Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wait, Wait... I Change Story

June 19, 2018: Najib Razak’s interview with Reuters – you may read it here @ “The Implausible Confessions of Najib I-Don’t-Know-Don’t-Blame-Me Razak” dated June 22, 2018 in my blog. 

June 30, 2018: In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini and published today, Najib gave us a different twist to the said interview. 

I applaud Najib Razak, a master storyteller and a 'tipulogy' expert. 

Tomorrow: If a third media organization gets to interview him again – I bet you we will get to listen to a third version, LOL!

More clean-ups in June – although my list may not be exhaustive:

The Real Killer is Depression

Inti College Subang, Subang Jaya, Selangor
Image credit: Webpage

A 19-year-old college student swiped a pistol from his shooting club, went back to college and shot himself in the toilet. 

The Inti College Subang student’s body was discovered by a janitor at 5.56 PM on Tuesday. 

Subang Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Mohammad Azlin Sadari said the victim’s body was discovered along with the pistol beside him. He added that the victim had allegedly stolen the weapon from the club some two hours before the body was discovered. 

The victim’s father had stated that the boy had been suffering from depression since a year ago. 

Good God, and nothing was done to help him? 

Posted on INTI International University & Colleges Facebook page @ on June 27, 2018.

The real killer is not the gun; the real killer is depression. 

I have requested a good friend Mirosha Somasundram to share her perspective on this torment I call “depression”. 

"Depression doesn't only happen to someone who is merely just sad. You can be surrounded by a bunch of loved ones at the best party in town and still feel alone. You can be the most successful person in town and still have depression. 

Depression doesn't go away in a blink of an eye. It fades away and comes back out of nowhere. Its mostly just concealed in hiding. 

Acceptance and sharing this with the right people saves you from it. It keeps you sane. Be a depression survivor. You're not alone". 

Mirosha is right. For those of you who suffer from depression, you're not alone.

You don't have to be alone. There's always someone out there who is there for you!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Malaysia's Economy: Hope in Pakatan Harapan

It is a fact that Malaysia’s economy is in a mess. 

We already know about our 1 trillion debt situation. 

It doesn’t stop there. The exorbitant mega projects are bleeding us dry – and forcing the government to re-examine and re-negotiate them. 

And almost on a daily basis, we are bombarded with shocking revelations of shady and dubious government deals – thank you, Najib Razak! – that inform us that corruption moves the wheels of business and remind us that corruption is so pervasive. 

I am glad that the Pakatan Harapan government have no intention to hide the godawful news from us; that they persist in wanting to be transparent and taking the bull by the horns.

This means we are abandoning the unhealthy practice of hiding debts. 

And one hopes that we immediately cease to pad up the costs of government schemes just so to deceive markets – besides, enriching cronies and opportunists. 

Sure, there has been alarm and anxiety about the market’s performance. As of Friday last week, Bursa Malaysia have been subjected to foreign selling for eight consecutive weeks. 

I share the belief that despite any short-term turbulence we might face, we can only come out of this much, much stronger together in the medium to longer term. 

I don’t think I am wrong to say that Malaysians know that things can get better, will get better. We are optimistic. 

And it is good to know that Malaysian companies whether big, medium and small are confident business will improve with the Pakatan Harapan government in charge. 

Research house RAM said its latest Business Confidence Index which surveyed 3,500 firms across five industries after GE14 found a general increase in optimism in both corporations and SMEs. 

The continued positive readings indicate Malaysia’s economic resilience in 1H 2018 is likely to flow to the second half of the year, supported in particular by the corporate segment’s firm optimism. 

Both the corporate and SME segments displayed higher overall indices after GE14 compared to before the event. 

The RAM Business Confidence Index is a comprehensive survey jointly conducted by RAM Holdings Berhad and RAM Credit Information Sdn Bhd, on business sentiment in Malaysia. Released on a quarterly basis, the index is based on data from a survey of close to 3,500 SMEs and corporations across five main industry segments respectively. 

