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14 April 2016

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By The Washington Post editorial board ( 9 April 2016)

Back in January, Malaysia’s autocratic-minded prime minister, Najib Razak, tried to decree the end to a scandal involving the appearance of $681 million in his personal bank accounts. After an attorney general he installed reported that the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family, and did not involve wrongdoing, Najib declared: “The matter has been comprehensively put to rest.” Malaysians who argued otherwise, officials suggested, risked prosecution under the country’s draconian sedition law.

Fortunately for the rule of law in Malaysia, the strongman’s gambit failed. Revelations about alleged misappropriation of funds from a Malaysian state investment fund set up by Najib continue to pour forth, and investigations in half a dozen nations appear to be gathering momentum. Malaysia’s scandal appears likely to implicate financiers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United States as well as some big Western banks. Perhaps most important, the chances that Najib will himself face legal and political consequences are steadily growing.

At the center of the scandal is a fund established by Najib in 2009 called 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB. The entity has borrowed $11 billion, and Swiss authorities are saying that as much as $4 billion may have been improperly diverted. According to the Wall Street Journal,more than $1 billion entered Najib’s personal accounts between 2011 and 2015, including the $681 million transfer, most or all of it originating with 1MDB.

Najib has insisted the funds were not for his personal use, but were used to legally fund his party’s 2013 election campaign. According to the Journal, millions were transferred to party officials. But at least $15 million was used for personal expenses, including lavish spending on clothes, jewelry and a car. Moreover, the newspaper reported that $150 million went from 1MDB to a Hollywood production company set up by Najib’s stepson, who invested it in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and other films.

Najib’s strategy for combating the allegations relies almost entirely on repression. Last year he fired a deputy prime minister and the previous attorney general – according to one report, shortly before criminal charges were to be brought against him. At least 15 people have been charged under the sedition law, which Najib once promised to repeal; opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been imprisoned for more than a year on trumped-up sodomy charges. The government has blocked news websites, deported foreign journalists and even banned yellow T-shirts used by anti-corruption campaigners.

Increasingly, it looks like a losing effort. Even if Malaysia’s investigators are blocked, those in other countries appear likely to move forward and expose how money was diverted. The Malaysian economy is meanwhile sputtering, and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has formed a coalition to seek Najib’s ouster.

All this ought to sway the Obama administration, which has cultivated Najib even amid the growing evidence of corruption and his repressive response. Last month the State Department objected to the government’s crackdown on the media, but President Obama, who invited Najib to a round of golf in 2014, has met with him twice more since November without commenting on the mounting scandal. It’s past time for the administration to distance itself from a ruler who appears headed for well-deserved disgrace.

More : http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/04/a_losing_effort_by_a_strongman.html

13 April 2016

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By 12 April 2016)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s jailed Anwar Ibrahim said it is not difficult representing himself, as his bid to challenge a decision not to grant him a royal pardon hit more delays on Tuesday (Apr 12).

The former opposition leader is serving out a five-year jail sentence on a sodomy conviction. He decided to represent himself in his application for leave to seek a judicial review of the Pardons Board’s rejection.

The hearing for this was meant to be on Tuesday after earlier postponements, but it has now been pushed to Apr 26.

His family’s lawyers say he needs more time to prepare by himself from prison. They allege he was not given a copy of the opposing counsel’s submissions in advance, and does not have access to sufficient resources such as a law library to prepare himself for his case from prison.

But Anwar told Channel NewsAsia he does not find representing himself difficult, saying it was just “extra work”. “You need to study, understand the law,” he added.

Anwar has 16 ongoing court cases and he decided to represent himself in several matters after he was given only an hour a week to meet with lawyers at prison.

Anwar Ibrahim’s family sought a royal pardon for him not long after he was convicted in February last year, but the Federal Territories Pardons Board rejected that request last March. His family then applied for leave for a judicial review in June 2015.

