Judged on merit and nothing less


It’s official: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong  Sultan Muhammad V presenting the letter of appointment to Malanjum at
Istana Negara. Looking on is Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. —Bernama

Judicial diversity and meritocracy are inseparable in order to win the faith of society. The appointment of Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, a Sabah-born Kadazandusun, as the top judge is a first for a non-Malay Malaysian and is welcomed as a major step towards winning greater confidence in the Judiciary, CHELSEA L.Y. NG writes.

IT’S a fairy tale come true for some Malaysians banking on a better Judiciary grounded on merits when news of Tan Sri Richard Malanjum having been sworn in as the ninth Chief Justice of Malaysia started to trickle down to the media late Wednesday evening.

Just several hours before that, the witty Malanjum had brushed off talk of him being selected as the next top judge.

“Itu cerita dongeng (It’s a fairy tale),” he told reporters in Kuching before walking off quickly.

But by then there were already some pictures of him attending an alleged rehearsal session being circulated among a few privileged ones.

Well, going by some of the not-so-welcoming responses from those who thought that the position was reserved for only Malay judges, the initial hush-hush circumstances were understandable.

But we cannot really fault those who think the positions are reserved purely for Malays. If you have only been exposed to Chief Justices (CJ, top post) and Chief Judges of Malaya (CJM, top three) after 1994, then you might be forgiven for thinking that the posts are for Malaysians of Malay origin only (see lists of LPs and CJs).

In the last two decades, top posts had been taken by Malay judges but if we look further back, the situation was much different prior to 1994. There used to be a good mix of judges from different races at least for the CJM post, which was then known as the Chief Justice of Malaya (a No.2 post then and not to be confused with the current CJ post, which is a top post). The top judge was known as the Lord President (LP) then or Lord President of the Supreme Court in full.

The LP position was created after the abolition of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1985.

Below the LP were the Chief Justices of the High Courts of Malaya and Borneo.

 

In 1994, the LP was renamed CJ when the Supreme Court reverted to the name of Federal Court, which was the name used prior to 1985 but with the Privy Council as the highest authority.

In 1994, Parliament amended the Federal Constitution and approved a reorganisation of the court system and significantly set up the Court of Appeal as the second highest court and renamed the highest court Federal Court (previously Supreme Court). After 1994, there was a new No.2 position created called the President of the Court of Appeal. The CJM hence moved to the third position.

For senior lawyer Datuk Roger Tan, judicial diversity is an essential element.

“It is pivotal in creating confidence in a multi-racial society. Diversity can be on the grounds of race, religion and gender.

“In Britain, they just had the first female President of the Supreme Court in hundreds of years,” said Tan.

Lawyer Fahri Azzat said there is nothing in the Constitution that demands that a Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal or the Chief Judge of Malaya must be of Malay heritage, or dictates that the racial composition of the Federal Court or even the Court of Appeal contain a majority of citizens of Malay heritage.

In fact, Article 123 of the Federal Constitution which deals with the qualifications to be a High Court judge and above provides the following:

A person is qualified for appointment und

er Article 122B as a judge of the Federal Court, as a judge of the Court of Appeal or as a judge of any of the High Courts if –

(a) he is a citizen; and

(b) for the 10 years preceding his appointment he has been an advocate of those courts or any of them or a member of the judicial and legal service of the Federation or of the legal service of a State, or sometimes one and sometimes another.

For Fahri, that a persistent racial pattern at the appellate courts continues in the Judiciary suggests that race is a more influential factor than abilities or merits when it comes to the appointment and promotion of a judge.

Fahri even wrote about it in 2010 on the LoyarBurok website about the racial composition of the Judiciary.

“Any litigator who is in the thick of litigation practice in our civil courts will acknowledge that at the level of top senior counsel, the composition is the opposite of the nation’s racial population.

“Where top senior legal counsel are concerned, the ratio of Malaysians of Indian heritage are highest as compared to those of Chinese heritage who come in second as compared to those of Malay heritage who have the lowest numbers. That is how I know it to be from experience and conversation,” Fahri wrote then.

