Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Arrest of TMI journalists: Need to defend not just Freedom but also Integrity of the Press


24 HOURS LATER: The trio released after police's application for remand denied Pix MM

"The Malice Intended." It didn't surprise me that quite a few journos and bloggers are not just not sad but welcome the arrest of the Ho Kay Tat and Co. "They've been asking for it," said quite a seasoned reporter with a news portal.

Anonmymous blogger Barking Magpie, in his posting MI is for Malice Intended, has this to say:

"The way I see it the news was deliberate and not an error, it was reported with Malice Intended. How can any new media or portals write stories without checking and with concrete back-up to back their stories."

Original article (with added information):

BEFORE: Lionel and Black with their lawyer Shahredzan Johan. Pic TMI

I was wrong ... When I bumped into Jahabar Saddiq after last week's Friday prayers, he cheekily asked me: 
"Would you like a photograph with me before I go in?". 
He was referring, of course, to my previous day's blog posting All's not well at Angkasapuri (March 26) in which I slammed the authorities for not taking serious note at TMI for an article that could cause friction between its readers and the Monarchy, an important institution in this country. 
My reaction to Jahabar's suggestion was sure. "Ah, you won't go in lah." 
I was wrong! The police this morning arrested Jahabar, the TMI editor, and his boss Ho Kay Tat, and three other editors - Lionel Morais, Amin Shah "Black" Iskandar, and Zulkifli Sulong
Now, I may not agree with TMI's brand of journalism most of the times: they spin instead of just report, but I certainly cannot agree with the arrest of the five journalists over the errorneous article they published (whether or not with the intent to ridicule the Council of Rulers or just because they were too lazy to double check with the party concerned).  
But having said that, I must ask my fellow journalists and bloggers out there to please stick to the truth at all times when they report a news. 
Journalists have a duty to report the truth. Not half-truths. Journalists are trained to verify all information they get all the time. It is highly irresponsible for a political portal like TMI, for example, to publish a statement purportedly issued by the Council of Rulers on a contentious issue without checking and confirming its authenticity. 
My stand on this matter has been consistent and the five TMI editors aren't the frist to be facing a charge under the Sedition Act. 
Back in 2007, when Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Syed Akbar Ali were charged with sedition, I came out in support of them in my capacity as President of the National All-Blogs Alliance ....  
To be continued ...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Othman Wok, a Singapore Malay horror story

Updated: Lee Kuan Yew wouldn't have been Prime Minister if not for Malays like Othman Wok, writes veteran journalist Zam h e r e. I understand that Zam has a soft spot for Othman but he has is also a fierce albeit unofficial spokesman of Pak Samad, the Malay (well, ok, Javanese) who co-founded PAP with LKY before most of us were born ...

Original Article:

A. Samad Ismail's friends & foes: If Othman Wok is NOT in this picture, it's because he never was in the picture

Most Malaysians don't know Othman Wok. Well, not to worry my fellow Malaysians because, frankly, not many Singaporeans know who Othman Wok is, either. 

Growing up in Singapore during the Sixties and Seventies, I knew that Othman Wok was the only Melayu in Lee Kuan Yew's Cabinet (he served as Singapore's Social Services Minister from 1963-77). We were generally not impressed with him. Not back then, at least. Maybe he became more impressive after he quit politics to publish his novel on Singapore ghost stories ...

The children of three-time ISA detainee A. Samad Ismail know Encik Othman better than I do and they are shocked by Pakcik Othman's unprovoked atack on their late father as he attempts to immortalize his Lee Kuan Yew, his beloved late boss, and paints himself as someone with more substance than he actually has. 

Please read Nuraina's Samad Ismal: Of friends and foes.
For reasons, perhaps known only to Othman who considers my father "a good friend", he chose to repeat and publish a false allegation made decades ago against my late father - that he was a "card-carrying member" of the Malayan Communist Party. A charge my father had denied following his release in 1981 after four-and-half years in detention under the ISA. 

I write, on behalf of my sisters and brothers, to say that  - with due respect to Othman, we find the reference made of our father despicable and a deliberate act to malign his name. 