They now want the Pardons Board to meet again and dispense what they view as proper advice to the King of Malaysia, who presides over the board. As an alternative, they want an order to compel the board to advise the King to pardon and release Anwar.

Without a pardon, he faces another four years in prison – though he can be released early on good behaviour. However, the 68-year-old’s family feels that is still too long due to his health.

Anwar has always maintained that the sodomy charges he has faced are politically motivated, but the Malaysian government has insisted it had nothing to do with the decision to send him to jail.

13 April 2016

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11 April 2016 (ASIA ONE)

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Sarawak state dissolved its assembly Monday, the country’s official news agency Bernama reported, paving the way for an election that is being closely scrutinised for its impact on a huge financial scandal. Prime Minister Najib Razak and his nationally ruling coalition have taken a battering over allegations that billions of dollars were plundered from a state-owned investment fund which he founded.Parties from the Barisan Nasional (National Front) have long had firm control of Sarawak.

But political observers are watching for any signs of eroding support before national elections due by mid-2018.New polls for Sarawak’s state assembly must now be held within 60 days. A date is expected to be set this week.Sarawak, known for its vast tropical forests, is one of Malaysia’s most sparsely inhabited states, yet plays an outsized role in politics.It is often referred to as a reliable “fixed deposit” of support for the ruling coalition even as Malaysia’s opposition has gained ground elsewhere.

Although richly endowed with oil, timber and hydropower resources, its people – many from tribal communities – are among Malaysia’s poorest.It is one of ten Malaysian states controlled by the Barisan Nasional while three are held by the opposition.Despite the scandal swirling around the state-owned investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), ruling coalition parties are widely expected to remain in firm overall control of Sarawak.The opposition and electoral reform advocates say Barisan Nasional parties retain control of the states via “money politics”, control of the media, and other means, adding that a recent redrawing of electoral boundaries in Sarawak blatantly favoured the ruling coalition.

Analysts say a strong showing by the coalition could boost its position in the next national polls. Barisan Nasional has governed Malaysia since independence in 1957.A recent independent survey found that most people in Sarawak supported the current government and were little influenced by the 1MDB scandal.Najib, who denies wrongdoing, has weathered the scandal so far by taking steps to scuttle investigations and clamping down on his powerful ruling party.

5 April 2016

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My Republica (NEPAL) – 04 Apr 2016

(YURIKO KOIKE Japan’s former defense minister and national security adviser)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has long been envisioned as a foundation stone for stability, security, and increased prosperity in Asia. But with uncertainty plaguing the political systems of Burma, Malaysia, and Thailand, ASEAN may be entering a period of policy and diplomatic inertia. At a time when China’s economic downturn and unilateral territorial claims are posing serious challenges to the region, ASEAN’s weakness could prove highly dangerous.

The problems that are now bedeviling Burma, Malaysia, and Thailand may appear to have little in common. But they all spring from the same source: an entrenched elite’s stubborn refusal to craft a viable system of governance that recognizes new and rising segments of society and reflects their interests in government policy.And yet, despite the shared roots of these countries’ political dysfunction, their prospects vary. Surprisingly, hope is strongest in Burma, where the military junta recognized the need for change, exemplified in the 2010 decision to free the long-imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and embark on a transition to democracy.Burma’s former military leaders, it seems, looked ahead dispassionately and saw a stark choice: either relinquish gradually their absolute power, allowing for a democratic transition, or permit China to tighten its grip on their country.

China’s efforts to impose development plans that would deliver few, if any, benefits to Burma made the choice somewhat easier.Today, Suu Kyi is Burma’s paramount leader. Though the constitution imposed by the junta prevents her from serving officially as president, she holds the real power in the current government led by her National League for Democracy, which secured a landslide victory in last year’s general election.Of course, there is no guarantee that Burma’s democratic transition will succeed; after all, beyond barring Suu Kyi from the presidency, the junta’s constitution reserves all of the “power” cabinet posts for the military. But with Suu Kyi carefully establishing the NLD’s authority, and with friends in India, Japan, and the United States monitoring any potential backsliding, there is a legitimate hope that most of the members of Burma’s military elite will continue to reconcile themselves, if begrudgingly, to modern democracy, just as Eastern Europe’s former communist rulers once did.

