October 11, 2015 – 4:57 am

In July 2015, the Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report alleged that Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak had diverted RM2.6 billion (US$700 million) in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds into his own accounts. Later, a Najib crony alleged that the funds came from a Middle East donor. There has been no official account as to what has happened to the money. Anil Netto looks at a possible endgame for the Malaysian prime minister.

On 9 May 2015, I raised the question, “How long can Najib last?

[On October 6, 2015], the Conference of Malaysian Rulers issued a rare statement saying they want the government to complete the investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as soon as possible and take “the appropriate stern action” against those implicated. This is hugely significant. [Ed: The Conference of Malaysian rulers, comprising the nine rulers of the Malay states, and the governors or Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the other four states, generally meets three times a year.]

Click on the graphic for a better view.

Let’s look at the Bernama report more closely. The emphasis in bold is mine:

In a statement, their royal highnesses stressed that all concerned should extend “real and sincere” cooperation for the investigation to achieve its objectives.

“The findings of the investigation must be reported comprehensively and in a transparent manner so that the people will be convinced of the sincerity of the government which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth,” they said.

The statement was released by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, Datuk Seri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad, after the pre-council meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara on Tuesday. The 239th meeting of the Conference of Rulers is scheduled for two days from Wednesday.

The statement said: “The failure to give convincing clarifications and answers is feared to have resulted in a crisis of confidence.

“As a consequence, the people believe, whether basing on reality or perception, that this is among the causes for the plunge in the value of the Malaysian Ringgit, impacting the country’s financial market and economic climate negatively and at the same time adversely affecting the world’s view of Malaysia.

According to the statement, the Malay Rulers were worried that if the issue was not wisely handled, and was allowed to drag on, it could jeopardise the country’s economy and the livelihood of the people.

Their royal highnesses feared that this could also threaten public order and national security.

“Hence, the Malay Rulers remind all leaders to always adhere to the Rukun Negara principles of Upholding the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

“To ensure that the government enjoys the people’s trust, that leaders are respected, that political stability is guaranteed and that the economy continues to grow, all leaders must constantly ensure that justice is meted out equitably and transparently based on the law,” they said.

For this, the statement said, enforcement agencies and regulatory institutions such as the Police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Judiciary, as well as related government bodies should be worthy of God’s trust and the people’s faith with transparency, credibility and integrity.

The Malay Rulers also want the leaders to always give priority to factors of security, tranquility, peace and harmony and place national and the people’s concerns above their personal interests.

“The Malay Rulers take seriously issues affecting race and religion and would like to remind leaders of political parties and non-governmental organisations not to sensationalise racial and religious issues to garner support from the people for their parties or for themselves,” the statement said.

Their royal highnesses said the long-prevailing inter-racial and inter-religious harmony and solidarity had been the main pillar for the stability of an independent, peaceful, progressive and prosperous Malaysia.

As such, they said, the harmony and solidarity of the people should be safeguarded at all times and never be sacrificed for shallow political aims.

“The Malay Rulers have the religious obligation of ensuring that peace and prosperity can continue to prevail in the country in a stable political atmosphere with the people living in harmony,” the statement said.

Five main points in the Rulers’ statement:

- Failure to resolve the 1MDB and give convincing answers has resulted in a crisis of confidence and contributed to the plunge in the ringgit.
- This could affect the economy and the livelihood of the people.
- So, conclude the 1MDB investigtions promptly and haul up those implicated.
- All agencies – police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), judiciary, Bank Negara (Malaysian central bank), Attorney General’s Chambers – must cooperate in the probe.
- In the meantime, political parties and NGOs shouldn’t sensationalise racial and religious issues to win support.

So where does this leave Najib? Day by day, he is losing more friends and his support base is crumbling.  He is certainly not winning new friends.

Where does this leave Arul Kandasamy (1MDB’s President and Group Executive Director) and 1MDB, whose audited financial statements have been delayed? How much does 1MDB really owe?

The PAC (Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee) and MACC investigations have been disrupted. Who is actually probing 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion donation now? Will all those agencies now heed the Rulers’ wishes and resume their probe?