We will not be drawn into further remarks to set the record straight and to clear our father's name for obvious reasons. Individiuals  (from both sides of the causeway) responsible for the detention of our father are all dead and gone.
There are lot of materials on Pak Samad. Briefly, he  co-founded PAP with Lee Kuan Yew but quickly became persona non grata because, well, he was simply too influential, especially among the trade unionists and the non-Malays, and that was the kind of competition that Lee Kuan Yew did not need. Malaysia's second PM, Tun Razak, sought Pak Samad's counsel regularly after Samad settiled down in Malaysia but as soon as Razak died, the keris and daggers came out of the sarongs of Umno people who felt that he was a threat to them. He was detained under the ISA throughout the tenure of Hussein Onn's premiership, released only after Dr Mahathir Mahathir became Prime Minister in 1981. 

If you do have comments to leave, please leave them at Jalan Sudin h e r e.

All's not well at Angkasapuri ...

Why nobody's interested in The Malaysian Insider. Nur Jazlan Tok Mat's Public Accounts Committee's discovery at the Multimedia and Communications Minsitry [RTM's news centre without equipment, The Mole 24 March] wasn't all that shocking, actually.  
Shabery: Lacks support
For years, Angkasapuri has been dogged by talk of shady deals involving senior ministry officials and serious baggage as a result of a generally corrupt system. The extremely hardworking Shabery Cheek was facing an uphill task from the first day he became Minister; now I hear not all is well between him and Jailani Johari, the Deputy Minister that most of us have heard very little of, remembered by yours truly and fellow bloggers as one who was helping run the MCMC like a fiefdom once upon a time. 
JJ, well remembered at MCMC
"The Ministry is too small for two of them," said a pal recently, who reminded me that Shabery and JJ both hailed from Terengganu.  
At Bernama TV*, staff have regularly not been getting paid regularly. and there's no solution in sight. It's not a new problem but somehow these people in authority have allowed the matter to fester. They did appoint a professional to head the MCMC with a view of empowering the Commission after JJ had left (and later promoted to Deputy Minister) but recently his contract was mysteriously not renewed. Since then very little has been heard of M C M C ... 
And now a three-year old, RM100 million news centre that has no equipment! 
Is it a wonder then that nobody seems to be keeping an eye at all at what's happing in our cyberworld, at what kind of malicious half-truths and nonsense our people are feeding on? 
As of this morning, on my short blog roll alone, the same tales that reflect poorly on the Ministry:

p.s. Bernama TV isn't the only tv station having a hard time. ABN, which burst into the limelight just a little of two years ago, is not having such a good time either. A friend complains that he has not been paid for two months and that people are being forced to leave. ABN is owned by Kenneth Eswaran, whos said to have close ties with Rosmah Mansor, the PM's wife. But then they say that about anything else that they don't quite agree with them. don't they?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Nazri's "stupid" remark isn't stupid at all

Stupid to discuss Hudud: Nazri 

No room for discussion. Some in the social media are mocking the "stupid" remark made by Nazri Aziz with regards to Hudud, but Nazri (or "Chief" as he's called by the Umno faithfuls) is actually one of the smartest persons in his party and one of the most consistent: as a party member, he has the track record as a fearless defender of the party President to the extent that he would attack even a former party president if he had to. Remember how vicious the Chief was when he attacked Dr Mahathir Mohamad to defend the untenable Abdullah Ahmad Badawi? 

Well, I heard he'd made his peace with the Tun a little while after Najib Razak became PM. I'm not sure if Najib had put him up to that, knowing how Najib is with respecting his elders but, as a result, we've seen less of Nazri's attack mode in the past couple of years. The "stupid" remark is probably the strongest words that have come from the Chief in a long while. It is also probably the harshest on those who back the PAS' Hudud.

But we cannot and must not take Nazri's remark at face value. The Chief is not implying that all of us are stupid for discussing the PAS Hudud. His words are, really, meant for his colleagues in the Barisan Nasional, those making all kinds of statements - some stupid and some even threatening - as if Umno and BN under Najib Razak's watch were really going to embrace PAS Hudud. 

If you notice, Najib hasn't been discussing Hudud, not openly at least. The prominent blogger Annie does not think this is a sign of weakness; on the contrary, Annie thinks that the PM is handling the Hudud issue really well: Najib being smart on hudud (March 24)]. 

"[Najib] is staying out of it and letting the Pakatan people, especially DAP and PAS to continue whacking each other over the nonsense. DAP in particular is now very anxious to drag BN into the rig as they needed PAS to get distracted by whatever official stance BN will come out with on the matter."