The situations in Malaysia and Thailand are less promising. Extreme political polarization is almost as deeply entrenched in these countries today as it was in Burma before 2010. But whereas Burma’s generals recognized the need to escape their cul-de-sac, the Malay and Thai elites seem to be doubling down on political exclusion.In Malaysia, the problem is rooted in ethnic and racial divisions. Since gaining independence, Malaysia’s leaders have pursued policies that favored the indigenous Malay majority, at the expense of the country’s minorities, most notably the sizable Chinese and Indian populations.But throughout Malaysia’s first decades of independence, the United Malays National Organization, the country’s largest political party, did seek to incorporate minority interests, despite commanding the loyalty of the vast majority of the electorate.

This inclusive approach began to break down with the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when a coalition of political parties was forged by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim—who was subsequently jailed on contrived sodomy charges—to challenge the UMNO’s authority. With Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government now enmeshed in a vast corruption scandal, the UNMO is relying more than ever on Malay chauvinism.In Thailand, the source of deep political polarization is economic. Simply put, the “haves” want to keep the “have-nots” from having a voice.For much of Thai history, the elite’s rule was untroubled. But the enactment in 1997 of what came to be known as the “People’s Constitution” enabled previously discounted political forces to rise. None rose faster or higher than the business tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, who exploited the resentments of the long-disempowered rural poor to forge a mighty political machine that challenged the entrenched royalist political establishment, which includes the monarchy, the military, the judiciary, and the civil service.

The clash between the two factions led to two military coups, one in 2006 to push Shinawatra out of power and another in 2014 to drive out his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. The conflict became increasingly violent, with both sides willing to go to great lengths to maintain their grip on power.Today, the ruling military junta is systematically cracking down on dissent; it has banned Thaksin-aligned politicians from entering politics, and is trying to impose a new constitution. And Thailand’s troubles may be about to worsen: With King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s health failing, his seven-decade reign may be near its end. Should the royal succession be contested, Thailand could enter yet another period of chaos and violence.Just as India, Japan, and the US have been helping to shepherd Burma through its transition, they should take a more proactive role in saving Malaysia and Thailand from their elites’ self-destructive behavior. Standing idly by while two of ASEAN’s core members consume themselves is simply not a viable option.

30 March 2016

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Dear Friends,

Today marks day 415 of Anwar Ibrahim’s incarceration.

On the 10th of March, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted Malaysia and the plight of Anwar Ibrahim at Human Rights Council’s 31st session. In the statement Prince Zeid said:

“In Malaysia, democratic space continues to be limited, with the Government applying “sedition” and other charges to an ever-widening circle of journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critical voices. The enactment of the Prevention of Terrorist Act and the National Security Council Act, without proper human rights safeguards, and without transparent and consultative process, is also a matter of concern. The imprisonment of a former opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim – whose detention has been ruled arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – is emblematic of a broader democratic malaise.”[1]

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on the 23rd of March adopted a strong and clear resolution for Malaysia and Anwar Ibrahim citing:

“Decisions on cases in Malaysia include calls for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to be released from prison following new information that his trial and subsequent conviction were not based on legal considerations. IPU is, nevertheless, pleased by assurances that Anwar Ibrahim would receive medical treatment by a doctor of his own choosing. The Organization, however, remains concerned by Malaysia’s amended Sedition Act and Peaceful Assembly Act which have been used against 19 other MPs exercising their right as parliamentarians to speak and assemble freely.”[2]

On the local front, Anwar was transferred to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital from the 15th to the 17th for follow up check up. While his general health remains stable, his shoulder injury necessitates surgery to alleviate pain and allow for full mobility of his right shoulder. He continues to be denied proper intensive physiotherapy in hospital – two to three times a week as recommended by shoulder specialists.

