Monday, July 27, 2015

Muhyiddin: Devil's advocate to some, Devil's apprentice to others

Every Cabinet Minister has one
At least one faction within Umno has dubbed Najib Razak's deputy in party and government Muhyiddin Yassin a pengkianat (traitor) for his statement on the PM's 1MDB and the Home Minister's 3-month ban on The Edge last night. I thought that was excessive. I'm more inclined to agree with the guys at the Unspinners, who are pro but not rabidly pro-Najib, who contend that  Jika TSMY membodek, usaha meyakinkan rakyat take maenad ... In a nutshell, there is another faction within Umno who believes that Muhyiddin had to play the Devil's advocate in order to keep the people's faith in the party and in Najib.

Personally, I would go as far as to say that Abang Din is the last Umno man you'd call a pengkhianat.  If he hadn't stood up when everyone else would not dare to even look up back then, Pak Lah would not have stepped down in 2009 and Najib would not have become Prime Minister and Tun Mahathir might not have succeeded in toppling his successor.

All the same, it's hard not to find his depedence on the Edge for information on 1MDB a little mind-boggling. He could have asked Abdul Wahid Omar or Rahman Dahlan to help him understand the 1MDB issue if he's not confident that Husni, the MOF 2, is qualified enough There's also the Fact Sheet on 1MDB that was given to every Minister to help them understand what the 1MDB issue is all about. 

Anyway, since my brain has been dyed, allow me to share the SMS (and the Reader's conclusion and post-MRI comments):

Dear Reader: Morning Datuk, comment please: If Not The Edge Then Which Source Can Be Trusted For 1MDB Report, asks Muhyiddin, The Malaysian Insider,  26 july
Bru: Morning. I'm still digesting this fantastic piece of news. Muhyiddin went along with Najib's plan to postpone UMNO elections and did not "step out" when his boss gave Cabinet ministers the ultimatum you're with me or resign. This is also not the first time Abang Din is swimming against the tide (remember the closed door clipping of him asking 1MDB Board to be sacked?). Therefore, for all we know, and given their history of working very closely and quietly together, this could be a silap mata (magic show) by Najib and Muhyiddin. Far fetched? We have seen this Umno silap mata time and again since Tunku was squeezed out subtly by Tun Razak and Ghafar Baba by Anwar Ibrahim not-so-subtly. And all the wayang kulit between Anwar and Mahathir, Mahathir and Musa, Ghafar and Mahahtir, Musa and Ku Li, Najib and Pak Lah. But then again ... Jeng Jeng Jeng ...
Of course (it could be for real). Muhyiddin's back may be against the wall.  Zahid Hamidi (Zahid lebih berani dari Muhyiddin) has emerged as a strong contender for No 2 and the 3-month suspension of the Edge is a move that will win Zahid big support in Umno, (Muhyiddin's) own Education portfolio is giving him nightmares, his son and son-in-law's business ventures are the subject of cruel gossips in the corridors of PWTC, and Tun M's pressure on him to act is piling up! 
Dear Reader: Wow, that's lengthy! 
Bru: The short answer is - Pening! 
Dear Reader: Yes  
Bru: What is YOUR take on Muhyiddin's speech? Wait, watch this clipping first. There are nuances here that are not in the TMI article. 

Dear Reader: This clipping from last nite or the previous talk
Bru: Last night's 
Dear Reader: Okay, I'll listen to it.
Two minutes later ...
Dear Reader: Sebagai seorang rakyat marhaen, saya rasa dia melawan boss dia (As an ordinary citizen, I feel that he is going against his boss).

At this point, I had to say goodbye to Dear Reader to keep my 11am appointment with the MRI:  a 20-minute claustrophobic session inside a freezing, futuristic capsule that felt like a coffin and forever. I imagined I was on the beach (which didn't work) and then  imagined I was attending a rock concert with my eyes closed. The banging and clanging was not so bad after a while and I think I know now what which might have inspired Pink Floyd's best.

As I'm writing this, I received a final text from the reader.

Dear Reader: I have listened (to Muhyiddin's clipping). And I do agree w what he said.
Saya #teammuhyiddin

Well, you can't win them all.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"The Truth About Malaysia Today"

The inimitable Anifah Aman, in an open letter to the Wall Street Journal, ridicules the newspaper editors claim that Malaysia was in danger of becoming a failed state and tells them, in not so many words, to get over their infatuation with Anwar Ibrahim or just admit that they are, in fact, taking sides in Malaysia's internal politics ... 

