Disgraced former big kahuna Najib Razak is at it again. That he’s claiming innocence in his many court cases is no shocker, but he’s now saying he is being punished for being a man of charity. There's a problem with this though - read on to find out what.

In other news, our coppers are recommending a new inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death, as though one wasn’t enough; the authorities have raided the offices of Al Jazeera as well as local entities Astro and Unifi TV; there’s more about political kataks; and, we’ve recorded only one daily Covid-19 case for only the second time since July 1.

When you take the blues and make a song

Return to innocence?

Poor ol’ Najib Razak.
 
In a seven-minute video released on Monday night, the former PM lamented the fact that, at the end of his SRC International trial, he was given a jail sentence and asked to pay RM210 million in fines for allegedly taking RM42 million when none of it was for personal use. He said the money could not have been a form of corruption cos, well, it was used for others
 
Citing one witness as example, he said RM400,000 was a contribution to Rumah Penyayang Tun Abdul Razak in Pekan for daily expenses and schooling costs of orphans. So, in effect, he claims to have been “punished for doing charity, for looking after orphans and their schooling costs”.
 
Jibby is a cunning devil, he is. By spouting his maudlin nonsense, he’s trying to essentially say he didn’t personally profit from the monies he took and win sympathy in the court of public opinion. There are a few problems with all of this though:

  • What he used the money for is really immaterial. The fact that he had the money, which wasn’t his to take or have, is what counts.
  • Even assuming he didn’t personally take a sen (yeah, right), the fact that he used it to pay for an orphanage named after HIS father in HIS constituency means he did indirectly profit from this, by virtue of the fact that it helped his political standing and burnished his family name.
  • And perhaps most importantly, did he disclose that he was using these monies for the charities he claimed to have supported?

Even Robin Hood couldn’t get away with this ‘rob the rich to feed the poor’ defence, and Jibby Razak certainly shouldn’t.

But here’s what’s important – what the Jibster is trying to do is spin the verdict to suit his narrative. The fact is he was punished for swindling the country, not for doing charity, looking after orphans and whatnot – and nobody should forget that.
 
But all of this is also pretty funny actually, when you take into account that at his 1MDB trial yesterday, Jibby’s lead defence counsel said the wealth fund must be run by “a bunch of idiots” because they had several times been fooled.

Jibby himself had previously claimed in court that he had been clueless where SRC monies went. Before that, he had claimed, in a now infamous Al Jazeera interview, that he had no idea where RM2.6 billion that had been found in his bank account had come from, and assumed it was a Saudi donation. 

Just this year, the Jibster claimed – again in court – that he didn’t return the RM42 million of SRC monies in his account because he had no idea it was SRC’s money. And hasn’t Jibby’s entire defence in this whole saga practically rested on the notion that he was an innocent man, duped by alleged mastermind Jho Low

We don’t about you, but to us it sounds like, going by the sheer number of times his defence claimed he was apparently fooled or unaware, Najib’s team is implying that he could be the biggest idiot of ’em all.

By the way, that’s not to say we don’t think the people who ran 1MDB weren’t a bunch of idiots. If not, we’d be hard pressed to explain how they managed to be fooled into thinking Aabar Investments PJS Ltd, or Aabar BVI, was actually Aabar Investments, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), or the fact the clowns didn’t run the deal they signed with Aabar BVI with the Minister of Finance Incorporated beforehand. No due diligence at all. 
 
Meanwhile, Attorney-General Idrus Harun has denied the government is stopping a lawsuit to undo a previous settlement with IPIC in London. Speaking in response to an article in Sarawak Report that the lawsuit was being ceased, he said this isn’t so but admitted that the gomen is, however, in negotiations with Abu Dhabi. Well, let’s just hope this one doesn’t go the way of Goldman Sachs
 
Since we’re on the topic of corruption trials, let’s touch a little on the case of Mrs Jibby, Rosmah Mansor, who is accused of receiving bribes from Jepak Holdings in exchange for her using her influence as wife of the PM to allow the company to get a solar hybrid project for schools in Sarawak.
 
Questioned by Mama Rosie’s counsel, the business partner of Jepak’s MD, Saidi Abang Samsudin admitted that Rosie had not personally asked for money. He also said he had no knowledge of the contents of two bags, earlier attested to have contained cash amounting to RM1.5 million, which had been placed in Rosmah’s house. 
 
It’s all very complicated. If Mama-san hadn’t asked for money but didn’t object to receiving the bags when told by Saidi that it’s a little bit of money with more to come later, what was the defence counsel’s tactic here? Is Kak Mah taking a leaf out of Jibby’s playbook: I didn’t know why I was given all this money, therefore it isn’t corruption?