Anwar appeared in court representing himself for the first time on the 22nd of March. He was forced to act as his own counsel after the prison authorities restricted his access to lawyers to only one hour a week despite 16 on going cases in court. This serious breach of his legal rights makes it impossible for Anwar and his team to adequately prepare for his legal defence. He has officially made requests for access to the Internet and legal literature to allow him to adequately prepare for cases.

In the RM100 million defamation suit case against Malaysian United Indian Party (MUIP) president S Nallakaruppan, Anwar successfully cross examined and cleared his name as S Nallakaruppan denied vehemently uttering the statement he made against Anwar during the 2008 by election that was deemed defamatory. Having cleared his name unequivocally in court, Anwar withdrew his suit.

The following week, 27th of March, Anwar again appeared in court representing himself. This time for an appeal to the decision of the Royal Pardon Board. In February 2015, the family of Anwar applied for a royal pardon to the King of Malaysia on the 5-year sentence imposed on Anwar citing miscarriage of justice.

However the Pardon Board rejected the application. Anwar’s family is citing conflict of interest as the Attorney General (at that time the Attorney General was Gani Patail) sits on the Pardon Board. His involvement with Anwar’s case is well known, as he remains a key player in the conviction of Anwar in both 1998 case and the recent case.

The application itself was eventually held in chambers behind closed doors with no one allowed to enter except for the applicants. Lawasia and IPU representative, Mark Trowell,  who wrote in earlier requesting permission to be allowed in as an international observer remarked that although he respects the decision of the judge he went on to say “The international community is still interested and concerned about legal proceedings concerning Anwar Ibrahim” and the judge should have used her discretion to allow international observers.

The application was later postponed to 4th of April 2016 to allow Anwar to review the senior federal counsel’s last minute submission on the matter.

We thank you for your concern and support. We will try our best to update as time goes on. Meanwhile, we leave you with a video we recently released.

Family of Anwar Ibrahim

“I hope Malaysians will continue to push for institutional reforms, a change in the judiciary system and most paramount the Election Commission, and other genuine changes. Not only a change of personalities” – Anwar Ibrahim on the 28th of March after court hearing

[1]http://ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17200&LangID=E

[2] http://www.ipu.org/press-e/pressrelease201603231.htm

https://youtu.be/sJXhoEVufQE

29 March 2016

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By Linton Besser, Elise Worthington and Jaya Balendra

ABC News (29 March 2016)

So much money was pouring so rapidly into the Malaysian Prime Minister’s personal bank accounts that it rang internal money-laundering alarms inside AmBank, a major Malaysian institution part-owned by Australia’s ANZ.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were being wired into Najib Razak’s accounts from the Saudi Arabian Government, a mysterious Saudi prince and two shadowy British Virgin Island companies, while the head of a Malaysian state-owned company topped up the Prime Minister’s credit card accounts with millions of Malaysian ringgit in cash.

Mr Najib’s Platinum Mastercard and Platinum Visa had been overdrawn thanks to a 3,320,670.65 ringgit ($US1,039,369.91) purchase of jewellery in September 2014 — a spending spree described inside AmBank as a “huge volume”.

Mr Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor has previously been reported to have purchased a series of luxury items, from diamond jewellery to designer handbags, which appear beyond her husband’s $A130,000 official annual salary.

Between opening his account at AmBank on January 13, 2011 and April 10, 2013, Mr Najib received a total of more than $US1 billion — or, more precisely, $US1,050,795,451.58 — including a series of individual deposits that ranged between $US9 million and $US70 million.

Inside the bank, the Malaysian Prime Minister’s account was held under the codename “Mr X”.

The startling new banking records have been obtained as part of a Four Corners program that aired last night, and which resulted in the arrest of two members of its team, Linton Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu.

The records also show that as well as spending some of the money on hotel accommodation and luxury cars, Mr Najib used the money to fund political affiliates in the run-up to Malaysia’s last 2013 elections.