However, on Malanjum’s appointment, Fahri has this to say: “I think it is a step or start in the right direction. Whether it closes the gap in terms of judicial diversity and meritocracy remains to be seen with subsequent appointments of both the top judges and the High Court judges.

“I think it will be the starting point for the public to renew its faith in the Judiciary but that again remains to be seen from their judgments, judicial statements and the Judiciary’s actions collectively.

“Just as a swallow does not a summer make, a few judicial appointments do not guarantee rejuvenation of the Judiciary,” he said, adding that these positive developments if seen through over the long term will help foster faith and trust in the Judiciary and the administration of the justice system as a whole.

Retired Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said the appointment is definitely a welcome move and expected to improve the Judiciary.

“This is the first time we have a non-Malay being made a top judge. Prior to this we had non-Malay judges being appointed to the second highest positions. But that was before 1994.

“From the time of independence until then, no one had looked at the appointments on racial or religious angle. Only in recent times did people start to do so.”

He named a few prominent top judges then such as Tan Sri H.T. Ong, Tan Sri S.S. Gill and Tan Sri Gunn Chit Tuan.

“Richard’s appointment verifies the oneness of Malaysia. That there is only one Malaysia. That there is no East Malaysia or a West Malaysia,” said Sri Ram.

Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah had in his special address at the book launch of Tun Arifin Zakaria last year mentioned a valuable quote by his father Sultan Azlan Shah, who was also a respectable Lord President.

“I quote, ‘The rules concerning the independence of the judiciary … are designed to guarantee that they will be free from extraneous pressures and independent of all authority, save that of the law. They are, therefore, essential for the preservation of the Rule of Law,” he said.

The Sultan hit the nail on the head. Justice and judges should be free from any extraneous pressures and everything has to be based on the merits of the law.

The Ruler had on the same occasion called on Federal Court and Court of Appeal judges to write dissenting judgments if they do not agree with the majority of the Bench.

“Sometimes, the brave dissenting voice is transformed into law. A classic case is that of Brown v. Board of Education 347 US 483 (1954) when the US Supreme Court gave weight to the spirit of Justice Harlan’s dissenting voice in Plessy v. Ferguson 163 US 537 (1896).

“As a result, and in a historic judgment, then-chief justice Warren held that racial segregation in public schools constituted a violation of the US constitutional guarantee of equality of rights,” he said.

The Sultan added that judges should be free to express reasons in their judgments as they thought fit, and in other words, for the Rule of Law to flourish, courts and their participants should be allowed to express a variety of ideas and principles.

In the case of Malanjum, some critics even brought up the point that he was not qualified to be made the Chief Justice because of his dissenting judgments in the case of Lina Joy and the use of the Allah word in the Bible.

In Lina Joy, she lost a six-year battle in 2007 to have the word Islam removed from her identity card after the Federal Court dismissed her appeal in a majority decision.

In his dissenting judgment, Malanjum said the department responsible for issuing identity cards should have just complied with Lina Joy’s request to remove the word from her IC. He accused the National Registration Depart­ment of abusing its powers.

“In my view, this is tantamount to unequal treatment under the law. She is entitled to an IC where the word Islam does not appear,” Malanjum said.

In the second case, the Federal Court was divided again with Malanjum dissenting and arguing that the Constitution must remain the supreme law of the land.

In his column, constitutional law expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi had also written about Malanjum’s boldness in voicing out his stand and daring to dissent.

According to Dr Shad, in PP v Kok Wah Kuan in 2008, the Federal Court had in a majority judgment “mocked the doctrine of separation of powers as having no legal basis” in the Constitution.

The judgment went further to say that the power of the courts was limited to whatever Parliament bequeathed.

“Fortunately, there was a bold dissent from Malanjum, our Sabah and Sarawak Chief Judge, who insisted that separation of powers and judicial independence are firm pillars of our constitutional edifice.

“He rejected the view that ‘our courts have now become servile agents of a federal Act of Parliament and that the courts are now only to perform mechanically any command or bidding of a federal law’.

“Justice Malanjum was eminently correct on both scores. A Consti­tution is not mere words written on paper,” Dr Shad wrote in his column.

