The Truth Revealed

Friday, January 24, 2014

Najib’s headache: Allah, kangkung or Dr M?

 | January 24, 2014
Najib is being attacked only because he is at his most vulnerable.
For Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir to express an opinion about Najib Tun Razak and to act concerned for the hardship of the rakyat is quite unprecedented.

Perhaps Mukhriz should be given his own comedy show with his father former PM Mahathir Mohamad playing the part of the ventriloquist, and Mukhriz acting the part of the ventriloquist’s dummy, sitting on Mahathir’s lap. The “dialogue” between the two would be most entertaining.

During an interview with last Sunday’s edition of Berita Harian, Mukhriz warned that BN would be defeated in GE14 if it continued to be led by Najib. He blamed the rising cost of living on Najib’s unpopular decisions.

Mukhriz told Berita Harian, “Defeat is a real possibility if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak continues with his present policy of correct but unpopular decisions, especially issues concerning the rising cost of living….If Putrajaya continues to ignore the rakyat’s grouses and complaints, Barisan Nasional will find the 14th general election a tough nut to crack.”

A few days later, before Najib had time to recover from being blamed for the state of the economy, Mukhriz launched another attack.

The pressure piled-on with Mukhriz saying without a hint of irony that corruption and wastage in government spending should be addressed.

He claimed that Najib had failed to strike a balance between taking popular measures and “doing the right thing”. He feared that Najib’s short-term approach would have long-term consequences.
Only the naïve would think that Mukhriz was acting off his own bat. It is obvious that when his own future was jeopardised, Mukhriz’s stand shifted.

For months, if not years, Mukhriz neglected the suffering of Malaysians but almost overnight Mukhriz demanded that steps be taken for urgent action and remedial measures to be engaged to sort out the economy.

Attacking Najib was an indirect way of saying that he was a better leader than Najib.

Does Mukhriz live in a cocoon? Was he unaware that the day before his Berita Harian interview pro-Umno-Baru champions had threatened to unleash violence onto the streets of Malaysia in a re-enactment of May 13?

Mukhriz did not question Najib for failing to censure the people who threatened the peace. He also failed to condemn the IGP who failed to arrest the people inciting violence and spreading fear.
Allegations have recently surfaced that back in 1969 Najib’s father Abdul Razak Hussein acted in collusion with Mahathir to remove Tunku Abdul Rahman from power. Ironically, Najib is today facing that grim reality of a repetition of this coup.

Mahathir’s SOP

It was not chance which led Mukhriz to forget his father’s role in fomenting dissent.

About seven weeks ago Mahathir turned on the Herald’s editor Father Lawrence Andrew for wanting to “hurt” Muslims. His father’s instigation has been used by extremists to whip up a frenzy of hate against Christians.

Mahathir’s standard operating procedure (SOP) is simple. First, he creates divisions in society with race and religion.

Then, he distracts them from important issues – like the GST and price hikes, and increasing energy bills.

Having paralysed people with fear Mahathir pretends to offer solutions. His son has been instructed to play the moderate role in what is seen as a highly volatile situation. Mukhriz’s concern about the rakyat is neither genuine nor sincere.

The whole carry-on by Mukhriz is a reflection of his father’s true character. Najib is being attacked only because he is at his most vulnerable. Najib’s kangkung faux pas gave Mukhriz the opening to make his “kill”.

Most people will know that Mukhriz is not capable of such protracted thinking. What goes around, comes around. The fate that awaits Najib is the one similar to the ignominious departure of his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Like a pack of hyenas circling their injured prey and waiting to pounce are Mahathir and his men.
Mukhriz is very vocal against Najib for one simple reason. This is payback time for Najib who insulted Mahathir during the last Umno-Baru internal election.

The anger of the poor Malays and the Muslim population who have genuine concerns about feeding their families or paying for medical help when they are sick have struck fear into Mahathir.

The distractions created by the Allah issue and Najib’s kangkung faux pas will blow over and the rakyat will soon be forced to focus once again on the economy and rising cost of living.

When the GST kicks in next year things will get much worse. Mahathir knows this and has instructed his son to act now.

Any delay may lead to public dissatisfaction and unrest. Mahathir’s living and recurring nightmare is the possibility that Pakatan Rakyat will finally occupy Putrajaya.

Mukhiz’s critique of Najib has little to do with your suffering, the future of the country or Najib’s failure to combat corruption.

This is Mukhriz making sure his father’s unfinished business is continued. Mahathir’s legacy has to flourish at any cost.

Najib, Umno Baru and Mukhriz are all part of the problem but the greater share of the problem lies with you!

If you had a hand in returning Umno Baru to power, especially if you were in the 47% portion of the rakyat who voted for Umno Baru; your reward has been that you will suffer the price hikes, alongside the people who voted for Pakatan.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

ALLAH - Why Christians are meekly defiant

January 24, 2014
FMT LETTER: From Stephen Ng, via e-mail

While I may want to congratulate Professor Dr Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi for his article, ‘Turning the other cheek on the ‘Allah’ issue’, the fact is that he is far from the correct interpretation of the phrase, ‘Turn your other cheek’.

Dr Tajuddin has at least the intellectualism necessary for discussion, compared to most other Muslim extremists from Perkasa, Jati and Isma. Allow me to therefore, briefly take him on with my side of the story, which will hopefully enlighten him further on the controversy of Allah in Malaysia. I speak as a layman, with little or no theological background.

Meek, of course!

Firstly, the Christian community in Malaysia, since the Alkitab was first banned during former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first year in power, has been ‘meek’ by comparison. For the past 20 years, church leaders have continued to tolerate the nonsense, but continued to bring in the Alkitab for the younger generation of Malaysians who were only fluent in Bahasa Malaysia. They have continued to use the name Allah in their worship service with great reverence for the name.

Those of us who did not agree initially began to understand why the name Allah has to be kept in the Alkitab translation, in order to be consistent with the rest of the Malay archipelago, which includes Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak (where the majority of the Christians are based).

I cannot imagine, for example, for a West Malaysian preacher to speak in Malay to a congregation of East Malaysian brethren, “Kamu panggil Tuhan Allah, tapi kami panggil Tuhan kami, Tuhan.” (You call your God Allah, we call our God, God.”

Most of us did not like to use the name Allah as well initially, because of the connotations in Islam, but to remain in solidarity with the rest of the Christian world, which has been using the name Allah for centuries, including our Arab Christian brothers and sisters, we also accepted that our Allah is capable of a personal relationship with people who choose to know Him.

We have meekly explained our stand for the past 20 years. As the older generation of church leaders passed on, the younger generation of Christians like me, who have watched how the situation unfolded, have this one thing to say: Enough is enough!

Umno’s gutter politics has to be put to a stop, as it is destroying the country. I am not the only one who is saying this. A ‘pakcik’ who told me that he had hated Mahathir for many more years, said the same thing about Umno politics. Looking at TV3, he told me in grief: “Look at what we are teaching our younger generation.”
On another occasion, he said this: “In the past, Malays talk about religion. These days, they talk nothing but money.”

Fitnah has to stop

It is a lie that is being spread by Muslim extremists that the name Allah was included in the Alkitab in order to confuse the Muslims. This ‘reasoning’ only came about during the last 20 years. The first time the word Allah appeared in the Malay the Alkitab was in fact in the book of Injil Matius, translated by AC Ruyl between 1612 and 1629.