Four Corners has established that Dr Zeti Aziz, the governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysia’s central bank, was repeatedly warned about the Prime Minister’s unexplained wealth by senior officials at AmBank.

At one such meeting in September 2012, the ABC has been told Dr Aziz handed back the bank’s report, which had been marked “highly sensitive”, not wishing for Bank Negara to have a copy on its premises.

When the ABC asked Dr Aziz what action she took when she received these warnings, she said there were limitations on the scope of investigations that Bank Negara could itself conduct, but that it always reported information it received to relevant authorities.

In January, the Malaysian Attorney-General shuttered a corruption probe of the Prime Minister, declaring Mr Najib had no case to answer.

Despite this, Dr Aziz said there remained ongoing investigations.

Asked who was behind the money flowing into Mr Najib’s accounts, Dr Aziz said: “I cannot comment on this, it is an ongoing investigation.”

More- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-29/najib-razak-bank-accounts-triggered-money-laundering-alert/7280244

29 March 2016

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Malaysiakini- 28 Mac 2016

Oleh Hafiz Yatim

Bekas pemimpin pembangkang dan Ketua Umum PKR Anwar Ibrahim mahu rakyat memberi tumpuan kepada pembaharuan institusi dan bukan sekadar pertukaran perdana menteri.

Anwar ketika dibawa keluar dari mahkamah oleh pengawal Jabatan Penjara ditanya sama ada perubahan dalam kepimpinan negara dengan menukar Datuk Seri Najib Razak sebagai perdana menteri adalah memadai.

“Saya harap rakyat Malaysia akan terus mendesak pembaharuan institusi, perubahan dalam sistem kehakiman dan perubahan lain yang sebenarnya.

“Bukan sahaja perubahan personaliti,” katanya sambil pegawai penjara pula menjerit, “tiada sidang akhbar”.

Semalam, bekas seteru politik Anwar, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Timbalan Presiden PKR Azmin Ali dan pemimpin supremo DAP Lim Kit Siang bergandingan bahu menuntut peletakan jawatan Najib berhubung keadaan semasa negara dan implikasi Najib terpalit dalam skandal derma RM2.6 bilion.

22 March 2016

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Anadolu Agency (21/3/2016)

Jailed former opposition leader permitted to receive medical treatment from George Washington University, but only at Malaysian hospitals

By P Prem Kumar-

KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia’s government announced Monday that it would allow imprisoned former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to seek medical treatment from overseas experts, so long as they conduct the procedures in the Southeast Asian country.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told parliament that the government would permit experts from the medical faculty of George Washington University in the United States to bring any expertise, equipment and medicine into Malaysian government-run hospitals.

“The government has decided that Anwar can be treated by the team from the university’s medical faculty,” said Hamidi, who also serves as home minister.

“He can choose any government hospital in Malaysia to bring the entire team and equipment from there to,” he added, underlining that the country’s current prison laws do not allow convicts to undergo medical treatment overseas.

For months, Ibrahim’s family members — including his wife Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who currently serves as opposition leader — and rights groups have expressed concern that he is not receiving appropriate treatment while serving a five-year term for sodomizing a former aide.

His daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, also a member of parliament, had earlier told Anadolu Agency that Ibrahim was being denied his civil rights, while his lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah said Ibrahim’s condition had declined to “a worrying stage”.

Minister Hamidi said Monday that the Malaysian government had received three letters — sent by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the president of George Washington University — requesting immediate medical treatment for Ibrahim.

Hamidi added that U.S. President Barack Obama had also expressed concern over Ibrahim’s health during a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on the sidelines of a summit in Kuala Lumpur last November.

Ibrahim’s family had been verbally informed two weeks ago of the government’s decision — also conveyed to Kerry, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nationals Samantha Power and British Home Secretary Theresa May during recent official meetings with Hamidi.

Hamidi insisted Monday that the government would not neglect any important medical treatment of any prisoners, and would act swiftly based on recommendations by local doctors.

