Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saudi backed Al-Arabiya's Najib Razak story suggests that the Al-Sauds will not lie to protect Najib,and would rather see him gone.Al-Sauds may actually prefer Mahathir

by Ganesh Sahathevan

A considerable fan base is excited about his comeback. “I was still young when Mahathir was prime minister. And I thought anything was possible ... maybe cars could fly,” said Nazariah Harun, a former government party supporter in the southern state of Johor, bordering Singapore.

In reading the Al-Arabiya story about PM Najib  below it is important to keep in mind that Al-Araibiya is owned by the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation,which in turn appears to be owned by long time Al-Saud front Salah Kamel, and the Al-Saud's investment manager, Prince Al-Waleed ibn Talal ibn Al-Saud

In fact reading the more recent Al-Arabiya story on Mahathir suggests that the Al-Saud's would rather see the return of Mahathir.



Malaysia has been betrayed by Prime Minister Najib Razak

I have argued time and again that the greatest threat to the Muslim world is not the West, but rather, corruption and incompetence in administration in the Muslim countries themselves.
To this argument there were a number of crucial pieces of evidence. First of all, there is a clear inverse correlation between corruption and economic development not just in the Middle East, but globally. Secondly, Muslim countries are among the most corrupt countries in the world, and this maps well to the problems we know well from the region.
In this sense, the abundance of natural resources has served to mask much of the problem, as per capita wealth in the region comes out as much higher than it would have been for a given level of corruption, and that distorts the perception of societal problems in these countries.
For another, that abundance of wealth can be used to buy off the acquiescence of the population to an otherwise questionable regime, as is the case with the benefits that these states lavish upon their population, or alternatively, can be used to fund extensive repressive police and intelligence apparatuses to keep the population in check, as was the case in Saddam-era Iraq.
But there was also plenty of converse evidence, specifically states on the periphery of the Islamic world which did not conform the region’s reputation for corruption. Most notably, we had the examples of Turkey and of Malaysia.
Malaysia is a secure and naturally wealthy country with a track record of success in development and is suffering entirely from self-inflicted wounds
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
In both the cases, the countries have inherited and sustained over the span of the 20th century an ethos of modernism and civic-mindedness which emulated that in the successful countries in the West. And they reaped the benefits of social and political stability, and economic development, both having been the most economically developed Islamic countries in international rankings.
But I fear we are about to be witnesses to a very cruel experiment, which I believe will prove my argument. It is yet too early to make a definitive judgement on the direction Turkey is heading in after the failed coup of the other week, even if the omens do not look good.

Breakdown of institutional functioning

In the case of Malaysia, we are already seeing the breakdown in institutional functioning and credibility which will likely see the country join the other Middle Eastern countries in the infamous club of corrupt and barely functioning states.
Malaysia has been betrayed not so much by its institutional traditions, as by its populist Prime Minister Najib Razak. He has ridden a wave of popular support into power on the back of promises for economic liberalization, and growth and opportunity, but has seemingly wasted no time in milking the state dry for his own personal gain and the gain of his family.
An ongoing Wall Street Journal investigation is looking into evidence that as much as $1 billion has been siphoned into the prime minister and his relatives’ bank accounts, most of it from the coffers of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, allegedly started by Mr Razak soon after he took charge in the country in 2009. And a further $5 billion are unaccounted for.
Neither Turkey nor Malaysia can hide behind the usual excuses about Western intervention or historical colonial crimes. Both have come into the post WW2 world as confident, independent nations, and both carved a way in the world for themselves through hard work and diligence, efforts which have yielded a good life to the majority of their citizens.
Turkey currently finds itself in a complex political, economic and security crisis from which we cannot draw too many general conclusions. But Malaysia is suffering entirely from self-inflicted wounds. It is a secure and naturally wealthy country with a track record of success in development. But it has let its guard down, and has let corruption infest the highest levels of government.
Malaysian civil society must now take firm and immediate action to put the country back on track. If not, I fear that the country will tragically end up as the perfect case study into how the problems of the Islamic world stem primarily from domestic corruption.
Azeem Ibrahim is an RAI Fellow at Mansfield College, University of Oxford and Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College. He completed his PhD from the University of Cambridge and served as an International Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a World Fellow at Yale. Over the years he has met and advised numerous world leaders on policy development and was ranked as a Top 100 Global Thinker by the European Social Think Tank in 2010 and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He tweets @AzeemIbrahim
Last Update: Friday, 22 July 2016 KSA 11:54 - GMT 08:54
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.

Will 91-year-old Mahathir Mohamed become Malaysia PM again?

Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a conference in Sanaa, Yemen, on June 7, 2012. (Reuters)
Prime Minister Najib Razak won Malaysia’s last general election, despite losing the popular vote. Since then, he has been embroiled in a corruption scandal that has been investigated in a half-dozen countries.
Yet the avuncular leader with an aristocratic pedigree was still expecting to cruise to another election victory in polls due by mid-2018, maintaining his coalition’s record of unbroken rule since independence in 1957. Now, all bets are off.
That’s because his former mentor and prime minister for 22 years, Mahathir Mohamad, who turns 92 next week, has agreed to join a fractured opposition alliance and head the government again if it wins. He would be the world’s oldest prime minister if that happened.
Mahathir, along with Najib’s former deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin - fired last year for questioning his boss about the scandal - have formed a new party called Bersatu (Unite). It has opened branches in 165 of parliament’s 222 constituencies, Muhyiddin told Reuters, a feat few opposition parties have managed.
During his 1981-2003 rule, Mahathir championed modernization by switching Malaysia’s focus from plantations and mining to a diversified high-tech manufacturing base on the back of foreign investment. He built the world’s tallest buildings at the time, the Petronas Twin Towers.
A considerable fan base is excited about his comeback. “I was still young when Mahathir was prime minister. And I thought anything was possible ... maybe cars could fly,” said Nazariah Harun, a former government party supporter in the southern state of Johor, bordering Singapore.
Mahathir also dealt ruthlessly with opponents, jailing his former deputy - and now alliance partner - Anwar Ibrahim on corruption and sodomy charges in the late 1990s. The opposition alliance hopes to capitalize on a couple of scandals that are resonating in rural Malaysia.
One is around the state’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) strategic development fund that Najib, 63, founded after taking power in 2009. Its murky transactions through overseas front companies and Middle Eastern partners, many of them exposed by foreign media reports, have bewildered the public over the past two years.
Najib insisted he did nothing wrong when it leaked to the media that $700 million wound up in his bank account before the 2013 election. The other scandal, involving state plantation company FELDA, is more problematic because it directly affects tens of thousands of small landholders in the heartlands. They are a key vote bank for Najib’s party, the United Malay National Organization (UMNO).
Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor arrive for ASEAN Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, on November 17, 2011. (Reuters)

Umno patronage

The 1,600 residents of Kuala Sin, a village of farmers and rubber tappers in Mahathir’s home state of Kedah, are switching from UMNO to Bersatu, says UMNO’s former chief there. “I’ve held the ballot box here (for UMNO) from 1962 until 2014... but this year, God willing, UMNO will lose,” said 77-year-old Ramli Mat Akib at his weathered two-storey wooden home in Kuala Sin.
The UMNO branch office opposite his home has closed. Mahthir’s son Mukhriz, who leads Bersatu’s campaign in Kedah, believes it is “making huge headway” in rural Malaysia. “It goes all the way down to the branches, and in Kedah very many UMNO branches have dissolved,” Mukhriz told Reuters.
UMNO says that isn’t true nationwide. “We have a lot of young people queuing up to sign up at our 
headquarters as new party members. I don’t see a problem at all,” said UMNO’s secretary general Tengku Adnan Mansor.
Despite the scandals, Najib commands the loyalty of UMNO chieftains. Patronage has much to do with that.
An UMNO leader needs to distribute largesse to guarantee chiefs’ support and they, in turn, operate an affirmative action plan for ethnic Malays first introduced in 1971. The policy gives majority Malays government contracts, cheap housing, guaranteed university admissions and preferential stock shares.
Government-appointed village committees also provide cradle-to-grave assistance. “This makes the villagers closely dependent on the committee, and that makes the committee supreme and also makes UMNO supreme,” said Radzi Ayob, 54, a veteran UMNO leader in Kedah, who joined Bersatu last year.
But most Malays have moved to cities and even those in the countryside are less reliant on the rural welfare model. “As it is now, UMNO still needs Malaysians but Malaysians may not need UMNO,” Radzi said.

Curtailing dissent

Najib has kept a lid on the scandals by curbing dissent. The main media outlets are allied to his government. Anwar, the charismatic opposition figure, is in jail on what critics say was another trumped-up sodomy conviction in 2014. Najib has revived a colonial-era subversion law allowing him to jail opponents without trial. The only conviction in the 1MDB scandal was of a legislator -- who publicized alleged wrongdoing at the fund.
But Najib is riding a good economy into the election. The ringgit has been one of Asia’s strongest currencies, stocks have hit a two-year high, and economic growth was 5.6 percent in the first quarter. And an opposition victory, however unlikely, would put Malaysia into uncharted waters and likely trigger fears of a short-term plunge in financial markets.
Analysts, however, say Mahathir’s entry into the electoral fray supporting an Anwar-led opposition alliance does represents a real threat to UMNO.

“If the two leaders can revive a reversed role of their previous partnership displayed so effectively when they were in national leadership in the 1990s, the opposition could have a winning formula,” said Yang Razali Kassim, senior fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore. 
“Mahathir supporting Anwar, in a spirit of genuine reconciliation, will be a powerful combination.”
Salbiah Kassim, a member of the UMNO women’s wing in Kedah, saw parallels to Brexit and US President Donald Trump’s election win. “Just like overseas, things can change,” she said. “We don’t 
know where the silent voters will go.”
Last Update: Thursday, 6 July 2017 KSA 09:29 - GMT 06:29

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