Anwar Ibrahim

Posted by Awanama | Posted on 7:59 PG

Anwar Ibrahim

Tough Challenge To Heal The Divides in Malaysia

Posted: 24 Sep 2012 12:15 AM PDT

From News.Scotsman

Anwar Ibrahim aims to upset the political status quo in multicultural Malaysia, writes Eddie Barnes.

Anwar Ibrahim is an unnoticed, softly-spoken presence in the smart London hotel where he is staying. But, in a year which has seen plenty of unexpected political revolutions across the world, here is the man who may lead the next one.

Dr Ibrahim is about to return to Malaysia where his coalition is preparing to try and usurp the ruling Barisan Nasional alliance which has run the wealthy south-east Asian country for the last 50 years. The BN is faltering, failing to meet the expectations of an increasingly sophisticated urban class and beset by allegations of vote-fixing, corruption and cronyism.

But, in a country which is divided by religion and between its dominant Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic groups, the challenge is both to demonstrate an alternative and to put it into practice.

Dr Ibrahim, who is in town with Azeem Ibrahim, the Scottish businessman who acts as one of his international aides, has one of the great political back stories. The foremost Muslim activist of his day, he was groomed in the 1980s and 1990s by Malaysia's authoritarian ex-prime minister Mahatir Mohamad to be leader of the main Malay party, UMNO, which dominates the BN alliance.

But, as the pair moved apart, Mr Mahatir brutally cast him aside and, within weeks, Dr Ibrahim faced trumped up sodomy and corruption charges. He was sentenced in 1999 to six years in jail, getting out in 2004. Now, at the age of 65, and suffering from a chronically bad back, he has turned fire back on his old party colleagues, forming a cross-racial alliance of his own, called Pakatan, which makes the Conservative-Lib Dem team look like childhoold sweethearts. In the middle, Dr Ibrahim's new PKR party represents mainstream Malays who want an alternative to the status quo.

On his right is the Islamist group PAS, whose members would like to introduce Hudud (religious) laws to the country. To his left he has the Chinese-Indian DAP, which wants to guarantee a secular future of the nation, and better rights for the country's non-Malays.

It already looks tough for him – only last week, people in the DAP were complaining about plans by PAS to introduce Hudud. In Malaysia, a huge pro-?democracy rally earlier this year called Bersih (or "Clean") demonstrated the enormous desire for fair elections. Dr Ibrahim's coalition stands on that ticket of a more open country with a free press. He notes: "You cannot suggest that society is not prepared to experience a more mature democracy. For ten years you can blame the British for the poor education and people not familiar with the system. But not after 50 years."

A modern traditionalist, he avoids easy categorisation as a Muslim leader, and is easy to misrepresent. He says he is not a liberal and remains rooted in the Islamic movement. But he says he believes in taking a "hard line" on harsh views on both sides of the debate.

On the violent reaction to the blasphemous video insulting Islam, he agrees there is a "problem with the Muslim psyche … people are easily enraged and emotional." As to the outrage displayed by Malaysia's governing class, he declares: "The hypocrisy of these fellows talking about defending Islam when they are so blatantly corrupt and unjust. That is the ruling clique all over."

But he also accuses the West of bias against Islam. He has a deep love of America and its founding values, but adds: "Even the so-called more sophisticated Americans are so filled with Islamophobia. I have a better understanding of Christianity than they do of Islam."

What he wants is an intelligent response. He scorns the "crazy" move by Malaysia's ministry of education last week to publish a much-mocked guide on how to spot if someone is a homosexual (which remains illegal in conservative Malaysia).

So can he win? He doesn't think the election will be clean, accusing UMNO of bringing in "phantom voters" from the neighbouring Philippines and Indonesia to bump up their support. "There are very high expectations," he concedes. He says he needs to convince Malay voters that, in a racially divided society, he is going to keep their interests at heart. "But I think we will make it this time. I am really confident."

Kerugian Mata Wang: Anwar Arah Bank Negara Henti Perniagaan

Posted: 23 Sep 2012 10:35 PM PDT


KUALA LUMPUR 24 September: Ketua Pembangkang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, beliau telah mengarahkan Gabenor Bank Negara, Tan Sri Jaafar Hussein untuk menghentikan serta merta amalan perniagaan tukaran mata wang (forex) oleh Malaysia ketika dalam kerajaan.

