Malaysian Police Sweep Up Opponents Ahead of Rally

Malaysian Police Sweep Up Opponents Ahead of RallyIn an unprecedented move, Malaysian authorities yesterday, November 18, descended on the headquarters of the election reform NGO Bersih, arresting its chairperson, Maria Chin Abdullah, and a half dozen other activists in advance of a rally against the government scheduled for the weekend. That was only part of a wide-ranging attack on critics over the…

Beset by Scandal, Malaysia Sentences Another Critic

Beset by Scandal, Malaysia Sentences Another CriticMalaysia’s 1MDB financial scandal – the biggest in its history – has seen its first conviction but not one that will bring any cheer to those questioning Prime Minister Najib Razak’s pet project, which has run into at least RM50 billion in debt. Instead, the government says it will jail one of its most effective…

George Soros Becomes Malaysia’s Bogeyman Again

George Soros Becomes Malaysia’s Bogeyman AgainIt is almost possible to believe that Mahathir Mohamad is running Malaysia again, given the shrill headlines in government-backed media over the past week that have accused businessman George Soros of funding Malaysian civil society and activists to “topple democracy.” But Mahathir’s protégé-turned-nemesis Najib Razak is a prime minister in the middle of a massive…

Malaysia’s Najib Tilts to China

Malaysia’s Najib Tilts to ChinaChina’s gift for buying foreign political leaders has scored another triumph with the visit to Beijing of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose ingratiating tone of remarks in China at least give the impression that Malaysia’s foreign policy has veered farther away from its traditional informal alliance with the US.  In the end that may…

China Turns the East Red

China Turns the East RedAt the height of the Cultural Revolution, “The East is Red” became the de facto national anthem of the People’s Republic of China. The composer, reportedly a farmer from Shaanxi province, had, of course, no way of knowing that his song was in fact a harbinger of things to come.  Some 50-something years later, “The…

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…

Ten Years on, Mongolian Beauty’s Murder Remains Unexplained in Malaysia

Ten Years on, Mongolian Beauty’s Murder Remains Unexplained in MalaysiaIt will soon be 10 years since Altantuya Shaariibuu, a jet-setting Mongolian translator and party girl, was murdered sensationally in a patch of jungle outside the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Petaling Jaya on the night of Oct. 19, 2006.  Although two elite policemen were convicted of killing her, the party who ordered her execution has…

Malaysia: Crackdown on Free Speech Intensifies

Malaysia: Crackdown on Free Speech IntensifiesMalaysia’s prosecutions of peaceful speech over the past year have spread beyond activists and politicians to ordinary citizens on social media, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report. The government’s actions signal an ever-broadening crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in the country. The 40-page report, “Deepening the Culture of Fear: The…

1MDB, Criminal Probe Separate Key Aide from Malaysia Tycoon’s Empire

1MDB, Criminal Probe Separate Key Aide from Malaysia Tycoon’s EmpireAugustus Ralph Marshall, the trusted key aide to T. Ananda Krishnan – Malaysia’s second-richest man – has left all posts in the sprawling cross-media empire as of end September, several sources told the Asia Sentinel. Marshall has been under investigation in the past few years in India and Indonesia over joint ventures by Malaysia’s dominant…

Former PM Mahathir Adds to Malaysia’s Muddled Political Mix

Former PM Mahathir Adds to Malaysia’s Muddled Political MixExtraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and nowhere more than in Malaysia, struggling with a political scandal that has all but paralyzed governance. Thus it was that on Sept. 5 the jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met his enemy and persecutor of 18 years, Mahathir Mohamad.  It was Mahathir’s forces that engineered trumped-up charges of…