The index, designed to measure forward-looking expectations, offers a timely barometer of future economic activity to guide businesses’ investment decisions and planning as well as provide inputs for strategic policy making by the stakeholders of the economy. 

Actually, things are not that bad! They could be worse – if Najib Razak had won GE14!

I am positive that investors' confidence will be restored. 

Malaysia is on the mend – simply because we have Pakatan Harapan. 

Footnote: We have Lim Guan Eng (extreme left) and Azmin Ali (left), two former menteri besars who had transformed Penang and Selangor into economic powerhouses respectively and who are now in charge of Finance and Economic Affairs. Keep the faith, Malaysians!

Yesterday, at the World Cup, the last round of group matches were played. 

In Group G, we already know Belgium and England have qualified. Even as England lost 0-1 to Belgium and Tunisia beat Panama  2-1. 

In Group H, Japan lost 0-1 to Poland. Likewise, Senegal lost by the same margin to Colombia. Nonetheless, Japan join Colombia into the round of 16. 

(Japan and Senegal shared equal points but the former are the chosen ones because of FIFA’s Fair Play rule with fewer yellow cards).

Germany may have been ousted but France are still in there!

The Najib Chronicles #04: RM1.1 Billion Worth of Valuables

Malaysian police were again busy.

On June 12, 2018, they raided two properties located in Putrajaya’s Precinct 10 and Precinct 11 which are part of the authorities' probe on former prime minister Najib Razak and the scandal-ridden 1MDB. 

From the first bungalow, China Press and Malaysiakini had reported that luxury items – said to include forty handbags as well as branded shoes and jewellery – and stacks of documents were seized. 

The property which is only about 200m from Seri Perdana, the official residence of the prime minister of Malaysia belonged to the Property Management Division of the Prime Minister’s Department and it had been described as a Najib "safe house".

In fact, one pensioner who stayed just doors away said the place had been empty for the past year.

We are told that nothing was seized from the second house.

Fifteen days later, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director, Commissioner Amar Singh revealed at a news conference that the final valuation of cash, designer handbags, jewellery and other luxury items had added up to a gargantuan total of RM 1.1 billion!

PDRM's Amar Singh and his officers show photos of some of the valuables seized in the raids conducted on Najib Razak’s properties. Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, June 27, 2018. 

Pix by Zulfadhli Zulkifli, New Straits Times, June 27, 2018

The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, June 27, 2018.

He said 150 persons in eight special teams were involved in the counting and valuation process and which includes verifying the authenticity of the seized items. He also said many of the items had to be assessed by experts from abroad. 

The tallying exercise took 36 days (May 21 to June 25, 2018) due to the large number of valuables – easily more than 12,000 items. 

According to The Sun, police confirmed there were 272 Hermes bags worth RM51.3 million in total but it seems that another 567 handbags of 37 high-end brands that have yet to be valued. 

Amar did single out the custom-made Bijan bags which he said are worth RM1.6 million. 

I am wondering about the gold bars that were reportedly found too. No mention on Wednesday at all.

Anyway, in the booty, there were 423 timepieces from more than 100 high-end brands – these included Rolex, Cecil Purnell, Chopard, Patek Philippe, Paul Picot, Richard Mille and others – with a total value of RM78 million. 

The most valuable timepiece was a rare Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona, estimated to be worth RM3.5 million. 

The haul also included 234 pairs of sunglasses from luxury labels like Versace, Gucci and Cartier and they are valued at RM374,000. 

And the jewellery items were something else. These “adornments” have been appraised to cost RM440 million, but their market value is estimated at between RM660 million and RM880 million. 

Amar identified the single most expensive piece of jewellery – a yellow and gold necklace valued at RM6.4 million. He made it known that the market price of this particular necklace is another 50 to 100 percent more. 

Here’s the itemised list: 

[There seems to be a disparity in the number of brooches. Bernama stated 2,800 pieces; New Straits TImes and Channel News Asia put the figure at 1,600]. 

Insofar as the cash is concerned, the total amount is RM116.7 million in 26 currencies. (It had been reported previously that the cash confiscated totalled RM114 million – see my post “Money, Money, Money” dated June 03, 2018). 

