Friday, April 29, 2016

AG Apandi Ali and Press Freedom Part 2 [the WSJ's robust misreporting on Malaysia]

The WSJ misses by a mile but "we stand by our story"

KL, 29 April: In my previous posting h e r e, I wrote about the Attorney-General's two questions and promised I would continue with my notes on his first question [Does the Press Freedom Index really reflect Malaysia's Freedom?]. The conundrum that the WSJ has suddenly gotten itself into over its overzealous - and 100 per cent inaccurate -  March 12 report on Malaysia's new Bank Negara Governor (below), however, is too fantastic to ignore: here's a perfect example of the fake news/half-truths/absolute lies that corrupt today's journalism; which was what prompted Apandi Ali's second question during his Malaysian Press Institute talk the other day: Does Society Benefit from Fake News?

You got it so wrong, Sarifuddin tells WSJ

Newspapers run speculative stories as part of reputation/credibility building. But they make major speculations only when they are absolutely sure that they will be proven right. That's why when they do get it wrong, they quickly own up. They apologise, sometimes. They replace the errant journalist or editor, or both. They don't stand by stories that have been proven to be NOT true. But the WSJ seems to practise a different culture. U-turn? Aw, hehe. What can I say?
Victim of WSJ's misreporting:
"These foreign media should stop their attacks on Malaysia

So, even the WSJ's "candidate" for the Bank Negara job has come out to attack the newspaper. Is there recourse for the victim? Can he sue WSJ? His name was never even submitted to the Agong for the post!

The real, new Bank Negara Governor

The AG Apandi Ali might advise Irwan Serigar Abdullah to sue the WSJ but to me that's going to be too much work. Fake news, false news ... they don't benefit society at all. Half truths are even more dangerous. But a lawsuit is not going to solve the problem. If you plan to sue The Malaysian Chronicle, WSJ or the Sarawak Report for every false news, the AG's courts will be too busy to mete out justice to other, more bona fide cases.  

To be cont'd .... Does the (RSF's) Press Freedom Index reflect Malaysia's freedom?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

AG Apandi Ali and Press Freedom

pic by FMT
KL, 27 April 2016: At his luncheon talk with editors and media practitioners at the Royale Chulan yesterday, the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Apandi Ali, threw his audience two questions:  
1. Does the Press Freedom Index really reflect the freedom in Malaysia?
2. Does society benefit from false news? 
R. Nadeswaran, the seasoned journalist, took the floor to respond to the berita palsu question, which Apandi had asked at the very end of his hour-long talk. As the answer to the question must have been rather obvious (even if it had been asked by someone else other than the AG), Nades chose instead to lament to the microphone about  the unbecoming behaviour of some newsmakers (politicians, especially) who conveniently blame journalists for wrongful reporting each time they find themselves in trouble for the things they say in the media. Can't action be taken against these morons?
Apandi's answer was interesting. "Sue them," he said. Another seasoned journalist,  Nuraina A. Samad, seated beside me, quipped (more to herself): "Journalists don't do that." Which is a fact: we don't sue politicians who claim that we have misquoted them, we are just happy to know the morons for who they really are!
Apandi's response tells me a little bit more about the AG who has so far been associated, rightly or wrongly, only with the 1MDB issue and the fact that he had been brought in to replace Gani Patail, the AG who was said (never confirmed) to have been on the verge of charging the Prime Minister of the country for some crime ... *
That Apandi is a doer more than he is a talker. With this AG, I think it is straightforward: if someone breaks the law, arrest him, charge him. If you don't understand the law, seek legal advice. If you understand the law, helps others comprehend. If you can sue someone ass' off, take him to court. "Sometimes you have to teach this people a lesson," he told Nades. I like. 
* Gani was also said to be ill at the time

To be cont'd ... Does the RSF's 2016 index reflect our freedom?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