"Saya selaku Menteri Kewangan ketika itu minta (perniagaan itu) dihenti serta merta.

Perniagaan forex (mata wang) dibuat sebelum 1990, sebelum saya menjadi Menteri Kewangan.
"Perniagaan forex ini dilakukan dengan kebenaran Menteri Kewangan sebelum itu dengan persetujuan Perdana Menteri ketika itu," kata Anwar.

Beliau menjelaskan demikian selepas diprovok Ahli Parlimen Rembau, Khairy Jamaluddin yang mencelah mengatakan Ahli Parlimen Ipoh Timur, Lim Kit Siang, pernah meminta Anwar meletak jawatan berikutan kerugian tersebut pada 1993.

"Tidak ada masalah (untuk jawab) Ipoh Timur. Ada perakuan. Memang ada kerugian yang dinafikan. Saya dah bercakap dengan Tan Sri Jaafar. Dia beri penjelasan walaupun belum mendapat maklumat.

"Walaupun dia tak bertanggungjawab (secara) langsung, tapi dia pilih untuk meletakkan jawatan. Peliknya Nor Mohamed Yakcop pula diangkat sebagai Menteri," tegas Anwar menjelaskan, Nor Mohamed ketika itu pemimpin Bank Negara yang bertanggungjawab di bawah Seksyen Forex Trade (dagangan matawang).

Terdahulu, Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh dalam soalan bertulis meminta kerajaan menyatakan langkah-langkah yang diambil untuk mengurangkan kadar perbelanjaan Persekutuan.

Ini memandangkan sumber pendapatan negara yang tidak berkembang secara signifikan, serta peningkatan hutang negara ke paras yang membimbangkan berjumlah RM437 bilion dengan defisit yang terus meningkat.

Rugi 5.7b: Kecam Soros Tetapi Angkat Pegawai BNM Ke Taraf Menteri

Posted: 23 Sep 2012 10:22 PM PDT


Kenapa spekulator matawang George Soros dikecam sebagai penyangak, ketika pihak yang bertanggungjawab atas kerugian RM5.7 bilion Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) melalui dagangan pertukaran asing (forex) dinaikkan pangkat?

Perkara ini dipersoal Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) kepada timbalan menteri kewangan Donald Lim di Parlimen hari ini.

“George Soros dicaci penyangak yang jejas pertukaran mata wang asing tapi adakah kerajaan sedar masa itu Bank Negara juga terlibat kegiatan sama, berjudi dengan wang negara dalam pertukaran mata wang asing?” soalnya.

Menuding jari kepada Nor Mohamad Yakcop (BN-Tasik Gelugor), Lim berkata, kenapa bekas pentadbir kanan Bank Negara itu tidak dipersalahkan, sebaliknya dinaikkan pangkat sebagai menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri.

“Ini bukan ‘Janji Ditepati’, tetapi ‘jampi ditepati’,” sindirnya.

Donald sebelum itu memberitahu Dewan Rakyat bahawa BNB rugi RM5.7 bilion pada 1992, seperti dilaporkan dalam laporan tahunannya pada 1993.

Sementara itu, Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, beliau sebagai menteri kewangan pada masa itu mengesahkan dagangan tukaran asing berlaku sehingga menyebabkan kerugian besar dan mahu ia dihentikan serta merta.

Katanya, telah merujuk beberapa pihak, beliau difahamkan aktiviti itu dilakukan bawah seksyen forex BNM bawah selian Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

Soros: Blamed For Dr M’s Currency Gambling, Now Bogeyman For Najib’s Scorpenes

Posted: 23 Sep 2012 10:16 AM PDT

Malaysia Chronicle

Trapping Suaram (Suara Rakyat Malaysia) for whatever reasons is alike plodding on a dangerous path for UMNO and this will further dip Barisan's hopes in the next general election.

Suaram is a body that is apolitical and operates on the basis of social justice for all Malaysians. Founded in 1989 the aims and objectives are for the protection and promotion of human rights and the development of public awareness in Malaysia.

As reported, UMNO leaders have insinuated that the American non-governmental organisation (Open Society Institute presently called Open Society Foundation) that funded Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) is linked to currency speculator George Soros.

