- Program DSAI di Amerika Syarikat
- ‘Ethnic Cleansing at Work’
- Pak Samad: Jangan taksub ‘Melayu terancam’
- Auditor-general can do lots on 1MDB
Posted: 15 Nov 2014 07:14 PM PST
Program 1: Kuliah di IIIT Virginia
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
Founder and Board Member, IIIT. Leader of the Malaysian Opposition. Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
Tuesday, Nov.18. 6:30 – 8:00pm.
Space is limited !!!
Program 2: Wacana ilmu di Stanford University
“Islam and Democracy: Malaysia in Comparative Perspective”
Posted: 15 Nov 2014 02:58 AM PST
Harassment. Arbitrary arrest. Torture. Over the course of the last two months, Myanmar’s Rohingya minority has faced a brutal campaign of subjugation by the state.
Oct. 3, while sitting at home in an isolated village close to Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh, Farid Alam, a 36-year-old businessman and community leader, was summoned by the local border police to one of its bases in a nearby camp. On arrival, he was arrested and quickly driven to the agency’s headquarters. There, he was brutally tortured to death — a visitor from out of town who saw his body noted that one of his legs was broken, his penis burned, and his testicles smashed.
Alam’s murder is part of a recent escalation of violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state perpetrated by state forces against an ethnic minority known as the Rohingya, according to the Arakan Project, a Bangkok-based rights-monitoring group. Since September, the group has documented a spike in abuses, such as arbitrary arrests and even torture, by the Border Guard Police (BGP), a government agency that deals with suspected illegal immigrants, and by the military. At least four people, the group says, were confirmed to have been either beaten or tortured to death in custody.
The spike in violence has driven thousands to flee Myanmar via the sea in what has been described by the Associated Press as “one the largest boat exoduses in Asia since the Vietnam War.” Some 16,000 Rohingya have fled the country by boat since mid-October, according to the latest estimates by the Arakan Project — a figure nearly double that which it recorded during the same period last year.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is visiting Myanmar this week, has claimed the country as one of his chief foreign-policy successes. However, Myanmar’s transition has been undermined by ongoing human rights abuses, particularly in Rakhine. The predominantly Muslim Rohingya community has faced dire circumstances since sectarian conflict broke out between the group and its largely Buddhist ethnic Rakhine neighbors in June 2012. According to Human Rights Watch, pogroms committed against the Rohingya in 2012 at the hands of ethnic Rakhine mobs and state forces amounted to a “campaign of ethnic cleansing.” Following this, the Rohingya endured a series of deadly sectarian attacks perpetrated by groups of Rakhine, typically with impunity. In all, as a result of these events, several hundred have died, and around 140,000 Rohingya remain confined to squalid camps for the displaced. Yet in the months leading up to Obama’s visit, as documented in a series of Arakan Project reports given exclusively to Foreign Policy, the Rohingya have faced perhaps the most sustained campaign of targeted abuse by security forces in years.
In mid-October, Abu Tayab, a 27-year-old man, was arrested by the BGP after returning to Myanmar from a visit to neighboring Bangladesh. Brought to an immigration facility in Nga Khu Ya, his dead body, riddled with signs of torture, would be released the next day to a medical clinic for a postmortem, according to the group.
About a week after this incident, another man was found dead. Locals had witnessed the 42-year-old man being apprehended in Kyauk Pyin Seik village. Showing signs of assault, his body was later found in a river.
In addition to the killings, the Arakan Project has documented 144 arbitrary arrests in 28 locations in recent weeks. (Ye Htut, spokesman for Myanmar President Thein Sein, did not respond to a request to respond to the allegations.)
The allegations have emerged as Myanmar’s government has begun to implement its recently announced “Rakhine State Action Plan.” The strategy’s exact details have not been made public, but leaked draftsoutline the government’s plans. The policy offers members of the minority group two options: either present official proof of their family’s long-term presence in Myanmar while self-identifying as “Bengali” — in line with the government’s belief that the minority is largely composed of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh — or face confinement to internment camps and eventual resettlement abroad. Those who comply will be granted the chance to achieve a form of second-class citizenship. (Rohingya would be granted what amounts to citizenship, though the government could revoke it at any time pursuant to controversial junta-era legislation.)