3,954 duped by the propaganda against Tabung Haji

Read more h e r e

Bangsar, 19 April: Ever since the anonymous blog Benchmark cried "bailout!" at Tabung Haji's purchase of a piece of TRX land from 1MDB back in May last year, 3,954 depositors have decided to close their accounts with the Malaysian pilgrimage fund, either because they were against the deal or because they believed the propaganda that Tabung Haji was going to go down following the purchase (together with their money, of course). Out of these, 3,105 also cancelled their Haj plans.  
Well, neither the 1MDB nor the Tabung Haji Fund is bankrupt today; on the contrary, both are doing quite well: the former has announced a RM2.3 billion surplus and the latter paid generous dividends.  
Tabung Haji has some 8.8 million depositors, so the 3,954 loss is negligible, really. However, the Fund must try and bring back each and every one of these depositors who had been duped by the propaganda against Tabung Haji.  
So far, I was told that 45 of them have re-registered (for Haj and re-opened their accounts) after having realised their folly.  

When Nazir Razak goes on leave ...

Puchong, 19 April: I like the way the Transparency International Malaysia positioned itself following Nazir Razak's decision to go on leave to allow investigation into a three-year old US$7 million transfer into his personal account. "Noble," according to its president Akhtar Satar.  "Other Malaysians in a similar position should show such a good example," he says. "Class act," Tony Fernandes describes his friend's move, h e r e.  Which is all very well. I, too, hereby applaud Nazir for his timely decision. 
Just as I applaud the decision of the Board of the 1MDB to offer their resignation over the "weaknesses" in management and in governance found by the Public Accounts Committee. (PAC)  Yes, Mr Akhtar Satar, the entire Board of Directors tendered their resignation, collectively, right after the PAC report was tabled in Parliament two weeks ago! 
Akhtar Satar
The bipartisan PAC (whose membership includes DAP parliamentarian Tony Pua, easily the most badass critic of the 1MDB after Tun Mahathir Mohamad) had found no criminal wrong-doing [1MDB parliamentary probe blames ex-CEO for weaknesses, NST 7 April] ,and yet the entire Board of Directors had offered to resign so as to allow for investigation by the authorities into the various allegations made against the Fund. 
I think that was noble and a class act, too. I don't remember anyone in recent Malaysian history doing what the 1MDB directors did, even before evidence of any criminal wrongdoing,

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tony Pua will dislike Arul even more

I wrote two days ago Why Tony Pua dislikes Arul. Well, maybe dislike is a mild word. The guy hates Arul's guts and I don't blame him. Politicians tend to think that they can have anyone for lunch. 
But Tony has picked on the wrong guy ...

Media Statement by Arul Kanda, 1MDB President and Group Executive Director
Issued on 15 April 2016
For immediate publication

Bring it on, Tony
“I refer to the debate challenge issued by DAP MP, YB Tony Pua, to me. YB Tony has said “you could almost fall in love” with me. Then he called me a liar and rubbished my achievements. On Thursday morning, he said I should resign from 1MDB. On Thursday night, he asked to debate with me.
It is clear that YB Tony is confused and contradicts himself. He does not know if he loves me or hates me. He says I should resign, then says I need to stay on and debate with him. This is despite many in the DAP, including YB Tony, calling me a liar, who is not worth listening to. So why debate, when you will not listen to, or believe, anything I say?
Ironically, this must be the first time ever that a PAC “DAP judge” wants to debate with a “defendant”, after the proceedings are over and after a bi-partisan, collective, PAC Report has been issued. To avoid being embarrassed a second time, I hope YB Tony has first checked with the Speaker of Parliament before issuing this debate challenge.
What is clear is that, despite him almost exclusively questioning me for 2 full days at the PAC, the DAP representative, YB Tony, still wants to spend quality time with me. Far be it from me, to deny YB Tony this pleasure.
I hereby accept the debate challenge. Bring it on!”  
- Arul Kanda

p.s. If Tony backs out from this - and I have a feeling he's going to -  it won't be the first time. 