To promote democratic government

It was alleged that Open Society Institute (OSI) channelled funds in excess of US$ 180,000 (RM558, 556.92) to Suaram the period 2007 to 2010.

By virtue of this – the Soros factor – UMNO is beating the political drum to dupe the rakyat that it is "immoral" for Suaram to accept money from the organisation.

Suaram cannot be blamed even if it has received the funding. The network of Open Society Foundations or OSF (named Open Society Institute or OSI until 2011), is a grant making operation started by George Soros, aimed to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform.

OSF works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses. This is far from any anti-money laundering or pro-terrorism activity that can be classified under the Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.

Suaram has no record whatsoever of being a body that promotes terrorism. Neither is Suaram in cahoots with Soros to damage the country. Yet, to some UMNO leaders Soros was alleged to have "damaged" the country's economy in the past.

Soros was never the "devil"

For political reasons, the chorus calling for the demonising of Suaram has included many other pro-UMNO NGOs and also the former prime minister, Mahathir Muhammad. They feel that it's wrong to accept aid from any organisations that are connected to Soros.

Little do these armchair politicians or proponents of virtues realise that Soros was never the "devil" that caused the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis that involved Malaysia. As for Malaysia the real "devil" could have been leaders from among UMNO's rank and cronies.

Soros was politically perceived by Mahathir as the perpetrator of the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis. Soros was the individual who sabotaged the country's economy, so was the allegation by UMNO leaders echoing what Mahathir had said about Soros during the financial crisis.

Both Soros and Mahathir were actually into currency speculation but the former was too nifty for the latter. In fact, currency speculation was nothing new during Mahathir's tenure as prime minister.

The Malaysian economy was actually incapacitated a few times by local currency speculators more than what Soros had done in Asia.

It was bad governance; an economic bubble and the involvement of local currency speculators who made Malaysian economy vulnerable and the country lose billions when Bank Negara started the FOREX business well before 1997.

Soros is a businessman

Soros is a businessman who knows about the economy and of course the prime interest of any businessman is to make money. Mahathir was a politician who knew little about the economy but tried hard to become one.

But being economically handicapped at the time he had to depend on some of his trusted "expertise". When politicians and their inept cronies get into business, more often than not they damage the economy.

It was alleged that more than US$6 billion was lost in the FOREX market during Mahathir's tenure as premier. Malaysia’s foreign reserve was gambled away in 1992-1993. In fact it was alleged that Bank Negara, during Mahathir's time, was involved in global speculative activities tacitly as early as in the 1980s.

Mahathir's penchant for mega projects

Mahathir's penchant for mega economics projects did not work either. It only exacerbated the situation when investors had low confidence of the nation's economy. Investors trickled in only for quick gains.

More than RM6 billion was unnecessarily spent to build Telecoms tower in Kuala Lumpur and the high rise PETRONAS buildings that did not benefit the country much. The multi-billion ringgit national car project went awry and the buying of the RM300 million Lotus racing car plant did not bring much benefit to the national car industry.

The billions spent on the MSC (multimedia super corridor) venture was more hype than accomplishment. The abandoned Bakun project in Sarawak brought colossal loss to the economy.

The bailing out of failed companies and Bank Bumiputera perpetually dented the nation's coffer at the time. Billions of Employee’s Provident Fund and PETRONAS dollars were used to bail out projects given out to cronies at inflated prices without tenders and all this incurred a big financial loss to the country.

Non-performing loans

More than a billion was lost for the "purchase" of the Skyhawks from the US that was not delivered to the country. RM6 billion was lost in Perwaja Steel Mill. More than RM3 billion was burnt in the BMF scandals.

Cronies were allowed to borrow millions from local banks without collaterals that ended up becoming non-performing loans.

More than RM3 billion was lost from the London Tin scandal when the US released their Tin Stockpile. From 1992-93 the country experienced more than US$6 billion FOREX lost by Bank Negara. The list goes on.

As usual, the economic buffer was the hard-earned PETRONAS dollars – without which the country would have gone bankrupt.

Both shared a common desire

Just before the financial crisis economists warned Mahathir that if Malaysia did not manage its economy and finance right, it would suffer the same fate as countries that had observed their currencies tumbling.

In 1992 the battleground between Mahathir and Soros was the London foreign exchange market. Britain's FOREX market was the focus of many speculators who wanted to profit from the market instability at the time.