But sooner or later, the PM will have to spell out his (and BN's) stance on Hudud: that PAS' dream will NOT be implemented in Malaysia as long as he's in charge and as long as the BN rules. That has always been the stand of this Government since the start. It's one of the few things that unite even political foes like Dr Mahathir and Musa Hitam! Where Hudud is concerned, there is no room for discussion. And that's what Nazri is actually saying. 

p.s. Helen Ang thinks that Najib will eventually cave in to the pressure for Hudud to be implemented throughout Malaysia. I think if the PM allows room for negotiation on the matter, that would probably be the outcome. Read her Okay, bye ... for now.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Even in death, LKY upstages neighbouring Johor

Lee Kuan Yew is dead. Long live Lee Kuan Yew! 
You cannot disrespect the memory if the ingapore statesman, even if you refuse to ackowledge him as the "founding father" of modern Singapore, because Mr Lee was the man who, single-handedly, transformed Singapore into what he envisaged as "one united people", by hook as well as by crook. I grew up in Singapore for much of the first two decades of my life, so I actually lived some of the stories most Malaysians have only heard about where LKY and his policies and dictates were like. Every time I visit my relatives in Singapore, I can't but be in awe of what the first Singapore PM had done for and to Singapore and her people. At 91, Mr Lee may be dead, but his legacy will live on forever. You can't take that away from him. 
In fact, even in death, LKY might have done a number on his neighbours in Johor, who have been hurt by his unkind remarks about their State and city Johor Baru. Johoreans were supposed to own the whole of today, as today was to mark the much-awaited, long-overdue Coronation of their 5th Sultan. It is God's will that every March 23, when Johoreans celebrate their  new public holiday, the rest of the world and history will  remember it as the day the world - at least this part of the world that we live in - had lost one of its greatest sons. 
RIP,  Uncle Harry ...     
Still,  Dirgahayu, Tuanku by Big Dog, a Johorean

1MDB jinx for Ismee?

Nowhere to go. A month or so ago, talk was rife that 1MDB's Ismee Ismail would go to Felda Global Ventures as the big boss. Doesn't look like that's happening now. My sources said Emir Mavani Abdullah, the current CEO of FGV, is staying put. Another talk about Ismee going over to PNB has also been dismissed.  They said it's the curse of his 1MDB tenure but I won't give that much credence. Neither would Arul Kanda, who's said to have been making "all the right moves" there. Ismee's term at Tabung Haji ends this month so time's running short ... 
Good news awaits Azhar Abdul Hamid, the man who offered to quit over MRT Corp's fatal accident last year. He's slotted to be No 2 at DRB, Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary's massive conglomerate. Talk is that he is being groomed to replace Khamil Jamil, the long time right-hand man of the Malay tycoon.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ku Li for PM (a sequel 9 years in the making)

Prelude: Ku Li for PM (which I posted on this blog on 21 Oct 2006) 

Don't laugh. In 2008 when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's fall had become imminent, I asked Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah at his residence in Kuala Lumpur if he really wanted to become the Prime Minister. He was royally honest to goodness: 
"Who doesn't?" 
Therefore, the Kelantan prince's sudden re-emergence in major political conversations and debates (such as these ones: Whom do you serve, Ku Li asks Ministers, TMI 17/3/15 and Ku Li presses Ministers, MPs to declare assets TMI 17/3/15) cannot be dismissed as a casual phenomenon. Ku Li is a veteran politician: he has served as MP for more terms than most of us can count. He knows when and how to make an impact. 
And so I didn't laugh when a Minister told me the other day that he beleived those working hard on bringing down Najib Razak are looking to install Ku Li and not any of the Umno VPs (at least not immediately) and certainly not Abang Din aka DPM Muhyddin Yassin.  
Deja vu.  
Apanama carries the full text and clipping of Ku Li's statement in Parliament h e r e. Read also Ku Li lawan penggilap epal by AKJ: ".. Ku Li lah yang pegang tangan Mohd Najib di Petronas pada pertengahan tahun 1970-an. Ku Li lah antara orang terakhir berjumpa Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak di katil sakitnya di London pada tahun 1976 ..." 
p.s. While AKJ and Apanama have made it clear that they want Najib Razak OUT, they are not promoting Ku Li as replacement PM in their respective articles.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Can Mus and Yus bring back the magic?