Amar did mention that nobody from UMNO has come forward to claim the money – "We won't know. The word 'UMNO' wasn't printed on the money”, he had cheekily commented. 

Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their alleged “gift givers” can be expected to be called up soon for police questioning. 

There is no let-up in the 1MDB investigations.

Anyway, Malaysians can look forward to hearing more protestations and denials from the former prime minister! 

Thick-skinned Najib will surely want to make himself heard loud and clear! Shameless scoundrel!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

WSJ Names Rosmah Mansor as Main Actor in 1MDB Saga

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday fingered FLOM (right) as being the main actor in the 1MDB saga – citing a plethora of unnamed sources including family members and associates of the couple who were once Malaysia’s most powerful as well as those involved in the 1MDB investigations. 

It daringly wrote that people who knew Rosmah Mansor had claimed that she was the one who helped orchestrate the alleged involvement of Jho Low  who the US DoJ say helped set up the 1MDB fund in 2009 and then oversaw its looting. 

In its article, the WSJ traced Rosmah’s “relationship” with Low (left) to over 10 years ago, relating that both had residences close to each other in London, UK. 

It added that Low was among the deep-pocket businesspersons who had lavished upon Rosmah indulgences ranging from diamonds – a collection one of her associates had estimated to be worth $350 million (RM1.41 billion), to handbags, including the collection of Birkins and Bijans, luxury watches and many more. 

Low had impressed Rosmah with his friendship to prominent Middle Eastern personalities whilst studying at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and had later “persuaded an Abu Dhabi state fund to invest in a Malaysian project for which Rosmah’s husband (left) could take credit. 

From then on, Rosmah became Low’s “champion” and introduced him to Najib Razak who the WSJ said gave the financier great leeway in handling 1MDB’s affairs. 

It was highlighted that Low was the one who paid over $100,000 for the two-page advertisement in The New York Times to welcome Rosmah when she accompanied Najib on his first official trip to the US as prime minister in 2010. 

And also that Low paved the way for Rosmah to rub shoulders with Hollywood A-listers like Robert De Niro and Jamie Foxx at parties she attended. It’s pretty easy for him because he is already very much into the celebrity scene – read my post titled “ACFE Award for 1MDB Fraud Reporting” dated June 23, 2018. 

The WSJ cited Najib’s associates saying that the former PM was mostly focused on getting funds for political purposes and did not appear to be fully informed about 1MDB’s affairs.

“The wife had more of a picture than the husband”, WSJ cited a person deemed by US investigators as one of the key players in the alleged embezzlement. 

If the above is true, then Rosmah is the mastermind and Najib merely an accomplice. 

On Tuesday, Rosmah’s lawyers Geethan Ram Vincent and K Kumaraendran slammed the newspaper report and said it was defamatory. 

They reiterated that Rosmah had no links to 1MDB and/or the management of the state investment company. 

I suggest she drag WSJ through the courts so as to safeguard and protect her credibility and reputation. Sue, Rosmah, sue! 

Day 14 (i.e. Wednesday) World Cup results: 

Yesterday saw Brazil and Switzerland coming through the Group E rounds. Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 and Switzerland drew 2-2 against Costa Rica. 

In Group F, Germany were a disaster – they capitulated 0-2 to South Korea. And world champions Germany are out of the World Cup! 

The first time since 1938 that Germany have fallen at the first hurdle in the World Cup, I’m told. A real BS. Bull Shit. Blardy Shocker. Call it what you will but Germany disappoint big-time.

And in the other match, Sweden swept aside Mexico 3-0. Still these two teams make it to the next round.

Liverpool and Celtic: A Shared Connection, A Special Bond

Yesterday, I came across this intriguing article “Liverpool’s Celtic connection: shared values, songs and a legend” by James Nalton that informs us about this special bond between Liverpool and Celtic – both clubs that I support ardently. 

I am just going to reproduce it here ad verbatim. 

