MALAYSIA NOW – February 2016

NEWS 

1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and Goldman Sachs

The New York Post published an article entitled “FBI Gathers Clues In Massive Goldman Sachs Money Scandal” on 20th February 2016.  The article stated that US law enforcement officials are gathering sensitive documents and identifying potential witnesses from around the world in Goldman Sachs’ involvement with 1MDB.

Goldman Sachs is an American investment banking firm that engages in global investment banking, securities, investment management and other financial services, primarily with institutional clients.

It has been reported that “exorbitant” fees for transactions were charged by Goldman Sachs. This resulted in an international money-laundering probe by law enforce-ment agencies. Investigations show that there were breaches of international and domestic laws ranging from the Patriot Act to the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act.

 

Final 1MDB Report Delayed to First Week of March

The final auditor-general’s report on 1MDB was scheduled to be tabled on 24th and 25thFebruary 2016. However, in a statement on the morning of 23rd February, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin stated that the report will be tabled in thefirst week of March instead. This is because most PAC members were overseas to perform the umrah (minor pilgrimage) and attending to important commitments.

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PAC chairman Datuk Hasan Ariffin. Picture taken from The Malaysian Insider.

 

Enough Credible Evidence to Charge Najib Over SRC, Says MACC Oversight Committee

The Operations Review Panel has advised the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to resubmit two investigation papers on SRC International Sdn Bhd to the Attorney General.

SRC International Sdn Bhd is an anonymous-sounding company owned by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance.

A panel member said that the panel was influential and could review investigation papers classified as “delayed” and “no further action”. The panel member who was speaking on condition of anonymity went on to say that the MACC investigators had collected sufficient evidence to prove a prima facie case against Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The panel ended its tenure on 25th February 2016 as the members did not receive extension letters after their one-year term ended.  At its final meeting on 24th December 2016, the panel was briefed on the latest developments in the probe into SRC International and the RM2.6 billion political donation in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

 

Sarawak Chief Minister Claims 1MDB Scandal has no Great Impact on State Election

According to Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem, the 1MDB fiasco and RM2.6 billion political donation may be hot issues in Peninsular Malaysia, but they have nothing to do with Sarawak. He added that these issues would not have any significant impact on the upcoming Sarawak state election. He went on to claim that Chinese voters will return to Barisan Nasional, though he was unsure of the magnitude.

 

Government Lost Bid to Claim Damages from Bersih 2.0 over Bersih 3 Rally

On 30th January 2016, The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that Bersih 2.0 was not liable for property damage during the sit-in Bersih 3 protest on 28th April 2016.

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Bersih 2.0’s former steering committee and their lawyers after the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s verdict. Picture taken from The Malay Mail.

In his decision, High Court judge Datuk John Louis O’Hara said that although the Peaceful Assembly Act is constitutional, the Bersih 2.0 steering committee was not responsible for the damages caused. He dismissed the government’s claim for RM110,543.27 in property damages as the “acts and omissions of the cops invariably contributed and resulted in the damage.” He went on to say that “the damages that occurred only happened after the first defendant had called off the rally”, referring to Bersih 2.0 former chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan.

Former steering committee member, Dr Wong Chin Huat was awarded RM21,000 in damages for unlawful arrest, detention and assault during the rally. He was also awarded RM30,000 in costs.

 

High Court Upholds Home Ministry Ban on Bersih 4 T-shirts

On 19th February 2016, the Shah Alam High Court ruled that the home minister has the right to declare Bersih 4 t-shirts and related printed matter illegal under the law. Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa said that the minister had the power under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act

The minister had issued the ban on 27th August 2015, a few days before the Bersih 4 rally on 29th and 30th August.  Judge Yazid said that the minister had the discretion to make such decisions on the basis of preserving the peace in a multi-racial country. He was of the opinion that the minister had justified his power in exercising the order and had taken the relevant consideration in making the said order.

Bersih 2.0 will challenge the High Court decision, said its chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah. “I don’t know where they got the idea we are a national security threat,” she said. “The t-shirts have now become a symbol of our struggle for democracy and human rights in Malaysia.”

 

Government Blocks The Malaysian Insider

The Malaysian Insider news portal has been blocked by the Multimedia Communications and Multimedia commission (MCMC) since 25th February 2016. Those who tried to access the site were shown the official MCMC page for a blocked site, with the message saying the website was barred because “it violated national laws”.

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Picture taken from Malaysiakini.

 

According to the notice, The Malaysian Insider had violated Section 233 of the Act, which deals with improper use of network facilities or network service.

The MCMC stated in a statement that the ban was imposed following “public complaints” and reminded news portals not to publish unverified reports as “this could invite confusion and cause unwanted situations.”

 

GLOBAL BERSIH UPDATES

Bersih NL Now an Official NGO

Bersih Network Netherlands (Bersih NL) is a member of the Dutch chamber of commerce. The Bersih NL board consists of Chairperson P. S W. Shieng, Secretary P. C. P van Dam and Treasurer J. S. Jorritsma.

Bersih NL organized a Chinese New Year gathering on 21st February 2016 in Utrecht. The event was attended by its members, Global Bersih (GB) secretary Bala Chelliah, guests and friends. Attendees got to know one another and caught up with events and developments in Malaysia. Bala briefed attendees on GB’s objectives and touched on Bersih NL’s own objectives. He also stated that Malaysians overseas can play an important role to support the movement for change in Malaysia.

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Members of Bersih NL with Bala Chelliah. Picture taken from Bersih NL.

Bersih NL will be organizing future events, including social activities to connect like-minded Malaysians in the Netherlands, promote sale of Bersih NL t-shirts to raise funds to cover expenses incurred, and hold talks/seminars on democracy in Malaysia to create awareness and raise consciousness.

Malaysians and friends of Malaysia in the Netherlands may sign up as a member of Bersih NL by sending an email to: contact@bersih.nl.

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