Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The "scariest man in Malaysia" joins anti-graft Commission

IN: Citizen Nades

Have guts will travel. The appointment of journalist R. Nadeswaran to one of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) main panels may be a cause for some to object, but I see it as the continuation of a fine - and brave - tradition by Tan Sri Abu Kassim, the MACC chief, to include the strongest critics to provide it with ideas and feedback on how to get the bad guys and improve the MACC operations and procedures. You can read why Citizen Nades is feared by so many in the authority h e r e.

OUT: Syed Akbar Ali
Syed Akbar Ali, whose blog Outside the Box has become probably the Top 3 baddest critics of the Prime Minister Najib Razak,  bows out from the MACC yesterday after two full terms as a Commissioner.

p.s. The MACC, formerly knowan as the Anti-Corruption Agency, (ACA), is the goverment agency that investigates and prosecutes corruption in public and provate sectors. The PM appoints the Commissioners for the following three panels (two other panels are appointed by the King):

Ahli Panel Penilaian Operasi

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Hamid Bugo, Mantan Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri Sarawak (baru)
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan, Pengerusi New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad (baru)
Datuk Zamani Abdul Ghani – Pengerusi Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (baru)
Datuk Azizah Arshad, Mantan Timbalan Ketua Audit Negara (baru)
Dato’ Wan Abdul Wahab Abdullah, Mantan Ketua Pengarah Biro Pengaduan Awam
Profesor Dr. Normah Omar, Pengarah Institut Penyelidikan Perakaunan (UiTM)  (baru)
Dr. Sundramoorthy M. Pathmanathan, Profesor Madya Fakulti Kriminologi, Universiti Sains Malaysia (baru)
Lim Chee Wee, Mantan Presiden Majlis Peguam Malaysia (baru)

Ahli Panel Perundingan dan Pencegahan Rasuah

Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar, Pengerusi Media Prima Bhd
Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing, Presiden Universiti Limkokwing
Datuk Dr. Marimuthu Nadason, Presiden Gabungan Persatuan Pengguna-Pengguna Malaysia
Dato’ Hussamuddin Haji Yaacub, Pengerusi dan Pengarah Urusan  Kumpulan Media Karangkraf (baru) 
Dato’ Profesor Dr. Engr. Chin Yew Sin, Timbalan Setiausaha Agong Kehormat Gabungan Pertubuhan Cina Malaysia (Huazong)
Dato' Zuraidah Atan, Peguam bela & Peguam cara 
Dato’ Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, Mantan Ketua Pengarah JAKIM (baru)
Dato’ Khalid Ibrahim, Mantan Ketua Pengarah Biro Pengaduan Awam (baru)
Dato’ Sharifah Mohd Ismail, Presiden Institutei of Marketing Malaysia (baru)
Dato’ Dr. Anwar Fazal, Mantan Pengarah Kolej Right Livelihood, Universiti Sains Malaysia (baru) 
Profesor Dr. Syed Noh Syed Ahmad, Pensyarah Fakulti Perakaunan, UiTM (baru) 
Profesor Madya Dr Ismail Sualman, Pensyarah Komunikasi dan Pengajian Media, UiTM (baru)
Walter Sandosam, Mantan Presiden Institut Audit Dalaman Malaysia (baru)
R. Nadeswaran, Pengarang, The Sun Daily (baru)

Ahli Jawatankuasa Aduan

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot, Mantan Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri Sarawak
Datuk Muhammad Hatta Abd. Aziz, Mantan Setiausaha Persekutuan Sabah (baru) 
Dato' Ahmad Said, Mantan Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Perkhidmatan Awam (baru)
Hajah Rohani Abdul Kadir, Mantan Pengarah Pengurusan Sumber Manusia & Perkhidmatan Am (baru)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

End of the road for Kidex, really?