It is also a lie to say that the name Allah was used in the Malay translation of the Alkitab in order to convert Malays to Islam. We have always held that conversion is by one’s choice, and although I wish everyone, including Professor Tajuddin, to believe in Jesus, it is a personal choice. Anyone reading the Bible in English or any other languages can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ even without the so-called confusion over the name, Allah.

Even if the Alkitab is banned, digital copies of the Alkitab in Malay and Indonesian can be accessed via The Catholic Herald, which I hardly can gain access for myself, I wonder if any Muslim has even laid hands on it to justify such an uproar!

To me, the Allah controversy is nothing but a polemic issue and at best, a political gimmick to win Malay votes at the expense of the other communities. Again, from what I can see in retrospect, the issue has been exploited by Dr Mahathir in the past. Is this the One Malaysia Najib Abdul Razak had been harping on when he first became the prime minister?

As far as we are concerned, religion is not, and should not, be made a State matter. Since Reformation, the church has always separated itself from the State in what is described by theologians as separation of the Church and State. Therefore, for Muslim extremists and Umno propagandists, when attacking the DAP, said that Christians had plotted to turn Malaysia into a ‘Christian nation’ is an absolute lie. It is nothing but ‘fitnah’.

For those who read Isma’s fitnah that Anwar Ibrahim is the cause of the rise of the Christian voice, I leave this to your good judgement. I rest my case. Any good Muslim man and woman should know the punishment meted against fitnah, and fear Allah, or face the punishment in one form or another, but despite all the fitnah, one question that I would like to leave with Professor Tajuddin is this: “Has the Christian community revolted with violence?”

Called to give an answer

The Christians are called to ‘give an answer’ for their faith, which includes the reason why the name Allah is being preserved in the Alkitab. Reading from its context in 1 Peter 3: 13-17, you will understand why Christians are meekly defiant: ‘Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.’

I do not need to go into the explanations why the name Allah is theologically correct to be used in the Alkitab. There are already a lot of articles written by theologians, but I like to add my point here: The word Allah is a combination of two words, “Al” (where the word ‘Almighty’ is derived) and “Lah” (which, I believe in Arabic, means God).

The origin on the word is from the pagan Arabs, which can be traced back to the original Hebrew word, Elahe, which means Almighty God. Therefore, to me, the word is not strictly a word used by the Muslims. Nowhere in the world can anyone copyright or trademark the name Allah. In fact, the rationale used by Umno and Muslim extremists all along has turned the nation into a laughing stock even amongst the Muslim community worldwide despite Najib promoting the image of Malaysia as a leading Muslim nation.

Meekly defiant

If Professor Tajuddin wants an answer to his proposition, I would like to end this by saying that the Christian community to date is ‘meekly defiant.’ This is in line with 1 Peter 3: 13-17.

If the Catholic Herald wants to bring this controversy to the highest court, it is well within their rights to do so in the context of a democratic nation. It is because they still have some faith in the courts that they have brought the matter to court in order to allow justice to be seen being done.

The two rallies that were being called for by Umno Selangor against Father Lawrence Andrew are nothing but political ugliness when religion is mixed with politics. As the Christian citizens in this country, we do not burn the effigies of Najib or Rosmah, or even the Sultan or the Agong; therefore, such meekness of the Christian church already speaks volume.

Perhaps, two other men, besides Martin Luther King would best explain the meaning of ‘meekly defiant’ – Mahatma Gandhi who, despite being critical was an avid reader of the Bible, and Nelson Mandela, who was professedly a Christian. Both were meek, but both were also defiant against injustice.

Be it a fatwa, a law or a Sultan’s decree, with all due respect to the Sultan and the authorities, the church will remain meekly defiant. Any good Muslim will understand the Christian sentiments. That, I believe, is the calling of the church, and with better communication, the Christians in both Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak are more united.

Even Christians from both political divide are of one mind, that when you touch the raw nerve of Christianity, you will have to face the consequences, as the proverbial saying goes: ‘Reap what you sow.’

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sorry Riza Aziz, your Mom's Money can't buy everything

Buying over the rights and financing a film does not actually qualify one as a producer. At least not according to Hollywood's premier motion picture body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In what the industry views as a "rare move", the Academy yesterday dropped Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's stepson Riza Aziz from the Oscars nominations list for best picture nominee, Wolf of Wall Street.
Instead, in the list of producers nominated for the US$100 million film are director Martin Scorcese, lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Riza's business partner Joey McFarland and Scorsese's partner Emma Tillinger Koskoff.
The list of nominated producers for the 'Wolf of Wall Street' was finalised by the Academy yesterday, a week after the other nominations were announced.
This marks a departure from the Producers Guild Association, that nominated Riza as producer but not Scorsese and DiCaprio, for the controversial film about debauchery in the world of finance.
According Deadline Hollywood, DiCaprio had worked to get the film to screen as producer for six years and had roped in Riza and McFarland's fledgling production company Red Granite Pictures, that fully financed the venture.
Red Granite then purchased the rights from Warner Bros and was caught in a legal battle with the original producer Alexandra Milchan for compensation. The matter has been resolved out of court.
Responding to the Academy's announcement, Red Granite, in a media statement, said it will not contest the decision and that Riza is honoured to have been part of the project. Riza is the son of Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor from her first marriage.
The movie has been banned in Malaysia, and his financing of the film has drawn scorn from right-wing Malay supremacists Perkasa.
Hollywood disdain
Meanwhile, whistleblower Sarawak Report as part of its expose on Riza cited “Hollywood insiders” as saying that the decision to dump Riza follow industry concerns over financiers “attempting to claim producer credits for films they bankrolled but did not make”.
“They are greener than green,” one “experienced producer” told Sarawak Report of Riza andRiza and J Low McFarland, whom the portal reported previously acted as party planned for Malaysian wheeler dealer Jho Low (right).
They are financiers, but have also taken producer credits. The producer credits have gone to Riza, Joey and some other producers, but the actual work is being done by people working for Red Granite and the other producers,” another unnamed “senior Hollywood producer” is quoted as saying.
Those in the know credit Milchan as the main driver for the film, having procured the rights to the Jordan Belfort (the jailed financier played by DiCaprio) story and commissioned the script before the project was taken up by Warner Bros.
Insiders say it was her who roped in DiCaprio and Scorsese, despite the Red Granite duo claiming to have done so in media reports, citing their friendship with the Hollywood heartthrob. They also claim that that Milchan “came back and took over” after Warner Bros dropped the film and then sold it to Red Granite.
“It's common knowledge. That is what producers do, but Red Granite just bought over a done deal. They aren't what I would call producers, they are financiers and money men,” one insider said.
Industry professionals told the website that while the film cost US$100 million, publicity and marketing would have cost an additional US$35-40 million. The film has grossed US$80 million so far, the insiders said, but producers only get a fraction of the takings.
“The threatre keeps 60 percent and the studio 40 percent, then there are all the payments before the producers get anything back,” one Hollywood professional is quoted as saying.
Deep pockets
Insiders also revealed that the film was not “pre-sold” for three months after it started production, and everything was on Red Granite's expense. Sarawak Report noted that the new kids on the block's deep pockets have also set tongues wagging, with seasoned professionals questioning the rookies' ability to raise so much funds.
It also reported that there is speculation that Riza was cut by the Academy over comments by "close friends" in Malaysian media which could be viewed as anti-semitic.
The Malaysian Gazette, a portal run by a journalist close to Riza's mother Rosmah Mansor, quoted these “close friends” as saying that Riza should be celebrated for “breaking the monopoly of Jews in Hollywood”.
Riza, it reported, has never made any overt statements of bigotry but such sentiments by Riza's “close friends” and his failure to “disown” the remarks have “appalled the liberal and egalitarian community in Hollywood”.
“Many of Hollywood’s high flyers are indeed rightfully proud of being Americans of Jewish heritage. However, America is passionately committed to success through merit, unlike in Malaysia, where it is increasingly complained that only certain well-connected families can expect to monopolise money-making opportunities.”
Sarawak Report had earlier exposed that Riza had purchased a US$17.5 million ((RM58.21 million mansion) in Hollywood, after purchasing a US$33.5 million (RM110 million) apartment in New York in 2010.
It reported that Riza, 36, worked with HSBC Bank in London for three years before making his Hollywood bid.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Agong is not the head of Islam, says constitutional law expert

The Malaysian Insider
Malaysia has no head of Islam and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is only the head of religion in his own home state and in states without rulers, said a constitutional law expert.

