PKR today lodged a report at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (Penang branch) on what they described as the misappropiation of funds by the federal government to pay an extreme lobbyist to boost the country’s image overseas.
Balik Pulau PKR parliamentarian Yusmadi Yusoff, who lodged the report, claimed the government under ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had paid millions to a lobbyist in America to boost his image in the international arena since 2005.
He alleged that the government had engaged “extreme” lobbyist like Jack Abramoff (left), who has been found guilty of illegal activities, to prop-up Malaysia’s falling global reputation.
This problem is but one piece of the larger crisis facing America in 2012: the capture of government — and both major parties — by well-heeled special interests. While we would all like a simple fix, the reality is that the solution is more complex. We must advance a range of reforms: from limiting super PACS, campaign spending and contributions to requiring full transparency of all political spending, including think tanks like these. From blocking the “revolving door” of politicians and K Street, to fixing the gerrymandering of congressional districts. From increasing voter participation to fixing antiquated legislative and election rules like the filibuster and the electoral college.
Complex, yes, but a common sense reform agenda is emerging that must be foisted upon our nation’s leaders with the brute political cudgel of pure populism: the same kind that ushered in the greatest political triumphs dating back to the birth of the republic. No, America, our leaders will not fix this problem out of the goodness of their hearts. If we want the republic to survive and thrive, it’s up to us to force them.
Malaysian billionaires became rich because of the country’s policy and stability, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today.
“I looked at yesterday’s newspapers… the list of Malaysian billionaires. I studied each one of them. Maybe some in this room today. Every one of them became rich because of our policy,” he said when opening the one-day “Malaysian Chinese at the Political Crossroads” conference jointly organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute and the MCA think-tank, Insap, here.
Najib said these billionaires either hold concessions or were in the right place and at the right time.
He said that the billionaires benefited from the stability of Malaysia and the government would continue to ensure growth and create more and more opportunities.
According to Najib, the Malaysian Chinese are more entrepreneurial compared to the Bumiputeras and the government would continue to make Malaysia a better place to do business.
“Even if they don’t get concessions, they have to be in the right place and at the right time. They benefited from our policy, they benefited from the fact that we give stability to this country.
“We will continue to ensure that the nation will grow and will create more and more opportunities,” he said.
Najib also said that the government would continue to listen to the problems of the Malaysian Chinese.
“We will make sure there are more opportunities for them to advance in this country,” he added. that is what he said but in realty
This week, climate blogs includingDeSmogBlog and ThinkProgress Greenuncovered a leaked document precious to public interest advocates: a confidential memo and fundraising plan from the “conservative” Heartland Institute that lists its corporate donors, as well as the group’s strategic plans.
Heartland is one of many so-called “conservative” think tanks that “promote[s] free-market solutions to social and economic problems.” The document exposes what everyone knows, but is rarely proven: that Heartland and other “free-market” think tanks are nothing but lobbying vehicles for the largest corporations and billionaires who own them. These groups were the lead actors in the D.C. dramas that killed consumer protections that could have prevented the banking crisis, the Gulf oil spill, tax breaks for millionaires, and countless other affronts against America’s middle class. They are the secret agents artfully promoting the agendas of Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Phone and Cable, and anyone else who ponies up the cash. The leaked documents even admit that Heartland’s funders “want project-specific proposals”
Real conservative Americans should be seriously pissed off about this. Think tanks like Heartland falsely brand themselves as conservative while blindly espousing a free market free for all that history proves — over and over and at extreme cost to society — as untenable: a fig leaf that covers their real goal of destroying any consumer protections that could hurt profitmaking and the consolidation of wealth into the hands of billionaires. Reporters and pundits hear this: they are corporate, not conservative think tanks.
Polls show that conservatives are already outraged at how Big Money buys laws and the politicians who vote for them. Conservatives should be equally outraged that these think tanks and corporate-pawn politicians who do their bidding are co-opting their conservative brand to undermine the public interest. A great video from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week shows Tea Partiers and Occupiers agreeing that crony capitalism is the issue that unifies them.
In the big scheme of things, Heartland Institute is a small player, with an annual budget of just $6 million. Heritage Foundation rakes in $75 million a year to shill for corporations;American Enterprise Institute, around $30 million, and the list goes on. What the leaked documents prove is what everyone in Washington knows: most Washington think tanks are a who’s who of the major corporations that own American democracy. And they are the same corporations that are increasingly buying favor at liberal institutions like theNAACP and Sierra Club.
MAHATHIR-JACK ABRAMOFF LINK: REPORT MADE TO MACC
“But since the MACC can only begin to investigate when a report is lodged, it is my responsibility to make the report now,” he told reporters before going into the MACC office.
“This issue may not have received much attention here but it is well known in America,” he added. Yusmadi was referring to a June 22, 2006, report titled ‘Gimme Five: Investigation on Tribal Lobbying Matters’, commissioned by the US Senate Committee of Indian Affairs.
The 300-paged report focused on a two-year investigation into the affairs of Abramoff, who had pleaded guilty for defrauding a number of Native American tribes who had sought his services in establishing their gambling operations.
The probe resulted in the discovery of documents relating to the lobbyist’s work for the Malaysian government. It is believed that the payment – made to bogus think-tank American International Centre – by the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC was for Abramoff’s services in organising a meeting with former US President George W. Bush in 2002.
In February, 2006, when questioned on the matter, Mahathir (with George W. Bush right) admitted that US$1.2 million was paid to organise the meeting but denied the money came from the Malaysian government.
“I understood some people paid a sum of money to lobbyists in America but I do not know who these people were and it was not the Malaysian government,” Mahathir was reported as saying in the media.
Renewed interest in the case comes in the wake of criticisms against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s statement supporting Israel in a recent interview with Asian Wall Street Journal.
Anwar said his statement supporting the security of Israel is contingent on the creation of an independent Palestine state and respecting the rights of its people based on the two-state solution.
Anwar’s supporters have been going on a campaign to prove the Malaysian government’s hypocrisy in condemning the former when it has trade relations with Israel.
Malaysia’s foreign policies not strategic
Yusmadi urged the MACC to investigate the case, saying that it is understandable if the government seeks foreign advisors to advice it on policy matters. However, he added, in doing so, the Malaysian government should at no time seek advice through “illegal, dubious or criminal arrangements”.
He criticised the country’s foreign policies as lacking in strategy and attraction, saying they do not benefit Malaysians but was more towards foreigners. One of the reasons for this, he added, was due to the government’s lack of interest in empowering its own civil service.
“The country has been put in a contentious state due to our dis-empowered civil service, that we need to seek advice from foreigners.The country’s policies can only be attractive to all if we have competent officers, with good policies, come good reputation,” he added.
He noted that under current Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak (left), several overseas appointments – special envoys – have been made for BN leaders such as former MCA presidet Ong Ka Ting (China), former MIC president S. Samy Vellu (India) and former Rompin UMNO MP Jamaluddin Jarjis (the US).
“Rest assured that if Pakatan Rakyat takes over Putrajaya in the coming general election, we will abolish all these positions, which is a wastage of public funds,” he said.
Yusmadi was accompanied by pro-PKR NGO Jingga 13 who carried placards with photos of Mahathir and Bush, and carried them silently outside the MACC building before the report was lodged.
Penang Jingga 13 representative Amizuddin Amat urged the MACC to probe the matter “seriously, diligently, and courageously”. “If they fail to do so, we might have to make a trip to the US to see if we could dig up more details on this case,” he added.