In fact, Liverpool’s connection with Celtic is often talked about, but its origins aren’t as clear or as historical as is often portrayed.

The clubs are linked by players, managers, songs, and shared values between the two (generally) anti-establishment sets of fans from working class cities. 

Events of 1989 created a strong bond, but prior to this a shared anthem was disputed as much as it was celebrated, and a meeting between two sides who were rising forces in European football in the 60s wasn’t exactly laced with respect. 

The Cup Winners Cup tie of 1966 was fiercely and at times bitterly contested clash during which fans from both sides pitted their wits against each other. 

Rather than being a meeting of two friends, it was a clash between two sides with great ambition, and thanks to the quality of the managers involved it was also a tactical battle. 

According to The Celtic Wiki “both men showed the same deep concern about the game and showed a tactical nous rarely seen before”.

Before the first leg at Celtic Park, which the home side went on to win 1-0, a small group of Liverpool fans broke into the stadium for a kickabout, only to eventually be kicked out themselves by the police. 

In the return leg the supporters erupted after the game as bottles and cans were thrown onto the pitch. There are differing reports as to the reason for the commotion, but most cite the main cause as a late disallowed goal for the visitors. 

By all accounts none of it was malicious, and reports from the day point to the Celtic fans enjoying themselves throughout the city on their way to Anfield in a way many Liverpool dwellers would probably respect, and be familiar with. 

The managers of the respective sides, Liverpool’s Bill Shankly (left) and John "Jock" Stein of Celtic, had great mutual respect for each other, and after the bottle throwing at the end of the tie Shankly quipped: “Jock, do you want your share of the gate money or shall we just return the empties?” 

The shared values of the two managers reflected the makeup of the cities they represented. Both were working-class settlements built on industries brought to them by the rivers they sat upon. 

The Clyde in Glasgow and the Mersey in Liverpool naturally brought industry related to shipbuilding and seafaring, but other industries attracted to these thriving areas which facilitated the distribution of goods created a large working-class population in both cities. 

Shankly and Stein (right) were both working class Scotsmen from coalmining heritage, and they transferred these values onto the pitch by instilling them in their players. 

A year after the sides met in the Cup Winners Cup, Celtic became the first British side to lift the European Cup when they beat Internazionale 2-1 in Lisbon. 

Shankly was there to congratulate his friend after the game. “John, you’re immortal now”, stated Shankly in typically emphatic style. 

It’s around this time that both clubs adopted ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as their football anthem. 

In 1964 a Liverpool tour of the east coast of America coincided with a Gerry and the Pacemakers tour of the same area. Fans had already sung the hit on the Kop in the previous season when the pop chart were played over the PA system before games, but this coinciding trip to America consolidated the track as a Liverpool song. 

“Gerry my son, I have given you a football team, and you have given us a song”, said Shankly after the band’s performance on the Ed Sullivan show. 

Celtic picked it up shortly after, and it could regularly be heard throughout their domination of the Scottish league between 1966 and 1974. 

There are still disputes as to which team adopted the song first, but the local connection with Gerry and the Pacemakers, and the fact neither club is likely to have picked up on the original – a song from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel – gives Liverpool more of a claim to it. 

But events in 1989 dismissed any notion of owning the anthem, and it became a shared tribute to those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster. 

On April 30, just two weeks after the tragic events in Sheffield where 95 had lost their lives (Tony Bland became the 96th in 1993), Liverpool were invited to Celtic Park for a memorial match to raise funds and spirits. 

The event was an emotional one, but also an important one for Liverpool who were yet to play a game since the disaster. 

It created strong ties between the two clubs which lasts until this day, and if the connection between the clubs prior to this game was a loose one, the emotion poured out on this day strengthened it. 

It was a show of solidarity between two like-minded cities, football clubs, and sets of supporters. It was “a new beginning for the pride of Merseyside”, wrote Allain Laing in his report of the occasion. “Not for a moment did they walk alone, as a huge crowd of fans, neither barrier nor prejudice to divide them, once again made the song an anthem rather than a requiem”. 

