- Don’t abuse my family by denying them visits, Anwar tells Zahid
- After topple Najib plot, Putrajaya barring all access to Anwar, says PKR
- Court to rule on Anwar’s defamation suit in October
- Escaping Najib’s Malaysia, investors also flee currency, stock market
Posted: 19 Aug 2015 01:11 AM PDT
Jailed former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim pleaded with the home minister today to let his family and lawyers meet him in prison.
In a short verbal statement made after an appearance at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, Anwar asked Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi not to “abuse” his family members by denying them access.
“I urge Zahid to consider the matter of my family and lawyers. Everything is so restricted. If you want to abuse Anwar, I understand. That is not a problem.
“But don’t abuse my family. They want to meet me, but it is difficult. Allow them to meet me for a while. Don’t bar my lawyers either. Not even a notebook is allowed.”I appeal for Zahid to consider. Consider my family and the work of my lawyers,” Anwar said.
Earlier today, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar also told the media of restrictions placed on those wanting to visit Anwar, including his family members.
She said this had started the day Zahid revealed a plot by Barisan Nasional and opposition lawmakers to remove Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak through a statutory declaration.
Zahid is also deputy prime minister, but as home minister, oversees the Prison Department.
PKR chief whip Datuk Johari Abdul had also said that Anwar was being denied proper medical treatment for his various ailments, even though Najib had on June ordered the relevant authorities that treatment be given to the PKR leader.
Anwar at court today said that his son, who was going abroad soon, had been prevented from visiting him.
The jailed politician is serving a five-year term for sodomy after failing to get his conviction overturned in February.
Posted: 19 Aug 2015 01:10 AM PDT
PKR accused Putrajaya of blocking access to its jailed leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after an alleged attempt to topple Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was made public.
The party’s vice-president, Nurul Izzah Anwar, said prison authorities have denied visits by family members, doctors and lawyers in the past week, in a move that coincides with talk that Najib was facing a crisis within ruling party Umno.
“In the past week, especially after talk that a few Umno leaders had prepared statutory declarations, prison authorities denied us access to Anwar.
“He was not allowed visits from his famly, doctors and lawyers.”This is politically motivated,” the Lembah Pantai MP, who is also Anwar’s daughter, said during a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya today.
On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed there was a plot to topple the government and vowed not to let it happen.
He had said that he knew of an elderly Umno leader with “ambition” as the one leading the plot with the support of opposition lawmakers, and that they were seeking the signatures of MPs from both sides for a statutory declaration to change the government.
Today, Nurul Izzah said that on the day Zahid made the statement, prison officials had cancelled a visit by Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali to Anwar, who is still the state’s economic adviser.
“They cancelled the visit immediately, that very same day Zahid came up with his statement,” she said.
Nurul Izzah added that Anwar was also not allowed to go to the library in prison.
“They are also stopping opposition leaders like Lim Kit Siang, Rafizi Ramil and Azmin from greeting him when he came to court.
“And they shortened the time period (he has) with lawyers from two hours to 45 minutes,” she added.
At the same press conference, PKR chief whip Datuk Johari Abdul said Anwar was still being denied state medical care, adding that the former opposition leader was suffering from a shoulder injury.
“We object that he is being denied government medical care.
“The Home Ministry, Prison Department and hospital knows about the serious injuries he has. This is causing him constant pain and his shoulder needs to be operated on immediately,” Johari added.
He also criticised the government for disregarding Anwar’s plight despite the prime minister assuring that the former opposition leader would be given all necessary medical care.
“We have applied and appealed for treatment to solve the problem directly and also through the lawyers, but no one has responded to our appeals,” Johari said.
He urged that Anwar be allowed treatment by the family doctor and if found that he required hospitalisation, for the process needed to be facilitated speedily.
“The home minister, the Prison Department director and Putrajaya will be held fully responsible over Anwar’s medical needs and any negative effect to his health as long as their appeals for him to receive treatment are ignored,” he added.
Last month, Anwar was admitted to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for treatment over a shoulder injury following a car accident last year.
Anwar is serving a five-year prison sentence which began in February after he failed in his appeal to the Federal Court against the conviction of sodomising a former aide.
Posted: 19 Aug 2015 01:09 AM PDT
The High Court will deliver on October 29 its decision on a defamation suit filed by former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.
Lawyer Razlan Hadri Zulkifli said judge Siti Khadijah S. Hassan Badjenid fixed the date after meeting the lawyers in her chambers.
“Today we were called in for clarification but instead she decided on the judgment date,” Razlan, who is appearing for Anwar, told reporters.
Lawyers from both sides gave their submissions to the judge after the closing of the case in February.Anwar, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for sodomising ex-aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was present in court.
He filed a RM100 million suit against Anifah whom he said uttered defamatory words about him during a news conference in Washington with former United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Anifah then told reporters that Anwar offered him the post of deputy prime minister if he brought members of parliament (MP) from Sabah to topple the Barisan Nasional government which had won 140 seats in the 2008 general election.
In his statement of claim, Anwar alleged that Anifah’s claims were baseless, unfounded and grossly negligent and had been widely reported in local and foreign media.
On November 27, Anifah took the stand and said businessman Datuk Ishak Ismail, a close associate of Anwar, offered him RM100 million to bring 10 MPs from Sabah to join Pakatan Rakyat and topple the federal government.
Anifah said he felt cheap when the offer was made by Ishak, a former KFC deputy executive chairman, at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur hotel.
Anifah, represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, brought eight other witnesses.
Posted: 18 Aug 2015 09:02 PM PDT
While Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's Cabinet reshuffle last month may have achieved the "unified team" he was seeking in the face of probes into his bank accounts, global funds have been voting with their feet.
