Category Archives: Southeast Asia – Malaysia 🇲🇾

Anwar Ibrahim affirm majority on his side to form new gov’t. [Malaysia]

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Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday he had secured a “strong majority” from lawmakers to form a new government, seven months after a power grab within the ruling coalition brought down the administration elected in May 2018.

Anwar said he had been “approached by a number of MPs from various parties” who were unhappy with the existing leadership of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Sitting next to his wife, Anwar told a news conference his support from lawmakers “means that the administration of Muhyiddin has fallen” and insisted that his government had the mandate of the people.

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He declined to reveal the numbers backing him, but said he would do so after seeking an audience with the king, who is currently receiving treatment at the national heart hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

Muhyiddin emerged as Malaysia’s prime minister in March after a week of political turmoil when several disgruntled members of the then-ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition joined forces with parties that had lost power in 2018. The move led to the resignation of 95-year-old Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.

Anwar said Muhyiddin’s government, and its “70 ministers”, had spent too much time “distributing positions, appointments and contracts in order to cling to (an) extremely bare and razor-thin majority.”

Even within the opposition ranks, Anwar’s support does not seem assured. Local media reported that while Amanah, an Islamic party, was backing Anwar, Mahathir’s new party was not.

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Political manoeuvring
Senior politicians in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which returned to power with Muhyiddin, described Anwar’s move as a “gimmick” while former ally turned rival Mohamed Azmin Ali, who led the power grab that ended Pakatan Harapan’s administration and is now Minister of International Trade and Industry, tweeted: “Incorrigible liar and political psychopath.”

Bridget Welsh, an honorary research associate at the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute and an expert on Malaysian politics, said Anwar would need to show the numbers.

“There has been underlying political instability for some time and many of these negotiations have been taking place,” she said. “We are now seeing them come to the fore. There are divisions within Muhyiddin’s government and there are divisions within Anwar’s supporters. This is something that’s very fluid but very real.”

Campaigning currently underway in Malaysia’s Borneo state of Sabah has revealed some of the stresses and strains within the various blocs. Muhyiddin’s coalition is hoping to wrest control of the state government from an administration friendly to the opposition.

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The state has also emerged as a new hotspot for the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia, with people confirmed to have the virus told they will not be able to vote.

“The people of Malaysia deserve leadership which can navigate effectively during these turbulent times,” Anwar said in a statement. “Instead we have an unstable government whose inability to handle the crisis is driving the country towards an economic recession and rising racial tension.”

Muhyiddin spoke to the country later on Wednesday, in a pre-scheduled address on state television. He focussed on financial measures to help people cope with the effect of the pandemic, but made no mention of Anwar’s announcement.

The next parliamentary session is not due until November.


#Newsworthy…

1MDB probe: Malaysia drops alleged criminal charges against Goldman

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US bank had agreed to pay Malaysia $3.9bn to settle probe into its alleged role in scandal involving state fund 1MDB.

Malaysian prosecutors have withdrawn criminal charges against three Goldman Sachs units accused of misleading investors over $6.5bn in bond sales they helped organise for a state fund, the Bernama state news agency has reported.

Friday’s move comes after the US banking giant agreed to pay $3.9bn to Malaysia to settle a probe into its alleged role in the scandal involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the fund which counts former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak as one of its co-founders.

The United States Department of Justice estimates $4.5bn was misappropriated from 1MDB between 2009 and 2014, including some of the funds that Goldman Sachs helped raise.

The units – based in London, Hong Kong and Singapore – had pleaded not guilty in February and the bank has consistently denied wrongdoing.

“Goldman Sachs International Ltd, Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC and Goldman Sachs (Singapore) are therefore discharged amounting to an acquittal from all four charges made against them,” Bernama quoted High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan as saying.

The United States Department of Justice estimates $4.5bn was misappropriated from Malaysia’s 1MDB between 2009 and 2014, including some of the funds that Goldman Sachs helped raise in bond sales [File: Olivia Harris/Reuters]

Lawyers for Goldman Sachs and the prosecution could not be immediately reached for comment.

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Suthe part of its deal with Malaysia, Goldman has paid $2.5bn in cash and guaranteed the return of $1.4bn in 1MDB assets seized around the world.

Goldman Sachs had to boost its legal reserves by $2.01bn to account for the Malaysia settlement, shaving its second-quarter net income by 85 percent and wiping out what had been a surprise jump in profit due to trading gains.

Malaysian prosecutors will also cease pursuing the case against Goldman Sachs’s 17 current and former directors, the Bloomberg news agency reported, quoting people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named as the information is private.

The scandal surrounding 1MDB had led to Najib’s removal in 2018 and triggered corruption investigations in at least 10 countries, including Singapore and Switzerland. Najib was found guilty of corruption last month and sentenced to 12 years in prison in the first trial over the scandal to reach a conclusion. Najib has maintained that he is innocent.


#Newsworthy…