Sunday, 16 December 2012

World Champion of Corruption – BN-Umno must go

World Champion of Corruption – BN-Umno must go
By Chua Jui Meng

FOR so long, Malaysia has been in the domestic and international limelight as far as corruption is concerned.
However, it has never been humiliated and shamed by the international community wholesale like today, especially in the past week.
Transparency International, ANI Washington, Hindustan Times and WSJ Live, to name a few, have all bestowed Malaysia the dubious honour of Champion of Corruption.
Much have been written, reported and more than 100 financial scandals exposed since 1983, beginning with the then world’s biggest banking financial loan scandal - the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance (BMF) which came with a murder suspense.
BMF’s internal auditor Jalil Ibrahim was found dead in a banana grove in Hong Kong in July 1983 when he was sent there to probe the scandal.
The federal government had to bailout BMF three times to a tune of RM2.5 billion to keep it afloat.
After 29 years, no one has been punished for the financial scandal and no one has been convicted for the murder.
That was 1983. What about today?
It is still the same as reflected by the murder of Mongolian interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu who is linked to alleged corrupt financial practices over Malaysia’s Defence Ministry’s purchase of two French-made second hand Scorpene submarines at an inflated price of RM6.7 billion.
What is confirmed is that Altantuya was murdered by two police security officers who served Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor.
Although the two policemen have been convicted for the murder and their case is pending appeal, what we amazingly still don’t know are these:
Ø What’s the motive for the murder. The presiding judge had the audacity to rule that the motive for the murder is irrelevant. Can any court in the world beat that?;
Ø Why did the murderers, after shooting Altantuya point blank on the head, need to use exclusive military grade C4 explosives to blow up her body. The plausible explanation for this is to destroy all DNA evidence as she was reported to be pregnant when she was killed. This begs the question: Whose child was Altantuya carrying?; and
Ø Why is the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government so fearful of the ongoing French court’s probe on alleged corrupt financial practices over the Scorpene purchases, to the ridiculous extent of barring French lawyers from entering the country to brief parliamentarians and Malaysians on the development of the case.
Malaysia is a country blessed with vast and rich natural resources, including oil and gas. But, after 55 years of BN-Umno rule, the country’s federal debt is at more than RM620 billion (including RM118 billion in off Budget liabilities or sovereign guarantees for private corporations like the Port Klang Free Zone and government-linked company loans ending 2011) against a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of RM881 billion or 70.4% of GDP. This means the BN government is operating way above the legislated federal debt ceiling of 55% of GDP.
Although I have mentioned this many times over, there is surely a need to keep on reminding all Malaysians so that, when they go to the next 13th General Election, they can make an informed decision on what they must do to save Malaysia from an economic disaster of a bankrupt nation.
Congratulations Najib. The whole world now knows you are leading the most corrupt nation on earth, bringing extreme shame to Bangsa Dan Negara (People and Country).
Above is the video link to WSJ Live and below are related stories for more on corruption:

Thursday, 13 December 2012 22:30
Written by  Hindustan Times

Despite Malaysia's high-profile anti-corruption crusade, half of the corporate executives surveyed by a global corruption watchdog believe that competitors have obtained business in the country through bribery.
Transparency International said Malaysia scored worst in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey.
It asked nearly 3,000 executives from 30 countries whether they had lost a contract in the past year because competitors paid a bribe, and in Malaysia, 50% of them said 'yes'.
Second on the dubious honor roll was Mexico, which was at 48%.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Japan was ranked as the world's least-corrupt place to do business, with just 2% of respondents saying they had lost out due to bribery.
Malaysia's neighbour Singapore was second-cleanest, which was at 9%.
Even Indonesia, with a long-standing reputation for corruption, fared better than more-developed Malaysia.
By comparison, 27% of respondents in China said they thought bribes had cost them business, the report said.
"It shows the attitude of private companies in Malaysia, indicating that bribery in the public sector could be systemic and in a sense institutionalized," Paul Low, president of the Malaysian chapter of Transparency International, said.

Grand Theft Malaysia

Written by Our Correspondent   
Friday, 27 November 2009
Many snouts in the public trough

The Port Klang Free Zone scandal may be big, but it is only the latest in a long line of Malaysian scandals going back to the early 1980s. Time Magazine quoted Daniel Lian, a Southeast Asia economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore, saying that the country might have lost as much as U$100 billion since the early 1980s to corruption."