Former International Islamic University Malaysia academic Dr Abdul Aziz Bari (pic) said the more appropriate platform to represent the rulers on religious issues is the Conference of Rulers.

"It appears that not all the rulers view the way of the Agong and the Sultan of Selangor," Abdul Aziz said in a statement.

As such, he said the statement made by the Agong on the "Allah" issue last week had no effect.
"It may not even bind the Muslims as the resolution made by the National Fatwa Council in 1986, which was cited by the Agong in his address, has no legal standing," he said.

On Sunday, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah had stated that several Arabic words, including "Allah", were exclusive to Muslims.

The Agong, who is also the Kedah Sultan, cited a 1986 decree by the National Fatwa Council which prohibits non-Muslims from using the words.

In November, the Sultan of Selangor also said that non-Muslims in his state could not use the word.
The Agong is appointed on a five-year rotational basis among the nine Malay rulers and is head of the religion of his state, Sabah, Sarawak, Penang, Malacca and the Federal Territories.

Abdul Aziz said the rulers, despite being the head of religion, had no power to lay down the laws of Islam.

"Only the Holy Prophet has the power to do so. Even the companions and later the caliphs had no such power. The position of the rulers is inferior to that of the caliphs.

"In any case, only the laws of Islam that is contained in the constitution and the relevant legislation can be enforced," he said.

Abdul Aziz also said the Agong's statement was not quite in line with the 10-point solution agreed by the Federal Government in 2011.

The 10-point solution which was endorsed by the cabinet, among others, allowed Christians nationwide to use the AlKitab in their religious practices.

"The rulers have no effect on non-Muslims as the right to religious freedom is guaranteed in the Federal Constitution. No authority can tell non-Muslims how they should practise their religion.

"Even for the Muslims, it is for the religion itself to regulate how they should practise Islam," he said.
He said the statement on the "Allah" issue may not even bind the Muslims as there was is no clear basis for it.

"In fact, some religious scholars such as Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawy had stated that it was fine for non-Muslims to use the name."

Abdul Aziz said the Agong, in his performance of the religous functions, may not listen to the advice of Putrajaya and was this was in line with the way the Constitution stipulated how the rulers function as head of religion.

He said the duty to abide by the government's advice under Article 40 (1) of the Constitution is a general requirement. "I do not think this includes the Agong's religious functions," he said.

Negeri Sembilan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, at his investiture ceremony in conjunction with his 66th birthday last week, urged Malaysian Muslims to respect each individual’s religion to avoid disharmony.

“In a Malaysian context, the Constitution has set Islam as the official religion of the country without hindering others to practise their own religions," Tuanku Muhriz had said.

“With that, I urge Malaysian Muslims to continue living in harmony with each other and ensuring respect is given to others who practise different religions.”

Tuanku Muhriz also called on leaders of every community to cast aside sentiments which can destroy the harmony the country is thriving in.

Abdul Aziz said that not many people knew that the White Paper which accompanied the Merdeka Constitution final draft stated that Jakim (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) should be put under the Conference of Rulers.

"Now Jakim is being put as a unit under the Prime Minister's Department which I think is quite wrong," he said. – January 22, 2014.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Umno Baru's Ten Commandments

2:256 in the Quran states that “there is no compulsion in religion”, but in Malaysia, which boasts the best democracy in the world, forced conversions are de-rigeur and words like ‘Allah’ are copyrighted for the exclusive use of Muslims.  

Malaysian Christians (and non-Muslims) are at the mercy of the country’s religious zealots but Najib Abdul Razak, the prime minister for 47 percent of the nation’s population, is too timid or too scared to smooth tensions between the different communities. He claims that what he does is in the name of peace and harmony. What would happen if he meant to create disorder and chaos?

In this Christmas period, I hope you will forgive me for adapting ‘The Ten Commandments’ to critique Umno Baru leaders and to raise awareness about the importance of tolerance. One needs respect and understanding to live harmoniously. One should be protected by the right of religious freedom, as enshrined in the constitution of Malaysia; but the reality is that most of our freedoms are being eroded.

The following Ten Commandments of Umno Baru explain the decline in spirituality of Umno Baru members.

First Commandment: Thou shalt worship Umno Baru
(Thou shalt have no other gods before me)

When Umno Baru dictates, you obey. Only Umno Baru can “protect” the Malay race, Islam and the King. Sane Malaysians ask “Protect from whom or what?” but the answers are not forthcoming.

Blind allegiance means that the more simple minded members of the rakyat will soon face their day of ill-judgement. They will discover that despite Umno Baru’s promises made at GE13, price hikes will make them feel they are living in a hell on earth.

Second Commandment:  Thou shalt idolise the leader of Umno Baru
(Thou shalt not make for yourself an idol)

In 2011, Najib Abdul Razak’s image on soft drink cans caused a drop in sales and the company responsible was forced to withdraw the cans from sale and issue a grovelling apology.

Posters of Najib adorning the pillars and sides of KTM Komuter trains allegedly caused much anger among the cleaners because they had to clear more than the normal amount of spittle. KTM officials allegedly spent several thousand ringgits replacing broken windows because bricks often missed their targets.

Student Adam Adli, who removed a flag bearing Najib’s image, was charged with alleged sedition. Why can’t divine retribution be as swift as the one received by those who oppose Umno Baru?

Third Commandment: Thou shalt be charged with sedition
(Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord God in vain)

Using the word ‘Allah’ without proper authorisation can result in a charge of sedition. Non-Malays could do one of two things to freely use ‘Allah’; Convert to Islam. Go to Sabah or Sarawak.

If you are non-Malay, don’t read the word ‘Allah’ out loud as this could be deemed seditious.

Showing dissent consumes many police man-hours. At a Suara Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) forum this May, Adam Adli expressed his disappointment over the electoral process at GE13. Five days later, 10 policemen were sent to arrest him for alleged sedition.

Be warned because any opposition to Umno Baru is viewed as a personal slight by the IGP. Umno Baru want the rakyat to stop thinking. It would help if we were all brain-dead, like most of the Umno Baru politicians.

Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt not gather to celebrate any day
(Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy)

Joining street parties or rallies to celebrate special days, like Merdeka, Valentine’s Day or New Year’s eve, in the spirit of fun and merry-making, means that the reveller risks being charged with sedition and toppling the government.

The Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) stipulates that no one can protest within 500 metres of a fire hydrant. Has anyone noticed the proliferation of thousands of hydrants in towns and cities lately, doubtless all supplied by a crony company, at inflated prices and great cost to the taxpayer?