Mustapha Kamil named as Group Editor, Yushaimi is Deputy Group Editor of the New Straits Times 

16 MARCH 2015 @ 8:08 PM 
KUALA LUMPUR: Media Prima Bhd (MPB) has announced the appointment of Mustapha Kamil Mohd Janor as Group Editor of the New Straits Times (NST) and Yushaimi Maulud Yahaya as the deputy group editor of the newspaper.
MPB Group managing director Datuk Seri Amrin Awaluddin said the new appointments will help further raise standards of NST’s print and digital products and strengthen its position as a paper of record with a more compelling content in the face of the challenging media environment. - Read MORE h e r e

I am happy to hear that Mus (pix) and Yush have been appointed to the two top posts in NST but I certainly don't envy these two former colleagues of mine. The NST, the flagship of the New Straits Times Press, is not what it used to be: circulation has dropped to well below 100k copies a day and ad revenues could be better. The best writers and reporters have left for greener pastures. Also, this is probably the hardest time for any media perceived as supportive of the government: readers tend to be more interested to read the "anti" stuff more, even if they do not believe in any of them.
Still, I am confident that the two can do take the paper to another level. For that, they will have to convince their rather conservative directors to agree to whatever radical editorial changes they have in mind. 
 Interestingly, the top 3 journalists heading NST today did not owe their genesis to NST: Jalil Hamid, whom Mus and Yus report to, made his name at Bernama and then Reuters; Mus was a long time Business Times reporter; and Yus had some solid grounding in the Malay Mail.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A brief personal intermission: An anniversary

14/3/2015: Today last year, with a motley crew of eleven, I started riding my Triumph Explorer on a spiritual adventure that I thought would surely be enough to last a lifetime. We would spend 60 days and over 18,000 km on the saddles of the motorcycles through a dozen countries. Another ten blessed days were spent in Madinnah and Makkah.
I wish I was there now ... 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I bought the Samsung (and not the iPhone)

Currency, External Debt, 1MDB's Singapore parking explained. I ended up getting myself a Note 4 Edge yesterday. I had wanted to buy the iPhone 6 Plus but the Apple guy told me the price had just gone up by RM400! Why? Because the ringgit had dropped against the US dollar.  Really, ah, existing stock also price can go up just like that? So I went next door and bought the Samsung, instead. Lucky the ringgit didn't weaken against the won, uh?

Profiteers don't need a good reason to cut your throat; they just need you to be gullible enough. To most of us who had gone through the 97 crisis and saw how we fixed it with our own recipe of blind faith and currency controls, the US dollar even at 3.80 should not be too much a concern. To quote a friend, "It just makes Ford Mustang more expensive, and of course single malts and cigars!".

Still, some quarters had no qualms using the depreciating ringgit to put pile up the pressure on Najib Razak and demanding that the Bank Negara governor steps down. 

Our country's external debt is another one. My friend Bujai wasn't the only one who might have misread the situation (External Debt "Success") . 

As HishamH observes in Explaining External Debt (Economics Malaysia, 12/3/15), 
"... the reporting on this has been deplorable, and not just from the local media (sorry guys, it has been pretty bad), but from the foreign media as well. One joker speculated that with external debt so high, Malaysia might have trouble “servicing” it, because the foreign exchange reserve cover was low. Hah!" 
Read also Malaysia's External Debt by Mat Rodi's Bringing Sense Back, 12/3/15

1MDB's decision to park the money it brought back from Caymans to Singapore sent Najib's critics into a new frenzy. The PM should thank Hantu Laut ("this is not in support of 1MDB but since they are keeping their inelegant silence ..") for helping explain, simply and convincingly, Why 1MDB parked its money in Singapore. 

The point of this posting is to tell the  Najib Administration that it needs to explain things better. People are running down the country. Politics aside, we should not set fire to the house because we don't like the persons sharing the home with us. Unfortunately, there are people who do.

Secondly,  I wanted to note that the Samsung is definitely the smarter phone. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

If Najib quits as PM today ...