Anifah dAman
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL takes aim at Malaysia, but once again displays a woeful lack of knowledge and understanding of our country and its history. 
Malaysia has been a democracy since independence in 1957. Elections are fiercely contested, and the opposition won five out of the country’s 13 states in 2008. Political discourse is vibrant and noisy. The “voices of dissent” that the opposition’s former leader, Anwar Ibrahim, claims not to be able to hear are dominant in Malaysia’s online news media, which has far more readers here than the print press. If anyone doubts Malaysians’ “fundamental liberties”, they can easily see for themselves how free anyone is to criticise the government on these news sites. 
Anwar mentions the recent Prevention of Terrorism Act as “encroaching” on those liberties. But he fails to mention that it explicitly states that “No person shall be arrested and detained solely for his political belief or political activity”. POTA in fact further secures the liberties of Malaysians: both their freedom to speak out, and their freedom from extremists who pose a real threat to the country. Anwar may not take this threat seriously, but the Malaysian government does. 
The WSJ gives Anwar the platform to raise false and politically motivated allegations of corruption against our Prime Minister. Perhaps it might have been relevant for the WSJ to mention that Anwar himself was convicted of corruption in 1999. The verdict was not overturned. 
He is currently in jail after a legal process that lasted years. He was first acquitted, then convicted, allowed to appeal, and only when that failed did he go to prison. If he truly believed in his innocence, he could have submitted his own DNA to the court. If the charge had been “trumped up”, as the WSJ falsely says, that would have proven it. But he did not – hardly the action of an innocent man. 
Far from “sowing communal and religious animosity”, the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak early on launched the 1Malaysia policy. This is the greatest attempt in Malaysia’s history to forge a national identity that includes all races and religions, and the Prime Minister regularly attends the festivals of non-Muslims, going to churches and temples to share the celebrations of fellow Malaysians. Anwar and the opposition, however, never supported 1Malaysia. Why not? Was it because Anwar himself had a well-documented history of rabble-rousing and extremism, as well as of spouting anti-Semitic remarks – as the WSJ well knows but again fails to mention.
The suggestion that Malaysia is in danger of becoming a “failed state” would be laughable – if it were not for the fact that some people take Anwar seriously and will believe what he says, no matter how wild or imaginary. 
Here is what some other people have said about Malaysia recently: 
Bloomberg rated Malaysia as the world’s 5th most promising emerging market in 2015.
The IMF’s latest report on our country was titled: “Favorable Prospects for Malaysia’s Diversified Economy”
A Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations wrote: “Malaysian political discourse is becoming far more open than it was even a decade ago.”
And the ratings agency Fitch recently upgraded the outlook for Malaysia. 
This is the truth about Malaysia today. It is a pity that the WSJ has fallen for desperate, unfounded allegations by a politician and presented them as facts – thereby taking sides in internal Malaysian politics.

 p.s.  This letter to WSJ follows an earlier one that Anifah wrote to the New York Times last month, after the newspaper had published its interview with Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the eve of the holy Ramadan (NYT and its agenda of making sure the "nasty spat" not only continues but gets nastier in Ramadan, 19 June). 
For the blissfully ignorant, the New York Times early this month ran an article based on unnamed investigator document(s) to say that US$700 million had flowed into PM Najib Razak's personal bank account in 2013.  
Dow Jones & Company, which owns the New York Times, unfortunately, opted for a non-committal and ambiguous position in its response to Najib's formal inquiry into the article through his lawyers [WSJ's article self-explantory, Dow Jones says in reply to Najib's lawyers]. 
The Malaysian PM is reserving his rights to sue the NYT. - the Bru

Friday, July 24, 2015

So, who else did you mislead to justify your end(s), Mr Tong?

"Me, I have only ONE question for Tong: Did you pay Justo for the information?
- My posting last Monday, h e r e

Friday 24 July: If the Singapore Straits Times' interview with detained blackmailer Xavier Justo was explosive, tycoon Tong Kooi Ong's subsequent confession that he had misled Justo is equally, if not more, shocking.

Tong's confession, which is not exactly voluntary - he made it only after Justo had pointed a finger at him during his interview with ST - puts crucial things in the 1MDB/plot to topple PM issue in perspective, finally.