Fifth Commandment: Honour the Malays and Utusan, the messenger of Umno Baru
(Honour thy father and mother)

At the Umno Baru general assembly of December 2012, the Umno Baru Youth information chief, Reezal Merican Naina Merican (left), said “Umno is the party chosen by God to liberate the chosen land of Malaysia and to uplift the chosen race of the Malays... Remember, we are mukhtarin, the chosen ones.”

Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the women’s minister who is best remembered for her fondness for cows and condominiums, is reported on the Utusan website to have said that God would be with Utusan Malaysia: “Percayalah, pada akhirnya Tuhan akan bersama Utusan”.

How did these two “Melayu Baru” manage to have direct communication with God?

Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt kill
(Thou shalt not kill)

As the Mongolian proverb states, “Least said, soonest mended”. Suffice to say, that sometimes, Umno Baru disciples think that killing is justified because the end justifies the means.

Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt commit adultery
(Thou shalt not commit adultery)

Contrary to popular belief, Umno Baru politicians believe that they work extremely hard. Consequently, they must also play hard. Their alleged choices of “playthings” range from other males, to maids, models and movie starlets. There is nothing that money cannot buy, when affection is absent.

Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt steal from the rakyat
(Thou shalt not steal)

Being in power means that one must make use of the resources available, ie taxpayers’ money. One’s role in government is to cook up new schemes to squeeze more money from the rakyat.
The BR1M scheme generates more money than the millions needed to set it up. Money-making ponzi schemes are easier and more profitable than having to save one’s pocket money from one’s teenage years. A prominent Umno Baru spouse can attest to this.

Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt lie
(Thou shalt not lie)

How else could Umno Baru convince the rakyat to do its every bidding? In a few months, the gullible 47 percent will realise their folly. By GE14, these same people will again fall for the same lies. Only a miracle may change things around.

If one had to go to court, one need not lie. Just feign forgetfulness. One Umno Baru demi-god did it and it worked.

Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt covet everything that does not belong to you
(Thou shalt not covet anything that belongs to thy neighbour, including his wife.)

Isn’t it amazing that the more the non-Malay succeeds, the more the Malays are angered and left feeling dissatisfied? The Malays retaliate by demanding more concessions or perks. Being deprived spurs those who are left with very little, to make the most out of things. It hardens them and encourages them to become stronger, to survive. At the same time, this creates a vicious cycle.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Zong Qinghou, The Billionaire Who Lives on $20 a Day

“For a long time, I couldn’t even afford food and clothing. I climbed from the very bottom of the society.”  –Zong Qinghou

Zong Qinghou is the Founder and CEO of Hangzhou Wahaha Group.  The most impressive thing about Zong is his humble beginnings, focused mindset and simple lifestyle. Zong went from selling soda and popsicles to schoolchildren to owning 15% of China’s soft drinks market and becoming the wealthiest man in mainland China.

But Zong doesn’t look like your average multi-billion dollar CEO. He wears average clothes, eats tofu and pickled vegetables for lunch with his employees in the staff canteen and lives off of $20 a day. His hard work and meticulousness are also praised by his employees and business partners. It’s no wonder he has grown his business from a small shop serving school children to a successful empire that continues to grow.

Zong was born in 1954 in Zhejiang, China. From 1964 to 1978, Zong lived and worked on a farm commune during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution where he read Communist books about leadership and persevering through struggling times.  Although Zong only finished secondary school, he was dedicated to working hard in order to achieve a better life for himself and his family. “When you are poor, you’ll have to think of ways to be better off” says Zong.  And that’s exactly what he did. After Deng Xiaoping came to power, Zong was able to move back to his home province in Hangzhou.

With limited education, Zong could only find menial work at a local school. Through hard work and dedication, Zong eventually moved up to a salesman for a consumer-goods company.  It wasn’t until 1987 that Zong’s first real business venture took off. With a $22,000 loan from family members, he and two of his retired teacher friends took over a mini grocery store that sold beverages and milk products to school children in the Shangcheng District.

Zong was diligent in his spending, ensuring that he did not spend any more than what they would make in profits. They started out selling cheap items, however Zong recognized that in order for the business to survive long-term, they would need to start manufacturing their own products and expanding the business. In 1989, Zong formally established Hangzhou Wahaha (“laughing child”), producing nutritional food and drinks for children. With limited options for food and beverage in the community, the business was a hit. So much so, that by 1991 Zong was able to take over an old state-run canned food factory and formed the Hangzhou Wahaha Group Corporation.

Zong’s business expanded to other areas over the years, including a joint venture with Groupe Danone in 1996 which brought them into the bottled water and dairy products making industry and expanded their reach to over 30 new ventures. In 2007 the companies ended their partnership; however Wahaha was able to pick up the pieces and continue its success, becoming the largest beverage company in the People’s Republic of China.

Zong is most noted for his diligent workaholic attitude and attention to detail. He still insists on reviewing every office expense, even for small items and personally signs off on every major spending decision. He lives on only $20 a day and tells reporters, “my only exercise is doing market research…my only hobbies are smoking and drinking tea.” Even his wife and daughter work in the company and it is said that he sometimes sleeps in the office building.

Despite his billion dollar success, Zong Quinghou remains a humble man and leads a simple life. He serves as a sharp contrast to many of the extravagant business leaders of today. He detests fancy meals and banquets and makes it a point to eat the same food as his staff in the company’s cafeteria.  He wears a simple wardrobe and has been quoted as saying, “people cannot tell if I were wearing clothes worth a thousand (US$160) or a hundred (US$16) yuan, so why would I want to spend money on them?” Although Zong is extremely proud of his success, he clearly hasn’t lost sight of where he came from.

Aziz Bari: Fatwa Council has no legal standing

The National Fatwa Council has no legal standing as matters concerning Islam is a state affair, says constitutional expert Abdul Aziz Bari.

"The National Fatwa Council resolution has no legal standing as Islam is a matter for the states, and such a group has no constitutional status.

"This federal-state division of powers which put Islam in the hands of the states is maintained by the federal constitution," he said in a statement today.

As such, he stressed, whatever the council says about the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department's (Jais) raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia on Jan 2 has no effect, be it on Muslims or non-Muslims.

"Even opinions issued by the state muftis that are issued on a personal basis and not done in the procedure required by the law in that particular state, are not binding.

"They remain personal opinions of the muftis. They are different from the court decisions which form part of the country's law," Abdul Aziz (left) noted.

He also pointed out that there were inconsistencies of edicts in different states.

"Interestingly enough, there are issues in which muftis do not have similar rulings, such as smoking.

“Some rule it as haram (prohibited) while some others rule as makruh (disapproved)," he said.

He added that only provisions contained in the relevant state enactments would make them binding on Muslims in the state.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rope-a-dope in Putrajaya

Mariam Mokhtar | January 10, 2014
Battlefield Putrajaya may be the final straw which tears this nation apart.
How do you convince the Umno Baru and Barisan Nasional diehard supporters that their diet of mainstream media news is unhealthy?

Truth, à la mainstream media, is like the dry kernels of corn which are cooked over heat, until they puff-up. Dry corn is unpalatable, but when cooked and laced with honey and butter, gullible readers consume the pop-corn with relish.

Fed on a diet of Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, The Star and the New Straits Times, the supporters of Umno Baru and BN believe Malaysia’s economy is rosy. Malays and Muslims are being threatened.