"The people have spoken", says anti-Kidex movement
What a pity. If it's true that Azmin Ali, the Selangor Menteri Besar, has chuck the highway project out of the state's window, I'd feel sorry. Because from the little I knew of the project, I thought the proposed Kinrara-Damansara Expressway was a good project meant to benefit millions of city motorists, save the economy millions of ringgit and improve productivity by leaps and bounds in the years to come. Typical of a project ahead of its time, people will protest in the belief that they don't need it. Examples abound: the North-South Expressway, the Penang bridge(s), Lim Guan Eng's proposed Penang tunnel, Lynas, MRT, and many more. 
The main lesson we can learn is this: having a project that's good for the people is not good enough; we must be able to convince the people that the project is good for them. 
Need to look more convincing
The Malay Mail's reports today seems to suggest that the affected residents are far from convinced. Read h e r e.
The Say No To Kidex pressure group is preparing a big party to celebrate their victory during Chinese New Year, I hear. Azmin is a hero who listens to "the voice of reason" and "for taking a clear stand with the people". The anti-Kidex movement had quite big support, including from former Cabinet minister Zaid Ibrahim and several mainstream newspapers and news portals.
Still, you can't help wondering about that big "?" mark at the end of the newspaper's front page headline ... 
Read also: After Azmin's NO. it's back to the Cabinet's for Kidex  
Razak Chik's What? No Kidex? Nimby!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Where did the girls go after we saved them?

So, where di the "rescued" foreign vice girls go to after we've "saved" them?  

The Mole front page

Did we deport them, or did they queitly, happily, sadly go back into circulation as soon as the authorities had rescued them from the vice dens? How come nobody really knows? 
The MOLE has the story. Or, rather, more questions ... When Silence Is NOT Golden

Friday, February 13, 2015

Malaysia defends Press Freedom while most of the rest of the world declines: World Press Freedom Index 2015

RSF is Charlie Hebdo
"Press freedom ... is in retreat on all five continents," RSF declared, claiming its indicators were "incontestable". 
Malaysia, which ranked 147th in 2013 in terms of press freedom, did well to maintain that position in 2014, according to the 2015 Index released by the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers this week. This will be viewed as an achievement if one notes that the trend globally saw the Press in most countries, including the US, losing more and more freedom. Of course, the openly pro-Charlie Hebdo RSF had Islamist terrorists such as Islamic State and Boko Haram to blame for the sorry state; refer Drastic Decline in media freedom worldwide.
Readers can click h e r e for details of the Press Freedom Index 2015. 
p.s. The "incontestable" bit is more than a bit laughable, though. I continue to be amazed and fascinated at these people: they put Brunei as having a freer Press than its more newsy neighbours like the Philippines, Indonesia Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia! [see my posting in 2013 h e r e). 
But at #121, Brunei is nowhere near Timor Leste! (#102). The US, in comparison, was #49, not a lot freer than Papua New Guinea (#56). 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rosmah: "The last thing I'd do ..."

To bring down Najib, first bring down those closest to him. And nobody's closer to Najib Razak than his dear wife, Rosmah Mansor, and his little brothers. Break them up. Get them to be at loggerheads!

What Asia Sentinel is trying to do - to suggest a severe rift in relationship between the First Lady and the siblings, especially Nazir Razak - is nothing new. It is also nothing short of despicable. At one time, our politicians from both divide were so intent on "killing" one another they didn't think twice about dragging their foes' moms, dads, wives, husbands, etc. Then they decided on a kind of truce on that. Which was good. Something news portals like Asia Sentinel should try and emulate, for the sake of decency.

In any case, Rosmah has denied that she was out to pull the First family apart. It's "the last thing I'd do as long as I'm alive ...", she said.

Read Barking Magpie's Rosmah Mansor says .. RUBBISH!

Your turn, Nazir ...

p.s. It's hard to miss the fact that the new round of attacks on the PM is also aimed at his close advisers and friends. While Asia Sentinel tackles the family, the Sarawak Report focuses on Paul Stadlen who advises Najib Razak on media matters. They complain that the dude's been doing Too much partying ...

And then there's the fresh attack on Jho Lo-1MDB, which may set up a mouth-watering duel in court between Tong Kooi Ong, a close friend of Anwar Ibrahim, and Jho Lo, the man who knew how to party, alright and said to be close to Rosmah Mansor. On Jho Lo, I tend to agree with Another Brick in the Wall: Time for Jho Lo to start singing ...

Time to have that alternative to Bar Council

Loyar Beruk. Apologies to all the good, decent lawyers out there (and I know of many, some of whom even helped me when I needed help back in those days when blogging, unlike today, was a risky past time) but when I read what the Bar Council, the body that claims to represent lawyers in this country, had to say about the Anwar Ibrahim vs Saiful Bukhary Azlan's Sodomy II verdict, I could not help but lose whatever little respect I had for the body.

