Sunday 2 August 2015

Another Brick In The Wall : It is our long held view that the distortion in the market place and government effectiveness came about due to intensive political fund raising by both BN and then Pakatan Rakyat state governments via public work and corporate business.

   Steadyaku47 comment : With thanks to Another Brick In The Wall. A good read!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Of fake charge sheet, leaked video, and political funding

Sarawak Report attempt to ride on the viral video of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at his home with a fake Charge Sheet backfired big time. It took someone familiar of being charged in court to known of a genuine charge sheet. This is one any Tom, Dick and harry can draft, type and photograph.

Yet again, it exposes SR's another wicked lie, spin and fact manipulation. It affirm their compulsive tampering tendency. Hopefully there will be those begin to realise something this blogger had realised from the long years of monitoring of SR. 

The official line from the Attorney General's office is that there are no such draft. [read Rockybru here]. If there is the official position, there is no need for a former AG to give a statement. MMO reported here that investigation is still on-going thus the notion of a charge sheet being drafted is preposterous. 

The blog The Unspinners here highlighted that Ilham Perdana Sdn Bhd's Managing Director was remanded by police only on July 22cd, thus it is also preposterous that there is already a charge sheet.

So much for SR's yet another lie.

Leaked video

The SR's lie was to take advantage of Tan Sri Muhyiddin's viraled leaked video [see above] and the visit by David Cameron to Malaysia [read The Star here]. To say it is a leaked video and viraled Muhyiddin's former Press Secretary was just non-sensical. There was just too many people there when Muhyiddin spoke.   

Maybe out of our own Johorean bisnesses and parochialism, this blogger believes that Muhyiddin's removal from cabinet is not by chance or ended in an adversarial tone but is by design.

Muhyiddin have long express interest to retire in many private occasions. Now is the right time and there is the "excuse" or reason to make way. Dato Najib have made up his mind to choose Dato Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as Deputy Prime Minister. And, there is a principle differences on 1MDB between Najib and Muhyiddin to justify his departure.

Muhyiddin insist on more transparency on 1MDB. However, there is a certain sensitivity and confidentiality in the various 1MDB deals with foreign partners that made it not practical to be absolutely transparent.

The attack by certain group of cytro and minor leaders of UMNO to vilify Muhyiddin as traitor and double talker is just political wayang. What was said in the video has the same content as the video of Muhyiddin speech at Janda Baik sometime ago. The concern on the political impact on the public and voters are something Najib would agree.

They depart way amicably as gentleman on the principle issue of collective agreement and keeping differences under lid. Muhyiddin's team would have known his removal from cabinet as early as after first day of raya.

The mentioned of political funding received from Arab had been privately made known to UMNO leaders and for a long while, it had remained kept within closed door. There was nothing new in Muhyiddin's comments.

One could notice that Dato Mukhriz was quiet as he made no effort to neither affirm nor comment.

Some political observer say his days are numbered but tonight he is hosting an UMNO thanksgiving dinner for the appointment of Dato Mahadzir Khalid to full Minister. It was something UMNO Kedah had lobbied for. 

Political funding 

Muhyiddin's video raises an age old issue of political funding.

The subject political funding in the context of corruption within the civil service, corporate and politics was discussed in this blog way back in 2009 [read here]. In a discussion on transformation in 2013 [read here], we ended with:
... PEMANDU is on course to look into Political Transformation with Omar Ong assigned to look into transforming BN into a single party.

Thought they would look into Social Transformation and political funding reform first then (allow it from) becoming a bigger political liability.
We've never come around to write on Transparency International Malaysia's proposal on political funding in which MACC's Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim expressed agreement.

It is our long held view that the distortion in the market place and government effectiveness came about due to intensive political fund raising by both BN and then Pakatan Rakyat state governments via public work and corporate business.

Maybe it is time political funding are capped and subsidised by federal government to reduce unethical practises of political fund raising. Equal access to media and strict enforcement of media ethics would help reduce campaign funding requirement.

BN's Director of Communication Dato Abdul Rahman Dahlan raised the issue of political funding as to pre-empt issues opposition from raising it.
Political Funding: Addressing a reality

First, let’s talk facts. Political donation is legal in Malaysia.

If you have special preference for a political party and believe in their struggle, you can help them achieve their goals by donating your money and/or assets. Truth be told, you can donate any amount you like: 10 ringgit, 1000 ringgit or even a million – or a billion ringgit for that matter – if you have that kind of amount to spare.

Looking back, I used to be a member of the MACC's Special Committee on Corruption for a span of 5 years (2008-2013). I know for a fact that those fine men and women of the MACC have been trying to get political parties to agree to a more transparent procedure when it comes to political donations. MACC has said that they aspire to have all donations officially declared in the name of transparency and accountability.

When the MACC came up with the notion of political funding reforms, the first head of a political party who supported the idea, would probably surprise you. It was none other than Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak, the Chairman of Barisan Nasional and UMNO President who publicly declared his support to the MACC's proposal and wanted it to be implemented and co-opted under the Government Transformation Program's initiative.

One of the first parties to object to the funding reform was DAP. The reason given by DAP was largely self-serving – and what a huge disappointment that had been. DAP's leaders said they feared that the reform would put DAP at a disadvantage.

On 1 December 2010, in a meeting with Transparency International – Malaysia (TI-M) with Pakatan Rakyat’s members of parliament, Tian Chua was reported in the minutes of the meeting to have said, “he feared that full disclosure would hurt their contributors and consequently the financing for the opposition, the fear is that the donors might be prosecuted by the winning coalition for supporting the losing coalition in any general election. This would result in a substantial decline of income source for the loosing coalition”. DAP’s Rasah MP Anthony Loke said essentially the same in a Bar Council Forum about political funding on 29 September 2011.

