli is being sued for an article which substantially contained reports from The New York Times (NYT).
When asked by reporters as to why he decided to sue harakahdaily.com, Najib stated that he has to protect his integrity as well as his family’s reputation.
Selective protection of reputation
However, what really puzzled many was why he never seeked to protect his reputation or his family’s good name by filing a libel suit against the powerful NYT.
Why is he being selective in protecting his reputation?
Despite the fact there are reports indicating that Najib would sue Sarawak Report, hitherto no summons has been filed by him against such portal.
The fact that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is being used to block the public from accessing such a powerful whistleblower site, the dream of Malaysiand to see our prime minister facing the Sarawak Report in court remains gloomy.
By suing the individuals who are linked to opposition parties, Najib has, in fact, set a new precedent in Malaysian politics in that for the first time in Malaysia, the prime minister has used the courtroom to fight against his political enemies.
Whilst it is not legally wrong for him to sue anybody for any cause of action, the legal fraternity is very concerned with this unhealthy trend.
In one way or another, Najib, being the prime minister, has says and influence in so far as the appointment of judges are concerned.
Be that as it may, any judge who is assigned to hear his claim would naturally be put in a precarious position.
Being a human being who aspires for promotion in the judicial hierarchy, it is normal that the judge being assigned to hear Najib’s suit would be uncomfortable to be given an option between the dispensation of justice without fear and favour, and the unhindered pursuit of his or her judicial ambition.
Najib has resigned to the fact that in terms of encountering criticism from his opponents, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad was relatively more daring and confident.
Despite being labelled with so many epithets, Mahathir, to his credit, has never used the court to silence his critics by filing libel suit.
It seems that Mahathir never believed in the notion of bankrupting his political enemy with hefty libel damages as the late Lee Kuan Yew used to do to his political rivals.
‘No guts to face foes’
Najib began his premiership with a plethora of sweet promises of respecting and broadening freedom of speech and in turn, abolishing draconian laws yet his promises are well known to be happily broken than adhered to.
By using the courtroom as his platform to redeem his reputation, if any, Najib cannot escape the reasonable perception that he has no guts to face his enemy on a political platform.
His unwillingness to debate head on with Mahathir in a forum titled ‘Nothing to Hide’ reflects that he has everything to hide from the public on 1MDB.
Najib has instructed his lawyer to write a letter to WSJ not demanding an apology, withdrawal of the impugned article, and damages, but instead asking clarification from the latter.
Since WSJ is reported to have maintained the position that its article does not contain defamatory imputation against Najib, the ball is now in Najib's court for him to pursue his next step.
The only move which signifies his seriousness of rubbishing such damaging allegations by WSJ is to take on such a powerful newspaper i.e by suing the latter for defamation in a US court. Najib has to retain an American firm or attorney to proceed with libel suit there.
Legally speaking, Najib cannot sue WSJ in Malaysia simply because, as lawyers used to say, the cause of action took place in the US.
In fact, it is plainly ironic for Najib to engage a Malaysian legal firm to write to WSJ, prompting comments that Najib has never been serious in protecting his reputation vis a vis WSJ’s serious allegation.
Many speculate such a move by Najib - instructing a Malaysian lawyer to write to WSJ - is mere camouflage to drive home the message to the voters that he is doing something on such allegations, when in reality, he has no intention to meet WSJ in court.
Only Najib can remove such a speculation.
Historically speaking, Najib has failed to redeem his reputation when he was seriously implicated by an article published in a French newspaper relating to the issue of Altantuya.
He never sued the newspaper, despite the serious and damaging accusations made against him.
Recently he has also failed to sue NYT which revealed many shocking allegations against him and his family.
Najib has to prove to the entire world that his critics are wrong in harbouring suspicion that he is not willing to face WSJ in court.
He equally has to show the nation that he is not a jaguh kampung (smalltown hero) in that he is only willing to face his domestic opponents who are relatively weaker in terms of financial strength.
On the contrary, being blessed with darah pahlawan Bugis (Bugis warrior blood), he is ready and willing to take on WSJ anytime, anywhere! - Mohd. Hanipa Maidin,mk
Menuju Repablik Pisang
Is Najib man enough to sue WSJ?
Tunjuk apa dipinda, tang mana dipinda...
Bekas perdana menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad berkata, mustahil untuk meminda dokumen syarikat PetroSaudi International (PSI) seperti yang didakwa oleh bekas eksekutifnya, Xavier Andre Justo.
Menurut Dr Mahathir, perkara itu dilihat mustahil untuk dilakukan memandangkan jumlah dokumen tersebut "banyak".
Sehubungan itu, beliau meminta kepada pihak yang berkenaan supaya menunjukkan dokumen yang didakwa dipinda seperti didakwa Justo.
"Tunjuklah apa yang dipinda. Tunjuk dokumen itu, tunjuk tang (di) mana yang dipinda.
"Nak pinda dokumen (macam mana), banyak tu, tak boleh," katanya ketika ditemui pemberita di lobi hotel Shangri-La di Kuala Lumpur hari ini.