My initial response to the Facebook posting by Seademon was "Loyar Buruk" but I immediately changed that to the more apt "Loyar beruk".

Read what the monkeys had to write (with apologies to the real monkeys in the trees out there):

Really, you good and decent lawyers who are yourselves against the Bar Council, you have to seriously think of setting up that alternative Bar. Restore our faith in lawyers, please!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sodomy ll verdict proves that In Malaysia, all men are equal before the law

Not everyone thought it was a bad idea for the Prime Minister's Office to issue a statement on the verdict of the Sodomy ll trial. Personally, however, I thought it was one of the worst calls you could make if the intentiont was to disassociate the PM and his office from the whole case. In fact, some of us actually thought that the statement had been "doctored" by interested parties to make it look like it had been issued by the Government. But (like justice for Saiful) it was not only done, it was seen to be done ... 
Shafee Abdullah the deputy prosecutor in the case, in contrast, issued a compelling statement on behalf of not just his client, the victim of the crime, but in defence of the oft-maligned Malaysian judiciary. 
p.s. Shafee had drafted two separate press statements for yesterday - and printed 150 copies of each: oe for guilty verdict and the other in case of a non-guilty verdict. For my Dear Readers, here's the full text of the press statement that was actually issued: 

By Shafee Abdullah

This judgment brings to an end seven years of court time during which nine judges, and scores of lawyers, Anwar alone had (14 lawyers in the Federal Court, but in all about 20 lawyers cumulatively at all levels) occupying many thousands of hours, have exhaustively looked at every detail of the evidence in this case from beginning to end. The total 9 judges do not include the judges who presided in interlocutory appeals.

I know that justice has finally been done, so I am professionally satisfied with the result today. But it gives me no pleasure – a young man's life has been wrecked, changed forever. Worse still, without anonymity, the victim was put through seven days of courtroom cross-examination and all that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s team could throw at him. So even the process of justice added to his suffering.

Yet Anwar Ibrahim himself chose to give no more than a statement from the dock. Unlike his victim, he refused cross-examination. This was his right under the law, but a right he used to attack the prosecution, the judges, and his former colleagues in government. He has undermined the reputation of his own country.

I was appointed at the Court of Appeal until the final stages of this appeal at the Federal Court, the highest court in the land. It has been a very difficult task, because what would in ordinary circumstances be a straightforward case of sexual assault by an employer against an employee has been used as a battering ram against the reputation of the judiciary. So I ask all fair-minded people in Malaysia and overseas to consider carefully before forming an opinion, and to review the actual evidence in the case.
Most importantly, please read today’s judgment and the previous judgments word for word. They provide the facts – however ugly – of the case.

For example, turning to the DNA evidence, Malaysia has two key features in its treatment of DNA. Firstly, we require 16 out of 16 matching points. No country demands higher – most, such as UK and the USA, allow much less. All the DNA that supported this case matched 16 out of 16 – in gambler’s jargon, a ‘full flush’. And all the DNA was from semen, which is much more reliable then say DNA from sweat. You cannot steal, fake or contaminate it.

Second, in Malaysia there is no law that compels someone to give a DNA sample. When Anwar Ibrahim challenged the prosecution samples in court, he had the opportunity to offer his own samples, as fresh evidence. If innocent, he could have done so and closed the case overnight. He chose not to do so.

Regarding Anwar Ibrahim’s alibi, he initially offered an extensive one. But he abandoned it completely when it was demonstrated to be false by CCTV footage shown to the court. All this was established long ago.

Anwar Ibrahim also refused to swear on the Quran about the incident. The victim swore on the Quran about the details of the case, both in Malaysia and Mecca at Islam’s holiest mosque.

The case in front of this, the highest court in Malaysia, was a technical one: in all of the exhaustive legal process, and in all the layers of evidence, was there any possibility that due process had not been followed? Was there any technicality? Today, the answer of the judges was no. Today, they ruled on the decisions already taken, the evidence long ago tested and presented.

The great smear is the much-repeated allegation by Anwar Ibrahim that this case was politically motivated. As the judgment today details, this is simply false.