"... dan semua orang sudah lupakan kejadian (Hishammuddin) melambaikan keris 10 tahun lalu." - Merdeka Centre survey
If Najib Razak quits today, his cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, the Defence Minister and an Umno vice president, would be the people's No 1 choice as successor. Ot at least that's what the findings of the Merdeka Centre's latest survey say (Ramai rakyat Malaysia mahu Hishammuddin sebagai PM, menurut kajian - TMI, 11 March). 
I don't think one can argue that much with the survey's findings. Hisham has been most savvy in building up his image to his fellow Malaysians. He's not only youthful, popular with both the guys and the gals regardless of race and class, he's also very hardworking. He's cultivated the adulation of some mainstream editors and there's an army of social media practitioners who are said to be at his beck and call, reminiscent of Anwar Ibrahim when he was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's powerful deputy. 
Likewise, KJ: the Sports and Youth Minister, whose communications team comprises strategic thinkers who are blessed with a boss who himself is a great PR for himself. KJ, like it or not, has been seen by and large to have done and said the right things by the people, esp the youths.  
BUT lets' get one thing clear, Dear Readers: nobody's resigning. The Merdeka Centre's survey was carried out at the wake of calls made by some bloggers and politicians, urged on by exposes in their villain-turned-hero the Sarawak Report, (Taib the target before, Najib the target now, The Mole, March 12) that Najib should step aside (or step down) over a range of alleged wrongdoings, from  1MDB to his wife's hairdo. 
That's not going to happen. Two reasons: 
One, the UMNO leaders are solidly behind their President. If they had wanted to send Najib to pasture, they would have done so last November at the party's annual assembly. Last week, after an extended series of attacks on their Boss, the party leaders met to listen to his brief on 1MDB and other matters, and are satisfied that the issue is being used as a political weapon to attack Najib; and
Two, a special task force has been set up to look into the allegations. The Attorney-General, the Accoutant-General, the police, and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission are all on that Committee. The Auditor-General, who has exposed without fear or favour many irregularities and abuses in government, including the NFC scandal, which is an on-going court battle, is also in the picture. 
Jazlan: "More Oppo than Oppo"
Last but not least, the PAC led by NurJazlan Tok Mat will also have a go at the 1MDB. As one YAB told me two nights ago, "Jazlan is more Opposition than Opposition. If Najib had made a hole in there (1MDB), he will use Najib to plug that hole."  
Ah, but I've digressed. 
Back to the survey. Like all surveys, this Merdeka Centre's survey is flawed. For one, it didn't have a single candidate from Sabah/Sarawak for the respondents to pick. It has also totally isolated the non-Melayus. 
For more kepincangan and hidden agenda, read Helen Ang's Portal paling pro-Kristians sengaja kenakan Muhyiddin dan Mukhriz (12 March) 

p.s. Me, I have published my view on why Hisham (and a few others) SHOULD NOT BE the next Prime Minister of this country in KJ, DPM? (16 Oct 2014). 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Graft probe into Felda hotel deal

Updated 10 March:
Ah, the MACC has confirmed my March 5 posting on the detention of top execs at a Felda subsidiary in relations to kickbacks from the purchase of a multi-million pound hotel in London. Well done, MACC! Someone said on Facebook when I broke the story that, "This is bad", but I said "It's also good" because we need to know that our anti-graft men and women are going after the crooks and the corrupt, wherever they are. Felda, for one, is very dear to the heart of PM Najib Razak.

The Bernama story via The Mole
Read also Malay Mail's Felda hotshots probed over London hotel deal  (March 6), FMT'MACC zooms in on more Felda investment top guns (March 6), and TMI-Malaysiakini's Isa's son quizzed on London luxury hotel buy (March 7):-

MACC confirms detaining CEO of Felda subsidiary

Monday, March 9, 2015
  • felda
This property in London's Bayswater is one of a few Felda had bought last year. 
PUTRAJAYA -- March 9, 2015: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has confirmed detaining the chief executive officer of a Felda subsidiary on March 1. -- March 9, 2015: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has confirmed detaining the chief executive officer of a Felda subsidiary on March 1.

In a statement released today, MACC director of special operations Datuk Bahri Mohamad Zin said the executive's remand would end tomorrow.

The commission also detained a businessman on February 26 whose first remand which ended on March 5 was extended for four days before he was released last Saturday.

The men aged 44 were detained to assist in investigations as they were suspected of having misappropriated the subsidiary's funds relating to the purchase of a hotel in Port Dickson.