The only bad people are opposition politicians who spread filth through the alternative media. To Umno Baru lovers, writers for the alternative media who try to give readers facts, are liars.

Have you ever been to a football match where the spectators shift their focus from the players on the field, to a fight in the stands? That is what the Allah debacle is all about – it is a politically staged, and funded, sideshow to divert Malaysians from the issues which matter more.

In Najib Tun Razak’s case, he and his government are trying to hide from the rakyat the falling educational standards, the mismanagement of the economy, the hike in prices which will lead to a rise in our cost of living, the illicit outflows totalling billions of ringgits, the squandering of the nation’s wealth, the rise in crime and criminal activities, broken promises of GE13, and most glaringly, Najib’s failure to contain the wastage of his government including his inability to curb his own profligacy.

The Mahathir and Umno Baru lovers should try and be objective and read as much as possible from knowledgeable sources about the failures, cock-ups and cover-ups of the Umno Baru led government over the past 56 years.

Today, battlefield Putrajaya may be the final straw which tears this nation apart. The rakyat is compelled to endure the most savage face-off between the reigning heavyweight champion, “Nimble Najib”, and the 22-times heavyweight retired champion, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is staging a comeback. This is the most important fight of their lives. The rivalry is intense.

In a previous bout, Mahathir was given a bloody nose, causing him to be unsteady on his feet, (Najib snubbing Mukhriz in the Umno Baru internal elections), but with the Allah debacle in full swing, Mahathir has bounced back into the ring; he knows Najib is at his weakest and he is taking advantage of the situation.

The sparring between Najib and Mahathir is far from clean. The Queensbury’s rules do not apply. Instead of a gentlemanly approach, there is match fixing and all manner of dirty fighting.

The stakes are high. The winner inherits a nation, not just the prize money, even though it is worth millions of ringgits of unwritten contracts and other illegal deals. The winner has the freedom to run the nation as he pleases.

Minor distraction

Utusan Malaysia alleges that Mahathir had accused the Catholic weekly Herald’s editor Father Lawrence Andrew of “hurting” Muslims. It also said that Father Andrew should respect the Court of Appeal decision that ‘Allah’ is exclusive to Muslims.

Mahathir wanted to know why Allah should suddenly be used in the peninsula. He blamed non-Malays for refusing to speak the national language but not when it came to using the word Allah.
Has Mahathir forgotten? It is true when he said “Melayu mudah lupa”, although some readers would disagree and claim that Mahathir is not a Malay.

In 2009, Umno Baru and thugs torched churches and created havoc in the community, when they refused to respect the judgment of High Court Judge, Lau Bee Lan.

With Taib Mahmud and Musa Aman subjugating the natives, forcing compulsory takeovers of their ancestral lands and keeping the majority of oil and timber revenue for themselves, scores of east Malaysians migrated to the peninsula to improve their lives.

Mahathir claims that the non-Malays refuse to speak the national language but again, he is wrong. Malaysian schoolchildren nowadays are fluent in Bahasa Malaysia and to their credit, the non-Malays excel at Malay, doubtless much to the annoyance of some Malays.

In the opening round, Mahathir tried to deliver a punch to the bread basket of the portly Najib. He said that during his tenure, he did not need big, fancy jets to travel, and wanted to tarnish Najib’s reputation further, wondering why Najib required five jets, thus wasting taxpayers’ money.

Najib may have momentarily stumbled, but he was back on his feet before the count could begin. In perhaps, another minor distraction, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) announced that a minister’s special officer and two other people were being investigated over a cleaning contract for a ministry.

Neither the minister nor the ministry were named. Is this to make it appear as if Najib is doing something about corruption?

The Perak river, which flows through Kuala Kangsar has a reputation for demanding a human sacrifice every five years. Is this cleaning contract the sacrifice that must be given to the MACC? The MACC may be happy with a sacrifice of ikan bilis, but the rakyat are not fooled so easily. We know that the MACC only catches the small fry and lets the big fish escape.
The Malays who consider themselves part of the establishment, and the new Malay elite with newfound wealth, should not look the other way.

Don’t even think that our current problem stems from the attitude of only the Malays. Umno Baru could not have continued trashing this nation, if MCA, MIC, Gerakan and the parties of Sabah and Sarawak had not given Umno Baru leaders carte blanche to wreak havoc.

When these two men hunger for power, everything else is immaterial. In their pursuit of power, they take others down, including the innocent citizens of a nation.

It is up to you, the rakyat, to save the country. If you do nothing, you will be able to stand aside and watch Malaysia go the way of other tin-pot, African banana republics.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ramon's Resolutions for 2014

Ramon's Resolutions for 2014

by Tan Sri (Dr.) Ramon Navaratnam, Chairman, ASLI Centre of Public Policy Studies
Dr. Ramon NavaratnamWE are relieved that major elections at national and party levels are over. Thankfully they were conducted under peaceful conditions, although many would have preferred more “free and fair” elections.
We have passed the stage of politicking and rhetoric and should seek to implement all the election promises and deliver beneficial outcomes to the rakyat.Thus, it would be useful for us to review the past, examine our present concerns and needs and to propose inter alia, the following eight resolutions, for the adoption by our leaders and people.
We should resolve as follows:
  •  Peace and national unity must be strengthened. We should all refrain from hurtful and divisive comments and actions that will cause disunity. We should isolate all those who indulge in extremist remarks and actions that erode our peace and national unity.
The Government should come down hard on all persons who pose a threat to peace and unity in a fair and equitable manner that is accepted by all;
  •  Security standards have to be enhanced by greatly improving the crime index with more urgency.
The Police could use their new laws to go all out to break up the crime syndicates and get the kingpins, as they promised they would do, in order to get public support for the introduction of the new Crime Prevention Act;
  • Corruption is still high and despite all government initiatives, it has hardly improved. New laws need to be introduced and the MACC has to show that it is more effective by reducing the TI Index considerably and more significantly;
  •  Inflation is a growing threat to our well-being. The poor and lower income groups are now burdened with rising prices.
Despite the BR1M, they find it difficult to cope with daily living costs. The recent reduction in subsidies and the increase in toll, electricity and property rates are not the only cases of rising prices. There has to be an anti-inflation strategy to combat inflation.
The Government has to remove or reduce monopolies, closed and negotiated tendering practices and liberalise the economy much more. We have to adopt principles of the New Economic Model and phase out the abusive practices of the protective policies;
  • Social stability has to be buttressed by basic needs policies that have to replace race-based policies and practices.
Race economics have also undermined national unity.Some even claim that there is political and economic apartheid, which is quite ridiculous.However, these issues have to be boldly addressed and overcome, to give greater priority to the poor of all races;
  • Unemployment is looming as a serious problem and must be curbed quickly.
Graduate unemployment is a rising social threat. Can the Government seek faster ways of improving our education system by introducing more technical teaching to make our school graduates more productive and thus employable. We might also be able to reduce drug consumption and gangsterism;
  • Religious bigotry and religious intolerance have to be clamped down more strenuously before we have more disharmony and less religious appreciation and understanding of each other in our multiracial society.
Can a National Interfaith Council under the Prime Minister or his Deputy be formed next year to promote more religious goodwill?; and
  • Malaysia’s Human Rights record has to be improved as a matter of high priority.
We have not signed and ratified all the Core Human Rights Conventions.Malaysia has now to respond to 232 recommendations before the Human Rights Council in March 2014.
Surely, we can show the world that we are far better disposed to the promotion and protection of human rights in our country?
In conclusion, I believe that if we can sincerely adopt and implement the above eight New Year Resolutions, we would make a big leap forward in ensuring for ourselves - a more Happy and Prosperous and United Malaysia in 2014 and beyond!