The ringgit has slumped 6.3%, the benchmark stock index lost 9.4% and sovereign bond risk jumped to a four-year high since the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on August 3 said Najib had received RM2.6 billion from donors and not state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). The conclusion failed to help 1MDB's bonds, which are trading at 81 cents on the dollar.
PineBridge Investments LLC has cut Malaysian sovereign bond holdings, while Schroder Investment Management Ltd says it's too early to buy Asia's worst-performing currency, as political uncertainty clouds the outlook for an economy rocked by plunging oil prices and an emerging-market selloff.
Najib had denied taking money for personal gain and has counter-attacked against what he described as a campaign to oust him, by reshuffling his Cabinet, suspending a leading newspaper and seeking the arrest of a newsletter's founder."By sacking everyone who criticises him, prime minister Najib is putting himself more in the spotlight from an international investor perspective," said Anders Faergemann, who helps manage US$10.6 billion (RM43.25 billion) of emerging-market debt at PineBridge in London.
"We are increasingly worried about the outlook for Malaysian government bonds due to the ongoing 1MDB scandal and have recently reduced our exposure further."
The UK-based Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal last month reported on documents that almost US$700 million may have moved through government agencies and companies linked to 1MDB before ending up in accounts bearing Najib's name.
A warrant is out for the arrest of the Sarawak Report founder under laws relating to false statements and acts detrimental to democracy. Lawyers for Najib sent a letter criticizing the Journal report. Malaysia's Edge newspaper has been suspended from publication as the government said its coverage of the events threatened public order. Publishers of all three media outlets contested the criticism.
On July 28, Najib said he needed a "unified team" when he removed Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin from his Cabinet, shortly after the deputy prime minister called for "the real truth" on 1MDB.
His rural development minister also fell in the shuffle, while attorney-general Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who helped to lead a 1MDB probe, was replaced for “health reasons”.
Amnesty International described Malaysia as a human rights "black hole" in May after the arrest of opponents on sedition charges.
Najib, who chairs the advisory board of 1MDB, has resisted calls from former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to step down over the RM42 billion in debt amassed by the fund.
The anti-corruption commission said the money in Najib's accounts was from donors in the Middle East and not 1MDB. It said it wouldn't disclose their identities and planned to question Najib about the funds. Malaysian opposition party, PKR, announced on August 12 that it would be suing Najib, saying his coalition breached campaign spending limits during 2013 elections.
Najib said last week that while there are rules on such expenditure, there are no laws on funding. He said better legislation is needed. His office didn't respond to emailed requests for comment. 1MDB said in a statement that it had investor support for its reorganisation plans.
"1MDB maintains regular contact with its bondholders, via meetings and conference calls," the statement said. "The vast majority of our bondholders are fully aware of our current strategy and the on-going execution of our rationalization plan, and we are pleased with the support they have provided."
La Francaise Des Placements, which sold almost half of its 1MDB debt in April, see similarities between the controversy and allegations involving Petroleo Brasileiro SA that has led to protests against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. While the fund doesn't expect a default, the current climate makes it "difficult to buy," she said.
"As emerging-market fund managers, we are more or less used to difficult stories," said Yasmine Ravai-Mans, a senior La Francaise Des Placements fund manager in Paris.
But if the money was used for other purposes than the national interest, she said, "it will not be just a regular case of corruption, it'll be a huge scandal.
The mix of politics, money trails, central bank investigations would rank it close to Petrobras in terms of how toxic it is to emerging-market investors."
The ringgit has tumbled 22.7% in the last 12 months and slid to a 17-year low of 4.1340 per dollar on Monday. Local-currency sovereign debt handed investors a 8.4% loss in dollar terms this month, the worst performance among 16 emerging markets tracked by JPMorgan Chase & Co indexes. The cost to insure the securities for five years using credit-default swaps climbed to 180, the highest since 2011.
"There's a growing trust deficit with the current leadership," said Chua Hak Bin, a Singapore-based economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which sees the currency dropping to 4.28 by the end of 2016.
"Without confidence returning on the leadership and government, investors will be reluctant to jump into the currency and the markets."
Overseas investors cut holdings of Malaysian debt by 2.4% in July to a three-year low of 206.8 billion ringgit, central bank data show. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index lost 10.3% this year as foreign investors pulled US$3.3 billion.
The nation has to show "a greater tolerance towards democracy, fighting corruption and a conservative monetary and fiscal policy" to restore confidence, said Christian Wildmann, a fixed-income portfolio manager at Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH in Frankfurt.
Malaysia's 10-year sovereign yield has jumped 23 basis points this month to 4.30% and Wildmann sees its rising to 4.7% by year-end.
Moody's Investors Service is standing by its A3 rating on Malaysia with a positive outlook as Najib's administration hasn't reversed reforms despite the "increased political risk," said Christian de Guzman, a vice president in Singapore.
The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition lost the popular vote in the May 2013 general election, even as it kept a parliamentary majority. The next general election must be held by 2018.
Schroder Investment is among fund managers that view the probes as just one of the challenges for an economy that expanded at the slowest pace in almost two years in the second quarter.
"The domestic situation on the political side is uncertain," said Rajeev De Mello, who oversees about $10 billion as head of Asian fixed income in Singapore. "But the other problems are the falling oil prices and commodity prices, which do impact Malaysia."
Merrill's Chua said politics may affect economic management. There are doubts that when central bank governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz finishes her term at the end of April she will be replaced by someone as "independent and credible," he said.
"Investors cannot see the end-game," he said. "Anybody who questions the prime minister has basically been sidelined."
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