60,437 fans filled the Glasgow stadium as Kenny Dalglish – a legend at both clubs – played his first game in over a year. He opened the scoring and received a standing ovation when he was replaced by John Aldridge with just under an hour gone. 

It was also an important day for Aldridge who had questioned whether he would ever play football again after witnessing events at Hillsborough. The thought must have crossed the minds of many of the players, but this game seemed like an appropriate way to return to action, and it raised around half a million pounds for the disaster fund. 

There was no taking of sides on the day. No winners or losers. Fans cheered players on both sides, and the skill of John Barnes was especially appreciated by the Celtic supporters. Hugh Keevins wrote in his match report that “Barnes, whose variety of ways to worry Peter Grant drew applause from the Celtic support”. 

“Over the years we have had a happy relationship with Celtic but that relationship has become much warmer today”, said the then Liverpool chairperson, John Smith. “I can’t speak too highly of the warmth between the two clubs and also between the two cities”. 

The game showed how revered Dalglish was, and still is, by both sets of fans, and he is another reason for the link between the two sides. 

They’ve met in Europe a couple of times since. The Reds triumphed in a UEFA Cup first round tie in 1997, but Celtic claimed an impressive 2-0 victory at Anfield to progress in the same competition in 2003. 

These games were nowhere near the level of Shankly vs Stein, but the 1997 game did see one of the best goals scored in the fixture when Steve McManaman scored a last-minute goal which eventually saw Liverpool through on away goals. 

This 2-2 draw at Parkhead was massively hyped prior to the game, and luckily the match lived up to its billing. McManaman’s dazzling solo effort was the icing on the cake after other good goals from Michael Owen, Jackie McNamara, and a skilfully won penalty from Henrik Larsson. 

Prior to the 2003 games both sets of fans sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, and the half-and-half scarves, for once, didn’t look out of place. 

These games were still dubbed battles, and there was no time for niceties once the games got underway despite an obvious increasing bond between the two clubs. 

In some ways the Liverpool-Celtic connection isn’t as clear cut as it’s often portrayed – and looking back at the history of the two clubs it’s difficult to pinpoint its roots. 

But, despite some murky religious undertones which have been much less of a problem in Liverpool than in Glasgow, the similar character and shared values of the people in these two cities would naturally lend themselves to some kind of bond once their paths cross. 

This is why Dalglish took to Liverpool as he did, and why Shankly and Stein’s was a friendship built on mutual respect and common ideas. 

The clubs still borrow songs from each other to this day, and while ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ went from Liverpool to Celtic, the terrace hymns sung since tend to have travelled down from north of the border. 

This includes ‘The Fields of Anfield Road’ which borrows from the Celtic rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’, although given the Irish origins of the song there’s a good chance this could also have been sung in it’s original form at Anfield via the city’s Irish immigrants. 

Both have plenty of Irish connections and fans, and this could also be another reason for the ties between the two. 

But the main reason for the bond which exists between the two was without a doubt that day in 1989, when Celtic stepped forward to help Liverpool begin the healing process following tragedy at Hillsborough.

The Hillsborough Tragedy. Image credit: Webpage

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi Loses the Plot

Methinks, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (right) has totally lost the plot. 

For a guy who hails from the party that lost GE14, it is bizarre to hear him trumpet on Monday that Pakatan Harapan will fall before GE15! 

Meaning, we don’t even have to wait until the next general election – if we can believe him, that is. 

He maintained stoically that the PH government are already on “shaky” ground, that they are “splitting here and there” and that UMNO will surely benefit from a split PH. 

He even added that he can engineer defections from the PH camp and the “frogs” will hop en masse to UMNO. 

Zahid should hear himself speak. A buffoon. A gagman. A complete idiot. 

This is the guy who wants to be UMNO’s next president. He is convinced he is the anointed one.

Actually, I really do hope that he can be given the opportunity. I would dearly love to see him nuke UMNO for good. 

I have no wish to underestimate him. I do believe he is very capable.

Although I must confess that I often wonder if his head is screwed correctly to his body. And if inside that head, there is a brain there. 