Oh well, maybe if they end up being imprisoned (after all the appeals are done), they can get a nice, cozy cell together.

Questions over inquest request

Remember the case of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who died from injuries suffered while he and his colleagues were answering a distress call of vehicles having been set on fire outside a temple in Seafield, USJ Subang?
 
Well, police have recommended to the Attorney-General’s Chambers that a fresh inquest into his death be conducted. They have also recommended that 12 new suspects be charged with unlawful assembly during the incident, which eventually led to Adib’s death. 
 
In case you don’t remember the case, here’s a little rundown of the events that transpired. In November, 2018, riots broke out in and outside the Sri Maha Mariamman temple over the relocation of the place of worship. On the second day of the violence, Adib and friends responded to a call about a vehicle or vehicles on fire outside the temple. 
 
In the ensuing madness, Adib was injured, dying on Dec 17 while being treated at the National Heart Institute. While there were claims that Adib had been beaten by rioters, the temple claimed he had actually been hit by a Fire Department vehicle which was reversing to get away from rioters. 
 
The debate about what had caused Adib’s demise – whether he had been beaten or hit by a vehicle – was the focus of a coroner’s inquest held later. Different pathologists argued both sides of the coin, but the verdict delivered by the coroner’s court was that it was a criminal act by more than two people. 
 
But if an inquest had already been held, why the need for another one? That is the big question we find ourselves asking. Does this mean that the police still don’t have a clue as to who may have caused Adib’s death, or that they may suspect that he hadn’t been assaulted after all?
 
That is a question for IGP Hamid Bador to answer, as no explanation was forthcoming from Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin when he brought the matter up in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
 
That the cops have recommended that 12 new suspects be charged for unlawful gathering is one good indicator that they are nowhere near solving the enigma that is this case. Obviously, there is no clear cut evidence that Adib was killed, or at least there is no evidence of who the people who had allegedly beaten him up are. Otherwise, there would charges of murder or “culpable homicide” being proffered.
 
So, is this a case of appeasement, then, of the mainly Malay masses who have called for justice in the case? This was a very polarising case, to be sure. There were many, many, many remarks online that made us all think the fallout from this incident turned it into a Malay vs Indian, Muslim vs Hindu kinda thing, sadly.
 
In fact, Adib’s case was one of the issues included in a gathering to defend Islam last year. If Adib was killed by accident when he was hit by a vehicle, or even if he was killed in an assault outside a temple by rioters, how is it a “defending Islam” issue? 
 
Sadly, really, there is an increasing “us vs them” mentality among Malaysians, and this is the result of years of politicians instigating people by playing a dangerous brand of race politics, dividing what used to be a united nation, all to win elections. 

Raids, raids everywhere

The probe into Al Jazeera over its documentary critical of the gomen’s handling of foreigners during the MCO continued yesterday with a raid against the news org’s KL office, where the cops seized several things, including devices.
 
Federal CID deputy director Mior Faridalathrash Wahid confirmed the raid, saying it was jointly conducted by police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. AJ immediately issued a statement condemning the raid, saying that this was not only an attack against it, but on press freedom as a whole. 
 
But the AJ office wasn’t the only one raided yesterday. The authorities also swooped on the offices of Astro and Unifi TV, with CID director Huzir Mohamed saying all the raids were carried out after warrants were obtained. Astro and Unifi TV both carried programming from AJ. 

We wonder what exactly our brilliant investigators had hoped to find in the broadcasters office, considering the controversial programme was run live by and from Al Jazeera. It looks like our authorities, like god, work in mysterious ways.
 
Malaysia has come in for some major criticism, including from civil society organisations, for the probe against AJ for several offences, including under the controversial Sedition Act, as well as for the use of an obscure and obsolete FINAS Act section which requires a licence for filming just about anything. 
 
The gomen has also been criticised for revoking the work permit of a Bangladeshi man interviewed by AJ in the documentary. But get this, the employer of said Bangladeshi is also now being probed. According to Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, any employer or foreign worker who went against Immigration laws can have action taken against him or her. 

Seriously? We can barely stomach the idea that a poor fellow is being deported merely for being interviewed by a news org, but to take action against his employer as well? It’s questionable that the foreigner broke any law, but why dig out the most tenuous of connections to punish the employer as well?

The implication here is obvious – keep your staff in line, make sure they don’t make waves, or it’s your neck on the chopping block. This is a fear tactic, pure and simple.
 
But the biggest question here is this: With all the probes and raids being conducted left, right and centre, are the authorities investigating whether the allegations made by AJ and our poor Bangladeshi at all? Are they even interested in investigating the allegations, or justice at all?

What's good for the goose...

The “ribbeting” debate about political frogs escalated yesterday, with several parties calling out Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Shafie Apdal et al about their recent statements that defectors are unwelcome and should be punished.
 
