US Justice Department Probe of 1MDB in Danger?

US Justice Department Probe of 1MDB in Danger?There is concern in Kuala Lumpur that the United States Justice Department’s investigation into the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd., which is ensnared in one of the world’s biggest financial scandals, could be stymied in the wake of the March 10 firing by President Donald Trump of the country’s 46 US attorneys. The Trump administration announced…

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…

Malaysia Takes a Turn for the Religious Sinister Side

Malaysia Takes a Turn for the Religious Sinister SideTwo very worrying trends in Malaysia may have come together: the rise of religious intolerance and the use of murder as a political weapon. The well-organized kidnap and disappearance of a Chinese Christian pastor, Raymond Koh Keng Joo on Feb. 13 in the middle of Petaling Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, was clearly driven…

Malaysia’s N. Korea Ties Now a Major Embarrassment

Malaysia’s N. Korea Ties Now a Major EmbarrassmentWith the recall of North Korea’s ambassador in the wake of the murder of dictator Kim Jong-un’s elder half-brother, Malaysian authorities may want to rid themselves of a relationship that has blossomed since the two countries opened reciprocal embassies 34 years ago and has become embarrassing to say the least. Kim Jong-nam was allegedly murdered…

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim Killing

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim KillingSouth and North Korean diplomats are battling to persuade Malaysian authorities of diametrically different versions of the February 13 Kuala Lumpur International Airport assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who had exiled himself out of a well-founded belief he could be murdered. One result may have been to stall the investigation,…

Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” for Muslims: Najib Exempt?

Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” for Muslims: Najib Exempt?At 2:30 a.m. one day in mid-November, after the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States, the telephone rang in the official residence of Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia. Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor answered the telephone. On the other end was businessman Syed Azman of Weststar Group, a sprawling…

Malay Scholars Find Fault in Malay Leaders

Malay Scholars Find Fault in Malay LeadersThe United Malays National Organization (UMNO) presents itself as the guardian of Malay interests, culture and language. So what do the 1MDB and other scandals say about the fundamental problems of this long-dominant ruling party, the institutional arm of the Malay elite?  The disappearance of vast sums from the accounts of the state-backed 1MDB investment…

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…

Anwar Appeal Loss a Blow for Awakening Malaysian Opposition

Anwar Appeal Loss a Blow for Awakening Malaysian OppositionAnwar Ibrahim’s Dec. 14 failure of the final appeal to overturn his sodomy conviction and a five-year jail term is regarded by critics as little more than a subterfuge to keep him in prison for at least another 16 months and blocking him from competing in the next general election, which must be held by…

The Conspiracy to Save Najib

The Conspiracy to Save NajibIn an extraordinary twist, a new Malaysian website has conflated George Soros, Tony Blair, former US Vice President Al Gore, the “Clinton team,” the aristocratic Rothschild family,  Federal Bureau of Investigation deputy chief Andrew McCabe, former golfing buddy and US President Barack Obama, UK critic Clare Rewcastle Brown and her husband, unnamed individuals from the…