Dalam temubual bersama Straits Times Singapura Justo mendakwa pengendali Sarawak Report dan seorang ahli perniagaan Malaysia berbincang untuk “meminda” maklumat dalam dokumen syarikat PSI itu.
Justo ditemu bual akhbar itu di Bangkok, Thailand.
Justo yang menjadi sumber kebocoran maklumat tersebut juga bersetuju untuk menjual dokumen berkenaan, yang didakwanya dicuri dari PSI untuk bayaran sebanyak AS$2 juta (RM7.6 juta).
Justo mendakwa, individu yang ditemuinya awal tahun ini merancang untuk menggunakan dokumen tersebut “sebagai cubaan untuk menjatuhkan kerajaan Malaysia” dan mereka juga merujuk kepada usaha untuk “meminda dokumen tersebut”.
Bagaimanapun, editor Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle-Brown menafikan dakwaan untuk meminda dokumen itu dan mempersoalkan mengapa 1MDB dan PSI masih belum mengemukakan bukti pindaan tersebut.- mk
Sekat atau tidak, saya tetap balun 1MDB...
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad berkata, beliau akan tetap menulis tentang isu 1MDB walaupun Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) menyekat Sarawak Report.
"Saya tetap akan menulis (mengenai 1MDB)," kata bekas perdana menteri itu ketika ditemui pemberita di lobi sebuah hotel di ibu negara hari ini.
Beliau berkata demikian ketika ditanya mengenai reaksinya terhadap kritikan yang dibuat kepada 1MDB selepas akses laman sesawang yang aktif membuat pendedahan mengenai agensi itu, Sarawak Report, disekat SKMM.
Sarawak Report telah disekat oleh SKMM di bawah Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 setelah menerima aduan dan maklumat daripada orang awam.
Sementara itu, ketika ditanya mengenai perjumpaan SKMM dengan pengarang portal berita semalam, Dr Mahathir berkata perkara tersebut membuktikan bahawa tapisan terhadap media memang wujud di negara ini.
"Ada tapisan terhadap media. Secara efektifnya, ada tapisan terhadap media," katanya ringkas.
Dalam perjumpaan dengan pengarang-pengarang portal berita semalam SKMM mengingatkan bahawa tindakan boleh diambil terhadap sebarang pemberitaan palsu atau tidak tepat.
Malah, pengarang portal berita dalam talian juga hari ini diingatkan tidak memaparkan semula bahan daripada Sarawak Report yang telah disekat SKMM.
SKMM berkata tindakan menyebarkan semula laporan yang dibuat portal yang telah disekat itu boleh dikenakan tindakan mengikut Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998.
Tindakan juga boleh diambil terhadap penyebaran maklumat palsu yang boleh menggugat keamanan dan keharmonian sesebuah negara, terutamanya dari segi ekonomi dan keselamatan nasional.- mk
Mahathir vows to keep writing about 1MDB...
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will keep writing about 1MDB even though the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has banned whistleblower site Sarawak Report.
"I will keep on writing (about 1MDB)," Mahathir said when asked if the MCMC ban on Sarawak Report had spooked him.
The commission said yesterday it has taken pre-emptive measures to block Sarawak Report, although it did not have evidence as yet on whether the site's exposes on 1MDB were false.
Access to Sarawak Report was blocked by the MCMC, purportedly due to complaints from the public.
When asked to comment on the MCMC's meeting with editors of local online news organisations, Mahathir said that meet proved that there are attempts to censor the media.
"Effectively, there is censorship of the press," he said curtly.
During the meeting, editors were told that there was no concrete proof that materials published by Sarawak Report were fraudulent and that access to the website was blocked as a preventive measure.
Editors were also warned that any websites in Malaysia that publishes materials produced by Sarawak Report could also be subject to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. - mk
Dr M: One cannot tamper all PetroSaudi data...
It is impossible that all leaked PetroSaudi International documents have been tampered, as there are just so much of them, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says.
Therefore, Mahathir said, the relevant parties should show which documents have been tampered.
"Show what was tampered. Show the documents, show where these were modified.
"(How can) you tamper so many documents? You can't," Mahathir said when met by reporters at the Shangri-La Hotel lobby in Kuala Lumpur today.
In a report by Singapore's Strait Times today, former PetroSaudi executive Xavier Andre Justo claimed there was a plot to tamper the documents he stole from the company, in order to topple the government.
Justo said he had given the documents to Sarawak Report editor-in-chief Clare Rewcastle-Brown, and a Malaysian businessman.
Payment was never made
The Edge media group boss Tong Kooi Ong later revealed that he was the businessman, but denied tampering the documents. Sarawak Report also denied the allegations.
Tong (photo) said he had tricked Justo into handing the document by promising to pay US$2 million (RM7.6 million). The payment however was never made.
Justo was arrested last month by Thai police in the island resort of Koh Samui for alleged attempts to extort money from his former employer, PetroSaudi.
The Malaysian government has repeatedly claimed that documents he leaked were tampered in its bid to dismiss stunning allegations against Prime Minister Najib Razak and 1MDB involving criminal breach of trust. - mk
Adik Najib bengang pasai 'the Edge' digantung...
Thailand menolak permintaan KPN untuk menyoal Justo...