This is the UMNO leader who, to everyone’s surprise, had gone to see Mahathir Mohamad on June 07, 2018. 

Mahathir ally Khairuddin Abu Hassan had clarified that Zahid had begged him to arrange that meeting with Mahathir and the prime minister had likewise explained that Zahid had sought his advice on UMNO. 

Of course, predictably, Zahid then turned around to claim that he was invited to see the prime minister. 

This is the UMNO leader who announced that he had given his blessings to Sarawak Barisan Nasional to leave BN after the disastrous GE14. 

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg through the PBB Info chief had to issue a press statement on June 21, 2018 to officially deny ever meeting Zahid and that he had not had any discussions whatsoever with him on the said matter. 

This is the UMNO leader who had openly declared that he had actually met the generous Arab “king and prince” who had so willingly and unconditionally given RM2.6 billion to his ex-boss Najib Razak. 

In fact, he is the only person in the country to have been fortunate enough to meet Najib’s “invisible” benefactor. 

This is the UMNO leader who wants to reform UMNO. 

This is the UMNO leader who insists “I will do what is best for UMNO”. 

This is the UMNO leader who will finish the job that Najib started but didn’t quite finish – to make the conditions ripe for UMNO to self-destruct. 

The World Cup is still in the group stage. 

Yesterday, in Group C, Peru had the upper hand, whipping Australia 2-0. Not that it changed anything because both teams are out. The two teams proceeding to the knockout stage are Denmark and France and they played to a scoreless draw. 

In Group D, Iceland lost 1-2 to Croatia and they are shown the door. 

But in the other match between Nigeria and Argentina, the unimaginable happened. Marcos Rojo’s late volley ensured a 2-1 win for the latter and Nigeria make the exit. 

As far as I’m concerned, it was a result Argentina scarcely deserved.

The Two-Hand Gesture

(L-R) Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Stephan Lichtsteiner 

Three Swiss footballers at the World Cup were penalized for their goal celebrations in their side’s 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday. 

They locked their thumbs and spread their fingers to make their hands look like the double-headed eagle seen on the Albanian flag. 

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri showed the two-hand gesture after they scored in the Group E match in the 52nd- and 90th- minute respectively. And Stephan Lichtsteiner too showed the same sign after the winning goal.

If you wish to find fault, it is a political expression. 

After all, Xhaka and Shaqiri are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, where a Serbian crackdown on the Albanian population ended with NATO military intervention in 1999. 

But to others, it is an Albanian expression of elation. 

"It's just emotion", Shaqiri had said about his celebration. "I'm very happy to score this goal”. 

Still, football's world governing body FIFA on Monday fined Shaqiri and Xhaka CHF10,000 each and their captain Lichtsteiner CHF5,000 for “unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play”. 

All three players also received a warning – but were cleared to play in Switzerland's next match against Costa Rica today. 

The FIFA disciplinary panel had the power to impose two-match bans if the actions of the players were judged to have provoked the general public. 

Anyway, Switzerland fans promptly started a crowdfunding appeal to pay the fines totalling CHF25,000 imposed on the threesome – and within 18 hours, more than 60 percent of the money was already raised. 

The crowdfunding initiative was set up because the trio "brought joy and happiness to all Swiss and Albanians across the globe". 

Organizers have said they will donate the money raised to charity should the Swiss Football Association reject it. 

Personally, I think we shouldn’t read too much into the gesture. In fact, any gesture for that matter.

Yesterday, I was in Shah Alam, Selangor for the Fonterra Brands Toastmasters meeting. 

But it was a meeting with a difference – we had it in two locations. One at their HQ in the Subang Hi-tech Industrial Park and the other at their shared services center in Puchong. 

This was my first time experiencing a Toastmasters videoconference – and it was interesting. 

More than interesting – it was special because I presented my 600th project speech! It was a CC #7 speech titled “12 Zeros” and my 48th round of the CC manual. 

Special thanks to club president Aimi Rashidah for letting me have a speaking slot. I'm so-o-o grateful!