Currently, very few look likely to assent to the government’s plan. Lewa reported that communities have been subjected to beatings, looting, and blockades by the security forces for not complying with “family list verification” exercises led by visiting immigration officials.
“It seems that the authorities may have been trying to get some Rohingya to classify themselves as Bengalis without their consent,” as per the requirements of the Rakhine State Action Plan, she noted.
With the issue of Rohingya migration being placed center stage in mediacoverage of Obama’s trip to Myanmar, the president has taken the opportunity to speak out against the Rakhine State Action Plan and emphasize his support for full citizenship rights for members of the group.
Yet it is unlikely that these statements can stem what Lewa calls “new surges of violence.” Matthew Smith, executive director of Bangkok-based NGO Fortify Rights, amplified these concerns, observing that attempts to force some Rohingya into referring to themselves as Bengalis, combined with the abuses outlined by Lewa, are likely to continue, contributing significantly to the increases in Rohingya maritime flight.
The persecution, he said, represents “various forms of ethnic cleansing at work.”
To some advocates, the timing of the recent abuses suggests some sort of coordination. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, observed that “an escalation of these attacks, especially at the outset of the traditional sailing season, when the weather in the Andaman ocean calms down, is far too convenient to be a complete coincidence.”
“It appears that the ethnic Rakhine and their allies in Burma’s security forces are doing what they can to empty Rakhine state of the Rohingya,” he added, “one boatload at a time.”
Posted: 15 Nov 2014 02:44 AM PST
Sasterawan Negara Datuk A Samad Said menasihatkan agar masyarakat Melayu tidak taksub dengan dakwaan sesetengah pihak yang mengatakan bahawa bangsa itu kini semakin terancam.
Katanya, masyarakat perlu memahami bahawa Malaysia diperintah oleh seorang pemimpin Melayu yang turut mewakili parti yang dikatakan memperjuangkan bangsa itu.
Oleh itu, beliau hairan kerana masih timbul dakwaan dakwaan masih timbul bahawa kedudukan orang Melayu kini terancam, katanya yang lebih mesra dengan panggilan Pak Samad.
“Saya harapkan masyarakat Melayu janganlah terlalu taksub dengan hebahan bahawa orang Melayu sedang terancam.
Macam mana orang Melayu terancam? Macam mana agama, Melayu terancam apabila orang yang berkuasa di atas adalah orang Melayu selama lima dekad. Apa yang dia buat duduk di atas selama lima dekad itu?
“Kalau kedudukannya itu tidak mampu membuat orang Melayu berfikir secara waras, keluar (turun) sahaja.
"Biar orang Melayu lain (yang tadbir). Dia tadbir lima dekad. Bukan satu dekad,” katanya dalam satu temubual denganMalaysiakini.
Kebimbangan seperti itu antara lainnya dibangkitkan oleh anggota majlis tertinggi Umno, Tan Sri Ibrahim Abu Shah yang percaya orang Melayu tidak akan dapat menguasai pentadbiran sekiranya Umno dan BN tewas dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang.
Perkara sama turut dibangkitkan oleh Menteri Komunikasi dan Multimedia Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek yang dilaporkan mendakwa orang Melayu kini berasa tidak dialu-alukan di sebuah negeri yang dipimpin sebuah parti pembangkang.
Walau tidak menyatakan parti khusus, beliau dipercayai membayangkan negeri Pulau Pinang yang diterajui DAP.
Posted: 15 Nov 2014 02:43 AM PST
Perhaps – perhaps – the auditor-general may not be able to or have to audit the accounts of scandal-ridden national strategic investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd or 1MDB. But surely he can make an assessment of the impact of 1MDB on government finances and the threats it might pose. And more.