Preoccupation with Faith stays beyond 2013

by The Malaysian Insider (12-26-13)

Najib in PenangNajib is just another Politician
The Malaysian Insider on Najib: "... there is no reason to despair. Just understand that this man (Najib) is just a politician, not a leader or statesman. Just another politician. And they all come and go".
Faith in Malaysia has become a trickier issue in the past few years, first with the authorities insisting that the word Allah is exclusive to Muslims, and finally that Muslims must be Sunni, and not Shia.
The preoccupation with faith and the policing of it is perplexing to say the least when it has never been a bone of contention for the most part of the country's independence. If anything, the economy and the salaryman's pay packet has always been a greater issue.
But the usually taciturn Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak finally broke his silence on Christmas Day to speak about Islam and Christianity amid the Government's battle to keep the Arabic word Allah only for Muslims.
He spoke of common origins for both religions and called for mutual respect, saying "Although in terms of faith, we have our differences, for example, the concept of God. In Islam the concept of God is quite different.But if we are always quarrelling on this, then we will be distancing the Muslims from the Christians."
He is right, of course. Except that it has been the Government that has been quarreling about this and finally coming up with its Solomon-like ruling that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak can use Allah but not in the Peninsula.
Perhaps, the Kuala Lumpur Catholic Church Archbishop emeritus Murphy Pakiame-arch murphypakiam put it succinctly when he said yesterday, "What did he say? Even if the world talks and laughs about this 'Allah' issue, Malaysia will not allow (its use by non-Muslims), we (Government) will defend the exclusivity of its use."
"his is not a man who was educated in our Catholic school. By talking like that, you are just a bickering politician. I am praying that Allah will enlighten him to become a statesman."
The Government's directive to the Church's weekly, Herald, to refrain from using the word in its Bahasa edition has been the subject of a court case that saw a 2009 High Court decision to allow the usage, only for the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling last October.
The latest ruling and Putrajaya's opposition to a new appeal has caused outrage among the country's Christian community, particularly those who worship in Bahasa. Christians form 9% of Malaysia's 29 million population.
"You think I am not angry? But he is the Prime Minister, so I have to pray to God to please help him do his duty for the whole country and not just UMNO," Pakiam said at the Christian Federation's Christmas Day celebrations where a minister represented Najib.
The anger is palpable for Christians who feel the prime minister has pretended to be moderate and reasonable on a world stage, but is nothing like that when he returns to government business in Malaysia, pandering to the Malay far right, which seeks economic and religious dominance.
But at least the likes of Malay rights group Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali and controversial lecturer Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah are straight about their aims.With the two of them, it is what you see is what you get. They do not pretend to be champions of multiracial politics, unlike the Prime Minister and politicians from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).
This includes the Christians who choose to remain as ministers, deputy ministers and MPs in the Najib administration – while making polite noises to their community but remaining silent in government – being just grateful that there is some financial aid or extra holidays for the festivities.
As DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang said today, Najib has to prove he is a moderate by deed and conviction and not be a political chameleon who alternates between moderation and immoderation in his speeches, depending on the crowd and occasion.
The thing is, Najib and BN have constantly hammered Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for being a political chameleon. But the reality is this: Anwar and many Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders are secure in their faith as Muslims, and have not played politics on the Allah issue.
In the run-up to the election, Anwar supported the right of Christians to continue using the word Allah, stumping Terengganu and other Malay-belt states.The same cannot be said for Najib and his ministers who have been chameleon like in their dealings with other communities, especially on religious issues. The Shia are now feeling the heat although Malaysia has cordial ties with Iran, the world's most populous Shia nation.
If anything, the only Malaysian Prime Minister with religious credentials has been Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, although it was under his time that Putrajaya began enforcing the exclusivity of Allah for Muslims.Yet, he was also the man who signed the Amman Message that agreed Sunni and Shia are legitimate branches of the faith.
For Putrajaya however, politics come first rather than interfaith harmony even if the Prime Minister did say, "I had mentioned before that I am not interested in winning an argument. I'm only concerned about preserving peace, harmony and stability in this country. This is my responsibility as Malaysia's Prime Minister."
That peace, harmony and stability means he needs to keep his vote bank happy. With the next election years away, he and BN have dropped their act of being good to every community, focusing only on one.
After all, the Allah appeal was only decided after the general election. And in time, perhaps people will forget that, and even forget prices only rose after the polls.
But there is no reason to despair. Just understand that this man is just a politician, not a leader or statesman.Just another politician. And they all come and go. Right? – December 26, 2013.

Friday, December 27, 2013

EXPOSED! ROSMAH'S SON buys RM110 MIL condo, funds 'X-rated' Leonardo di Caprio movie

27 Dec 2013

Wall Street Greed / Malaysian Money – EXPOSE!

Wall Street Greed / Malaysian Money – EXPOSE!