We called out our beloved former PM and now former CM in yesterday’s newsletter, as their statements seemed incongruous with how they themselves had instigated and supported the ‘hop, skip and jump’ game in the past. And those who spoke out pretty much echoed the same sentiment.
 
Both MCA and Sabah party PBS hit out at Maddey, Shafie and Warisan chairman Liew Vui Keong yesterday. The former reminded Mads and Shaf that the Warisan president only came to power when Upko switched sides after the 2018 general election, while the latter basically said Liew should look in the mirror as the term he used, “political frogs” was more suited to Warisan and Upko. Liew had criticised former CM Musa Aman for seeking to wrest power from Warisan through defections. 
 
There was criticism for a former minister as well as ex-CM Yong Teck Lee told Darrell Leiking to stop blaming others and just admit that Warisan’s weak administration had led to Sabah’s worst economic performance. He said it was not just a decline in commodity prices which had led to Sabah’s GDP growth plunging to 1.5%, but drastic policy changes which had damaged business confidence. 
 
Meanwhile, the Election Commission will go ahead with preparations for the upcoming state polls while waiting on a court decision on a suit by a lawyer and two businessmen seeking to halt the election while the country deals with Covid-19. Acting EC chairman Azmi Sharom, however, says elections can be carried out safely despite concerns about the pandemic, adding that the commission would meet within two weeks’ time to decide on a date for the polls. 

In other Sabah election news, PBS says it plans to contest 30 seats, while Pakatan member party Amanah’s Youth wing has urged all parties allied to Warisan to contest under the Warisan logo to show unity and support for the party. 

Covid-19 and other bits of news

For the second day in a row, the country recorded good numbers as far as Covid-19 is concerned.

If Monday saw just two new cases of the coronavirus, yesterday was even better, with only one new case recorded. This brings the total number of cases to 9,002 since the start of the pandemic, but coupled with 16 recoveries, the number of active cases has again dipped to 193. 
 
The last time the country recorded just a single case was July 1, but Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has warned the public not to take things easy just yet, cautioning that a resurgence is still very much possible. He also denied that the Health Ministry had issued a directive that those who had visited Kubang Pasu for the recent Raya holidays should get themselves tested, saying only those with a close contact history with the Sivagangga cluster, including folk living within a 1km radius of the Nasi Kandar Salleh restaurant ,were asked to test themselves. 
 
Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related news, along with some other items we thought we’d include here:

  • The government has extended the moratorium for PTPTN loan repayments until the end of the year. 
     
  • It has also decided to suspend the Malaysia My Second Home programme so it can be reviewed. The move, apparently, is also in line with the decision to not allow entry to foreigners during the pandemic. 
     
  • The government will soon table amendments to insolvency laws to increase the threshold for an individual to be declared bankrupt so as to help people weather the economic effects of Covid-19. 
     
  • Penangites can rest easy. The fear which gripped them after a couple was spotted pink wristbands was unfounded as these were not the ones usually worn by those under suspicion of being Covid-positive. They were actually wristbands issued by a pet shop to its patrons. 
     
  • Minister in the PM’s Department Mustapa Mohamed says engagement sessions for the 12th Malaysia Plan are still ongoing, adding that there are still things to be looked into. However, PM-still-hopeful Anwar Ibrahim has slammed the “trivial” reasons cited for the delay in tabling the plan. 
     
  • Eight people, including three directors of Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd, have been sentenced to between three and nine years in jail for money laundering and illegal deposit taking related to gold bullion investments in 2011. They were also ordered to pay fines of between RM1 million and RM3 million. 
     
  • In yet another case of abuse of domestic workers, a woman and her two children have been arrested for allegedly abusing their Indonesian maid at their home in Pantai Remis. 

“If something can corrupt you, you’re corrupted already."

- Bob Marley -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • A huge explosion in Beirut, believed to be of material seized years ago and stored in port warehouses there, has left dozens dead and thousands injured, leading Lebanon President Michel Aoun to call for a two-week state of emergency. A UNIFIL ship docked at the port was damaged, with several naval peacekeepers injured
     
  • A group of UK lawmakers have called for sanctions against Hong Kong leaders for human rights abuses by police since pro-democracy protests erupted there. 
     
  • A UN report claims North Korea is pressing on with its nuclear programme and has probably developed miniature nuke devices which can be fitted to the warheads of the country’s ballistic missiles. 
     
  • The World Health Organization is gearing up for its main mission of hunting for the cause of Covid-19 in China, even as the world’s death toll from the pandemic inches closer to 700,000
     
  • In what sounds like the plot of a movie, three Micronesian sailors stranded on a tiny island in the western Pacific were saved after rescuers spotted their SOS message on a beach. 

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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