MALAYSIA NOW – May 2016

NEWS

Sarawak State Election

The Sarawak state election was held on 7 May 2016. The National Front (BN) won 72 (more than two-thirds) of the 82 state seats, with 87.8 percent of the House.

The United Bumiputera Heritage Party (PBB) and the Sarawak Peoples’ Party won all seats that they contested for. PBB is led by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem.

The opposition suffered a crushing defeat. The Democratic Action Party (DAP) lost five out of twelve urban seats it had previously held. It also saw defeat in all the bumiputera seats. The DAP won only seven of the 31 seats it contested for.

The Peoples’ Justice Party (PKR) defended and retained all three seats it previously held. However, it did not win any additional seats.

Candidates from the Islamic Pan-Malaysian Party, Party Amanah Negara, New Sarawak Native People’s Party, Star, and independent candidates did not win any of their contested seats.

Voter turnout for the state election was low. 70.01 percent or 777,018 voters exercised their right to vote that day. This number included postal and early voters.

At 3pm, the Election Commission (EC) recorded a 50 percent voter turnout. A suddent spike of voter turnout was seen after 3pm.

68-year-old Sim King Siang casting her vote at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Jalan Bintang polling center. Picture taken from Malaysiakini.
68-year-old Sim King Siang casting her vote at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Jalan Bintang polling center. Picture taken from Malaysiakini.

Bersih 2.0 compiled the preliminary reports received by the Pemantau Sarawak Committee after observing the election. A total of 90 Pemantau volunteers were mobilized in five hot seats. The seats were Telang Usan, Senadin, Bawang Assan, Tasik Biru and Batu Kitang.

The report covered issues of bribery, unauthorised expenses during the campaign period, intimidation, treats, campaign booths on Polling Day, ferrying of voters to the polling stations, use of government machinery, and apparent incompetence and failures by the EC.

BERSIH 2.0 will compile all the collected evidence and produce a report on the documented and verified offences. This report will be sent to the EC and form the basis of future awareness programs in the state. BERSIH 2.0 is also exploring legal avenues in relation to the documented offences.

In a written parliamentary response, the Home Ministry stated that the police have opened 84 investigation papers on various offences allegedly committed during the course of the election.

 

Sungai Besar, Kuala Kangsar By-Elections

A helicopter crash in Sarawak took the lives of Sungai Besar Member of Parliament (MP) and Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Noriah Kasnon and Kuala Kangsar MP Wan Mohammad Khairil Anuar Wan Ahmad. The helicopter was transporting the MPs and a few others who had been campaigning for BN during the Sarawak state election.

Upon receiving the official notification on the vacancies of the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar parliamentary seats due to the deaths of the two MPs, the EC has fixed 18 June 2016 for the by-elections. The two by- elections will run concurrently.

Polling day will be preceded by two weeks of campaigning in the respective constituencies.

“The nomination day will be on June 5, early voting will be on June 14 and the polling day will be on June 18,” said EC chief Mohd Hashim Abdullah.

Hashim added that the two by-elections will cost the EC RM2.7 million in total.

 

Maria Chin Abdullah Barred from Travelling to South Korea
Bersih 2.0 chairman, Maria Chin Abdullah, was stopped by airport officials when she tried to board a flight to South Korea. Maria was to travel there to receive the 2016 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights on behalf of Bersih 2.0.

No reasons were given by the Malaysian immigration authority for barring Maria from leaving the country.

In a statement, Bersih 2.0 expressed concern over the infringement of Maria’s constitutional right and freedom of movement.

Bersih stated that the act showed that the government was desperate to clutch on to power, instead on being accountable and engaging with the people.

Maria delivered her acceptance speech via a video recording instead. The video was broadcasted during the award ceremony.

Maria Chin Abdullah’s acceptance speech being broadcasted in Gwangju. Picture taken from Twitter user @Sejinanana.
Maria Chin Abdullah’s acceptance speech being broadcasted in Gwangju. Picture taken from Twitter user @Sejinanana.

 

Sons of Top Malaysian Politicians Listed in Panama Papers
A check by Malaysiakini on the records from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca that were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed that the sons of prominent politicians are on the list.

Mossack Fonseca is a law firm that provides services for the setting up of entities in tax havens where privacy laws are so stringent that the accounts established are virtually untraceable. Documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca are now referred to as the ‘Panama Papers’.

One of Prime Minister Najib’s sons, Mohd Nazifuddin, is among those named in the Panama Papers.

According to the documents uncovered in the leak, he had held directorships in two companies based in the British Virgin Islands, namely Jay Marriot International and PCJ International Venture Limited.

Former Deputy Minister Muhiyiddin Yassin’s eldest son Fakhri Yassin is linked to two offshore entities, both set up in the British

Virgin Islands, Malaysiakini’s checks showed. The two offshore entities are property development firm Thrivern and Farsight Plan Investments Ltd.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s eldest son Mirzan Mahathir is no stranger to owning offshore entities. It was reported in 2013 that an offshore leak revealed that Mirzan owned Crescent Energy Ltd, Utara Capital Ltd and Al Saad Investments Pte Ltd, all based in Labuan.

In the Panama Papers, Mirzan is listed as having registered Sergio International Ltd in the British Virgin Islands on 8 March 2002. However, the firm was deemed inactive on 1 Nov 2006. The firm was also struck off that year.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman’s son Ahmad Zachry is also listed in the Panama Papers. Ahmad Zachry set up Green Energy Management Solutions Ltd in the British Virgin Islands on 13 May 2010. The firm was shut down, due to inactivity, in 2013.

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Sons of top Malaysian politicians who are listed in the Panama Papers. Picture taken from Malaysiakini.

 

Malaysia Ranked No. 2 on The Economist’s Crony Capitalism Index
Malaysia was ranked as having the second- highest percentage of billionaires’ wealth coming from cronyism in a global survey by The Economist magazine.

Russia topped the list, while Malaysia’s neighbours the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand were third, fourth, seventh and 12th, respectively.

Critics have linked cronyism and rent- seeking in Malaysia to the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP) that officially ended in 1990, but affirmative action continues in various economic policies today.

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The Economist’s Crony Capitalism Index. Taken from The Economist.
 

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