Disrespectful? The Malaysian funded depiction of greed and debauchery on Wall Street was launched on Christmas Day in the US.
Disrespectful? The Malaysian funded depiction of greed and debauchery on Wall Street was launched on Christmas Day in the US.
The wife of the PM, Rosmah Mansor, is apparently advocating that every Malaysian school child should be shown the newly released Leonardo di Caprio film, The Wolf of Wall Street, in order to warn them against greed and immorality.
One wonders how she proposes to get around the fact that the film has been X-rated owing to the violence and sex scenes, which extend to drug taking and mass orgies?
The makers of the film reportedly tempted director Martin Scorcese onto the project by allowing him a free hand to make the movie as hard core as he liked, thereby limiting audiences in America to over 17 unless accompanied by a suitable adult.
There is also the question of cost.
Riza Aziz (left) is reportedly the money behind Red Granite Pictures
Riza Aziz (left) is reportedly the money behind Red Granite Pictures
In some schools in Sarawak children sleep side by side on the floor under leaking roofs, owing to cash restraints.
Yet mass screenings of a top new movie would presumably involve paying out scarce funds to the production company.
Perhaps the powerful wife of the PM figures that at least the production company is Malaysian owned, so that the public money would be supporting a local enterprise?
More specifically, the production company behind The Wolf on Wall Street, Red Granite Pictures, is headed and financed by her own son Riza Aziz (Riza Shahriz Bin Abdul Aziz).
Red Granite was founded by Aziz in 2010 and has already bankrolled a number of big name projects, including ‘Friends With Kids’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber To ‘, as well as The Wolf of Wall Street, which had been dropped by mainstream studios.
In the case of The Wolf of Wall Street the reasons for dropping the movie was its disgusting content – Scorcese was heckled at a recent Academy showing, according to reports, with the words “shame on you“!
Copious sex, drugs and violence - movie makers Marfarland, Scorcese and Aziz
Copious sex, drugs and violence – movie bankrollers Red Granite include Riza Aziz (right)
Where did the money come from?
How Riza Aziz emerged as a major bankroller of Hollywood movies is of obvious interest. Could it be linked to his family position and circle of associates?
Jho Low the partying 'billionaire'
Jho Low the partying ‘billionaire’
It has already been noted that Najib Razak’s step-son, is a close associate of the controversial and flamboyant financier Jho Low (Low Taek Jho) a Penang business graduate educated in the UK and US, who has acted as the front man in a number of eyebrow-raising business deals linked both to Taib Mahmud in Sarawak and Najib’s pet project the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad.
Indeed, Jho Low’s series of notorious antics, distributing Crystal Champagne around the world’s top nightclubs and lavishing vast sums on famous women like Paris Hilton and Taiwanese pop star Elva Hsiao, suggest a remarkably similar animal to the character supposedly deplored in the film, the jailed Wall Street financier Jordan Belfort (although Sarawak Report would not wish to imply that any of the misconduct depicted in the film applies to Mr Low).
Low was prominent at the launch party for the film, posing next to Riza Aziz and his partner in Red Granite Pictures, the Kentuky ‘private equity cowboy’, Joey Mcfarland, on stage at the event, which will further fuel speculation over possible links.
Riza Aziz, Joey Macfarland and Jho Low pose at the launch of Wolf Of Wall Street
Red Granite Picture’s Riza Aziz and Joey Mcfarland with finance ‘whiz kid’ Jho Low at the launch of Wolf Of Wall Street
Mega Finance linked to Malaysia
The Hollywood coverage of the fast trajectory of Red Granite Pictures from nowhere in 2010 to a “top company to watch” in just three years has made no bones about the supposedly deep pockets of Riza Aziz, widely described as the ‘son of the Malaysian Prime Minister’.
This was how the New York Magazine’s ‘Vulture’ section put it back in 2012:
Reported in the New York Post
Reported in the New York Magazine
For days now, talent agencies have buzzed with the news that Leonardo DiCaprio might be finally committing to star in The Wolf of Wall Street for director Martin Scorsese, a project that was first reported exclusively by Vulture almost a year ago today. Then, earlier this morning, Deadline carried the news that the funding had at last been locked into place, courtesy of Wall Street big-shots themselves: Riza Aziz, a former HSBC investment banker from London, and Joey McFarland, a private equity cowboy from Kentucky. Their Red Granite Pictures will be fully financing the feature adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s memoir of his boozy, debauchery-rich journey to multimillionaire in the Reagan eighties to federal convict..”[Vulture 3/15/12]
The Hollywood Reporter described Red Granite Picture’s launch party in Cannes as “one of the hottest parties in years”, describing the up-coming Wolf of Wall Street as a $100 million dollar film. They boast a rare interview with Aziz, which for Malaysians provides some fascinating information:
Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 12.57.12
“Red Granite was formed by Riza Aziz — the 35-year-old son of Malaysian Prime Minster Tun Abdul Razak and among the new generation of film financiers flocking to Hollywood — andJoey McFarland, 40… In one of the few interviews they’ve given, Aziz and McFarland, both with a background in finance, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how they’ve spent the last year, their plans for the company and their determination to stay on budget with Wolf…..
Aziz: We’d like to make three to five films a year, with one tentpole and two or three films with more modest budgets in the $20 million to $40 million range.
THR: How much money are you backed by?
McFarland: We do not talk about that.
Aziz: I will say that I have money invested in the company. It shows that I have skin in the game and am committed from a financial point of view. We also have a group of investors, mainly from the Middle East and Asia.
THR: What does your father think of your new venture?
Aziz: I have leeway, but he likes to know that the projects we do have pedigree.[Hollywood Reporter]
Sarawak Report suggests that the above remarks by Najib’s step-son imply strongly that his money is family money and that he is to an extent accountable to his ‘father’ the Prime Minister, who gives him ‘leeway’.
Aziz in a family pose
Aziz (left) in a family pose with Rosmah and siblings
If Malaysia was blessed with a free media this would be enough to provoke a barrage of questions as to exactly how the son of Rosmah Mansor has acquired these hundreds of millions of dollars to flush through major Hollywood movies?
Because, if the money is Najib’s, how did the PM get to be so rich?
This is unlikely to be a comfortable subject for the Malaysian BN leader, who is heavily caught up in the Scorpene Submarine kickback scandal that is soon due to appear in a French court over the payments of €119million to a Malaysian company run by his personal negotiator on the deal, Razak Baginda.
Alternatively, there is a lot of reference in the Hollywood Press to Mr Aziz’s own personal fortune, allegedly made as an investment banker in the UK.  This is how Riza Aziz described his money-making career as an investment banker to the Hollywood Reporter:
THR: Riza, you come from a political dynasty. How did you get from Malaysia to Hollywood?
Aziz: My background is in finance and I was in London for close to 10 years. I took a sabbatical from all the chaos that was happening in 2008 and decided to travel the world. I came to the U.S. and was offered the opportunity to get involved in a lot of different things business-wise, and one of them was to be involved in a film with some friends. From that one project, more kept coming in, so we decided to have a company. We began building the team and I brought Joey in at an early stage.
So could Aziz have made the money himself?
Sarawak Report has researched Riza Aziz’s banking career after leaving the London School of Economics in the year 2000.  It appears that he worked with the management consultants KPMG for two years till 2002 and then at HSBC London from 2005 until the financial crash in 2008:
Multi-million dollar investment banker's CV?
Multi-million dollar investment banker’s CV?
According to the Financial Services Authority, Riza Aziz was employed in a relatively minor role at HSBC for five years, although Aziz himself says he resigned in 2008.  It is a perfectly respectable CV, but for a man who didn’t inherit family money from his mother or father (who worked as a bureaucrat) his ‘investment banking career’ does not explain the source of his finances.
'Investment banker', Riza Aziz
‘Investment banker’, Riza Aziz
Yet flush with cash the young Malaysian most undoubtedly now is, raising comment even in the capitalists’ capital of New York, where he recently bought a flash 7 bedroom home for $33.5 million in a smart zone of town.
Big spending Aziz makes no secret of his connections in Malaysia
Big spending Aziz makes no secret of his connections in Malaysia
Reports on the purchase once again refer to the unconvincing ‘investment banker’ explanation for Aziz’s money:
Aziz, who reportedly makes his money as an investment banker, has been pegged as a producer to watch. He is one of a new generation of film financiers making their mark in Hollywood, according to a recent story in Variety.” [The Real Deal]
Mystery Malaysian investment – the Jho Low connection?
However, other Hollywood newspapers speak of a separate form of income entirely, in the form of third party investors.
Big money buy outs of movie projects that other studios decided were too dangerous to handle
Big money buy outs of movie projects that other studios decided were too dangerous to handle
