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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Monday, July 27, 2020

New Book Release: The Plundering Of Malaysia: Najib Razak And The 1MDB Debacle

New Book Release

The Plundering Of Malaysia:  Najib Razak And The 1MDB Debacle

ISBN 9798645555467   May, 2020   260 pp  $12.90
Available at Amazon.com

Back cover blurb:

On July 20, 2016 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed what it described as “the largest single action ever brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.” From 2009 through 2015, DOJ alleged, more than US$3.5 billion in funds belonging to One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a Malaysian government-linked company, were misappropriated. The central culprit was “Malaysian Official 1,” today identified as then-Prime Minister Najib Razak.

            These commentaries trace the degeneration of an inherently corrupt Najib Razak, as well as the failure of Malaysian institutions at all levels and those entrusted with running them. Najib’s sinister side was exposed only when the coalition he led was defeated in the May 2018 General Elections.

            Malaysia is still reverberating from the humungous financial and other liabilities, the consequences of this massive heist. Worse, 1MDB is not the only mess; there are other potential 1MDB-like scandals lurking out there, awaiting exposure.

            Today Najib, his wife, several ministers and other top officials face many serious criminal charges in Malaysia.

Najib is not terribly bright. As such he could not have executed this massive heist on his own. He had many enablers who not only paved his rapid political ascent but ignored his many obvious dark traits and blatant corrupt acts. His flawed character and dark tendencies were obvious much early on but Malaysians refused to recognize them in deference to his pedigree, being the son of the country’s much revered second Prime Minister, Tun Razak.

Najib’s many enablers in turn owed their rise through his father. Their enabling and paving the way for Najib was but an expression of that old Malay cultural tradition of terhutang budi (repaying the debt of gratitude).

The most consequential enabler was Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister from 1980 to 2003. Beyond that, Najib was also Mahathir’s political heir.

Najib learned his corrupt ways only too well from his mentor, and brought them to a new obscene high, or egregious low. The only difference between Najib’s insatiable greed and Mahathir’s traitorous perfidy is that Najib lost the election and thus his evil ways were exposed. Mahathir won elections; his crimes remain hidden. Quantitatively as well as qualitatively, that is, in magnitude and kind, the evil deeds and characters of Najib and Mahathir are in the same league.

            It may seem perverse that despite facing multiple criminal charges, each of which could put him behind bars for the rest of his life, Najib is still being held in high esteem among a good segment of Malaysians, especially Malays. They refer to him with unabashed adoration as Malu Apa, Bossku! (My boss! What’s there to be ashamed of?)

As these essays make clear, there is a reason for this cultural perversity. To a significant segment of Malays, Najib’s path to the top had the imprimatur of not only Mahathir but also the Sultans and Agung. The Sultan of Pahang for example was an unabashed admirer of Najib. As those criminal charges have revealed, the loot from 1MDB have flowed generously towards the various palaces and other elite of Malay society.

The religious sector too was not spared, with 1MDB’s loot being used to sponsor free Hajj trips. No wonder the religious establishment deemed Najib’s greed and perfidy as other than that. To them, those bounties acquired by Najib were not illicit. Quite the contrary. Seeing that the funds were routed through Middle Eastern entities, that money was seen as God’s bounty. To Muslim Malays, anything emanating from the land of the Prophet is holy and blessed. Even the flies in Mecca are considered halal!

Najib inherits his father’s darker side. Consider Tun Razak’s to penchant to misled. The Tun concealed his fatal illness from everyone, even his family. As for his hypocrisy, Razak exhorted the masses to send their children to Malay schools while he sent his to England. These odious traits of the father find full and ugly expression in the son, Najib.

            These essays also cover the more general failures of Malaysian institutions, and the pivotal judgements of Malaysian voters as expressed in the 13th and 14th General Elections of 2013 and 2018, respectively.


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