These words by the eminent professor were enough to back Malanjum as a strong guardian of the rule of law and is definitely fitting for the grand position of a Chief Justice.

Enough said, time will tell if we have taken the right path.

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Najib arrested, charged and pleaded not guilty


 

Former premier Najib Abdul Razak was arrested at his residence in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, this afternoon, according to MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull.

The arrest was carried out in relation to the commission’s investigation into the SRC International issue.

Speculation is also rife that the former premier could be charged tomorrow.

Shukri Abdul told the media that the arrest took place at 3pm and the former premier has been taken to the commission’s headquarters in Putrajaya for further questioning.

Previously, MACC had recorded Najib’s statement twice with regard to the SRC International issue.

Last Friday, Malaysiakini had reported that there is a strong likelihood the former premier would be arrested this week.

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[More to follow]

LIVE: Najib arrives in court

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Goldman Lunch at Taste Paradise Sets Table for 1MDB Money Probe


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-06-28/goldman-bankers-in-focus-in-1mdb-money-probe-video

Low Taek Jho and an official from 1MDB had hired Goldman Sachs Group to underwrite the US$1.75 billion bond offering.

SINGAPORE: In a private dining room at Singapore’s Taste Paradise restaurant, over a meal of abalone and suckling pig, two Goldman Sachs Group Inc bankers were explaining a US$1.75 billion bond offering to six executives of a Swiss bank.

It was early 2012, and joining Goldman bankers Roger Ng and Tim Leissner that day were a young Malaysian financier named Low Taek Jho and an official from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, known as 1MDB, which had hired the New York bank to underwrite the bond sale.

Now, people familiar with the matter say, investigators from Singapore to the United States are looking more closely at the roles of Mr Ng and Mr Leissner, who have both left Goldman. And they’re asking what happened in that private dining room named after the first emperor of a unified China, Qin Shi Huang.

In particular, they’re examining how US$577 million in proceeds from a bond sale that May ended up a day later in an account at BSI SA in Switzerland – the same bank whose executives were at the Taste Paradise.

Click here for the full report: Goldman Sachs lunch at Singapore’s Taste Paradise set the scene for 1MDB’s money probe

The lunch, previously unreported, brought together the key parties in what has become the biggest financial scandal in Malaysia’s history, involving the alleged misappropriation of US$4.5 billion of 1MDB funds. It was the culmination of numerous conversations as BSI bankers and compliance officials sought clarity on the deal.

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Najib is guilty of incompetence, he says: board to be blamed for 1MDB debacle, not me, I don’t know !


Dr M: Najib always assumes people are stupid 

‘Najib assumes M’sians are stupid’

Every bit of money that was borrowed by 1MDB had Najib’s signature, says PM

It is impossible for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak not to know of transactions related to 1MDB when his signature was on the documents, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister said he could not believe his predecessor’s claim that he knew nothing about money from the state fund ending up in his personal account.

“Who wants to believe him (that he didn’t know), when he signed (his name)?

“Every bit of money that goes in and out of the first borrowing of RM42bil, all (had) his signature,” said Dr Mahathir.

The amount refers to the total debt accumulated by 1MDB, a fund which was, in fact, founded by Najib in 2009.

“If he doesn’t know, it must be that he doesn’t understand what a signature means,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in an interview with the Malay Mail yesterday.

Dr Mahathir described as “ludicrous” for someone to direct RM2bil to be transferred into his account, while refusing to be informed of the transaction.

“This cannot be. Because I have to sign to use the money.

“To use the money, I have to issue cheques. Najib always assumes that people are stupid,” Dr Mahathir added.

It was previously reported that about US$700mil (RM2bil) was allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB into Najib’s personal account.

In a Reuters report on Wednesday, Najib blamed his advisers and the 1MDB board for keeping the alleged embezzlement information from him.

He said he did not know if hundreds of millions of dollars that moved through his personal account was from 1MDB, and if money from the fund was eventually laundered to acquire assets globally, including yachts, paintings, gems and prime real estate.