Saudi FM confirms genuine RM2.6 billion donation

Enough said, no?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why Tony Pua dislikes Arul (and why Rafizi Ramli is jealous)

Updated, 14 April:

The NST front page today

Original Article

Puchong, 13 April
The bipartisan PAC has completed its probe into 1MDB. It found no wrongdoing. It discovered no crime. What it found after over a year's painstakingly thorough proceedings are weaknesses at management as well as Board level. Arul Kanda, who was brought in last year to salvage the fund, has also done his job: the rationalisation plan leaves 1MDB in good stead. But there's no rest for the man, yet. 
Tonight, he appeared on RTM to answer all remaining questions on 1MDB, including IPIC and Aabar. Arul disclosed for the first time that 1MDB dealt directly with IPIC managing director Khadem al Qubaisi and made payments as per the Aabar instruction. For IPIC/Aabar to say they are not aware of it now, in Arul's own words, suspicious. 
Watch and learn. No wonder Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli dislike this Arul. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Apanama Papers

Pic courtesy of Malaysia Today

Bangsar, 12 April 2016 
I agree with those who say we shouldn't pay too much heed to the so-called Panama Papers. Like Wikileaks, the problem with the Panama Papers is that we don't always know fact from fake. If tomorrow they say Lim Guan Eng is in the Panama Papers, some people may be stupid enough to believe it because, out of anger or jealousy or some other reasons, they just want to believe it! 
Like now, they say Bin Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's names are in the Panama Papers. How do we know that's true or not? But some people would believe whatever the banned Asia Sentinel reports, so they would say this is gospel truth, that Mahathir's sons have been up to no good all along ...

Malaysia Today has the Asia Sentinel's story h e r e.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Switch off the political rhetorics already, YB Pua

1MDB tells Tony Pua that you can’t be '80% pregnant'

By Supriya Surendran /   | April 8, 2016 : 8:35 PM MYT  

KUALA LUMPUR (April 8): 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has hit back at Tony Pua who was reported as saying he is only “80% satisfied” on the findings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, telling the opposition lawmaker that he can’t be “80% pregnant”.

In a statement today, the strategic investment firm made reference to numerous comments made by Pua on the findings of the PAC Report which were made public yesterday.

“[Pua], having signed off without reservation on the PAC Report to Parliament, is now seeking to backpedal and question the contents of the report, saying that he is only 80% satisfied,” said 1MDB.

The firm added that it has provided to the National Audit Department with all documents in its possession.

“[1MDB] has also explained to the National Audit Department [as to] why other documents could not be procured. [Pua] knows this yet persists with his recycled rantings.

“The consensus report is a comprehensive and conclusive document. The PAC has asked the relevant enforcement agency to further investigate certain matters,” said 1MDB.

The firm went on to say that Pua needs to respect the collective will of the PAC.

“[Pua] needs to switch off the political rhetoric and allow the lawful authorities to do their job,” said 1MDB.

Pua was quoted as saying in a news conference today that he is only 80% satisfied with PAC’s report on 1MDB, but since the report had to be tabled on the last day of Parliament, it had to be balanced.

He said the reason he was not fully satisified was because there are still many unresolved matters with the company, as 1MDB has still not submitted all requested documents throughout the proceedings.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

What was 1MDB's crime, again?

The much-awaited PAC report

Bangsar, 7 April
Last week, 1MDB's boss Arul Kanda announced that "my work is done here". That, apparently, was the signal for the Board of Directors of the most maligned government-linked fund in history to offer today their collective resignation. Their job, too, is done here. In the days and weeks ahead, heads will roll. That is, if crimes had, indeed, been committed. 

That, I've heard, has always been Mr Fixit's plan: complete the rationalisation program, bow out with dignity, and help the investigators go after the culprits (if the investigations show that there's wrong-doing). In that order.

That Arul has managed to accomplish his mission so well under such unprecedented pressure from within and outside speaks volumes of the former investment banker's mettle. In such a short time, he's made some formidable enemies (among themTun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan's Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli, all of whom must have thought initially that Arul was going to be a pushover) but Arul, I'm sure, has also won admiration for giving up a lucrative job and a promising future overseas to try and help his country resolve the national headache that was 1MDB.