The independence of Malaysia’s judiciary is enshrined in the constitution. And this case was brought by a private individual, Anwar Ibrahim’s employee, who lodged a police complaint in which he accused Anwar Ibrahim of using undue pressure, as his employer, to coerce him into sex.

Nobody could have scripted the twists and turns of the extraordinary and comprehensive legal processes, including the many decisions that have gone in Anwar Ibrahim’s favour. To allege as much is offensive to the judges, and it is unsustainable to anyone who reads today what they decided, and why.

The only politically motivated actions here are those of Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters who have been demanding that the case be dropped.

Consider how this matter first arose. As Hansard (dated 22 October 1997, 18 December 1997) recalls, the very first time an MP stood up in parliament holding a statutory declaration that accused Anwar Ibrahim of sexual – homosexual – assault, Anwar Ibrahim was Deputy Prime Minister and his accuser was not a member of the government, but in fact an opposition MP from the DAP. And who was his original accuser? The late Karpal Singh MP, a brilliant lawyer. Any account of the criminal and then political downfall of Anwar Ibrahim should recall who threw the first stone.

But for the victim and indeed Malaysia, this has been a dreadful and long drawn out saga. At this time of closure, I ask the honourable members of the media present to impartially look at the facts of the case, to analyse the meticulous judgments, and to carry these, as best they may, to the people.

I am afraid some media appear to regard the Malaysian courts as acting fairly whenever they find in Anwar Ibrahim’s favour, and as compromised whenever they do not.

We all have a duty to the victim, a young man who was Anwar Ibrahim’s personal assistant, and who through no fault of his own has found himself in the national and international spotlight. As with all victims of serious crimes, he had the right to see his complaint properly investigated by the police and the judiciary.

So, rather than being a story about politics, this is actually a human story – and from the judiciary’s perspective, it is the role of our country’s justice system to enable both sides of the story to be heard in court.

Above all, this is a story about all men, regardless of their power, being equal before the law.

* Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is the deputy public prosecutor in Saiful Bukhari Azlan vs Anwar Ibrahim's trial known the world over as the Sodomy ll

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

End of the Anwar-Saiful saga

Final update, 6.45pm
How Anwar plans to spend his time in prison.  In possibly his last interview with the BBC for quite a while, convicted Anwar Ibrahim says he would re-read the classics and revisit Shakespeare while in prison. He also quotes the "battle" between the ex-Prime Minister (Tun N) and the present Prime Minister to prove that his struggles have created cracks in the ruling BN coalition. And at the end of the interview, he highlights his conviction that "you cannot underestimate the wisdom of the masses". 

How true. How true.

[pls note, the interview was done before today's verdict by the Federal Court]

Updated at noon 10/2/2015: Anwar IS guilty!

Screenshot: The Star was first with the news ...

Original article 
Kalah kita! Whichever way the Federal Court decides, whether former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim goes to jail for sodomising a man or whether that man - his ex-aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan - fails to get the justice he says he deserves, it would put a welcomed end to a prolonged court case that has teased, tormented and in the end trounced us as as a society.  

And whether Anwar is a free man or not after the judgement is delivered, there will be no winners in this case. Justice will be done but we will all end up losers. 
But still, Alhamdulillah, the end is near. 

Lepas ni, tolong lah, Jangan Buat Lagi.

Pictures at the Palace of Justice taken from a Whatsapp chatroom.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Najib didn't sanction MSM attack on Daim, insider reveals

Sympathizers at work? For two days in a row, the Barking Magpie lashed out, threatening to do more than just bark. 

First, in Nothing Malay about the Malay Mail, the blogger hit out at the rumored ascension of a friend of a former Press advisor to ex-PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. That advisor has never had anything good to say about Prime Minister Najib Razak and Najib knows of it.

Then, in a harshly-prosed Media Prima and NST, What a Fiasco, he called for the generals in the Umno-friendly media conglomorate to be sacked for allowing its editors to quote Opposition leaders, including Anwar Ibrahim, to attack UMNO veteran Daim Zainuddin last month.