Going along the same argument, why couldn’t Pakatan Rakyat reveal since 2008 the donations they have received from businessmen and individuals in the two richest states they governed – Penang and Selangor – in Malaysia? Clearly the fear of backlash as cited by Tian Chua and Anthony Loke was just a lame excuse and not done in the best interest of transparency.

Everyone knows that the opposition parties are quite savvy in raising funds for their operations. It is also an open secret that they receive political funding from interested businesses and individuals, not to mention from the traditional but effective fund-raising dinners held almost weekly (if not nightly). While no one will be surprised if the funding comes from domestic sources, many people have been speculating that opposition parties also receive funding from foreign sources, too. Some seem to be disguised as NGO funding for the advancement of democratic ideals. Or so it would seem.

Coming back to matters at hand and with that strong objection from DAP, the political funding reform initiative was effectively shelved – it became a non-starter. It never took off. It stalled. Until now many people couldn’t believe why DAP – a political party that prides itself as reformist party – didn't accede to the idea. It seems to many people political contribution for DAP is very crucial. Thus any disruption to the free flow of political funding would be disastrous to DAP's grand plan of Malaysian Malaysia. Otherwise, an unequivocal rejection by DAP of a sure slam-dunk reform initiative like this seemed very odd indeed. No thanks to DAP, Malaysia has lost a great opportunity to address the growing concerns of secrecy regarding political funding in this country.

So, I find it rather perplexing that lately the likes of Tony Pua and Lim Kit Siang have been hypocrite enough in demanding Dato' Sri Najib to reveal the sources of political funding for BN and UMNO, when they have maliciously rejected the political funding reform initiative in the first place.

I recall in minute detail a debate I had in parliament after the 12th general election. I asked DAP MPs how did DAP get so much money to build their new spanking multi million state headquarters in Penang within a mere 2 years of Lim Guan Eng becoming the Chief Minister. After alI, I said it took Gerakan a long 12 years to build its state headquarters which happens to be just an ordinary premise. And I reminded DAP not to forget its socialist roots, which includes loathing anything that smacks of grandeur. As if on cue, several DAP MPs rose to their feet and started hackling me in the middle of my speech. One of them, Ngeh Koo Ham, DAP’s MP for Bruas, shouted across the divide, that DAP had plenty of supporters who were willing to donate their money for DAP’s cause.

On another occasion, during the Permatang Pauh election in 2008 (when Anwar Ibrahim stood as parliamentary candidate), for the first time in my whole political career, BN was absolutely out-spent in terms of logistics and election machinery e.g. posters, banners and campaign activities. I remember, every time BN party workers planted one BN flag, within 2 hours it would be drowned by hundreds of opposition flags. Whenever BN put up sizeable banners, the opposition would outdo us with twice the magnitude within half a day.

It is clear that without huge political donation, there is no way for the opposition parties to run their massive election machinery.

Based on this ethos of political funding, BN is familiar too to such pursuit. It is my hope that Tun Dr Mahathir does remember his blog posting, which was published on 13 June 2008, where he admitted that he handed over RM1.4 billion – in cash and assets – to the then newly minted UMNO president, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2003. That was the value of UMNO's cash and assets back then. Fast forward 12 years to the present day, taking into consideration inflation over the years and the greater challenges to fund UMNO and BN state liaison committees in the 4 states (namely Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan) which they lost since 2008, I won't be surprised if the leadership has to be more proactive to solicit more funding from its supporters and donors.

All said and done, there is now a louder demand to regulate political donations and the opposition especially DAP can't ignore it anymore. But until such monumental leap of faith becomes a reality within the opposition's coalition, one should never be deluded enough to hold the higher ground against another.

​Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan
Director of Strategic Communication,
Barisan Nasional

31 July 2015 

True enough, Tan Sri Abu Kassim did mentioned of DAP opposing regulating and introducing transparency in political funding.

Abu Kassim's immediate target was to simply to make sure political funding goes into the party's account and not placed in private accounts. Seldom is the practise, party's money and assets are kept in trust by assigned nominees only known to few top officials. Quite often, nomiees ran off with party entrusted assets.

In the case of the alleged transfer of money into Najib's personal account. Slowly but surely, UMNO and BN party machinery is on the verge of admitting the money was political funding recieved from Arabs.

Dato Azalina said the transfered RM2.6 billion into personal account is no big deal. Tun Faisal of JASA said rights and confidentiality in Najib's personal account should be respected. TMI just reported Rahman Dahlan saying UMNO Constitution provide for trust account under President's name [read here].

In the meanwhile, Najib said in an UMNO Melaka event today that he is ready to disclose the identity of the funder if opposition do likewise [read here]. Not sure it will convince the fence seaters, but it is an interesting angle.

Opposition like PKR, and DAP have been known to receive money from foreign donor [read past posting here]. PAS office bearer is also known to use PLC as conduit to bring back money.

More questions

While it is an argument for political debate, it raises more questions. Najib's script writers still got their work cut out.

The amount of US$700 million is hardly anything to the oil sheikh and rulers of rich Middle East states with their tap generating billions a day. While the Arabs are reknown philantropists, the other side of their character can be stingy and calculative.

Is there a trade-off or quid pro quo for the Arab's help? Maybe there are existing cooperation with certain Arabs that made such donation as possible.

One plausible explanation for the donation is Arab interest to see a moderate and stable government in this Muslim country of Malaysia. Arab are looking less towards London as more Arabs are visiting and residing in "Kuala". The presence of Arabs in Kuala Lumpur and major cities are getting more noticeable.

In a matter of time, the Arabs will move their money away from the priving eyes of the West to this way. All it needs is the right vehicle and investment product.

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