Bahri said statements had been taken from 23 individuals so far to assist in the investigation which is ongoing. -- Bernama

My March 5 Posting:
TWO senior executives of Felda have been detained to help with investigation into alleged kickbacks involving the purchase of a multi-million pound boutique hotel in London by the federal land development authority. According to sources, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission may haul up several more in connection to the probe, believed over the purchase by Felda Investment Corporation of this hotel:

For context, read Felda Investment buys London hotel for RM330 million (The Star, Dec 2014)

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

ISA and the late Nik Aziz's unaccomplished dream

The sins of Umno, the sin of Najib Razak. I haven't written anything about the revered Tok Guru Nik Aziz, whose death on Feb 12 was mourned by Malaysia. It was my way of paying respect to the man who had contributed a great deal to Malaysian politics, Islam the religion, and the state and people of Kelantan, in particular. 
I had the privilege of interviewing the PAS "spiritual leader" but only once, with my colleague Nuraina Abdul Samad, back in October 2008. This was after his party had led Pakatan Rakyat in March that year to as close to a general election victory the Opposition coalition had ever gotten and, probably, will ever get.  
The interview was for the first issue of the now-defunct Qiadah, an ambitious 100-page magazine published by the Perbadanan Menteri Besar Kelantan.  You may get the gist of the interview in An Interview with the Spiritual Leader: The ISA [and other sins of the current Federal Government will go ... (Bru, 13 Oct 2008). 
Just two years later, on the eve of Malaysia Day in Sept 2011, Najib Razak, who became Prime Minister of Malaysia in April 2009, announced the abolition of the ISA or Internal Security Act.  
I doubt that the Spiritual Leader had seen this coming. 
But today the abolition of the ISA, that one act that Nik Aziz had dreamed of accomplishing, is regarded by many Malaysians as one of Najib Razak's biggest sins! What irony. And not even Nik Aziz's PAS would come to Najib's defence!
Even within his own Administration, you can count the number of leaders who dare defend the abolition of ISA. Read POTA is not ISA, says Zahid by Just Read, 4 March 2015.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Is this the new Terence Fernandez!?

I must say, it's quite depressing to see a journalist as seasoned as Terence Fernandez go down this path, even momentarily. There are more than enough big-headed bloggers and social media writers in this sumpah-serapah writing category as it is. 
In any case, Annie isn't the only who finds that Terence's article "wanted to make me puke" [Megalomanic editor who made me pity Rosmah, 3/3/2015]. An editor of a major news organisation earlier sent me a copy of the article and complained of indigestion. He said the exact same thing Annie did: "I'm not Rosmah's biggest fan .. blah blah .. but this whole article is a cheap shot and low blow at the same time.Very unbecoming of a mainstream editor."
Now, I wonder if Terence intended a "reverse psychology" effect with this article, that he actually was trying to garner some sympathy for the First Lady? If not, I hope he bounces back from this soon. 
His "megalomaniac" piece, preceded by some excerpts from Annie's:

The title of the article is,

Rise of a ‘megalomaniac’ First Lady

but truthfully, it made me conclude that the writer is the one who is a megalomaniac.

I think he is so full of himself that he believes he is God the All Mighty and can thrash another human being that way.

Here, is the whole article and you can judge for yourself,

Terence Fernandez
Published: 25 February 2015

She is regarded by many as among both the most loved and the most vilified woman of her time.