Both expected that they were going to make money from the British.

Mahathir expecting the pounds to appreciate gave the green light using billions of US currency from Bank Negara's foreign reserves to speculate on the British pound sterling.

Soros – the global FOREX player – expecting the fall of the pound borrowed 10 billion pounds from British banks and changed the money to German Mark.

Malaysian speculator, Mahathir lost

On Sept 16, 1992, unable to stand the economic and market pressure on its overvalued pound, Britain, instead of floating the pound, officially devalued its currency causing the pound to fall.

Soros, who took the loan from the British banks, repaid it in pounds which was then cheaper and pocketed the difference of more than US$1 billion.

While the Malaysian speculator Mahathir lost about US$4 billion.

As reported, later in 1993, Bank Negara again lost another US$2.2 billion in speculative activities. Malaysia's total loss by this time stood at US$6.2 billion. The actual figures for Bank Negara losses were never revealed, though.

Both the "gamblers" had the same desire – to make money. But in the end when Mahathir failed, Soros made the money. The stark difference here was that when Mahathir used the nation's money to bet, Soros used his own fund. The latter of course was more righteous in this game of FOREX gambling.

Why then demonise Soros and his charity work? The only reason must be because he was perceived by none other than Mahathir that he was a currency speculator. For political reasons, leaders within UMNO have forgotten and forgiven Mahathir for his past "gambling" habit.

Lack of investor confidence

Soros earned a billion dollar profit from speculating against the British currency in 1992. Malaysia got her fingers burnt.

Preceding the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis the annual economic "growth" rate of Malaysia was reported to be 8.5 percent for 6 years – from 1990 to 1996.

But a lack of investor confidence soon attributed to a wave of currency depreciation in the inflated economies of Asian countries at the time. Soros being a shrewd currency speculator could foresee the economic collapse of a few Asian countries.

In mid-1997, when the Thai Baht depreciated his fund managers sold US$10 million of Thai baht to make a fortune. He did not sell Malaysian ringgit or any other currencies. The depreciation of the Thai Baht was enough to lead to a domino effect on some other Asian economies, including Malaysia.

It only showed that the economies of these countries were not resilient enough.

Short-term investors pulled out their funds in droves resulting in the economic crisis in Malaysia. The value of the Malaysian currency fell by more than 50 percent from RM2.50 to RM3.80 to US$. The stock market index dropped and at one point hovered around 300 points.

The "Mahathir factor" too affected the stock market then. The country's stock market fell each time after Mahathir spoke against the economic market system.

To Soros, currency speculation is a business. He confessed that he had no time taking part in currency speculation for political purposes.

A serious business

Before June 1997, there were already signs on the wall that Malaysia would face with economic problems but this was ignored by Mahathir citing "sheer jealousy" of western countries as the reason.

During the crisis it was the low confidence level of investors in the country that led to huge capital flights sensing that the economic bubble was going to burst. Even prior to this crisis the economy of the country did not justify to the confidence of markets – a reality that Mahathir did not want to admit.

After being badly mangled, the aftermath of the financial crisis made Mahathir say that currency trading is unnecessary, unproductive and immoral during the IMF and World Bank meeting in Hong Kong which took place in mid-September 1997.

But the same was not mentioned after Bank Negara lost US$6 billion or more in FOREX trading. UMNO leaders cannot be too naïve not to comprehend this setback to the nation's economy.

To Soros, currency trading is business and weak governments have to be cautious not to create a bubble burst upon being tested by currency traders. Managing a nation is a serious business.

Singapore, Brunei and Japan, for instance, were the least affected during the 1997/98 financial crisis because of their economic resilience.

Finding scapegoats

Other UMNO leaders did not dare question or speak up against Mahathir, instead danced to the master's tune in blaming Soros for the latter's self-made debacle.

UMNO is always good at finding scapegoats. Instead of opening up the case relating to the Scorpene Scandal the leaders are trying to strike Suaram with the "Soros factor" – exploiting on the fund Suaram received from OSI.

However, the rakyat are not that irrational to buy UMNO's political ploy. They are just fervently waiting for the French court to reveal the truth about the Scorpene Scandal that involves UMNO, the country's top leadership and his cronies.

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