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Category: Others (page 84 of 87)

2015: Challenges?

This morning, it’s all about economic news in my office.

Foremost on our minds is the question whether the ruble crisis in Russia would spark an emerging market contagion? In other words, will Malaysia be swept up in an emerging market rout in the coming weeks and months. I will be heading to the Selangor Economic Advisor Office after lunch to brief the office on possible scenarios.

I will also be having roundtable lunches with market people in the next few days for opinions and info. We must be well prepared for the challenges ahead in 2015.

Economic Prospects 2015

Last Sunday, I was in the Subang Jaya Gospel Centre in ss19 Subang Jaya for a Lions club Christmas Party for orphans and underprivileged children. The event was well attended with around 100 children. The Lions club and the church put up a stage presentation with singers, dancers and a bit of drama. I gave a short speech reminding all to be extra prudent next year as all indications are pointing to a particularly tough economic year in 2015.

In the past few weeks, I have been meeting with several senior officers from different foreign embassies. And among other topics, we discussed the economic prospects for 2015. Then, the numbers have just come in that USD900 million (RM3.1 billion) worth of Malaysian bonds were dumped by foreigners in one week in late October. About the same time, my friend who is an economic data expert was in town and we contemplated what it means to have USD50 per barrel oil as the new norm. This was just before the start of the big slide in global oil prices.

Truth is, during the last 4 years of American QE, short term foreign funds have taken up 30% to 40% of our govt implicit and explicit bonds. There were also some interest at the equity front but foreign funds were primarily hunting Malaysian bonds which carried 3.5% to 5% yields. Whilst it does not look 100% like 1997 all over again (1997 was primarily equities with wild valuations, what we have now are bonds), the fact that we have a very large volume of foreign money in our system, ready to run, is worrying. Can EPF soak up all when the big foreign dumping starts?

Fundamentally, these money are flowing out because Malaysian fiscal and economic numbers are not good. Despite the plan for fiscal austerity (3% deficit) and introducing GST in 2015, financial embarrassments (1MDB) and political u-turns (racial tensions up, Sedition Act, Sabah RCI) continue to spook investors. Admissions by government to an unquantifiable amount of letter of supports (which are strictly guarantees) in the recent November Parliament sitting does not help paint a transparent fiscal picture of Malaysia too. Whitewashing government loans using debt to equity swaps in the very last day of Parliament also does not help. The government has not shown any signs of real economic reforms, instead it is using accounting and financial tools to obscure the true fiscal picture.

The October bond sell-off outflow probably started a fall in the value of our currency and then the fall in oil prices (both oil and gas and palm oil) pushed the currency further down. So whilst it is not exactly like 1997, there are similarities. It appears, that we may be heading towards a perfect storm in terms of economic vulnerability in 2015.

I turn 46 this month. I am old enough to vividly remember the 1997 financial crash. I was then, a young corporate lawyer and saw how 1997 destroyed the lives of so many. It also broke the spirit of Malaysia Boleh, which now means something completely cynical and different. Therefore, I urge the authorities to start focusing on economic solutions. For start, instead of disappearing with a tak apa attitude, PM Najib better take steps to form an economic crisis management team very soon.

Ideas on Foreign Policy

This morning, I am attending a lecture on Malaysian foreign policy by my neighbour and good friend Prof Dr Anthony Milner.

I didn’t realise that the event is so fancy with the Sultan of Perak attending. Anyhow, its good to attend a function full of academics (I am the only politician here). I got to exchange ideas on foreign policies minus the political spins. A few academics gave some clever views and I learnt quite a bit of insider news about China and Indonesia.

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Moving Forward

Congratulations to new Selangor MB Azmin for resolving the bible issue. What Khalid couldn’t do in 9 months has now been resolved by Azmin. Well done! Let’s hope that moving forward, MAIS and JAIS will be more sensitive and understanding to others in the future.

azmin

DSAI Sodomy II Trial

Day 8 (7 November 2014):

4.30pm: Anwar’s appeal has ended. Judges will deliver judgment on another day. Judgment date to be announced.