Najib, according to Barking Magpie, did not sanction the attack on Daim nor the provision of airtime for Anwar to do launch that attack.
"... Media Prima's TV3 giving airtime highlighting opposition leader Brother Anwar Bin Ibrahim claims to have evidence to bring down former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin on abuse of power, gives the impression it was sanction by the Prime Minister Najib Razak when it was utterly untrue and wrong. 
"Why the TV3 airtime was given to Anwar was beyond my comprehension, but it happened under Johan Jaafar's watch. Media sentinel such as Johan should have known better the opposition would grab the opportunity to spin the story."
The attack on Daim stopped as abruptly and mysteriously as it started after pro-UMNO bloggers questioned TV3's motives. Tokoh Wartawan Negara AKJ, in one posting, said the attack on Daim using Anwar suggested that "Anwar sympathisers" still ruled the mainstream media or media arus perdana (MAP).
"Daripada tindak-tanduk MAP menggunakan Anwar sebagai jurucakap timbullah gambaran bahawa Anwar masih mempunyai simpatisan (simpathizers) di kalangan eksekutif, pengarang dan wartawan MAP." - A. Kadir Jasin: PM-Anwar: Burung sebulu terbang beregu, Jan 22
As for the article on Malay Mail, which mentioned me in passing, I shall not comment publicly on the matter of the ascencion of the so-called anti-Najib element in the Malay Mail. Suffice to say I don't see why - if I'm a director of the Malay Mail - I must put up with the presence (let alone the ascension) of anyone in the Malay Mail who's an ally of my mortal enemy, assuming I had one in the first place.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Baird resigns after Anifah's rebuke

Just a week after Anifah Aman ticked off John Baird over his unsolicited comments regarding the Malaysia's decision to keep the Sedition Act, the Canadian Foreign Minister quits! That is good news for bilateral relations, if nothing else. The Barking Magpie, who wrote the other day about how Canada itself is empowering itself with legal instruments to beat all manners of extremists (just like Malaysia's doing re Sedition Act), has details about John Baird's personal and political life in An Openly Gay Canada Foreign Minister John Baird resigned 

Our stand against Baird last week:

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Stop bullying bloggers, Kit Siang

Lim Kit Siang's at it again. 

So, we are all supposed to shiver, stop tweeting and close down our blogs, and vote for the DAP for "Zero tolerance for freedom of expression".

Time to really call it quits, Mr Lim. You are so detached from reality. You have become so thin-skinned you can't stand the heat anymore.

In any case, the Syed Akhbar Ali here is NOT Syed Akbar Ali of the OutSyed The Box fame. 
And, if I'm not mistaken, that Syed Akhbar Ali was merely re-posting a tweet. He probably doesn't believe that Kit Siang was capable of starting something so bloody like the May 13 riots, anyway. So instead of suing him, Kit Siang should thank him for highlighting that piece of "dastardly lies" that has been sitting there in cyberspace, and getting people to wonder (again) why some people would want to give Kit Siang so much credit for ...

p.s Can't help notice that  Syed Akbar Ali did not deny he was "UMNO blogger"

Dear Mr Lim Kit Siang, I Dont Tweet. I Certainly Did Not Tweet Anything About You.

Just about an hour and a half ago, (about 10:00 PM, Wed 4/2/2015) a friend sent me this link to Free Malaysia Today which says that Mr Lim Kit Siang is going to sue me. 

Here is the report from Free Malaysia Today in full.

Lim takes blogger to court for ‘dastardly lies’
FMT Reporters
 | February 4, 2015

'He insinuated that I'm a communist and racist who caused the May 13 riots.'

lim kit siang 1KUALA LUMPUR: DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang has instructed his lawyers to institute criminal and civil proceedings against a pro-Umno blogger, Syed Akhbar Ali, over a tweet that allegedly defamed him by insinuating that he was a communist and an anti-Malay racist who caused the May 13 race riots in 1969.

The tweet appeared last night, Lim said in a press statement today. The statement did not say whether he would first send Syed Akhbar a letter of demand.

“Syed Akhbar’s tweet carried a graphic of me in the garb of Mao Tse Tung,” fumed Lim, who is the MP for Gelang Patah.

“It alleged that I am ‘Bapa 13 Mei’, and accused me of having caused the May 13 race riots in 1969.”

He said the graphic was captioned with the words “Melayu keluar! Apa lagi duduk sini, kita hentam lu, sekarang kita sudah ada kuasa – Lim Kit Siang (Bapa 13 Mei).” The offending words can be translated as follows: “Malays get out. Why stay here any longer. We will whack you. We have power now.”