To this, Dr Mahathir said the Government had all the information on Najib’s alleged involvement in moving the 1MDB money, and that it knew how much money had gone into Najib’s account.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister disclosed that the authorities had “an almost perfect case” against Najib for embezzlement, misappropriation of funds and bribery.

1MDB had fallen RM42bil in debt since its inception in 2009, and Dr Mahathir had been at the forefront raising questions on it over the past three years. -The Star

Najib: If I was informed about the troubles the fund was in, I would have acted

He does, though, have explanations for the vast sums of cash, luxury handbags and jewellery recently seized from his homes by the Malaysian authorities.

Speaking to Reuters in his first sit-down interview since his shock May 9 election defeat, Najib said his advisors and the management and board of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), had wrongly kept the alleged embezzlement of funds a secret from him.

Newly-elected Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Reuters on Tuesday that the authorities have “an almost perfect case” against Najib on charges of embezzlement, misappropriation and bribery linked to 1MDB.

Najib, in some of his most extensive comments yet on the 1MDB scandal, said he did not know if hundreds of millions of dollars that moved through his personal account was from 1MDB, and if money from the fund was eventually laundered to acquire assets globally, including yachts, paintings, gems and prime real estate.

“I’m not party to the yacht, the paintings…I’ve never seen those paintings whatsoever,” said Najib.

“I was not aware of these purchases. This was done without my knowledge. I would never authorise 1MDB funds to be used for any of these items. I’ve been in government so long, I know what’s right and what’s wrong,” Najib said in the interview held at a luxurious sea-facing private villa in a five-star hotel on Pulau Langkawi.

He blamed 1MDB’s board, saying it was incumbent upon them to tell him if something was wrong.

Relaxing in a black T-shirt and brown pants, Najib said he was enjoying golf, food, and time with his family.

The family booked the villa to celebrate Hari Raya holidays together. Najib’s children, including stepson Riza Aziz, a Hollywood film producer, were with him for the week, his aides told Reuters.

Malaysian investigators looking into 1MDB say they believe that Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor have amassed vast amounts of wealth and property using funds from the state fund.

Rosmah briefly appeared at the interview but Najib said she would not take questions.

Nearly 300 boxes of designer handbags and dozens of bags filled with cash and jewellery were among the items taken away by police in raids at properties linked to Najib’s family.

Items included Birkin handbags from the luxury goods maker Hermes, each worth up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Najib said the public seizure of handbags and other luxury items created a negative perception but most were gifts given to his wife and daughter and had nothing to do with 1MDB.

“Yes these were gifts, particularly with my daughter’s they were tagged, they were actually labelled: when, by whom,” adding that a lot of them were wedding presents.

Najib said his son-in-law Daniyar Nazarbayev, the nephew of Kazakstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev, also gifted many of the handbags to Rosmah.

“People might find it hard to understand, but my son-in-law for example, he gets Birkin from his source, five or six at one go,” he said.

“His family has got some means, so it has nothing to do with 1MDB if it comes from Kazakhstan.”

US prosecutors have alleged that more than US$4.5bil (RM18.02bil) of 1MDB funds were laundered through a complex web of transactions and shell companies. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed several lawsuits to claim about US$1.7bil (RM6.8bil) in assets believed to have been stolen from 1MDB.

Some of the assets sought include a Picasso painting, luxury real estate in South California and New York, shares in a Hollywood production company and a US$265mil (RM1.06bil) yacht, and more than US$200mil (RM800.9mil) worth of jewellery – including a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace.

Najib said this jewellery set was also meant to be a gift for his wife but she never received it.

“And until today we do not know…she says the item is not in her possession,” Najib said.

In the interview, Najib for the first time also spoke at length about Low Taek Jho, a Malaysian financier better known as Jho Low.

US and Malaysian investigators have named Low as a key figure who benefited from 1MDB funds.

Najib said he felt that Low’s connections in the Middle East, particularly with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, could be helpful in pulling in more investment to Malaysia from those places.

But he said he had never instructed Low to get involved in 1MDB, and had no control over what he did.

“I didn’t give him instructions, but he volunteered to do certain things, which he thought would help 1MDB. But whatever he did ultimately is the responsibility of the management and board.”

