Thursday, February 25, 2016

Malaysia enters new age of darkness as the Najib administration brutally suppresses press freedom

Never has the media in Malaysia faced a greater onslaught than it faces today since the dark days of Operasi Lalang where The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh, Watan was suspended on 29 October 1987.

Today, in a bid to put a lid on a barrel of crawling worms, the Najib administration has taken the most drastic and draconian action to date by blocking Malaysia’s most popular English news portal, The Malaysian Insider.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has confirmed that The Malaysian Insider has been officially banned “on the grounds of national security”. The notice posted by the respective Internet Service Providers claimed that the website is “not available in Malaysia because it violates National Law(s)”.

The Malaysian government has gotten increasingly brazen with abusing its powers by previously blocking whistle-blower websites such as The Sarawak Report and even the Medium channel for publishing The Sarawak Report news. It has previously blocked the website and more recently, the anti-establishment Malaysia Chronicle blog.

The latest block against the mainstream news portal The Malaysian Insider is clearly a sign of the Malaysian government upping the ante against any news outlets deemed to provide free and fair coverage of politics and Malaysia.

Worse, the MCMC has blatant flouted the very laws it claims to protect by taking action against the website without even any charges pressed against them. The Malaysian Insider has stated that it has no knowledge of being investigated for any of its reports, nor has it been sought to assist in clarifying any matters deemed sensitive by the authorities.This goes to prove the complete disregard for the rule of law by the Government.

The unannounced block by MCMC is a blatant show of naked force to not only to shut down “misbehaving” news sites, it is also intended to frighten and threaten all other news portals into submission and compliance.

President Barrack Obama had spoken up on the need of media freedom to preserve meaningful democracy during the World Press Freedom Day last year. "Journalists give all of us as citizens the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments," he said. "That makes us better, it makes us stronger, it gives voice to the voiceless, it exposes injustice, and holds leaders like me accountable."

The increasing brute and brazen attempts by the Najib administration to tear down the fourth estate, a critical pillar to check and balance those who are in power will only go to demonstrate how we are closer to a banana republic than we think we are. The world will now see in our full naked glory, how Malaysia is run by an utterly corrupt and shameless regime.

The DAP calls upon the MCMC and the Najib administration to lift the ban on all news portals. It will not only to return Malaysia to some semblance of the rule of law, but also to prevent a further drain in confidence in the country by local and foreign investors which will crush our fragile economy today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Based on Hasan Ariffin’s arguments, the PAC need not call any witnesses at all since 1MDB has issued so many 'explanatory' press statements

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I am stunned by the arguments laid out by the PAC Chairman, Datuk Hasan Arifin for not calling any more additional witnesses, including Bank Negara Governor, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz and former 1MDB CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman.

Datuk Hasan argued that Hazem's testimony was “not needed as issues during his tenure had already been answered by 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin in earlier proceedings”.

With all due respect to Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, why should the PAC investigating possible mismanagement and abuses within 1MDB, accept the his testimony hook, line and sinker? Furthermore, Tan Sri Lodin is merely the Chairman of the Board, and not the Chief Executive Officer who executed all the actions by the company.

Worse, Datuk Hasan argued that the Bank Negara issues concerning 1MDB’s US$1.83 billion of controversial fund transfers “had already been explained in the media and in the attorney-general’s own press statements”.

Is Datuk Hasan asking the PAC Members to accept mere “press statements” by 1MDB and other parties as wholesome explanations for the transgressions as alleged by Bank Negara?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Why has Hasan Arifin declared that the PAC will be calling its final witnesses on 11th and 12th February when no such decision was made during past meetings?

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Datuk Hasan Ariffin announced that the PAC will close its investigations on 1MDB after hearing from its last 2 witnesses on 11th and 12th February 2016, before receiving its report from the Auditor-General.

They are the former president and chief executive officer of 1MDB Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh.

I have read the above news with surprise as the matter has never been discussed in any of the previous PAC meetings.  During the last meeting, we have agreed for Datuk Shahrol Halmi and Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh to be summoned during the above dates in February.

However, it was never decided that there will be no more witnesses to be called as part of the PAC’s investigations into the 1MDB scandal.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Did Tabung Haji bail out Putrajaya Perdana Bhd after SRC International advanced RM140 million in July and August 2014?

SRC International transferred RM140 Million to Putrajaya Perdana companies

The Attorney-General had inadvertently exposed a damning transfer amounting to RM27 million by SRC International to the Prime Minister during his press conference last week.  This took place when Tan Sri Apandi Ali held up several documents to emphasize the fact that his office had carried out thorough investigations during yesterday’s press conference.