Last January, lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah — who is also a senior opposition figure — had accused the government of not fulfilling its promise to Obama to ensure Ibrahim received proper medical care for his shoulder muscle tear.

“Instead of allowing him to go to a hospital to seek immediate intensive physiotherapy treatment three times a week, the government has limited his access to only once in two weeks,” said Rasiah, who serves as vice president of the People’s Justice Party Ibrahim founded.

“Even then, the doctors visit him in the prison as he is not allowed to go to a hospital.”

Ibrahim has enjoyed huge support among Malaysians since his entrenchment as deputy prime minister in former premier Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s government in 1998.

The opposition leader and Ibrahim’s supporters claim that the case against him for sodomizing Saiful Bukhari Azlan is politically motivated and aimed at stopping him standing in the 2018 general election.

Ibrahim has been the main opponent of the ruling party — which has been in power from the time of independence in 1957 — since falling out with the government in the late 1990s.

The 2013 election saw his opposition coalition come close to unseating the government in what Ibrahim dubbed the “worst electoral fraud in our history”.

19 March 2016

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Free Malaysia Today (March 18, 2016)

KUALA LUMPUR: The PKR Youth Wing launched its roadshow for the Save Malaysia Programme and 402 Anti-GST Assembly at Masjid Negara today.

The Save Malaysia Programme will take place on March 28 and the 402 Anti-GST Assembly on April 2.

Speaking to FMT, PKR Youth Organising Secretary Ahmad Syukri Razak said the roadshow was a promotional tool to gather as many supporters as possible for the two programmes.

He explained the Save Malaysia programme was an effort to get Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign from his post, introduce institutional reforms and free PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim from prison.

The Anti-GST Assembly meanwhile was an effort to abolish the tax introduced by the government in April last year.

“We will be inviting several politicians and NGOs who share our aspiration for reform for the two programmes,” Syukri told FMT.

PKR Youth Chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said there would be a series of dialogues and campaigns throughout the country and the two programmes were only the beginning.

“We want to get the message across to Najib that he has lost favour and that he should back off. That’s why we’re holding programmes like these.”

14 March 2016

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CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (14 Mar 2016)

CANBERRA: Australia is deeply concerned over the arrest of two Australian journalists in Malaysia after they attempted to question Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over corruption allegations, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday.

The journalists from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) flagship investigative journalism programme, Four Corners, were arrested in the Borneo state of Sarawak on Saturday night after approaching Najib outside a mosque.

Malaysian police said in a statement the pair had been arrested for failing to comply with police instructions not to cross a security line. They were released on bail on Sunday and charged with “obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his public functions”.

Bishop told ABC radio Australia was “deeply concerned”.

“We are providing consular support to the ABC crew and certainly raising this issue at the appropriate level with the Malaysian government,” she said.

Najib has faced sustained pressure to resign since the middle of last year over allegations of corruption linked to the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and deposits into his private accounts worth around US$680 million.

He has denied any wrongdoing and maintains he did not use the funds for personal gain. He was cleared earlier this year of any criminal offence or corruption.

Sally Neighbour, the programme’s executive producer, wrote on Twitter that the journalists had been in Malaysia reporting on the corruption scandal and denied any allegations of wrongdoing on their behalf.

“Our journalists were doing what journalists do in countries with a free press,” she wrote.

Reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu have had their passports returned, Neighbour said, but have been barred from leaving the country.

Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad cranked up pressure on Najib to quit earlier this month, marking a seismic political shift by joining hands with long-standing foes, including the party of the jailed Anwar Ibrahim.