Malaysia is seeking to arrest Low, believed to be residing abroad, for his involvement in the 1MDB scandal.

He described Low and Najib’s stepson Riza as friends but said he was not aware of any dealings involving 1MDB funds in Riza’s Hollywood production company, which produced The Wolf of Wall Street among other movies.

When asked if he was still in touch with Low, Najib said:

“We have cut off communication again. I don’t know where he is.”

Low’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing in 1MDB. He has said US$681mil (RM2.72bil) transferred into his personal bank account was a donation from Saudi Arabia, and not as US lawsuits have alleged misappropriated funds from 1MDB.

Najib said he had been given assurances from the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud that Saudi Arabia would be sending a donation.

“All I knew, I accepted at face value that this is coming from the Saudis, from King Abdullah at his behest, at his instruction,” Najib said. – Reuters

 

Najib: I did not benefit from 1MDB in any way 

 

His say: ‘If anyone is found to be on the wrong side of the law, let the legal process take its course.’

LANGKAWI: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has denied that he benefitted from 1MDB, adding that he believed that the sovereign fund had been created to do “something good for the country”.

“If I knew there was going to be misappropriation of funds, if that was my knowledge, I would have acted,” he said.

To a question if he blamed the 1MDB board for the fund’s troubles, he said:

“No. I am saying as a general principle, if they are in the know that something is not right, then it is incumbent upon them to tell me. It is the fiduciary duty of the board and the management to do the right thing. I expect them to do the right thing and to follow the law.”

He also said that they had no control over what Jho Low – who has been named the main suspect in the 1MDB investigation – did, adding that he could not pass judgment.

“But there are certain things which he may or may not have done. But I am right to say that investigations should proceed and if anyone is found to be on the wrong side of the law, let the legal process take its course.

“No, he was not working on my behalf. All those items he never invoked my name but he did say he was acting for someone else,” he said.

Asked who Low was acting for, Najib said: “You have to ask him that.”

He also said that he had not talked much about the 1MDB allegations because all these things happened out of Malaysia and that there were some “international ramifications” if he were to name certain prominent individuals who might affect the country’s diplomatic relations.

“I would also like to place on record that (his step-son) Riza has done very well – the movies, the box office sales has reached beyond RM3.2bil. So, it is not abusing concern. It is a profitable concern. But source of funding is subject to investigation. I think we will leave it at that.”

On RM2.6bil that was moved into his personal account in 2013, he said with the general election coming then, he had not wanted to get funding from companies as they would expect something in return eventually.

“If I have a source of funding, I could fund the elections and I could also do a lot CSR (corporate social responsibility) work without being obligated to anyone. That was my real intention you see. And I assumed everything was fine,” he said, maintaining that the RM114mil ringgit allegedly seized during investigation into 1MDB to be “genuine donations because the raid happened just two days after the 14th General Election. As president of the party, I had to prepare for the elections, and elections are very expensive affairs.

“Because donations are made in cash in election times. You don’t send cheques during election times, because people want cash. That is when monies are disbursed accordingly.”

On Barisan Nasional’s defeat in the elections, Najib said he saw part of it coming but that he did not expect it to be this catastrophic, blaming it on Opposition’s allegations that changed public opinion.

On the reopening of the Altantuya Shaaribuu murder case, he said the case had already been dealt with and denied that there was any evidence that he had ever met her.

“There are no records, no pictures or witness to say that I even knew her. It was subject to a proper trial and my name didn’t come up during the trial whatsoever.

“I’m on record to have sworn in a mosque in the name of Allah that I had nothing to do with the case.” – The Star

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Malaysia can’t extradite Jho Low, key people in 1MDB saga


Deep discussion: Dr Mahathir, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption director-general Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed having a chat after a ministry event in Putrajaya. — Bernama
Deep discussion: Dr Mahathir, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption director-general Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed having a chat after a ministry event in Putrajaya. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: They know where he is. But they can’t get their hands on him.

That is the predicament that the authorities face in bringing back Malaysia’s most wanted man these days – Low Taek Jho better known as Jho Low.

