The Saudis are apparently pissed that Malaysia is courting a trio of its enemies by hosting the leaders of Qatar, Turkey and Iran at the KL Summit. How does this affect the average Malaysian hoping to perform his or her haj?

In other news, Jibby Razak plays dumb at his SRC trial; the Prisons Department of course denies that convicted Altantuya murderer Azilah Hadri was allowed out to meet a VVIP; and, a supposedly obscene ad was ordered taken down by KL City Hall.

Courting trouble with King Salman?

The King and I

Is PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad playing with fire by organising the KL Summit?

You see Saudi Arabia is unhappy the Summit is being held here, officially because it isn’t the right forum for the topics which are to be discussed here to be brought up. But, there are reports that what really has the Saudis’ knickers in a bunch is that the leaders of the kingdom’s three regional rivals — Qatar, Iran and Turkey — will be in KL for the Summit.

This, combined with Malaysia’s withdrawal from a Saudi-led coalition of military forces fighting rebels based in Yemen and the decision to put a stop to the Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace, reportedly because the kingdom is a close US ally, is what is fueling the deep feelings against Putrajaya.

Riyadh has had a fierce rivalry with the three countries mentioned above for years. Efforts are being made to mend these relationships of late, but they are still quite a ways off. The relationship which is perhaps the closest to being resolved is the one with Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and its Middle Eastern allies had accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism over alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, which these nations consider a terrorist organisation. The allies had made 13 demands of Qatar, including closing down Al Jazeera TV station and a Turkish base, as well as downgrading ties with Iran.

But it was recently reported that Riyadh will no longer expect Doha to shutter Al Jazeera or not have close ties with Ankara.

Saudi Arabia’s problems with Turkey stem from a number of things, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and Turkey’s support for Qatar. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave the OIC Summit in Mecca a skip earlier this year, something which he normally never does.

Iran, perhaps, is the most problematic of the three, with Saudi Arabia accusing the Islamic Republic of backing Houthi rebels who have been attempting to disrupt oil production in the kingdom by staging attacks, including using cruise missiles and drone strikes. However, the Wall Street Journal a week ago reported that Riyadh was trying its best mend fences with Tehran, perhaps for fear that oil production could be terribly hampered should it come under more attacks.

So where does this leave Malaysia? Saudi King Salman is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and his government controls entry into the Holy Land. At present, the haj quota for Malaysia stands at 30,200. Earlier this year, it was reported the wait list was so long that those who deposited with Tabung Haji between January and May would have to wait 116 years to perform the haj.

So what happens should King Salman decide Maddey’s actions are insults that cut too deep? What happens if he decides to cut the haj quota because of these insults? The poor ordinary Malaysian hoping to perform the haj suffers, that’s what happens.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Coz it just wouldn’t do to piss off arguably the most influential and powerful Muslim in the world, would it?

The trials and tribulations of Jibby Razak

What’s up with Najib Razak?

It seems like our good ol’ former PM was playing dumb at his SRC International corruption trial yesterday. Or was he? He couldn’t really be that dumb, right?

First, when cross-examined by ad hoc prosecutor V. Sithambaram, Najib couldn’t say if documents shown to him by the MACC during the course of investigations into the siphoning of RM42 million from SRC accounts bore his signature. Jibby said he would have to get a handwriting expert to ascertain if the signatures on the docs were really his or forgeries.

Sithambaram then asked SuperPinkLipMan the same question all of us would have asked as well; if our illustrious, super well-educated former exalted leader couldn’t be sure if those were his signatures himself, how was a handwriting expert supposed to do so? But Najib insisted he had to call in a handwriting expert to be sure, as he had his doubts the signatures were his and wanted the expert to confirm this.

Later, the Jibster told the court he’d delegated management of his bank accounts to others, including then SRC chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, and therefore couldn’t be held responsible for their wrongdoings.

Sithambaram showed Najib instructions issued by Nik Faisal telling his bank to transfer RM20 million from his account into two other bank accounts. He then showed Jibs two cheques issued for payments from two Ambank accounts.

Najib agreed he couldn’t have issued the cheques if the two accounts didn’t have RM10 million each in them, but, bizarrely, then insisted he didn’t do anything wrong if Nik Faizal had been the one managing the accounts.

And just how is it that it was Nik Faisal who was in the wrong if he was the one who transferred the money into the accounts but it was Najib who spent it? Simple, says the former BN and Umno head honcho: “I thought it was donation money.”

Ah yes, the donation from the Saudi royal family. Of course.

Anyhoo, Jibby’s SRC trial looks set to run into overtime, so the judge hearing the case has vacated the trial dates for his joint trial with former Treasury sec-gen Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah over six CBT charges amounting to RM6.6 billion. That trial was to have taken place in January, before the same judge, so now the SRC trial will take up those dates as well.

That sure is a lot of trials you have going on there, Najib. There’s this SRC corruption trial, and the CBT charges, which are in relation to IPIC. Then there’s the 1MDB corruption trial as well.