It also raises questions about honesty and ethics:

1. It proves that Justo has been telling us the the truth about the 1MDB issue and the Singapore "plot" to topple the Malaysian Prime Minister after all;
2. It establishes that Tong is more involved in the scheme of things than he'd led us to believe initially;
3. If Tong had misled the source/whistleblower,  who else has he conned to achieve his objective(s);
4. Ho Kay Tat, the managing editor of The Edge, said in his "We couldn't walk away ..." statement that "We did not pay for our information." Was Kay Tat aware all along that Tong, who owns The Edge, was misleading Justo - promising to pay the Swiss USD2 million without the intention to keep his word?; and
5. Did Clare Brown, the owner of Sarawak Report, know what Tong had promised to pay USD2 million so as to mislead Justo, and did she go along with that?

Read Tong's confession:
Tong: Okay, okay, I conned the guy USD2 mil. So what?
Yes, we misled Justo — Tong Kooi Ong
JULY 24 — We refer to the story in the Singapore Straits Times in which Andre Xavier Justo accused us of not paying him what we said we would for the information he gave us on the scandalous 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)-PetroSaudi joint venture.
First off, we must say the Singapore Straits Times journalist must be very well connected to be given access to Justo in his Bangkok jail.
Even our Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who is now in Bangkok, has so far been refused access to Justo.
We wonder which powerful hidden hand arranged for Nirmal Ghosh of the Straits Times to meet Justo so that he can launch an attack on us?
Justo is obviously an angry man, and undestandably so, as we did not pay him what he wanted.
Yes, we misled him. But that was the only way to get hold of the evidence to expose how a small group of Malaysians and foreigners, cheated the people of Malaysia of US$1.83 billion (RM6.978 billion).
His statement confirmed what we have said earlier i.e. we never paid anyone.
As for Justo’s allegations that we told him we intended to tamper the documents and that our objective was to bring down the government, surely if we had such intentions we would not tell it to someone we were meeting for the first time.
All the more so, when we know he will be upset with us because we will eventually not pay him what he wants.
There was no tampering because we immediately did a digital fingerprint of the hard disk that contained over 400,000 emails and documents and secured it. What is in the discs we have given Bank Negara Malaysia, the police and MACC this week is the exact copy as the one Justo passed to us and he has said he did not do any tampering.
Furthermore, the money trail we have put together and passed to investigators showing how money from 1MDB were moved into the accounts of various people at several global banks in several countries can be easily verified by investigators with help from their counterparts in this country.
Justo is understandably a bitter man. But this is not about Justo, neither is it about us.
It’s about a scheme to cheat the people of Malaysia of US$1.83 billion through the 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture.
The fact that so many government agencies are now investigating 1MDB and that it is now almost an insolvent company that needs to be bailed out validates all the work The Edge Media Group has done to expose what had happened.
We have done nothing wrong and we are here to assist investigators unlike some who seem to have disappeared.
* Tong Kooi Ong is the chairman of The Edge Media Group.
- See more at:

p.s. Quite amusing that Tong has the cheek to ask how ST could have gotten the interview with Justo.
First off, we must say the Singapore Straits Times journalist must be very well connected to be given access to Justo in his Bangkok jail.
Even our Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who is now in Bangkok, has so far been refused access to Justo.
We wonder which powerful hidden hand arranged for Nirmal Ghosh of the Straits Times to meet Justo so that he can launch an attack on us?
I'm sure, Tong, that the ST did not have to mislead anyone to get the interview.

The USD2 m Interview with Justo that WSJ should have gotten

If the following report had been a scoop by Malaysia's NST, some of us will be scoffing. Straits Times is Singapore's and in Singapore - media, judiciary, Singdollar - we trust. I wonder how WSJ had managed not to get an interview with Justo. Safer to hide behind ambiguity, I suppose. - The Bru

Ex-PetroSaudi employee says he was never paid what prominent Malaysian businessman promised him

Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo - who is now in jail in Thailand in connection with trying to blackmail his former employer, PetroSaudi, which is entangled in a huge scandal involving the Malaysian government - has claimed that he was promised US$2 million (S$2.7 million) in exchange for data he stole from his former employer.
He also told The Straits Times in a prison interview that he was never paid what he was promised by a prominent Malaysian businessman. Justo claimed a deal was reached in Singapore in February on the sale of the documents, which was followed by lengthy discussions on how he would be paid.
The group of people he met in Singapore to negotiate the sale of the data were named in a 22-page confession Justo made to Thai police. He showed a copy of the confession to The Straits Times.
"I tried to open an account in Singapore, to have the money paid directly from (the buyer's) account," Justo said. "DBS Bank refused, I don't know why. After that I opened an account in Abu Dhabi in my own personal name which was refused by (the buyer) because it had my name on it."
"Then I tried to use my company account in Hong Kong and he said the same, after that it was through a Luxembourg company and then again (the buyer) refused and after that Clare Brown took the lead," he said.
He was referring to Ms Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the Malaysian-born British-based editor of the Sarawak Report, which over the past year has made astonishing claims about the misappropriation of billions at state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), whose advisory board is headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Justo claimed the buyer also "offered to pay me by cash".
He said: "So I was supposed to go to Singapore every week or every other week to receive an envelope with a few thousand or tens of thousands, and repeat this process for months until the final amount will have been paid. And again I refused."
Justo echoed what Thai police said last week, that his confession was backed up by documents including a record of his WhatsApp conversations with the buyers.
"All of what is written in my confession, most of it is proven by e-mail conversations, WhatsApp messages I have had with (them)."
Ms Rewcastle-Brown had agreed to receive the US$2 million from the buyer and send him US$250,000 a month for consultancy services, he claimed.
"I don't know if she received the money or not, (because) I was arrested," he said. "I have no idea."
Contacted by The Straits Times, Ms Rewcastle-Brown rubbished the allegations as "bunkum".
"What I have presented on 1MDB and has been clarified by The Edge and corroborated by several other official sources is a coherent explanation of events, versus the dodging, changing stories of 1MDB," she said. The Edge is a Malaysian daily whose chief executive officer, Mr Ho Kay Tat, was questioned by Malaysian police yesterday over articles it published related to 1MDB.
On Monday, in a note published on the front page of his daily, Mr Ho said the newspaper had "a public duty to find and report the truth".
"We were not involved in any theft, we did not pay anyone, and we did not tamper (with) any of the e-mails and documents we were given," he added.
He also said the newspaper was handing over to Malaysian government investigators printed documents and the hard disk that contains bank transfers and statements linked to the 1MDB scandal.
Justo, who gave the interview across a table in a small office inside the sprawling Bangkok Remand Prison, also claimed that the group he had met in Singapore - including Ms Rewcastle-Brown - had tampered with the data he had given them.
"I gave the original documents without any kind of alteration," he claimed. "I can say that I gave those documents to two groups of people," he added. One was Ms Rewcastle-Brown and "her IT guy" and the other was the Malaysian businessman and his colleague. The Straits Times is not naming the businessman as well as his colleague pending their response to the latest allegations.
He alleged that those he met had talked about using the documents "to try to  bring down the Malaysian government", adding that they also referred to plans to "modify the documents".
 Refuting vehemently these allegations, Ms Rewcastle-Brown said Justo was "full of untruths."
She said: "Why would I wish to alter anything?  If I had, why haven't 1MDB and PetroSaudi brought out the evidence of such altering in all of the last five or so months?"
Thai police arrested the tattooed Justo, who has a wife and a nine-month-old son, currently in Switzerland, on June 22 at his spacious residence on the resort island of Koh Samui. 
Justo, a former head of IT at the London office of Petro Saudi, has admitted that he had stolen company data - some 90 gigabytes worth - when he left in 2011.
He said he asked Petro Saudi for more money in 2013 but it turned him down. Subsequently, through a contact in Geneva with connections in Malaysia, he was introduced to Ms Clare Rewcastle-Brown, whom he later met in Bangkok at the Plaza Athenee hotel and in Singapore at the Fullerton Hotel. In Singapore, she was accompanied by the others named in his confession.
Justo, 48, was clean-shaven, looking well and composed. He was clad in a light blue cotton prison issue shirt and darker blue shorts. Looking over his reading glasses, he showed The Straits Times his confession, written densely in capital letters over 22 pages.  He said it had not been made under duress, and that he had been pleasantly surprised at how well he had been treated in the Bangkok prison.
Justo faces up to seven years in jail and a fine if found guilty of extortion. He was hoping for a lighter prison term in view of his confession, his lawyer Pranot Kalanuson told The Straits Times.
Thai police spokesman, Lieutenant-General Prawut Thavornsiri, said on Wednesday that Justo must be tried first in a Thai court on charges of blackmail and serve a jail term - if any - before he could be extradited, according to The Star newspaper in Malaysia. It quoted the spokesman as saying that police were seeking evidence against the Swiss national that would be submitted to the public prosecutors, possibly within this month.
Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar arrived in Bangkok yesterday to try to interview Justo.
• With reporting by Malaysia Correspondent Shannon Teoh
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2015, with the headline 'Justo: I was offered $2.7m for stolen data'. Print Edition | Subscribe