 

Day 7 (6 November 2014): 

8.52pm: My battery died 2 hours ago. Just got home.
Sri Ram has rejuvenated our supporters with his most excellent arguments. At 7 pm he was asked to stop. The case will continue at 3pm tomorrow.
Our supporters have been with us for 12 hours and it was pouring with rain outside. Anwar and several PKR leaders walked out to join them. As we crossed the road and past the police barricades, a few of us were hit by pepper spray gas. I was about 5 steps behind Anwar. I suspect someone in the crowd tried to pepper spray Anwar but hit us instead. We were choking but the heavy rain soon washed it away.
Anwar then led the mahgrib prayers under a tent in the pouring rain. He delivered a short thank you speech to the supporters. Reformasi!

6.09pm: Case restart 6.02 pm. Sri Ram continues. He says the ky jelly issue is also a fake. No evidence found in carpet. The ky jelly tube was handed over to the investigation officer at a very late stage, hence it is improbable it was ever used.

5.37pm: Sri Ram completely rubbishes the claim by Shafee that a Brioni suit was given by Anwar to Saiful. How can they claim the existence of a RM16,000 Brioni suit but never produced it in court? The govt produced only the pants and the pants does not even have a label on it. Sri Ram said that even his tailor Ah Chong will put his label on his tailored pants. So why the missing label? So Sri Ram says Saiful is a fantasist and the suit story is a complete fabrication.

Sri Ram

 

4.48pm: Sri Ram started his submission at 4.07 pm. We are now in the final stretch of the appeal. He has a very stern demeanour and loses his temper with his supporting counsels. Sri Ram attacked the evidence of Saiful and he looked into the issue of the carpet. Sri Ram asked how did a carpet where the sodomy allegedly took place moved from one condo unit to another condo unit. With no evidence on court record explaining how the carpet moved, then no act of sodomy could have taken place as alleged by Saiful. Therefore Saiful is not a truthful witness. That is why all the doctors found no evidence of penetration.

It is an incredibly powerful train of argument. It is going to be very hard for the judges to ignore this argument.

Sri Ram says that Shafee painted Saiful as a honourable man and that he idolised Anwar. However, Sri Ram said the testimonies of witnesses have demonstrated that Saiful actually hated Anwar. One witness testified that Saiful posted on facebook a year before he joined Anwar’s office many pictures of BN leaders and a photo of Anwar with a caption of “Anwar is evil”. The witness testified that Saiful hated Anwar, so how could Shafee say Saiful idolised Anwar. The prosecution case looks like game over.

4.03pm: Gobind started his submission at 3.20 pm and in typical style he starts slow and studiously. Around 3.40 pm Gobind unleashed his attack with vigour to dismantle the case. It is something to witness Gobind arguing in full flight.
Arguing on scientific basis he destroys Shafee’s arguments. He also said Shafee made a most desperate submission two days ago throwing in all sort of theories and raising all sort of issues. Gobind said this action of raising doubts by Shafee actually helps the defence because it creates more doubts to the case. If there are doubts, the court must acquit Anwar. The prosecution can only sentence Anwar if it is beyond reasonable doubt.

2.25pm: The case will resume shortly. In dismantling the prosecution case, our lawyer produced several comments this morning that were absolutely hilarious.
Ram Karpal finished this morning and Sangeet is about to start. After that Gobind and Sri Ram will close. It is touch and go whether we can complete the case today.

10.40am: Am at Putrajaya for what is expected to be the very last day of the case. Anwar’s lawyers will be giving their replies, expected to finish around 5pm.
Outside the court, police FRU and water cannons have been deployed. Reporters told me they have also seen horse mounted police.
This raises the prospects of an immediate decision to be made today. However, this is not likely to happen, since there seems to be no urgency in the way the appeal has been handled so far. But as we all know, in Malaysia apa pun boleh. That’s why today I am wearing my less formal shoes with rubber sole, more agility just in case the police mobilise against the crowd.