For example, The Los Angeles Times refers to “undisclosed investors in the Middle East and Asia”.
If so, these investors are mighty trusting.
Red Granite Picture’s business model is one that may very well bring success, if it bets on the right movies.  However, it clearly demands an ability to be able to risk enormous sums of money up-front.
The LA Times repeats the narrative that Red Pictures buys up promising production projects that other studios have dropped, because they have become too fraught and dangerous:
Where movie studios see trouble, Red Granite Pictures sees opportunities”, the paper says. It continues:
“The new finance and distribution company’s business plan is both contrary and simple: Make the films the studios don’t.
Among its first projects are Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which comes out Wednesday, and next year’s “Dumb and Dumber To,” the intentionally misspelled sequel to the 1994 comedy.
On the surface, those pictures don’t exactly seem like the sort that a major studio would cast aside.
But both were complicated projects, fraught with thorny issues. Red Granite’s founders, Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland, said they thrive in these sorts of scenarios.
“One of our sweet spots is movies that have died in the studios — movies that are just great product that everyone was hot on but for some reason or another just didn’t make it to the greenlight stage,” said McFarland,41, a Louisville, Ky., native who is Red Granite’s vice chairman. [Los Angeles Times 24/12/13]
It all gives the impression of young men with breath-taking self-confidence and more importantly money to burn. Co-producer Joey McFarland has confirmed that the money comes not thanks to him, but Riza Aziz.
Joey Macfarland's movie ambitions were made possible by Malaysian money and Riza Aziz
Joey Mcfarland’s movie ambitions were made possible by Malaysian money and Riza Aziz
The recent LA Times article continues:
“Every movie is different,” said Aziz, 37, who is the son of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. “We are very flexible in the model we [can] pursue.”
Red Granite raises money from a pool of undisclosed investors in the Middle East and Asia, and finances its movies on a one-off basis. The company is able to greenlight a picture without a distribution deal in place. But because it doesn’t have a fund it can tap, Red Granite must convince its investors that an individual project is worth the risk, rather than having the comfort of money to underwrite an entire slate.”
It is surely interesting for Malaysians to know that the PM’s step-son has such access to enormous funds for such enormous risks. There is talk in KL that a number of Malaysian companies are among those who have been encouraged to put money into Wolf of Wall Street. One can only speculate as to why they might have felt encouraged to do so.
Meanwhile, it also seems valid to ask whether the peculiar financial background of Aziz and Rosmah’s close friend, the 28 year old Jho Low (described as a “billionaire” in a number of American news reports), be linked to this financial muscle?
The flamboyant financier’s own interest in the movies and friendship with Di Caprio certainly pre-dates Red Granite Pictures.
'International Man of Mystery'
‘International Man of Mystery’
Back in 2009 The Star Newspaper reported:
“He [Low] has been trying to convince his Hollywood friends like Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Leonardo di Caprio to use Malaysia as a location for movies.”[Star
In which case was it the connection with Low that brought his friend Leonardo di Caprio and his film project about a 'modern day Caligula' to Red Granite Pictures and Riza Aziz?
Partying Paris Hilton at San Tropez
Partying Paris Hilton at San Tropez
If so, it throws a new perspective onto Jho Low’s links with Najib Razak’s pet project 1MDB Malaysia, the development bank, which has raised billions through undisclosed, private bonds arranged by, amongst others, Goldman Sachs.
1MDB’s investments have been increasingly controversial, focusing mainly on buying up ageing power companies, which appear to be of questionable value in developing the state of Malaysia.
One of the investors involved in 1MDB is the low profile Middle Eastern venture Petro-Saudi, who were also the buyers when the Taib family sold out of their controversial stake in UBG bank  back in 2011.
Jho Low himself had earlier become involved in UBG, coming onto the board as a Director in 2008 after a major share purchase, on behalf of the Abu Dhabi owned company Majestic Masterpiece.
The young Penang born financier makes much of his fantastic connections, both in Hollywood and the Middle East (particularly Abu Dhabi), allegedly made through networking as a Harrow schoolboy and at Wharton Business School in the US.
But it is his ostentatious high living that has mainly brought Jho Low to the attention of the Malaysian public.  It was he who apparently topped the record for high spending in a New York nightclub, buying champagne for all the assembled guests.
Jho Low also astonished onlookers with the sheer lavishness of a party put on for a girlfriend on a yacht in Taiwan and again drew attention when he partied Paris Hilton with jaw dropping extravagance.
So, could Jho Low be the organiser assisting in the financing of Red Granite Pictures and is that why he was so prominent at the launch and at Leonardo di Caprio’s recent birthday bash?
One of the 'billionaires', 20 something Jho Low owns Jynwell Capital
One of the ‘billionaires’, 20 something Jho Low owns Jynwell Capital
In which case, many may wonder if the link to the top political players in Malaysia and friendship with the PM’s step-son might account for Jho Low’s easy access to investment income or indeed if he is the front man for others?
Court action
Meanwhile, it is not all praise from the Hollywood establishment. One major production company, Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA), is suing Red Granite Pictures for a breach of covenant over the other major movie it has ‘bought out of trouble’, the sequel to the popular 90s comedy Dumb and Dumber.
The on-going case has been widely covered in the media and MPCA is far from complimentary about the skills and know-how of the brash newcomers who bought up their original idea:
"using money from the Malaysian PM's family" to squeeze them out...
“using money from the Malaysian PM’s family to squeeze them out”..
In their legal deposition the veteran producers Steve Stabler and Brad Krevoy who own MPCA have harsh words for Aziz and Mcfarland, who they say owe them hundreds of thousands for the original work on the film:
“McFarland and [Aziz] lack the experience necessary to successfully produce motion pictures themselves. Although Red Granite apparently has family money from [Aziz], Red Granite will not succeed with money alone because McFarland and [Aziz]‘s experience producing motion pictures during their short tenure in the industry consists of cavorting at nightclubs with Paris Hilton and making dinner reservations at posh nightclubs in New York and Los Angeles.” [Legal deposition against Red Granite Pictures]
"Macfarland and Aziz's misconduct and hubris will cause them to crash and burn"
“Macfarland and Aziz’s misconduct and hubris will cause Red Granite to crash and burn”
It is an attack that strengthens the apparent links with Jho Low. Malaysians will be interested to see that the very parties attended by Jho Low appear to have also been linked to Riza Aziz, according to this deposition.
Surely, in the name of accountability and transparency Malaysians are due a clear explanation as to the links between the two men and whether Najib Razak is involved?
Appealing to greed and envy?
Appealing to greed and envy?
This is not least because of the large and controversial public loans that have been raised on behalf of Najib (who is also Finance Minister) and his 1MDB development bank, in which Jho Low is so widely reported to have been involved.
Glamourising greed?
It remains to finally point out that not everyone is likely to interpret the film as a moral lesson, in the manner apparently suggested by Rosmah Mansor.
In fact, Wolf of Wall Street is likely to be a success for the very reason that it glamourises greed, high spending, ostentation and extreme debauchery.
People will be flocking to watch Leonardo di Caprio making billions in corrupt deals and indulging in immoral behaviour, not to be taught the evils of big money but to escape into a make-believe world of unlimited wealth.
Films like this, it is widely argued, do not bring a Christmas message. To the contrary they are corrupting and they encourage more people to try their luck in the world of unscrupulous finance.
This is how the magazine GQ sums up the project:
'glamour' of greed
‘glamour’ of greed
“When Wall Street came out in 1987, it famously inspired certain people to go into banking, despite its deplorable subject matter. With that in mind, the impressionable might want to stay away from Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street: from the trailer alone, there’s enough ostentatious displays of wealth to drive another financial crisis. Strippers, dwarves, Ferraris, Jags, $26,000 meals (“it was the sides”) and enough money to throw off yachts and still have plenty spare.
The performances also look incredible, with Jonah Hill particularly eye-catching as Leonardo DiCaprio’s naïve assistant. Consider next year’s Oscar race well underway.”
Quite so. As the box office profits roll in for this production, based on greed and immorality, Red Granite Pictures will stand charged of exploiting and glamourising greed, not confronting it.
Given that ill-gotten wealth, ostentatious living and mysterious business links underpin so much of Malaysia’s ruling BN regime, it seems a suitable topic for Red Granite’s first major foray into the film business.
Although, that irony is doubtless entirely lost on the famously extravagant Rosmah Mansor.
With Adam Scott from Red Granite's first money spinner "Friends With Kids"
With Adam Scott from Red Granite’s first money spinner “Friends With Kids”