As of today ...
It is now clear that the RM42 billion didn't vanish from the Fund.
That the 1MDB had nothing to do with the RM2.6 billion "donation" to PM Najib Razak.
That No taxpayer money had been lost.
Or so said the PAC in its much-awaited report:

p.s I say Arul and his Board should be allowed to resign in peace. They've earned it. They need to move on. And if there's a case to probe further as blogger A. Kadir Jasin says, let the probe happen  ASAP [Ada kes: PAC arah siasat]. I believe Arul and his Board would want that more than anyone!

Monday, April 04, 2016

For clean slate, BNM governor Zeti will have to ask Jay to leave

5 April - So which deadly duo gave the political donation of RM30 million through Nazir? One of them sits on the the board of a media company, according to blogger Zakhir in Now everyone can donate ...

Global icon is how Nazir describes Zeti 

Bangsar, 4 April:

People tell me that Nazir Razak, the Prime Minister's vocal youngest brother, should resign from the bank now that he's been "caught" having received some RM30 million in his own account to help big brother with the general elections in 2013. These people said they are glad to know that Nazir did help out. But going by the moral benchmark he has set for others (for Najib, especially), they think the right thing - the only thing - for him to do his quit as Chairman of the CIMB Group, one of the country's banking giants. Which is something Nazir doesn't seem to be in a hurry of doing, going by the statements he's been making in his own defence ("I thought funds were legit"), which are only making him look worse in the eyes of his many admirers. 
And which leaves me to wonder if Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the outgoing central bank governor, is going to step in. 
I remember Zeti did in the case of a Chairman of a local bank who was charged with assault in 2003. In that unprecedented move, the Chairman of the Bank was forced to resign. I was the Editor of the Malay Mail, which broke that assault story back then ...

READ also, Zeti hopes probe into 1MDB ends in April so she can leave next governor a clean slate.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Proton after Mahathir (Will Nazir quit, too, now?)

Puchong, 1 April 2016: 

Bujai is a seasoned journo, so mashing the two big stories of the day into one is kind of routine for him. Makes good reading. But truth be told, Dr Mahathir Mohamad's resignation didn't exactly come as a surprise. And it was just a matter of time before the WSJ's boo-boo would be exposed. 

1. Mahathir
In his posting last Friday (25 March), Blogger Big Dog, a huge ally of the former Prime Minister until they abandoned him, had alluded to the problems facing Proton with Mahathir, bent on toppling the Prime Minister of the country by hook or by crook, as Chairman. Big Dog, a keen supporter of the national car, pleaded with Dr Mahathir to resign.
He should seriously consider sparing Proton, for the sake of the Group, its brand, loyalty, dedication and lively of the people within the Group. - The Premonition of the Two Pees, Big Dog, 25 March
In my own piece The Proton Dilemma (10 March), I mentioned a rumbling in the national car company: "Things have not been looking up for a while in Proton. As it is, there are quite a few in Proton who blame Dr Mahathir for the company's woes."

They won't go on record, but quite a few of the Proton people are sighing, relieved. They love the Old Man, of course, he founded the Company. But things were no longer tenable as they were. Now, at least, they have a fair chance to operate as a private entity should.

2. WSJ
The Wall Street Journal can apologise to Najib Razak with the hope that the Malaysian PM will drop a lawsuit that he can make against the newspaper, but I don't think the WSJ will say sorry (at least not at this juncture) and I don't think Najib will drop the lawsuit even if the WSJ kisses both his hands. The PM will wait for all the investigations into 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion donation to complete. He has time on his side. The longer he waits, the more truth comes out. And the wiser we, the people who have been judging him, become.

We didn't know, for example, that his youngest brother, the moderate and righteous banker Nazir Razak, received money in his account, too ...

"As CEO of a major bank, I wouldn't do it, because now you are tarnished." - Top finance executive familiar with political funding, speaking to Singapore's The Straits Times about Nazir's involvement ... h e r e.