It's easy for auditor-general Ambrin Buang to throw his hands up in the air and say there is no reason for him to audit 1MDB because it has already been audited by a big four accounting firm – Deloitte.
To quote him: "Why are we not auditing 1MDB? My answer is that its accounts have already been audited by one of the 'big four'," Ambrin told a town hall meeting session with the media on Wednesday on the third series of the 2013 Auditor-General's Report that was released on Monday.
"So, there is no reason why we should come in again," he said, responding to media questions on why it had not taken any audit action on the controversial 1MDB.
"Auditing financial statements is a very labourious examination."
Indeed it is. But does that mean that the auditor-general sits around and twiddles his thumbs while a major scandal involving a company fully owned by the government's Minister of Finance Inc unfolds right before his eyes? Surely he has been reading the newspapers.
Don't highly questionable things like raising funds willy-nilly, underpricing bonds while paying too much for assets, paying high interest rates, keeping billions of ringgit in low yielding deposits while raising even more funds and paying a fortune in fees to Goldman Sachs not pique the auditor-general's curiosity?
Let's put down some facts first about 1MDB for the benefit of the auditor-general. It would not have made any profits since its inception in 2009. If not for revaluation of government property sold cheaply to it, its losses to date would have been RM5 billion as at end March 2014.
On the liability side, it is funded by RM1 billion in share capital by the Minister of Finance Inc. But its borrowings as of March 31, 2014 amount to a massive RM42 billion, 42 times the share capital.
The gearing ratio, the percentage of debt to shareholders funds or equity of RM1.7 billion, is a massive 24 to 20 percent which could be among the largest if not the largest for any large company in Malaysia. In the private sector, that kind of gearing will be considered unbearable.
To cap it all, it is doing very little with that kind of borrowings. It has bought power assets worth some RM10.5 billion for which it took a loan despite there being considerable liquidity within the firm. Even if we subtract that RM10.5 billion from RM42 billion, some RM31.5 billion is substantially unaccounted for.
Available for sale assets, a vague term for financial assets which are held for sale and for which there may be no provision for diminution in value, comes up to a massive RM13.4 billion, including RM7.7 billion tied up in Cayman Islands in a mysterious segregated portfolio company which no one knows anything about.
Apart from that, there are various cash or near cash assets which account for a further RM9.1 billion. Add these up and the total amount of assets doing practically nothing comes up to a massive RM22.5 billion. Why keep these assets in near cash and then borrow some more?
In the first few years alone of its life, after stripping out revaluation gains, it is obvious that 1MDB has not been able to earn more than the interest on borrowings as shown by the RM5 billion losses. Why? And why is it continuing to borrow? And can it ever get assets that will earn significantly more than the interest costs?
What about 1MDB's loan mispricing, which is already over RM4 billion and could eventually amount to RM7 billion or more if new loans were made on the same basis? And what about the massive fees paid to Goldman Sachs of over RM500 million for arranging some loans?
Surely the auditor-general can do something about these. After all, the Minister of Finance Inc, is a government company, no different from any company owned by a ministry. 1MDB is that company's wholly owned subsidiary. Surely the auditor-general has every right to probe any government company which poses a threat to government finances.
Remember that the government originally said that it guaranteed explicitly only RM5.8 billion of loans and denied there was any letter of support for anything more. But now after the support letter came out in the press, it now concedes there was indeed such a letter for a further RM10 billion.
How many more letters of support could there be for 1MDB? And what about other government companies and bodies?
Legal opinion is that the letters of support are in substance no different from guarantees and that the government will have to pay up in the event of default by 1MDB. Surely this is an area which concerns the auditor-general and the amount of contingent liabilities the government has to bear.
The auditor-general plays a role as the watchdog of the government and the public. It is his obligation to publicly highlight potential threats to government finances and to make recommendations to avoid them, and probe them if need be.
He has done this commendably well for other government departments and bodies. Why should any exemption be given for 1MDB? What's so special about 1MDB?
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