The graphic in Syed Akbar’s tweet, added Lim, alleged that he made offensive statements in several places and on specific dates.

According to the tweet, Lim purportedly used such slogans as Malai-Si (Die Malays); Apa polis boleh buat, kita Raja. Buang sama polis Melayu (What can the police do, we are now King. Get rid of the Malay police); Mati Melayu, sakai pergi masuk hutan (Die Malays, slaves go into the jungle); KL sekarang Cina punya (KL now belongs to the Chinese); Melayu balik kampung, Melayu sekarang tiada kuasa. Sekarang kita Cina sudah control (Malays go back to the kampung. Malays now have no power. We Chinese are now in control); Semua Melayu kasi habis, kasi halau semua polis (All Malays are finished. Chase out the police).

“These are dastardly lies,” said Lim. “Not only I have never said them (in fact, there are words and terms in this category which I have never used in my life), I was never in Kuala Lumpur from May 11 to 13, 1969, during the May 13 riots, which the police Special Branch can vouch from their records.

“Let my decision to institute criminal and civil proceedings against Syed Akbar be the first blow of decent, moderate and patriotic Malaysians to save Malaysia from extremism and to declare ‘Zero Tolerance for the Politics of Extremism, Hate and Lies in Malaysia’.”

My reply : Dear Mr Lim, I set up a Twitter account some time ago but I have never used it at all. Not even once.  I am not into Twitter.

If there is a password required to access my Twitter account I have also long forgotten it.

I must say quite simply that I have never tweeted anything about you. Period.

Hence I have also never tweeted any of the things that I have read in Free Malaysia Today at the link above. 

I think someone has either created a fake account using my name, hacked my inactive Twitter account, cloned it or whatever and then used it to say all those things about you.

Finally, I  am very well aware that you were never in Kuala Lumpur from 11 to 13 May, 1969. 

If I remember it correctly you were in Sabah, where the Special Branch arrested you at the airport. I have read your profile from your own writings. So I am well aware that you were not in Kuala Lumpur on those dates that you mention.

I hope you will please take note of this message.  

You may wish to pursue this matter further but I am not involved in any way.

Thank you.

Syed Akbar Ali.

p.s. My name is spelt Syed Akbar Ali and not Syed "Akhbar" Ali. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

RON95: Looking beyond cheaper teh tarik

By Abdul Wahid Omar
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department

As Malaysians enjoy lower RON95 petrol price of RM1.70 per litre effective 1 February, some may have missed credit rating agency Moody's announcement on 30 January 2015 that affirmed Malaysia's A3 rating & Positive outlook. 

An "A" rating is considered upper-medium grade & is subject to low credit risk. Positive outlook refers to a likely rating upgrade over the medium term (12-18 months). 

Here's my 1-2-3 take on Malaysia's rating:

1) There are 3 global rating agencies ; Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch . Moody's and S&P are the 2 main agencies reatained by most global issuers. All three rating agencies have rated Malaysia at A3/A- but with different rating outlook. Moody's is Positive, S&P Stable and Fitch Negative. At A3/A-, Malaysia has the 2nd highest credit rating in ASEAN after Singapore (AAA), and one notch above Thailand (Baa1), two notches above Philippines (Baa2) and three notches above Indonesia (Baa3). Brunei is not rated. Other ASEAN countries are below Baa3 (minimum level considered to be investment grade). 

2) Moody's is generally positive on Malaysia due to the Govt's commitment to fiscal deficit reduction & reforms and Malaysia's fundamental credit strengths - notably macroeconomics stability, domestic capital market depth and favourable Govt debt structure. This provides resistance to a more adverse external economic environment, lower oil prices & global financial market volatility. Moody's acknowledged they have seen ongoing fiscal deficit reduction & actual implementation of significant reform. This includes, among others, the managed float system for petrol & diesel in Dec 2014 that effectively eliminated subsidies, reduced Govt reliance on oil revenues to 30% in 2014 and implementation of GST come 1 April 2015 which will broaden our revenue base. Meaning Malaysia has been doing the right things & potentially could have been upgraded if not for the recent sudden drop in global oil prices & market volatility. On economic fundamentals, Moody's expects Malaysia to continue to exhibit faster growth, lower inflation & a more robust external payments (current account in Balance of Payments) position than other A rated countries. Other strengths include favourable demographics, resurgence of private investment since ETP, macroenonomic stability anchored by credibility of BNM & Govt's favourable debt structure & depth of onshore capital markets. Only 3% of Govt debt is denominated in foreign currency. 