The scandals listed below are only a small sample of the looting of the country's coffers:

In July of 1983, what was then the biggest banking scandal in world history erupted in Hong Kong, when it was discovered that Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF), a unit of Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd, had lost as much as US$1 billion which had been siphoned off by prominent public figures into private bank accounts. The story involved murder, suicide and the involvement of officials at the very top of the Malaysian government. Ultimately it involved a bailout by the Malaysian government amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mak Foon Tan, the murderer of Jalil Ibraim, a Bank Bumi assistant manager who was sent to Hong Kong to investigate the disappearance of the money, was given a death sentence, and Malaysian businessman George Tan who had participated in looting most of the funds, was jailed after his Carrian Group collapsed in what was then Hong Kong's biggest bankruptcy, and a handful of others were charged. No major politician was ever punished in Malaysia despite a white paper prepared by an independent commission that cited cabinet minutes of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad giving an okay to a request to throw more money into the scandal in an effort to contain it.

That was just the first Bank Bumi scandal. The government-owned bank had to be rescued twice more with additional losses of nearly US$600 million in today's dollars. Ultimately government officials gave up and the bank was absorbed into CIMB Group, currently headed by Nazir Razak, the prime minister's brother. That scandal, which stretched over several years before its denouement in 1985, set the tone for 24 years of similar scandals related to top Malaysian officials and was the first to prove that in Malaysia,
you can not only get away with murder, you can get away with looting the treasury as well.

Perwaja Steel, for instance, lost US$800 million and its boss, Eric Chia, a crony of Mahathir's, was charged with looting the company. He stood trial, but was acquitted without having to put on a defense.

In the mid 1980s, the Co-operative Central Bank, a bank set up to aid the Indian smallholder community, had to be rescued by Bank Negara, the country's central bank, after hundreds of millions of ringgit in loans granted to a flock of United Malays National Organisation and Malaysian Indian Congress politicians became non-performing. Some had never been serviced at all. Although the chief executive and general manager were charged with criminal breach of trust, none of the politicians were ever charged.

Before that, the Malaysian government was believed to have lost US$500 million in an attempt at Mahathir's urging to corner the London tin market through a company called Maminco, driving the world price of tin from US$4.50 per tonne to US$7.50. It then sought to cover up the loss by establishing a US$2 company called Mukawasa from which allocations of new share issues to the government's Employees Provident Funds' were diverted. Mukawasa expected to sell the shares at a windfall profit to hide the tin speculation.

Mahathir also was behind an attempt by the then governor of Bank Negara, the central bank, to aggressively speculate in the global foreign exchange market. Bank Negara ended up losing an estimated RM20 billion. The governor, Jaffar Hussein, and the head of forex trading, Nor Mohamed Yakcop were forced to resign.

There have been many other political and financial scandals since. In 2005, Bank Islam Malaysia, the country's flagship Islamic bank, reported losses of RM457 million mainly due to provisioning totaling RM774 million as a result of bad loans and investments incurred by its Labuan branch. Cumulatively, Bank Islam ran up nonperforming loans of RM2.2 billion, partly from mismanagement and poor internal controls but also "years of regulatory indifference fueled by the misconceived notion of an untouchable Bank Islam because it was a favorite child of the Malaysian government, being the first and model Islamic bank in the country and region," according to a December 19, 2005 article in Arab News.

"Bank Islam had a reputation in the market for being the spoilt child of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance; and the perception of the bank was more of a Muslim financial fraternity or government development financial institution," the report said.

In 2007, in what was called Malaysia's Enron scandal, the publicly traded Transmile Group Bhd, whose chairman was former MCA President and Cabinet Minister Ling Liong Sik, was caught having overstated its revenue by RM530 million. A pretax profit from Rm207 million in 2006 was actually a loss of RM126 million, and a pretax profit of 120 million in 2005 was a loss of RM77 million, causing the government postal company Pos Malaysia & Services Holdings Bhd to warn that its earnings for the 2006 financial year might be affected by the reported overstatement, as the postal group owned 15.3 percent of Transmile.

Over the years 2001 to 2006, the government had to spend billions to rescue seven privatized projects including Kuala Lumpur's two public transport systems, the perennially ailing Malaysia Airlines, the national sewage system and a variety of others that, in the words of one study, "had been privatized prematurely." The government also repeatedly bailed out highway construction concessionaires, all of them closely connected to Umno, to the tune of another RM38.5 billion.

In 2008, it was revealed that Rafidah Aziz, who had served as trade and industry minister for 18 years, had been peddling approved permits for duty-free car sales and allegedly lining her pockets. Two companies which didn't even have showrooms – one of which belonged to the husband of Rafidah's niece – received scores of permits. Although Rafidah came in for heavy criticism from within Umno, she remained in office until she was defeated in party elections.