11 March 2016

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UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ZEID HIGHLIGHTS ARBITRARY DETENTION OF MALAYSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ANWAR IBRAHIM IN ANNUAL REPORT TO HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

 

Anwar only prisoner of conscience anywhere in the world mentioned by High Commissioner

 

Geneva – In remarks to the Human Rights Council earlier today presenting his annual report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad focused on shrinking democratic space in Malaysia. He highlighted the ongoing imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim, which he described as arbitrary, as emblematic of the country’s retreat from democratic principles.  His remarks, in full, were as follows:

“In Malaysia, democratic space continues to be limited, with the Government applying “sedition” and other charges to an ever-widening circle of journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critical voices. The enactment of the Prevention of Terrorist Act and the National Security Council Act, without proper human rights safeguards, and without transparent and consultative process, is also a matter of concern. The imprisonment of a former opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim – whose detention has been ruled arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – is emblematic of a broader democratic malaise.”

Anwar is a Malaysian opposition leader and a former Deputy Prime Minister.  He led a diverse opposition coalition, cutting across race and religion, to win 52 percent of the popular vote among Malaysians in the country’s 2013 parliamentary elections. He is now imprisoned on fabricated charges because he is a democratic threat to Prime Minister Najib Razak.  Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience; the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined his detention is arbitrary in an October 2015 opinion.

Since his imprisonment in February 2015, Anwar has suffered numerous human rights and due process violations.  These include the consistent denial of access to adequate medical care and treatment for his existing injuries as well as new conditions that arose from his detention.  Over the last months, Anwar had been denied effective access to his lawyers as visits with them were restricted to only one hour per week, despite the fact that there are 16 ongoing civil and criminal cases. As such, Anwar has had no choice but to discharge his counsel and to represent himself in several of his cases. Psychological pressure is maintained by denying contact visits with family members who speak to him only once in 3 weeks via telephone across a glass partition.

High Commissioner Zeid’s strong statement of support joins others in condemning Anwar’s imprisonment.  US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, called it an “unjust jailing,” and Human Rights Watch referred to it as a “travesty of justice.” The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union called in a Resolution for “the authorities to do everything possible to address this situation,” and the European Parliament issued a Resolution on Malaysia urging the immediate release “of all political prisoners, including … Anwar Ibrahim.”

9 March 2016

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Kenyataan Akhbar Anwar Ibrahim
9 Mac 2016

Kita sudah sampai ke peringkat di mana terdapat kesedaran meluas menuntut perubahan. Pimpinan Perdana Menteri Najib Razak dan sistem pemerintahan yang gagal mengendali permasalahan kritikal ekonomi Negara.

Terakhir kita perhatikan kedudukan ekonomi tambah gawat dan buktinya adalah dengan keperitan hidup rakyat.

Harga barang keperluan asas meningkat dan perlaksanaan GST bercelaru dan membebankan.

Kerajaan BN-UMNO tidak sanggup melakukan sebarang tindakan berkesan untuk mengurangkan beban rakyat. Umpamanya dengan penurunan harga minyak, kadar letrik milik IPP-kroni tidak diturunkan. Untung mereka meningkat ratusan juta ringgit setahun. Tetapi rakyat terpaksa membayar kadar yang tinggi.

Justeru itu saya menggesa rakan-rakan dalam Keadilan, Pakatan Harapan dan NGO-NGO untuk terus gigih menuntut reformasi sepertimana kita perjuangkan selama ini.

Press Statement by Anwar Ibrahim
9th March 2016

We have reached a point where there is widespread awareness of the need for change. The leadership of Prime Minister
Najib Razak and the system of governance has failed to resolve the country’s critical economic troubles. Lately we see that the economic situation has worsened, the undeniable proof of which is the increasing difficulties and challenges faced by the rakyat.

The price of essential goods are increasing and the implementation of GST is confused and burdensome.

The UMNO-BN government is not interested to take any effective action to reduce the burden of the rakyat. For example, with the reduction of petrol prices, the electricity rates charged by IPP-owned by cronies were not reduced. Their profits have increased by millions of ringgit annually, but the rakyat still pay high rates for electricity.

Therefore I urge my friends in Keadilan, Pakatan Harapan and NGOs to push on with the demand for the reforms which we have struggled for all this while.

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