Her taste for luxury came from a childhood that was far from what she became accustomed to when she married the man who would one day be the nation’s leader.
She eyed him when he was a greenhorn politician, still trying to earn his place in the eyes of his elders.
But she had the gift of foresight and knew that he would be great one day. So she warded off all other suitors – and there were a few – and set her eyes on him.
Her gamble paid off when she stood beside him years later as he was sworn in as the chief executive.
When she became the First Lady, she could afford to style herself in the latest fashions. She even set trends herself. Some worked; some did not, according to fashion experts.
But what critics and admirers did agree on was that she would come across as a woman of irony.
While preaching to womenfolk of the need for austerity, the benefits of budgeting and tightening one’s belt in a time of economic difficulties, she would be decked to the nines.
It was not uncommon to see her leaving an event for single mothers and heading straight to a boutique or home for a house call. As it is with such powerful personalities, you can summon the boutique to come to you.
After a speech on the need for equal opportunities and controlling one’s urges to overspend, she would be trying on the latest couture gown from Dior (one of her favourites), jewellery from Van Cleef & Arpels among others or even custom-made Salvatore Ferragamo shoes.
While styling herself as “The First Lady of Charity” by heading an influential welfare association, she had to ward of accusations that such outfits were a front to channel funds into Swiss accounts in hers and her husband’s name.
Even government programmes which were dressed up as people-oriented projects to uplift poverty or increase the nation’s wealth were alleged to be projects to secure the First Couple’s retirement.
There had been increasing distrust and dislike of her by the rest of the Cabinet as she positioned herself as the stand-in for her husband – the country’s leader – when he is indisposed.
She had never hidden the fact that she would be very comfortable to fill that role permanently. She was already enjoying all the wealth and power that comes with being the First Lady. The potential of unfettered wealth and power was tantalising to say the least.
Due to her inherent power and control of several key personalities in the police and military, there were half-hearted attempts to oust her as well as her husband.
It did not augur well for the detractors and political enemies that they too had skeletons in their closet from ill-gotten wealth to mistresses.
It is said that even when her husband’s own popularity among the masses and his own circle was waning she made sure they continue to support him – through impassioned pleas, threats and financial gratifications.
While she had claimed to represent the working class, she was quick to defend the government’s cut in wages and spending and introducing new taxes.
Soon the people, especially the working class built resentment against the first couple who now seemed detached from reality with their jet-setting lifestyle and her particular taste for the finer things in life.
Her critics began likening her to Marie Antoinette – the executed former Queen of France and her now infamous “let them eat cake” remark.
“Megalomaniac” was just one description of her by a political analyst.
Still, her influence had already spread far and wide – including the corridors of power, where she is first to have access and in some cases give her approval of her husband’s schedule.
Her love for song and stage is legendary and began from her time as a little girl where she would dream of the big cities where, in her own words are "marvellous places, where nothing was given but wealth”.
Many official functions would see her in attendance and grabbing the limelight from her spouse who would often be left standing behind her.
However, being upstaged by his wife was the least of the nation’s chief executive’s problems.
With a tanking economy and a more hard-line approach to quell dissent and criticism, he was also losing support among the middle class, where arbitrary arrests and imprisonments were becoming the norm.
But this and several coups attempts did not stop Juan Peron from becoming president of Argentina three times in over 20 years.
And yet, he is still remembered today by most of the world simply as the husband of Eva Peron. – February 25, 2015.

Monday, March 02, 2015

When the Sarawak Report champions the cause against 1MDB, or anything else for that matters ...

Updated, March 2, midnight:
Ah, what a coincidence! Hours after I published the original posting below, one of the corporations implicated by the Sarawak Report in its half-baked article lodged a police report in London for defamation. Here's hoping that 1MDB will have the courage to do the same to protect its integrity and pride.


March 2, 2015 (Rakyat Post) – PetroSaudi Investments Limited has lodged a police report in connection with allegations made by a website on the firm’s relationship with Malaysia’s strategic development company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The report was lodged with the city of London Police Action Fraud Unit at the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre at 3.45pm UK time (March 1).
Sources close to the company told The Rakyat Post that the police report was filed in relation to a series of articles by the Sarawak Report website, including one entitled “Heist of the Century — How Jho Low Used PetroSaudi As ‘A Front’ To Siphon Billions Out Of 1MDB!”.

Original Article, March 2, before 9 am
Eating out of her hand, are we?
A scene from Fifty Shades of Grey

Half truths and "full e-mail". Clare Rewcastle Brown's anti-Taib Mahmud portal, the Sarawak Report, made its mark NOT because it was purportedly championing the cause against corruption and the Sarawak ex-Chief Minister but because of the hell-with-your-ethics way it was going about doing it. It relied a lot on half truths and dubious spins. That was the reason for its notoriety, and why most of us professional scribes didn't waste our time on its so-called exposes.

Now, however, the news portal seems to have found a new lease of life - and legion of fans - by dropping Taib Mahmud and focusing, instead, on the purported corruption of the Prime Minister Najib Razak, his wife and 1MDB. 

Suddenly those who didn't give a damn about Sarawak Report are quoting from it, eating out from Ms Brown's hands.

Fortunately, a few still keep their sobriety. Read Life of Annie's 1MDB on the right track and Haresh Deol's All about 1MDB in one day.  And Lim Sian See, the prolific Facebooker, has the FULL E-MAIL saying that,

 "Sarawak Report just took parts of it and spin ..."


But I agree with Annie, there seems to be a bit more effort on the part of 1MDB to engage its critics since the arrival of new boss Arul Kanda. At the very least, the interested ordinary man and woman on the street are getting answers to their basic questions, too. 
"They should do more though as the attack against them are not going to cease any time soon."

Me, I've found it hard to blog about the matter simply because the people at 1MDB have not been too forthcoming in engaging the bloggers. Or perhaps they don't trust us, in which case I can't blame them and I couldn't care less. But now that the Sarawak Report is the champion of this cause ...