But all’s not done, perhaps, considering what’s happening in the US. The US Securities Commission, in its cease and desist order against Tim Leissner, named Najib as one of the recipients of kickbacks from bonds raised by the former Goldman Sachs executive for 1MDB.

Damn, son! Things aren’t looking really bright for you, are they?

And I swear ...

All the corruption, abuse of power and CBT cases against him, of course, will pale in comparison should Najib Razak have to face trial for murder.

Over the past few days, we Malaysians have been facing a deluge of stories following the “explosive” news over convicted killer Azilah Hadri’s claims that Jibby ordered the killing of Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. Azilah had sworn in an SD that this was true and had used it in an application for a review of his case so he could get a retrial.

Now, should everything go wrong and Najib have to face trial for murder, he could be staring at the gallows. So the current cases would be nothing compared to that, should it happen.

So, what does our man do? Do some swearing of his own, of course.

Jibby says he will be swearing a sumpah laknat, an oath beseeching God to curse those in the wrong. This will be done tomorrow, after Friday prayers at Masjid Jamek in Kampung Baru.

Good luck, dude. We’ll keep an eye out for suspicious lightning flashes from that direction.

Meanwhile, the Prisons Department has pooh-poohed claims by Jibby’s lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, that Azilah had been taken out of Sungai Buloh Prison to meet with an as-yet-unnamed VVIP several times. The department said the claims were baseless, adding that the former UTK man had only received visits from family members.

In an immediate response, Shafee maintained the meetings had taken place and that there was a conspiracy against his client. The lawyer brushed aside the Prisons Department statement, saying that would, of course, have to deny his claims as confirming them would be like “hanging themselves”.

Take a look at this article here if you wanna know the possible scenarios which could come out of Azilah’s review bid. Mighty interesting, to say the least.

Sugar, oh honey honey

KL City Hall is in a bit of a huff over some naughty advertising which it said it had not approved.

The ads in question were put up by a company advertising an app called Sugarbook, which connects sugar daddies and mummies to sugar babies. Yup, you read that right. Here. In Malaysia. Saucy varlets!

Anyway, City Hall says the ads had to be taken down because it did not follow guidelines and were obscene and sensitive in nature. So down they came. 

First of all, pictures of the ads have gone viral. Secondly, by issuing a statement, City Hall has added to the notoriety of the company and app, as well as given it free advertising. Yay, DBKL.

But let’s really take a look at this. It’s fine to take down ads if they don’t folow guidelines. Really, we understand. No nudity, no sex scenes. No foul language. And etc and et al.

But let’s not get too moralistic here. These are not “professional women” (or men) looking for “johns”. These are people looking for companionship, most of the time. We assume there is sex involved, but these are adult (we hope) couples (or threesomes or whatever) entering into consensual relationships. 

It’s not of public concern. After all, don’t we have some MPs or ex-MPs who entered into relationships with much younger women, and ended up marrying them?

What we take umbrage in, most of all, is Sugarbook’s CEO Darren Chan’s statement that the company was founded to “empower women by giving them a dating platform to choose freely what they want in an ideal relationship”. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it.

But really, Mr Chan. Empower women? Who are you trying to kid with this corporate line? It would be OK, you know, to just say you are providing a service to consenting adults.

But spinning some BS about empowerment while you’re trying to make money based on the growing trend of sugar daddies/mummies/babies is offensive and insulting to those that actually are trying to empower women.

Odds and ends

This newsletter is already long and we don’t want to turn it into a mini-thesis. So, here’s the rest of the news in brief:

  • The Sun has a piece on outstanding Malaysians of the decade, naming especially former Bersih chairpersons S. Ambiga and Maria Chin Abdullah for their contributions to change. Agree or disagree?
     
  • Ameer Ali Mydin, the MD of Mydin chain of hypermarkets, has urged Putrajaya to stop letting foreigners run small businesses as this should be an opportunity reserved for Malaysians. Yes bro, but it’s already against the law. The key is in ensuring local councils do their bit by enforcing the law.
     
  • The parents of Nora Quoirin, who was found dead days after going missing from a jungle resort in Negeri Sembilan, still maintain there were criminal elements in her case.
     
  • The World Bank’s lead economist Richard Record wants Malaysia to change its policies to address what he describes as a disconnect between its impressive growth and consumer reality.
     
  • A Malaysian student has told of horrors and trepidations, petrol bombs and tear gas, during the recent and still ongoing Hong Kong protests.

“With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

- Joey Adams -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The US House of Representatives began debating Donald Trump’s two articles of impeachment, which will make him only the third to be impeached. Get updates here.
     
  • Former British PM Tony Blair has told current PM Boris Johnson to be prepared to make some major concessions in negotiating a trade deal with the EU.
     
  • Protestors have clashed with police outside the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, site of the much awaited Barcelona-Real Madrid football match, as pro-independence supporters call for the Spanish government to sit down and talk with Catalan leaders.
     
  • This one is kinda interesting. Netflix released 371 original TV shows and movies in 2019, more than the entire TV industry did in 2005.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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