What the 1MDB scandal means for democracy in Malaysia

Source: The Globe and Mail

Singaporean authorities this week seized a number of bank accounts linked to Malaysia’s beleaguered state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., as part of an ongoing international investigation into alleged corruption that has ensnared Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The move is the latest twist in a global investigation centred on an unusual payment of $681-million (U.S.) from accounts and companies linked to 1MDB into the private accounts of Mr. Najib, who founded and chairs 1MDB. As the investigations continue, Malaysia’s government has undertaken a widespread crackdown on dissidents and dismissed critical politicians – outraging human-rights groups. The eventual conclusion of a domestic investigation by the country’s Attorney-General – that the cash was a donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and has since mostly been returned – has not stopped other investigations by U.S. and Swiss authorities.

The Globe and Mail spoke to Dennis Ignatius, a career diplomat who was Malaysia’s high commissioner to Canada between 2001 and 2008, and is now an advocate for human rights and democracy, about what the deteriorating situation means for the Southeast Asian country. Read more

Malaysia signs landmark TPPA deal

Source: FMT News

The trade pact, which aims to reduce tariffs in order to further liberalise trade, has been signed after 19 rounds of negotiations.

TPPA-copy

AUCKLAND: Twelve countries including Malaysia have finally signed the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) here on Thursday, which is set to expand markets, reduce tariffs and promote freer trade.

International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed signed the comprehensive 21st-century pact for Malaysia that represents nearly 40 per cent of global gross domestic product worth USD30 trillion.

The signing of the TPPA in New Zealand’s capital city is the culmination of 19 rounds of tough negotiations over five years.

The 12 countries in the trade pact are New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Canada, Vietnam, United States, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. Read more

Exclusive: New U.S. bill being drafted to reform human trafficking rankings

Source: KFGO

By Matt Spetalnick and Jason Szep

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A leading U.S. lawmaker on human rights has begun drafting legislation to seek major reforms in how the State Department ranks countries on human trafficking, in response to concerns that the latest annual report was watered down for political reasons.

U.S. Representative Chris Smith said the bill, which he expects to finalize in a month and introduce in the House of Representatives in six weeks, will call for some of the biggest changes in a decade in how Washington grades global efforts against modern slavery.

The move follows a Reuters investigation that found that senior diplomats inflated assessments of 14 strategically important countries in the State Department’s 2015 report. Read more