 

Day 6 (4 November 2014): 

2pm: It appears the great Shafee has lost his plot. He is talking so much irrelevant things, some are downright pornographic that everyone in court is not sure what his intentions are. For this morning his 1.5 hours has now clocked 3 hours and after lunch he will likely continue for another 2 hours.
Several of us went to see our supporters to update them.

Court to resume on Thursday (6 November 2014).

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11am: Shafee is still giving his round and round submission. Looks like it will take another hour or two perhaps. Why is he running the clock down?
We are now at tea break and Anwar is meeting his well wishers.

 

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Day 5 (3 November 2014): 

12.45pm: Shafee concluded the “plastic bottle” Burmese doctor as not a credible witness. To this point, Ram Karpal asked, did Shafee impeach him? The answer is no.
If so, how can Shafee conclude the Burmese doctor as not credible? Loud murmurs of disbelieve by lawyers in the court. Shafee is caught. But Shafee then argue that his cross examination is alike an impeachment. Wow! If like that, Shafee can rewrite the laws single handedly in this case.

 

12.33pm: In an attempt to defend Saiful as a credible witness, Shafee says that the first doctor that examined Saiful was dishonest. He alleged that the doctor “added” in the plastic bottle story because someone pressured him to do so! Where is the evidence to support such a wild claim? The bottle story was written in the medical notes at the point of examination. And we all remember how the Burmese doctor was pressured for deportation. So if anyone was pressuring the doctor, it is not from us.
From the mouth of Shafee, we are witnessing Malaysian justice being sodomised.

 

12pm: Shafee puts up a point that sodomy is alike a heart attack. This drew the ire of YB Dr Tan Kee Kwong (Wangsa Maju PKR MP) seated next to me. He whispered “where got backside the same as a heart, what bullshit argument is this?” Dr Tan is a medical doctor.

 

11.20am: In a moment of pure clarity, Shafee spoke a freudian slip when he said “The truth is irrelevant …”. Shafee argues that if you find sperm in the anal area it is conclusive of penetration. Wow!

Fact 1. We do not know who’ s sperm as the dna has degraded. Fact 2. Saiful had no anal tear, no signs of penetration. His pain in the anal area he admitted to the first doctor came from a plastic bottle.
The argument forwarded basically means you can put someone’s sperm around Saiful’s backside and then conclusively convict Anwar of raping Saiful.

 

10.40am: Shafee is reading his submission and his basic argument is there is no conspiracy. In a classic Shafee putar belit logic he argues that on the issue of the unknown DNA from the water bottle, toothbrush and good morning towel, the fact that the police choose to speak the truth that they did not see Anwar used these items (presumably the police should have lied?), proves that there is no conspiracy. He continues that if there was a conspiracy, the police could have lied that they saw Anwar drink the water, used the towel and brushed his teeth.

Here is where the logic fails; it is the job of the prosecution to establish the case NOT the other way round.

Shafee then also admitted that the evidence were illegally obtained but it nevertheless admissable to be used against Anwar.

 

8am: This morning, police presence is heavier than usual. I arrived at 7 am and got my pass. This day’s trial is expected to end at lunch. Apparently the courts are celebrating some Court of Appeal anniversary.

 

Day 4 (31 October 2014): 

1pm: YB Gooi, Sim and I are taking the international observers for lunch in Petaling Jaya. There was a request for banana leaf rice so we are at Sri Paandi, Jalan Gasing. All the observers, except one, are leaving today having extended their stay 2 extra days. They find the proceedings to be in order so far but will reserve comment until verdict is given. We also gave a press conference earlier to ask the court officials to not allow special branch officers to occupy the limited seats for Monday hearing.

