Malaysia’s Deputy Premier Najib in Trouble?

Speculation is increasing in Malaysia that of one of the country ‘s elite politicians, Deputy Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, is in serious trouble due to a series of messy scandals. There is considerable speculation that Najib, the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, will be forced to step down from national politics.…

Are Hong Kong bankers clearing a path for forest destruction?

Environmental protesters are charging that HSBC and Credit Suisse have violated their own forest sector guidelines in cooperating in the public listing of a Malaysian logging giant with a record for environmental despoliation. Samling Global Ltd has long been criticized for the destruction of tropical rainforest across the world and in fact early this year…

Malaysia’s Losing Battle Against Corruption

An unappetizing stew of allegations against high-ranking politicians and top bureaucrats is eating away at Malaysian Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi’s popularity. Many of the ingredients emanate from an angry former Anti-Corruption Agency investigator who charges he was sidelined because he refused to shut up about corruption among top officials of the country’s biggest political…

Pan-Asian Beauty Battle

While Singapore Airlines has spent 35 years building its brand around the Singapore Girl – whose sexy-chaste figure, clad in a clinging floor-length dress, has become almost the emblem of Singapore itself – modeling agencies across Asia have spent an equal amount of time trying to come up with an Asian face that doesn’t look…

Malaysian Mongolian Murder Figure gets a new trial date

In a highly unusual development that stunned legal observers, a Malaysian judge has abruptly ordered the potentially explosive murder trial of an influential political figure moved up by a full year and transferred to another court. The Shah Alam High Court is scheduled to hear the month-long case starting June 4. Abdul Razak Baginda, the head…

Morality, Spies and Chastity Belts…

When Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi shot down a move last month by the Islamic government in the northeastern state of Terengganu to train spies to watch couples engaged in “immoral activities” like premarital sex, he was taking notice of a rising tide of fundamentalism in the country. “There’s no need for that. Why…

Saving the Heart of Borneo

On Feb. 12, in an elaborate ceremony in Bali, representatives of the three governments with jurisdiction over the ecological jewel that is the island of Borneo signed the “Heart of Borneo” Declaration, promising to conserve one of the most important centers of biological diversity in the world. Designed to conserve and provide sustainable management for…

Anwar’s Long-Shot Gamble

Out of prison and looking to resume his political life, Anwar Ibrahim, the once and -- he hopes -- future heir apparent to Malaysia’s premiership, is gambling on returning to power by doing what has never been done before: confronting the country’s race-based politics and trying to break the 60-year reign of the ruling United…

Malaysian murder a tale of love gone wrong

A well-placed Malaysian political analyst facing charges of conspiring to murder a young Mongolian woman has admitted to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur that he was having an affair with the victim and giving her large sums of money.  Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, carried on a romance with Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, from the end…

Malaysian Justice is a Waiting Game

Malaysia's shambolic judicial system, in which both criminal and civil cases can take years to be decided, is under the spotlight again, this time over a lengthy delay in the spectacular murder trial involving a prominent Malaysian political figure accused of the gruesome murder of his Mongolian mistress. The trial of 46-year-old political analyst Abdul…