3) What are Moody's concerns? First is the high level of household debt which is mitigated by low unemployment & high level of household financial assets. Second is the external payments position but Moody's believes that Malaysia is likely to sustain a structural current account surplus & that foreign currency reserve adequacy will remain in line with other A rated countries. Third on clarity of off-budget financing entities to analyse contingent risks to Govt. 

Notwithstanding the concerns, the Posiitive outlook reflects confidence that fiscal consolidation will be sustained despite prolonged low commodity prices. What could move the rating up? Continued track record in fiscal deficit reduction and stability in the affordability & refinancing of Govt debt. What could move the rating down? Worsening of fiscal deficit or crystallisation of large contingent liabilities. 

What can Malaysian businesses/corporates do to help? 

Well, there are many things businesses/corporates can do to help the Country / economy. Top three; 

1) Help grow the economy. Optimise your expenditure. Please spend domestically if you can afford it. Invest domestically. 
2) Be generous to your employees. If you make more profit, share it with them. They can do a better job in stimulating private consumption out of the bonus paid. 
3) Be a responsible corporate citizen. Dont evade tax, dont bribe to get contracts, embrace inclusiveness & sustainability. 

Let us all do our respective parts to navigate through 2015 & beyond. 

Thank you & with best regards. 

3 Feb 2015

Monday, February 02, 2015

Exposing the Malaysian Expose

Read also: HishamH's Currency Manipulation and Economic Sabotage (posted at 330pm, a minute before my article below)
"Too timid" to try it, market players describe Tong

So who's the real saboteur? The anonymous Exposing The Truth of Malaysians (malaysianexpose.wordpress.com) has been getting the hits since its "blog"-buster  How Tong Kooi Ong is attempting to break Bank Negara and crash the Ringgit (Jan 28). The blog's "expose" was so earth-shattering that it was even translated into Bahasa Melayu h e r e and h e r e and quoted by numerous pro-Government portals, blogs and social media sites. The Prime Minister was asked to comment (h e r e) on the talk that Anwar Ibrahim's old buddy Tong Kooi Ong was behind the attack against the central bank and the RM and Tong himself has denied the allegations h e r e

Latest development: the Malaysian Expose attempts to weave in Dr Mahathir Mohamad into their storyline. In Wikileaks tradition, Malaysia Today's article citing the blog headlines: LEAKED CHAT LOGS INDICATE TONG KOOI ONG-OWNED MEDIA USED MARKET MANIPULATION. MORE TO COME.
"It appears that Tong Kooi Ong believes he is a political mastermind who can manipulate the “Old man” (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) to be used in his efforts to destroy Malaysian economy for his own multi-billion profiting Soros style attack ..."
I've been asked if the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) was behind the Malaysian Expose because people wanted to believe that Najib Razak is doing this. I said I wasn't privy but the approach neither look nor sound like PMO, to me. More and more, though, the blog looks like it's run by people who don't really know the fundamentals of how the currency market works, let alone its intricacies and intrigues! 

So if you ask me, I'm as inclined to believe that it could be a Black Op by Anwar's hit men and women like Rafizi Ramli. Why? Well, to discredit the Prime Minister and the blogs that support him, of course!

For one, USD1.4 billion to short the ringgit from August last year to January 2015 is such a fantastic sum. Fantastically small, that is. Miniscule. You need ten times that amount to cause a ripple.

I hardly know Tong. Used to cover him as a Business Times reporters back when Anwar was DPM/Finance Minister; other than that, have had no links to him whatsoever. But those who know him personally and as a fellow market player said the dude is "too timid" to be attempting anything that woudl tantamount to breaking the mighty Bank Negara or  crashing the Ringgit. 

To break a central bank and crash a currency: you cannot be timid.

So, if anything, what the Malaysian Expose has managed to expose, I'm afraid, is - yet again - the gullibility of us Malaysians.

Well, most of us, that is.