Tag Archives: malaysia

Is this the end of the line for the 1MDB probe?



Is this the end of the line for the 1MDB probe?
By Zan Azlee

It isn’t difficult for the public to see how the Cabinet reshuffle by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Tuesday can be assumed as a strategic move for him to continue to stay in power and silence his critics.

The game of perception doesn’t seem to be a top priority in Malaysian politics these days (yeah… it’s always about perception of honesty, sincerity and transparency, isn’t it?). I guess it doesn’t matter what the public thinks.

But the issue of the day hasn’t changed and that is the questions and allegations surrounding the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. What has changed is the influential people who have been critically vocal about it being dropped from their influential positions.

Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has been removed from his post as the attorney-general. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who have been very critical about 1MDB, are no longer in cabinet.

Muhyiddin had given a press conference on Wednesday morning. But it was a tame affair and he stressed that he was still an Umno member and will toe the party line when the time comes. No news from Shafie.

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who was the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigating the allegations of 1MDB, has been made deputy home minister. He has stepped down from his position as PAC chief.

The funny thing is that Nur Jazlan had, a few weeks earlier, been asked by reporters of his thoughts of the rumours speculating that he will be called up and appointed as a member of the cabinet.

Nur Jazlan was reported to have said that he was more interested in finishing the committee’s investigation of 1MDB rather than entertaining the thought of being appointed to a Cabinet position. He wanted to prove his ability as chairperson.

Oh well, flip-flopping and non-committal tendencies are rife in politics. There’s nothing you can do about that (again the perception game comes to mind). The question now is how will the investigation on 1MDB progress from here?

Now that Nur Jazlan has relinquished his post in the PAC, he has also announced that all further proceedings by the committee will be halted until a new line-up is announced at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Sure, vice-chair of the PAC, Tony Pua, has said that technically, the committee can and will continue with its investigations. He has been vocal all this while. But look what happened to him. He is barred from leaving the country.

The media’s role? Let’s see. The Edge was the one that sparked widespread interest in the 1MDB scandal, and they have been suspended from publication for three months, a decision that could be an intimidating factor for other media organisations.

It looks like all the stops are being pulled. Every game in the playbook is being used. Everything that can be done to stop any further delving into what happened to 1MDB is being done. So is this the end of the line.

]This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

Wrong move in the game of perception, Najib?


Wrong move in the game of perception, Najib?
By Zan Azlee

In 1998, I was in my third year of university pursuing my bachelors degree. I was a normal student, more interested in girls, watching movies and listening to music than I was in national politics.

I had sent my then-girlfriend to Puduraya bus station so she could go back to her hometown in Ipoh when I encountered a deadlock traffic jam on Jalan Tun Perak towards Dataran Merdeka.

All of a sudden, I saw many masked young men running around my car and the others on the street. Some of them even started setting rubbish bins on fire in the middle of the road. I got pissed off because I was stuck.

I managed to weave my way home and later that evening did I realise that I had witnessed the start of the Reformasi street protests because the then-Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had been sacked.

Seventeen years later, I am a working journalist and have much more interest in national politics, a sense of deja vu has occurred. Of course, there has been no street protests, but a Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has been removed from office.

As most Malaysians would know, along with the DPM, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has also been dropped and the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has been removed from his post.

What do all these three people have in common? They have all been very vocal and critical about the 1MDB scandal that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been implicated with.

The reason for the reshuffle of the Cabinet by Najib (or more specifically, the dropping of Muhyiddin) is so that his “administration remains committed and focused towards nation-building as promised by the Barisan Nasional government”.

They say that politics and public administration is a game of perception. Leaders and politicians are supposed to be perceived as honest, credible and responsible. They are supposed to be perceived as sincere and transparent.

From the Cabinet reshuffle, I guess that rule of perception doesn’t apply to politics and public administration in Malaysia. Public perception is the least of the administration’s priorities. Having the strength to remain in power is number one.

Najib already took a bad step by not being clear and upfront in addressing all the allegations regarding 1MDB. And now, with the removal of all the individuals who have been critical, it just plays to a negative perception of his role in the scandal.

I wonder if this is obvious to him, or his team of advisors? Do they realise how this move makes him look in the eyes of the public? The people are not dumb and they can formulate their own deductions based on what they see.

Of course, legally and technically, the prime minister has the prerogative to determine his Cabinet, at least until the next general election. But whether his decision is in the interest of the nation or a personal agenda, we can only assume based on how we see things.

Journalism and the news need to be more honest, not objective


More engaging journalism – as stated in a posting on the Columbia Journalism Review by Joyce Barnathan, the president of the International Centre for Journalists.

What she means is that the way news is presented these days needs to be revised and new rules need to be made up. And I totally agree with what she says. (Err… I’ve been saying for many years now!)

If many people thought that news needs to be presented fast and quick these days to suit social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, then they are not exactly correct (although fast bites like these do have a purpose).

Sites like Vice and podcasts like Serial have shown that in-depth journalism stories do work and are popular. But it has to be presented in such an engaging way that people will be attracted to it.

And the way is to weave the journey into the story.

Most of Vice’s video stories have the reporter involved and participating, much like immersed or submersion journalism. In Serial, reporter Sarah Koenig documented how she pursued the story, a murder case where an allegedly innocent person went to prison.

The younger generation is also tired of this perception that the news is always impartial and objective, because that just isn’t the point. Everyone has an opinion and everyone will be biased in some way, even journalists. The key point is that the news should always be honest.

(A point that I have always stressed too! Read: I’m not an objective journalist!)

Welcome to the new age of journalism.

Is there an investigative journalism culture in Malaysia?


BFM 89.9 had an interesting discussion about the state of journalism in Malaysia. Joining the hosts Ezra Zaid and Umapagan Ampikaipagan were guests Chak Onn Lau (Editor-In-Chief of Cilisos.my) and Joseph Sipalan (Assistant News Editor at the Malay Mail Online).

The discussion was very candid and they talked about a lot of things, from how Malaysia lacks an investigative journalism culture to how number-chasing has become the order of the day for many news sites.

Click here or on the image above to listen to the podcast.

Gimlet is the most recent podcasting network to be born online… and they want to be like HBO?


Since the last time I wrote about a new online podcast network (If Malaysian podcasters got together, could they form a successful collective like PRX’s Radiotopia?), a new one is here called Gimlet.

Founded by Alex Blumberg of Planet Money (and also a producer at This American Life), it already has a few original shows on offering. Start Up is a show that chronicles start ups going through their journey, Reply All is a show about things on the Internet and Mystery Show is a quirky show about solving everyday mysteries.

And Blumberg feels that going full capitalism is the way to go (just like Ira Glass), which means that he think that advertising money is being floated around more than every right now.

I will say it again… I really hope that podcasting will catch on fire here in Malaysia. I pray to Almighty Allah!

Read a full interview with Blumberg about Gimlet and podcasting at NiemanLab.Org.

And please spend some time listening to some of Fat Bidin’s original podcasts!