Low is at the centre of the debt-laden and scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that is a thorn in the administration of the previous Barisan Nasional government.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Low is in a country in which Malaysia does not have an extradition treaty with.

“We are trying to arrest Jho Low, but he is not in the country. And we do not have extradition rights in the country where he is at,” said Dr Mahathir without disclosing the country.

Legal experts say while it is not impossible to bring him back despite the absence of extradition treaty with the country, they cautioned this can be a long and tedious process.

Low has been identified as the mastermind behind 1MDB, which is the subject of investigations by Malaysian as well as international authorities for alleged corruption and money laundering.

1MDB accumulated debts of more than RM35bil in ringgit and US dollar denominated bonds in less than five years from 2009. Most of the money raised were placed outside Malaysia, which the Government is trying to recover.

Apart from Low, the principal officer in another 1MDB-related company is also on the wanted list.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has issued an arrest warrant for SRC International director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.

SRC International was a former subsidiary of 1MDB, which had allegedly transferred RM42mil into the personal account of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

It issued two tranches of RM2bil debt papers in 2011 and 2012. The money was to be used to purchase resource based assets in the region. However, there are no assets to back the purchases.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operation) Datuk Seri Azam Baki told Bernama there is no excuse for Low and Nik Faisal not turn up to facilitate investigations into the SRC International case.

“I refuse to comment on what action can be taken against both of them (Low and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil). As far as I know, they cannot give any excuses and must present themselves,” he said.

Nik Faisal, 47, last stayed in Alam Impian, Shah Alam.

Low, 37, previously resided in Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

The Prime Minister’s Office in a statement earlier announced the setting up of a special task force to conduct detailed investigations, detection and seizure of assets and prosecution of individuals who committed any criminal offence in the management of 1MDB.

Meanwhile, sources said Low’s lawyers have yet to get in touch with the MACC.

It was earlier reported that Low had instructed his lawyers to make contact with the MACC after he was made aware they were seeking him for assistance.

By Mazwin nik anis, Wddie chua, Joseph kaos jr, and Royce Tan The Star

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Chinese projects in Malaysia may stay intact


 
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has decided to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Railway project despite the huge losses. He also announced the overhaul of other big railway projects, including a Chinese company-led East Coast railway project. As a result, some are worried about the fate of Chinese-funded companies in Malaysia.

During the election, the style of governance that Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan proposed was in contrast to many policies of the previous government. Since Mahathir was elected, there has been growing concern about the new policies. While Malaysia has brought in big Chinese-invested projects, people are also concerned about the new government’s attitude toward foreign funds.

To my knowledge, Mahathir has formed many consulting teams and task forces since his re-election, which shows his prudence in dealing with such affairs. The government will clarify core policies and strategy in the next few weeks.

Pakatan Harapan was the opposition before and during the election. Its attitude toward foreign capital, especially Chinese funds in Malaysia, was obviously not thorough enough. Its opposition to big projects was aimed at the large sums they involved, not the projects themselves. To be more specific, what the political alliance opposed was actually ex-prime minister Najib Razak’s improprieties when approving the projects. Other problems involved in this process can be addressed by talks.

In the first press conference after his swearing-in ceremony, Mahathir promised that reviewing Chinese-funded projects would not harm China-Malaysia relations, and said that the new government will support the Belt and Road initiative as usual.

But Malaysia’s new finance minister and minister of economic affairs both started overhauling the big projects that the former government had signed, and outsourcing government projects through direct bidding is no longer permitted, including railway projects. It shows that the new government wants to overhaul official projects, while private investment projects are not affected.

The new government’s re-examination of big projects shows its intention to win more bargaining chips for negotiations. Any party that wants to cooperate with the new government needs to be more patient to retain the contract. Malaysia’s further development is closely linked to other countries’ continued participation, and China is certainly included.

Although China hopes that the current projects will stay intact, the two countries might still strategically revise their contracts to satisfy both sides as politics in Malaysia has changed. Besides, abolishing a contract is bound to cause political and economic upheaval as the Malaysian people realize the importance of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Railway and the East Coast railway projects. The new government will certainly evaluate the opinion in a prudent way.