Trial resumes Monday morning.

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9am: This morning in Palace of Justice Putrajaya, the government started their case. It is expected to continue until lunch, breaking for prayers. No afternoon session is expected after prayers. I am in the cafeteria with some senior leaders having our tea break with Anwar. Court resumes in 5 minutes.

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Anwar Ibrahim and A. Samad Said.

 

Day 3 (30 October 2014): 

1.50pm: Court adjourned for the day to allow prosecution time to reply. Trial to continue tomorrow morning.

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8.45am: Ram Karpal is continuing his defence submission this morning. He continues to show that the DNA samples are scientifically wrong indicating the samples are contaminated by foreign bodies. Essentially the chemist had failed to follow her own guidelines and she had admitted in court to the mistakes. Ram Karpal argues that the chemist findings are therefore fundamentally flawed. The judges are taking notes. Will they do the right thing?

 

8am: I got to Putrajaya at 7.15 am with Dr Tan again. We are neighbours and shared a ride here. This morning the special branch is occupying 12 seats again. The government has also changed the passes from light green to pink. Anwar walked in at 9 am. Court is about to start.

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Day 2 (29 October 2014): 

10.16am: Sangeet is delivering her submission. As expected, the judges are giving her a hard time questioning her and interjecting her flow of arguments. She is holding up well and showing good composure. Yesterday, the judges gave Sri Ram an uninterrupted passage.

 

9.45am: The case resumes as Surendran continues his submission. The order of submissions for the defence after Surendran will be Sangeet and then finally Ram Karpal. The defence will most likely rest by late afternoon or sometime after lunch. We expect the prosecution to begin their submission today.

 

9am: There is a small ruckus as Anwar’s son questioned the officer why about 12 seats have been given to special branch officers in plainclothes. They are strangers, not family, not politicians, not diplomats, not media. We asked them to leave but they refused to budge. I joked that they should seat in the dock to guard Anwar and not take up limited seats.

 

8.30am: I left at 6.30 am this morning for Putrajaya with Dr Tan Kee Kwong. We got to Putrajaya around 7.15 am and obtained our passes. Around 8 am, about 200 policemen marched in to take their positions around the courts.

There is only about 20 passes for the public. So what will happen is we will be “sharing” our passes with other MPs as and when they arrive. We will go out to let the next one to replace our seats. That way we will enable most Pakatan MPs and international human rights observers a chance to observe the trial.

 

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Day 1 (28 October 2014): 

8.25pm: First day of court battle is over. Please watch this short video. Please spread this video to your friends & relatives. I salute our die hard supporters, they came today and stayed in rain and shine. See you again tomorrow.

 

3.30pm: Sri Ram is tearing up the prosecution case. He produces cases after cases. The 5 man judge panel tries to engage and question him to show flaws in his arguments. One of the Federal Judges said it was Karpal Singh’s fault for not raising a matter during trial. Sri Ram rebutted and said ultimately the judge is in control of the proceedings. It not the job of the lawyers. This retort brought giggles from the crowd. The panel is silenced and Sri Ram continues unfazed.

 

2.30pm: The trial resumes. I have managed to get a seat in the courtroom. Sri Ram continues on his submission for the defence. He questions the testimony of Saiful pointing out various inconsistencies. This morning Sri Ram focused on Saiful’s meetings with Najib and police officer Rodwan.

Earlier at lunch break, together with Pakatan MPs Khalid Samad, Gooi, Manivanan and Julian, we addressed our supporters and gave an update of events.

 

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9am: I am in Putrajaya Palace of Justice this morning. There are barriers and very strict rules to prevent supporters into the courts.

I managed to get in via the Syariah court. Anwar’s family members are here. Diplomats and members of the media too. There are very limited seats. Only 20 passes were given out. Media passes are also restricted. I managed to sneak into the courtroom during the break. Outside the courts we have about 1,000 supporters. Babies included.

 

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