Friday, May 22, 2015

Sack 1MDB Board

On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was in a closed-door meeting with UMNO faithfuls in Janda Baik, Pahang. And he finally managed to pluck his nerve up to demand that the entire 1MDB board be sacked. If this is not done, he warned, UMNO run the risk of being booted out of Putrajaya come the next national polls.
A seven minute and four second video recording of his speech was leaked online.
Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Yesterday, Muhyiddin said he stood by his statement – although he clarified that it was his personal view only. The Sun reported that he too admitted that he had told the prime minister to sack the 1MDB board members (May 22, 2015, p 02).
What are you really saying, Muhyiddin? Prime Minister Najib Razak would have been involved in all the major decisions in 1MDB. How to sack 1MDB board members without having to sack Najib? Why won’t Muhyiddin directly ask Najib to take responsibility for the 1MDB fiasco and resign? Muhyiddin must know the buck stops with Najib.
I am sure Najib is pissed off with Muhyiddin. It is an indirect way of hitting out at Najib. But Najib will say nothing. Except maybe bellyache to wife Rosmah.
Without a doubt, Muhyiddin has pushed Najib into a tight corner. The noose is tightening and there is no escape. The die is cast.
I was at the Sunway University Toastmasters Club meeting last evening. I even delivered a CC speech #5. There were four good speeches but the evaluations were merely so-so. Still, it was a most enjoyable meeting. I daresay it was because Amanda Sonia was the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening! And my score for this meeting was a 7.5 over 10.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Singapore Lie

1MDB president and group executive director Arul Kanda Kandasamy lied to the country about the $1.103 billion (RM3.97 billion) supposedly parked in Singapore that is actually non-existent. And Prime Minister Najib Razak lied too.
On January 13, 2015, Arul Kanda, who was appointed on January 5 this year due to his "wealth of experience from the financial world and a proven track record of transforming businesses" issued a statement that 1MDB had redeemed in full the $2.318 billion invested by the company in a Cayman Islands registered fund. Meaning, the company had sold their investments in Cayman Islands for the said amount and the money was received by 1MDB.
He consequently confirmed the above presumption in a Business Times interview published on February 07. He had announced that while the funds amounting to $1.103 billion would not be repatriated back to Malaysia and instead, it would be kept in US dollars “as we have $6.5 billion in bonds out there, in which interest payments come up to nearly $400 million a year".
Arul Kanda had specifically stated, “the cash is in our accounts and in US dollars. I can assure you (about that)... I have seen the statements". [Note: The emphasis in italics is mine].
Najib who is also the finance minister confirmed in writing too on March 10 that the $1.103 billion held in cash was indeed parked with BSI Bank in Singapore.
But on Tuesday, Najib contradicted himself – he gave a written reply to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua to inform him that there was no cash redeemed from the Caymans investment and whatever held in BSI Bank was only in the form of “assets”. Oii, Najib, kindly clarify what these assets are.
1MDB is just one lie after another. Why don’t Najib and Arul Kanda resign and save Malaysians from further chronic anguish?
I was at UMW in Shah Alam’s Jalan Utas to attend the UMW Toastmasters meeting. I had been invited umpteenth times by Ahmad Tarmidzi Johan (or TJ as he is fondly known) and finally, yesterday, I made it. The meeting was good and I was really glad to see a thriving club.


TJ was kind to give me a speaking slot and I delivered CC #3 titled “I Believe”. I was also the General Evaluator. I was happy to note UMW Toastmasters started the meeting on time. And I am awarding it a 7 over 10 score.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Militarizing the Police

This was one of the enduring images from Ferguson, Missouri. AP picture
National Guard vehicles in Ferguson. Reuters pic
The images on the news of police wearing helmets and masks, toting assault rifles, and riding in mine-resistant armored vehicles do not represent isolated incidents – but rather it is an alarming trend of police militarization in the US of A.

Federal programs providing surplus military equipment, along with departments’ own purchases, have outfitted officers with firepower that is often far beyond what is necessary for their jobs as protectors of their communities.
President Barack Obama (left) announced Monday he is banning the federal government from providing certain types of military-style equipment to local police departments, and less heavy-duty equipment will have more regulations. The banned items include tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large-caliber firearms.
The ban follows criticisms that police were too heavy handed in dealing with demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, that turned violent last summer.
A series of fatal shootings by police have increased mistrust and sparked protests across the country. In Ferguson and in Baltimore, those protests turned violent, with looting and arson. But the sight of police dressed in camouflage and riot gear dealing with protests provoked a storm of condemnation.
The White House wants police to only retain equipment they need to maintain public order.
But a review showed five federal agencies spent $18 billion on programs that gave them 92,442 small arms, 44,275 night-vision devices, 5,235 Humvees, 617 mine-resistant vehicles and 616 aircraft. The study said there was a "substantial risk of misusing or overusing" the said gear, and their presence could undermine trust in police.
Undoubtedly, sending a heavily armed team to perform “normal” police work can dangerously escalate situations that need never have involved violence. When dealing with civil unrest, law enforcement should employ restraint on police power, and uses only the degree of force necessary to maintain the community’s safety.
The Police should not turn our streets into a war zone.
Last evening, I was in KL Sentral to attend the Bangsar Toastmasters meeting. I had a speaking slot – I delivered my second CC speech #2 titled “Holidays” – as well as took two additional roles: I evaluated a speaker and I was also the General Evaluator. A meeting that was immensely enjoyable.
And I got a nice surprise when I was voted Best Speaker and Best Evaluator. The meeting started timely although the ending wasn’t so good. I would score this meeting a 7 over 10.