Law and order
The best defence is a good offence
After hearing from 57 witnesses and evaluating 750 exhibits, the High Court on Monday was convinced: Najib Razak has a case to answer over the money laundering (allegedly) and pilfering (yes, yes, allegedly) of funds from former 1MDB subsidiary, SRC International.
The court’s decision wasn’t especially surprising to anyone who’s watched legal dramas. Still, it appears that some people, and the Jibster especially, were “shocked” he wasn’t allowed to walk free.
Now, know this. Yesterday’s decision does not mean Najib’s been found guilty – yet. It just means the defence has successfully established enough of a case against him that he must now defend himself. Do that successfully, ie create enough doubt in the judge’s mind, and the Jib walks. Fail, and the charges stick.
The former PM was slapped with seven charges involving abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering of some RM42 million belonging to SRC International. And though Bossku has denied any knowledge of the origins of the millions in his account, the court says the evidence tendered by the prosecution suggests Jib not only played a part in some of SRC’s dealings, but also used the company’s money for personal stuff, like, ya know, buying jewellery and staying at expensive hotels.
So what happens now? Well, Najib’s opted to take the stand under oath, making himself open to cross-examination by A-G Tommy Thomas and his team. Which means we’ll get to hear his side of what went down as early as Dec 3 (The court had previously fixed Dec 3 and 4, and Dec 9 to 19 for the defence portion of the trial.)
The court may have decided that Jibby’s got a case to answer, but that’s not holding any water with Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam. Convinced the ex-PM is innocent of all SRC-related charges, Lokman led a phalanx of supporters at the court complex, where he accused PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad of ‘meddling’. A move here which several lawyers have deemed an insult and contempt of court.
Meanwhile, with the decision on calling the defence already made and only a couple of procedural applications left to hear, Jibby’s been given leave to skip court on Friday. Meaning our former glorious leader will be free to campaign for Barisan Nasional in Tanjung Piai whether Lim Kit Siang likes it or not.
No fly zone
PM Mahathir has promised to “correct the situation” so the “whole world will respect Malaysia’s aviation authority”. But is it too little, too late?
On Monday, reports surfaced that the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded
Malaysia’s air safety rating to Category 2. The rating is usually based on the body’s assessment of a country’s civil aviation authority, and in the case of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), the US regulator confirms that international standards aren’t being met.
Anyhoo, in announcing the departure of its CEO, CAAM admitted that, yes, it definitely faces shortcomings. However, the authority says it will sort stuff out, and has requested for a re-evaluation within 12 months.
A year is a long time though, and the truth is, a downgrade will have major consequences.
Immediately, the ruling means that while Malaysian air carriers operating flights to the US (at present, only AirAsia X) can continue flying their routes, they won’t be allowed to expand or change services. Additionally, the airlines could and possibly will be subjected to extra checks at US airports.
Analysts are already predicting an impact on AirAsia X’s planned Japan-US flights but what’s even more worrying is that, just like in Thailand, this downgrade may well result in more serious repercussions, such as a potential blacklist of Malaysian carriers in Europe, and even fewer tourist arrivals here due to airline safety concerns.
CAAM will hope that this mess can be resolved pronto. But it sure ain’t gonna help matters that we just had another issue with a flight to China.
Also, here’s a warning: it’s been four years and Thailand still hasn’t managed to regain its Category 1 status. So yeah… Malaysia boleh?
Doomed to repeat history?
Political analysts like James Chin say Mahathir’s Umno used Islam as a tool In the ’80s and ’90s to show it was more Muslim than the other guys i.e. PAS.
Writing for Aussie think tank Lowy Institute in March, Chin said: “The two parties found Islam to be the most effective political tool to get electoral support and mobilise the Malay polity – the ‘Malay vote’ became the ‘Islamic vote’. Both sides vied to be the most ‘Islamic’, creating more hard-line positions on Islam, despite Malaysia’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.”
Is history then repeating itself with Bersatu now on one side and Umno-PAS on the other? You betcha!
And if you need proof, check out Maddey’s statement yesterday on how Muslims in Malaysia voted out the previous administration (i.e. Umno) for deviating from Islamic teachings, and how the new folks in charge (i.e. Pakatan Harapan) are attempting to correct all the un-Islamic things previously done.
We’ve addressed this in BTL before, of course, and asked if Mahathir and co. might attempt to show off more of their Islamic-ness to gain Malay-Muslim support. However, with Tanjung Piai looming, Pakatan facing a support deficit and the Perak MB’s recent troubles with DAP, perhaps, the question is more relevant now.
In GE14, according to pollster Merdeka Center, 25-30% of Malays voted for Pakatan. But what would that figure be if a general election were called tomorrow? Indeed, what could it be in four years? And how much will Bersatu and Mahathir talk up their Islamic-ness and/or establish initiatives to show they’re the better Muslim party in order to increase Pakatan’s Malay-Muslim support?
The answers are unclear.
Don’t expect this to change anytime soon, though. Pakatan swept to victory last year thanks to solid support from non-Muslims. But that’s been slipping recently and looks like it will continue to do so. Issues like the LTTE arrests have pissed off Indians, while the Chinese are disgruntled over a host of things, such as the fate of TAR College and the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).
With all of this – and Maddey’s statements yesterday – in mind, it looks like we could be on course to seeing an ’80s-’90s Umno-esque political arms race to win the Malay/Muslim hearts and minds, with Bersatu leading the charge.
This and that
There was a bit more in the news yesterday, and here’re the more important odds and yes, ends.
- A total of 280 early voters will cast their ballots in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election today. All the voters are police personnel who will vote at the Pontian police station.
- Perak MB Ahmad Faizal Azumu has escaped censure by his party for his “lone battle” comments. Hmmm. So Bersatu insists DAP’s Ronnie Liu is severely dealt with but let their man off the hook?
- Deputy Comms Minister Eddin Syazlee Shith collapsed in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday morning from a suspected heart attack. The incident, the second involving an MP in three weeks, has resulted in a DAP lawmaker requesting health checks for all 222 MPs.
- Malaysia is certainly a popular destination for Chinese investors, but did you know that Chinese buyers accounted for RM8.4 billion of property sales in 2018? That’s 12.1% of the total transactions last year.
- The Federal Court threw out a suit questioning the constitutionality of vernacular schools with the Apex court adding that Parliament has every right to establish such schools.
“Everything that guy just said is bullshit. Thank you.”
- Vinny Gambini, My Cousin Vinny -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- A man was set alight while a protester was shot by police in Hong Kong in a day of city-wide demonstrations. Leader Carrie Lam has warned that Hong Kong is on “the brink of no return”.
- James Le Mesurier, the founder of volunteer rescue group White Helmets was found dead near his apartment in Istanbul from an apparent fall.
- Some 24 people have died as a result of Cyclone Bulbul which hit Bangladesh and parts of India on Saturday. Meanwhile at least five others remain missing after a fishing trawler sank in near Bangladesh’s Bhola island.
- And in today’s WTF news, a Russian prof who was found with the severed arms of a former student in his backpack told a court he was “going to marry her”.