The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian Visit

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian VisitModerate Muslims and non-Muslims alike may worry that the high-profile visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to Malaysia and Indonesia signals another Saudi Salafi assault on traditionally more flexible Southeast Asian interpretations of Islam. But the royal tour, which also includes official visits to Japan and China as well as holidays in non-Muslim Bali, and…

Myanmar Migrants Face Malaysian Violence

Myanmar Migrants Face Malaysian ViolenceThe hundreds of thousands of Buddhist migrant workers in Malaysia face a growing cycle of violence, with scant attempts to protect their lives beyond sending out safety instructions.  In recent weeks, relations between the two countries have soured, with Myanmar banning workers from going to Muslim-majority Malaysia after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak lashed out…

TPP: Who Needs Uncle Sam?

TPP: Who Needs Uncle Sam?Can the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) survive without the United States?  That is what Asia is pondering with the election of Donald Trump, who has proclaimed he will pull out of the 12-member pact during his first days in office. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already said that the trade deal “has no meaning” without…

Malaysia’s Najib Erases Predecessor’s Economic Vision

Malaysia’s Najib Erases Predecessor’s Economic VisionOn Oct. 21, Malaysia’s scandal-hit Prime Minister Najib Razak tabled a RM260.8 billion budget that is not only short on money and long on politics but seeks to obliterate the philosophy behind the economic blueprint of his arch-enemy, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Najib, also the finance minister, dubbed his 30-year development program “Transformasi Nasional…

Another Scorpene Submarine Scandal

Another Scorpene Submarine ScandalThe massive leak of secret documents on Scorpene military submarines purchased by Australia and India recently from French shipbuilder DCNS, possibly by a competitor, once again calls up the murky world of military procurement and the enormous bribes that are often paid. Nobody knows who leaked the documents, which give detailed technical information about the…

Desperate to Survive, Malaysia’s PM Sells his Country to China

Desperate to Survive, Malaysia’s PM Sells his Country to ChinaThe vulnerability of Southeast Asian countries to the combination of Chinese money and their own corrupt politicians has been laid starkly bare by a new report on Malaysia’s scandal ridden 1MDB. Desperate to extricate himself from the massive misuse of funds supposedly raised for development by the state-backed sovereign fund, Najib has turned to China.…

1MBD Starts to Come Apart

1MBD Starts to Come ApartThe decision on May 24 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to force the closure of BSI Bank Ltd – the first merchant bank to be closed in Singapore in 32 years – means that after months of last-ditch defense in Malaysia, the scandal over the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd is finally starting to unravel…

1Malaysia Development Bhd. Nears a Sorry End

1Malaysia Development Bhd. Nears a Sorry EndThe Malaysian government, according to a source in Kuala Lumpur, has begun to officially dismantle 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the Ministry of Finance-backed development fund that was brought into being by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2008 and which has morphed into what arguably is the biggest scandal in Malaysian history although it hasn't dented Najib's…

Malaysia Appoints Professional to Lead Bank Negara

Malaysia Appoints Professional to Lead Bank NegaraWith Malaysia in danger of defaulting on billions in debt obligations and the ringgit looking shaky, Prime Minister Najib Razak has moved to shore up confidence by appointing a professional to head the country’s central bank. The appointment to a five-year term of Muhammad Ibrahim, the bank’s serving deputy governor, as the new Bank Negara…

Lots of Malaysians in Panama Papers

Lots of Malaysians in Panama PapersAt least 1,784 Malaysian individuals or master clients – including the Sultan of Johor and the sons of three prime ministers – and another 517 offshore entities are among the 215,000 names found in the Panama Papers, the 11.5 million documents taken from the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca & Co. The files were…
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