Where does this leave the Royal Malaysian Police, which have gone after 1MDB whistleblowers, while key figures in the 1MDB debacle have been allowed to slip out of the country?

Where does this leave Jamal Md Yunos [UMNO member and chairman of Malay NGOs] and Ali Tinju [Malay rights activist Mohd Ali Baharom] and their Red Shirts, who look increasingly isolated?

In fact, the open letter [on October 4, written in Malay] by the former deputy director of the Special Branch, Abdul Hamid Bador, was particularly scathing. He described such tactics as taken from a stale script to divert attention away from the loss of public funds.

He wrote:
…mereka menggunakan strategi mengelirukan rakyat dengan mencipta skrip basi yang tidak masuk akal kononnya wujud konspirasi untuk MENGGULINGKAN KERAJAAN. Siapa yang nak gulingkan kerajaan???
Kononnya orang-orang CINA NAK RAMPAS KUASA!!! Ish ish ish jahat sungguh taktik “diversion” yang digunakan oleh para “perompak” ini. Dari isu Pecah Amanah Jenayah dah bertukar pula jadi isu perkauman. Siapalah agaknya penasihat strategi “perompak” ini ye….pandai-pandai tupai melompat akhirnya jatuh ke tanah jua.

[roughly translated as: “they are confusing the public by conjuring a stale script that there is supposedly a conspiracy to topple the government, which doesn’t make sense. Who wants to topple the government? Supposedly it’s the Chinese who are taking power? Ish, ish, ish, so wicked is the diversionary tactic used by these robbers – from a criminal breach of trust to a racial issue. Can anyone guess who advised using such a strategy…No matter how high the squirrel jumps, it will eventually fall onto the ground.]

Just as we thought.

And where does this leave the government-controlled media, which have downplayed the impact of 1MDB?

Things have certainly picked up momentum since Bersih 4, while Najib looks increasingly like he is on borrowed time.

Note: Malaysian freelance writer/journalist blogs at anilnetto.com. Visit the site for more updates.

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Are we witnessing the final days of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak? Here is an excerpt from The New York Times on the final days of Indonesian President Suharto before he was ousted from office on May 21, 1998:

Jakarta, Indonesia, May 23 - It was a quick, stunning series of betrayals that shook President Suharto out of office this week. One after another, the men he had groomed and manipulated to shore up his power told him the harsh truth that he had seemed unable to grasp: It was time for him to go.

Every unhappy government is unhappy in its own way, and the convergence of events that toppled Asia’s longest-serving leader grew out of the very dynamics Mr Suharto had generated to bend Indonesia to his will.

In the end, Mr Suharto lost his feel for the pulse of the country, trying old maneuvers while Indonesian politics careered out of control. His top legislative official, his top general, his Vice President and nearly half his Cabinet told him he had to go…

The turning point was a riot, one week before the end. The explosion of looting, burning and death that laid waste to portions of the capital was more than anarchy. It was a statement of the country’s rage over the poverty and political impotence to which Mr Suharto had reduced Indonesia’s 210 million people.

For two months, student demonstrators had refused to be silenced, defying a carefully scripted inauguration in March at which Mr Suharto was endorsed by his retainers for a seventh six-year term in office even as public opposition grew. As had happened at earlier turning points in Indonesia, it was the students who rose up against the Government in a country where leaders are revered and rarely challenged.

Then, on May 12, six students were shot dead on the campus of Trisakti University in Jakarta, and in the three days of rioting that followed, thousands of buildings were smashed and burned and at least 500 people died.

On Monday, in a tactical retreat, the Government allowed students to enter the Parliament building to talk with Government representatives. But the retreat came too late. Sniffing the political breeze, the Speaker of the House, Harmoko, a long-time Suharto loyalist, turned against him and called for his resignation.

It was an extraordinary moment. The obedient legislature that Mr Suharto had created expressly to give legitimacy to his one-man rule - a Parliament that had never questioned his orders - turned the machinery of Government against him.

Click here for the full article.

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