The future of Chinese-funded enterprises in Malaysia may not change greatly. The previous discussion focused on big government projects, but neglected hundreds of Chinese-funded enterprises that have invested in Malaysia since the 1990s. Most of these firms operated under local laws and regulations. They purchased local materials and hired locals, and some even provided technology transfer and staff training.

They are model enterprises that aimed at developing the market in the long-term. This should have been given more publicity.

In the future, the Malaysian government will certainly welcome investment by foreign-funded enterprises that abide by the local laws, but will differ from practices in the past decades in terms of bidding and contract talks. Most importantly, all parties should believe in the principle that business is business, and win-win cooperation is the key to the issue. Malaysia will definitely let investors enjoy the dividends of its reform and development.

By Ling Tek Soon Source: Global Times – VIEWPOINT

The author is a research fellow with Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Malaysians hail the King for his consent on Tommy Thomas as AG


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PETALING JAYA: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, has consented to the appointment of Tommy Thomas (pic) as the new Attorney-General (AG).

In a statement, the Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said the King, on the advice of the Prime Minister, has given the approval to the appointment of Thomas as the AG according to Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

The Agong, said Wan Ahmad, has also called on Malaysians to accept the appointment of the AG, adding it should not create conflict as every Malaysian should be treated fairly regardless of their race or religion.

“The appointment would still continue to uphold the special privileges of the Malays and bumiputra as well as Islam as the religion of the Federation,” said Wan Ahmad.

He said the Agong has also approved the termination of Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali as AG after taking into consideration the views of the Malay Rulers on three issues.

These issues are the appointment of the AG, the rights of the bumiputras, and the rule of the Council of Rulers as stated under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

“The King has also expressed his disappointment (dukacita) and worries on media reports of late that were inaccurate and negative in nature, which could threaten the peace and harmony in the nation.

“The King has the obligation to uphold the Federal Constitution and preserve the rights of the Malays and bumiputras, as well as to protect Islam,” he added.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on May 14, announced that Apandi was told to go on leave and would be temporarily replaced by Solicitor-General Datuk Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek.

The proposal to appoint Thomas as AG had sparked a disagreement with the King, but Dr Mahathir was adamant and submitted only Thomas’ name to the King.

However the Agong insisted on more than one name, according to sources close to the royalty.

Malaysians expressed their joy and gratitude to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, for giving his consent for Tommy Thomas to be appointed the new Attorney-General (AG).

On The Star Online Facebook page, Thomas’ announcement received 291 shares, and 2,100 likes within an hour of the news breaking early Tuesday morning.

John Doraisamy said Malaysia and Malaysians were moving in the right direction.

“Happy to be 1Malaysia without racism,” he posted.
“Thank you to His Majesty YDP Agong for your royal consent. Congratulations to the new AG!” he said.

Justin Tan said Malaysia had reached a new milestone with Thomas’ appointment.

“Everyone should be treated equally and fairly regardless of their race or religion.

“Hope this signifies a true Malaysian society based on merit that will push the country forward to becoming the next powerhouse in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, Facebook user Rajasegaran Subramaniam called for the Federal Constitution to be made a compulsory subject in schools and universities due to the controversy surrounding Thomas’ appointment.

“It is pain in the eyes witnessing so called new Malaysia citizens commenting on sensitive issues without any ideas on what they are even commenting.

“(The) past two days was one hell of a rollercoaster ride because of ignorant comments from ‘new Malaysia’ citizens,” he said.

In a letter dated June 4, but released early Tuesday (June 5), the Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said the King, on the advice of the Prime Minister, has given the approval to the appointment of Thomas as the AG according to Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

The King, said Wan Ahmad, has also called on Malaysians to accept the appointment of the AG, adding it should not create conflict as every Malaysian should be treated fairly regardless of their race or religion.

“The appointment would still continue to uphold the special privileges of the Malays and bumiputera as well as Islam as the religion of the Federation,” said Wan Ahmad.  The Star
 Related: 

 

Experts: Nothing to bar Dr M from making Thomas the AG – Nation …

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