In the 1960s, federal prosecutors in the United States who were attempting to jail the late labor boss Jimmy Hoffa for looting the Teamsters Pension Fund of millions of dollars with his cronies were puzzled by the fact that their revelations appeared to have little effect on the union's rank and file. It was because no matter how much money Hoffa and his cronies stole, there was always money left because the fund was so rich. That appears to be the case with Malaysia.

Marcos, Mubarak & Mahathir – Who’s The Richest Man?
The mounting pressure from 18 days of historic protests finally drove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office, after 30-years as his nation’s iron-fisted ruler. But the dictator should not shed a single drop of tear because the fortune he amassed is more than enough to finance his retirement comfortably. It would be nice and jaw-dropping if Forbes can compile the world’s richest dictators or politicians simply because it would put world’s richest man, Mexican Carlos Slim (worth about US$54 billion) and Bill Gates (net worth about US$53 billion) to shame.
Armed with suspended constitution for 30 years, Hosni Mubarak was in virtually every piece of business deal in the country thanks to guaranteed profit from monopolies, red-tape fees, bribery fees, nepotism and whatnot. The British Guardian newspaper estimated the wealth of Mubarak and his family at somewhere between US$40 billion and US$70 billion. That’s about US$1 billion to US$2 billion net profit annually on average, not bad for a job as a president ruling a nation with GDP per capita of just $6,300.
In fact, Mubarak knew it was game over when the protesters persisted even after he cut the nation’s internet access and use of forces to intimidate the tens of hundreds of protesters. And his delayed exit was definitely not to pray for a dignified exit but rather to buy time to move money around and hide significant parts of his fortune. If former Philippine President Marcos had US$684 million on deposits in various Swiss banks alone, expect nothing less than that from Mubarak’s Swiss accounts. The Swiss government has said it is temporarily freezing any assets in Swiss banks that could be linked to Mubarak.
Believed to have flown to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, much of Mubarak’s wealth were from investment deals in British and Swiss banks or tied up in upmarket real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast, not to mention commissions from arm deals. Mubarak’s half-Welsh wife, Suzanne and their sons, Gamal and Alaa, accumulated wealth through partnerships with foreign investors and companies. Mubarak’s wife’s fortune alone was estimated at about US$5 billion.
Regardless whether Mubarak’s wealth is US$40 billion, US$70 billion or more, the fact remains that tracking the money trail would be almost impossible, let alone claiming it back to the people of Egypt. If the Philippine government couldn’t even bring back billions of dollars plundered by former dictator Marcos more than 20 years after his death, what more can the new government of Egypt do to recover it with today’s information technology?
Obviously top army officials were on Mubarak’s payroll judging from his ease of exit from the country. Mubarak may no be the President of Egypt anymore but his tentacles are still in the country. His worry is not about money but more on possible prosecution or assassination. But if you think Hosni Mubarak is the richest man on earth, wait till you hear what has former dictator Mahathir Mohamad plundered. How about US$100 billion?
Using the same rule of thumb that Mubarak “earned” about US1 billion to US2 billion annually, Mahathir’s wealth easily top US$22 to US$44 billion over his 22-year of iron-fist rule. However Malaysia has more natural resources than Egypt and economically, Malaysia is richer although not necessary less corrupted than Egypt. Just like Egypt, corruption in Malaysia is so entrenched that every institutions are tainted – from the monarchy, judiciary, executive, legislature to the lowest ranking policemen on the street. Hence Mahathir is easily worth more than that.
If there’s one factor that is separating Malaysia from Egypt, that’s unemployment. The present government of Malaysia may be more corrupt than previous Mubarak’s administration but Malaysia’s ruling party is smart enough to generate jobs in various government departments especially to cater for the ethnic-Malay, though the jobs created are not needed. If there’s one group that would take to the street just like the Egypt uprising, it would be the ethnic-Malay themselves.
As long as the Malaysia government can provide them with jobs, the scale of demonstration seen in Egypt would not happen in Malaysia. And as long as PM Najib Razak and his mentor Mahathir Mohamad can keep the pace in feeding these mouths and play the racial cards in their “divide and rule” doctrine, they can rule the country for many more decades and in the process continue to plunder the country.
By the time they’re ousted from the country the same way as Marcos and Mubarak, provided there would be an uprising of the same scale as Egypt in the first place, Mahathir and his followers could easily become the richest man on earth. And if there’s an uprising in Malaysia, do not expect any friendly police or military men in sympathy of the demonstrators. Again, Malaysia is very different from Egypt so an uprising of such stamina and scale is very distant.